Trillanes’ cowardice

 

Senator Antonio Trillanes

For somebody like Senator Antonio Trillanes, who gloats about being a crusader against corrupt government officials, including his mistahs in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), one would think that he would also be the epitome of fearlessness as a leader.

If Trillanes thinks he has stirred a hornet’s nest in exposing the nefarious activities of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, after the latter issued Proclamation 572 voiding the amnesty granted Trillanes by then President Benigno Aquino for leading the infamous 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege, then he should bravely face the consequences of his action.

If Trillanes firmly believes that he is being politically persecuted for being a fierce critic of Duterte’s style of governance then, by all means, he should show to the Filipinos the stuff he is made of and convince the people that he is better person than Duterte.

There is nothing more dismaying, therefore, than seeing a pretentious soldier turned senator who makes the senate floor not only as haven for parliamentary immunity from fiery exposes, but uses it as well as physical structure for his safety and security.

Such is what is happening now to Trillanes who has been staying in the Senate building since Proclamation 572 stated that the amnesty granted was “void ab initio” or invalid from the beginning as the senator supposedly failed to comply with two requirements for the granting of amnesty: (1) application for amnesty and (2) admission of guilt.

Obviously Trillanes’ own forced confinement in the Senate building is to avoid arrest even as the leaders of the military and police forces have given their assurances that no apprehensions be done unless there exist a warrant for his arrest.

In curtailing his own freedom, Trillanes is showing utter cowardice, even as his stature is being seen by many as a political martyr.

What a shame!

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Cambridge Analytica a non-factor in electing Duterte president

Long before Cambridge Analytica, a British political data firm, got embroiled in controversy of scandalous proportion when it was alleged to have secretly and inappropriately made a Facebook data breach and harvested personal contents from some 87 million users, including, it said, over a million in the Philippines, to influence the country’s 2016 presidential election result, the way it is said to have catapulted America’s Donald Trump to the presidency, the majority of the Filipino people by then had already decided that, for a change, they will no longer be voting for a traditional politician.

It was no surprise therefore that when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally declared his candidacy for president, the Filipinos went crazy rooting for him. Their prayers were answered. They now had an out-of-the-box candidate, a no-nonsense one at that, whose track record in governance is something most politicians should be envious about, but whose heart really beats for the Filipino people and whose dream is to make the whole country a livable place, in the same manner Duterte made Davao City a comfortable place for the Davaoeños.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte

The reason why I am saying that Cambridge Analytica has nothing to do at all with Duterte being elected president stems from the fact that opposition senator and known Duterte basher, Antonio Trillanes, has been reported to be filing a resolution calling for a Senate probe into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential elections, the same way the British firm is being accused now of capturing Facebook users’ data to corrupt the minds of the Americans into making the controversy-laden Donald Trump their president during the 2016 US presidential election.

The reality is that it was the intense hunger of Filipinos for a fearless and selfless down-to-earth Filipino leader with political will that made Duterte an overwhelming choice for the presidency.

The majority of poor voters who gave Duterte a margin of 6 million votes over his closest rival are proof enough that Cambridge Analytica was a non-factor, for they were not relishing in having a Facebook account.

Thus, I find Trillanes’ move for a Senate probe a mere grandstanding and purely nothing but a witch-hunt.

For not finding anymore culpability to spew barbs at Duterte, the way the latter continues to get support, trust and high approval ratings in his performance as president, Trillanes somehow thought he has found a bomb to be used against Duterte in the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Soon Trillanes will come to realize that the bomb is a dud after all!

End of the road for CJ Sereno

 

The way events are developing on the impeachment complaint and the quo warranto (Latin for “by what warrant or authority?”) petition against Supreme Court Chief Justice (SCCJ) Maria Lourdes Sereno, I could only surmise that she is nearing the end of her judicial career.

Well, at least Sereno has gone that far, high and mighty, which is the ultimate goal for all lawyers, but her reaching the zenith is what has brought her to her woes today.  Many have found it anomalous. She is facing impeachment for alleged betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the constitution, and corruption.

It is bad enough that the House committee on justice has already approved the articles of impeachment against Sereno before Congress took a break and which the House plenary is expected to vote on the committee report recommending Sereno’s impeachment when Congress resumes mid-May.

Since the House is dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, it is now a certainty that the body will affirm the committee report such that Sereno will be deemed impeached.

The complaint will then be forwarded to the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, which has the power to convict or acquit impeachable officials.

But what is even making it worst for Sereno now is her explicit blaming of Duterte for the clamor to disqualify and oust her as head of the SC when, in one of her speeches recently, she asked Duterte to explain allegations that he was behind the impeachment complaints in the House of Representatives and the quo warranto case filed before the Supreme Court (SC) by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.

“Mr. President, if you say that you have no hand in this, please explain why Solicitor General Calida, who reports to you, filed the quo warranto petition,” she said.

“Filipinos are smart. They understand. You do not need to spell out the truth for them. It cannot be denied that there is an unseen hand behind this,” she added.

Obviously, this did not sit well with Duterte, whom lawyer Larry Gadon cleared of any responsibility when he filed the impeachment complaints with the House of Representatives.

