Posts Tagged ‘Davao’

Philippines Watches as Elected President in a Democracy Becomes Something Else Entirely — Names Supreme Court Chief Justice His “Enemy” — Rule of Law?

April 11, 2018
 / 05:10 AM April 11, 2018

President Duterte has taken the velvet glove off the iron hand.

Before he left for the Boao Forum in China, he called Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of the Supreme Court an “enemy,” and vowed he would remove her from office.

“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” an angry President said in a news conference. “I will see to it and after that, I will request the Congress go into the impeachment right away.”

“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court”

What triggered the President’s outright declaration of enmity? What provoked his declaration of political war?

Sereno — forced to go on indefinite leave from the Court by an unwieldy coalition of justices, facing both a patently unconstitutional quo warranto proceeding before the Court and certain impeachment in the House of Representatives — has been accepting unending invitations to speak in all sorts of public forums, and in the last one she raised the obvious question: If the President says he is not behind the twin moves to oust her, why was it Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s chief lawyer and a close ally of the President’s, who filed the quo warranto case against her?

Even in the polite Filipino she used, there was no mistaking the direct challenge she had laid at the President’s door: “Mr. President, kung sinabi mong wala kang kinalaman dito, paki paliwanag po bakit si SolGen Calida na nagrereport sa ’yo ang nag-file ng quo warranto?”

President Duterte took personal offense. In a mix of Filipino and English, he said: “You, Sereno, I told you I did not interfere. If you are insisting, then count me in. Count me in and I will egg Calida to do his best. I myself will do it, fight you.”

And: “Son of a bitch, I said I did not interfere. Tell her, let the world know. [Now] I will really get involved.”

And again: “I was telling you that I did not interfere. Now look what you’ve done, talking and talking, I will beat you up. I will help any investigator.”

And, one last time: “Now I will really get involved. I am asking Congress: What’s taking you too long? Do not create any crisis in this country. I will not hesitate to do what is to the best interest of my country. If it calls for your forced removal, I will do it.”

It is no secret that Sereno has been on the wrong side of the President’s personal ledger since she defended the independence of the judiciary when, at the start of the President’s signature campaign against drugs, he pinpointed judges he said were implicated in the illegal drug trade.

Speaking for the Supreme Court, Sereno calmly welcomed the President’s allegations but firmly insisted that the judiciary, being a branch of government designed to be independent of the two political branches, must follow its own procedures in determining the guilt or innocence of any accused judges. It was downhill from there.

There was even an exchange of views that led the President to exclaim, “Or would you rather I will declare martial law?”

Since August 2016, when the two heads of coequal branches of government conducted what amounted to a debate held through public forums or press conferences, Sereno had always sought not to directly challenge the President.

Her statements, while growing increasingly sharp, were still couched in polite diplomatic language.

Her speech last Monday directly challenging the President was a departure from previous practice — and it must have been deliberate.

The question then is: Why did Sereno seemingly sign her own death warrant, so to speak, by taking on the President?

Because it sharpens the issues facing Sereno. The impeachment complaint in Congress was of course a political stratagem; how else could an incoherent complaint filed by an incompetent lawyer survive a lengthy proceeding if not for the political will of the leaders running the proceeding?

Now the President himself has confirmed that he wants the House of Representatives to hurry up.

Sereno has reached the point where the only possibility of legal and constitutional salvation lies in an impeachment trial in the Senate.

By provoking the President, she has succeeded in forcing the hand of the House.

But why was the House taking so long, when impeachment is a foregone conclusion?

Because House leaders are waiting for the Supreme Court to take the unconstitutional option of unseating an official identified by the Constitution as removable only by impeachment through another means — the quo warranto case.

Sereno’s challenge has led the President to paint the justices into a corner. If they oust her, whatever reasons they use they will be seen, forever, as mere errand boys and girls, carrying out the command of an angry executive.

