Posts Tagged ‘Philippine National Police’

Philippine President Duterte Says He is Sorry for Martial Law, Destruction of City — Duterte asked for forgiveness

June 20, 2017

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Photo shows an armored personnel carrier of the Marines, covered with pieces of wood to protect it from rocketpropelled grenades, crossing a deserted street after engaging Maute fighters in Marawi City. AFP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Patawarin n’yo ako sa nangyari.

President Duterte yesterday apologized for declaring martial law and for the destruction to Marawi City brought about by the ongoing conflict between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists, as he vowed to help the country’s Islamic city rise from the ruins of the nearly month-long fighting.

“I am very sorry na nangyayari na may martial law (that martial law had to happen). Patawarin ninyo ako sa nangyari sa (Forgive me for what happened to) Marawi City,” Duterte told hundreds of internally displaced persons at the National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buru-un, Iligan City.

The President, however, stressed that whatever action the government took in addressing the problem when the notorious militants attempted to seize Marawi City last May 23 was necessary.

Duterte’s visit marked the first time he was able to get into an evacuation center after the crisis started. He has yet to set foot inside the city itself.

As he vowed not to leave Marawi in ruins, Duterte reiterated several times that he takes full responsibility for declaring martial law and having launched a massive military assault, including air strikes and bombardments, against the Maute group, some of whom are still holed up in certain areas of the city.

Tutulungan ko kayo. Hindi ko kayo pababayaan hanggang (I will help you. I will not forsake you until you have) relocation,” the Chief Executive said.

“And we will rehabilitate Marawi. Gaganda ’yan ulit (It will be beautiful again),” Duterte promised the evacuees, adding he would spearhead the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding of the city.

‘Bangon Marawi’

About P20 billion would be allocated for the rehabilitation of affected areas, according to the Chief Executive. The amount is twice as much as the P10-billion rehabilitation budget proposed by the Department of National Defense.

“The President raised the allocation (for Marawi rehabilitation),” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told The STAR in a text message.

An executive order outlining the “Bangon Marawi” reconstruction and rehabilitation plan is awaiting Duterte’s signature.

Duterte likewise vowed that the government would pursue peace in the south. He said continuing talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and establishing a federal government would help solve the long-standing conflict in Mindanao.

The President said that in the next few days, he would endorse to Congress the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was finalized by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission this month.

“I will sign it two days from now. I will push for it in Congress. That’s true. I’m not fooling anyone,” he said.

Averting civil war 

Duterte also warned that a civil war between Christians and Muslims might ensue if the Maute problem is not resolved.

The terrorists, whose operations are funded by illegal drugs, want to replace Moro nationalism with extremism, the President said.

“The strong driving force is to replace nationalism or their issues like the loss of land to ISIS philosophy… It will be chaotic because even the Christians will arm themselves,” he said.

“We won’t allow that to happen because even the civilian will take up arms. It will be a civil war,” he added.

‘Forgive my soldiers’

Duterte also specifically addressed the Maranao people in his apology.

“I am very, very sorry na nangyari ito sa atin (that this happened to us),” the President said.

“Sana kung madaling panahon (I hope it will be soon), you will find a new heart to forgive my soldiers, ang gobyerno (the government), pati ako (including me) for declaring martial law. Wala akong choice, sinisira na ang Marawi (I have no choice because Marawi is being destroyed).”

Duterte explained that he had to drive the notorious Maute group out of Marawi.

“But, I am very sorry. Pakiabot na lang doon sa mga kapatid nating mga Maranao ang aking paghihinanakit rin sa nangyari na ito (Please extend also to our Maranao brothers that I am also saddened by what is happening),” he said.

The President likewise lamented the time that the Marawi conflict had to take place: the holy month of Ramadan, which is not over yet.

He gave out food and cash assistance to the evacuees in preparation for their breaking the fast when Ramadan ends on Monday, June 26.

In a desire to express his sincerity, Duterte again asked for forgiveness as he ended his talk to the evacuees.

“Patawarin ninyo po kami. Maraming salamat po (Please forgive us. Thank you so much),” he said. – With Alexis Romero

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte: Health Rumors Persist

June 20, 2017
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President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by Philippine Air Forces officials during his visit at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on June 15, 2017. Palace/Released

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the Independence Day rites on Monday, June 12, 2017 and canceled public appearances set until Friday. The absence fueled speculations about his health, but Malacañang insisted that he was “well.”

To dispel the rumors, his office released on Thursday a video of him the day before at the Villamor Air Base where he is seen alighting from a chopper to fly to his hometown Davao City.

READ FULL STORY: Out of public eye, Duterte seen at Villamor Air Base

Video at link:

http://www.philstar.com/news-videos/2017/06/16/1711895/watch-palace-drops-video-duterte-amid-health-rumors

A close observer in the Philippines said the president “looked stoned — or at least under the influence. You know. Sedated.”

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Philippine President Duterte Out of Public View for 5 Days — Claims He Went on Secret Trip — “I cannot divulge it. I have to go there incognito.”

June 17, 2017
President Duterte speaks during the 50th founding anniversary celebration of the province of Agusan del Norte at the Caraga State University in Cabadbaran City yesterday.
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MANILA, Philippines – Dispelling rumors about his health, President Duterte said yesterday he was not seen in public in the last five days because he went to Mindanao on a secret trip.

“I went on a trip somewhere. I cannot divulge it. I have to go there incognito. That’s the truth,” the President told reporters yesterday in Butuan City.

The trip, he said, lasted for two days.

“I traveled like a private citizen so I can go to that place,” he added.

Duterte also confirmed that he spent a few days taking a rest and denied that he suffered from an illness.

“Sa kama lang naman ako, kayo naman (I was just in bed)…Coma? Kama (bed),” the President said. “Kung coma ako, di ako nandito para mamut**g i** (If I were in coma, I would not be here to curse).”

