Posts Tagged ‘drug war’

Duterte’s drugs war lieutenants get key posts in Philippine police reshuffle

April 19, 2018

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a Galil sniper rifle next to outgoing Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Bato Dela Rosa during the National Police chief handover ceremony in Camp Crame, Quezon City, metro Manila, Philippines, April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Dondi TawataoREUTERS


MANILA (Reuters) – Police at the helm of the Philippine war on drugs were given top posts in the national force on Thursday, indicating no let-up in a brutal crackdown that has caused international alarm, and defined Rodrigo Duterte’s 21-month presidency.

The job of national police chief was given to Oscar Albayalde, a strict disciplinarian who has been in charge of Metro Manila, where the vast majority of the thousands of drugs war killings have occurred.

He was succeeded as commander of the capital police by Camilo Cascolan, the architect of the controversial operational plan of the anti-drug campaign, “Double Barrel”.

About 4,100 people have been killed by police in the Philippines since July 2016 in what the authorities said were shootouts during anti-narcotics operations. At least 2,300 drug-related deaths have occurred separately, at the hands of what police say are unknown assassins.

Human rights groups believe the death toll has been understated, and accuse the authorities of executing suspects and staging crime scenes. Police deny that and say their more than 130,000 arrests prove their intent to preserve life.

Cascolan is the latest officer promoted to a top command post having served in the Davao region during the 22 years Duterte was a mayor there. The outgoing police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, also served in Davao.

Cascolan’s position as head of operations will go to Mao Aplasca, also from the Davao region.

Albayalde vowed no relent in the campaign and to ensure continuity of its “remarkable accomplishments”, including arresting or convincing tens of thousands of people to surrender, and the “neutralizing” of drug suspects.

“We will not relent on our war against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality. The drug menace, we must all understand, is a worldwide phenomenon,” Albayalde said in a speech.

“We will help and support each other to fight and win this war.”

The outgoing police chief, Dela Rosa, will head the bureau of corrections.

He is leaving behind a police force with “a sordid human rights record”, according to Carlos Conde, a researcher for the New York based Human Rights Watch.

In his departure speech, Dela Rosa lauded Duterte’s for his courage to order an all-out war on drugs, and pledged his “unquestionable loyalty” to him.

“It was an order I certainly could not refuse. I shared the same sentiments as the president and would not let pass the opportunity to do my share,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)


‘I will arrest you’: Duterte warns ICC lawyer to steer clear of Philippines

April 13, 2018


MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to arrest an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor if she conducts activities in his country, arguing it was no longer an ICC member so the court had no right to do any investigating.

Hitting out at what he said was an international effort to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights”, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC’s Rome Statute a month ago and promised to continue his crackdown on drugs, in which thousands have been killed.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in February announced the start of a preliminary examination into a complaint by a Philippine lawyer which accuses Duterte and top officials of crimes against humanity, and of killing criminals as a policy.

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Left: Rodrigo Duterte; Right: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

Duterte has cited numerous reasons why he believes the ICC has no jurisdiction over him, and on Friday suggested that any doubts about that should have been dispelled by his withdrawal.

“What is your authority now? If we are not members of the treaty, why are you … in this country?,” told reporters, in comments aimed at Bensouda.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and police arrest an alleged drug dealer during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28, 2018. (AFP)

“You cannot exercise any proceedings here without basis. That is illegal and I will arrest you.”

It is not clear whether Bensouda or the ICC has carried out any activities in the Philippines related to the complaint against Duterte.

The office of the prosecutor in The Hague and the Philippine foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Police have since July 2016 killed more than 4,000 people they say are drug dealers who resisted arrest. Activists say many of those were executions, which police deny.

Duterte has told security forces not to cooperate with any foreign investigators and last month said he would convince other ICC members to withdraw.

Duterte had earlier vowed to face the ICC and critics say pulling out is futile, because the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes committed in the period from when the Philippines joined in 2011 to when its withdrawal takes effect in March 2019.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can step in and exercise jurisdiction if states are unable or unwilling to investigate suspected crimes.

