Posts Tagged ‘Philippine senate’

Philippines: Lawmakers battle over changing the Constitution — Idea that a constituent assembly would change the Constitution even without the Senate: “Reuires everyone to read the Constitution again.”

January 23, 2018

By Camille Elemia   @CamilleElemia

Rappler
Published 3:25 PM, January 23, 2018
Updated 4:55 PM, January 23, 2018
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MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr advised his party mate, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, to re-read the 1987 Constitution following the latter’s statement that the constituent assembly would push through even without the Senate.

Pimentel said the Constitution mandates that members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should propose amendments to the Charter.

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Sabihin ko na lang, basahin niya ulit yung Constitution sapagkat (I’ll just say that he should read the Constitution again because) that is not what is envisioned in the Constitution. When you talk about Congress as a body to revise the Constitution by 3/4 vote of its members, you are talking about two Houses… not the House of Representatives only,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview on Tuesday, January 23.

He also agreed with sitting senators that there should be a separate voting on the amendments. Otherwise, he said, the Senate’s voice would be drowned out by the nearly 300-member House.

“’Di pwedeng solohin ng House… (The House can’t take on it alone.) I would really suggest that they rethink that kind of position. And between the two houses they agree on procedures but I think the Senate should insist thaat the voting be done separately because otherwise, the 24 members of the Senate would be swallowed up by tsunami of more than 258 [House members],” he said.

Pimentel also urged President Rodrigo Duterte to settle the issue between the two chambers, as they are mostly his allies.

“What is the stumbling block of these two houses act together?” he said.

Alvarez insists

Alvarez has said that the House does not need to wait for the Senate before it could convene as Con-Ass because the Constitution simply doesn’t require it.

Ano bang assembly? Asan ba nakalagay ang assembly na yan sa Constitution? Nag-umpisa na nga kami eh (What assembly? Where is it in the Constitution? We are already starting),” Alvarez told reporters during a press conference on Monday, January 22. (READ: Constitution ‘not a poem’ you can put meaning into – Alvarez)

Alvarez said repeatedly that the House was already working on amendments to the Constitution. “Wala na eh. Saan nakalagay sa Constitution na kailangan magco-convene? (No need. Where does it say in the Constitution that we need to convene)?” said Alvarez.

While the Constitution itself does not directly name “Constituent Assembly” as a way of amending the Constitution, the term is used to refer to Congress convening to specifically change the Charter.

Article 17, Section 1 states that any amendment or revision may be proposed by Congress, upon a vote of 3/4 of all its members (Con-Ass). It is silent on the manner of voting.

Senators have slammed Alvarez for his pronouncements.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, however, is confident that the House would not push through with its plan.

After all, Pimentel said the House transmitted to the Senate a copy of House Concurrent Resolution No. 9, calling on Congress to convene into a Con-Ass and at the same time seeking the Senate’s concurrence. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/194332-nene-pimentel-speaker-alvarez-con-ass-constitution

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Philippine Senate Stops “Charter Change”

January 17, 2018

The Philippine Senate decided on Wednesday to call a temporary halt to the Charter Change process while several issues were resolved.

More on this as it beomes available…

Former chief justices Hilario Davide Jr. and Reynato Puno and former Supreme Court associate justice Adolf Azcuna share a light moment before the start of a Senate hearing on the proposal to amend the Constitution yesterday.  Geremy Pintolo

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/18/1778933/senate-stops-charter-change-train#PG0EM2uouM0LrBTi.99

Senate stops Charter change train
Paolo RomeroMarvin Sy (The Philippine Star) – January 18, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The speeding Charter change train from the House of Representatives has stopped dead in its tracks as senators vowed to resist pressure to rush the crafting of a constitution for a federal government.

After the House hastily voted to convene Congress as a constituent assembly in Joint Resolution No. 9, senators held a caucus during which they unanimously agreed to oppose any joint voting and joint session under the con-ass.

Senators s aid they could just sit on Joint Resolution No. 9 while tackling their own Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals in a more careful manner.

The senators also expressed openness to Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s proposal to expel any senator who attends the con-ass called by the House.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said it would be confusing if members of the two chambers would be physically together in a con-ass but would vote separately over every proposed amendment to the Constitution. Pimentel said the House resolution would simply be consigned to the reference of business of the chamber and likely referred to the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who presided over a hearing yesterday.

“We have to follow the same procedure to have proposed amendments to the Constitution. If not, then there’s none,” Pimentel told reporters.

When asked about the marked difference between the resolution and the proposal of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for the Senate to hold its own con-ass, meaning separate from the House, he said: “If the Cha-cha is a dance, the two dancers or two partners must dance the same dance.”

“If they’re dancing different dances, then we don’t have a Cha-cha,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the House approval of its resolution won’t “influence us into anything.”

“We will still, and based on our caucus and our decision, we will still proceed with our regular system – the system that we know, which is we hold hearings and listen to all those who must be listened to, and we’ll make a decision thereafter,” Sotto said.

Lacson emphasized the House cannot force the Senate to do its bidding, especially on Congress leaders’ proposal to cancel the elections and extend the terms of office of officials.

