Posts Tagged ‘war on drugs’

Philippines: Jails At 511% Designed Occupancy

June 20, 2017

EDITORIAL

The country’s jails, according to the Commission on Audit, are congested by about 511 percent. Looking at recent images, the congestion level in fact seems worse. Inmates take turns sleeping on the space available – not just narrow cots and floors in regular cells but also along stairways in police stations.

The scenes evoke images of cattle cars packed with Jews, gypsies and other oppressed groups during the Holocaust. At least inmates in Philippine jails do not end up in Nazi gas chambers. But a number of the inmates, mostly rounded up in the war on illegal drugs, have been shot dead after being released and registered as drug offenders.

Philippine jails have been congested for a long time, but the brutal war on drugs has worsened the problem, filling jails to bursting. The sorry state of jails already constitutes cruel and inhumane punishment even before conviction, especially for those wrongly accused or victims of frame-ups. Such punishment is prohibited under the Constitution.

Since the war on drugs was launched, this problem has been widely reported, but little has been done to increase the capacity of the nation’s detention facilities. Contributions from the private sector or foreign donors have focused mainly on the provision of drug rehabilitation facilities, which officials say are mostly unused.

If accusations are accurate, the congestion has also been exploited by corrupt police and jail custodians to shake down inmates who want to escape the lack of ventilation, the cockroaches and mosquitoes and the sheer crush of bodies in the jail cells. It wouldn’t be too bad if prominent detainees also suffered such hell. But even in detention, inequality reigns in this country, with different brands of humanity for the rich and poor. The situation is begging to be corrected. Perhaps the COA report can lead to urgently needed improvements.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/06/20/1711747/editorial-511-congestion

Philippines To Rally Monday (Independence Day) To End Martial Law — New York Times Says President Duterte’s Focus On Drug War Caused Him To Ignored Rise of ISIS

June 11, 2017

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A unity statement released yesterday said the signatories would gather at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine located beside the Manila City Hall from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow for a National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights  “to show our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country.” AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines – Over 100 former and current lawmakers, religious leaders and activists will once again call for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao and for the respect of human rights through an interfaith rally slated in Manila tomorrow, Independence Day.

A unity statement released yesterday said the signatories would gather at the Andres Bonifacio Shrine located beside the Manila City Hall from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow for a National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights  “to show our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country.”

“A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever-moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict,” the statement said.

Martial law, according to the signatories, will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilantes and para-military groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights.

The signatories also called for the halt of aerial bombings of Marawi City, now under siege by Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group.

“It is the poor that bear the brunt of these wars. It is the poor that are killed. It is their rights that are violated. It is their communities that are subject to aerial bombings and abuses during military and police operations,” they noted.

They also called for the continuation of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Among the signatories are former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada, members of the House of Representatives’ so-called Makabayan bloc, Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo, National Council of Churches in the Philippines secretary-general Rex Reyes Jr., militant groups like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and artists like Mae “Juana Change” Paner and Maria Isabel Lopez.

Petition vs martial law

In a related development, Mindanao activists, together with human-rights advocates, filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) against martial law Friday afternoon.

The petition covers the entire Mindanao as the groups alleged there were no incidents similar to what is happening in Marawi that are simultaneously occurring in the 33 cities and 422 municipalities of the region.

The petitioners include six local Mindanao leaders, namely, Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat; peasant leader Virgilio Lincuna of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Ateliana Hijos of Gabriela; and trade union leaders Roland Cobrado, Carl Anthony Olalo and Roy Jim Balanghig of the Shin Sun Tropical Fruits Inc. whose picket line was broken up by the police last June 2 after martial law was declared.

They were joined by leaders of various human rights and activist organizations and party-list groups: Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, Samahan ng Ex-Detenido Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto chairperson Marie Enriquez, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago and Gabriela deputy secretary-general Jovita Montes, among others.

They are represented by the NUPL through lawyers Neri Colmenares, Edre Olalia, Julian Oliva, Ephraim Cortez, Ma. Cristina Yambot, Maneeka Sarza, Josalee Deinla and Katherine Panguban.

Respondents in the petition include President Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año and Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa.

Petitioners argue that the imposition of Proclamation No. 216 in the entire Mindanao is unwarranted, unjustifiable and out of proportion to the threat posed by the Maute and Abu Sayaff groups because aside from the violence in Marawi, respondents failed to prove sufficient factual basis that rebellion is simultaneously occurring in other parts of the island.

The first such petition from Mindanao also asked the high court to allow their lawyers to participate in the oral arguments set on June 13-15 at 10 a.m. at the New Session Hall, New Supreme Court Building.