But the mercurial former mayor and his legal aides argue that technically, the Philippines never actually joined the ICC, because it was not announced in the country’s official gazette.

“If there is no publication, it is as if there is no law at all,” Duterte said on Friday.

Protests Greet Philippine President Duterte in Hong Kong — To assail what they described as the “rising tyranny and dictatorship” of Duterte

April 12, 2018


Around 50 Filipinos and Hong Kong residents held the protest in the Tsim Sha Tsui district.

Alexis Romero
Alexis Romero ( – April 12, 2018 – 1:49pm

HONG KONG — Activists here on Thursday held a protest against the deaths tied to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs and his supposed failure to fulfill his promises hours before a scheduled meeting with members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong.

About 50 Filipinos and Hong Kong locals staged a protest along Middle Road in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon to assail what they described as the “rising tyranny and dictatorship” of Duterte.

The activists, who claim to be backed by 34 sectoral groups from different Asian countries, also chided Duterte for allegedly endorsing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

“Some people are saying that he is still very popular. But that cannot hide the fact that the economic and social conditions in the Philippines are worsening and are not getting better. His popularity cannot cover the fact that there are thousands of people who are protesting, who are fighting, his tyranny and dictatorship,” Eman Villanueva, chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Hong Kong-Macau said.

“We are just here to send our message to our president. We are not terrorists. It is our president who has been killing our people in our country. We should be the ones who are given protection, not this president,” he added.

Villanueva said Duterte has failed to improve the lives of Filipinos, forcing them to work in other countries. He also accused Duterte of not respecting the independence of co-equal branches of government by calling on Congress to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“The situation also of the human rights in the Philippines is deteriorating, even much worse than the time of the former dictator Marcos. He even called on Congress to impeach and remove the Chief Justice. This is a total disrespect to the rule of law and also to the checks and balance of the government,” the activist said.

“This is even much worse than the previous record of the previous administration. We are here today to tell the Philippines that he should stop doing this,” he added.

When reminded that Duterte continues to have high trust and satisfaction ratings despite the allegations against him, Villanueva said: “There is no doubt that he is still very popular…(But) by the time the people do not have food on their tables and by the time those who supported him in the elections also lost their loved ones because of the drug war, eventually, he will lose that popularity.”

“If we reach the point that we can no longer handle our problems, his popularity and his troll army in the social media would not be able to hide the situation,” he added.

Despite the protest, Duterte is usually welcomed by large crowds of overseas Filipinos when he travels abroad.



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’ Duterte urges ‘fast-track’ sacking of top judge

April 9, 2018



© AFP/File | Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno: under fire from Duterte

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday lawmakers must “fast-track” the impeachment of the nation’s top judge, further stacking the odds against her staying in office.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is one of several high-profile critics who have found themselves in legal trouble after battling with Duterte over his deadly anti-drug crackdown.

“I’m putting you (Sereno) on notice that I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” Duterte told reporters before flying to China for an economic forum.

“I held my temper before because she’s a woman. This time I’m asking the congressmen and the Speaker: ‘Do it now. Cut out the drama, or else I will do it for you’,” he added.

A committee in the legislature’s lower chamber the House of Representatives last month found “probable cause” to impeach Sereno, in a move which critics allege is part of wider efforts by Duterte to destroy foes and usher in one-man rule.

If lawmakers in the full House support the finding, Sereno would face a US-style impeachment trial in the Senate or upper house. Congress is currently in recess and is due to reconvene May 14.

The Supreme Court is set Tuesday to hear a separate petition to unseat Sereno from the country’s highest tribunal.

She has been accused of failing to pay about two million pesos ($40,000) in taxes as well as falsifying and tampering with court resolutions.

She is also alleged to have spent excessively on “opulent” hotels and a luxury official vehicle, as well as flying business or first class.

Until Monday Duterte had repeatedly denied having anything to do with the moves to sack Sereno.

He called on House Speaker and key ally Pantaleon Alvarez to “kindly fast-track the impeachment” of Sereno.