“They have Resolution No. 9 – we’ll not act on it. And we’ll just deliberate among ourselves on the (Charter change) mode,” Lacson said.

“If we don’t agree (with the House), it’s as if nothing’s been passed in the House,” he said.

Pangilinan said the situation could be described as a stalemate, as the Senate would not allow any railroading of Charter change, especially that the people and lawmakers have yet to have a full grasp of federalism.

Dead

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Charter change in the Senate is “dead,” and will remain so especially if House leaders insist on pushing for it, including by scheduling a plebiscite simultaneously with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May this year.

“Clearly, we cannot do it in 10 session weeks, not to mention the possibility of the Senate being an impeachment court once again, not to mention we have to pass other laws as senators, as members of Congress,” Recto told the hearing.

“Based on what I’ve heard today, Cha-cha is dead in the Senate,” he said.

He said since he started public service in 1992, there has been no clamor for Charter change, much less a shift to a federal system.

During the committee hearing, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked former chief justice Reynato Puno whether the Supreme Court (SC) can compel the Senate to act on the resolution calling for a constituent assembly.

“The Supreme Court still does not have jurisdiction to accommodate and decide questions that are political in character. The issue that we are talking about is a political question,” Puno replied.

Puno said the SC is unlikely to entertain the case as the matter between the Senate and the House is political in nature and therefore not in the province of the high tribunal.

Puno, former chief justice Hilario Davide and former SC justice Adolf Azcuna – also one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution – voiced the opinion that the Senate cannot be forced to adopt what the House wants.

They said the two chambers should be voting separately in amending the Constitution.

“If we do not act on the House resolution calling for a constitutional assembly, the issue cannot be brought to the Supreme Court?” Drilon asked, to which Puno replied in affirmative.

“The resolution is lost and you cannot be subject to a writ of mandamus,” Puno added.

Drilon earlier castigated the House leadership for disparaging the Senate for being “slow,” which he said was meant to condition the minds of the people to the supposed necessity of abolishing the chamber.

Lacson said several scenarios were discussed during the caucus, including the remote possibility that a senator might decide to ride the House Cha-cha train and attend the lower chamber’s version of the con-ass.

He said the House could then claim a joint session with the Senate.

“Since we’ve agreed that we will not allow ourselves to be drowned out… I said to make things firm, let’s agree to expel any member who will participate in such an arrangement without any resolution adopted by the Senate,” Lacson said.

He, however, stressed that he does not believe any senator would break the agreement.

But if there’s one senator who does not seem bothered by the consequences of a Cha-cha, it’s Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

“As I said, I don’t care about my position. If federalism will be good for the country, or if it will mean abolition of the Senate or Congress, I don’t care as long as it is good for the country,” he said in Filipino in a TV interview.

Con-con

Also at the hearing by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, legal and constitutional experts expressed unanimous support for a constitutional convention (con-con) as the mode of amending the Constitution, but were divided when it came to the question of whether or not Charter change should be done immediately.

“To insure a truly impartial, objective and comprehensive discussion on this crucial issue of federalism or the entry into our midst of a foreign invader, I respectfully submit that the matter be left to a constitutional convention, with delegates duly elected by the people for that purpose,” Davide said in a statement he read during the hearing.

According to Puno, the country has no experience in con-ass and that giving Congress the task of revising the Constitution would only add to their mandate of writing laws.

Puno noted that Congress would also soon be preoccupied with the forthcoming impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“More importantly, some members of Congress may find themselves in a conflict situation in the course of rewriting the Constitution,” he said.

Puno also brushed aside the arguments being made by the proponents of con-ass that con-con is more expensive.

“To me that is a cheap argument. We should not count the cost when rewriting the Constitution,” he said.

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., father and namesake of the Senate president, said he has no doubt on the viability of con-con but admitted it would be costly to assemble one.

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/18/1778933/senate-stops-charter-change-train#PG0EM2uouM0LrBTi.99

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Despite unanimous Senate ‘no,’ Alvarez insists on joint voting for Cha-Cha

‘We are representatives of the people. We are the nearest link to the people, so why should senators’ vote have more weight than a congressman?’ says House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

Published 8:06 PM, January 17, 2018
Updated 8:06 PM, January 17, 2018

JOINT VOTING. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez insists on joint voting, contrary to the opinion of senators as well as those who framed the 1987 Constitution. Malacañang file photo

JOINT VOTING. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez insists on joint voting, contrary to the opinion of senators as well as those who framed the 1987 Constitution. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday, January 17, insisted that the House of Representatives and the Senate must vote jointly should it convene as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) for Charter Change (Cha-Cha).

Alvarez made the assertion late Wednesday, after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that during a caucus, senators were “unanimous” in rejecting proposals for the two chambers to vote jointly in a Con-Ass.

“We respect the belief in separate voting, but I believe in joint voting. To me, it’s very clear in the Constitution that three-fourths of all members of the Congress [should vote]. So that means all members, all of us will vote together, particularly when it comes to amendments in the Constitution,” Alvarez said in an interview over dzMM.

