Posts Tagged ‘Social Weather Stations’

Philippines: The State of the Nation — Police Killings With Impunity

October 15, 2017

Image result for Eduardo Serino Sr., photos, zamboanga

The last time Eduardo Serino Sr. was seen alive was with these policemen accosting him

EDITORIAL
The Philippine Inquirer

The case of farmer Eduardo Serino Sr., last seen alive being held by policemen on Sept. 30 and brought dead two hours later to a hospital, deserves the full attention of the government and the public at large. It is a classic reflection of the plight of poor folk, those without influence and therefore without power, prey to a cop’s sly grin.

In an ideal world, there’s a basic premise in being taken in by policemen: You are safely in their custody while due process runs its course.

But that is not what happened in Serino’s case. According to a report by the Inquirer’s Julie Alipala, from the account of Rosherl Lumpapac, the employer of Serino’s wife, the farmer from Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte, had traveled to Zamboanga City to bring money to pay for his young son’s hospital bill.

He was probably on his way to the bus terminal and back to Sibuco when he lost his way and wound up walking on RT Lim Boulevard. It was there that cops stopped him and demanded that he open his backpack. He refused.

What happened next is obvious from a photograph that went viral online: Serino is sitting on the sidewalk with his hands behind his back, likely cuffed. His forehead is bloodied; he is wincing. He is being held down by a policeman with a stick. Three other cops are standing around him.

In a post (since deleted) on the Facebook page of the Zamboanga City police office, Senior Insp. Edwin Duco said Serino had resisted the cops and managed to get free of the handcuffs.

The photo, the last image of the farmer alive, was posted by Lumpapac, who described the Serinos as “kindhearted, hardworking and very respectful people.” She added: “I felt bad about the way cops treated manong (Serino). This man has never been violent.”

From the police station on Old Mercado Street, Serino’s bruised corpse was brought by cops to the Zamboanga City Medical Center. Duco claimed that the bruises were caused, not by policemen beating Serino, but by Serino “hurting himself” in the police station. This is why Serino died, Duco claimed.

But he refused to show reporters the police blotter report, citing “guidelines from Camp Crame.” He also would not release the medical report, citing the alleged refusal of hospital authorities.

The Commission on Human Rights is now looking into the case.

At the other end of the country last Oct. 10, a scene of power and influence played out with the arrival at Naia Terminal 1 of Ralph Trangia, a suspect in the hazing death of law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Trangia and his mother, who flew to Chicago in the United States through Taiwan two days after news of the hazing death broke, were well covered by at least three lawyers and one police officer, Chief Insp. Rommel Anicete, said to be a family friend.

For good measure, agents of the Manila Police District and the National Bureau of Investigation were on hand to provide security for the suspect and his mother if needed, reporters were told.

One of the lawyers present denied what had been on almost everyone’s mind: that the Trangias were on the lam; he presented as proof the fact that mother and son had bought return tickets.

A photograph of the future lawyer showed a healthy, bespectacled young man with his whole life ahead of him — not far removed, the attentive observer would note, from the other young man, Atio Castillo, before his life was snuffed out in a night of unspeakable violence.

There is no warrant for Trangia’s arrest, “so he will be treated as an ordinary citizen,” Bureau of Immigration-Naia chief Marc Mariñas told reporters.

As though to complete the arrival scene, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre issued a statement welcoming Trangia’s return and hoping that it is “covered in good intentions to clear his name and to tell the truth.”

“I encourage Mr. Trangia and his family to fully cooperate, to tell the truth and, as a future lawyer, to work for justice,” Aguirre said, adding that “depending on what he will tell our investigators, he could be a potential witness” under the  government’s witness protection program.

Not entirely apropos of nothing, the attentive observer musing on the state of the nation will recall that 6 out of 10 Filipinos surveyed by the Social Weather Stations believed that drug suspects who had surrendered were still killed by raiding cops, and that, per the reckoning of the police force, there was only one extrajudicial killing in the administration’s war on drugs. (Later it said there was none.)

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/107911/state-of-the-nation-2#ixzz4vaF5jOmW
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Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary: All suspects killed in police ops were drug dealers — ‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’ — Philippine Government seen as “not trustworthy” in Al Jazeera interview

October 7, 2017
 
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers. Screen grab from Al Jazeera’s YouTube video

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers, contradicting the Philippine National Police itself and several surveys.

