The Mindanao martial law brouhaha


It simply boggles my mind why critics of the administration, specifically the Commission on Human rights (CHR), are making a big brouhaha of the one year martial law extension in Mindanao being asked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Note that Duterte, on May 23, placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City.

The initial declaration was supposed to end after 60 days, but Congress, in joint session, approved Duterte’s request to extend it until December 31.

In October, Duterte declared Marawi City free from terrorists following the killings of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and a bunch of other Mautes and their followers.

But, does this mean that the same rebellion will not happen again, or that can it be safely said that we have seen the last of it – an ISIS-inspired insurgency that has practically left Marawi City in ruins?

Lest we forget, we are talking about Mindanao, the second largest island in the country, where it also has the largest concentration of ethnic minorities in the Philippines. Although Muslims are no longer a majority, still the Islamic culture is very evident with the presence of many mosques.

Thus, the elusive peace that government has been trying to establish with the radical Muslims in some parts of Mindanao continues to beacon Islamic extremists that want a land of their own or a caliphate, as they wanted to establish in Marawi City.

If Duterte critics have only the information or intelligence reports that the president has in his hand relative to peace and order and security matters of the nation, I don’t think they will be making a lot of noise about the one year extension of martial law the president is asking Congress to approve.

After Marawi, other places in Mindanao is still vulnerable to extremist attacks as the killing of leaders does not necessarily extinguish the life of their fanatical organization that wants nothing but to dismember a country searching for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Besides this is not an independent decision made by the Duterte alone. The latter had to act on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The AFP had information about an ongoing recruitment by terror groups and an increasing violence from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been tagged as a terror organization.

The PNP’s recommendation, meanwhile, is based on two factors: the need to address continuing threats from terrorist groups and to facilitate the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

Thus, for CHR and other political critics of President Duterte to say, therefore, that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule” nationwide is baloney.

Unlike the dictator Marcos, Duterte has selfless, and not selfish, interest for the country.


Callamard’s unexpected visit and interference


UN’s Agnes Callamard

I am saying that U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s visit to the Philippines was unexpected because her presence was only reported when she was spotted at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Commission on Human Rights on May 4.

In fact she refused to grant interviews to the media and the reason could only be that she didn’t want to make a big fuss of her visit because supposedly it was under wraps. But her familiar looks gave her away and she was divulged.

The reason why her unexpected visit got media attention is because the country was expecting that the next time she come it was to debate with President Rodrigo Duterte on extrajudicial killings and human rights violation brought about by the administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs which has been vigorously criticized by Callamard and her ilk.

As we all know, she rejected Duterte’s challenge and instead said she preferred a joint press conference with him, which actually does not prove anything.

Why can’t Callamard allow Duterte to throw questions at her and have her answers under oath if she really has the dossiers necessary to nail down the president?

But that is neither here nor there for Callamard was in the country, according to her, in an unofficial capacity, solely to attend a two-day academic conference at the invitation of the University of the Philippines and human rights lawyers.

It did not stop her, however, from chiding Duterte’s deadly campaign against illegal drugs, saying world leaders have recognized that such an approach does not work. It is just like saying that because high-ranking government officials have declared war against illegal drugs that there is now legitimacy in their actions.

Callamard told a forum she attended that badly thought out policies not only fail to address drug abuse and trafficking, they also compound the problems and “can foster a regime of impunity infecting the whole justice sector and reaching into whole societies, invigorating the rule of violence rather than law.”

I have written so many times in defense of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, bloody/deadly as it may seem to be, but again I ask this question: who is complaining?

With the information and communications technology in almost everybody’s finger tips now, we are no longer a far-flung corner of the world. We are no longer ignorant about events, good and bad, happening all over the world.

There are more atrocities committed by strongmen abroad where even their own state are being destroyed and their citizens fleeing and dying that is exceedingly worthy of the UN’s attention, action and strong condemnation.

Here in the Philippines we are just waking up to a new president that seems to be succeeding where others failed miserably in uplifting the lives of Filipinos while steering the nation to calm waters.

There may be killings along the way but if that is what it takes to reach the aspirations of the many poor Filipinos, then who is the UN to stop us?

We never had it this good and we can only hope it continues without the interference of UN’s Callamard.



MEP’s meddling an utter rudeness


The European Parliament

I am actually referring to the arrogance and brazenness of some Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who are meddling in the political affairs of the Philippines, a sovereign country at that, by filing a resolution calling for the release of Sen. Leila de Lima and quashing the drug charges against her.

If this is not a blatant show of superiority complex, I don’t know how else to interpret it.

Let me just qualify what I mean by superiority complex. Surely, it is not about intellectual superiority, nor in terms of integrity and morality, but this pompous and imperious bunch of people think they belong to a superior race because they come from a much developed country and they are white.

That is all there is to it and they think that because they are the high and mighty, that they have the ascendancy, the authority, nay, the ‘sovereign obligation’, to bully and lecture us about justice.

Justice my ass! Justice for de Lima?

But of course justice has been done, and where she finds herself now is the kind of justice that she deserves.

