Posts Tagged ‘PNP’

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

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/905238/govt-alarmed-by-is-group-threat#ixzz4juNUEZ9A
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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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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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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.”

Islamic State fears grow as foreign fighters among bodies in Philippines — ISIS almost on the doorstep of Australia

May 29, 2017

By Lindsay Murdoch
Sydney Morning Herald

Bangkok: Foreign fighters were among militants who besieged a southern Philippines city, intensifying fears that Islamic State is gaining a foothold in South-east Asia.

Bodies found in Marawi, 830 kilometres south of Manila, after almost a week of fighting include Malaysians, Indonesians, Saudis, an Indian, Chechen and Yemeni, according to Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

The Philippines is now Islamic State’s epicentre in the region, he said.

Zachary Abuza, another expert on terrorism in South-east Asia, said that while there is no evidence that Islamic State has sent significant support to a dozen militant Islamist groups operating in the southern Philippines, “increasingly South-east Asians are being drawn to Mindanao”.

Australia and other  nations in the region are so worried about the threat of homegrown IS militants returning from battlefields in Iraq and Syria that they have convened a summit in August to co-ordinate the threat.

Hundreds of battle-hardened fighters are expected to return to the region as IS loses ground in the Middle East.

Attorney-General George Brandis told a Senate committee earlier in May that the return of the fighters is “the issue which is of greatest concern to heads of government and homeland security ministers in the region when it comes to counter-terrorism”.

The Philippines, which has in the past downplayed the threat from IS, has confirmed that foreign fighters have played a key role in the siege of Marawi that has so far left more than 100 people dead and dozens wounded.

“What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the Islamic State to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq and Syria,” said Philippine Solicitor-General Jose Calida.

The militants flew black Islamic State flags during their rampage of the city.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week imposed martial law, giving security forces sweeping powers, while warning of the threat of “contamination” by IS in his island nation of 100 million people.

Dr Gunaratna said IS has provided groups in the southern Philippines with propaganda, some foreign fighters and some financial transfers but not huge amounts of money.

“They are moving very slowly but very steadily,” he said. “They are not in a hurry.”

Professor Abuza, who has written a book about militant Islam in the region, said that while media attention has been on kidnappings and beheadings by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, the bigger threat is to regional trade and commerce.

He pointed out that between March 2016 and April this year there were 19 separate sea attacks and hostage takings, resulting in the capture of 70 sailors and fishermen from six countries.

Professor Abuza said Abu Sayyaf is likely to continue to prioritise sea kidnappings, which involve low risk and high reward.

“Tug boats and fishing trawlers are very slow moving and undermanned. They are easy prey,” he said.

The August summit is likely to decide on greater law enforcement cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the region.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines signed an agreement nine months ago for joint patrols in the Sulu Sea, but they have not begun.

Professor Abuza said Mr Duterte’s martial law will not help the situation in the southern Philippines because the problem requires a political and not a military solution.

You assume that martial law will lead to better security. That is a very questionable assumption esp. given shortfalls in AFP & PNP. https://twitter.com/bbacani/status/868980987073503232 

“It is rare for an insurgency to be defeated militarily and the Philippine armed forces are in no position to do so,” he said.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/islamic-state-fears-grow-as-foreign-fighters-among-bodies-in-philippines-20170529-gwff75.html

Philippines — Op-Ed: De facto ‘military junta’

May 29, 2017

 (The Philippine Star) |

Giving way to a “military junta” is one of the most repeated lines in the many extemporaneous remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte. It is sort of a favorite harangue of President Duterte to his most rabid political foes who are – to him – plotting to wrest the power of the government by hook or by crook.

President Duterte would always joke about his stepping aside and giving way to a “military junta” if any of the Generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Philippine National Police (PNP) want to take over the reins of the government. The President justified his willingness to give way to a “military junta” if only to ensure there would be no violent government takeover and bloodbath.

“I would even be the one to administer the oaths of office of everybody in the military junta,” the President would repeatedly dare. The former Davao City Mayor would reiterate in the same vein it was destiny that the Filipino voters elected him to become the country’s President.