But legal luminaries and framers of the 1987 Constitution, during a Senate hearing on Cha-Cha, all advocated for separate voting for the two chambers, consistent with the bicameral mode of legislature.

“We are representatives of the people. We are the nearest link to the people, so why should senators’ vote have more weight than a congressman?” insisted Alvarez, who represents the 1st District of Davao del Norte.

The Senate is composed of up to 24 senators, who are elected at-large by qualified voters of the country. The House, meanwhile, is composed of over 290 members who are either elected by a legislative district or represent a party-list group.

Senators have argued against joint voting, saying it diminishes the power of the Senate. They have also argued that since the regular process of passing a law necessitates separate deliberations and voting, something as important as amendments to the Constitution should follow the same process.

Constitution framers explained during the Senate hearing that Article XVII, which deals with the process of amending or revising the Constitution, was written under the assumption that Congress would be unicameral.

When the Constitution was revised to make way for a bicameral legislature, this particular article was simply left unchanged, hence the vague wording.

Drilon, in a chance interview on the sidelines of the hearing, said there were “rumors” that one or two senators might show up at the House for a Con-Ass, thus constituting a “joint session.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested that any senator who would defy their “unanimous” decision should face expulsion.

But Alvarez said he doubts this threat since it “isn’t a ground for expulsion.”

“If that’s unethical, I think as long as the Constituent Assembly is convened legally… if someone wants to attend, should you stop that person? It is a constitutional duty,” he said.

The House on Tuesday, January 16, adopted a resolution calling on the 17th Congress to convene as a Con-Ass. In order for it to take effect, the Senate must adopt a similar resolution.

Alvarez, a lawyer, also thinks that even if the Senate refuses to participate, Cha-Cha will still push through.

“There’s the Supreme Court to decide if we’re right or not,” he said.

It is unclear if Alvarez meant that he would push through with a Con-Ass even if the Senate does not adopt a counterpart resolution.

The House is in the process of consolidating sub-committee proposals to amend the Constitution. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/193907-house-speaker-alvarez-insists-joint-voting-charter-change-senate

Philippine Opposition Lawmakers Want Investigation into Illegal Deaths in President Duterte’s War Against Drugs

July 17, 2017
 / 12:37 PM July 17, 2017
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Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (File photo by GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV criticized Senator Richard Gordon’s proposal to revive the investigation into the Mamasapano debacle that led to the deaths of 44 elite policemen and 18 Moro rebels and five civilians last January 15.

Trillanes said the Senate should instead relaunch the probe on the thousands of deaths in the Duterte administration’s brutal war against drugs.

“Mas aatupagin pa ni Sen. Gordon ‘yung nakaraang issue na piniga na ng husto ng dating Congreso pero ‘yung mga libo-libong pinapatay na Pilipino sa kasalukuyan, wala siyang panahon,” Trillanes said in a statement.

(Sen. Gordon would rather focus on an old issue that already has been squeezed out by the old Congress but for the thousands of Filipinos being killed presently, he has no time for.)

Over the weekend, Gordon proposed the reopening of the Mamasapano probe after the Ombudsman indicted former President Benigno Aquino III for usurpation of authority during the planning of the ill-fated “Oplan Exodus.”

The senator, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, said the former Chief Executive has to face the consequences of the deadly incident.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, stressed that it is the prerogative of Gordon being the blue ribbon committee chair to revive the investigation.

Image result for Grace Poe, Philippines, Photo

Grace Poe

“The decision to reopen the Mamasapano inquiry is the prerogative of the chairman of the blue ribbon committee,” Poe said in a text message.

But the senator said it would be to the interest of the public and the members of the Senate to “know the clear objectives of Senator Gordon in putting forward such proposal.”

“Whatever new and relevant information that can be unearthed from this inquiry, in aid of legislation, will be beneficial not only to the families of the SAF 44, but also to the Filipino people,” she said.

She also urged the Senate and the public to be prepared for the possibility that Aquino would only invoke his right not to to talk about the case as it is already being handled by the court.

Poe added: “Whatever disagreement anyone has with the determination of the Ombudsman, let us give her office the opportunity to review the same through the processes allowed by law and remedies given to the parties in the case.”

“As it is, we are one with the Filipino people in the pursuit of justice and truth on this matter,” she said. JE/rga

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/914526/trillanes-why-not-investigate-ejks-instead-of-mamasapano#ixzz4n4YECVqj
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Philippine Lawmakers Want To Drill For Oil In The South China Sea — A Move Likely To Anger China, Upset President Duterte — Some say “skirt the issue of sovereignty”

May 23, 2017

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Richard Gordon, in separate interviews, said the country has the sovereign right to exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal/ File

MANILA, Philippines – With or without a threat of war from China, the Duterte administration should pursue its plan to drill for oil and exploit other resources in areas in the West Philippine Sea being claimed by the Chinese, senators said yesterday.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Richard Gordon, in separate interviews, said the country has the sovereign right to exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We must continue to assert our rights over our territory… including drilling (for oil), because that’s within our territory,” Drilon said. “Exploitation of natural resources is the right of the state within its territory.”