4 women from Marawi

Meanwhile, the SC yesterday also allowed four women from Marawi – Norkaya Mohamad, Sittie Nur Dyhanna Mohamad, Noraisah Sani and Zahria Muti-Mapandi – to join the militant group of petitioners in the oral arguments after assessing that their petitions appeared to be sufficient in form and substance.

The respondents in their complaint are Medialdea, Lorenzana, Año, Dela Rosa, Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The petitions of the Mindanao militant group and the four Marawi women would be consolidated with the petition filed last Monday by seven opposition congressmen led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

60 days not enough 

Meanwhile, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri believes that the 60-day martial law in Mindanao may not be enough to neutralize the Maute terror group.

In Bacolod City on Friday, he disclosed that martial law could even be extended, as he expressed support for doing such temporarily only in Marawi City.

The senator, however, stressed that he opposes expanding martial law to the Visayas and Luzon, since there is no compelling reason to do so.  –  With Rhodina Villanueva, Evelyn Macairan, Gilbert Bayoran

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/11/1708725/interfaith-rally-call-lifting-mindanao-martial-law

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Philippine Leader, Focused on War on Drug Users, Ignored Rise of ISIS

MANILA — It was classic bravado from the Philippines’ tough-guy president, Rodrigo Duterte.

The Maute Group, a militant Islamist band fighting government troops near the southern Philippines city of Marawi last year, had asked for a cease-fire.

The president rejected the overture.

“They said that they will go down upon Marawi to burn the place,” Mr. Duterte recounted in December. “And I said, ‘Go ahead, do it.’”

He got his wish.

Hundreds of militants belonging to the Maute Group and its allies fighting under the black flag of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, seized Marawi three weeks ago, leading to a battle with the Philippine armed forces and the biggest test yet of Mr. Duterte’s leadership during his tumultuous first year in office.

A president who has focused on a deadly antidrug campaign that has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos seems to have been caught unprepared for a militant threat that has been festering in the south for years.

“The government has largely been in denial about the growth of ISIS and affiliated groups,” said Zachary M. Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington who specializes in Southeast Asian security issues. “Duterte has been preoccupied with his campaign of gutting the rule of law by using police and other security forces for the extrajudicial killing of drug pushers.”

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Global Peace Index: Philippines Next to Last — Only North Korea “Less Peaceful” — Duterte Government Says “Political slant somewhere”

June 9, 2017
Police round up residents during a police “One Time Big Time” operation in the continuing “War on Drugs” campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte at slum community of Tondo in Manila, Philippines, late Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. Duterte has compared his anti-drug campaign it to Hitler and the Holocaust, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts. He has since apologized to a Jewish community in the Philippines for the remark. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang casted doubt on independent international survey Global Peace Index (GPI) where the Philippines was on the penultimate spot just above North Korea in the Asia-Pacific region.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that there may be a “political slant somewhere” after the report credited the downfall of the country to the bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

The findings on the Philippines ran counter to apparent aims of the Duterte administration whose political victory last year was on the back of a peace and order platform.

Citing local nationwide surveys, Abella said most Filipinos are satisfied with government performance, which for him suggests that the peace index is not as accurate.

READ: Philippines among ‘least peaceful’ in Global Peace Index

“We are really not that sure where the GPI analyst, who apparently, supposedly a local, is coming from,” the spokesperson said at a televised press briefing on Friday.

The study, however, was conducted by global think tank Institute for Economics and Peace based in Sydney is based on 23 indicators of the violence or fear of violence chosen by a panel of international experts and assisted by other research groups. The level of the Global Peace index’s robustness is similar to the Human Development Index conducted by the United Nations to measure living conditions across the globe.

Without further explaining how the index was built, the Palace official said there a political motive behind it.

“Maybe there is a political slant somewhere, but based on results, based on survey, the Filipino satisfaction is quite high,” Abella said.

The Philippines was ranked at 18 in the region with an overall score of 2.555, while the militant hermit state North Korea recorded 2.967.

“The Philippines’ overall score has deteriorated since new President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016. A bloody war against drugs and crime has been extended nationwide, and is reflected in a deterioration of the country’s Societal Safety and Security indicators,” the report read.

“The extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals, drug mules and users has significantly increased security risks, even for ordinary citizens who could potentially get caught in the crossfire,” it added.

Among the 163 nations, Iceland is the most peaceful followed by New Zealand and Portugal, while the Philippines is at 138th place.

The Global Peace Index is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. The report presented the most comprehensive data-driven analysis to-date on trends in peace, its economic value, and how to develop peaceful societies.
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Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa Fighting Wars on Several Fronts

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

MANILA — “We are not Madame Auring.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

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

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

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

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/901873/bato-dela-rosa-im-no-psychic#ixzz4iw8PY05f
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The General Running Duterte’s Antidrug War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In The Philippines, Most People Support President Duterte — “Rody”

May 31, 2017

In the Philippines, All the President’s People

CANBERRA, Australia — In the year that he has been president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has been called a murderer, a tyrant, a misogynist and a madman. And yet, according to some recent opinion polls, he inspires “much trust” in 80 percent of Filipinos.

