Reopening of pork barrel scam probe and Dutertenomics

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

You might be wondering why I am lumping up the two together when they are different and distinct subjects.

Well, they are not really contradistinctive.

What makes them related or akin to one another is the fact that both deals with preventing corruption as the country is steered towards growth and development.

Thus, while Dutertenomics is getting to be a popular buzzword here and abroad for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 6-year development plan that aims to make the Philippines a high middle-income status before his term ends in 2022, it is a much welcomed boost for the country also that Duterte is keen and in fact throwing his full support behind the reopening of a congressional inquiry into the scandalous P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

Dutertenomics is actually about the 10-point agenda that is listed below and which emphasizes transparency and inclusiveness in every step:

  • Higher infrastructure spending, with 5 percent of gross domestic product targeted
  • Lower income and corporate tax rates to better compete with other Asian nations
  • Less red tape and corruption, including permits and land titles crucial to business
  • More state resources for the countryside, reducing poverty and boosting rural growth
  • Strong law enforcement and peace efforts to enhance the business environment
  • Small business gains with GoNegosyo’s Ramon Lopez as Trade & Industry Secretary
  • Better China relations enhancing Chinese trade, tourism and investment flows
  • Charter change to devolve power to the regions and ease foreign investment limits.

In the same manner, in revisiting the pork barrel scam probe, Duterte simply wants to make sure that all those government officials involved in unscrupulously diverting the government funds for the poor and needy into their own bank accounts are taken to task and prosecuted.

I just hope that in so doing Duterte will not interfere and just allow the Sandiganbayan ( a special appellate collegial court) to run its course in prosecuting the high profile accused namely, ex-senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. He will be doing the country a great favor if he does.

Oozing with political will with no one to be beholden to and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of the people foremost in his governance, I am sure Duterte will find success in this twin concerns he is driving at.

 

Duterte, ICC and the NYT

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

I don’t know but the timing by which the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the New York Times have issued their acrimonious/fault-finding statements against President Rodrigo Duterte, when the Philippines is hosting the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, smacks of pure interference and arrogance.

There is no doubt that both the ICC and the NYT wants to generate negative feelings of dislike or distrust among the leaders of the member nations toward Duterte and his bloody war on drugs, alleged extrajudicial killings and even his unpredictable foreign policy, but all these will surely fall on deaf ears and come to naught.

The reason why I am saying this is because there is nothing but sheer respect and recognition for one another in their style of leadership and governance and meddling in the affairs of another state is definitely a no-no.

Thus, for entities like the ICC and the NYT to interfere in the affairs of the state is even worse because first and foremost they have to make sure that what they are saying or implying is factual.

Take the case of the NYT, for instance, where in its editorial, “Let the World Condemn Duterte”, it described the Philippine president as a “man to be stopped” and is urging the ICC to conduct a preliminary investigation on the spate of extrajudicial killings being linked to Duterte’s war on drugs.

There may be a “spate of extrajudicial killings” but how sure is the NYT and the ICC, for that matter, that the killings are state sanctioned? Because jailed Sen. Leila de Lima has been harping about it even as nothing materialized during the investigation she conducted against Duterte when she was still chair of the commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Justice Secretary?

Why has Duterte won overwhelmingly for president despite his alleged notorious past as mayor of Davao City, even when he did not have the political machinery?

Duterte won because many Filipinos looked up to him and believed in his promise to wage serious war against drugs, corruption and criminality.

What this means is that Filipinos were tired having ordinary and traditional politicians who had been ineffective running this country and who, in many ways than one, abetted in hindering the growth and development of the country.

What I am simply saying is that one has to live here and experience what it has been like for the country having one president after another for decades that did not have the political will and the spunk to make an impact in the lives of many poor Filipinos.

Fighting a war against people corrupted by drugs that include policemen, judges and other government officials masquerading as public servants is no easy task.

Duterte was not only able to unmask who the culprits are but has also discovered the enormity of the drug menace in the country and for this he continues to have the people’s trust and approval of his governance.

Other ASEAN leader recognizes the competency and authority of Duterte and has showed their high regard for his brand of leadership and this augurs well for the country’s future with him at the helm.

This is what matters most and not what the NYT, the ICC, and for that matter, the Amnesty International (AI), have been negatively blurting about against Duterte.

