Lopez’s rejection and disrespect for Taguiwalo

 

Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez

I am talking of course about the confirmation hearing by the Commission on Appointments (CA) that rejected with finality the appointment of Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources DENR) and the deferment of the appointment of Ms. Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Both women are strong-willed and independent minded and advocate of causes worthy of respect and admiration for their aspirations and beliefs intertwine as it involves the environment, where if mismanaged and abused, it is the poor and the socially marginalized who are greatly affected.

It is no wonder therefore that an advocate of green environment has been chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the DENR (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sec-gina-lopez-and-the-mining-industry/) and the champion of the oppressed was to lead the DSWD (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/social-welfare-secretary-judy-taguiwalo/).

There is no doubt in my mind that Lopez will be remembered as the best DENR secretary the country never had because of politics and politicians being propped up by filthy rich businessmen who have large stakes in the mining industry.

“If you want to be confirmed, don’t go against big business,” an angry Lopez shouted during a long press conference after the bicameral hearing rejected her appointment.

“It’s wrong when lawmakers don’t stand up for the rights of every Filipino, but rather big business. It’s really very wrong.”

But if there is one good thing that Lopez has done in her short and controversial tenure as DENR secretary, it is to awaken the mining industries in the country that it behooves upon them to replant and to treat their waste water so that environmental disasters affecting the poor and the marginalized can be prevented from occurring.

Ms. Judy Taguiwalo

The case of Taguiwalo was something else.

The CA deferred the confirmation of Taguiwalo because of her strong links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the confirming body just probably wanted more time to find out where she really stands now – her loyalty and ideology – considering her position as a Cabinet member.

But what really soured and turned off many during Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing was the blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity, if not idiotic remarks disguised as a joke, by the Senate clown himself, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/more-than-a-senator-sotto-is-a-clown/), who, while grilling her, tried to sound funny, saying: “Just on the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I were looking at the personal info about you. You have two children – daughters or sons?”

Lighter side?

Sotto, with Drilon smiling at his side, considers this question “on a lighter side” when he knew already what went on with Taguiwalo’s life raising her daughters as a single parent?

If it was not meddling enough in Taguiwalo’s private life, Sotto proceeded further to disrespect and humiliate the former by saying that “Single mothers are “na-ano lang” (just got knocked up).”

What is being a single parent got to do with being confirmed, for chrissake!

If it was meant to be a joke, as Sotto later claimed it was, then it was a sick joke that could only come from one with a sick mind who does not deserve to be in the Senate at all.

Unlike Lopez and Taguiwalo, Sotto’s advocacy is simply to be a clown.

 

Duterte and martial law

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

For the life of me, I cannot understand why some people are resorting to evil machinations against President Rodrigo Duterte purporting that, because of what is going on relative to the latter’s continuing bloody war on drugs, bomb threats from extremists and the recent military offensive undertaken by the government against the Maute group in Lanao del Sur, who are trying to impress the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by terrorizing residents and flying  its most recognizable black and white flag adorned with Arabic lettering, he will declare martial law.

I presume the opposition, the opportunists and the unscrupulous simply does not want Duterte to succeed.

Why would Duterte do it when everything is under control and he gets things done accordingly and the way he sees fit with the support not only of majority of Filipinos , but most specifically by the business sector and by the  members of Congress?

By support I mean that most Filipinos trust him and his courage and political will simply stands out for he is seen to be doing the things he wants done because it is for the good of every Filipino, regardless of belief and ideology, and for the interest of the country.

Actually one cannot separate Duterte from martial law or to distinguish Duterte apart from martial law for what he is doing in this country today, imposing his will, is a moderate or a measured martial law.

The iron-fist rule and the no-nonsense governance Duterte was practicing in Davao, that turned the big city into a safe and livable place, is simply being replicated in a much bigger scale now and if he is succeeding, where no other past presidents achieved in less than a year of his assumption to office, one can only give credit to the person for who he is and his conviction of what and how a president should serve the Filipino people.

The good thing is that Duterte knows his law and the prohibitions and consequences of declaring martial law, though I seriously believed that he erred in his indifference and not giving a damn to the feelings and sentiments of the martial law victims still crying for justice to this day when he granted the Marcoses permission to have the dictator buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).

Thus, Duterte was right when he chided the scaremongers, saying, he did not need martial law despite ongoing security threats in Mindanao.

“Martial law for what? Killing people? I would rather empower every mayor,” said Duterte, adding that it would work as long as local executives didn’t abuse their power.

That is leadership and his faith in the Filipino people that things can be done lawfully when everyone is incorruptible.

 

Duterte’s pivot to China

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and China President Xi Jinping

President Rodrigo Duterte and China President Xi Jinping

Much has been said about President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China but nothing more confounding than when he blurted out the following at a meeting of Filipino and Chinese businessmen, this after he met China President Xi Jinping: “I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also.”

Many foreign countries went agog hearing this considering how close and tight our ties has been with the US.

It does not mean that Filipinos here and abroad didn’t feel dismayed and stunned at the same time.