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Philippines: Talking Out To Duterte Voters

April 10, 2018


POSTSCRIPT – Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) – April 10, 2018 – 12:00am

We share below an open letter of netizen Gege Cruz pouring out in social media her disgust with the 16 million voters who handed the presidency to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. (This version is 500 words shorter than Cruz’s original rant that we edited to fit space.)

You’ll never hear the end of it from me for your Duterte vote. And the more intelligent, the more educated, the more well-bred, the more “Christian” you are, the more I blame you. Shame on you!

Yes, it’s a free country, and you have the right to vote according to your free will. But as a citizen, you also have the responsibility to vote for the best candidate. To study the facts available to help us choose a leader who would do the best job of leading us through the challenges of a developing country.

We will always disagree about who the best candidate was. But why did we have to vote for the worst? Yes, the worst. The facts pointed to that.

A truckload of facts, if you had bothered to go beneath the very shallow surface, was accessible even through Google. And as the campaign progressed, you did not have to dig for reasons not to vote for him. They were glaring, flashing, screaming. Red flags galore. In the debates. Every time he opened his mouth.

He had no economic plans whatsoever. None! No solutions to unemployment. No vision. No cohesive strategy. No track record. All promises. No substance. Remember that cringe-worthy speech before the Makati Business Club? There he was in all his ampaw (empty/hollow) glory.

You, who worked for corporations, managed departments and companies, who made your team work overtime to finish annual business plans, so that your boss and his/her boss would approve your plans and budgets. You forgot all that managerial thinking, and voted for that incompetent, empty, noisy bet who said he would remove algebra from the curriculum, who said that he knew nothing about economics!

And please, do not point at Davao as the model for his achievements. That insults the civic communities, the entrepreneurs, the investors, who were the true movers of the city’s economy. If you ever believed the myth about his solving the city’s crime and drug problems, then you have wasted your intellect and education. No. 1 in murder. No. 2 in rape. No. 4 in crime. And never ever got rid of drugs. After his 20-year rule.

You, doctors, who voted for this Fentanyl user because you were angry at P-Noy and Kim Henares. You, entrepreneurs, who voted for him because tila feeling niyo mas madaling maglagay pag siya na ang pangulo.

You, teachers, corporate trainers, communication and leadership speakers – found substance, form, value, meaning, where there was none. You heard him, saw him deliver speeches that were mad, senseless rambles that disrespected the audience as well as the targets of his diatribes, and then you laughed, and applauded, and called him authentic!

You, parents, who expect so much from your children and from yourselves, talking about values, education, and etiquette, knowing that we live in a civilized world where manners and common respect make us human and humane, but expected so much less than that from somebody who was going to lead this country through that much-vaunted change, who would automatically be a role model. You were willing to expose your impressionable youth to this madman, permitting him to influence your son and tell your daughter that catcalling and rape jokes were fine.

You political butterflies, who forgot your ideologies, your mandate, the masses you must defend and serve, just to get your feet inside Malacañang.

You, who were there at EDSA to kick out the dictator, you heard him say that he would resign to get Marcos in. And you voted for him!

You, chauvinistic, abusive, philandering men who found justification in this misogynist – oh what can I say to you?

And you, my fellow woman. He wanted to be first in line to gangbang a missionary. He paraded his mistresses in front of his wife. He kissed women on the lips during his campaign, even as he boasted of a common-law wife and a couple more women on the side. All that did not make you rethink your vote. And some of you even called him Tatay, or mylabs.

No track record at the national level. Dismal performance as Congress Representative – nanood lang ng sine. Dysfunctional personal life. Physical and mental health in question. Admissions of killing criminals outside the justice system. At alam naman natin lahat ng ito even during the campaign. Pero ganun eh. Iba siya. Totoong tao.

And then there’s the Death Squads! How could that have been okay with you? You didn’t know about it? You didn’t know how bad it was?

One reason I got from friends – because he’s the only one who can achieve radical change that this country badly needs. Bullcrap! There was never ever any empirical proof of that. You just believed the macho stories. You bought into the myth they built with manipulated polls and paid trolls.

It was a vote of desperation. And you chose to be desperate at a time when our country was at its best economic standing in a long time. When we were emerging as a new tiger. Desperation makes you stupid, you know.