 

Gina Lopez over Leni Robredo anytime

DENR Sec. Gina Lopez (l) and Vice Pres. Leni Robredo

I had been critical of Vice President Leni Robredo not only because she has fallen so short of my expectations (yes, Virginia, I voted for her), but more so because she allows herself and her position to be used as the voice of the opposition.

Recent events about her which drew criticism from many only show how vulnerable she is to being manipulated by her cohorts in the Liberal Party (LP) who have vested interests of their own.

You can read more of my opinion about Robredo at these links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/robredos-satisfaction-rating-suffers/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/obredo-un-message-slanders-the-philippines/

On the other hand, I have nothing but great respect for Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez who remains unfazed despite being bypassed by the Commission on Appointments and continues to make a bold and uncompromising stand, saying, she is not keen on finding a “middle ground” with mining companies if it involves “damaging watersheds and agriculture.”

I have also written about Lopez which you can read at these links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/denr-secretary-gina-lopez/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sec-gina-lopez-and-the-mining-industry/

There is simply no comparison between Gina and Leni in terms of ideas, commitment, determination, leadership and resolve.

But for more stark difference between the Gina and Leni, allow me to share with you this article which I find so interesting and revealing that after reading it one can fairly say that the Duterte and Gina ilk is what is needed to run this country and not the Leni Robredos and her yellow-colored ilk.

Be a Gina in a nation full of Lenis

By SASS ROGANDO SASOT on April 20, 2017

THE Opposition, as well as the Filipino intellectuals and naïve millennials sympathetic to them, often adjudge Duterte supporters as a nihilistic cult. Hopefully, they won’t be stuck in that thought. May they have the foresight to put this passionate mass into great use.

They should begin by foregoing their criticisms of Duterte that are mere remnants and permutations of their propaganda against him during the 2016 elections. That’s why Duterte supporters surge like a wild wave against them whenever they do that. The incessant fault-finding feels like election season all over again. They are tired of that mudfest. They want to move forward.

Also, perish the thought of grabbing power from Duterte in any way, whether via coup d’état, nth version of Edsa, or ICC-enabled regime change. You will not succeed with a victory you could enjoy. You are only wasting Duterte, a rare concinnity of courage, compassion, savvy, and iron will.

Be an Opposition with a compelling vision rather than a loudmouth spewing political platitudes. In other words: Be a Gina Lopez in a nation full of Leni Robredo. Though Lopez isn’t part of the Opposition, she’s worthy of emulation by those who want to translate their love for our country into action. Her passion comes with a vision and a plan.

Remember the story of how she got the job as environment secretary? Armed with a thoughtfully crafted presentation, Lopez flew to Davao City, queued up to meet Duterte in the wee hours, and when she finally met him, she persuaded him to stem the tide of ecological destruction wrought by irresponsible mining. Sure, she can be too zealous for her own good and to the detriment of her cause; but it’s also the same verve prompting us to pay serious attention to how we manage our nation’s ecological assets. The same stance which impelled Duterte to give her the power to realize her vision and to back her up even if it would mean losing billions from the mining industry.

Meanwhile, Robredo kept swamping our country with stale political slogans, like the “war on poverty.” Every war requires a strategy to achieve a purpose worthy of great resources mobilized in its service. And of equal importance is an able general that leads his soldiers to victory. Robredo has no riveting strategy, just a litany of emotional appeals punctuated by a smile. She’s definitely not an adept general that could lead her troops to win any war at all.

When she resigned as housing czarina in December 2016, Robredo demonstrated that she’s the kind of general who abandons the battlefield whenever her ego gets slighted by a setback. If the housing needs of Filipinos were a great concern to her, she should have mustered the diva in her, continued working, and proved to Filipinos that she was indispensable in doing the job. While Lopez persists even in the face of great resistance, Robredo gave up and became damsel in distress. She made herself disposable.

Robredo is what has become of the Opposition — unnecessary. And that’s dangerous.

No democracy thrives without an Opposition. Besides being the government’s check-and-balance, the Opposition provides the creative tension necessary to generate innovative policies. In that sense, the Opposition is an indispensable other that stimulate the administration to actualize its highest potential. But the Opposition to the Duterte administration has become mostly an obstructive and destructive force. Instead of being a source of creative tension, they have become a national nuisance one can live without.

