Church protection for EJK witnesses

 

We had been hearing and reading in the news lately that the Catholic Church is offering protection to policemen and other characters that are willing to testify on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) they have witnessed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Actually it was Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas who first offered the sanctuary of the church to the policemen whom he described as “conscience-stricken” because of their participation in the war of drugs. Now this move is being supported by other ranking officials of the church.

Why these policemen are “conscience-stricken” and fearful of their lives is something that we still have to fathom and I don’t think the church is the right place for us to be able to understand and extract the truth about what their real involvement is.

I understand that the church is a universal refuge for the oppressed and the maltreated, but for a scourge of epidemic proportion that the government is relentlessly fighting to eradicate to save the country and its citizens from perdition, what could the church do to competently determine whether or not the church officials are just being used for the ‘refugees’ hidden agenda?

What I am just saying here is that the fight being waged by government against drugs, corruption and criminality are all state functions and the policemen are members of the civil authority tasked to run after the criminals. The police organization has its own parameters to follow in law enforcement and the church just has to respect it.

In other words the church officials have the responsibility to tell and enlighten the policemen and others seeking refuge that they could not accept them for the simple reason that their problem and concerns are matters of government and not of the church.

In the first place the church officials have already a stand on the government’s war against drugs and for them to embrace the ‘refugees’ to their fold without any questions only shows their prejudice against what the government is doing, and this to me is tantamount to interference or meddling which could only worsen the situation in the country.

What the church officials must understand is that it is the government and not the church that has all the tools and resources to generate intelligence reports about who the people are linked to drugs, corruption and criminality, one way or the other, and if they are running away towards the church sanctuaries it is because they know that the church officials are against EJKs, but more than anything else, these witnesses also know that the church officials do not have an iota of information who the people are seeking protection/sanctuary from them.

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Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not – Part II

Aung San Suu Kyi with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I am not over yet with the appalling Aung San Suu Kyi, the much talked about democracy activist who earned a global reputation as a symbol of defiance and strength in the face of a brutal military junta in her country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Suu Kyi’s stoicism and her refusal to leave her country, even though it meant forgoing a life with her sons husband, who lived overseas, became, likewise, a symbol of sacrifice, inspiration, hope and freedom for all the peoples in Myanmar.

For leading a non-violent resistance movement, even while under house arrest, Suu Kyi was aptly compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Evidently and subsequently she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but received it in person only in 2012, after her release in 2010. Her party swept elections a landslide victory in 2015, making her the de facto civilian leader of her country.

Now her reputation is rapidly disintegrating because of her refusal to speak out about — or take meaningful steps to prevent — the military crackdown targeting the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. An estimated 400,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed across the border to Bangladesh running from what appears to be a crackdown on their villages by the military that still controls crucial aspects of Myanmar’s government, including the state security apparatus.

Because of her silence, insensitivity and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas, dismal things are happening to her and I am citing two here for your information – one is a copy of a letter from Archbishop and former Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the other is a reprint of an article published in the BBC News, dated 3 October 2017, titled Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’:

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

God bless you.

Love

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa

Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’

An honour granting Aung San Suu Kyi the Freedom of Oxford has been withdrawn by the city’s council because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

The de facto leader of Myanmar was granted the honour in 1997 for her “long struggle for democracy”.

But a motion to Oxford City Council said it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following recent violence.

The trouble erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts, triggering a military crackdown.

Ms Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest in Rangoon as a campaigner for democracy while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was ruled by a military dictatorship.

She became a worldwide figurehead for freedom before leading her National League for Democracy party to victory in open elections in November 2015.

‘Absolutely appalled’

But her failure to denounce the military or address allegations of ethnic cleansing has been criticised by world leaders and groups like Amnesty International.

Other organisations are now reconsidering honours given to Ms Suu Kyi, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson said.

“I think it is perfectly natural to look around for ways of saying we disapprove utterly of what you are doing,” he told BBC Radio Oxford.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price supported the motion to remove her honour and confirmed it was an “unprecedented step” for the local authority.

People are “absolutely appalled” by the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding it was “extraordinary” she had not spoken out about reported atrocities in the country.

Last week it emerged St Hugh’s College, Oxford, had removed a portrait of Ms Suu Kyi from display.

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not

 

I have written a couple of blogs in the past about the predominantly Muslim ethnic group called the Rohingyas, in majority-Buddhist Myanmar (formerly Burma), and about human-rights icon and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which you can read at the following links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/myanmars-suu-kyi-fails-on-the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

As I am writing about Suu Kyi now I didn’t realize that, incidentally, I am simply and truly answering the question I posed in the last paragraph of my 2014 blog that, indeed, the lady that is always seen to have fresh flower tacked on her hair is far from being a laureate.

I need not write anymore who the Rohingyas are as I think I have adequately described them already in my 2009 blog. Suffice to say that since I wrote about them in 2009 until today their hellish plight has not gotten any better.