Because you were angry about traffic, frustrated with the MRT, outraged by laglag bala. You voted for the one who only said he would solve those problems, without presenting any viable solution, just imaginary numbers and ridiculous deadlines. Naniwala naman kayo!

You just felt like voting for him. Basta. And look at where that vote has brought us. Loans piling up. Peso slipping. Jobs and investments dwindling. Grants disappearing. Our islands being grabbed from us. Corruption growing. Nepotism, cronyism, incompetence, the death of meritocracy. Wala nang bigas! May crime at drugs pa rin! At may traffic pa rin!

Eto pa __ “Hindi siya trapo!” Tingnan mo ngayon – trapo na siya, at isa pa siyang malaking doormat – Welcome, China! Our Islands, Yours Na. Tinapon ang ating victory sa Hague. At binenta ng libre ang bansa natin. With loan interests on our side. Hindi pa natin tapos bayaran ang mga utang ni Marcos, eto na naman!


Philippines: 17,000 families still in evacuation centers in storm-hit areas — Next storm brewing

December 31, 2017
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A general view of the flooded Municipality of Kabacan, North Cotabato, on the southern island of Mindanao on December 23, 2017, after Typhoon Vinta dumped torrential rains across the island. The death toll from a tropical storm in the southern Philippines climbed swiftly to 133 on December 23, as rescuers pulled dozens of bodies from a swollen river, police said.  Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Around 17,000 families may welcome 2018 in evacuation centers due to Typhoon Vinta, which caused widespread damage across the country earlier this month.

There were 17,302 families in 90 evacuation centers as of Sunday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.

A total of 168,081 families, or around 794,613 people, were affected in 1,151 barangays in the Mimaropa, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga regions and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The tropical storm destroyed 3,584 houses and damaged 3,129.

Vinta left the Philippine Area of Responsibility on the morning of December 24, after battering Mindanao and triggering landslides in Cagayan de Oro City, and in several towns in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces.

Initial reports from different local government agencies put the death toll at more than 230, but the NDRRMC said that it is still verifying the numbers.

READ: Vietnam escapes worst typhoon that battered the Philippines

The NDRRMC however noted that flooding in the 239 areas affected by the typhoon had subsided by Sunday morning.

The following areas remain under the state of calamity:

  • Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur
  • Province of Lanao del Norte
  • Labason, Zamboanga del Norte
  • Salug, Zamboanga del Norte
  • Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay
  • Balabac, Palawan
  • Aborlan, Palawan
  • Bataraza, Palawan
  • Gutalac, Zamboanga del Norte
  • Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte
  • Baungon, Bukidnon
  • Province of Lanao del Sur

The agency also said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development has given worth of P29.8 million in assistance to families affected by the typhoon.

The United Nations Children’s Fund earlier said that it stands ready to provide a relief and deploy field team in the wake of Vinta. The European Union, meanwhile, has pledged P34 million (€570,000) worth of humanitarian aid to Vinta-affected families and communities.

READ: High ‘Vinta’ death toll ‘unacceptable’ amid improved disaster preparedness — Binay

NDRRMC spokesperson Mina Marasigan also stressed the public should heed warnings on a new low pressure area that Pagasa is monitoring.

According to the state weather bureau, the new weather system is expected to develop into a tropical depression within the next 48 hours.

Pagasa also said that new LPA “may cross Mindanao beginning Monday until Tuesday and bring moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flash floods and landslides.”

Philippine mall fire — Criminal investigation ongoing after at least 37 people killed — fire standards are often not enforced — rescue response criticized

December 25, 2017


© AFP / by Ferdinandh Cabrera | At least 37 people were missing on Sunday 


Firemen Monday found the bodies of “around” 36 people after a deadly blaze at a shopping mall in the southern Philippines, a fire official said as the government launched a criminal investigation.

The discovery raised to 37 the confirmed death toll from the NCCC shopping mall fire in the city of Davao on Mindanao island.