The more Duterte got piqued because all along he has denied all the allegations in connection with the impeachment complaints against Sereno.

In the same vein, Malacañang has always insisted that the president had no hand in the impeachment hearings and the quo warranto petition.

“I am putting you on notice that I am your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will request Congress to do it, the impeachment right away…. Kindly fast-track the impeachment,” said the angry Duterte.

Calling Sereno “bad for the Philippines,” he said Congress should act swiftly or else he would.

Those are tough words that Sereno should reckon with.

But what chance does Sereno really have when even the five Associate Justices, whom she asked to recuse from the case for testifying against her before the justice committee of the House, are set to deny her plea that they not participate in the quo warranto case filed against her by Solicitor General Jose Calida?

Indeed, not only is Duterte putting Sereno at the end of the road, but the Associate Justices themselves, namely, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam, are pushing the CJ over the edge of the road.

 

Duterte alluded to in Tagle’s sermon

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

I do not know how else to interpret it, but I think when Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle delivered his sermon on Palm Sunday, March 25th, about “arrogant and violent kings” he must have had in mind President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In our world today, we have many kings who are full of arrogance, bereft of humility. Today, many follow the kings who use violence, arms, and intimidation, so devoid of understanding and solidarity with the weak,” the archbishop stressed.

“Our king does not trust in violence, weapons, bullets and guns. Our king trust in God,” he added.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo may have just been acting civil towards Tagle when he said he believed the cardinal was not referring to Duterte, as one of those “arrogant and violent kings”, but to other world leaders.

What kings and why should we be talking about other world leaders when we have our very own, in the person of Duterte, who has been demonized by no less than the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the human rights advocates and the holier-than-thou members of the political opposition for his bloody war on drugs and the much ballyhooed extra-judicial killings, which allegedly has the president’s blessing?

We all have heard how Tagle speaks and when he makes his homilies, like that on Palm Sunday, he does it theatrically because he wants to create an impact so people would wonder what the allegory is all about and how it is affecting the nation.

But for those of us who have been following the political events in our country all these years, we also know that Duterte has been the overwhelming choice of majority of Filipinos to lead us and make a difference after years and years of ineffective and failed leadership.

As president, Duterte has not been acting arrogantly and violently, but his unconventional or non-traditional style of leadership, coupled with his intestinal fortitude to implement political will without fear and favor, not to mention his use of colorful language, has always been interpreted as his knack for arrogance and violence.

How wrong Tagle and his cohorts in the church hierarchy can be.

Duterte knows whereof he speaks about the problems of the country and the wherewithal of his actions and he continues to have the support and trust of the majority of the Filipino people.

Duterte is not acting like king and he very well knows his God.

In fact Duterte’s Holy Week message urging Filipinos to revitalize their faith and renew their relationship with God and fellow countrymen by rekindling their religious fervor and cherish their time-honored traditions as a pious people is something that the leaders of the country’s Catholic Church should reflect on at the man they think is the embodiment of evil.

 

Trillanes for Duterte to have ‘psychiatric examination’

 

Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

It looks like Sen. Antonio Trillanes has a new issue against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Practically losing steam, and most importantly his credibility, in his crazy crusade against Duterte’s leadership, Trillanes is now seen jumping onto the attack wagon of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein who has in his cross-hairs now the Philippine president.

I say cross-hairs because Zeid stint in his job has been marked by targeting verbal tirades at leaders of US, Russia and China, etc., whose actions does not somehow conform to his beliefs in the principles of human rights.

Well, I may be biased, but Zeid should not be comparing what is happening in the country under Duterte with the chaos of Trump’s racism and ultra-nationalist issues in the US, Putin’s support of Assad’s murderous regime in Syria, and Xi’s support of Myanmar’s oppressive government against the Rohingyas.

Zeid’s diatribe against Duterte come on the heels of his continuing hostility against human rights advocates who pretend to be experts when they are not, especially the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, when referring to Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs. I have written about Callamard which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/anybody-else-but-callamard/

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein

The UN human rights chief finally came to the rescue of Callamard from Duterte’s onslaught, saying, that “Duterte’s attacks against U.N. special rapporteurs cannot go unanswered and the U.N. Human Rights Council must take a position. He said the Philippine leader “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination”.

Ironically the statement comes from someone who just revealed his intention to step down without seeking a second term because he fears his voice will be “muted” by leading global powers.

“After reflection, I have decided not to seek a second four-year term,” he said.

“To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice – which is your voice.”

Zeid, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, thinks he can be disparaging at a third world leader, but scared and respectful to leaders of developed world. What an asshole!

And so, thinking that Zeid’s criticism on Duterte’s mental health will make the latter cower from his responsibilities, here comes Trillanes, a member of Zeir’s ilk, trying to capitalize on the situation by agreeing that Duterte should undergo a ‘psychiatric evaluation’.

“His murderous and erratic ways plus his crass, twisted, and perverted statements are indicative of a deeply sick mind. Hindi ‘yan normal na pag-iisip, lalo na ng isang Filipino (It’s not a normal way of thinking, especially for a Filipino),” Trillanes said.