Mr. Duterte’s supporters are sometimes pejoratively called “Dutertards.” But are they simply naïve, and easy prey for demagoguery, propaganda and fake news? I don’t think so.

For more than three years, I have been studying how democratic politics takes shape in post-disaster contexts — specifically in communities that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical storms ever to make landfall, and it killed more than 6,200 people.

Tacloban City, my field site, was ground zero for the cyclone. A city of about 240,000 people in the central part of the Philippines, it is a hub of commerce, trade, education and tourism in one of the country’s poorest regions. I have talked to more than 250 residents, mostly in hazard-prone areas the government has declared “no-build zones,” and many, while still reeling from the disaster, were energized when Mr. Duterte ran for the presidency, and when he won it.

Tacloban may not be an exact snapshot of the entire country, but it reveals something important, and something beyond the merely anecdotal, about why communities living in precarious conditions value Mr. Duterte’s leadership: He seems like a rare politician who doesn’t forget about the people.

Consider Shirelyn, a gregarious mother of two in her 20s. When I first met her in 2014, she lived in a shanty made of driftwood and galvanized iron sheets. Her home had been washed away by the typhoon. Shirelyn worked odd jobs whenever her partner, a pedicab driver, failed to earn enough to support the family.

Last year, she chose to forego a few days’ pay to campaign for Mr. Duterte when he was running for president. “This is the least I can do,” she told me in April 2016, at the height of the race.

Mr. Duterte was the mayor of Davao City when Haiyan struck, and he sent rescue operations to Tacloban at the time. “It’s our turn to help him” said posters plastered around Tacloban during his presidential bid.

Six months into his term, Mr. Duterte’s campaign promise “change is coming” materialized for Shirelyn. She and her family were relocated to the northern part of the city — to a house with concrete walls, a toilet, even a garden. Her new home brings to mind the aspirational middle-class gated communities of Manila, with their brightly painted welcome arches, rowhouse designs and picket fences.

“I knew Duterte would not forget,” Shirelyn said.

In November I heard Mr. Duterte give a speech in Tacloban commemorating the third anniversary of Haiyan’s landing. He promised to speed up relief assistance in the region, which had stalled. And he threatened to kill a government official he had put in charge of the effort if that official failed to move families into permanent disaster-proof homes fast enough. (“You know mate,” he told the man, who was on stage with him, “in truth, it’s rare that I shoot people, especially my friends. But if you are unable to do this…”)

In the same speech, Mr. Duterte also made a comment implying that he had ogled Vice President Leni Robredo’s legs during cabinet meetings.

“What a pervert,” I whispered to an old woman sitting next to me in the audience. “Let it go,” she said. “He cared enough to be here.”

Politicians in the Philippines are often viewed as opportunists who reach out to constituents while they are courting votes but disappear from view once in office. To Haiyan survivors, Mr. Duterte is different. Three years after the disaster, even since becoming president, he came to Tacloban. This set him apart from his predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino, who once castigated survivors for complaining about their hardships instead of being grateful for still being alive.

The paradox, of course, is that even as Mr. Duterte restores dignity to disaster victims who have felt neglected by the state, his administration is attacking other vulnerable communities, like suspected drug users and those around them.

In January I asked Rafael, a security guard in Tacloban, how he felt about the government’s campaign against drugs, which has already claimed more lives than Haiyan did. Rafael lost his wife to the typhoon.

“It’s sad,” he said, mentioning the case of a teenager who was killed by unidentified gunmen after being mistaken for someone else. “But others deserve it. I know. I patrol the streets here.”

I asked if he thought that what Mr. Duterte was doing was fair. “He has been fair to us,” Rafael replied.

In other words: Not all suffering is equal, and compassion must be earned. Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign masterfully builds on the popular view that there are hierarchies of misery.

In a village near where Shirelyn used to live, a market vendor proudly told me that she had reported a drug dealer to the head of the village.

“I have been working hard to put my kids to school,” she said. “Then this man sells them drugs. This can’t be.”

The dealer is now on a government watch list.

According to a poll conducted in March, 73 percent of respondents said they were worried that they or someone they knew might become the victim of an extrajudicial killing. But the anxiety I encountered in Tacloban was about something else. It was about people’s fear of being abandoned by the state once again.

Shirelyn showed me a notebook in which she had written down the promises Mr. Duterte made in his first address to the country as president. This was in January, a few months after she moved into her new home. For that, she was grateful; about the rest — the jobs, the new schools and the better health care to come — she was unsure.