Police data show 3,850 have “died in police operations,” suggesting these are drug suspects who engaged arresting officers in shootouts.

READ: PNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths, no extrajudicial killings

To be sure, the PNP uses the term “suspects” when referring to the fatalities. Under the Philippine law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But when asked by British journalist Mehdi Hasan during a recent Al Jazeera interview if “every single one” of the 3,850 casualties in the drug war was a “criminal drug dealer,” Cayetano said: “Yes.”

Quizzed by Hasan about his basis for his claim considering Manila’s supposedly “not democratic way” of solving crime, Cayetano evaded the question and instead defended the police.

“You’re absolutely saying it as if you’re not on the ground,” Cayetano told Hasan, who, in turn, stressed that under normal procedures, drug suspects must be charged and tried first.

In response, Cayetano said: “So you mean in the US or in any country your show is shown, if someone pulls a gun on the police they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can.”

Duterte, who easily won the race to Malacañang last year on a brutal law-and-order platform, has stoked international alarm for activating his fierce anti-drug campaign.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities are extrajudicial killings committed by cops and unknown assailants—a claim that the government has vehemently denied by insisting that police are only killing in self-defense while gangsters are silencing potential witnesses.

But according to a latest Social Weather Stations poll, more than half of Filipinos believe that many of the victims killed by police in the government’s anti-drug campaign did not really put up armed resistance, contrary to the claims of authorities.

A separate SWS poll, meanwhile, revealed that seven out of 10 Filipinos are anxious that they, or anyone they know, might become victims of extrajudicial killings.

READ: SWS: Vast majority of Filipinos think drug suspects should be captured alive | SWS: Majority of Filipinos think ‘nanlaban’ victims didn’t really fight back

In the same interview with Al Jazeera, Cayetano maintained that there are no cases of summary executions in the country.

He also hit the supposed spread of wrong facts in the international community by human rights groups “associated” with the opposition and the Church.

“The point is Filipinos will not support human rights violations. We’re very spiritual people. Whether Muslim or Christian—Filipinos believe in the dignity of life,” he said.

Filipinos have mostly backed Duterte’s drug war even as critics condemned the alleged extrajudicial killings by cops. But the recent deaths of three teenagers in the country’s capital have triggered rare street protests and highlighted concerns about alleged police abuse.

READ: Child killings spark calls for UN probe — Human Rights Watch

‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’

Duterte early this year halted the drug operations nationwide, cussing the PNP as “corrupt to the core.”

He said 60 percent of the 160,000-force was rotten, needing retraining or booting out. A month-long lull followed, but the crackdown was later resumed.

READ: Bato suspends drug war for ‘internal cleansing’ of PNP | Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Asked if the PNP can be trusted in carrying out the drug war considering the president’s previous diatribes against cops, Cayetano, in the same interview with Hasan, said Duterte was just using his colorful language.

“Last time I checked, hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed,” Cayetano told Hasan.

“We’re not saying we should trust them, we said we should follow the law which is presumption of regularity but investigate,” he added.

“The point is he’s (Duterte) trying to clean up the police and he admits that there is a problem.”

Asked by Hasan if all drug-related deaths are being investigated, Cayetano replied that “every single one” is under probe.

“Most independent observers have said they there have not been investigations of all those killings,” Hasan retorted.

“Independent investigators have seen the progress. It is the ideological and biased human rights groups,” Cayetano countered Hasan.

According to an updated police data, there are 2,290 “deaths under investigation,” which have already been determined to be “drug-related.”

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/10/07/1746438/all-suspects-killed-police-ops-were-drug-dealers-says-cayetano

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Most Filipinos Believe Drug War Kills Poor People Only, Survey Shows

October 2, 2017

MANILA — Most Filipinos believe only the poor are killed in their country’s war on drugs, and want President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal the identity of alleged narcotics kingpins and charge them in court, a survey released on Monday showed.

The survey of 1,200 Filipinos by Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted late in June also showed public opinion was split over the validity of police accounts of operations against illegal drugs that resulted in deaths.