The Davao region chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, told weeping relatives of the missing that he personally counted “around 36” bodies in an office lobby at the gutted mall.

City mayor Sara Duterte, a daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, said earlier that 38 people were missing and feared dead in the fire, with one other unidentified body recovered on Sunday.

“I personally counted them before I gave the information to our honourable mayor… around 36 in number,” Kwan Tiu told weeping relatives, who clutched long-stemmed white flowers as they attended a mass.

“As the ground commander of this operation my deepest apology for I was not able to save them,” said the fire official, who joined a search inside the building at midday.

The blaze began on Saturday, trapping call centre workers of US-based market research firm SSI, which announced on its website late Sunday that 37 of its 500 employees at the top-floor office had been “lost” in the fire.

Philippine authorities ordered a criminal investigation Monday as allegations surfaced of locked or non-existent fire exits at the building, which its administrators denied.

“By punishing those responsible, we can set an example to others so that hopefully there will be no repetition of those tragedies,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in a statement.

Mall operators denied the claims.

  People watch as smoke rises from burning mall’s 3rd floor, in Davao City, Philippines, in this Dec. 23, 2017, picture obtained from social media.



“There is no truth to that allegation. In fact as per accounts of those who got out, they were able get out thru the fire exit,” Thea Padua, the mall’s public relations officer, told AFP by text message.

– Rescuers criticised –

Davao’s fire marshal described the shopping mall on Sunday as “an enclosed space with no ventilation”, though the authorities said they had yet to determine the cause of the blaze.

Deadly blazes occur regularly in the Philippines, particularly in slum areas where there are virtually no fire safety standards.

Corruption and exploitation mean supposedly strict fire standards are often not enforced.

Some relatives of those missing earlier criticised rescuers for what they felt was the slow pace of recovery efforts.

“They seem so relaxed,” said Jolita Basalan, weeping as she waited for news of her 29-year-old son Jonas who worked at the call centre.

“They are not pained because they don’t have a child there. They told us to come here but no one is moving,” she told AFP.

SSI said it has arranged for counselling for its employees and will support funeral arrangements and set up a fund for the bereaved.

“This terrible tragedy has left us with heavy hearts. We offer our condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims,” SSI chief executive Gary Laben said in a statement on its website.

The shopping mall fire compounded the Christmas misery in the south of the mainly Catholic nation, where tens of thousands were displaced by floods and landslides from a storm that also killed 240 others on Friday.

In 2015 a fire tore through a footwear factory in Manila, killing 72. Survivors of that blaze blamed barred windows and other sweatshop conditions for trapping people inside the factory.

In the nation’s deadliest fire of recent times, 162 people were killed in a huge blaze that gutted a Manila disco in 1996.

With low wages but strong English-language skills, the Philippines is a popular destination for international companies to set up customer call centres.

by Ferdinandh Cabrera

How Did Duterte Come To Power in the Philippines? Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors…

October 18, 2017

By  – @inquirerdotnet

 / 05:06 AM October 16, 2017

How did the demagoguery begin? With the morbidity of the killings hitting the poor’s hovels, we begin to ruminate perplexed at how this catastrophe will end.

It will end as how it began.

The campaign canonized him on the impetus of anger with elitist politics, a signal of discontent with the status quo. An outsider to Manila-centric politics was seen as the antidote to the nation’s skewed power dynamics. This proved its greatest irony: In fact, this was a candidate traditionally elitist to the core. What caused the ignorance?

Rodrigo Duterte was invincible in Davao City as local autocrats are in their own turfs. No semblance of public furor, an important democratic institution, has been seen in Davao directly against him in his 20 years of power. Supporters used this as a fundamental reference of his “popularity.”

In 2007, a National Bureau of Investigation report identified Paolo Duterte and a business partner as “members of a big-time syndicate engaged in smuggling high-end cars, used clothing, rice and sugar.” The contraband, said to be concealed in container vans, entered Davao without the necessary import permits, the report said, because the alleged operators “enjoyed the protection of some corrupt Customs officials and members of the Philippine National Police.” A subsequent report by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group echoed: “These activities were undertaken without any arrest or apprehension by concerned government agencies due to the alleged power and influence of Davao City Mayor Duterte.”

