Robredo leads opposition against Duterte

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

I do not know why the political opposition, headed by the Liberal Party (LP), is making a big deal about Vice President Leni Robredo spearheading it.

It simply follows that because Robredo is the highest ranking government official in the land belonging to the LP who has shown her dislike in the way President Duterte is running the country, not to mention the colorful language he uses, and has been seen to be taking the cudgels for those being the subject of Duterte’s ire, that she has the moral authority to lead.

The question, however, is – can she deliver?

Does she have the ‘oomph’, meaning the intensity, effectiveness and sustainability to deliver the blow of political issues against Duterte that will cause people to rally behind her and upset the president?

Robredo may have the charm, but charm is not what it takes to unsettle a formidable and savvy opponent like Duterte.

Robredo may be a lawyer, but against Duterte she is doomed!

The fact alone that Duterte has described her as not fit to be president of a country like the Philippines because of incompetence speaks volumes.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace welcomes an “active” opposition as part of a healthy democracy.

A ‘strong’ opposition is a more apt description, but with Robredo at the helm there is no doubt that it is going to be a weak opposition and surely will be steamrolled by Duterte and his PDP-Laban supporters.

To start with it is not enough that one has to criticize immediately the country as having a ‘worsening economy’ as Robredo described it, piqued after being called incompetent by Duterte.

If that is how she sees it then, for chrissake, offer a solution!

I don’t think the economic stride Duterte has gained during his just two years in office can be scoffed at.

If Robredo and her rabble rousers have better ideas to improve the economy, then help the government by suggesting it.

Otherwise, let us trust the economists who have forecasted that the Philippine economy is expected to grow at a robust pace this year and next on the back of a buoyant expansion in fixed investment, which is benefiting from the government’s infrastructure investment program.

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The continuing Duterte-Sison feud

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and CPP’s Jose Maria Sison.

The off and on relationship between President Rodrigo Duterte and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison is, to many, making a mockery of the peace process.

I say this because there are times when they laud and fatten each other’s ego, having experienced a teacher-student relationship, but most of the time they indulge in name calling and going after each other’s neck.

This time it is even worst because Sison is belittling and discrediting Duterte’s earnest and resolute war against illegal drugs that was engulfing the whole country already by calling the latter a “protector” of the drug trade.

What is even more despicable is that Sison also accused Duterte’s son, Paolo, as also being involved in the drug trade.

While it is true that Paolo and his brother-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, were both accused of being involved in the smuggling of P6.4-billion worth of illegal drug (shabu) in the country, a fact-finding panel of the Office of the Ombudsman later cleared them of involvement.

So why say something offensive when it is water under the bridge already?

The question is, how serious really is Sison and his elk in establishing peace with the Duterte government?

Describing Duterte also as ‘the most effective ‘destabilizer of his own administration’ is ill-advised and idiotic thing to say knowing very well that the president not only has the backing of the people, including the police and military forces, but is dead serious in talking and settling peacefully with all the rebel groups in the country, the CPP included.

I understand that the formal resumption of peace talks was scheduled to proceed on June 28 in Norway, but it did not push through as Duterte said he wants more public consultations before returning to the negotiating table.

The postponement did not sit well, however, with Sison.

Perhaps Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was right in saying that Sison is “doomed to irrelevance” whether or not the latter decides to return to the Philippines.

“Whatever you do Mr. Sison you are doomed to irrelevance. You remain in the Netherlands and you will be forgotten because the President has decided with finality that the talks would be held in our country. You come back and you will end up in jail,” he said.

Indeed, what an opportunity lost.

Lorenzana pointed out that Philippines has progressed a lot despite Sison’s destabilization efforts in the past few decades. He also said that the CPP’s army, the New People’s Army (NPA), is surrendering in droves.

Sison seems to be reaping now the ignominious price of being old and petulant for staying too long in a foreign land and not facing the reality in his own land.