More than 3,800 people have been killed during Duterte’s 15-month-old crackdown, all during police operations.

Human rights group say the death toll is much higher and the official figures overlook murders attributed to shadowy vigilantes. Some activists say unknown gunmen have collaborated with police to kill drug dealers and users.

Police and the government vehemently reject those allegations and accuse critics of exaggerating the death toll for political gain.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

The high death toll in Duterte’s fight against crime and drugs, a key election plank, has stoked international alarm, although domestic polls have shown Filipinos are largely supportive of the tough measures.

The crackdown has come under heavy scrutiny of late, prompted largely by the police killing of a 17-year-old student on August 16. Two witnesses on Monday told a senate inquiry they saw police officers kill another teenager arrested earlier in the same area for robbery.

In both teen killings, however, police said the victims had violently resisted arrest. A third teenager arrested with the second victim was found dead with 30 stab wounds in a province about a three-hour drive away from the capital.

Duterte has several times brandished what he called a file on 6,000 alleged druglords at the center of the country’s trade. In the SWS survey, 74 percent of respondents said they wanted him to make that list public.

The survey also showed 60 percent agreed with the statement that only poor drug pushers were killed.

Duterte, who enjoys huge support among working class Filipinos, has been angered by critics who characterized his campaign as a war against the poor.

The survey also showed nearly half of respondents were undecided whether police were telling the truth when saying that drugs war deaths happened only when suspects refused to go quietly.

Twenty-eight percent said the police were lying but a quarter believed they were being honest.

The Philippines, extremely sensitive about foreign criticism of its drugs war, last week accused the West of bias, hypocrisy and interference after 39 nations, most of them European, expressed concern about the drug-related killings.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez)

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Thirty-nine countries alarmed by rising “climate of impunity” in the Philippines as numbers of drug-related killings rise

September 30, 2017
Thirty-nine countries, including the United States, have expressed alarm over what they described as a rising “climate of impunity” in the Philippines as drug-related killings continue to increase. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines — Thirty-nine countries, including the United States, have expressed alarm over what they described as a rising “climate of impunity” in the Philippines as drug-related killings continue to increase.

In a joint statement delivered by Iceland through representative Högni Kristjánsson on Thursday, the countries noted that the human rights situation in the Philippines continues to be of serious concern, particularly in the light of killings associated with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

The states called on the Philippines “to cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations into these incidents, in keeping with the universal principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law.”

They also expressed concern over threats against human rights defenders and urged the government to ensure they are accorded full protection.

They also called for a safe environment for journalists and indigenous communities.

The joint statement came as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines was adopted at the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week.

Thousands of drug-related killings have been recorded by non-government organizations since the Duterte administration took over in July last year.

According to the Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center, some 54 minors have been killed in connection with the administration’s war on drugs during the same period.

The Senate is currently conducting an inquiry into the recent surge of police killings, including those of minors.

Aside from the US, the countries that signed the joint statement were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

The Philippines did not fully accept more than half of the recommendations it received during the 36th session of its UPR at the UNHRC.

R. Iniyan Ilango of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said the Philippine government’s failure to fully accept and implement nearly 60 percent of the recommendations it received during its UPR is “deeply concerning,” especially given that these include most of the recommendations by over 40 states on its so-called “war on drugs.”

“A growing chorus of voices is speaking out at the United Nations’ top human rights body to condemn the thousands of killings in the Philippines perpetrated in the name of President Duterte’s so-called war on drugs,” John Fisher, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, said.

“The Philippines has so far shown itself unwilling to heed the calls to end this murderous campaign and hold those responsible to account. The Human Rights Council should step in and do all that it can to end the violence, support an international investigation into the deaths and demand accountability for all unlawful killings,” he added.

More than 3,800 Filipinos have been killed by police in anti-drug operations since President Duterte came to office 15 months ago and launched what he promised would be a brutal and bloody crackdown on drugs and crime.

Human rights groups say the figure is significantly higher and accuse police of carrying out executions disguised as sting operations, and of colluding with hit men to assassinate drug users.

Opinion polls show Filipinos are largely supportive of the war on drugs as an antidote to crime the government says is fueled by narcotics.