Officials said Duterte skipped the Independence Day rites in Manila last June 12 because he was not feeling well. They claimed that Duterte needed to rest because his schedule had been “brutal” since he declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23.

Duterte did not have any public engagement until last Friday, sparking speculations he was sick.

Asked about his state of health, Duterte said: “How do I do it? My last examination was last year. My state of health is what you see is what you get.”

“You must learn from the Davao media. I’m like that. I don’t need anybody to ask me where I’m going,” he added.

Duterte said his health condition is “immaterial” because the Constitution has a mechanism for succession in the event that he can no longer perform his functions.

“We have (Leni) Robredo. We have the Vice President. If I do not come out in a month because I am in a coma and someone verifies you no longer have a president, it’s time for change,” he said.

“The only (time you will have a) problem is when there is no successor because there will be a struggle. If that’s the case, there will be a vacuum in leadership, the military will always take over to control, put things in order and maybe set an election. But we have a Vice President. So what’s the problem?”

Duterte also urged the public not to worry too much about him.

“To my countrymen, do not worry too much. Ayaw pa ninyo niyan isang taon lang bago na naman (Don’t you want a new president after a year)? I’m good. I’m alive.”

Duterte was his old self yesterday when he visited the troops of the 4th Infantry Division in Butuan City.

During the visit, he told soldiers that he loves them all and that he is ready to provide them everything they need to fulfill their mission.

Duterte also returned with his trademark curses, chiding the United States anew for supposedly imposing its views on Filipinos.

“These Americans approached me, they are crazy, those sons of b******, they cannot understand the problem,” he said at the 50th anniversary of Agusan del Norte in University of Cabadbaran also yesterday.

“They want us to follow their style. My point is they should not underestimate the Filipino,” he added.

Love for soldiers

In Butuan City, Duterte met with soldiers for the first time since his “private rest time” to assure them of his love “that is from the heart.”

“I am filled with nice feeling. I love you all. Mahal ko kayong lahat. Nasasaktan ako tuwing may nadidisgrasya. Ang konswelo ninyo, hindi kayo madedehado,” the President said in his “talk to men” remarks at the 401st Infantry Brigade headquarters in Barangay Bancasi.

The President emphasized to the men and women in uniform how much they mean to him. Duterte stressed he was not fooling the soldiers with his words.

“I talk from the heart and hindi ako bulador (I’m no flatterer) and when I say it, that is from the heart,” the President said.

Duterte said death is every man’s destiny as he talked about soldiers and police personnel who lost their lives in the battle against terrorism and criminality.

The President lamented the loss of lives on the government side in the campaign against the Maute militants in Marawi City.

The battle to retake Marawi City has claimed more than 200 lives, including 59 soldiers and policemen. It has also displaced thousands of residents.

He said he will do everything in his power to provide for the needs of the soldiers and that they should be war-grade materials and not the low quality that could not be used.

The President reiterated that he is putting up a P50-billion trust fund for the education of the children of uniformed personnel.

“Just be a clever soldier to survive so that you will have the time to see your grandchildren,” the President added.

Duterte also said that he wants the wives of soldiers to avail themselves of the small and medium industries entrepreneur program of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The President left the Air Force Tactical Operations Group XI in Davao City on a helicopter at around 3:15 p.m. for Cabadbaran town in Agusan del Norte, where he attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the province before proceeding to Bancasi.

Image result for Ronald dela Rosa, photos

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Earlier yesterday, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Duterte’s being rarely seen in public in the past days should not be a cause for alarm.

“He has no problem. Don’t believe in some reports that he is sick,” he said in an ambush interview at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Cavite.

The national police chief said Duterte – as city mayor – used to make himself scarce whenever he felt he had to rest. – With Edith Regalado, Jose Rodel Clapano, Emmanuel Tupas, Jess Diaz

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Philippine Government Knew Terrorist Plan At Least 5 Days Before Mindanao Attack — At The Start of Week 4, The Siege Continues; Terrororists Warn of More Attacks

June 13, 2017
By: – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:40 AM June 13, 2017
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The Duterte administration knew that members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group were out to occupy Marawi City five days before the actual attack happened on May 23.

Exactly a month before, one of its leaders, Abdullah Maute, deployed some of his operatives to carry out bombings, car thefts and assassinations of state troopers in Marawi and the nearby cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

These were some of the information the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) provided the Supreme Court on Monday in a bid to convince it to disregard the petitions questioning the constitutionality of President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The state’s primary law firm submitted its consolidated comment on the three separate petitions a day before the start of the three-day oral arguments set by the 15-member tribunal on the issue.

Solicitor General Jose Calida argued that the petitions were “procedurally defective” as the petitioners failed to cite under which provision of the Rules of Court the petitions were filed.

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A funeral on Friday, June 9, 2017, for a Muslim boy who was hit by a stray bullet at a mosque. Credit Romeo Ranoco – Reuters

“Procedurally, what they did was wrong. They just mentioned Section 18, Article VII [of the 1987 Constitution]. That’s not the procedure. That’s the Constitution,” Calida told reporters.

“They did not say what proceeding they are filing or under what rule. Is it certiorari? If it’s a certiorari [petition], they did not allege grave abuse of discretion. So what type of animal are they talking about?” he said.

In its comment, the OSG insisted that Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 placing the entire Mindanao under military rule and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was backed by factual reasons and information provided by the military.

“[We] invite this honorable court to uphold President Duterte’s timely and decisive action, and be his partner in protecting and defending the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the OSG said.

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Philippines — This image taken from undated video shows the purported leader of the Islamic State group Southeast Asia branch, Isnilon Hapilon (center) at a meeting of militants at an undisclosed location. The images offer a rare glimpse into the clandestine operations of insurgents who followed through two weeks ago with an unprecedented assault on the lakeside city of Marawi, parts of which they still occupy today. (Photo via AP)

The OSG also dismissed as mere hearsay the news reports which showed that some of the incidents that the President used as basis in declaring martial law were erroneous.