Duterte’s ‘perplexing’ popularity

 

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman

I am simply amused at how Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity – ‘perplexing’.

Why would it be difficult for him to understand Duterte’s popularity?

Perhaps what would be more difficult for him and those like him in the opposition to understand is why over 16 million Filipinos voted for the man from Mindanao to be president?

“It is a puzzle that despite the failure of President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver most of his campaign promises, his irreverence to established institutions, including the Catholic Church, his unpatriotic surrender to China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, his policy equivocation, and his antihuman rights record, he still enjoys a high popularity rating across classes in his second year in office,” Lagman said in a statement.

What an absurdity!

This, after Duterte scored a net satisfaction rating of +56 during the first quarter of 2018, which according to Social Weather Stations survey is considered as “very good”.

Lagman even showed arrogance when he bad-mouth the intellect of the electorate, saying, “they like a leader who is authoritative even in his blunders and blabbering and that they simply want to justify their choice, however errant it may have been. ”

Excuse me?

What Lagman is actually trying to say is that Duterte does not act presidential, does not talk presidential and is, in general, an aberration to the presidency.

Lagman who pretends to be the epitome of decency in words and deeds should recognize and accept by now that the likes of him have failed to move this country forward and majority of Filipinos have lost faith in them and their style of leadership.

That is why Duterte continues to remain popular because the people like what they see in him and admire how much he cares for the country and its citizens no matter his bloody war on drugs, alleged extra-judicial killings, China’s incursion into the West Phil. Sea, and the ‘stupid-God’ comment of the Catholic religion.

Duterte has just completed his two years in office as he continues waging war also against corruption and criminality, as he has promised, and one cannot just deny that the country’s economy is doing better despite his non-presidential traits.

Perhaps what Lagman could do in his solitude is to reflect what could it have been had Poe, Roxas or Binay been the president?

Robredo’s idle talk

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

Between Leni Robredo and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos I had and will always opt for the former. The latter is a disgrace to the nation and should not be given any more the honor to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, much less to be in the seat of power like his despot father.

Robredo herself is a disappointment, no matter how she tries to emulate the leadership style of her much admired husband, the late Jesse Robredo, who served as the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino from 2010 until his death in 2012.

It is bad enough that Robredo is not assisting nor contributing much to the development of the country under the Duterte administration, but it is even worst that instead of doing something worthy of her position she has joined the opposition in criticizing President Duterte’s leadership.

I understand she has become inutile because she has not been given a role to play in the running of the government, but if indeed her intention is to help shape the progress of the nation in order to alleviate the plight of the poor then she should put the nation ahead of her political affiliation and interests.

Robredo’s idle talk when she spoke before the Rotary Club of Makati recently, saying, “….. the fate of our country lies not in the hands of a strong leader, but in the collective courage and action of our people” is even making her more irrelevant and useless.

The truth is that Robredo is not only contradicting herself but is likewise denying that what we are today as a nation, where regional and world leaders are showing their respect and recognizing the economic progress the country has been attaining, owes much to the strong leadership of Duterte.

For as long as Robredo and her cohorts are blinded by Duterte’s war on drug issue, human right issue and other controversial issues emanating from the uncouth mouth of the president, they will never learn to appreciate how Duterte is leading the country.

In slamming Duterte, Robredo talks about “leaders who will inspire others not just to follow but to lead as well.”

Why, is Duterte not empowering government officials to lead?

Duterte is known not to micromanage, thus, I have never seen a president giving so much leeway by allowing/enabling government officials to do as they please, but with a caveat – don’t’ be corrupt or else!

If Robredo can only use her own mind and be objective and pragmatic in her approach, she could be an asset to the Duterte’s administration.

But for as long as she allows to be influenced and makes political convenience her priority she will be remembered as the most useless vice president ever elected.

 

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.

