Duterte is TIME magazine’s most influential person

 

TIME magazine may have been one of the early international publications that criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless and bloody war on illegal drugs, with a cover article in September titled “Night Falls on the Philippines”, yet the same prestigious magazine will soon be ranking Duterte as its top most influential person for 2017.

Why is this?

Well, TIME has made it clear that its entrants for the annual 100 most influential people selection are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions. Note that the official TIME 100 lists are chosen by the magazine’s editors.

For one who also landed on the Most Powerful People list of Forbes magazine, Duterte is sure making waves here and abroad.

It simply marks the man’s departure from the conventional style of leadership that Filipinos have been used to – both in words and deeds.

Duterte’s colorful language, his no-nonsense style of governance, his down-to-earth personality and his out-of-the-box thinking and assessment of things, not to mention his fearless show of political will no matter who gets affected for as long as it benefits the country and the greater number of people, is what has endeared him to Filipinos.

Giving Duterte an overwhelming victory during the election was a gamble that made many Filipinos winners, too.

The country has been always plagued with corrupt officials and people thought that this was the single critical reason why we never prosper as a nation.

Until Duterte came along as a candidate promising not only stamping out corruption in government but also waging war against illegal drugs and criminality did we realized how distinctive he was compared to the other presidential candidates.

People trusted Duterte’s persona to deliver his promises and never before have the people been so hopeful of the future. As he was able to make Davao City a livable place for its peace and stability, fingers were crossed that he could do the same to the whole archipelago.

And it looks like things are going the way Duterte has charted the course of the nation’s journey towards growth and respectability.

Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which according to reports has killed more than 8,000 people already, has caught the attention of international rights groups and foreign governments over alleged human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, but this has not stop him from forging ahead if only to show the whole world how critical and wide-spread the drug menace in the country is, infiltrating even the police, local government officials and the judiciary, among others.

Equally controversial is his show of belligerence towards the US and the EU for meddling in the affairs of a sovereign country and his shift of friendly relations towards China and Russia.

The Philippines may have won the contentious territorial dispute in the South China Sea as decided by the United Nation (UN) Arbitral, stating that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid, but Duterte is not minding this at all, to the consternation of those lauding the decision, for the reality is that nobody, and nobody, can forcibly drive away/remove China from their formidable man-made islands turned military bases in the area.

While Duterte’s temperament and antics may displease, antagonize and enrage others, to him it really does not matter for he is just being pragmatic and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of his people foremost in his agenda of governance.

Duterte has not completed even a year yet in his presidency, but the things he has done for the country and the Filipino people is something atypical worthy of being chosen TIME magazine’s most influential person.

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Much ado about Duterte declaring martial law

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Let me just ask these questions to those making a big fuss about President Rodrigo Duterte’s emphatic admission that he has no qualms whatsoever of declaring martial law, if the need for it arises.

Why, what do you think Duterte has been doing? Isn’t it that what you hear and see all these seven months that the former Davao City mayor has been president are manifestations of martial law – Duterte style?

Political opposition and detractors seem to forget that Duterte is known for who he is precisely because of the iron hand and dictator-like rule he implemented in Davao City, which was never duplicated by any other mayor in the country today.

Nobody can take away the bragging rights he has when he tells all and sundry anywhere he goes how he tamed wild and lawless Davao City into a peaceful and livable place recognized and acknowledged by every Filipino.

As if you haven’t heard of then Commissioner of Human Rights (CHR), then Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary, and now Sen. Leila de Lima, harping here and abroad about Duterte’s impunity of human rights violation.

Isn’t this what martial law is partly all about?

Now that Duterte is president he is simply trying to reproduce for the whole country the success he had in Davao City, and for a good measure of obvious reasons.

Illegal drugs, criminality and corruption are the battle fronts that Duterte and his police and military forces are fighting against in trying to preserve the dignity, the sovereignty and the existence of the country as a whole.

These are the scourges that the country is facing. These are the same plagues that have hindered the nation from growing and developing. These are the crosses borne by Filipinos and made heavier each time by unscrupulous people, including leaders and politicians, who take advantage of their power and influence to satisfy their own selfish interest and forgetting that of the country and its people they have been sworn to serve.

“You know, I have to protect the Filipino people. It’s my duty. And I tell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it. Not about invasion, insurrection, not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation, period,” Duterte said.