Meanwhile, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, the lawyer of one of the petitioners, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said they would oppose the move of the OSG to hold the oral arguments in an executive session.

“Only real issues concerning national security should be covered by executive privilege. Otherwise, the public should know it,” Colmenares said after attending the preliminary conference in the Supreme Court.

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Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/904953/palace-knew-marawi-plot-ahead-of-attack#ixzz4juM6V7gU
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Gov’t alarmed by IS group threat

By: – Reporter / @LeilasINQ
/ 01:14 AM June 14, 2017
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Malacañang on Tuesday said it was concerned over reports that the Islamic State (IS) group had ordered more attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, including in the Philippines, as it disclosed that terrorists battling government forces in Marawi City had killed five more civilians.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government would respond to any terrorist attacks “with continued decisiveness.”

An audio message purporting to come from Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer, spokesperson for IS, on Monday called for followers to launch attacks in the United States, Europe, Russia, Australia, Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Philippines during Ramadan, which began on May 26. (See related story on this page.)

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Abella said the threat would be factored in as the government tried to meet its goal of freeing Marawi from the clutches of IS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists as soon as possible.

The military campaign in Marawi entered its fourth week on Tuesday after missing a self-imposed deadline of June 12 to clear the city of the terrorists.

“The fight will continue. We will not stop until it’s finished,” Abella told reporters.

5 more civilians killed

“The President has been very supportive and is quite emphatic that Marawi should be totally settled, and not only Marawi but also the terrorist threats should be completely addressed [on] the entire island of Mindanao,” he said.

The military should be credited for the “great advances” it had achieved, he added.

Abella said five more civilians were killed by the gunmen in Marawi, bringing the civilian death toll to 26 as of Tuesday.

He said the five civilians were among 18 people hiding in a house in Marawi when gunmen knocked on the door. Frightened, the civilians ran for it using the backdoor. But the gunmen went after them and opened fire, killing five.

Eight of the civilians were taken hostage, and five others were rescued by state forces, Abella said.

The number of civilians rescued from Marawi stood at 1,618 as of Tuesday. There were reports that many more civilians remained trapped in parts of the city where terrorists were holed up.

Fifty-eight soldiers and policemen have been killed since the fighting started on May 23.

Urban terrain

The military conceded on Tuesday that troops were struggling to loosen the grip of the terrorists on downtown parts of the city despite relentless bombing.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the urban terrain was hampering the Army’s progress because the terrorists were hunkered down in built-up neighborhoods, many of them with civilians they had taken as human shields.

Asked when the fighting would end, Padilla said: “I can’t give you an estimate because of compounding developments faced by ground commanders.”

The military had set Monday, Independence Day, as a target date to flush out the terrorists, both local and foreign fighters who had pledged allegiance to IS, the jihadist group that is on the back foot in Iraq and Syria.

The national flag was raised in Marawi on Monday as gunfire rang out from parts of the city where government troops were locked in combat with the terrorists and OV-10 attack planes took turns dropping bombs on terrorist positions.

Mosques targeted

The military said on Tuesday it had been forced to target mosques in airstrikes because the terrorists had taken refuge in those places of worship.

“They are using the mosques. The sacredness [of the mosques] is gone as the Maute used these in their military activities,” said Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson for the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

“As you can see, they are making these (mosques) their logistical hubs and sniper’s nests,” he added.

As long as the terrorists use the mosques as cover, these will be targeted “to save lives” and “to protect our troops,” Herrera said.

He said the Maute group’s leaders, brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute, and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, said to be the “emir” of IS in Southeast Asia, were believed to be still in Marawi.

Sources said on Monday, however, that Abdullah Maute was directing the fighting. Hapilon, they said, was not in the war zone.

There was no word about Omarkhayam Maute.

The sources said Abdullah Maute went around in a pickup every morning to encourage his men to fight on.

IS claim

The terrorists control about 20 percent of Marawi, more than twice the area the military cited last week, according to IS Amaq news agency.

Asked to comment on how much of Marawi was still occupied as the siege entered its fourth week, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, told Reuters it was 20 percent.

“Out of 90 barangays, they are holding portions in Marinaut, Lulut, Mapandi and Bongolo commercial district, which only comprise 20 percent of the whole Marawi City …. and it’s getting smaller every day,” Galvez said. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEOFFREY MAITEM

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Philippines: Independence Day marred by continued fighting with Islamic militants; President Duterte skips ceremonies

June 12, 2017

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to reports, wants to declare Marawi a liberated city today, to coincide with the country’s 119th Independence Day anniversary.

Before celebrating, the nation must pay tribute to those who have paid with their lives, and those who continue to risk life and limb to liberate Marawi from the Islamic State-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists, and to keep the threat from spreading to other parts of the country.

Although seemingly outnumbered and outgunned by the AFP, the terrorists appear to be enjoying the support of moneyed individuals and certain sectors. Over the weekend the terrorists managed to kill 13 Marines during 16 hours of fierce firefights, in an area in Marawi where the AFP believes Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon, said to be the IS leader in the Philippines, is holed out.

Security officers are verifying reports that Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, founding chieftains of the group, were among those killed over the weekend as government forces closed in on the core group that is trying to carve out an IS enclave in Mindanao.

Much progress has been made since the AFP launched its offensive in Marawi, supported by commandos of the Philippine National Police. While the deaths of the Mautes are still being validated, the government definitely has in its custody the brothers’ parents, both of whom are believed to have played a critical role in providing financing, weapons and logistics to the terrorist group. Matriarch Ominta “Farhana” Romato in particular should be investigated for the source of her substantial assets, which should be frozen and seized if these were illegally amassed.