And they don’t have to worry about her safety. She definitely is in good hands. She has to be because the Filipino people would really like to see how the de Lima saga ends, if only to prove that indeed she was deeply entrenched in the drug activities.

This bunch of swaggering and pontificating MEPs think that it was all the time fine and dandy and much better in the Philippines before Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte got voted to the presidency.

I am sure de Lima saw what was coming to her after she won a slot in the senatorial race allegedly with the help of drug money, and seeing, too, that Duterte captured the presidency.

De Lima must have felt sorry in hindsight that she was not able to gather enough evidence to prove that Duterte was behind the much ballyhooed killings in Davao while the latter was the mayor and the former as chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and thence Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

What de Lima is getting is payback time from Duterte, after what he went through being falsely accused and humiliated by her.

Now the table is turned against de Lima and for the information of the MEPs, this is a welcome development for the country.

Duterte’s relentless and bloody war against illegal drugs, not to mention criminality and corruption, is giving most Filipinos hope that under his leadership the Philippines will grow and develop faster.

In fact Duterte’s brand of leadership for many is a breath of fresh air, even with the alleged extrajudicial killings brouhaha, but, unfortunately, the meddling of the MEPs is fouling the atmosphere somehow.


Probing de Lima better for the nation than probing killer witness


Edgar Matobato and Sen. Leila de Lima

Edgar Matobato and Sen. Leila de Lima

What could have been an enlightening investigation/hearing on extrajudicial killing related to the Duterte administration’s relentless war on drugs by the Senate Committee on Justice chaired by Sen. Leila de Lima became instead a gruesome tale of killings as narrated by a surprise witness of the latter and self-described assassin belonging to the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS) during President Rodrigo Duterte’s term as mayor of Davao city.

Edgar Matobato, the 57-year-old killer witness, who admitted he only finished Grade I, testified under oath that he and a group of policemen and ex-communist rebels killed about 1,000 people between 1988 and 2013 on Duterte’s orders — one of them an alleged kidnapper fed alive to a crocodile.

Matobato acknowledged that he himself carried out about 50 deadly assaults as an assassin and admitted having garroted, burned, quartered and then buried at a quarry allegedly owned by a police officer who was a member of the DDS. Others were dumped to be eaten by fish.

It was bad enough that Matobato’s testimony was full of holes but it was even worse that he directly implicated Duterte under oath in a public hearing about the latter’s participation in the killings, not to mention that he also accused Duterte of masterminding the unsuccessful ambush planned for de Lima when she chaired the Commission on Human Rights and was investigating the mayor’s possible role in extrajudicial killings in 2009 in Davao.

Note that as senator, de Lima has been a staunch critic of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead since he assumed the presidency in June.

Duterte in turn has accused de Lima of involvement in illegal drugs, alleging that she used to have a driver who took money from detained drug lords.

It is in this context that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre branded as ‘lies and fabrications’ the testimonies made by Matobato when grilled by some senators, thus, prompting him even to say that the attestations by the witness were all product of a ‘fertile and coached imagination’.

What Aguirre was simply trying to point out is that in choosing to entertain and heralding the coming forward of Matobato to testify, de Lima was simply trying hard to divert the public’s attention from her supposed involvement with the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) which is scheduled to be investigated by the House of Representatives pretty soon.

Aguirre said that he will be presenting ‘explosive’ witnesses against de Lima into her alleged role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP.

I find probing de Lima, a VIP, more interesting, relevant and beneficial for the country than pursuing in probing somebody that is simply used for personal interest and satisfaction.

The looming Duterte-de Lima verbal skirmish


Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

The plan of Sen. Leila de Lima to investigate the killings emanating from the Philippine National Police’ s (PNP) relentless drive against illegal drugs operation around the country, purportedly in aid of legislation, is certainly inviting a verbal skirmish from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

De Lima who was once a chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and who is expected to head the Senate justice committee seems to be insinuating that not only is human rights exceedingly violated but people are killed without the benefit of a full and fair trial which amounts to summary execution or extra-judicial killing.

I do not know if de Lima wants to grandstand this early in her career as senator, perhaps    flaunting her being a Justice Secretary not too long ago, but she should understand or perhaps should be reminded that those killed are the once opting to shoot it out with the police forces instead of cooperating with the law like the thousands of others all over the country who are voluntarily giving up the vice and surrendering after being asked to for their own sake.

Calling for an investigation on this issue this early will not do de Lima any good nor will it benefit the country. On the contrary, it will only highlight more her inadequacies, like I mentioned in my blog a few days ago. (

In fact, no less than Solicitor General Jose Calida, who was once undersecretary of the justice department in the Arroyo administration, has already started questioning de Lima’s ineffectiveness, saying, “There is no need for investigation in aid of legislation kuno (supposedly). Secretary de Lima, who was Secretary of Justice for 6 years… what happened during her tenure? Lalong lumakas ang proliferation of droga (Drugs proliferated more) even in her own turf, at the national penitentiary.”

Calida, reportedly, added: “If she’s truly sincere to stop this drug menace, let us ask her: what did she do as justice secretary in charge of the [National Bureau of Investigation], the prosecution service, and the correctional?”