This is very far from what the dictator Marcos had in his evil mind for the country and Filipino people, thus, to make much ado about Duterte declaring martial law is not only useless but baseless as well. Duterte does not even have an ambitious and rapacious wife to think about, thank goodness!

What I am just trying to say here is that every time Duterte threatens to declare martial law, take it with a grain of salt. Not that you doubt his resolve, but for all intents and purposes it is there already, like an installed screw, and all he does every time he talks about declaring martial law is turn the screw tighter and deeper, which is his way of showing that what he wants is happening – only in a very ingenious way.

 

Much ado about Duterte’s criminal past

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Why are we making a big fuss now about President Rodrigo Duterte’s criminal past?

Just because Duterte confessed his crime-busting days, while still the mayor in Davao City, at the gathering of business executives at the Wallace Business Forum in Manila, saying, he just wanted to show to his policemen that if he can kill criminals that they, too, could do it, would it be reason enough for us to change our opinion of him?

Why, what is the difference between the Duterte today and the Duterte before, who as Davao City mayor had already been investigated for human rights violation by the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Justice, both coincidentally led by now Sen. Leila de Lima?

And what has de Lima proven? Nothing!

Yet Duterte never denied having killed criminals.

Even the illiterate self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad Edgar Matobato alleged before senators during the hearing on extra-judicial killings that Duterte had ordered and participated in summary killings.

So why raise a furor about it now?

Just because de Lima has been harping abroad before international audience that Duterte’s action “is betrayal of public trust and that constitutes high crimes because mass murders certainly fall into the category of high crimes. And high crimes is a ground for impeachment under the constitution”, must we allow this hysteria to bother us?

Impeachment? De Lima must be dreaming!

What we know certainly is that de Lima has her own agenda against her most ardent nemesis, Duterte, and is simply inciting human rights organizations, like the Amnesty International, to create uproar in the country.

“By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

Only a misinformed and an ignorant person could come out with such a statement on Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.

More fun in the Philippines

 

Sen. Leila de Lima

Sen. Leila de Lima

Definitely, I am not talking about the Philippine tourism battle cry.

Everybody knows it is fun to go around in the Philippines, but these days there is more fun in the Philippines by just staying at home watching the idiot box and being entertained by a scandalous lady senator, a high profile illegal drug distributor and a former driver cum bodyguard cum lover of the lady senator I am talking about.

I am talking of course about Sen. Leila de Lima who finds herself – both her personal and political life – in dilemma (no pun intended) ever since she dared take President Rodrigo Duterte to task in the latter’s bloody war against illegal drugs.

It is common knowledge to all that the bad blood between Duterte and de Lima started when the latter, while still the chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), before becoming Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration and later a senator, went to Davao City and confronted, nay accused, then Mayor Duterte of human rights violation.

Although nothing came out of this accusation, even when de Lima already headed the Justice Department, the hurt done by de Lima to Duterte in maligning his name and reputation enraged the latter no end and was just waiting for an opportunity to get back at her.

Unexpectedly and unfortunately for de Lima, the reluctant Duterte was finally convinced to run for the presidency in 2016 and the rest is history.

Now de Lima finds herself mired in a hole of scandalous conduct as a woman and an elected   government official that only the fearless, the unforgiving and the iron-fist Duterte has the guts to make sure she falls into the trap of her own folly.

With the power that Duterte has now at the tips of his hand he is exacting his measure of revenge and there seems to be no let-up in his implacability against de Lima.

Duterte exposed de Lima’s dalliance with Ronnie Dayan, her former driver and body guard who became her lover eventually. De Lima admitted having fallen in love with Dayan, who was tagged as the bagman of De Lima during the 2016 senatorial election. The contribution allegedly came from convicted drug lords inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan

Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan

Dayan, who was recently arrested after disregarding summons from the House of Representatives to attend the probe on illegal drugs, supplemented the information that he had a relationship with de Lima for seven years. He also admitted having received money from self-proclaimed illegal drug distributor, Kerwin Espinosa, for political purposes.

Espinosa, like Dayan, has also just been arrested after a long man-hunt and were the main feature of news programs, press conferences and inquiries.

Today, November 23, Espinosa was grilled at the Senate about his illegal drug activities and also about what he knew about the death of his father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was gunned down in Baybay City provincial jail.

Tomorrow, November 24, Dayan is scheduled to appear in the Lower House relative to his participation, if any, in the illegal drug trade in the NBP.

The question many are asking now is: Since de Lima found time in attending the Senate inquiry where Espinosa was the main character involved, would she be able to find time also to attend the House probe where Dayan will no doubt find himself in the hot chair?