That shouldn’t be the case. The Opposition should cease being a Leni Robredo, and start being a Gina Lopez. Time to have a gripping vision with a plan. Present it with ardor. The passionate mass of Duterte supporters might not accept what you say, but gaining acceptance isn’t the goal. The goal is to provide the creative tension this administration needs to keep itself on track in its quest to give every Filipino a more comfortable life.

 

Shelve barangay elections or appoint barangay officials

President Rodrigo Duterte

Once more the country faces a dilemma on whether or not the barangay elections are to proceed in October this year after it has been postponed in October 2016.

If the decision were left to ordinary politicians, and more so those belonging to the opposition, definitely the clamor to proceed is deafening as it has been today for the simple reason that the voters have already been deprived of their rights to choose their leaders.

Unfortunately the traditional politicians mentioned above have to contend with somebody who is not only an unconventional politician but the president of the country who knows whereof he speaks because he has the voluminous intelligence reports in his possession that potentially show the danger of his determined war against illegal drugs being derailed and jeopardized.

The stark difference between the arguments of those advocating for the holding of elections in October 2017 and the reservations made by President Rodrigo Duterte against it is that while the typical politicians only think about the rights of the voters, Duterte has the welfare of the country and well-being of the Filipino people foremost in his mind, which is to say a long term commitment of his presidency that he wants to see succeeding.

Duterte could not have been more emphatic in his resolve to win his war against illegal drug as when he gave a speech recently before the first general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines saying that he did not want the barangay elections held this year due to the purported influence of drug money in the elections.

His statement was simply a reverberation of what he has been telling everybody during his visits all over the country, saying, “Narco-politics has entered the mainstream of Philippine politics.”

It is in this frightening backdrop that President Duterte wishes that a law be created giving him the mandate to appoint the over 42,000 barangay officials nationwide instead of having them elected in October as scheduled.

In as much as Duterte has in his possession the verified information about the deep-rooted involvement in illegal drugs of many barangay officials then it is only right and just that he be given the authority to appoint those unsullied and exemplary individuals to head the barangays if only to insure that, like illegal drug trades, corruption and criminality will also be stopped.

This exceptional mandate could only redound to the benefit of the country and the Filipino people.

Duterte orders total log ban

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

It is very encouraging and reassuring to know that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a Tri-Partite Convergence Committee that will formulate guidelines and other details of total log ban implementation in the country.

Knowing who Duterte is and his earnest concern for the country and the Filipino people it should be relieving to all that the government’s log ban policy will be forcefully and finally implemented for good.

I am saying this because it is not that the policy of a total log ban has not been mulled over and studied in the past by past administrations. The long and short of it is because past presidents and past Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials just did not have the backbone to implement it vigorously.

Proofs to this are the pieces I wrote in 2012 and 2013 which can be read at these links:  https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/illegal-loggers/ and https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/logging-ban/.

Reportedly, the committee will be composed of the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

What adds to the favorable action of Duterte is the presence of two supportive and dependable Cabinet stalwarts, namely, DA Secretary Manny Piñol and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.

In fact what prompted Duterte to issue the directive for the formation of the committee is the apprehension raised by Piñol, during the Climate Change Commission (CCC) En Banc and Advisory Board Meeting in Malacañang, about the massive floods in various river basins in Mindanao due to denuded mountains.

In the same venue Lopez told Duterte that despite the total log ban, several companies were given licenses to cut down trees under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) and the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) contracts.

With Duterte’s order to stop all logging operations with no exemptions we can expect the greening of the mountains again and the mitigation of landslides and flash floods.

But this will take time for so much destruction has been done to the nation’s water sheds. In the meantime the agencies tasked to implement the order should continually be in the look- out for the unscrupulous loggers.

Duterte is the best thing that ever happened to Yolanda victims

 

President Rodrigo Duterte with Vice President Leni Robredo and Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez lighting candles during the 3rd Yolanda anniversary.

President Rodrigo Duterte with Vice President Leni Robredo and Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez lighting candles during the 3rd Yolanda anniversary.

Three years after the destructive super-typhoon Yolanda brought havoc on Tacloban and other parts of Eastern Visayas not much relief, appeasement if you may, has been experienced by still many of those affected.

It is very ironic, indeed, when you think of the help and assistance given and extended by many countries and humanitarian organizations, both monetary and in kind, in the aftermath and the seemingly implementable programs and projects of the government which were put in place, yet to this day all have become nothing but another devastating disaster for the afflicted.