Many, including myself, thought that the Rohingyas predicament would change for the better, especially now that Suu Kyi has become the de facto (in reality/in effect) leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, but unfortunately the more they continue to be persecuted and dehumanized because of Suu Kyi’s utter silence and indifference.

Even Pakistani human-rights activist Malala Yousafzai said “the world is waiting” for Suu Kyi to speak out.

The hapless Rohingyas are at present facing a crisis as people which the United Nations human rights head called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Just to give you a better, but somber, perspective of the life of the Rohingyas now and the absolute insensitivity of Suu Kyi, I recommend that you get hold of the October 2, 2017 issue of Time magazine where a report written by Ms. Elizabeth Dias about them is simply unconscionable, as it is uncivilized.

Or you can just open this link and read more about the heart-breaking story that continues to plague the Rohingya people: https://thediplomat.com/2017/09/the-shame-of-myanmar/.

 

 

Espinedo is Duterte’s lethal weapon against drug lords

 

Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espinedo and President Rodrigo Duterte

“Your next assignment is Iloilo,” President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte said after Ozamiz police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido was conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu award during the National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

With this words and ominous warning perhaps, if you may, Duterte no doubt has serve Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog notice to shape up and clean his city of illegal drugs so he could clear his name among the mayors in Duterte’s ‘narco-list’.

It must be remembered that Duterte has called Iloilo the “most shabulized” province in the country.

For Mabilog what is important to remember also is that the latest award conferred by Duterte on Espinedo is the third that he has received this month, a confirmation of the President’s support for his  accomplishments in the war on drugs.

There is no need to specify anymore what Espinedo’s accomplishments are. Suffice to say that the bemedalled police inspector’s transfer to Iloilo comes after two mayors linked to the illegal drug trade were killed in separate police operations where he was chief of police.

Who can ever forget the controversial killing of Albuera City Mayor Rolando Epinosa Sr. while in detention at the Baybay City jail on November 2016?

With Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others killed in a July 30 shootout after being served search warrants at the Parojinog’s properties for their illegal activities, who can now question that Espinedo is indeed Duterte’s lethal weapon against drug lords?

Thus, it was only proper and sensible that Mayor Mabilog welcomed the announcement of Chief Inspector Espenido’s new assignment, saying he looks forward to working “side by side” with the police official in addressing the illegal drug trade in the region.

Espinedo on his part said that Mayor Mabilog has nothing to fear and all he is asking is for the mayor to cooperate. He is even advising the latter to surrender if indeed he is what he is – a drug lord.

“He should cooperate what he is willing to cooperate so that his name would be removed from the list of narco-politicians, which is for the best. We are pro-life. Look at my record.”

Pro-life, indeed, for Espinedo is a preacher in his church Seventh Day Adventist.

But in asking Mabilog to look at Espinedo’s record, the former has to think twice as hard choosing which record is it that he has to be concerned most about – his record as a preacher or his record as a police officer.

To go on killing or give up killing on war against illegal drugs

 

It is very unfortunate that I have to write about the subject upon deciding to resume blogging after my second successful total knee replacement surgery.

I could have chosen something pleasant to write about but the reality that the country is facing today relative to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs continue to be the defining thrust of his administration now and, perhaps, for the rest of his term, that the end result could either break us or make us citizens of a nation with potential future. Thus, the subject makes it all the more important for me.

It cannot be denied that we are a nation trying to survive an identity crisis that has been so demeaning all these many, many years – that of being a corrupt nation with equally corrupt political officials.

We have seen presidents come and go with reform policies and programs for a better future for the country and it s people. But at the end of their terms the country is no better than before and the Filipinos find themselves mired even more in the morass of corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.

The fact that I mentioned illegal drugs does not mean that this scourge was not there before Duterte’s presidency came into the picture. Corruption comes in many forms and shapes, but like the way politicians and government officials discovered that there was money for their deep pockets in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), they also found out that there was even a continuous flow of dirty money in illegal drugs worthy of being nurtured for political purposes regardless of the negative consequences it had on the poor users, just like the PDAF scam had an adverse impact on the marginalized Filipinos for which it was intended for.

One impressive difference between past presidents and Duterte today is that the latter knew, after experimenting in Davao City as its mayor, what illegal drugs can do to people’s brain and what bad publicity can do to a place resulting from crimes committed due to its usage.

Duterte took his task as mayor to heart and turned the city around by using his unorthodox style of leadership manifested by guts, political will and bullets – all for the love of his city and his belief that the residents deserved a better life.

Duterte won the presidency in 2016 because most Filipinos got dissatisfied with conventional politicians leading the country. They had had enough.

Part of Duterte’s presidency is history now and it looks like that the remainder of his term will have history repeating itself as many times over for there is no turning back now in his fight against narco-politics that if not controlled will determine the destiny of this nation.

The country today is undergoing birth pains in charting its destiny brought about mainly by drug related killings that are so prevalent and far reaching, even to include the Marawi siege.

Many are speaking out now against what they call the ‘slaughter of mostly poor Filipinos’ especially in the wake of the outrage over the killing of Kian Loyd de los Santos, a grade 11 student, during a police drug operation in Caloocan City last week.