In 2012, a Commission on Audit report said that Davao City Hall hired 11,000 individuals for six months, including 110 consultants, costing P677 million. The sample audit conducted found city hall “could provide only a master list of those hired, their fixed wages, positions and the funding source but not official contracts or accomplishment reports.” Only 59 casuals showed up for the audit. City hall claimed the rest were out on field work “but there were no pass slips as proof, no deployment plan.”

How did these impact the Davao public, accustomed to talk sub rosa? Media sources explain that these reports “get written; whether they are pursued is another matter.” The common answer given was: “Jun Pala’s murder was instructive. The Dutertes take political issues personally. Davao media is monitored.” (Note: Pala, radio commentator highly critical of the Dutertes, was fatally shot by riding tandem gunmen on Sept. 6, 2003.)

The Filipino electorate had also seriously skimmed over what was supposed to be a red flag: the fat Duterte dynasty, four members in power (total of five, counting the President’s brother, who was city councilor). Provincial politics is a replica of Manila, with the same detritus that litters Manila. He was no outsider to the system.

“The nation was so desperate for change that it was seduced by the Pied Piper,” writes Cesar Polvorosa, professor and writer based in Canada. At the outset, the vitriolic rhetoric was a novelty, fun even. It wore out as a broken record (including his jokes on the late Justice Arsenio Solidum). The loquaciousness exposed his flip-flopping common to traditional politicians, an apparent accommodation of interests. The public saw “heightened expectations that are not actualized,” writes Jose Ma. Montelibano. Mr. Duterte was indecisive as his predecessor was who protected his own kith and kin.

So-called “narco lists” remain unverified, having once included a Calbayog city judge long dead. And take note, Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors of reckoning during the campaign.

The disguise worked in Davao. In the national level, he is stripped of all disguises. The popularity was ampao: puffed
and empty.

Local autocrats cannot be scaled up to the national level. Being First Family is not all pomp and power; there is also fair game under a magnifying glass.

The final arbiter will be how they measure up to accountability and commit to transparency, matters alien to an intimidated public and media in Davao. Signing the waiver is for love of country.

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Philippines’ Duterte makes fresh rape joke

July 14, 2017


© AFP | Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte has defended his anti-drug crackdown which has been blamed for the deaths of 3,200 people

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made a new joke about rape on Friday, saying he would congratulate a rapist who could carry out the crime even knowing he would die.The often-foul mouthed Duterte made the joke in a speech to Filipino diplomats in his southern home town of Davao as he defended his bloody war on crime which has left thousands dead since he took office last year.

“What I don’t like are kids (being raped.) You can mess with, maybe Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die,” for your crime, he said, implying the rapist would be lynched.

It was the latest in a series of off-colour jokes by Duterte who openly boasts of having mistresses and often makes sexual remarks about women.

Speaking in his rambling style, the president also boasted to the diplomats that he faked tuberculosis to escape mandatory military training in college.

But he also reiterated his vow to continue his bloody war on drugs despite accusations that thousands of suspects had been killed by police and vigilantes since he took office.

“Human rights? That is bullshit to me,” he said, recalling how he called then-US president Barack Obama “a son of a whore” after Washington criticised the wave of killings.

Police say at least 3,200 people were slain in their anti-drug operations but rights groups charge that thousands more have been killed by vigilante groups.


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte: Good For The Economy — Personally focused almost entirely on crime and drugs

December 30, 2016

MANILA — After six months at the helm in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has been touting just two achievements of his presidency – a vicious war on drugs and a surprise alliance with his country’s bitter rival, China.

Yet behind the curse-laden bluster and populist demagoguery that has defined Duterte’s rule, he presides over one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and has put cabinet colleagues to work on drafting reforms and legislation to tackle the economy’s most stubborn structural problems.

Advisers say Duterte’s economic successes come from using a strategy he honed as the long-time mayor of Davao City at a national level.