Talking about entertainment and having more fun in the Philippines via the idiot box!

At least for the moment.

Duterte charting an independent foreign policy for Philippines

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Being a proud leftist from the very beginning, and after emphatically declaring that he was the president of a sovereign state that has long ceased to be a colony and that he was nobody but nobody’s servant except the Filipino people who trusted him with the presidency, perhaps Rodrigo Duterte foresaw that the just concluded ASEAN summit meeting in Laos was a gathering of leaders that would dramatically change his perspective with regards to the country’s relationship with the US.

Duterte made the emphatic statement before he embarked on his first foreign trip to attend the meeting but what made it controversial and got the attention of the other ASEAN leaders was when he spewed expletives, of which he known for, at US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon if ever they will ever bring to fore and confront him about the deaths, alleged extrajudicial killings and human rights violation resulting from his war waged against illegal drugs, criminality and in the country.

It was in this context that Duterte was warmly received by the leaders of the ASEAN member-nations and borrowing Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s description, with Duterte “The tone of conversation between the nations seems to indicate that they recognize his influence, they recognize his political will, they recognize his firmness, they recognize his resolve.”

From the looks of it alone there is no doubt Duterte has made an impressive debut in the international scene and has gained outright the respect and admiration of his peers for being a fearless politician and leader who knows his law, can stand his ground and has a mind of his own.

What better proof it is than seeing the character of the person himself when, at the East Asia Forum of the ASEAN where President Obama, among others, attended, Duterte veered off from his prepared speech and instead pulled out and showed a picture of the killings of American soldiers in the past with him saying, ‘this is my ancestor they killed. Why now we are talking about human rights?’

This unconventional, unorthodox and bizarre act by Duterte made everybody in the room “quiet and shocked”, as described by one delegate.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, as an English idiom says, and it was simply and unequivocally Duterte’s way of telling Obama, and the likes of him, to stop flaunting their ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude by meddling and telling him to conduct his crime war in the Philippines ‘the right way’, when the whole world knows that even to this day the Americans are not doing in their own country what they are preaching and cannot even stop Russia and whatever government is left in Syria from killing and displacing millions of its citizens.

Duterte’s keen observation of the ASEAN and its goals have made him realize that the collective strengths of the member-nations can make this organization a game changer and a force to reckon with in the future.

Unlike the Philippines, the other nation-members of the ASEAN, which used to lag behind, have developed and progressed sans the close ties which our country is known to have with the US since we gained our independence.

Thus, the ASEAN summit has opened up the eyes of Duterte that a nation’s growth and development does not necessary mean that we have to hold on always to the coat-tail of the Americans, as we had been pictured to have been doing all these years in foreign policy matters, but rather pursue an independent foreign policy, as Duterte himself declared upon his return from the summit meeting.

What this means is that the Philippines will no longer be influenced by the decisions of the US on how to go about in our international relations, as we were in the habit of following their wishes since time immemorial.

I think so much water has flown in just one direction for a long time under the bridge with the US-inspired foreign policy that pursuing the flow in another direction under Duterte’s independent foreign policy might yet be a boon for the country.

An independent foreign policy is not really a new deal. In fact that is what the Constitution requires the country to do in order to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as promote its national interest and right to self-determination.

That Duterte is our president now and has been able to project himself in the international stage as a competent leader from this part of the world is something that we Filipinos should be proud of.

That the Philippines will host ASEAN in 2017 under Duterte’s watch is even a greater honor for the country, for in having a theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, one can expect that Duterte will bring ASEAN to a higher level making it a formidable alliance of proud nations charting their own destiny, acknowledged and respected and, like Duterte said, ready and able to take its rightful place in the global community of nations.

 

The upcoming Obama-Duterte meeting

 

US President Barack Obama and President Rodrigo Duterte

US President Barack Obama and President Rodrigo Duterte

I am sure Filipinos here and abroad will be all eyes and ears when President Rodrigo Duterte, on his first foreign trip, will meet with US President Barack Obama during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on Sept. 6 in Laos.

With Duterte becoming a worldwide notorious figure not only with the killings resulting from his relentless fight against illegal drugs that has ruffled the feathers of human rights advocates but also with his abrasive language calling, among others, the US ambassador to the Philippines a ‘gay son of a whore’ and the UN as ‘stupid’ for criticizing his controversial war on illegal drugs.

