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.

 

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Trillanes’ show of idiocy

 

Senator Antonio Trillanes

I find it truly nothing but a show of idiocy Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence at the Independence Day rites at Luneta park.

Trillanes described Duterte as ‘tactless’ for skipping the celebration just because the latter lacked sleep, he said, and uttering further the following statement: “You will see in this instance that he does not care, that he does not give any value to this very important event in our country’s history. What’s to lose by waking up early?”

There is nothing to lose actually, Sen. Trillanes, if Duterte’s body clock is similar to yours.

And when I talk about body clock I am not referring simply to the most basic daily rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle.

Perhaps you are not aware, but research has been finding that the body’s clock is responsible for more than just sleep and wakefulness. Other systems, like hunger, mental alertness, and mood, stress, heart function, and immunity also operate on a daily rhythm.

This is where the stark difference lies between you and Duterte because circumstances surrounding your daily lives at this very instant are distinct and divergent.

What I am simply saying is that you, Mr. Senator, is not burdened by the awesome responsibility that President Duterte is carrying on his shoulder in the light of the Marawi City siege by the Maute-led militant group who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including dozens from neighboring countries and the Middle East, which was the reason why martial law was declared in Mindanao.

It is not the siege alone per se, but it is the onerous responsibility of facing the consequences of lives lost defending and liberating the beleaguered city from the clutches of evil, not to mention the onus of rebuilding the displaced lives and infrastructure of the city when it is all over.

While you, Mr. Senator, is still harping the lawfulness of the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, the fact is that you are living an easy life and very well far from the predicament that President Duterte is in today.

Thus, I find it absurd and appalling that Trillanes continues to have the temerity to publicly say that he is frustrated and disappointed that he is the nation’s president.

Thank goodness you belong to the trivial few who dislike Duterte because the vital many in this country also think and believe that your presumptuous and arrogant attitude is a big disservice to the country and the Filipino people.

That is the long and short of it.

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.

 

Yes to martial law in Mindanao – Part II

 

Former President Fidel Ramos

It boggles my mind why of all people Fidel Ramos, the military’s second most powerful official after General Fabian Ver during the dark years of the Marcos martial law era, and who later became president of the country, is stepping out front and disparaging at President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration putting the whole of Mindanao under martial law.

Ramos’ main fear and contention is that abuses of any manner, shape and form will destroy the nation once more, the way it happened during the Marcos years.

I think Ramos knows whereof he speaks because under Martial Law and the EDSA Revolution, Wikipedia has this to say about him: Ramos headed the Philippine Constabulary, then a major service branch of the Armed Forces, that acted as the country’s national police until 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos imposed Martial Law. Ramos is held responsible by for human rights abuses committed under Martial Law as head of the Philippine Constabulary chief; the unit responsible in the arrest tortures of civilians.

It is in this light that people should start reminding Ramos that the only similarity Duterte has with Marcos as a leader is in their ability to lead the country with an iron hand.

With Marcos’ corrupted wife and cronies, martial law was declared because of an ulterior motive to benefit themselves and that is what they did when the plundered the nation dry after committing the utmost human rights abuses.

Duterte, however, is putting the whole of Mindanao under martial because he is seeing Mindanao as becoming the hotbed of an emerging jihadist militant group belonging to the notorious ISIS that is known for spreading hatred, beheading victims on camera and instigating deadly terrorist attacks.

What is even bad, which justifies Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, is that the government has discovered that foreigners have joined the Maute group in battling the military forces in Marawi City.

“What is happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign fighters,” Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s chief lawyer, told reporters in the southern city of Davao.

He said Malaysians, Indonesians, Singaporeans and “other foreign jihadists” were fighting in Marawi, one of the biggest Muslim cities in the mainly Catholic Philippines with about 200,000 residents.

Marawi looks like a ghost city now and if it is of any consolation to the terrified residents who are fleeing to Iligan City, Ramos will be doing the country a favor if he should instead urged Filipinos to rally behind Duterte and his administration’s drive to have lasting peace in Mindanao, improve the plight of all Filipinos and move the country forward.

(In the same breath let me invite you to this link which I saw three days after I posted this blog so you will know why I felt aghast at Ramos’ tirade against Duterte: http://www.dailytopmedia.com/2017/05/canadian-political-scientist-tells-fvr.html — Quierosaber).

 

Yes to martial law in Mindanao

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

The writing on the wall was there. It was coming. It was just a matter of time.

Coming from Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte has always longed for peace in the war turned  region.

He has always made it clear that he identifies himself with the Muslims, openly stating that he has their blood flowing in his veins from his maternal side of the family.

But as then mayor of Davao City he could only do so much and with limited impact.

Thus, when Duterte got overwhelmingly elected president he worked hard to make Mindanao what it is suppose to be – the land of promise, among other things.

Duterte realized that peace in Mindanao will not come easy not because of the much talked about Muslim-Christian conflict, but more serious is the enmity and hostility among the different Moro rebel themselves.

As Duterte showed ardor and determination in his fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption in the country, his sincerity and passion also manifested in his quest to pacify the warring Moro rebels in Mindanao so lasting peace in the region could be attained. I am referring here to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Alas, while peace talks, agreements and even unavoidable occasional skirmishes between government troops and the Moro rebel have been ongoing, another radical Islamist rebels known as the Maute group made known of their existence with impunity.

The Maute group who are based in Lanao del Sur is also known as the Islamic State of Lanao led by their founders Omar and Abdulla Maute. It is said that this local terrorist group has already pledged allegiance to international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), carrying and raising ISIS black flags and insignia.

The Maute has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

With events going bad and spiraling out of control in Marawi City, as the Maute group mounted violent attacks when government forces tried to capture their leader Isnilon Hapilon, Duterte deemed it timely to declare martial law for the whole of Mindanao.

I think Duterte knows what he is doing and if putting Mindanao under martial law is what it takes to prevent the enlisting and widening the control of the Maute terrorist group so that the country could go on developing its national interest then the president should be commended for exercising his much appreciated guts and political will.

 

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.