“If it calls for your forced removal I will do it,” Duterte said, referring to Sereno.

Duterte and Sereno first clashed in 2016 when she criticised his order that judges whom he linked to the illegal drugs trade turn themselves in as part of his crackdown.

Police say they have killed roughly 4,000 drug suspects who fought back during arrest since Duterte launched the war nearly two years ago. Rights groups allege the actual number is three times higher.

Other Duterte critics have also been ousted, punished or threatened including detained Senator Leila de Lima, the Commission on Human Rights, and an anti-corruption prosecutor who investigated allegations Duterte has hidden wealth.


Philippines: Commission on Human Rights says no need for international investigations if Duterte government “shows commitment to investigate killings linked to the war on drugs”

April 8, 2018
No need for International Criminal Court to meddle in the Philippines if…
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) – April 8, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is no need for international bodies to intervene in the human rights situation in the country if the government would show commitment to investigate killings linked to the war on drugs, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said yesterday.

The CHR called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately comply with the Supreme Court (SC) order to submit all data related to the bloody campaign against illegal drugs of the Duterte administration.

The commission said complying with the order is a first step to ensure that the rule of law still prevails in the country.

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“We are hopeful that the SC decision will help the commission in its independent probe of cases of extrajudicial killings through information and data sharing with the PNP,” the CHR said.

“If we can sustain development such as this, as well as expediently demonstrate that our judicial systems are functioning as they should, it will be a concrete manifestation that the state is willing and able to carry out investigation or prosecution – dispensing the need for international bodies to step in,” it added.

The CHR made the statement amid the preliminary investigation conducted by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The probe prompted President Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the ICC.

The CHR said the release of the drug war files could help in independent investigations on extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.

The commission earlier asked the PNP to open their case folders, including police blotters, spot reports, investigation documents, forensic records, inventory reports and affidavits.

“We look forward to the PNP’s cooperation without condition on this matter,” the CHR said.

“We believe that their swift action would allow the wheels of justice to turn faster, given the clamor for transparency and accountability for alleged human rights violations linked to the government’s anti-drug campaign,” it added.

The CHR reiterated the need to ensure accountability for victims of the war on drugs.

“In the spirit of due process and the rule of law, these cases need to be tried in proper courts and should not remain as mere files stacked in shelves to gather dust,” it said.

The human rights body has called on the Department of Justice to file cases against police officers involved in so-called “nanlaban” cases.

Meanwhile, the consultative committee (Concom) created by the Duterte administration to study revision of the Constitution proposed to expand the functions of the CHR amid criticisms on its mandate, which is to protect the people against government interference.

Former chief justice and Concom member Reynato Puno said the CHR should look into the human rights violations of both government and non-government officials.  – With Robertzon Ramirez  


Phiippines Justice Secretary Ousted: Leaves behind grotesque pile of dead from drug war, collusion with convicted drug felons, bribe from a Chinese casino kingpin, but not much in the way of Integity in the world of Rodrigo Duterte

April 7, 2018


 / 05:28 AM April 07, 2018

Hope, despair, elation. The Holy Week narrative from Palm Sunday to the Passion and Resurrection? Well, no. Just the public mood that swung just as wildly at the news that the controversial Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was about to be fired by President Duterte—a report stoutly denied by Malacañang, then eventually confirmed by the President himself.

Aguirre’s removal from the President’s official family was a long time coming. Has any other holder of a Cabinet portfolio in recent memory had as tumultuous a tenure, as squalid a record, as Aguirre as head of the Department of Justice? His watch was a disgraceful time for the DOJ: He fecklessly transformed his powerful post into a virtual battering ram with which to browbeat the administration’s critics while he engaged in the most sordid politicking, debasing the very notions of justice that he was sworn to uphold.