He concentrates on busting crime and deliberately delegates the handling of the economy to others. By his own admission, Duterte says he is no expert on the economy and leaves it to “the bright guys” in his cabinet.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he's prepared to repeal VFA, which allowed visiting American troops legal status in his country

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte


Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia sees the president only twice monthly and rarely hears feedback. He said Duterte was focused almost entirely on crime and drugs.

“That has been his obsession,” he told Reuters. “He essentially leaves other issues and concerns to the cabinet.”

The strategy seems to have worked so far although economists are beginning to question how long it can last.

“That’s what we’re hoping for, that his core economic team can prevail,” said Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) economist Emilio S. Neri.

“The fundamentals are there but we are leaning towards deficit spending and stimulus-driven growth and some unsustainable populist policies are worrisome.”

At the national level, Duterte’s signature campaigns have included his tilt toward China while turning his back on long-term ally the United States in addition to the war on drugs. He rarely mentions it, but the economy has boomed under his watch, although some of the gains have been ascribed to the previous administration’s policies and Duterte’s decision to retain them.

Growth reached an annual 7.1 percent in the third quarter of the year, Asia’s second highest and the country’s strongest quarter in three years. The government expects full-year growth around 7 percent.

The economy is expected to grow 6.5-7.5 percent in 2017, but there are worries that Duterte’s erratic behavior could impact policy, with political risk over his drugs crackdown and foul-mouthed outbursts at some big donors and investors.

Markets have signaled their concern. In the six months since Duterte took over, the main stock index has lost nearly 20 percent in dollar terms and is among the worst performers in Asia.

Over the same period, the peso currency is down around 5 percent to the dollar, but other currencies in the region are also depressed.


But Duterte has plenty of supporters, who say his decisive leadership and intolerance of bad governance will be a long-term boon for the economy. In Davao City, he helped lure investors, dramatically cut red tape and fired inept officials. In 2014, Davao saw growth of a 9.3 percent, compared to 6.1 percent nationwide.

Analaysts at Nomura have said his populist, development-centred approach suggests he is “strongly motivated” to address the Philippines’ biggest weakness – infrastructure.

Expenditure on infrastructure, including on flood management schemes, ports, a rapid-transit bus system and a rail line, makes up a quarter of next year’s record $67 billion budget.

Consumer spending is strong, helped by $22 billion of remittances in the first 10 months from Filipinos overseas, a 4 percent rise. Unemployment was a record low 4.7 percent in the third quarter, from 5.7 percent a year earlier.

“He should deserve credit,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez told Reuters.

“Unfortunately, people are always looking at the controversial statements. But if you judge it, he has done an excellent job …the important thing is the trust and confidence of businesses in him is very high.”


Duterte’s volatility and seemingly unilateral foreign policy has caused jitters and confusion, especially when he turned hostile towards the United States and then started cosying up to China, with which the Philippines has a history of mistrust over the South China Sea.

Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States in Beijing in October, shocking even his own ministers, who scrambled to assure investors – without his consent – that his policy was to diversify, not sever ties.

It’s a gambit that could pay off, with an intractable dispute with Beijing now on the back burner and China pledging to provide the Philippines with billions of dollars in infrastructure loans and ramp up farm and fisheries imports.

Nevertheless, economists warn that hot-headedness and willingness to take big risks could be a problem if it spills into policymaking, especially if it impacts U.S. firms, which account for three-quarters of the country’s $23 billion business-processing outsourcing (BPO) sector.

Some big U.S. firms have delayed BPO investments to undergo more due diligence.

Capital Economics notes a “growing risk that Duterte makes it harder” to attract big investment. Moody’s has a stable outlook, expecting “continued economic outperformance relative to peers”, assuming Duterte’s drugs war doesn’t distract him from his economic reforms.

“There’s lots of focus going into the anti-drugs program,” said BPI’s Neri.

“In six months, economic policy reforms seem to have taken a back seat.”