The latest survey by Social Weather Stations, however, suggests that Filipinos are not convinced of the validity of official police accounts of the killings, with about half of 1,200 people polled doubtful that victims were involved in drugs, or had violently resisted arrest as police maintain. – Rhodina Villanueva

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/09/30/1744077/philippines-drug-war-alarms-39-countries-un

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Philippines: Lawmaker Says Philippine National Police Must Legally Deal With Drug Problem Or Lose Public Support — Disgraceful practice of offering cash payments to police officers for killing drug suspects discussed

April 19, 2017

The body of drug suspect Jayson Reuyan lies on BAC-11 Street near the Parañaque River in Pasay City after he was killed in a police buy-bust operation on Jan. 13. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The body of drug suspect Jayson Reuyan lies on BAC-11 Street near the Parañaque River in Pasay City after he was killed in a police buy-bust operation on Jan. 13. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said the authorities should change tactics in dealing with the narcotics problem as President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs began to lose public

“I think the tactics employed are starting to reach saturation point as far as the public is concerned. While the overall strategy is still effective, I think it’s time the (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) and the Philippine National Police [made] some adjustments to their tactical offensive,” Lacson said in a statement.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that public satisfaction with Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs fell to +66 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from +77 percent in December last year.

Fear of being killed

A majority of the respondents said they were worried that they or someone they knew would be victims of extrajudicial killings.

Lacson said people had grown tired of reports about the summary executions of drug suspects.

For a change, police can start by solving vigilante killings in the war on drugs and arresting those responsible.

“The police must therefore show solutions of these DUIs (deaths under investigation) and arrests must be made in considerable degree,” he said.

The PNP, however, said it saw no need to rethink its approach to the campaign against illegal drugs.

Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said the drop in public support for the war on drugs in the SWS poll was a “challenge” for the police, but insisted there were no state-sponsored extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

“What is there to rethink? The deaths constitute 0.2 percent of the [people] involved in drugs that we’ve encountered. The 95 percent, or 1.18 million, surrendered peacefully while the rest were arrested alive,” he said.

“We don’t want them ending up dead [but] we give priority to protecting the public and also to [protecting] the lives of our policemen,” he added.

They resisted arrest

The PNP insisted that drug suspects who were killed in police operations had resisted arrest, endangering the lives of law enforcers.

PNP records show that as of April 18, 2,710 drug suspects were killed in police antinarcotics operations.

Carlos said he agreed with Lacson that police should arrest those behind the killings, but disagreed that the killings were extrajudicial.

He said that under former President Benigno Aquino III’s Administrative Order 35, extrajudicial killings refer only to the killings of journalists, activists and human rights defenders.

“This has to be explained, because if we keep on using the term [extrajudicial killing], then all murders and homicides that we’ve monitored would appear [to be extrajudicial killings],” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the increasing body count had led to the drop in public approval of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs.

‘National nightmare’

She said the campaign had turned into a “national nightmare” and it would continue to lose public support as long as it continued to “create a climate of fear and impunity.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva said the Duterte administration would “not get a passing grade” until it solved the vigilante killings.

There have been more than 3,700 alleged vigilante killings—the PNP calls them deaths under investigation—in the war on drugs as of March 24.

A new Reuters report on the killings quoted two senior police officers as saying police had carried out most of the killings and they had received cash payments for executing drug suspects and planted evidence at crime scenes.

According to the report, the cash rewards for drug killings range from P20,000 for a “street level pusher and user,” to P50,000 for a member of a barangay council, P1 million for “distributors, retailers and wholesalers,” and P5 million for “drug lords.”

Carlos denied the report, saying the PNP did not have enough money to offer cash payments to officers for killing drug suspects.

Nevertheless, the PNP is investigating the “serious” allegations in the report, he said.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/890457/lacson-dares-pnp-solve-drug-killings

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/890457/lacson-dares-pnp-solve-drug-killings#ixzz4eiVECYVb
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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….. Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.

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

December 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account,” Djamin said in a statement.