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It was during Aguirre’s watch that the nation beheld the startling spectacle of the DOJ colluding publicly with convicted drug felons to accuse a sitting senator of drug trafficking. Exhibiting none of the judiciousness and discretion his position requires, he lit indiscriminate fires with his pronouncements: For example, he accused prominent political families in Marawi of conspiring with opposition forces to stoke discord in the besieged city, even showing off a cell phone photo that turned out to be fake. When confronted, the “perya barker,” as Sen. Grace Poe once described him, was forced to apologize over national TV.

He appeared to be knee-deep in the scandal that ensnared two of his fraternity brothers-turned-immigration officials, who were caught on camera receiving millions of pesos in an evident bribe from a Chinese casino kingpin. Also caught on camera during a Senate hearing: Aguirre apparently conspiring through text messages with political hatchet men to expedite cases against opposition senator Risa Hontiveros.

Those are the relatively lighter cases. The heavyweight ones involved no less than the integrity of the government’s bloody war on drugs that has claimed thousands of Filipino lives, even as Aguirre’s careless handling of the prosecutorial aspects of it led from one debacle to another. Nothing, for one, has come so far of the inquiry into the P6.4-billion “shabu” smuggling scandal at Customs—the biggest haul to be intercepted in the country, and apparently only a fraction of a much bigger shipment from China that got away and that implicated, via direct testimony by whistle-blower Mark Taguba at the Senate, a number of highly placed persons, among them the President’s son, former Davao vice mayor Paolo Duterte.

Most recently, it was found that the DOJ had dismissed the charges against confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and several others, among them Peter Lim, whom Mr. Duterte himself had publicly threatened to kill for allegedly being a drug kingpin in the Visayas. The prosecutors’ shocking resolution on the dismissal of charges was kept from the public for three long months. When it was uncovered by journalists, Aguirre first feigned ignorance, saying he had no hand in his subordinates’ decision. Then, absurdly, hilariously, he blamed the incarcerated Sen. Leila de Lima for supposedly working with her minions still working at the DOJ to cast him, the justice secretary, in a bad light.

Mr. Duterte, meanwhile, was said to have been furious at the exoneration of Espinosaet al.—to the extent of punching a wall in anger, according to the dramatic account of the chief of the national police. But the gawking bystander would impertinently wonder: How could it have been possible for lowly prosecutors to make such a critical decision relating to the President’s pet enterprise without the big shots themselves being in the know?

The resulting public outrage appeared to have done what shame could not: The President announced, without disclosing details, that he had accepted Aguirre’s resignation. Yet earlier there was the typical hee-hawing from the Palace, to the effect that the justice secretary “still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President,” etc.—prevaricating and farcical to the bitter end.

Never mind. After the thorough thrashing that it endured under Aguirre’s leadership, it’s time for general cleaning at the Department of Justice.

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What is the Philippine National Police hiding?

April 6, 2018
 / 05:26 AM April 06, 2018

What is the Philippine National Police hiding? In the early days of the Duterte administration’s so-called war on drugs, the PNP was quick to share statistics on the number of suspected drug “personalities” killed. Then the flood of information that was eagerly shared turned into a trickle, and police sources and spokespersons became much more guarded. But when the PNP was haled before the Supreme Court, and the Court asked for documents related to the official claim that some 3,800 suspects had been legally killed in police operations (Kipo), the national police organization refused altogether.

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Philippine National Police chief General Ronald Dela Rosa whispers to President Rodrigo Duterte during the announcement of the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines on Jan 29, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a motion for reconsideration on behalf of the PNP, arguing that operational security and even national security would be compromised. “By requiring the respondents to submit the aforementioned information and documents, the Court has ventured into unwarranted factual inquiries,” Calida said. This was an impertinent argument, in both of the traditional senses: It was irrelevant, and it was discourteous. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, dealing with real national security issues, complied with Court directives in the highest-profile cases; in one executive session, the military leadership briefed the justices on the factual context of martial law in Mindanao.

What does the Supreme Court want from the PNP? A look at the list of documents ordered by the Court shows nothing that can possibly be considered a threat to national security. And police operations need not be compromised by court testimony (otherwise, no police investigator will testify in any court).

The order for information includes:

-List of persons killed in legitimate police operations from July 1, 2016, to Nov. 30, 2017.

