Anybody but Callamard

 

I am talking of course about UN Special Rapporteur (SR) Agnes Callamard and her penchant in announcing to the whole world that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is a failure, prejudging it as nothing but willful summary executions and extrajudicial killings that blatantly violate human rights.

I say penchant because this is where Callamard’s expertise lies – investigating and reporting wherever and whoever it is that is behind the extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

It wouldn’t have been a problem if she did her job objectively in the Philippines. The problem is that she sought and depended largely on people, sectors and entities belonging to the opposition and Duterte bashers who would tell her what she wants to hear.

Almost always what Callamard hears is not the truth, for the truth should be coming from the majority of Filipinos who elected Duterte for president because they wanted change in governance and which Duterte is seen to be delivering in his promise to wage war against drugs, corruption and criminality.

Duterte has been in power for almost two years now and his trust and approval ratings remain high despite negative reviews he is getting from people like Callamard, on his alleged human rights abuses and his bloody war against drugs.

One should be a citizen of this country and an avid follower of the political events that has happened in the past up to the present to fully understand and appreciate the difference it makes by having a leader who exercises power coupled with political will, as oppose to a leader who has power but lacks the political will.

Political will is defined as the ghost in the machine of politics – that motive force that generates political action. This is what differentiates Duterte from the recent past presidents and knowing closely now what made us the ‘sick man of Asia’ for so long, his unorthodox leadership necessitated an out-of-the-box thinking and ideas on how to move this country forward to stability and improve the lives of Filipinos.

The reality is that in so doing the forces of good battles the forces of evil that has been instrumental in hindering the progress of this nation, and lives are lost, sometimes brutally in the process.

It is no surprise, therefore, that while the Philippine government is now amenable to have an investigation conducted into alleged human rights abuses in its bloody war on drugs, it has equally signified strongly its opposition that it be headed by SR Callamard.

Presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, a lawyer, said the Philippines welcomed any investigation provided that the United Nations sends a “credible, objective and unbiased” rapporteur, who is also “an authority in the field that they seek to investigate”.

Callamard does not fit that description, he said.

I have written once about Callamard which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/war-on-illegal-drugs/.

But to know more about Callamard, I am sharing with you this link which definitely says more about this controversial SR: http://www.manilatimes.net/un-rapporteur-callamards-big-lie-un-resolution/326057/.

 

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Robredo’s bleak picture of the country

Vice President Leni Robredo

I had high hopes when Leni Robredo won the vice presidency in 2016 against her closest rival, the dictator’s namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Had even higher expectations when Robredo, despite her being an opposition, was given a Cabinet portfolio in the early part of the Duterte administration.

Was thinking that she would be an exemplary model of a non-traditional politician, following her late husband’s political approach, who could work with an unconventional politician like President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alas, Robredo valued to lead an opposition party, the Liberal Party (LP), and be among a group of traditional politicians – trapos – who had nothing to show and crow about during the preceding Aquino administration except to take care of their own personal and political interests.

What is becoming worse with Robredo is that she is falsely lamenting and maliciously depicting a bleak picture of the country when, during the 72nd anniversary of the LP, she exhorted her dwindling party mates “to remain true to what is right and not lose heart in the face of the “darkness” shrouding the nation.” She was being melodramatic in her black dress.

“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed. Darkness envelops us. But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting,” Robredo said.

I mean what darkness is she talking about and fighting for what?

At least Duterte is keeping true to his promise during the campaign that he will be fighting for the country and its people by going relentless against drugs, corruption and criminality, which were found later to be prevalent during Aquino’s LP administration but nothing forceful was done to curve the plagues.

Thus, I could not agree more with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s statement that Robredo’s remarks were “completely out of touch with the existing realities on the ground.”

“The darkness that Vice President Robredo may be referring to perhaps pertains to the future of those discredited politicians who wish to return to power,” Roque added. It cannot be more nearer to the truth than this.

And it is precisely for this reason that Filipinos, in every poll survey now and then, have always given Duterte high marks in satisfaction, approval and trust ratings because they no longer want the deplorable ways of the traditional politicians that Robredo sadly has embraced, to make a comeback only to forsake the respect and meaningful changes we are gaining now as people and as a country.

 

LP as resurgent party of the people

 

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

I am talking of course about the Liberal Party (LP) and the frivolous ambition of its leader, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, of making it a resurgent political party of the people – “bigger in number and stronger in unity”, he declared.

If this is not wishful thinking, I do not know what is.

I am not saying it could not happen again, like reminiscing the heydays of the impotent Aquino administration when the LP was ruling it over.

But look where they are now and what happened to their numbers. Not even the presence of the gracious Vice President Leni Robredo can make a big deal of a difference despite her being the LP chair.

It is not about the practice of changing political colors and affiliating with the party machine that that made Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte president of the Philippines, but this time it is about the trust and confidence the politicians have in the competence and adequacy of Duterte as a leader that they want to be associated with.

Thus, even if Pangilinan is crowing that the LP is now enlisting membership that are not politicians, but rather those belonging to the academe, the private sector and other civic organizations, with Robredo administering the oath of allegiance to the party, I don’t think this will make a dent in Duterte’s popularity and acceptability.

Pangilinan’s sales pitch, saying, that it is “important for Filipinos to fight for and live a life of freedom as well as dignity and respect for all” simply sounds melodramatic, if not senseless, for the truth is that Duterte’s non-traditional style of leadership and his political will, not to mention his iron rule against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality is earning us back the respect and dignity we deserve as a nation.