 

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Duterte wants 6 executions daily

Philippines: Catholic Church divided, subdued over drug killings amid public support for Duterte’s war — Anyone who criticises Mr Duterte’s campaign could end up dead

October 10, 2016

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Philippines was going through a “moral crisis”

Filipino Catholic devotees attend a regular mass at a National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, metro Manila, Philippines.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) – Catholic priests from the Philippines Church, an institution that helped oust two of the country’s leaders in the past, say they are afraid and unsure how to speak out against the war on drugs unleashed by new President Rodrigo Duterte.

In interviews with Reuters, more than a dozen clergymen in Asia’s biggest Catholic nation said they were uncertain how to take a stand against the thousands of killings in a war that has such overwhelming popular support. Challenging the president’s campaign could be fraught with danger, some said.

Mr Duterte, who had a 76 per cent satisfaction rating in a survey released last week, has quashed opposition to his war on drugs and blasted critics in curse-laden language. More than 3,600 people, mostly small-time drug users and dealers, have died at the hands of police and suspected vigilantes since he took power on June 30.

In another poll conducted by the same agency, the Social Weather Stations, 84 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the war on the drugs, although a majority said they had qualms about the killings.

Opposing the drug war “in some locations becomes a dangerous job”, said Father Luciano Felloni, a priest in a northern district of the capital, Manila. At least 30 people, including a child and a pregnant woman, have been killed in his ‘barangay’, or neighbourhood, where he is setting up community-based rehabilitation for drug users.

“There is a lot of fear because the way people have been killed is vigilante-style so anyone could become a target… There is no way of protecting yourself.”

Another priest, who like several others asked for anonymity because of possible reprisals, said it was risky to question the killings openly. Dozens of drug addicts and pushers are being killed every day, but anyone who criticises Mr Duterte’s campaign could suffer a similar fate, he said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Church was free to make statements, and there was no cause “to even imply” that anyone in the clergy would be targeted.

However, Mr Abella added: “The Church needs to consider that recent surveys show the people trust and appreciate the president’s efforts and it would do well to take heed and not presume that the people share their belief system.”

“We expect them to be reasonable and considered.”

Mr Duterte said on Monday (Oct 10) he would not stop the campaign. “I’m really appalled by so many groups and individuals, including priests and bishops, complaining about the number of persons killed in the operation against drugs,” he said in a speech in the southern city of Zamboanga. “If I stop, the next generation would be lost.”

Some priests have supported Mr Duterte’s war on drugs. “Are the means unnecessarily illegitimate?” said Father Joel Tabora, a Jesuit priest in Davao, where Mr Duterte was mayor for 22 years, and where about 1,400 people were killed from 1998 until the end of last year in a similar anti-crime and anti-drug campaign, according to activists.

“People are dying, yes, but on the other hand, millions of people are being helped,” said Father Tabora.

Three decades ago, the Church in the Philippines championed a ‘People Power’ revolution that reverberated around the world and ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It also participated in a popular movement in 2001 that led to the impeachment and removal of another president, Joseph Estrada.

For the Vatican, the Philippines is a key eastern hub: it has the third-largest population of Catholics globally and accounts for more than half of Asia’s roughly 148 million Catholics.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 100 million people in the Philippines are Catholic and, unlike in many other countries where the faith was once strong, the vast majority still practice with enthusiasm.

Mr Duterte, who is not a regular church-goer himself and says he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy, has publicly questioned the Church’s relevance and he dubbed May’s presidential election a referendum between him and the Church.

His victory by a substantial margin indicates that despite its appeal, the political clout of the Church is waning, some priests say. Indeed, many churchgoers who spoke to Reuters said they supported the war on drugs.

At the San Felipe Neri Parish Church in Manila on a recent Sunday, Father Francis Lucas said in a sermon that the Philippines was going through a “moral crisis”.

“Why are all of these killings happening?” he asked, pacing in front of hundreds of people packed into wooden pews. “You have to love and care for one another.”

Father Lucas is one of the few priests to oppose the killings in his sermons. But he later told Reuters it was unfair to expect the Church to influence the course of the war on drugs because it no longer had the secular power it once enjoyed.

“How come everybody wants the Church to act when others don’t?” Father Lucas said. “Yes, we have influence but times have also changed.”

In the car park outside the church, where people had spilled out and were listening on loudspeakers, his sermon did not go down well.

“The Church has to back off,” said Ms Jenny Calma, a 34-year-old mother of two.