 

Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda and trust rating

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

Every time a Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey on the satisfaction and trust ratings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte comes out people always wonder why the president has been able to maintain a high mark of approval despite the brouhaha raised by some group of people and organizations, both local and international, about his controversial war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, etc.

It must be confusing and frustrating to Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk in the senate and in our society, in general, why even as they hurl a fuselage of personal accusations against the president and his family, still it does not make a remarkable dent on his popularity and approval ratings.

But for the people who were inspired by Duterte’s candidacy and continue to support his presidency there has been a noticeable change in the kind of leadership the country needed which could have never happened had the Roxases, the Binays and the Poes won.

Duterte’s war on drugs, criminality and corruption are in itself big changes toward better future for country and people which can only be fought and sustained by somebody with political will to carry it out.

Events have shown that Duterte is no rubber stamp or a stooge of anybody, either here or abroad, and to the consternation of many that wants to meddle in his governance.

Duterte’s declaration of independent foreign policy had silently earned the ire of some friendly nations at first but is being accepted now as he saw the realities of the times where China has become the major regional power in Asia and the importance of improving relations with non-traditional including Russia, Japan and India.

This is a paradigm shift in our geopolitical relations that perhaps only Duterte could have thought of and it is earning him the respect of the whole world.

Duterte should be credited for where we are now as a nation, especially in having discovered earlier, rather than later, that narco-politics have engulf the country already. He is doing everything possible that this country will not go to the dogs.

What should make everybody hopeful, however, is that Duterte, while relentless in his war against drugs, corruption and criminality, is also making sure that his 10-point socioeconomic agenda listed below will continue to be followed through. This program in his presidency being implemented now is what is helping Duterte also earn his high satisfaction and trust ratings.

  1. Continuing and maintaining current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
  2. Instituting progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection while indexing taxes to inflation;
  3. Increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business, drawing upon successful models used to attract business to local cities such as Davao, as well as pursuing the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except with regards to land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investments;
  4. Accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of the gross domestic product, with public-private partnerships playing a key role;
  5. Promoting rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism;
  6. Ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies;
  7. Investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, as well as matching skills and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector;
  8. Promoting science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development;
  9. Improving social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program, in order to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and
  10. Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.

 

Duterte is wrong in going easy on Imee, Bongbong

 

The dictator addressing his supporters from a balcony in Malacañang before his ouster.

This is about two of the despot’s children, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos whom Pres. Rodrigo Duterte have always shielded from the clamor to  “prosecute” and/or “punish” them for the atrocious sins committed by the father.

“What’s their fault?” Duterte asks, claiming they were still young during the dictatorial regime and that the only adults were their parents, Ferdinand and Imelda.

Well, it really depends on what year and which photo is one looking at.

As a reminder let me just point out the following salient events:

Ferdinand Marcos became President in 1965.

Imee Marcos was born in 1955, while Bongbong was born in 1957.

In 1972, when their father declared martial law, Imee turned 17 and Bongbong 15.

Marcos lifted martial law in 1981 and he ruled until February 1986, when he was ousted in a popular revolt after a rule marked with human rights abuses and plunder of the country’s coffers.

At that time, Imee was 30 going on 31, and Bongbong 28 turning 29.

And when one looks at the iconic picture taken in 1986 when the dictator was emphatically addressing his supporters from a balcony in Malacañang, whom do you see flanking him but his wife and grown-up children Imee, Irene and Bongbong – he with his contemptible fatigues seemingly showing approval of the despot’s military minions protecting their family.

And now Duterte is telling the people that Bongbong and Imee were innocent of what was going on at that time?

I am an avid supporter of Duterte, but this is an instance where I totally disagree with him, especially in going easy on both Imee and Bongbong for the simple reason that his father was a member of the Marcos Cabinet.

The Marcos siblings are not really unsullied, uncensurable and likable for that matter, as they want the Filipino to believe they are, but their continuing admission and affirmation that their despot father did nothing wrong and is in fact considered a hero make them just as guilty as the man who sired them.