But knowing Duterte who shoots his mouth faster than his brain could process the repercussion of his statements, I knew there was going to follow some elucidating explanation, and indeed there was.

Perhaps after much soul searching, Duterte realized that what he really wanted to say to China, and for the world to understand too, is that he simply wanted “a separation of foreign policy” and not “a severance of ties”, which for all intents and purposes is giving up complete diplomatic relations.

“It is not severance of ties. You say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that,” Duterte admitted.

With Duterte as president, we Filipinos have learned to adapt having tongue in cheek for every major statement he makes.

But having said that still we do not doubt Duterte’s good intention in deciding to make a historic pivot to China, as much as it bewilders the whole world, because present circumstances in the region, specifically in the South China Sea (SCS), warrants that he, as the country’s leader, has to solve the problem we are having with China in our territorial and jurisdictional dispute with them.

The international court may have ruled in favor of the Philippines, but does it mean that the problem the Filipino fishermen are having have been resolved already – that they can go back fishing in our own inherent exclusive economic zones when China do not respect the ruling, much less recognize the ruling body?

Of course not and we cannot depend on anybody else, and not even the US, to take the cudgels for us but our own selves.

Duterte’s pivot to China is not about ideological aligning but rather a move that will determine how the country should chart its own future considering that China has expanded and is now situated in our own backyard, so to say.

Lest the world forgets, Duterte is doing this pivot, much to the chagrin of the US, because if the latter was not able to prevent the expansionism of China in the SCS, while they could have years before, who else is going to help us improve our lot and protect us if not our own selves.

Duterte’s move is about making more friends, especially those whom you can’t simply shoo away because of its economic and military power.

Think about it.

 

Time to rally behind Duterte

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

At no other time, since Cory Aquino’s presidency, are we seeing once again the need for trust, confidence and total support of the Filipino people for a president.

Never had this country experienced electing a president with overwhelming votes against his opponents and in so short a time of his presidency has done so much for so many.

And to think that we chose a man coming from far flung Mindanao, which is about time for one coming from that place, but most importantly one who is a darn good lawyer who made a name with his fearless, unconventional and unorthodox manner in making untamed Davao City into a safe and livable place which has become the envy of most cities in the country.

But what makes President Rodrigo Duterte head and shoulders above the rest of past leaders is his uncompromising love for his country, his strong faith in the Filipino people and his resoluteness to do everything in his power to move the country forward and improve the lives of its citizens.

Thus, Duterte’s mission and vision for the country entails that, if necessary, he has to wage a bloody war against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption which are the scourges ever present in our society and which have grown to monstrous proportions.

It was providential for the nation that Duterte won the presidency because the magnitude and extent of these problems, especially the one on drugs, are simply mind boggling and the only person competent and capable of battling it head on is Duterte.

Likewise, it is only Duterte who has the fortitude to initiate peace with the communists and the Moro rebels in Mindanao.

I could not imagine a Roxas, a Poe or a Binay leading the kind of fight Duterte is doing for the country and its people. With them we would surely have awaken one day with nothing more to hope for the best as the country will be overrun by evil people.

Duterte may be described as shooting his mouth often or as loose cannon only to retract and make amends but that does not make him less of leader.

For what he has said and done, either controversial or unquestionable, Duterte has become a fodder for news here and abroad.

He may have ruffled the feathers of some politicians here for declaring a ‘state of lawlessness’ in the whole country but it is an act that is not politically motivated, as to put the country under martial law, but rather a move that will hasten the restoration of peace, order and security of the country following the recent terrorist act by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Davao City.

Duterte may have also disconcerted the feelings of some noted international officials or head of state and organizations but this is for all and sundry to know that the Philippines is a sovereign country and that he as leader will no longer tolerate any foreign leader to meddle and bully his way into the internal affairs of the country and/or infringe into what rightfully belongs to the state.

For all these and for the hope and expectations that Duterte is projecting for the country and its people to attain, it is only fitting that Filipinos should rally behind him now.

 

The war against CPP-NPA continues

 

CPP's Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte

CPP’s Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte

Was the unilateral ceasefire ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte in good will with the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) a lost opportunity or does Jose Maria Sison, CPP’s exiled leader, simply underestimate Duterte’s resolve to win the war against his rebel forces?

It is bad enough that Sison ignored Duterte’s call for cessation of hostilities at the reasonable time limit given by the latter, but it is even worse that Sison was seething with anger as he berated the president for calling off the ceasefire even as he claimed that he was prepared to reciprocate Duterte’s move for a ceasefire.

I heard Sison’s vituperations against Duterte when he was interviewed on national television, describing the president as ‘volatile’ and ‘butangero’(roughly translated as tough guy or a thug) who thinks he can pull his weight around now that he is president. Sison even mocked Duterte’s call for a ceasefire as hollow and inconsequential.

If Sison’s fiery reaction and use of blistering language against the president, who has shown nothing but cordiality, sincerity and tolerance in achieving peace with the CPP-NPA, is not an utter show of arrogance and disrespect, then I don’t know how else to describe Sison’s attitude towards somebody of authority who yearns for a peaceful and stable country.

Duterte has always been sympathetic with the leftist and he has not minced words about his leanings.