Yes, there is a very high probability that the policemen responsible for Kian’s arrest may have committed murder, but should we allow this unfortunate incident to derail the momentum  Duterte’s administration has in bringing deliverance to this country from the menace of illegal drugs engulfing the country today? Duterte himself has not minced words in his doubts about the killing of Kian. Even the Philippine Ambassador to the UN, Teddy Locsin Jr., showed his disgust about the killing when he called the arresting cops “hijos de putas!”

I am not losing hope for this country with Duterte at the helm and even if the killing continues, for to give up killing, which cannot be avoided if the drug lords, peddlers and users insist on destroying this country and its youth, is tantamount to letting the unscrupulous  people triumph over the vast number of Filipinos praying for deliverance.

 

Duterte’s first year in office

 

I have lived long enough to see presidents come and go in this country but I have never seen the likes of President Rodrigo Duterte who hit the ground running at a considerable speed upon assumption of office.

While Duterte may have been ready with his administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda that included among other things the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices and family planning, he, however, entrusted the execution of all these to his social and economic mangers while he took it upon himself to lead his much vaunted campaign promise to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs , corruption and criminality.

As an unconventional politician whose approach to solving problem has been described as ‘out-of-the-box’, not to mention the colorful language he uses especially when piqued, is what has endeared him to the Filipinos which is why he was overwhelmingly voted to the presidency.

I am not going to discuss here Duterte’s defining moments individually which includes among other things his running after and eventually putting Sen. Leila de Lima in police custody for using drug money to finance her senatorial bid, his alleged killings and human rights violation stemming from his bloody war on drugs that has been harshly criticize here and abroad by international human rights agencies and advocates, his antagonistic stance towards the U.S., his shift from a U.S. dictated foreign policy to an independent foreign policy, his open arms policy towards China despite the latter’s incursion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea, his diplomatic sortie to Russia, and last but not least of his controversial decisions is the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

For me what is important in Duterte’s 365 days in office is putting into context how the country and the Filipino people are today having Duterte as our president.

I do not know about you, but it makes me wonder, if not guessing, how it would have been for the Philippines and the Filipinos had we had Roxas, Poe or Binay as the president.

Knowing what we know now about the wide-ranging prevalence and gravity of illegal drug use in the country, could any of the other presidential aspirants, had they won, had the political will or the gumption to declare war against it, as Duterte has done, knowing that you are up against ruffians and monsters?

Could they have had the guts to discover and say that we are now a narco-political country?

Would talking to just the MILF, passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and establishing a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, prevented the Islamic State-inspired Maute group from storming and creating havoc in Marawi City.

Would they have the potency to declare martial law?

Perhaps Divine Providence determined the course that Duterte be president, warts and all, for he has what it takes to lead and fight for the Filipinos in preserving the integrity of the country and having it respected.

This in essence is what is Duterte’s presidency about one year after and in the next 5 years, God willing.

 

Government forces alone should liberate Marawi City

 

President Rodrigo Duterte, while on official visit to Russia, imposed martial law for 60 days on the island of Mindanao on May 23 following the Maute attack in Marawi City.

As we already know the declaration of martial law is a constitutional power that the president has when he sees the country or a part of it being subjugated with impunity by extremists or terrorists, the likes of what was seen and reported in Marawi.

The imposition of martial law is said to be premised upon the principle that “the state has a right to defend itself” and rests on the proposition that “every state possesses the power of self-preservation.”

Martial law has been characterized as “the public right of self-defense against a danger to the order or the existence of the state.”

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not arguing whether or not Duterte is right in declaring martial law in Mindanao. What he is and where he is, there is no doubt that he knows better than most of us especially when he says that the militant Maute group’s incursion in Marawi City is fueled by drug money.

Whether it is drug money or funds coming from the foreign terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the fact alone that the ISIS inspired Maute group was able to terrorize Marawi causing the residents to fled hastily to Iligan city and elsewhere only means that they have the wherewithal to establish their own caliphate or Islamic State in the area.

That being the case, it becomes even more justifiable that martial has been declared so that government forces can wage war against them as mandated and, with God’s help, will be able to liberate Marawi from the evil doings of this group.

You will probably notice that I invoked the intervention of the Divine Providence.

I did for the simple reason that it is what gives our government forces the fortitude to fight for what is right, just and lawful, and what is best for the Filipino people in addition to what they know about fighting skills.

Thus, I am averse to the idea that President Duterte made a clarion call to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the CPP’s New People’s Army (NPA) to join the government in fighting the militant Maute group in Marawi City.

It is bad enough that all of them are thorns on the side of government, which to this day continue to be problematic as when they started rebelling and worshiping their own respective ideology.

Making these dissident groups part and parcel of our loyal government forces, who have pledged allegiance to the Filipino flag, for the sake of patriotism, is not only precarious but a very unsound military strategy.

Truly, it will only complicate matters.

At best it will put government at a disadvantaged, at worst the country will lose face.