-List of deaths under investigation from July 1, 2016, to Nov. 30, 2017.

-List of Chinese and Filipino-Chinese drug lords who have been neutralized.

-List of drugs involved whether shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), cocaine, marijuana, opioids and other illegal substances.

-Comparative tables on index crimes.

-List of warrants and warrantless arrests in high-value target police operations.

-List of cases under investigation under the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service.

Where is the threat to national security, the possible compromise of continuing police operations, that the PNP through Calida alleges?

On April 3, the Supreme Court announced that it had rejected Calida’s motion and gave the PNP 15 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.

Three senators allied with the Duterte administration welcomed the order. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said, “Dapat yun (it’s only right), they will be able to submit those.” Sen. Joel Villanueva aired his hope that the order would “trigger the PNP to evaluate and review its procedure in dealing with the war on drugs.” And Sen. Panfilo Lacson, himself a former chief of the PNP, welcomed the order because “no one is above the law.” He also said, in a mix of English and Filipino: “Now it’s the Supreme Court which demanded or ordered them to submit all the details of the more than 3,000 deaths on account of legitimate operations in the anti-drugs operations. That’s only right.”

Malacañang said it had “no other alternative except to comply, subject probably to certain security checks or requirements.” Speaking for the Palace, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, in Filipino: “We don’t see  any potential effect [on police operations] because our law enforcement agencies are not hiding  anything with these documents, except for the  security of witnesses.”

If that were in fact true, why did the PNP and Calida insist otherwise?

It would be a boon to the Philippine democratic project, now under strain, if the PNP were to immediately and fully comply with the Supreme Court directive. Under the circumstances, however, we cannot rule out a belated attempt, even from the Executive, to continue to deny the Court the information it requires. A dispensation that does not want to be transparent about its own operations will benefit from the distraction of yet another constitutional crisis.

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Philippines President Duterte calls UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein ’empty-headed son of a whore’

April 4, 2018
 / 12:30 PM April 04, 2018
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President Rodrigo Duterte. (AFP FILE PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Duterte has launched a foul-mouthed attack on the United Nations (UN) human rights chief, calling him “empty-headed” in a row over international criticism of his deadly campaign against illegal drugs.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, had last month said Duterte needed “psychiatric evaluation,” and that his verbal attacks on a UN rapporteur, who condemned his anti-drug crackdown could not go unanswered.

“Hey son of a whore, you commissioner, I need to go to a psychiatrist?” asked Duterte in a speech late Tuesday.

“The psychiatrist told me: ‘You are okay, mayor. You are just fond of cursing,’” Duterte said, referring to his former title.

The Philippine leader added he had been advised to refrain from commenting on the remarks of Zeid, a Jordanian prince, but he wanted to “seek revenge”.

“Look, you have a big head but it’s empty. There is no grey matter between your ears. It’s hollow. It’s empty. It cannot even sustain a nutrient for your hair to grow because his hair here is gone,” Duterte said as he touched his head.

Duterte, 73, has launched curse-laden tirades on world leaders, including former United States President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, as well as critics of his anti-crime crackdown.

Duterte won a presidential election in mid-2016 after promising to eradicate drugs in society within six months by killing tens of thousands of users and dealers.

Philippine police said they have killed roughly 4,100 suspects, who fought back during arrest, but rights groups alleged the actual number is three times higher and accused authorities of murder.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a “preliminary examination” into the alleged killings in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.

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

Last month, Zeid, who has criticized alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war, said Duterte’s remarks about a UN rapporteur seeking to investigate the matter were “absolutely disgraceful”.

He likewise condemned Duterte’s statement ordering troops to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

In Tuesday’s speech, Duterte defended the comments along with his so-called war on drugs.

“I am rude? I am really rude. There is nothing I can do about that,” Duterte said. “I kill people? Yes, I really kill people… go ahead and do drugs there. I already told you to stop.”

Addressing human rights groups, Duterte said: “You are dreaming if you think you can jail me.”                        /kga

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