Honoring those who have given up their lives in liberating Marawi should include determined efforts to ensure that the Mautes can no longer recover and threaten any part of the country again. That certainty would provide a great cause for celebrating Independence Day.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/06/12/1709121/editorial-liberating-marawi

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Duterte skips Independence Day rites

Vice President Leni Robredo led the flag raising and the wreath laying ceremony with the absence of President Rodrigo Duterte who skipped the Independence Day rites as he was not feeling well. Alexis Romero
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the Independence Day rites at Rizal Park on Monday because he was not feeling well, officials said.
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Minutes before the start of the flag-raising ceremony, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters that Duterte would not be able to attend the event.
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“He (Duterte) won’t be able to attend the event this morning… He did not give any reason why,” he said in Filipino.
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“Meron siyang hinaharap na ilang bagay upang maayos talaga ang ating hinaharap na challenge (He is dealing some matters to address the challenges we are facing).”
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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, who represented Duterte during the event, said the president was not feeling well, noting that the President had engagements in Cagayan de Oro and Pasay last Sunday.
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“You know the President has been working 24/7, meeting the troops, meeting the commanders, and then late last night, visiting the wounded and the dead. So that’s why this morning, he didn’t feel that well.
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Nothing to worry about but it’s better for him to rest for now this morning because as you know the target was to liberate Marawi today, June 12,” Cayetano said in a separate interview.
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“He’s resting. Hindi siya nag-pilit na magising kasi napakahirap na dalawa, tatlong oras lang tulog mo (He did not force himself wake up early. It’s hard to do so if you only slept for two to three hours),” he added.
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Vice President Leni Robredo led the flag raising and the wreath laying ceremony in lieu of Duterte.
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Cayetano said he was informed about the president’s decision to skip the event round 5:30 a.m. He said the president is expected to stay in Metro Manila for the rest of the day.
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Duterte visited wounded soldiers in Cagayan de Oro City at 4:30 p.m. Sunday before proceeding to Villamor Airbase to honor the Marines who died in Marawi City. The president left the airbase at around 9 p.m.
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Last week, the president canceled the traditional vin d’honneur to attend to matters related to the Marawi crisis.
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The vin d’honneur is a reception hosted by the president in Malacañang on New Year’s Day and Independence Day and attended by members of the diplomatic community.
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Philippines President Duterte Wants Public Hanging for “Traitors in Government Who Aided Terrorists” — “I will hang every traitor in the government.”

June 5, 2017
 For aiding the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group, President Rodrigo Duterte wants sacked Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza hanged in public along with other traitors in government. Rudy Santos/File

MANILA, Philippines –  For aiding the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group, President Duterte wants sacked Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza hanged in public along with other traitors in government.

Duterte said investigators have uncovered the money trail from abroad to Nobleza, whom the Chief Executive believes played a major role in the operations of the Abu Sayyaf prior to her arrest in Bohol last April.

Nobleza, a former deputy director of the Philippine National Police crime laboratory in Davao, was arrested along with her alleged lover Abu Sayyaf bomber Reenor Lou Dungon.

“The name of that woman, Nobleza, always crops up. The cop was a recipient of huge cash from a group that is part of the terror groups fighting in the Middle East. She is really the lady that is a traitor to her country,” Duterte said in a press briefing after visiting wounded soldiers at Camp Evangelista hospital in Cagayan de Oro last Saturday.

If he would have his way, Duterte would want to hang Nobleza for everyone to see.

“I will not hesitate to do it if it comes to that. I will hang every traitor in the government,” the President said.

As martial law continues to be imposed in all of Mindanao, Duterte said he wants the Armed Forces to take a lead role in destroying the finance apparatus of the terror groups Abu Sayyaf and Maute.

Duterte said the Mautes that laid siege to Marawi City had connections with Middle East-based groups.

“The Maute brothers went to the Middle East to study terrorism. When they went back here, they built the biggest (shabu) laboratory and it was really to fund terrorism,” the President said.

He pointed out that freeing Marawi City from the clutches of terrorists could have be done in a day as, being commander-in-chief, he could have easily ordered the military to conduct rampant bombings to flush them out. But then he ordered the forces to minimize the casualties on both soldiers and civilians.

“And that is why we are also suffering great losses,” he lamented.

Duterte said he already ordered his men to arrest all personalities involved in the illegal drug trade and helping the Maute group.

“In the days ahead we will arrest all of them (starting with the producers and financiers). They will all be arrested, whether politicians or not,” he said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/05/1706901/duterte-wants-public-hanging-nobleza

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa Fighting Wars on Several Fronts

June 3, 2017
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Philippine national Police chief explains feeling of being in Russia while terrorists attacked Marawi
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/ 03:37 AM June 02, 2017
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PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. (NOY MORCOSO III/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO)

MANILA — “We are not Madame Auring.”

This was what Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said after former President Fidel Ramos criticized him for being out of the country when the clashes in Marawi began last week.

Dela Rosa said on Tuesday President Duterte’s party, which the PNP chief joined, would not have proceeded with the trip to Russia if they knew that members of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf were going to try take over Marawi.

“If we knew this would happen, we would not have gone (to Russia). That is why we came home immediately,” Dela Rosa said.

“We are not Madame Auring who can predict what’s in the mind of the enemy. We are not Madame Auring,” he said, referring to the famous fortune teller.

Ramos had scored the presence of many government officials in the President’s trip to Russia, which he labeled as a “junket”.

“In the first place, some people should have stayed behind to take care of the situation with the President,” Ramos said.

“The Executive Secretary and so many secretaries and so any generals (joined) the junket. Pardon me for calling it a junket because it now turns out that it was a junket,” he added.

The former President also questioned in particular Dela Rosa’s inclusion in Mr. Duterte’s entourage to Russia.

“We were there for only one day. We returned home immediately,” Dela Rosa said in defense.

The Palace also dismissed Ramos’ claim, saying that it was important that key members of Mr. Duterte’s administration joined him in the trip.

“The official visit of President Duterte to Moscow was an important and strategic move that significantly broadened the horizon of our independent foreign policy,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

“(Mr. Duterte’s) leadership style is considered deliberate, even ‘fearless,’ in the words of (Chinese) President Xi Jinping; it is also very relational, which can be misconstrued by managerial types like FVR,” he added.  SFM

Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, ckalagayan@inquirer.com.ph and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, bkasilag@inquirer.com.ph.