The President’s frequent allusions in the past to give way to a “military junta” was part of his usual rhetoric in the past amid threats to remove him from office through impeachment. However, the Chief Executive survived unscathed the first ever impeachment complaint filed by a former military rebel now Magdalo party list Rep. Gary Alejano. It was “killed” last May 15 by Duterte’s allies that comprised the “super majority” in the 17th Congress.

Now enjoying one-year immunity from impeachment suit, it seems the “military junta” joke is now upon President Duterte.

Invoking his powers under the country’s 1987 Constitution, President Duterte imposed martial law all over Mindanao. One month before he marks his first year into office at Malacañang Palace, President Duterte faces the Maute rebellion in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. President Duterte described the Maute as the most “formidable” armed foes now openly challenging his government.

This, after the Maute group laid siege in Marawi City last Monday, May 22, in retaliation to the military offensive against their brother extremist Isnilon Hapilon leader of the Abu Sayyaf terror bandits. The Maute group took over and burned down establishments, decapitated a policeman they chanced upon at a checkpoint, killed non-combatants and hold civilians as hostages while they laid mayhem around the capital city of Lanao Sur.

Showing their true colors, the Maute bandits flew the flags of the dreaded Muslim extremists group of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for decapitating their hostage victims. Both the Maute and Abu Sayyaf have claimed connection with the ISIS but which the AFP merely dismissed in the past.

But now, no less than their Commander-in-chief tells us the ISIS are already here in the Philippines. President Duterte submitted in his report to the 17th Congress that the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf groups have shown their “clear intention to establish an Islamic State” in Mindanao.

The presence of ISIS elements from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, at least six of these foreigners, were confirmed among those killed during the first four days of the martial law in Mindanao. The AFP has been doing “clearing operations” to flush out Maute bandits still holed up around Marawi City.

The Maute rebellion remains confined for now in Marawi City. Based on the 2015 census, 90 percent of a little more than 200,000 residents of Marawi City are Muslims. Yet, most of them are caught in the middle of IS-inspired Maute aggression while the Islamic world started observing their month-long holy Ramadhan period.

Now entering its second week, the AFP vows to complete their “clearing operations” at the soonest time to pave the lifting of the martial law before six months – the period under the President’s proclamation.

The Marawi siege erupted last Monday just a few hours after President Duterte and his official delegation flew to Moscow for his four-day state visit to Russia. The presidential entourage included 16 of 23 Cabinet officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, retired General and now Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and ex-AFP chief of staff and now National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Also part of the secondary presidential party in Moscow were AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año and PNP director-general Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

It was only a day after President Duterte flew from Davao City for Moscow that the Palace designated Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno and newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu as co-heads of the “caretaker” committee.

President Duterte reposed Cimatu and Diokno as Palace gatekeepers during his planned six-day foreign travel. However, as fate would have it, the Marawi siege prompted President Duterte to cut short his Moscow visit and stopover “private time” at the United Arab Emirates.

Cimatu, erstwhile AFP chief of staff, is the newest member of his Cabinet who was appointed only last May 8. President Duterte was likewise supposed to appoint Año to his Cabinet. Año is groomed to become Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) this June 2. But Año is scheduled to retire only in October this year.

In his arrival press conference in Manila last Wednesday, President Duterte announced he decided to keep Año as AFP chief of staff. The President disclosed Año, who flew back with him that day, might even be extended as AFP chief of staff to enable him to oversee the implementation of his martial law for the next six months.

The President reminded Año the constitutional precept of civilian supremacy over the military during martial law. Obviously still reeling from his 13-hour chartered flight from Moscow, the President told Año he would report directly to Cimatu as martial law administrator.

Perhaps at the back of the President’s mind was his Defense Secretary who is the immediate superior of the AFP chief of staff. But Lorenzana was left behind in Moscow to sign bilateral defense cooperation agreements with his Russian counterpart. Now back from Moscow, Lorenzana is the martial law administrator.

To his credit, the 72-year old President flew to nearby Iligan City as close as he can to the battle site last Friday. The President, along with Lorenzana, Año, Esperon, Cimatu, complete the de facto “military junta” now in charge of subjugating this Maute rebellion.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/05/29/1704545/de-facto-military-junta

Philippines: Older People Recall Marcos-Era Martial Law, But Generals Say Now We Are The “Armed Forces of the People” — So Have No Fear

May 27, 2017

EDITORIAL – Armed Forces of the People

It’s now the “Armed Forces of the People” and the nation has nothing to fear. The Armed Forces of the Philippines gave this assurance yesterday amid concerns raised over President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao after the Maute and Abu Sayyaf attacked Marawi City. It’s a different AFP, military officials said as they lamented that some people are “living in the past.”