(Additional reporting by Karen Lema and Manolo Serapio Jr; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)


Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and beard

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file


Philippines: Martial Law, one-man rule not a joke — Vice president says

December 29, 2016
Georgina Hernandez, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo, said that Martial Law is never a “laughing matter.” Hernandez is seen in the May 13, 2016 file photo. OVP

MANILA, Philippines — The threat of declaring martial law and the desire for a one-man rule is not a laughing matter nor should it be exaggerated, Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesperson said on Thursday.

Georgina Hernandez, spokesperson for Robredo, apparently directed the statement to Malacañang after President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, said Robredo “seems to have amplified” concerns over a declaration of Martial Law.

Hernandez said it was not Robredo’s intention to make it appear that Duterte was going to declare Martial Law. “President Duterte did that himself,” Hernandez said.

“Every time President Duterte has been called out on his comments, it is either dismissed as a joke or said to be taken out of context,” she added.

Vice President Leni Robredo said that returning to Martial Law is the worst Christmas gift to the Filipinos.

Abella has said that the vice president implied that Duterte is planning to declare Martial Law even “if you read it in context, it was not in that way.”

“In context, the President was saying that if Martial Law was taken for what it was supposed to be, which is to protect and preserve the safety of the people, then it should be facilitated,” Abella said at a press briefing last Tuesday.

READ: Leni to Rody: Threat of martial law return ‘worst Christmas gift’

Martial Law was declared in 1972 by then President Ferdinand Marcos over a supposed security threat by communist rebels. What followed were years of suspension of ordinary laws, rule of the military, human rights abuses and a strongman government.

Hernandez said the topic should not be toyed with.

“The threat of Martial Law and the desire for a one-man rule can never be a laughing matter. Nor can the threat be exaggerated. VP Leni’s statement was clear in one thing: no matter what is thrown at us, we will stand fast in defending our freedom and our rights as Filipinos,” she said.

Hernandez urged the public not to let Martial Law happen again. “The sooner this message sinks in, the better for all,” she added.


Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and beard

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file


Bombings in The Philippines Wound 39 — President Threatens Martial Law, Then Bombings (Or is it the other way around?) — Very Few Deaths By International Terror Standards

December 29, 2016


© AFP/File | Two bombs exploded late Wednesday in the central Philippine island of Leyte, wounding 33 people who were watching a boxing match in Hilongos, government officials said

MANILA (AFP) – At least 39 people have been injured in two separate bomb attacks in the Philippines, authorities said Thursday.

In the first incident, two bombs exploded late Wednesday in the central island of Leyte, wounding 33 people who were watching a boxing match in Hilongos, government officials said.

Another unexploded bomb was also found in the town, which is about 620 kilometres (385 miles) south of Manila, said the town’s mayor Albert Villahermosa.

A bomb went off on a highway on the southern island of Mindanao barely an hour later, wounding six people, the military said.

“A lamppost was catapulted from the impact of the explosion,” said Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Delos Reyes.

The blast in Aleosan, hundreds of kilometres south of Hilongos, was close to the site of a Christmas Eve church bombing that injured 13.

Police said it was too early to say if Wednesday’s bombings were connected or what the perpetrators’ motives might be.

Mindanao has been wracked by bombings and other forms of violence carried out by Muslim extremists who consider the region their ancestral homeland, waging a decades-long independence struggle that is believed to have claimed more than 120,000 lives.

Muslim extremists have also been blamed for attacks outside Mindanao, such as the discovery of a bomb near the US embassy in Manila in November.

In the deadliest such attack recently, 15 people were killed in an explosion in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown of Davao in Mindanao in September.

Philippines: Filipinos Still Back President Duterte’s Drug War — Duterte says Amnesty International are “idiots” — “I used to [kill people] personally.”

December 19, 2016

MANILA — Eight out of 10 Filipinos worry they or someone they know might become a victim of extrajudicial killings, an opinion poll published on Monday found, although a majority also gave President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war an “excellent” rating.

More than 2,000 people have been killed by police in anti-narcotics operations in the Philippines since Duterte took office on July 1. Another 3,000 deaths, some attributed to masked men on motorcycles or vigilantes, are under investigation.