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The General Running Duterte’s Antidrug War

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Gen. Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, knows the value of a public display of remorse. He has been forced to apologize more than once.

He was wrong, he acknowledged before the Philippine Senate as TV cameras rolled, to have trusted undisciplined policemen who killed a small-town mayor suspected of dealing drugs, as the mayor lay defenseless on a jail-cell floor.

“I cannot blame the public if they’re losing their trust and confidence in their police,” he told the Senate panel, accepting a tissue from the mayor’s son to wipe away his tears.

He also admitted error in not having ousted all corrupt officers, after some used the guise of an antidrug operation to kidnap a Korean businessman for ransom, and then killed the man inside Camp Crame, the police headquarters where General dela Rosa lives and works.

President Duterte passing command of the Philippine National Police to Gen. Ronald dela Rosa in July.Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

General dela Rosa has not commented on his most recent apparent misstatement, on Friday, after an attack on the country’s biggest casino-hotel resort. Hours after he asserted that his officers had the crisis under control, offering reassurances of safety and a return to normalcy, dozens of bodies were found inside the complex, Resorts World Manila.

Despite the general’s promises to make the country safer, there are conflicting signs of whether Filipinos feel that way. A recent survey suggested they are satisfied with the violent crackdown on drugs inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte, but that they do not feel more secure.

General dela Rosa at an arms show last year. He is the architect of the police operation called Oplan Tokhang.Credit Francis R. Malasig/European Pressphoto Agency

Still, General dela Rosa, 55, says he is certain that he is right in carrying out the president’s antidrug campaign. As the head of the national police force, General dela Rosa, who built his career as a front-line soldier, is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the undertaking, which has left thousands of Filipinos dead, many of them executed on the streets.

Mr. Duterte, elected to the presidency on the promise of ridding the country of drugs and crime, has publicly urged citizens to kill drug addicts, offered immunity to police officers for actions during the antidrug campaign and said of the country’s drug users, “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

General dela Rosa nevertheless professes surprise at criticism from Western governments, United Nations agencies, the European Union and the International Criminal Court. All have condemned the antidrug campaign and threatened punitive actions should the human rights violations continue.

General dela Rosa at a news conference in Manila last year. At the time he took the job, he said he did not anticipate the international attention, shock and criticism his antidrug campaign has invited.Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In April, a Filipino lawyer filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court requesting indictments against General dela Rosa, as well as Mr. Duterte and other administration officials, for crimes against humanity.

“I did not expect it,” General dela Rosa said of the backlash against the slaughter.

Senator Antonio Trillanes, a leading opponent of the Duterte administration, described General dela Rosa as Mr. Duterte’s foot soldier, “operationalizing the thoughts and intentions of President Duterte.”

Under General dela Rosa’s command, the police have killed more than 2,600 people in antidrug operations, police statistics show. At least 1,400 more people have been killed by unknown assailants in relation to drugs, and 3,800 more are awaiting investigation.

General dela Rosa forged his friendship with Mr. Duterte over three decades. They met in 1986, when General dela Rosa graduated from the Philippine Military Academy and Mr. Duterte was appointed vice mayor of Davao City, then a provincial backwater with rampant crime and bloody rebellions by communists and Muslim separatists. By 1989, Mr. Duterte, who was already cultivating an image as a tough-talking mayor who valued bravery and ferocity, was the godfather at General dela Rosa’s wedding.

Like Mr. Duterte, General dela Rosa is a native of the province of Davao. He was raised in rural poverty — his father drove a motorcycle pedicab and his mother was a fish vendor — and made his way up the chain of command by earning a reputation as a soldier who never backed down from a fight.

“That’s how I became Bato,” he said, referring to his nickname, which means “Rock.” “Wherever there was trouble, I was there.”

He rose through command positions, becoming the chief of police of Davao in 2010. In that capacity he developed Oplan Tokhang, a prototype for the nationwide antidrug campaign.

“The people here consider me their local hero,” General dela Rosa said. When he goes out in public, people pull out their phones to take selfies with fists to their chests, in a gesture of support for the general.

When Mr. Duterte became president, it was no surprise he tapped General dela Rosa to become the chief of the Philippine National Police.

“I am his most trusted senior officer,” General dela Rosa said, in an interview. “I know deep in my heart.”

Source:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/asia/the-general-running-dutertes-antidrug-war.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

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Philippine Government suspects negligence by Resorts World Manila — More questions than answers after deadly fire and shooting

June 3, 2017

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella also denies a claim by ISIS that the terror group was behind the deadly Resorts World Manila attack

Published 3:29 PM, June 03, 2017
Updated 3:29 PM, June 03, 2017

FIRST AID. Guests of Resorts World wait for first aid treatment inside the nearby Remington Hotel in Pasay City on June 2, 2017. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

FIRST AID. Guests of Resorts World wait for first aid treatment inside the nearby Remington Hotel in Pasay City on June 2, 2017. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said it suspects that possible negligence by Resorts World Manila led to the shooting incident that killed 37 people and injured 54 others in the posh casino hotel.

In an interview with state-run dzRB on Saturday, June 3, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace shares this view with Duterte ally Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.

“While tightening anti-terror measures, we share the Senate President’s concern of a possible negligence by Resorts World not only in casino security, but also in building design and safety protocols,” Abella said.

He added that as gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) “will do a full audit of all casinos.”

“On the security lapses of Resorts World Manila, let us allow authorities to finish the investigation, and we’ll begin to look into the security breach of Resorts World Manila. Once the investigation is completed, they will submit their findings and recommendations,” the presidential spokesman said.

Resorts World Manila earlier denied the alleged security lapses in Friday’s incident. Meanwhile, relatives of those who died in Friday’s attack complained that Resorts World Manila has not helped them enough.