“We voted for our president because he promised to stop drugs,” Ms Calma said as her children played between parked cars. “The Church will lose” if it takes on Mr Duterte over the killings, she added. “The feeling, the atmosphere in the community – sometimes the Church understands, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Nevertheless, some in the clergy are providing shelter to individuals trying to flee the campaign. “There are cases where asylum is being sought and given, which are not brought to the attention of media… especially during these times when life is cheap and summary execution is a way of living, and extra-judicial killing is a matter of course,” retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz told Reuters.

He was also head of the country’s apex Catholic body, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Mr Cruz said details of the priests involved, their locations and who they were protecting were restricted because of the dangers involved.

Reuters spoke with one priest who temporarily hid someone fearing for his life, but the priest declined to be named because of concerns about his safety. He said that if any details were revealed, he would become a target.

At the Vatican, a senior official said the Holy See’s Secretariat of State was following the situation in the Philippines closely but, as with all countries, would leave it to the national bishops’ conference to make its position on internal matters known to governments.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the issue, however called the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines worrying.

After Mr Duterte took power, the first official comment from the Philippines’ conference of bishops came in mid-September. By then the president had been in office for two-and-a-half months and almost 3,000 people had died.

In that message, the CBCP said “deaths because of police encounters, deaths from extra-judicial killings” were cause for mourning and that drug addicts needed healing. But it also echoed the president’s language, noting that the drug users “may have behaved as scum and rubbish”.

Mr Cruz said the Church was being “prudent” because so many people supported the summary execution of drug dealers. “The CBCP also has to be very careful because it might unnecessarily offend a good number of people with goodwill, who are Catholics themselves,” he said.

Under long-serving Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Philippines Church helped topple Presidents Marcos and Estrada and campaigned against the death penalty, which was suspended in 2006.

Sin, who retired in 2003 and died two years later, saw the Church’s role as socio-political. However, before he retired, he initiated the division of the Archdiocese of Manila into multiple dioceses all run independently under different bishops.

Now, priests say, the Church’s leadership is more fragmented and, because of that, carries less clout. Since the division, the Church has lost critical political battles, most notably failing to block a reproductive health bill promoting artificial contraception in 2012.

Philippine President Duterte gets a net satisfaction rating of 64 percent in polling — Only Only 11 percent of Filipinos polled were dissatisfied with his performance — Defense minister says Duterte may be ‘misinformed’ on U.S. alliance

October 6, 2016

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Philippine defense chief says Duterte may be ‘misinformed’ on U.S. alliance

Wed Oct 5, 2016 | 8:23am EDT
Reuters

The Philippine defense minister sought to patch up cracks in a military alliance with the United States on Wednesday, saying President Rodrigo Duterte, who has appeared intent on scrapping joint programs, might be misinformed about their value.

Referring to recent strongly worded comments by Duterte, in which he has declared that the Philippines military gained little from U.S. security ties, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the armed forces were still weak and the country got a lot out of the U.S. relationship.

“That’s why I said the president was misinformed, because I think the information he is getting is incomplete,” Lorenzana told reporters, a day after the launch of the latest round of PHIBLEX military exercises involving troops from both sides.

“Maybe, the defense ministry and the armed forces were remiss in providing him the correct information. This, we will address in the coming days.”

The United States has been on the receiving end of a torrent of hostility from Duterte, who was angered by U.S. expressions of concern over his war on drugs.

On Tuesday, Duterte said U.S. President Barack Obama should “go to hell” and that in his time, he might “break up” with Washington, with which Manila has had a security treaty since 1951.

Last week, he also caused a stir when he said the PHIBLEX exercises would be “the last one” and on Sunday said a U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement would be reviewed.

That deal includes setting up storage facilities for maritime security, humanitarian and disaster response operations and grants U.S. troops some access to Philippine bases.

Lorenzana said the ongoing exercises gave Philippine troops exposure to new guns, technology and body armor and training in warfare tactics, marksmanship and quick responses to natural disasters.

“According to him, only the American troops are benefiting from those exercises,” he said, referring to his president.

“But based on what we gathered from the GHQ (general headquarters) and army, there are (benefits).”