It may be a different AFP, but in the light of the brutal war on drugs, the fears are not entirely baseless. The Philippine National Police is the one in charge of battling the drug menace, but it is waging the war on orders from the top. With President Duterte aiming to eliminate the terrorist threat in Mindanao “once and for all,” there is always a risk that the rights of law-abiding citizens could be blatantly violated in the name of national security.

So far there have been no such complaints. The government is doing the right thing in setting up a mechanism where civilians can report abuses by AFP members while martial law is in effect.

The declaration of martial law has its critics, as can be expected in a nation that has suffered under a military-backed dictatorship. But seeing the pillage of Marawi City, many people are ready to support efforts to neutralize armed enemies of the state who play by no international rules, who have repeatedly shown their brutality and disregard for human life.

For several years the Maute and Abu Sayyaf have kidnapped and decapitated hostages including many foreigners. The bandits have torched churches, schools and other soft targets, and generally contributed to poverty and underdevelopment in many parts of Mindanao. There is a real possibility that the threat, inspired by the terrorist Islamic State, could spread to the Visayas and Luzon including Metro Manila. AFP members are now risking their lives in battling this threat. In waging this war, the AFP must show that martial law can have legitimate uses.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/05/27/1704022/editorial-armed-forces-people

Philippines: A look into Duterte’s reasons for martial law in Mindanao

May 25, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from reporters as he arrives at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Duterte warned Wednesday that he’ll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country’s south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte cited rebellion as motive for declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao through Proclamation 216.

This was after state forces attempted on Tuesday to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. Gunmen, belonging to allied Maute group inspired by the so-called Islamic State, then entered the city at Hapilon’s beckoning.

The proclamation cited Article 7, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution granting the president the power to declare martial law in cases of “invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it” for a maximum of 60 days.

It also cited a provision under the Revised Penal Code setting the conditions for the crime of rebellion, as:

Committed by rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

Proclamation 216 further notes that the Maute militants started flying the flag of the Islamic State in several areas, “thereby openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao.”

Experts, however, aired concerns on the government’s rationale for what is perceived to be an extreme policy.

Security questions

The ISIS factor

Flying the black flag linked to ISIS is characteristic of extremist organizations around the world that have pledged allegiance to the terror group. It does not, however, indicate that ISIS channels resources to the local militants.

Upon arriving from Russia on Wednesday, Duterte also announced that he is considering military rule throughout the country, declaring that the Islamic State is here and may gain footholds in Luzon and Visayas.

While the spread of Islamic extremists in Southeast Asia is a major security concern due to ISIS propaganda, Duterte’s remarks contradict the military’s stance that the ISIS has no known presence in the Philippines

“When we call them ISIS, we are making them famous. We don’t have ISIS in the Philippines,” military spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said on Wednesday.

Maute as a force

For Zachary Abuza, expert on Southeast Asian security and a professor at the National War College in Washington, the Maute is not a terrible force for the military to reckon with despite belonging to a terrorist network in the region.

“Maute group is a small group. It is manageable. They feed off of or recruit from disaffected (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) combatants,” Abuza told Philstar.com.

“Though they have pledged their allegiance to IS, there is no evidence to date that IS has given them any resources. This is a manageable threat, but it has been repeatedly mismanaged,” he added.

He pointed out that Marawi is a heartland of the MILF rebel group that has became a government partner in a concluded peace process. Implementation of the agreement is yet to be seen, with Duterte vowing to include it in his ambitious plan to shift the country to a federal system.

Duterte, meanwhile, has reached out in friendship to Moro National Liberation Front  founding chairman Nur Misuari, who has in the past rejected the peace agreement with the MILF. He has said that the new agreement sets aside a 1996 final peace agreement with his group. Other factions of the MNLF have agreed to work with the MILF on a common roadmap for peace.