Sen. Sonny Angara said the country should start exploring for oil in the South China Sea but that it should “proceed carefully.”

He said the natural gas reserves from the Malampaya complex near Palawan would soon be depleted.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government should consider joint exploration as the country does not have the financial resources to undertake such investment-heavy endeavors alone.

“The challenge is how to skirt the issue of sovereignty. Can we (claimant nations) set aside the issue temporarily and focus on the economic benefits?” Recto said.

He said the government must try to secure a better deal than the one for the Malampaya program – or one that ensures bigger share of profit for the country.

Last week, President Duterte disclosed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had threatened war if the Philippines would insist on drilling for oil in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing, however, appeared to have sidestepped the war threat claimed by Duterte.

“I said it is ours and I will drill the oil. And I tell them do not do it because it is ours. But I have the arbitral ruling. But they said that if you force the issue, we will go to war,” Duterte said, quoting Xi.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said the government should now focus on building naval and research facilities near Benham Rise – renamed Philippine Rise – to hasten exploration activities in the area.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committees on energy and on economic affairs, made the call after President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 25, renaming Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.

“There is an urgent need for us to hasten the conduct of extensive research so we can map out strategies on how to develop the area and use its rich natural resources to enrich the lives of the Filipino people,” he said.

“Changing its name has put emphasis on our sovereign jurisdiction over this vast mass of underwater plateau. Now that we have done that, government must now shift its attention to how to utilize its natural resources before our neighbors discover its hidden treasures,” he added.

The Senate economic affairs committee is finalizing its recommendations for the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA), as proposed by Angara, to spearhead research and development efforts for the resource-rich area.

The Philippine Rise is a 24-million-hectare underwater plateau located about 250 kilometers east of Northern Luzon. It is within the Philippine EEZ and continental shelf, based on recommendations of the UN Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf issued on April 2012.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/24/1703092/senators-drill-oil-south-china-sea

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FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

 (Contains links to several earlier related stories)

FILE photo p rovided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Philippines: Senators Critical of Philippine National Police Chief for “Inhuman Treatment” of Prisoners — “Unlivable secret prison cell hidden behind a book shelf inside a police station”

May 1, 2017
This photo taken April 27, 2017 shows people allegedly kept inside a hidden room at the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Manila Police Department’s Police Station 1 in the Tondo area of Manila. Human rights workers found a dozen people on April 27 stuffed inside a dark, closet-sized jail cell hidden behind a book shelf in a Philippine police station. The rights officials, acting on a tip, made the surprise inspection on the police station and were calling out for any detainees to come forward. AFP/Vincent Go

MANILA, Philippines – Two senators were appalled by the reaction of Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa of a cell behind a bookshelf in a police station in Manila’s Tondo district.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a former PNP director general, described dela Rosa’s defense of detaining alleged drug suspects in the cramped cell as “arrogant” while Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the PNP chief’s statement looked like it came from a “kanto boy.”

“Defending policemen for maintaining an unlivable secret prison cell hidden behind a book shelf inside a police station is incomprehensible,” Lacson said in a statement Sunday evening.

READ: ‘Hidden jail’ seen as sign of PNP’s abuse in drug war

Dela Rosa personally inspected the cell in Manila Police District Station 1 in Tondo on Friday and said that it is fine with him as long as the prisoners were not tortured and extorted.

Commission on Human Rights officials trooped to the Raxabago station after receiving a tip from an informant that suspects were being locked up and that their families were being made to pay P40,000 to P200,000 in exchange for their freedom.

The surprise visit by the CHR led to the discovery of a poorly ventilated makeshift cell concealed by a bookshelf, where more than 10 people were detained. The supposed suspects had not been formally charged and were not in the precinct’s blotter report.

READ: Duterte to look into Tondo ‘hidden jail’

Dela Rosa, meanwhile challenged the CHR to inspect calls every day and not just during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

“Narinig ko po ang mga salita ng ating PNP chief. Nakalulungkot po parang kanto po ‘yung mga salita, parang kanto boy, parang hindi chief PNP,” Drilon, a former Justice secretary, told dzMM in a phone interview.

Drilon urged dela Rosa to curb the abuses of his men since the public is losing trust in the PNP.

READ: CHR, PNP face-off looms over ‘hidden cell’

“Ang dami na pong nangyayari, walang napaparusahang miyembro ng ating pulis. Itong mga ganitong insidente ay dapat na matigil na,” he added.

Article 3 section 12 of the 1987 Constitution states that “secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.”

Thirteen members of MPD Station 1 have already been relieved of their posts, including station commander Superintendent Robert Domingo, to give way for a PNP-Internal Affairs Service investigation.

Relief is not the same as termination and police officers who are administratively relieved are on “floating status” but are still members of the PNP.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/01/1695700/drilon-lacson-hit-kanto-boy-bato-defending-mpd-secret-cell

Philippines: Presidential Spokesman Calls 7,000 Extrajudicial Killings “Fake News” (It’s actually more like 9,000) — Further Erodes Credibility of Philippine Government, Philippine National Police (PNP)

April 21, 2017
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella called reports on more than 7,000 extralegal killings “false news.” PCOO/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson on Friday called reports of nearly 9,000 drug-related deaths “false news,” months after media organizations and international groups used the figure in their reports.

Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson, said that the persistent reports of more 7,000 killed, which is now said to be nearly 9,000, was “false news” as the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the figure was much lower.

“On the number of extrajudicial deaths, the persistent news reports of 7,000 killed, which is now being said to be close to 9,000, is false,” Abella said.

The president’s spokesperson said that based on official police data there were only 6,011 homicide cases being investigated. Of the figure, only 1,398 cases were found to be drug related, contrary to reports that 9,000 have already been killed in anti-illegal drugs operations, Abella said.

Abella, meanwhile, called on organizations which report on drug incidents to be fair and not to rush to judgment as he emphasized that people appreciated the changes being implemented by the administration and the way these were carried out.

“We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipinos who desire change, stability and fairness,” Abella said.

The number of murders and homicide cases, however, have risen dramatically at the start of the Duterte administration last year despite government’s denial that they are related to the brutal war on drugs. Drug experts also acknowledge that stringent law enforcement policy against narcotics have historically resulted in unnecessary violence and deaths.

Abella’s comments came days after a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that public satisfaction with the government’s conduct of the war on drugs plunging by 11 points, from +77 in December 2016 to +66 in March 2017.

He also assuaged American concern on the increasing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, saying that those who breached protocol would be made to account.

“We share the concern of US Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy, who has been quoted in the media saying ‘there are elements of the drug war that are operating outside the rule of law,’” the spokesperson said.

Abella said that the PNP has an Internal Affairs Service which would probe into cases of police violations.

“This body can suspend or dismiss PNP personnel based on violations incurred and can recommend the filing of criminal charges,” he said.

He said that security forces followed procedures in conducting their operations although force may be used to protect the safety of the police.

“Local authorities follow operation protocols and the proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances,” he said.

Not a single cop, however, has been accused by police investigators before a court of unjustifiably killing drug suspects in police operations. President Rodrigo Duterte himself said he will defend and pardon cops accused of wrongdoing in the field.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/21/1692511/abella-calls-7000-extrajudicial-killings-fake-news

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokeman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

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.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

 

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

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

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Philippines: National Police killings ‘committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population’ — ‘Reign of terror’ — ‘Extermination’ — Insiders talking to evidence gatherers for the International Criminal Court

April 18, 2017
At least 39 people were killed in police operations during Holy Week as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa proved true to his word that there would be no Lenten break in the war on drugs. AP/Bullit Marquez, file
  • Almost 9,000 people killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June
  • Two senior officials have claimed that police orchestrated many of those killings 
  • Police paid to kill drug suspects and – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers’

The Philippine police have given bonuses for killing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the murders they blamed on vigilantes, said two senior officers.

The officials, who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ challenged the government’s explanations of the killings in interviews.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate anti-drug operations.

Human rights monitors believe the remaining two thirds were killed by paid assassins working with police or by police disguised as vigilantes – a charge the police deny.

Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, claim officials critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's (pictured) 'war on drugs'

Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, claim officials critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s (pictured) ‘war on drugs’

The two senior officers, one a retired police intelligence officer and the other an active-duty commander, claimed the killings are in fact orchestrated by the police, including most of those carried out by vigilantes. They spoke on the condition of anonymity.

‘It is the Philippine National Police doing it,’ said the retired intelligence officer.

‘This killing machine must be buried six feet under the ground.’ He said he was angry about the impact of the killings on police discipline and wanted ‘to put Duterte on the defensive.’ Reuters was unable to independently verify if the police are behind vigilante killings.

The president’s office and the Philippine police did not respond to questions from Reuters.

The intelligence officer has authored an unpublished 26-page report on the conduct of the drug war in an effort to organize opposition to Duterte’s campaign.

The report, titled ‘The State-Sponsored Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines,’ provides granular detail on the campaign’s alleged methods, masterminds and perpetrators. The document has been shared with leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines and with the government-funded Commission on Human Rights.

Some of the report’s accusations against individuals could not be confirmed by Reuters; the news agency is therefore not publishing the full document.

Many of its findings, however, support and expand upon previous investigations of the drug war by Reuters and independent human rights monitors.

Human rights monitors believe paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes killed two thirds of the 9,000 people who have died since June 30 - a charge police deny

Human rights monitors believe paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes killed two thirds of the 9,000 people who have died since June 30 – a charge police deny

The report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers.’

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, were drafted to ‘augment and assist’ the police’s current nationwide anti-drug operation.

The report doesn’t provide documentary evidence for its accusations, which the intelligence officer said were based on accounts from 17 serving or former policemen, including the commander Reuters interviewed. The police commander said he agreed to talk because he was upset that authorities are targeting only petty drug suspects. ‘Why aren’t they killing the suppliers?’ he asked. ‘Only the poor are dying.’