After perhaps the handshake and the reaffirmation of the strength and depth of the US-Philippine treaty alliance and the extraordinary ties between the Filipino and American peoples, it is very probable that the contentious issue of human rights violation and killings will be brought up by Obama, the US being the bastion of freedom and democracy.

It is interesting to note, however, that Duterte has already made it known, and perhaps the same have been picked up by American correspondents, that before Obama opens up with the human rights issue that the latter must listen to him first.

“They must understand the problem first before we talk about human rights. I would insist, listen to me: this is what the problem is, then we can talk,” Duterte said in an interview.

Knowing Duterte I don’t think he will be intimidated by Obama’s stature and therefore must be granted his wish or the meeting will be unproductive.

This is the first time we have a leader who knows where he stands and can ably defend himself, if and when being bullied.

I think we are about to see an acknowledgement by foreign leaders that Duterte is not a pushover, but rather a strong-willed leader of a third world country being looked upon as one who could implement political, economic and social reforms for the country to sustain development  and improve the quality of life of Filipinos.

 

Reparation for and recognition of Martial Law victims

President Benigno Aquino signing Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

President Benigno Aquino signing the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

Many of us who are still living and have witnessed the dark pages of our history under Martial Law can attest that, indeed, it has taken a long time for government to craft a law acknowledging the human rights violation perpetuated by the Marcos regime and recognizing that, in one form or another, the victims should be compensated for their sufferings.

Thousands of victims may have died already waiting for this day, but for the families left behind, who equally went through hell during anxious moments in the past, and those that are still alive, could now heave a big sigh of relief knowing that President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) has finally signed the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, fittingly, on the 27th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

No doubt it is a landmark law that tries to bring closure to this contemptuous event in our history brought about by a megalomaniac and despotic of a man, supported by an equally vainglorious and self-indulgent wife, who made lives of people agonizingly miserable.

At the same time it is historical to have this law passed as it becomes an educational tool for the young generation to come to learn how it was living under a vicious dictator and what it took to have him and his family booted out of the country.

There never was a prouder moment in our history when a man sacrificed his life, believing deeply that the Filipinos are worth dying for and out of his heroism was forge the now famous EDSA people power revolution that liberated us from the greed and wickedness of a conjugal dictatorship.

That man was the father and namesake of the country’s leader today, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.

PNoy said the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past”.

“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” he said.

Under the law P10 billion pesos ($244 million) in funds, which forms part of about $600 million the government has recovered from Swiss bank accounts that Marcos secretly maintained while he was in power, will be used to pay the victims of political detention, torture, rape, disappearances and deaths.

For better appreciation of this historic occasion, below are comments made by some senators:

From Senator Francis Pangilinan: “The signing of the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act on the anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1986 serves as a reminder for us Filipinos to never take for granted the freedom that we now enjoy. It was paid in blood and tears of thousands of our countrymen, and it took one miraculous revolution—one where no blood was shed—to oust a dictator.”  

“There’s now an entire generation of young Filipinos who were not even born when the 1986 People Power Revolution happened, much less when Martial Law was declared. It is our duty to remind this generation of what transpired. We must never allow this part of our history to be trivialized nor the facts be twisted by those who seek to be cleansed of their transgressions against the Filipino people.”  

From Francis Escudero: “While it took all of 27 years for the state to finally recognize the atrocities it inflicted on Filipinos whose democratic rights were suppressed under Marcos, the compensation law seeks to give justice to victims of the dark days of oppression and hopefully give an assurance that it will not happen again.”  

“The expanded coverage of the law includes not only monetary compensation but also non-monetary benefits such as social and psychological assistance on victims of atrocities through different concerned government agencies. Instead of merely calling it compensation bill, we now call it the reparation bill.”  

It was reported that the law also mandates the creation of the Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission, which, among other things, will work with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education “to educate young people about the abuses committed by the Marcos regime and the heroism of those who opposed it.

marcosesThe ironic thing about all these, however, is that one of the conjugal couple, Imelda, and her two children, Ferdinand Jr. and Imee, are back in the political limelight as Ilocos Norte congresswoman, senator of the realm and Ilocos Norte governor, respectively, and are now as powerful and influential as if they were not part and parcel of the despicable past.

(I would like to invite you to click these links for a story never told before by one of the dictator’s trusted lieutenants: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/363947/roberto-v-ongpin-snake-pit-beckons and http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/364429/us-set-5-conditions-to-save-marcos)