“You can’t have multiple peace processes for the same plot of land. The [agreements] were inclusive, there were ample opportunities for Misuari to engage… As long as the MILF have no hope at a peace process, they have no incentive to act as responsible stakeholders and police their territory,” Abuza said.

“The Maute group has targeted Davao, Manila, launched brazen jail breaks. Without MILF giving the government security cooperation, the Maute group has ample sanctuary,” he added.

As a 60-day recourse

Doubts have also been raised on whether state actors can suppress Maute or the ISIS threat within the 60 days of martial law.

Government troops patrol the outskirts of Marawi city three days after Muslim militants lay siege in the city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017. The exodus of thousands of residents has continued amid continuing gunbattle between Government forces and Muslim militants occupying several buildings and houses in the city where they hoisted IS style black flags. AP/Bullit Marquez

“I doubt if the 60-day martial law in Mindanao is enough time to fix the problem of extremism,” Julkipli Wadi, professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies, said on Wednesday.

The Maute group, whose members evolved from petty criminals to militants, has been blamed for several attacks in Lanao del Sur and Davao City and is suspected to be behind an explosive device found near the United States Embassy in Manila in November last year.

But Duterte has weighed the idea of martial law since August of last year, and has mentioned it publicly at least 35 times in his presidency. Reasons he cited included illegal drugs, crime and terrorism.

Legal questions

‘Rebellion’

For a framer of the current constitution, terrorism, or even lawless violence, does not qualify as “rebellion,” which is among the two conditions for the declaration of martial law, along with invasion.

Constitutional expert Christian Monsod said that terrorism, unlike rebellion, is a crime without “political purpose of taking out a part of the Philippines or a part of the armed forces from the jurisdiction of the Philippines.”

An essential element of rebellion, according to penal law, is a public uprising or taking up of arms against the government. The action is to overthrow or supersede the government or deprive the president or Congress of exercising their powers.

Proclamation 216, however, calls the Maute both a “terror group” and among “rebel groups” that “sow terror, cause death and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao.”

Monsod said Duterte’s proclamation seems similar to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s call in 2009 after a massacre in Maguindanao. Martial law was used to quell what was claimed to be rebellion in the murder of political opponents and journalists.

“If you look at the facts that she (Arroyo) was enumerating, it was as if there really was a rebellion. But, as it turned out, it was not a real rebellion that calls for martial law,” he told Philstar.com.

“It’s so very easy to make the facts (to point to rebellion), like Arroyo did,” the lawyer said.

Scope

President Duterte could also opt to isolate the state of martial law instead of expanding it to cover all other areas in Mindanao, and, potentially, throughout the country.

“You can sow terror [when you have] a terrorist attack in Ilocos or if there is a terrorist attack in Leyte, and so on, does that mean that you will declare the entire country in a state of martial law?” Monsod said.

This May 23, 2017, handout photo provided by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signs Proclamation No. 216, declaring Martial Law and suspending the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the whole of Mindanao during his visit to the Russia Federation. PCO via AP

Presidential powers under martial law, especially when coupled with a grant to authorities to arrest those suspected of rebellion without court warrant, are encompassing, arbitrary and—for the most part in recent history—unexplored. This was because martial law was crafted in the 1987 Constitution that upholds democratic checks and balances as a measure of ‘last resort,'” Monsod said.

Ateneo de Manila University law professor Tony La Viña, for his part, is giving the president the benefit of the doubt in declaring military rule, but identifies dissonance in the government’s take on the situation.

“I would want to know though why this was resorted to even after the military repeatedly assured the public that things were under control. I also would like to know why the whole of Mindanao was included given the limited area affected by the Maute rebellion,” he said in a television interview.

If the majority of Congress, voting jointly, decides not to revoke martial law in Mindanao, it is up to the Supreme Court, if asked to by a petitioner, to assess the facts behind its declaration.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/25/1703505/rodrigo-duterte-reasons-martial-law-mindanao

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Lorenzana said the confrontation opened Tuesday afternoon, when government forces attempted to arrest a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by “more or less 100 fighters” — many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

More than 100 gunmen responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics, officials said, adding that thousands of residents have fled Marawi.