The second half of the report is largely political in nature, asserting that Duterte has close ties to Communist forces in the Philippines. Many in the military and police are concerned by what they see as Duterte’s leftist sympathies. Since taking office, the president has released Communist rebels from prison to restart peace talks.

The report also calls the drug war a ‘social cleansing’ campaign similar to that launched in Mao Zedong’s China, with Duterte aiming to have drug addicts ‘physically eliminated.’

The Commission on Human Rights has reviewed the report and the accounts could open up new leads in ongoing investigations, said chairman Chito Gascon. Church officials confirmed receiving the report as well.

A report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also - for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head - rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other 'troublemakers' (pictured, police interrogating local residents in operation against drugs

A report claims that police are paid to kill not just drug suspects, but also – for 10,000 pesos ($200) a head – rapists, pickpockets, swindlers, gang members, alcoholics and other ‘troublemakers’ (pictured, police interrogating local residents in operation against drugs

‘We should do all we can to follow any lead that could ultimately shed light on these killings with the view to ultimately holding the perpetrators to account,’ said Gascon.

The fresh claims come amid growing criticism of the drug war. In February, the country’s influential Catholic Church called it a ‘reign of terror.’ The campaign has also sparked street protests and lawsuits.

Duterte’s police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa, halted police operations for most of February after it emerged that an anti-drug unit had kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman last year. The killings continued but at a slower pace. On March 6, Dela Rosa announced that the police were resuming their drug operations.

In March, a former policeman, Arturo Lascanas, testified in the Philippine Senate about his role in vigilante-style killings in the southern city of Davao, where Duterte was once mayor. Lascanas was the second Senate witness to link Duterte to the Davao Death Squad. Duterte denies ordering any killings, either as president or mayor.

In a subsequent interview, Lascanas told Reuters that for over a decade he was paid for carrying out the liquidation of drug suspects and criminals. In the early 1990s, he said, he was paid 3,000 to 5,000 pesos ($60-$100) for each of the ‘jobs’ he performed.

By the early 2000s he was earning tens of thousands of pesos for each operation, he said. Lascanas said he had no documentary proof of the payments. He has since left the country.

In the past nine months, police acknowledge having shot dead more than 2,600 suspects during their operations. They say such shootings occur after suspects open fire on undercover officers trying to catch them dealing drugs.

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte's hometown of Davao, were drafted to 'augment and assist' the police's current nationwide anti-drug operation. Pictured, Duterte with Trade Secretary Liam Fox)

It also claims that civilian members of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which rights activists allege killed hundreds of people in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, were drafted to ‘augment and assist’ the police’s current nationwide anti-drug operation. Pictured, Duterte with UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox

But these so-called ‘buy-busts’ are actually well-planned executions, said the commander interviewed by Reuters. The commander said targets are chosen from lists of suspects drawn up by police and local officials, who later coordinate to unplug security cameras in the neighbourhood where a killing is planned. According to the report, street lamps are also switched off.

‘There is no such thing as a legitimate buy-bust,’ the commander said. ‘The dealers know the cops and won’t sell to them.’

Instead, he said, a team of police operatives will execute the target, who is almost always unarmed, then plant guns and drugs at the crime scene to justify the use of deadly force.

‘We have to plant evidence for the legality of the operation,’ the commander said. ‘We are ordered to do these operations, so we have to protect ourselves.’

The commander said officers put the gun in the dead suspect’s hand and pull the trigger with the victim’s finger so forensic testing will show that the suspect fired a gun.

Late last year, he said, police crime-scene investigators told their fellow officers to place the guns at a slight distance from the suspects, rather than in their hands, to make things look more realistic.

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. The superiors refer to this as a ‘baptism by fire.’

Each member of the team is quickly paid according to two factors, said the commander: his role in the killing and the target’s value.

According to the report, the cash ‘reward scales’ for drug killings range from 20,000 pesos ($400) for a ‘street level pusher and user,’ to 50,000 pesos for a member of a neighborhood council, one million pesos for ‘distributors, retailers and wholesalers,’ and five million for ‘drug lords.’

Police officers kill for money, said the commander, but also out of fear: Even the police are afraid of being included on a ‘watch list’ of drug suspects drawn up by police and local officials.

Officials have been killed for not cooperating, he added. He said he was aware of two cases but did not provide details on exactly what happened.

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. Pictured, armed Filipino policemen stand guard next to the wall of a prison facility

Most drug suspects in his precinct are shot by rookie cops who are either eager for the experience or nominated by their superiors, the commander said. Pictured, armed Filipino policemen stand guard next to the wall of a prison facility

Reuters reported last year that the watch lists were effectively hit lists, with many of those named ending up dead. Another Reuters investigation showed that police officers were killing 97 percent of the suspects they confront in violent buy-bust operations, the strongest evidence yet that the police were summarily executing suspects.

Officers also cooperate because they know the police force’s flawed disciplinary system, which fails to adequately investigate even a fraction of the killings, means there is little chance they will get caught, said the intelligence officer.

One sign of the drug war’s success, says the government, is that more than a million users and pushers have voluntarily registered with the police, a process known as ‘surrendering.’