U.S. officials have played down Duterte’s remarks, focusing instead on the decades-long alliance which they have sought to bolster in recent years in response to China’s moves to enforce its claims over the South China Sea.

The White House said on Tuesday the United States had not received any formal communications from Duterte’s government about changing the relationship.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Philippine vice-president resigns from Cabinet amid corruption investigations

June 22, 2015

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Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is running for president next year, has resigned from the cabinet in a break with President Benigno Aquino as he is investigated for corruption.

Mr Binay is being probed by the Ombudsman’s office for alleged corrupt practices while serving as mayor of the financial district of Makati in the capital Manila.

He was mayor for two decades and his approval and trust ratings remain the highest among the country’s top-five national officials, beating Mr Aquino, according to a survey by independent pollster Pulse Asia released on Monday.

But his ranking in surveys for possible candidates in the 2016 presidential election fell to second place for the first time this month, according to Pulse Asia and another pollster, Social Weather Stations.

“This is voluntary and there is nothing that can change his mind,” Ms Mar-Len Abigail Binay, Mr Binay’s daughter and a member of the House of Representatives, said in a radio interview, adding her father was “very tired” of not being able to fight the accusations.

Allies of Aquino in the Senate have been steering months-long probes into allegations of kickbacks, ill-gotten wealth, bid rigging and money laundering against Binay, his son who is the current Makati City mayor, and his business associates. (Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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 Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ NINO JESUS ORBETABinay “irrevocably resigned” on Monday as the chief of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs, according to Binay’s spokesperson Joey Salgado.

Salgado said that Binay’s resignation from the Cabinet is “effective immediately.”

Binay’s daughter, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, personally delivered the letter addressed to President Benigno Aquino III and gave it to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Monday afternoon.

“She was accompanied by Undersecretary Benjamin Martinez Jr., chief of staff of the Vice President. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa received the letter around 3:55 p.m. at the Office of the Executive Secretary,” Salgado said.

Positive political development

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV welcomed the resignation of Vice President Jejomar Binay from the Cabinet of President Benigno Aquino III.

In a statement, Trillanes said that Binay’s resignation is “a very positive political development.”

He also said that quitting the Cabinet will mean that there will be no inconsistency in the Aquino administration’s anti-graft crusade.

“Finally! This is a very positive political development. Now, there is no more inconsistency in the ‘tuwid na daan’ slogan of the PNoy administration,” the senator said.

Trillanes is one of the accusers of the Vice President, having participated in the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearings and leveled various accusations that Binay has participated in anomalous transactions.

The senator said that the Aquino administration “can now go all out against VP Binay.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay thanked the Filipino people for their continued support to their family despite his father’s decision to quit the Aquino Cabinet.

“Makakaasa po kayo na bibigyang halaga at iingatan ng Vice President ang pagtitiwalang ito at susuklian ng tuloy-tuloy na pagsisilbi sa taong bayan,” the younger Binay said.

‘Evil’ administration

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said Binay has gotten what he needed from the administration and is now free to criticize the same Cabinet he had served for five years, especially because he is sure President Aquino will not endorse him as his successor in 2016.

“I am sure he has already got what he wanted from the Aquino administration and he is now sure that he will not be endorsed by President Aquino. He will now use the administration as his punching bag and hit it to his heart’s content hoping that that this might divert the corruption issue being lodged at him,” Erice said.

The Liberal Party lawmaker said Binay is also free to gather all the opponents of President Aquino – from the allies of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was deposed from power and succeeded by Aquino’s mother Corazon, to the supporters of ailing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was detained in the hospital for plunder.

“He will now gather those opposed to President Aquino, from Marcos to [Arroyo], and all those who would want the good all days of traditional politics and fight not for principles but for survival,” Erice said.

Erice had called on Binay to resign from the Cabinet, calling the Vice President two-faced for gaining out of his position while his allies denigrate the administration.

Binay handed his irrevocable resignation to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on Monday afternoon. In the Aquino Cabinet, he is the head of the Housing and Urban Development Commission and the presidential adviser of OFW affairs.

Binay’s resignation was announced hours after a Pulse Asia survey showed that he is the most trusted government official, beating Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. AC

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VICE President Jejomar Binay has resigned from the Aquino Cabinet.

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