I do not know about you, but Trillanes’ comment seems to indicate more about his mental status than that of President Duterte.

 

China’s interest in Philippine Rise – Part II

 

I decided to make this a sequel to the first part of this article, which can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/chinas-interest-in-philippine-rise/, for the simple reason that President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement, saying, that he would ‘go to war’ to defend Philippine Rise, is very much in the purview of the subject.

Although it has been clarified by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that Duterte’s warning of war has China excluded, for obvious reasons, still it is very reassuring to know that at least Duterte recognizes the significance and importance of this area for the generation of Filipinos to come.

What makes it equally reassuring is that China recognizes that the Philippines have sovereign rights over the area.

What was undoable at the South China Sea (SCS) or the West Philippine Sea, the country is now implementing it at the Philippine Rise, and for the same obvious reason stated above that like us, other claimant nations did not also have stronger counter claim against China’s historical rights over the area, notwithstanding the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Not even the greatest power on earth, the US, could stop China’s hegemony in the area. Thus, China was able to flex its muscle with impunity, to the extent that their man made militarized islands are now near our vicinity.

Could one blame Duterte, therefore, if he is seen now tugging the coattails of China rather than making the giant nation his and the country’s enemy?

But not at Philippine Rise, and this is why Duterte has now a battalion of Marines ordered to watch over the territory for any incursions without his knowledge.

So, can anybody say now that Duterte’s inevitable and close friendship with China is a big folly or is it somehow paying off?

The fact that China now is looking into joint exploration with the Philippines in disputed areas in the South China Sea – which Duterte sees as a recognition of “co-ownership” – is better than not being able to benefit anything at all from what is underneath this early on. For the truth is that even if the Chinese were not there, we could never exploit the area on our own because we do not have the means and the capability to do it, such that we still have to tie up with foreign entities to be able to extract whatever resources are there beneath the sea.

That is the reality of the situation now in the SCS and whether we like it or not, it is a pact we have to make and take advantage of if it is what it takes to make the lives of Filipinos better.

So the question now is: How about Philippine Rise?

Well, it will really depend on how the Chinese behave in the long haul. While we see them very active at the SCS, it does not mean that they are not, likewise, salivating at the prospect of being able to exploit the gas, oil, and mineral resources of the Philippine Rise.

It is safe to say, therefore, that the better option is to have ‘a wait and see attitude’ on how the Chinese operates at the SCS. If the Chinese remains the same in having the devious notion in business, as in: ‘what is ours, is ours, and what is yours, is ours’, then let us save the Philippine Rise from their clutches.

Let it be a learning process for the generations to come.

Duterte’s illogical advice to Suu Kyi

 

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Asean-India Summit 2018.

I had been always a big supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte in his actions, and even in his words, as the leader of the Filipino nation.

In fact in the numerous pieces I wrote about him you have read me defending him from criticisms hurled against him here and abroad.

Although many of Duterte’s comments are considered to be tongue in cheek, as it is his nature when making ad-lib speeches, this time, however, I cannot just let it pass without commenting about its importance or significance.

I am referring to the remarks Duterte made to Myanmar (formerly Burma) leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his speech at the recent Asean-India Summit 2018, saying, that the latter should not bother about human rights activists as they are “just a noisy bunch”.

Note that Suu Kyi is facing international criticism for failing to address the plight of more than 600,000 members of the largely-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group who have fled to Bangladesh, after Myanmar’s military launched a campaign ostensibly aimed at eradicating Rohingya armed groups.

Those who have fled describe a campaign of killing, rape, and destruction, accounts that have been backed by human rights groups and journalists working in the region.

Suu Kyi has yet to recognize that atrocities are taking place and has not spoken out against the Burmese military.

In fact I have written about Suu Kyi and the sufferings of the Rohingyas which can be read at the following links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not-part-ii/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/plight-of-the-rohingyas/

Many people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The United Nations described Myanmar’s crackdown as ethnic cleansing, which Myanmar denies.

“I pity her because she seems to be caught in the middle of being a Nobel Prize winner for peace and this is now the ruckus, she is heavily criticized,” Duterte said in his speech.

Suu Kyi’s case is very much unlike Duterte’s when the latter was also criticized for human right abuses and alleged extrajudicial killings during his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

Suu Kyi is not only a Nobel Prize winner for peace, but also Myanmar’s leader, and to be silent and insensitive to the plight of the Rohingyas living in her country speaks badly of her reputation.

What I am just saying is that Duterte should not have compared the fate of the more than half a million Rohingyas whose desire is simply to improve their lot with the criticism he got for killing drug personalities who are bent on destroying other people’s lives with impunity through the use of illegal drugs.

There is simply no logical comparison between one leader’s silence that caused adversity to hundreds of thousands of people and another leader’s strong political will to get rid of the scourge afflicting the country and its people and in the process killing thousands.

The human rights activists may have been “just a noisy bunch” to Duterte, but definitely where Suu Kyi is concern she deserves condemnation not just of the “noisy bunch”, but of freedom-loving leaders as well, including Duterte.

Thus, I consider Duterte’s advice to Suu Kyi not to mind human rights activists as illogical.