But the commander said police are given a quota of ‘surrenderers,’ and fill it by using city ordinances to arrest men who are drunk or shirtless – a misdemeanor known as ‘half-naked’ – then forcing them to register as drug suspects.

Reuters learned of the intelligence officer’s 26-page report from him and interviewed two Catholic priests in Manila who said they had encouraged him to compile it. One of the priests said he edited the report; the other said he helped distribute it among a small group of clerics and human rights activists. Both are helping organize opposition to Duterte’s drug campaign.

The Church’s initial reluctance to criticize Duterte’s drug war was prompted by a desire to ‘give him a chance’ when he took office, said one of the priests. But the killings, along with the president’s overtures to Communists, made many in the Church feel their values were under attack, he said.

The intelligence officer said he hoped the report would be used as evidence at the International Criminal Court. In October, the Hague-based tribunal said it could prosecute suspects if the killings were ‘committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4421430/Police-kill-rewards-staged-crime-scenes-Dutertes-drug-war.html#ixzz4ecS4W7LE
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

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.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..
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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)

 

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

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

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Philippines: “thou shalt not kill.” — Do we still respect human life?

March 19, 2017

Catholic Bishops In The Philippines Suggest Citizens Pray for Lawmakers

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2017 11:38 AM | Updated as of Mar 19 2017 04:27 PM

CBCP asks Filipinos to pray for legislators

A banner hangs outside a church in the town of Patero , Metro Manila Tuesday. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA – As the Senate considers the revival of capital punishment, leaders of the Philippines’ Catholic Church on Sunday urged legislators not to use the Bible to defend the death penalty, which they say runs against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In a pastoral letter read out at Mass services across the country, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said lawmakers must “interpret the Scriptures properly” and take note that Jesus “was never an advocate of any form of ‘legal killing.'”

“To the people who use the Bible to defend death penalty, need we point out how many other crimes against humanity have been justified, using the same Bible? We humbly enjoin them to interpret the Scriptures properly, to read them as a progressive revelation of God’s will to humankind, with its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s definitive Word to the world,” the letter read.

“Jesus was never an advocate of any form of “legal killing”. He defended the adulterous woman against those who demanded her blood and challenged those who were without sin among them to be the first to cast a stone on her.”

Christ, the CBCP said, pushed for “justice founded on mercy” in lieu of a system of retribution exemplified by the principle of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

Senator Manny Pacquiao, a champion boxer and born-again pastor, has repeatedly used the Bible to defend the return of the death penalty. He said in January that that while the 10 Commandments prohibit killings, God approves of capital punishment to pursue justice and that even Christ was sentenced to death.

Policemen and a passerby look at pictures of the ones killed due to alleged involvement in illegal drugs, during a protest against extra-judicial killings at an open area of a Roman Catholic Church in Parañaque, early March. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Capital punishment inched closer to reinstatement earlier this month after it was approved by the House of Representatives on 2nd reading on Ash Wednesday, March 1, as well as on final reading last March 7.

CBCP said it was ironic that majority of congressmen during the 2nd reading voted in favor of death penalty while their foreheads were marked with crosses made of ashes, a symbol of God’s forgiveness.

“Could they have forgotten what that cross meant? Could they have missed out the contradiction between their vote and the crosses on their foreheads, which were supposed to serve as a loud statement of faith in the God who, for love of us, chose to give up his life for our salvation, rather than see us perish?” the Church leaders asked.

The bishops said capital punishment has often been used by repressive governments as “a way of stifling dissent, or of eliminating those whom they regarded as threats to their hold on political power.”

“Think, for instance why Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded, or why Pilate had Jesus crucified. Think of the thousands of Christian martyrs who were put to death for sheer hatred for the faith,” they said.

They added that capital punishment was never proven as an effective deterrent to crime and will likely target only the poor who cannot afford good lawyers and a guarantee of due process.

The CBCP ended its pastoral letter with an appeal for the public to pray for the enlightenment of the Senate ahead of its death penalty deliberations.

“Let us pray fervently for the legislators of our country as they prepare to vote on death penalty in the Philippine Senate. Let us offer all our Masses for them, asking our Crucified Lord who offered his whole life, body and blood, for the salvation of sinners, to touch their consciences and lead them to abolish capital punishment once and for all,” CBCP said.

Philippine Congress postpones embattled minister’s confirmation hearing

February 28, 2017

Tue Feb 28, 2017 | 2:37am EST

Reuters

By Manolo Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz | MANILA

A Philippine legislative hearing set for Wednesday to confirm the appointment of a controversial environment minister who ordered more than half of the country’s mines shut has been postponed following a shakeup in the Senate leadership.

While the hearings are typically a formality carried out long after a minister has started work, the confirmation process for Regina Lopez is much anticipated because of the uproar she has caused in the mining sector, with calls from miners for her to be removed.

Lopez is among just a few of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees yet to get the green light from lawmakers.

The crackdown by Lopez, a committed environmentalist long before she joined Duterte’s team, has raised fears that supply of nickel ore from the world’s top exporter may be disrupted, fuelling a rally in global nickel prices.