Abella made his remarks not long after a lone gunman opened fire and burned part of the Resorts World Manila casino – an act claimed by the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS), but dismissed by the Philippine National Police as a case of robbery.

On ISIS’ claim that their “fighters” launched the Resorts World Manila attack, Abella said, “They may claim credit but according to our evidence, it is not so.”

At the same time, Abella urged “the police, the media, and the public to please avoid speculations.”

Official sources have contradicted each other, however, since the shooting incident broke out on Friday.

Authorities themselves have even fueled speculations about the gunman’s motive, with investigators citing an unconfirmed report that the suspect lost as much as P100 million* ($2.02 million) from gambling. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P49.38

http://www.rappler.com/nation/171856-palace-negligence-resorts-world-manila-attack

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After 37 Die in Attack at Manila Resort, Questions Mount

MANILA — The gray smoke that belched for hours from a popular hotel-casino in Manila was initially dismissed by the police as the work of a disgruntled gambler with a bottle of gasoline. But as day broke over the Philippine capital on Friday, investigators discovered dozens of bodies, upending the government’s explanation of the fire and raising questions about the identity and motives of someone responsible for one of the country’s largest mass killings.

The first victims, identified as 22 guests and 13 employees of Resorts World Manila, appeared to have died of smoke inhalation, the police said, though autopsies had not yet been conducted.

The fire was started in the early hours of Friday morning, when a man carrying an assault rifle and a two-liter soda bottle filled with gasoline fired shots at a television and set gambling tables ablaze, sending patrons and workers into a panic. Some fled through the exits, and others jumped from second-floor balconies. But others hid in restrooms and gambling rooms, where they were overcome by smoke.

“This is also a very difficult time for all of us here in Resorts World Manila,” Stephen Reilly, the resort’s chief operating officer, told reporters. “We consider our guests, patrons and employees as our family.”

Hours after the first reports of an attack, the police and casino officials declared that the building had been cleared and all guests accounted for. But some victims’ family members waiting outside the hotel told a different story as they waited in vain for loved ones to exit.

By midday Friday, as reports of the discovered bodies trickled out, conflicting narratives emerged. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault through its Amaq News Agency. In a brief message in Arabic, it said, “Islamic State fighters carried out the Manila attack in the Philippines yesterday.”

President Trump has called the assault terrorism. But the police discounted that possibility and blamed one irate gambler for it. And American military intelligence officials said they had no credible indication that it was a terrorist attack.

“He could have inflicted maximum casualties, but he did not,” said Oscar Albayalde, a police spokesman, noting that the man passed scores of unarmed, fleeing patrons, who were easy targets if he aimed solely to kill and frighten.

Instead, Mr. Albayalde said, the police were investigating whether robbery, rather than terrorism, was the motive.

One account from the authorities said the attacker took 130 million pesos in chips, worth about $2.6 million, during his spree. How he intended to cash them was not explained.

Grieving relatives of a victim left the Resorts World Hotel in Manila on Friday. Credit Rody/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The police have not publicly identified the attacker. Rappler, a news site, reported that the gunman had been a longtime hotel guest who had a room on the fifth floor and was known to security personnel, which may have made it easier for him to sneak weapons into the resort.

Mr. Reilly, the resort executive, said the gunman had entered the resort’s mall on the second floor from the parking wing and made it past a security checkpoint and X-ray machine by firing shots into the air.

Mr. Reilly corroborated the police accounts that only one gunman was involved, adding that the motive was unclear.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/asia/shooting-resorts-world-manila.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fworld&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront

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Editorial from the Philippine: How Does a Lone Gunman Ger Into a “Secure” Manila Hotel-Casino for a Rampage ? The nation is supposed to be on alert

June 3, 2017

EDITORIAL – Security breach

Toting an assault rifle and a handgun, a tall man who looked Caucasian and reportedly spoke English walked into the Resorts World hotel-casino complex from the basement parking late Thursday night. Eyewitnesses said he waved away people at the casino before pouring gasoline on a baccarat table and setting it on fire.

Shot and wounded by two Resorts World security guards, the gunman fled to the upper floors and entered a room on the fifth floor, where police said he covered himself with a blanket doused with gasoline before setting himself on fire. He died clutching his M4 Carbine, which police said he apparently also used to shoot himself. While the gunman didn’t shoot anyone, the fire he started emitted toxic fumes that suffocated scores of hotel guests and employees. As of last night, the death toll stood at 38 including the gunman.

The rampage happened while the entire Mindanao is under martial law to contain the Maute and Abu Sayyaf threat. President Duterte has even warned that martial law could be extended to the Visayas and Luzon. The nation is supposed to be on alert for a spillover of the violence, including diversionary attacks.

Despite IS claims that the gunman was a lone wolf inspired by the terrorist group, police have ruled out terrorism in the casino rampage. Still, security concerns can only be heightened by the fact that a man who looks like a foreigner can lug around an M4 Carbine and a .380 pistol and effortlessly enter a hotel-casino complex just across the road from the NAIA Terminal 3.

In the early hours yesterday, the casino rampage was being reported around the world as a terrorist attack near the Philippines’ main airport in Metro Manila. Even if it is established conclusively that the gunman was simply a robber or a sore loser in the casino, his attack inflicted nearly as much damage to the nation as an act of terrorism. Security officials clearly need to get their act together, starting with tighter enforcement of gun laws.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/06/03/1706076/editorial-security-breach

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News

38 dead in casino rampage

Smoke rises from the Resorts World Manila complex in Pasay City early yesterday after a gunman set fire to gambling tables in the casino area, creating suffocating smoke that killed dozens of people. At left, relatives grieve as they receive news of the death of their loved ones. AP

PNP: No IS hand in Resorts World attack

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-eight bodies were found inside a casino in Pasay City after a masked man burst in with an automatic rifle and set fire to a gaming room early yesterday.

Dozens of others were injured in a stampede as they rushed to leave Resorts World Manila after the man fired what police said was an M4 assault rifle and started the fire around midnight.