But what I find most absurd are the questions Pangilinan asked in his speech at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s “Freedom Speech”:

“Today, we ask these questions: Are we free? Does freedom have any value in a society tainted with the blood of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings and impunity? Is freedom meaningful without security in the home and in the streets?

“How do we reconcile freedom amid the feelings of despair, fear and hopelessness among those overwhelmed by the enormity of our nation’s problems: grinding poverty; widespread hunger; massive unemployment; pervasive graft and corruption; horrible traffic especially in urban centers; neglect and waste of people and their potential?”

As a lawyer Pangilinan should have been more discriminating in his questions.

Why, were these problems non-existent during the term of former Pres. Benigno Aquino, of which Pangilinan was one of the LP’s stalwart?

Were the Filipinos really better off during the salad days of Aquino and his cohorts?

What have Aquino, Pangilinan, and their ilk done after six (6) years in power, and I am not even asking about the scandalous reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Tacloban City after the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda and the equally outrageous Mamasapano massacre?

Horrible traffic? Why, what has the Aquino administration, which Pangilinan was part of, done to deserve exoneration, as seemingly implied by Pangilinan, in his speech? Why can’t Pangilinan just ask former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya about his culpability in Manila’s traffic woes?

Thank goodness for the support Duterte got overwhelmingly from the people or narco-politics would have swallowed us all with politicians, the likes of Pangilinan, continually living the good life, while majority of Filipinos live a miserable life.

My take is that for as long as Duterte has the respect and appreciation of most Filipinos, there could never be a resurgent LP, as Pangilinan envisions.

 

Mocha Uson’s popularity exploited by political party

 

Mocha Uson

After House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced the inclusion of Margaux ‘Mocha’ Uson, former sexy dancer turned political blogger turned member of the Duterte administration, in Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban)’s 2019 senatorial line-up, my immediate reaction was – give me a break!

I mean this is a big leap upward in Uson’s career and popularity is not the best indicator that one has what it takes to be a senator.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not belittling Uson, but the past should be an important lesson for us Filipinos to learn as to how we should go forward in electing senators of the realm.

Do we really deserve the likes of movie stars, an aspiring comedian, former mutineers and a world champion pugilist to represent the Filipinos in the Senate just because they have become public figures and are being idolized by millions for their chosen gigs?

The saving grace for Uson, and this I appreciate very much, is that she admitted that while Alvarez invited her to be one of PDP-Laban’s 2019 senatorial bet, she declined because she said she’s not a politician.

“I am thankful and flattered for being considered as a possible candidate, pero sa ngayon ay wala pa akong (but as of now I do not have) plans on running,” Uson said.

I hope Uson will not allow herself to be exploited by Alvarez because she will only be making a fool of herself if she does run, at least at this point in time, and even if pushed by President Duterte.

Thus, I am not saying that she shall not run forever, but all she has to do now is adequately prepare herself and hone her competency relative to the programs, policies and directions to where Duterte wants to take this country by advocating and talking about them.

I admire Uson’s outspokenness in her support for Duterte’s war on drugs, corruption and criminality and even for the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law and she should continue encouraging the people to do the same and trusting Duterte to make this country move forward.

Perhaps by the time she decides to run for senator, people will come to know her already as one that is not only popular because of her star status, but acknowledged as one that also has a good head on her shoulder to represent the people and help bring back dignity and honor to the august body that is the senate.

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.

 

Duterte wants feisty daughter Sara to succeed him

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte

We have not even reach half way yet in President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential term of office and he is already suggesting his feisty daughter Sara to succeed him.

Is this being rational that this early Duterte is trying to show dynastic tendency in perpetuating themselves in power?

Whether this pronouncement by Duterte sits well on the Filipino people or not, it is vintage Duterte who is always steps ahead in political thoughts and ideas as to what is good for the country and its citizens.

I had been always against political dynasties (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/elitist-political-families/) especially those identified already as traditional politicians (trapo).

But one cannot say this of President Duterte who definitely is not a ‘trapo’, but an out-of-the-box politician and it is for this reason that he was elected overwhelmingly as president because the people wanted change in the leadership from one who works in government mostly for their own vested interests to one who cares to serve the people and who has the political will to wage war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.

If this early Duterte is seen and perceived to be conditioning the minds of the Filipino people that he wants her daughter Sara to succeed him, it is for no other reason than to make all and sundry feel and understand that the enormity of the problems tearing apart the social fabric of this country is so overwhelming that one term of the presidency could not just wrap it up and declare the problems solved.

What this simply means is that Duterte has come to realize that whatever inroads he has done against his war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality and whatever successes he has attained in making reforms in government, he did not want these gains compromised, but rather he wants them sustained.

By being compromised I surmise to say that Duterte did not want somebody who might be a ‘trapo’ to succeed him and who might only have to promote his or her own selfish agenda. This will only get us back to the hell-hole we came from.

In the same manner that by being sustained, Duterte can be assured that the only way his mission and vision for the country and its people can continue, the way he is charting its course now, is to have somebody who has the same mentality or mindset in running a government, be it local or national, and the same selfless attitude as him, and to his mind there could not be any other person he could trust and have full confidence but her own daughter, Sara, a well-liked and  respected politician herself.

“I couldn’t find any other better candidate than Sara to become the next president,” Duterte reportedly said, and added further that his daughter is a strong woman, who is also a lawyer and knows the law very well.

Talking about silver lining at the horizon for the country.

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.