Lopez on Tuesday suggested her confirmation hearing may be unduly influenced by lawmakers with mining interests.

“So I strongly feel that we should not have any individuals there with strong business leanings which will influence and affect the decisions,” she told reporters.

“I’m not accusing anyone. I’m just saying as a matter of policy. That’s the way it should be.”

Lopez has ordered the closure of 23 of 41 operating mines to protect watersheds and suspended another five, actions she said followed due process and came after a months-long review.

She also canceled 75 contracts for undeveloped mines for being in watershed areas that she said would threaten water supply and quality.

Duterte, who has supported Lopez’s actions, said on Monday that he would not interfere in the confirmation proceedings.

“This is a democracy … There are processes to be observed,” he told reporters.

The commission has canceled all hearings for Wednesday and no new date was set for Lopez. It came after four legislators who supported a critic of Duterte’s war on drugs lost key Senate positions on Monday.

Many affected miners have appealed to Duterte’s office to prevent closure or suspension and questioned whether due process was followed by the environment agency. A mining industry group has said the closures and suspensions would affect 1.2 million people.

A government inter-agency panel will begin a three-month review of the affected mines from March and will meet on Friday.

“We certainly want to make sure that the defenses of Secretary-designate Lopez are very strong,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez told a separate briefing on Tuesday.

“Being Secretary is not like being a crusader,” Dominguez said, adding it is about “balancing the needs of the different sectors in society.”

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Richard Pullin)

Philippines: Liberal Party LP members ousted from Senate majority — The Senate will “remain independent and true to its role as the last bastion of democracy in our country.”

February 27, 2017
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/ 01:12 AM February 28, 2017
drilon-1

Senator Franklin Drilon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

It took only 15 minutes on Monday for the Senate leadership to form a new majority—by kicking out President Duterte’s critics from the bloc.

Senators in the majority said their Liberal Party (LP) colleagues had it coming, as they had voted against the majority on controversial issues, to the detriment of public interest.

They underscored the need to clear the blurred line between the majority and the minority.

The LP senators said they were not surprised, as they had heard talk of a reorganization before Mr. Duterte’s allies struck on Monday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, the LP vice chair, lost his position as the No. 2 man in the chamber.

Along with Senators Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros, Drilon and his group became the new minority bloc, which was left with only one member—Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV—after Senators Ralph Recto and Francis Escudero joined the majority.

The new minority is expected to be joined by Sen. Leila de Lima, who is jailed at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, while awaiting trial on drug charges.

Recto was elected to replace Drilon as Senate President Pro Tempore.

Vice President Leni Robredo, the leader of the opposition to Mr. Duterte, slammed the expulsion of the LP senators from the Senate majority as a silencing of dissent that had happened before, referring to martial law during the time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and warned that the reorganization in the Senate could be a portent of things to come.

Robredo said democracy demanded dissent, and that critics of the administration would “not be silenced.”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Mr. Duterte’s right-hand man in the Senate, defended the expulsion of the LP senators, saying the majority “decided that to best achieve the legislative agenda, clear lines have to be drawn.”

But, he said in a statement, the Senate would “remain independent and true to its role as the last bastion of democracy in our country.”

Numbers game

Drilon said the realignment happened because it was a “numbers game.”

“They have the numbers,” he said, reminding Pimentel that the LP supported him in the race for Senate President.

Asked whether the changes had to do with the coming investigation of the confession of a hit man who linked Mr. Duterte to killings in Davao when he was the mayor of the city, Drilon said: “They are the ones who kicked us out, so you ask them.”

The formation of a new Senate majority came after most of the senators, including the LP lawmakers, voted to hear the testimony of retired police officer Arturo Lascañas, who disclosed last week that he killed people on orders from Mr. Duterte.

It was Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, an ally of Mr. Duterte, who started the move to rid the majority of the LP senators.

Shortly after the session started on Monday afternoon, Pacquiao stood up and moved to declare Drilon’s position vacant.

Drilon himself stood up to say he seconded the motion of Pacquiao, who in turn moved for Recto made new Senate President Pro Tempore.

Pimentel divided the house for a vote.

With a vote of 17-6, Recto was elected as the new Senate President Pro Tempore and he immediately took his oath before Pimentel.

The 17 who voted for Recto were Pimentel, Escudero, Pacquiao, Pangilinan and Senators Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Win Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe, Vicente Sotto, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The senators who voted against Recto were Recto himself, Drilon, Aquino, Hontiveros and Sen. Sonny Angara.

After that, Pacquiao took the floor again to make successive motions—to declare vacant the chairmanships and memberships of the committeees on health (held by Hontiveros), agriculture (Pangilinan) and education (Aquino).

Pacquiao moved for the appointment of Ejercito as health committee chair and this was seconded by Hontiveros; for Villar to be named agriculture committee chair, which Pangilinan seconded, and for Escudero to be made education chair. —WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKO DIZON

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/876109/lp-members-ousted-from-senate-majority#ixzz4ZuiOlcet
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