The burnt body of the gunman was found in a hotel room inside the complex about five hours later, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa said the gunman only fired at a television screen and did not take aim at anyone.

Responding lawmen initially found 36 bodies in the casino, who they said died from inhaling smoke that had become toxic because of the carpet on the gaming room floors.

“The victims who suffered from suffocation went up to 36,” National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde told reporters.

“Practically, (the bodies were found) in the gaming area of casino. They were all recovered from the gaming area. None were found in the rooms,” he said.

Two more victims were later found in the second floor of the building  yesterday afternoon. One of the victims was buried by debris from a portion of the ceiling that fell, while the other was found in one of the rooms covered with a blanket.

The gunman initially disappeared into the chaos of smoke and running people, leading to a manhunt through the complex that ended just after dawn when he was found dead in Room 510, according to Dela Rosa.

“He lay down on the bed, covered himself with a thick blanket, apparently poured petrol on the blanket and burned himself,” Dela Rosa said.

Police said it appeared the suspect had killed himself after firing at officers searching the still-smoking building.

“Our assessment is he burned himself. He committed suicide,” Albayalde added.

Police said earlier the man’s motive was likely robbery and that the incident was not terror-related.

Security footage showed the gunman ignoring a guard who tried to question him at the complex’s entrance, then going straight to the casino. He stuffed a backpack with gambling chips, fired his assault rifle at TV screens and set gambling tables on fire by pouring gasoline from a two-liter bottle he carried.

It was not clear how he smuggled the gasoline and rifle into the crowded casino.

“We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table, setting it on fire,” Dela Rosa said.

“He went crazy and ransacked the storage room,” he stressed.

Police described the gunman as tall with pale complexion and a mustache and spoke English.

The gunman, who was initially described as a foreigner, carried no identification documents. The bag of high-value gambling chips that he carried – with an estimated value of P113 million to P130 million – was later found in a toilet.

Terrorism fears

Before the gunman had been killed and police had confirmed possible motive, there were fears that the incident was a terror attack.

Albayalde and military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla downplayed the incident as a mere “police matter,” not a terror attack.

Albayalde and Padilla told a press briefing at Malacañang that they have not monitored any terror threat in Metro Manila.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella also downplayed insinuations of a terror attack.

“Initial findings of police investigation of the Resorts World incident… show that there are no indications of terrorist activity,” Abella said.

“All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual. Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to harm or shoot anyone,” he said.

Abella also said the casino incident is not connected to the ongoing military campaign against the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.

Abella noted the gunman tried to grab millions worth of gambling chips before he died.

He said authorities are looking into the robbery angle.

“We really could not tell the motive of the perpetrator but apparently, he is mentally disturbed and as we can see, that’s why we could not relate it to… We cannot relate it to terrorism is because he did not shoot anybody,” Albayalde said.

“He just went inside, he burned the gaming tables … opened fire at the doorknob of the storage where the chips were kept and he stole P113 million worth of casino chips,” he added.

Albayalde said CCTV footage showed how the gunman entered the casino complex through the parking level and into the gaming area past midnight.

No lapses

The attack sent hundreds of people fleeing through the complex and out into the night. More than 70 people suffered mostly minor injuries in the stampede to escape.

Resorts World Manila chief operating officer Stephen Reilly said 22 guests and 13 employees initially died in the incident.

“It is with deep regrets that we confirm there were 35 casualties in this tragic incident, of which 13 are employees and 22 are guests,” Reilly read from a prepared statement.

Reilly said they are doing everything to extend assistance to the families of the victims.

“This is also a very difficult time for all of us here in Resorts World Manila. We consider our guests, patrons and our employees as family,” he said.

According to Reilly, the gunman initially figured in a firefight with casino security men. He said the gunman managed to escape though severely wounded, and was later found in a room where he had set himself ablaze.

Reilly stood firm that there were no security lapses on their part.

He said the security guards inside the complex were not provided firearms as a rule.

“We had an armed intruder who entered into the property. He fired his firearm. He was in combat attire. Security inside the premises do not carry firearms only on the outside of the premises,” Reilly said.

“They (security guards) did not engage because you’ve seen that it would escalate the situation. Unfortunately, the situation did escalate a bit further, moving towards gaming areas,” he added.

Reilly also maintained their fire safety measures “had worked as it should do.”

He pointed out the issue was not about the fire, but the thick smoke that engulfed the gaming section of the establishment and eventually killed their patrons.

“There is proper ventilation in the property. Unfortunately, I think a lot there was a degree of panic, which I understand when people hear gunshots they are going to hide for cover, evacuating the property quickly. They seek shelter and that is why they were overwhelmed by smoke,” Reilly said.

“Unfortunately, those victims suffer from smoke inhalation,” he added.

Resorts World officials led by Reilly read the names of the victims.

Among the fatalities were P Ling Hung Lee, Lai Wai Chung and Lai Yu Cheeh while the other 15 identified guests are Filipinos. They are Caccam Katherine Cervantes, Pacita Comquilla, Pomenciano Vargas Jr., Susan Abulencia, Jaime Gaboy Jr., Ariel Abrogar, Cliff Reyneira, Rolando Sison, Eluterio Reyes, Antonina Alanigue, Sheila Malicse, Carmelita de la Cruz, Mielle Oliveros, Pamela Silvestre and Elizabeth Gonzales.

Four of the victims remain unidentified, Reilly said.

He also identified 11 of the dead casino employees as Hazel Yangco, Jallah Ramos, Melvin Herrera, Arvi Gavino, BJ Pagsibigan, Rojie S Uy, Jessica Alindogan Merylle Gwen Ala, Lea Grace Mozo, Loudette Santos and Kay Nuguerra.

Reilly branded as speculation reports that the suspect was a previous guest at the casino who lost in gambling. He noted the police claim that the motive could have been simple robbery since the gunman tried to grab casino chips.

