Duterte’s first year in office

 

I have lived long enough to see presidents come and go in this country but I have never seen the likes of President Rodrigo Duterte who hit the ground running at a considerable speed upon assumption of office.

While Duterte may have been ready with his administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda that included among other things the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices and family planning, he, however, entrusted the execution of all these to his social and economic mangers while he took it upon himself to lead his much vaunted campaign promise to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs , corruption and criminality.

As an unconventional politician whose approach to solving problem has been described as ‘out-of-the-box’, not to mention the colorful language he uses especially when piqued, is what has endeared him to the Filipinos which is why he was overwhelmingly voted to the presidency.

I am not going to discuss here Duterte’s defining moments individually which includes among other things his running after and eventually putting Sen. Leila de Lima in police custody for using drug money to finance her senatorial bid, his alleged killings and human rights violation stemming from his bloody war on drugs that has been harshly criticize here and abroad by international human rights agencies and advocates, his antagonistic stance towards the U.S., his shift from a U.S. dictated foreign policy to an independent foreign policy, his open arms policy towards China despite the latter’s incursion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea, his diplomatic sortie to Russia, and last but not least of his controversial decisions is the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

For me what is important in Duterte’s 365 days in office is putting into context how the country and the Filipino people are today having Duterte as our president.

I do not know about you, but it makes me wonder, if not guessing, how it would have been for the Philippines and the Filipinos had we had Roxas, Poe or Binay as the president.

Knowing what we know now about the wide-ranging prevalence and gravity of illegal drug use in the country, could any of the other presidential aspirants, had they won, had the political will or the gumption to declare war against it, as Duterte has done, knowing that you are up against ruffians and monsters?

Could they have had the guts to discover and say that we are now a narco-political country?

Would talking to just the MILF, passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and establishing a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, prevented the Islamic State-inspired Maute group from storming and creating havoc in Marawi City.

Would they have the potency to declare martial law?

Perhaps Divine Providence determined the course that Duterte be president, warts and all, for he has what it takes to lead and fight for the Filipinos in preserving the integrity of the country and having it respected.

This in essence is what is Duterte’s presidency about one year after and in the next 5 years, God willing.

 

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.

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.

 

The reality of Duterte’s war on drugs

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has just completed his 100 days in office but the way controversial events have transpired relative to his bloody war on drugs that has impacted here and abroad leading to his enraging attitude towards the US, the EU and the UN, and openly declaring that he was going to establish ties with China and Russia, it gives one the impression that he has been in office for over a year or more, perhaps.

But what is more important really than how Duterte is being perceived by the outside world is the reality that not only is the country awash with depraved and incarcerated characters called drug lords making/importing into/hoarding illegal drugs for distribution by equally degenerate drug pushers to the derelicts and often times lowly users, but dirty drug money is already used to fund the elections of some of our local and national officials.

Not only that. Dirty drug money is also the source influencing the misdeeds of government officials like the police, the judges, etc.

What has appalled the nation, however, is the fact that illegal drug distribution emanates from the very institution that people thought can securely confine and rehabilitate prisoners.

Alas, these criminals are living it inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) like kings!

And what is equally alarming, if not dismaying, is that those tasked to manage the NBP are aware of what is going on inside but opts to not listen, hear, and talk about it until the shit hits the fan, as what has happened now with the whole scandalous mess being investigated by the House of Representatives.

What I just want to point out here is that had it not been for the guts of Duterte we would never have known the extent, the magnitude of illegal drugs circulating and how it is being proliferated in the whole country.

The only downside that I think is happening in Duterte’s war on drugs is that the latter is now feuding with the US and is cozying up instead with China and Russia to the trepidation of many.

Somehow I could understand Duterte’s feelings for his show of animosity towards the US for criticizing his hardnosed approach in fighting drugs, but being president now of a sovereign country that he has promised so many times to serve and die for if necessary, would it not be appropriate for him to show more restraint without being cavalier and act more nationalistic without being vituperative and disrespectful for our own good?

This is the only way to act and position ourselves in this ever changing geopolitical order of world affairs for our own advantage.

The cat finally out of the bag – Duterte name names

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

What has been kept a secret for quite some time by President Rodrigo Duterte has now been divulged straight from the horse’s mouth.

This has reference of course to the much anticipated announcement everyone has been waiting for about the personalities who are allegedly involved in protecting and tolerating the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the country, other than the five PNP generals earlier mentioned.

The list of names of police and military official, judges and ranking local government officials can be found at this link: http://www.rappler.com/nation/142210-duterte-list-lgu-police-officials-linked-drugs.