Again the reason could simply be the lack of political will and the dysfunctional government of former Pres. Benigno Aquino who could not keep things moving in improving the plight of the Yolanda victims.

Aquino is not a corrupt person and was not a corrupt president but the problem with him is that he had so much faith in his Cabinet members to put into action his well-intentioned programs for Yolanda rehabilitation and never had the presidential courage to criticize and/or dismiss those performing below par.

It is no wonder, therefore, that new Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez has been urging her constituents who were scarred during Yolanda to continue holding on and keep their faith in the Lord.

What the good mayor simply meant is that there is more hope having faith in the Lord than relying on having faith at the Aquino government whose members had few rotten performers.

No wonder Sen. Panfilo Lacson who was, then, designated rehabilitation czar resigned. Just to give you a glimpse as to why the Yolanda rehabilitation, among others, was a failure please visit this link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/709859/lacson-blames-dbm-for-yolanda-failings.

It is no wonder, too, that President Rodrigo Duterte, during his visit to Tacloban for the third anniversary of Yolanda, expressed his disappointment and frustration over the inadequacies of the rehabilitation project, especially where housing, water supply, livelihood, etc., are concern.

Duterte was referring the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), National Housing Authority (NHA) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which are all involved in the Yolanda reconstruction work.

“When you are paid eight hours to do your work, work for eight hours, do not shortchange the public”, Duterte said, with a warning that he would fire them if they would further delay the rehabilitation works.

Let us also remember that it was Duterte who appointed Vice President Leni Robredo to head the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and she is doing an excellent job despite her limited budget.

What I am just saying here is that the Yolanda victims have been seen and heard by Duterte, who assured them that they will be taken care of by government and that they will have something to look forward to in year’s time.

Thus, Duterte, who even has to complete his 200 days in office yet, is the best thing that has ever happened to Yolanda victims.

De Lima denies PH becoming narco-state

 

Archenemies President Duterte and Sen. de Lima

Archenemies President Duterte and Sen. de Lima

In her efforts to extricate herself from the deepening hole of illegal drugs that she got herself into and in her struggle to clear and save herself from her alleged involvement in the corrupt business of the drug trade emanating from the very unlikely place, the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), embattled Sen. Leila de Lima is now vehemently denying that the Philippines is becoming a narco-state.

It was of course President Rodrigo Duterte who alarmingly declared that the election of former justice secretary Leila de Lima as senator has opened the doors for government to be turned into a narco-state.

But how else would one interpret it as de Lima has become the subject of investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the House of Representatives where witness after witness all have implicated her as having benefited from the proceeds of illegal drug trade which was ultimately used for her election.

“We have been plagued by this drug menace but we are far from being a narco-state,” de Lima said.

What an understatement and she thinks she continues to have the credibility to tell it to the Filipino people, when in fact she already has lost all her moral ascendancy to do it.

Duterte already knew ahead of time the covert participation of de Lima in the illegal drug trade and it was precisely for this reason that he announced the postponement of the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled on October 31 because he was sure that as de Lima got elected by drug money, so would drug money be used to elect some unscrupulous barangay officials.

Perhaps it was also Duterte’s intelligence network in all levels of government that forced him to call for the postponement of the barangay and SK elections because in his latest list of public officials and uniformed personnel linked to the illegal drug trade there are, he mentioned, 5,000 barangay captains listed and what is even worse, according to him, is that there are 6,000 policemen included.

Indeed, you cannot discount the high probability that in the same area unscrupulous drug-supported local government officials and policemen are in cahoots with one another.

So how could de Lima, therefore, disclaim that the country is far from being a narco-state when she herself is a living example of what can become of a narco-state.

In fact only very recently police chief Jovie Espenido of Albuera, Leyte accused De Lima of receiving at least P8 million in payoffs before the May elections from Kerwin Espinosa, allegedly the head of the biggest drug syndicate in Eastern Visayas and son of Albuera Mayor Ronaldo Espinosa, who has been arrested on charges of possession of illegal drugs and unlicensed firearms while his son is at large.

It is good to hear what de Lima has to say about this accusation, but being a good lawyer, too, she has taught herself to deny everything, as she has been doing all these times that she has been under the spotlight.