“I made a list so I won’t forget,” she said. “We know what we deserve.” Mr. Duterte might get away with murder, but he won’t get away with broken promises.

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.”

China Will Still Like the Philippines Despite Reported War Threat

May 30, 2017

By Ralph Jennings

China will keep working toward a stronger friendship with the Philippines, which it sees as a valuable new ally in Southeast Asia, despite the Philippine president’s comment that Beijing’s top leader once threatened war over a disputed tract of sea, analysts say.

Duterte told a Philippine coast guard unit on May 19 that Chinese President Xi Jinping this month had threatened “war” if the Philippines “forced the issue” over sovereignty of the Spratly Islands, an archipelago of tiny features in the South China Sea, according to widespread media reports in the Philippines.

“They cannot say anything either way, because it would look bad for them,” said Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines in Metro Manila. “So I think it’s difficult for them and probably (they) won’t say anything and just avoid it altogether.”

Beijing claims about 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, including the Spratlys. The claim overlaps the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. Xi and Duterte were talking about oil drilling in the Spratlys at a meeting in Beijing when Xi made the comments, Philippine media say.

China probably did not want the war comment disclosed and political experts say Beijing may speak more cautiously with Duterte’s government in the future.

But analysts say Beijing will avoid any retaliation for the disclosure because it sees Duterte trying to improve relations after a stormy past. The president has thundered against China’s major global rival and former Philippine colonizer, the United States. He has visited China twice, and the two sides sat down this month to start working out their maritime differences.

Last week Duterte traveled to Russia to sign a series of agreements. Russia is a traditional Chinese ally that like China was not on Manila’s roster of friends a year ago when Duterte took office.

Duterte, a populist known for being loose with language, also has a reputation for making comments against other countries. He has slammed the United Nations, the United States and the European Union over their criticism of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 extrajudicial killings in the Philippine anti-drug campaign.

“I think as long as there’s not any substantive action on the part of the Philippines to follow through with any of its rhetoric, they’re willing to let it slide at least to some extent because Duterte seems to be badmouthing everyone,” said Maxfield Brown, business intelligence associate at the consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Manila.

“It’s not like China is the sole recipient of this,” Brown said.

A mellow Chinese response to the comment about war could in turn allay any fear in other countries about their own relations with Beijing. Each has its own way of handling China based on historical relations, Batongbacal said.

Beijing has increasingly valued its relations in Southeast Asia since July 2016, when a world arbitration court ruled against the legal basis to much of China’s maritime claim. China had incensed countries in Southeast Asia with a half-decade of building artificial islands and passing coast guard vessels through contested waters.

China rejected the ruling, but to minimize its impact the government it wants to talk with the other countries, in some cases offering them aid. Duterte received pledges of $24 billion in aid and investment from China in October.

Beijing and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed last week after 15 years of resistance – largely because of China — to a framework for a code of conduct that would eventually prevent mishaps in the sea that’s prized for fisheries and fossil fuel reserves.

“It’s highly unlikely that there there’s going to be an escalation of tension (that would) lead to physical confrontation regarding the territorial and sovereignty issues,” said Andrew Yang, secretary-general with the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies think tank in Taiwan.

“All the intention and behavior taking place basically is trying to satisfy those disputes and try to find out what would be acceptable for a code of conduct,” he said.

The presidential office softened Duterte’s comment about war days after he made it. His spokesman Ernesto Abella said on the office website the two sides would keep seeking peace.

“President Duterte was forthright about its economic rights awarded by the Arbitral Court in The Hague, a claim the Chinese leader said they would vigorously contest given their historic claims to the area,” Abella said. “Given this complexity, both parties agreed to pursue a more peaceful resolution to the matter that satisfies both our sovereign and economic rights.”

https://www.voanews.com/a/china-will-still-like-the-philippines-despite-reported-war-threat/3875284.html

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

Philippine Authorities Seize 605 Kilos of Meth From China — China Sends the Drugs, Duterte Government Kills the Addicted, China Gets The South China Sea

May 29, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities say they’ve seized 605 kilograms (1,334 pounds) of methamphetamine shipped from China following a tip from the Chinese government.

National Bureau of Investigation officials said Monday that the drugs, with a street value of 6.05 billion pesos ($121.4 billion), were seized over the weekend from a brokerage warehouse in metropolitan Manila, while a portion was intercepted from a shipment consignee.

The operation was jointly conducted with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, police and the Bureau of Customs, which alerted the NBI on information from China’s Office of National Narcotics Control Commission about a large shipment of illegal drugs.

Since taking office last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has launched a war on illegal drugs that has last left thousands of suspected drug dealers and addicts dead.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters (FILE)

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for the first time during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, on November 19. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./ Presidential Photo

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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

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

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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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