Reilly also hailed the police and security forces for immediately responding to the scene.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said the incident was an isolated case of random violence “and was caused by a foreign-looking man who appeared to be deranged.”

Pagcor said it will coordinate with operators of other casinos to ensure the safety of all guests and employees to prevent a similar incident from happening. – Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez, Perseus Echeminada, Iris Gonzales, AFP, AP

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/03/1706184/38-dead-casino-rampage

Philippines: Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights Lost; Dictatorship Found?

May 31, 2017

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte has been talking about military junta and martial law for years — Now he has it — COMMENTARY

OPINION

B (The Philippine Star) |

As early as a year ago, then front-running presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was foreboding about the brewing prospects of Mindanao. Mayor Duterte in fact, succinctly described Mindanao as a powder keg on the brink of violent explosion. At that time, the Mayor already expressed his fears and apprehension on the danger signs in the horizon as far as he sees Mindanao up close and personal from where they live in Davao City.

The last to join the presidential race, Mayor Duterte noted with concern that none of the four candidates have taken up the cause of Mindanao folks who have to bear the festering Muslim secessionists and other peace and order problems in Southern Philippines. This was one of the reasons why then 71-year-old Davao City mayor repeatedly says he decided to join the presidential contest despite the constraints of his age and state of health.

At that time last year, the outgoing administration of former President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III failed to deliver its promise to push his allies in Congress to pass the enabling law to create the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The creation of the BBL was one of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the Aquino administration forged with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Rodrigo Duterte speaks to Filipino community in Singapore - 16 Dec 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo by WONG MAYE-E/AP)

Although the Aquino administration succeeded to make the MILF enter into this peace agreement with the government, they failed, however, to bring in the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by its erstwhile chairman Nur Misuari. Misuari has a standing peace agreement with the government entered into in 1996 with former President Fidel Ramos.

It was September 2013 when the infamous Zamboanga siege flared up. Misuari was charged for inciting to his MNLF loyalists into armed rebellion. It took two weeks and six days for the government authorities led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to put a peaceful end to the Zamboanga siege. From then on, Misuari became a fugitive from justice.

“Please watch out for Mindanao, it might explode if people here in Manila will not properly handle the situation there,” presidential candidate Duterte warned.

 

Mayor Duterte echoed these concerns when he was the last guest in the presidential forum organized by The Philippine STAR among the five candidates during the May 9 elections. And the rest, as we say, is history.

As if the presence of troublemakers in Mindanao were not enough, here comes the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) announcing their rebel insurgents have been ordered to fight government forces implementing martial law. The announcement was issued a few days before the resumption of the 5th round of peace negotiations of the government with their Netherlands-based leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

An irked President Duterte derided the CPP-NPA for its latest pronouncement. Through the 50 years of insurgency history in the Philippines, the President twitted CPP-NPA for not being able to occupy one barangay unlike the Maute that overran Marawi City last May 22. This is not to mention, the self-confessed socialist President Duterte has accommodated the left-wing groups into his administration, including appointment of at least four known communist-leaning members in his Cabinet.

A little Palace birdie told me President Duterte excluded his left-leaning Cabinet members during the emergency meeting in Davao City to discuss his martial law declaration last week a day after his arrival from Moscow.

This, however, did not stop Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and his panel of government peace negotiators led by Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III to proceed to The Netherlands. And why?

Dureza posted this on his Facebook account on May 26 while seemingly exasperated for the long wait of their aircraft to take off: “SORRY, SO DELAYED ( 3 hours late) AND WE ARE STILL SITTING HERE AT NAIA TARMAC ON BOARD EMIRATES FLIGHT MLA TO DUBAI ENROUTE TO AMSTERDAM FOR 5th ROUND PEACE TALKS. We may not be able to connect.”

But that’s another long-running story on the problems at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) still besieged by air traffic and its other operational woes. Only yesterday, NAIA did emergency repair of potholed runways that caused massive air traffic, flight diversion to Clark airport, if not cancelled flights.

Although fretting over their delayed flight to The Netherlands, Dureza was obviously gung-ho to resume the next round of peace talks with their NDFP counterparts. The 5th round of peace talks, as sponsored by the Norwegian government, were being held at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel Noordwijk Aan Zee at The Netherlands.

Aside from Dureza and Bello, the other government panel include former Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento, ex-Pangasinan Rep. Hernani Braganza, CHED commissioner Popoy de Vera, to name a few of them now cooling their heels at Armsterdam at Filipino taxpayers’ expense.

Dureza was already aware that President Duterte had made up his mind to put on hold the government’s peace talks with the NDFP. Then, why did Dureza and company had to embark on this face-to-face meeting just to relay this message to their NDFP counterparts?

Can long-distance telephone calls not suffice if Dureza wishes only to personally relay the demand to their NDFP counterparts to rescind the call to arms of the CPP against the government’s martial law in Mindanao?

It was only until President Duterte came into office at Malacanang Palace in July last year that he was able to convince Misuari to come out from his hiding and help negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement in Mindanao.

If President Duterte can find a way to reach out and talk with Misuari, then how come his peace negotiators can not do the same thing?

All these memories flooded back while listening to President Duterte “Talk to the Troops” last Saturday in Tawi-tawi. In his pep talk with government troopers, the President retraced the entire Philippine history until why his hands were forced into declaring last week a Mindanao-wide martial law for at least 60 days.

It was less than a year after ex-Davao City Mayor Duterte predicted it will happen.

Prophetic? The Mindanao powder keg was lit up after the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom bandits joined forces with Maute crime group now laying siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Or is it a self-fulfilling prophecy of former Davao City Mayor now President Duterte?

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/05/31/1705219/rodys-self-fulfilling-prophecy

Related: Junta, Martial Law

 (with links to related reports)

Related: South China Sea

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Related: War on Drugs and Human Rights

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In this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 photo, people and a policeman looking at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Police said the killing of Acielo was the 13th recorded drug-related case in the past 24 hours in President Rodrigo Duterte’s unrelenting war on drugs. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”