It appears like these are just the first batch of government officials involved in illegal drugs and that there will be more names to be mentioned later, but initially the names revealed early Sunday of Aug. 7th have been ordered by the Duterte to report to their mother units within 24 hours. This means that the police and military officials should report to the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, respectively, the judges to the Supreme Court and the local government official to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

President Duterte specifically warned the police and military officials, retired and otherwise, to report as instructed to the authorities concerned or else he will order the entire AFP to conduct a manhunt on them.

Not only that. Duterte also ordered the cancellation of “any and all” firearm licenses issued to those whom he named.

These are forceful words and instructions indeed coming from a determined president who wants to save this country from becoming a narco-political one.

Needless to say that every department concerned now will conduct an investigation as to the culpability of those mentioned, but what a shame if found to be true!

This woeful disclosure by Duterte resulted in his equally dolorous question he posed upon everybody: “Bakit tayo umabot sa ganitong magnitude? (Why did we get to this magnitude?)”, and which he himself answered: “Kasi (Because) the government is into it.”

“I am sorry for my country,” he said further, lamenting the 600,000 estimated numbers of drug addicts, pushers, and users nationwide.

Even if this is just an estimated figure, just the same the number is staggering and the more distressing questions actually are: How many more will be exploited by these sons-of-bitches? How many more kids will be robbed of their future? How many more families will be ruined? How many more unscrupulous people will get into politics supported by equally unscrupulous police and military personnel buying their way into the realm using drug money and making the lives of most Filipinos more miserable than already is?

That we have a Duterte leading the fight against illegal drugs and boldly naming influential personalities who are involved in its trading and proliferation, where no previous presidents ever dared to declare war against this nefarious business in our society, is surely enough reason to rejoice for it gives hope and optimism for the country and people.

If illegal drugs can be curtailed, so, too, can corruption and other crimes detrimental to growth and development of a country be stop.

Yes, we are all seeing that the high price in Duterte’s government fight against drug trade is the lives lost. Many human rights advocates, and especially the high officials of the Catholic Church, are feeling and acting melodramatic about the whole relentless offensive against the proliferation of this evil in our society.

But I think we just have to trust Duterte’s leadership for he has declared war against drugs, criminality and corruption not for personal glorification but for the noble purpose of ensuring that the generation of Filipinos after us will have a country that they could be proud of – peaceful, stable and developed with the minimum of social ills.

 

The fall of the ‘narco-police generals’

 

(Photo courtesy of Politiko)

(Photo courtesy of Politiko)

From where they are from their perch, whether in active duty or in retirement, the naming, shaming and falling of the five police generals, after being publicly identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as involved in illegal drug operation, is long, hard and devastating.

What is doubly making the accusation disgraceful is that it is done by no less than the president of the country and therefore highlights the incompetency of their leadership of an organization that is supposed to look after the security and well being of its citizens.

It is not an easy task to name names and/or relieve them from their assignments, as what happened to retired Generals Marcelo Gardo and Vicente Loot and to active Generals Bernardo Diaz, Joel Pagdilao and Eduardo Tinio, for somebody who won overwhelmingly the presidency on the promise that he will rid the country of corrupt officials, fight criminality and stop whatever it takes to make the Philippines a narco-political country,  but Duterte simply had to walk the talk.

Duterte who shows seething disgust and strongly abhors the ills that is plaguing the country, especially the proliferation of illegal drugs, has done what previous presidents feared to do because of political backlash, one time or another. It certainly took “cojones” (balls) and political will, the holy grail that generates force and makes radical change happen for the better.

While many approve what the president has done, some quarters are calling foul the loudest among them Sen. Gingo Honasan, who himself found notoriety in leading coups against the presidency of Cory Aquino to no avail, saying, “names are immaterial” as he underscored the importance for authorities to observe due process and the rule of law and not unfairly subject the named generals to trial by publicity because the children and family who are not involved here are affected.”

Tsk,tsk,tsk!

But would it not be foolish for Duterte to undermine and negate the covenant he made with the people by making false accusations of high police officials just for him to look good and effective?

Duterte must have a strong and substantive dossier collected about these high ranking police generals because he claims that even when he was still mayor in Davao City he already had the same names in his list, and perhaps more for all we know.

I don’t think the naming of the generals is politically motivated, although they all have been dubbed as the ‘Roxas generals’, but it just shows how much he hates illegal drugs and those involved in it that he has been monitoring the scourge even at the local government level.

If Duterte has been able to find a cache of deleterious information against these ‘narco-police generals’ while still a mayor, how much more now that he has control over all government agencies tasked to go after illegal drug menace in the country?

Even returning Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police general himself, confirms that as president, Duterte has even more reliable information to extract from to validate his allegations against the fallen police generals.

So what gives?