Even PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa admitted feeling harassed, no doubt by people like de Lima, as he was tasked by Duterte to put a cap on the proliferation of illegal drugs by going after drug lords and drug users and pushers. Because of his dogged loyalty to and strong belief in Duterte, Dela Rosa instead urged his men to move forward in their operations and to not be “intimidated” by the threats of cases filed against them.

But the morale booster was Calida himself who promised the PNP hierarchy and its personnel that he will defend them to the hilt if anybody attempts to derail the effort exerted now by the organization to implement the order of Duterte to stop the illegal drug operation in the country.

Needless to say that more than Dela Rosa’s and Calida’s fight, drug menace in the Philippines is Duterte’s personal fight and de Lima and whoever else in Congress who opposes the way it is done must have to contend with the tough talking and iron fist president himself.


CHR’s Rosales is wrong in her Senate Mamasapano report interpretation


CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales

CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales

Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales has been reported to have strongly criticized the Senate Mamasapano Report saying that it was “mostly based on emotions rather than an objective interpretation of facts.”

I do not know where Rosales was during the senate investigation, but if leaders from the different sectors of society have heaped praises for the way neophyte Senator Grace Poe ably handled the proceedings with all objectivity, it boggles my mind how Rosales could describe it to be subjective.

There is no doubt emotions were high in some aspects of the investigation, but how could the final report be based on emotions when the investigation was conducted not only in aid of legislation, but also finding out how and what contributed to the death of 44 PNP-SAF troopers?

Rosales deplored the use of the word “massacre”, to describe how the fallen troopers died as “excessive” because, as she claims, the SAF were also armed and, thus, they were not necessarily “helpless or unresisting.” That is true, but ‘massacre’ here is not about the act, but rather the intent that the Moro rebels had in making sure that none lives to tell the tale by pumping more bullets on the fallen police commandos.

Rosales complained also that the report failed to mention the death of a number of civilians caught in the crossfire.

In the same breath, Rosales, likewise, lambasted the Senate report for its “skewed understanding of the peace process in Mindanao.”

To me it looks like Rosales herself is getting the better of her own emotions, such that she could no longer distinguish what is what and which is which. It looks like she is a victim of the proverbial saying of “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

Unlike Rosales, the Senate report was about looking into the biggest factor or factors that resulted to the Mamasapano debacle that led to collateral killings despite being successful in neutralizing one high-value target.

How much more objective can one get when the report itself questions the leadership attributes of President Benigno Aquino, both as president and commander-in-chief?

Everybody, including the senators, understand the importance of having peace in Mindanao or the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), but is it a “skewed understanding of the peace process in Mindanao”, if the report asks for a total review of the BBL and questions the probity of the MILF peace negotiators?

Surely the Senate report is not polarizing public opinion about the Mamasapano massacre, but Rosales’ comments sure as hell do.

The Duterte-Rosales brouhaha

CHR chair Etta Rosales and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

CHR chair Etta Rosales and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

No matter how many times Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Etta Rosales criticize Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his words and deeds, I think more and more Filipinos like what they see in and what they hear from Duterte

The more you appreciate the man and what he stands for when you get to visit Davao or hear what the residents have to say about their mayor.

In their latest brouhaha, which had something to do with Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista being caught on camera giving a couple of whacks at the face of a Chinese man caught in an anti-drug operation when he refused to answer the mayor’s question, Duterte issued a statement, saying, “Kulang pa yon. Dapat sinipa ko. Sa Davao City, ikarga ko siya ng barko, baroto tapos ihulog ko siya Davao Gulf. Ang isda diyan ngayon wala nang pagkain e,” (That’s not enough. I should have kicked him. In Davao City, I will put him inside a ship then I will throw him into Davao Gulf. The fishes there don’t have food now.)

Well, we all know who Duterte is and how he loathes drugs being peddled in Davao and his antipathy for drug dealers/pushers, and he just felt probably that the Chinese mule did not deserve just a couple of whacks.

So, who comes in to put her two cents worth in?

Yes, you are right – Etta Rosales – alleging that Bautista violated the rights of Zhen Xu, the man caught red handed with 10 bags of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) with an estimated value of P15million.

In the same manner, Rosales also blasted at Duterte for his opinion at Bautista’s ‘kiddy’ treatment of Xu.

Rosales said Duterte’s comments sent a “wrong signal to law enforcers” and that the Mayor should “shut up”.

Shut up?

What wrong signal is Rosales talking about when these Chinese nationals are making the country a dumping ground for their drugs with impunity?

Had Rosales really verified how insolent the guy was towards Mayor Bautista when he was interviewed by the latter?

If the Chinese drug dealer does not know how to show respect to authority, not even the mayor, and continue pretending not to understand English or Tagalog despite his ownership of a Philippines’ driver license, does his persona still deserve to be dignified and his human rights protected?

What human rights does he have to be protected anyway if what he is doing is endangering the lives of Filipinos?

Drug dealing is not a petty crime and Rosales should know this. Whoever deals in illegal drugs are scum of the earth.

If being able to extract significant information from Xu will help authorities minimize the drug supply in this country before he is thrown to the Davao Gulf, then, so be it.