Social Weather Stations (SWS), an independent pollster, asked 1,500 Filipinos nationwide if they were concerned that either they or someone they knew could fall victim to an extrajudicial killing, and 78 percent said they were either very worried or somewhat worried.

The SWS survey was conducted with face-to-face interviews on Dec. 3-6, with the results posted online on Monday.

Despite those fears, the survey also found Filipinos were staunchly behind Duterte’s drugs war, which has drawn international concern and a request from a United Nations human rights expert to investigate.

Duterte’s drugs war received an “excellent” mark from an overwhelming majority of respondents, a rating determined by deducting the eight percent of respondents who said they were dissatisfied from the 85 percent who were satisfied.

“I am not surprised with the conundrum that people acknowledge that the anti-drug campaign is fitting, so they allow it. But they would like less killings,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.

Martin Andanar, Duterte’s communication secretary, said the government recognized concerns among Filipinos but reiterated that the killings were not state-sponsored.

“Rest assured that the Duterte administration respects the law and upholds the basic rights of our people, regardless of beliefs and political persuasion,” he said in a statement.

The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, also found 71 percent felt it was important to keep those suspected of drug use or drug trafficking alive. A similar figure said the extrajudicial killings were a serious problem.

A convincing 88 percent also believed there had been a decrease in the illicit drug problem in their communities.

The firebrand leader, known as “the Punisher” and “Duterte Harry”, has said he personally killed criminals while he was mayor of southern Davao City, leading senators to warn him that he risked being impeached.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Paul Tait)


Duterte defends ‘kill’ boast, calls rights group ‘an idiot’

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the Filipino community in Singapore on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. AP/Wong Maye-E

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted international human rights group Amnesty International following its statement regarding his admission that he personally killed suspected criminals while serving as mayor of Davao City.

“Ang sinabi niya Duterte is talking about killing criminals it would inspire the police and military to commit abuse. What are you talking about? Idioto ka,” Duterte said in an ambush interview in Zamboanga City last Saturday.

The president added that the encounter happened when he was only three months in office when he was Davao City mayor.

“‘Yung sinasabi nila na engkwentro, it really happened in Davao. I was only three months mayor. May kinidnap doon sa Davao, three months lang ako uso na ‘yung kidnap kidnap, maski mismo sa downtown dinadampot ‘yung tao kaya two months after sinauli nila ang bata, she was a teenager, (a) 16-year-old Chinese,” Duterte said. (“The encounter they were talking about really happened in Davao when I was only mayor of three months. Someone was kidnapped there. Kidnapping was already rampant then, even in the city’s downtown, people were abducted. Two months after, the suspects returned the kid, she was a teenager, a 16-year-old Chinese.”)

“Itong idiotong ito na [sabi] si Duterte killed so many criminals, talaga! Bakit pahirapan mo ang tao mo? Siyempre mayor ako ng Davao papayag ba ako na mayor ka tapos ang mga tao ko kikidnapin lang tapos pakainin lang ng droga?” the president added. (“This idiot said Duterte killed so many criminals. Really? Why are you making people suffer? Of course, I was the mayor, would I allow someone to be kidnapped and then drugged?”)

Last week, Duterte boasted about killing criminals while he was Davao mayor. “I used to do it personally, just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you?”

Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said Duterte’s claim takes the meaning of state-sanctioned violence to a “whole new level.”

Djamin added Duterte’s statement encourages the police to further commit extrajudicial killings.

“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,” Djamin said in a statement.


The president should instead be ordering investigations into the killings and not claim a part in them, the Amnesty official said.

“Statements like these continue to give everybody, including the police in the Philippines a license to kill in the knowledge that they are protected by the president,” Djamin said.

Amnesty International urged Duterte to put a stop to unlawful killings and send a clear message that the government is not encouraging unlawful use of force.

“The Philippines authorities must step off the bloody path they have set out on, and fulfill their duty to protect all people by ending incitement to violence,” the statement read.

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