 (with links to related reports)

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Philippines denies gov’t orchestrated Marawi terror attack — “How Better To Silence Duterte’s Critics?” — “This is all ‘cover’ so Duterte can invoke martial law… Police and army are corrupt.”

May 25, 2017

Our sources tell Peace and Freedom that the Islamic State inspired action in Marawi, the Philippines, was “manufactured in Manila to allow Duterte to impose martial law.” .

Our sources gave us several pieces of evidence supporing their claim. One informant said, “We noticed soldiers not wearing combat boots but slippers instead.”

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Philippine Inquirer

/ 06:33 PM May 25, 2017
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The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday quelled speculation that the terror attack in Marawi City was orchestrated by the government to justify President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial rule in Mindanao.

“What would we get from (doing that)?” Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesperson, said in a news conference at Camp Crame.

He said those accusing the Duterte administration of plotting the attack should back their claim with evidence.

“Huwag tayo mag-isip ng masama,” he said. “Mag-isip tayo kung paano maayos ‘yung bansa.“

(“Let’s not be negative in our thinking. Let’s think kof how we can put the country in order.”)

“If we keep on dividing the people by speculation, they should come out and show proof,” he added.

Carlos also stressed that PNP and military personnel on the ground had been doing their best to protect the people of the terror-stricken Marawi and restore normalcy in the city.

“Mas mapapabilis kapag tayo ay nagtulong-tulong na alisin ang Maute at Abu Sayyaf groups,” he said.

(“Things will work out faster if we can help each other eject the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.”)

Since being elected president in July, Duterte has mentioned several times in his public speeches about the possibility of his declaring martial law in the country.

On May 23, he placed all of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities under martial law following the armed clashes between government forces and Maute bandits, who had pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State.

Under the Constitution, martial law would only be in effect for 60 days. But Duterte said he might consider extending it for a year and expanding its coverage to the Visayas, and even Luzon, if the terrorists should reach those areas. /atm

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Lorenzana said the confrontation opened Tuesday afternoon, when government forces attempted to arrest a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by “more or less 100 fighters” — many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

More than 100 gunmen responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics, officials said, adding that thousands of residents have fled Marawi.

 (with links to related reports)

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President Duterte Once called The Philippine Police “Corrupt To The Core” — When will it get better? — Maybe When China Takes Over

May 23, 2017

By 
Philippine Inquirer

police

The streets of Manila are stressful to drive in on a daily basis. The heavy traffic is enough to make anyone groan, and bad drivers can get pretty ruthless. While there needs to be better law implementation and effective enforcement from the police, we don’t see any progress at all.

Recent incidents also heightened calls for safer and organized streets, especially when police officers are either confused or ignorant of the law. As concerned citizens, we want to bring up a few points on what can be improved when it comes to driving.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. © NOEL CELIS / POOL / AFP

When the Anti-Distracted Driving Law was put into motion, I thought it was about time that drivers were told to not use their phones. But mere days after its implementation, both police and drivers are dumbfounded by the law’s grounds. There were stories that ride-sharing vehicles were being stopped because they were looking at Waze from their dashboards. This is despite the fact that it’s allowed as long as it doesn’t obstruct your view.

Not only that, even rosaries and other religious icons were being banned under the law. Of course, this garnered a reaction from the church, saying that the LTFRB “is absolutely missing the point.” And they’re not wrong.

This prompted senators to call for the law’s suspension until it’s fixed and made less complicated. “We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps,” said Sen. JV Ejercito. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly place, it is okay.”

However, that’s not the only issue that citizens face with the police. Coleen Garcia recently recounted how an ex-cop harassed her driver and scratched her face. What made the ordeal worse was that police officers were merely watching and not helping the actress. “I’m still disappointed by the way the marshals handled (or failed to handle) the situation, but the police officers at the station were very helpful with everything,” she wrote on her Facebook account.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcoleengarcia.x%2Fposts%2F1392395414162218&width=500

She also emphasized how ex-cops in the Philippines “can get away with anything he wants” regardless if they throw threats or pull out a gun.

This is just a few instances wherein the police force somehow doesn’t do their job right to ensure our safety. This should open our eyes to the reality that there still needs work to be done with these matters, be it traffic regulation or abuse of power.

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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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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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)

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“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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