Would anyone still question Duterte’s stand and commitment when at the very start of his administration he already wanted members from the left to be in his Cabinet, thus, the presence of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo?

Not only that. Duterte also made true his promise to free political detainees and send negotiators to Utrecht, Netherland as requested so peace negotiation could be started soon enough.

Now, one can say that Sison’s recalcitrance is indeed a test to Duterte’s leadership.

With two seemingly hotheads and revolutionists colliding, what are we to expect?

The obvious! Government’s war against the CPP-NPA continues.

The Duterte phenomenon

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

As if winning the presidency was not phenomenal enough for one coming from Mindanao and a former mayor of Davao City, what is adding more to Rodrigo Duterte’s wonder in the country’s political world today are the dimensions by which he has been able to captivate the trust of the Filipinos and sustain his popularity in what he does for the country and its people.

What I am simply saying is that Duterte and his men cannot seem to do any wrong even as drug scum are dying in the government’s pursuit to stop or at least minimize the proliferation of illegal drugs.

There are a few calls for investigation from some people who think human rights have been violated, but compared to those who are at awe at how widespread illegal drugs have been pushed and pervasively used based on what is being reported daily, there is just no way that one can stop the majority of Filipinos from supporting the determined effort of the government to fight drugs – regardless of who and how many are killed.

This is the kind of leader we had been waiting for who, despite his uncouth manners and disgracious language before, is effecting change that he promised and giving hope to many struggling Filipinos.

Even those seemingly cultured and influential people in the financial and business sector of society who were skeptical of Duterte and strongly dissuaded others, orally and in writing, not to vote for him are now singing hosannas for him.

That every political party in the country today are coalescing with Duterte’s PDP-Laban giving it the power and making it a super-majority in both Houses of Congress only proves of their recognition, high esteem and unconditional support of the president’s leadership.

I do not know if there will ever be a credible minority in both Houses. If this is not a phenomenon, I don’t know what is for this bizarre situation never existed before. Imagine the leaders in the executive and legislative branches of government are all coming from Mindanao.

Suddenly the southern part of the country is thrust into the limelight as an exhibit for implementing reforms and development. Indeed, this is a welcome occurrence for if positive change can happen in a war torn region, how easily could progress come to pass in Luzon and the Visayas islands!

Needless to say that this phenomenon does not only apply to mainstream political leaders but even strikingly to those with different religious and ideological beliefs.

But the most phenomenal of all is the transformation that one has seen in Duterte as a person, now that he is president. The metamorphosis he promised will happen once he starts serving as president has indeed happen and this is what has endeared him to the people. What you see is what you get. Not only does he talks the talk but also walks the talk. What a proficient and polished politician he has become although the urge to kill is still very much in his blood!

This is the Duterte phenomenon that is getting to be noticed not only by ASEAN but also by the western world.

Indeed, Duterte is one president to be reckoned with by world leaders as the phenomenon he is creating continues and endures.

Philippines turning over new leaf with Duterte as president

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

There is no doubt in the minds of Filipinos here and abroad that the country is turning over new leaf with President Rodrigo Duterte at the helm.

This is the kind of favorable transformation that I had been waiting for since I came back to this country some fifty years ago.

I thought the metamorphosis would be sooner because then we were only second to Japan with the potential of highly succeeding in growing economically strong with seemingly impressive politicians and economists in government.

The country was really moving gradually forward even when government was concerned with the same problems it is still facing today – ideological and territorial, like the Mindanao issue. Corruption and illegal drugs, if there were then, were not fodder for the media, so that is how insignificant it was.

But then the nation got enamored with a brilliant Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and made him president.

It started well but power and greed got the better of him and it became worse when his covetous wife, Imelda, got into the picture.

The rest is history.

Needless to say the country got mired in a hole dug by politicians themselves who could never take it out from its predicament because most of them were weighing heavily the country and its people down with their corrupt practices, incompetency and or lack of resolve.

In the meantime neighboring countries in southeast Asia started doing better and passing us in growth and development while we stagnated.

The political leaders were not only to blame, but blame has also to be shared by the Filipino people who, time and again, elected if not corrupt, inutile leaders.

Not only are overly corrupt and inutile leaders persisted all these years but criminality surged and illegal drugs proliferated so much so that the drug lords could run and control their illegal business even while being detained. But what is incredibly dismaying is that these unscrupulous people are allowed to be detained in luxury.

Exasperated, the Filipino people has finally decided that enough is enough and by divine providence strongly bonded and overwhelmingly supported the candidacy of a fearless unorthodox mayor from Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte, who promised to fight corruption, criminality and illegal drugs the unconventional way so the country can move forward and develop while alleviating the lives of people.

Even before Duterte was proclaimed president the people have been noticing change in the way people reacted to his policies and programs against the ills plaguing the country.

Now that Duterte is president the more hopeful the Filipinos have become that we have elected a president who could turn the fate of this nation and its people for the better the way many have been wishing and praying for.

With Duterte’s leadership coupled with the passionate support he is getting from the people we can now see the Philippines slowly turning over new leaf.

We can only pray for his good health and safety.