Posts Tagged ‘war on drugs’

Despite teeming jails, Duterte ‘happy’ with Philippine prisons — “Philippine jails are the world’s most congested”

October 18, 2017
Despite a recent Commission on Audit report showing more than 500 percent congestion in jail facilities, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said that he was “happy” with situation of the country’s detention centers. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the situation of jails in the country despite a Commission on Audit report in June this year showing that its detention centers are bursting with inmates.

Duterte said during his jail visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology that he was “happy” with the conditions of jails he had seen.
He told his audience that he was already working to give detainees their needs, but in the meantime, he would provide television sets to each jail cell by the end of the month.
“I was looking at the situation of our prisons, and I think they are okay and I’m happy. Of course, we would want to give them everything, but I told them that I would provide each and every cell with a TV by the end of the month,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

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Eye-opening images reveal the daily life inside Quezon City jail in Manilathe capital of the Philippines; where 3,800 inmates serve time behind the walls of a prison built for just 800

“The situation is okay. They [prisoners] are comfortable, clean. I’m satisfied by the way it is being run by the BJMP,” he added.
The president’s assessment, however, was in contrast to a COA report released in June this year painting a dire situation of the country’s detention facilities.
According to the COA, the total jail population of the Philippines had already exceeded the total capacity of its detention cells.
The total average of overcrowding of jail cells was at 511 percent, the COA said.
“As of December 31, 2016 the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) has a total jail population of 126,946 which exceeded the total ideal capacity of 20,746 having a variance of 106,200 or has a total average of 511 percent of congestion/overcrowding or clogging,” the COA said.
From 2015, the number of inmates increased by more than 30,500, and congestion in district jails, city jails, municipal jails, extension jails and female dormitories was a violation of BJMP’s own manual and regulations as well as those of the United Nations, according to the COA.
The audit agency attributed that overcrowding of jails mainly to the increase in the number of drug-related cases in the country as well as the slow or non-action of courts on pending cases.
Many of the detainees qualified for bail remain also incarcerated due to poverty, the COA noted.
BJMP director Serafin Barretto also admitted the congestion in BJMP’s facilities.
In July, he said that more than 140,000 inmates had been squeezed into the agency’s 466 detention centers nationwide as of June 30, higher than the 98,000 prisoners recorded before Duterte became president.
The president also assured BJMP personnel that the government would double their salaries by next year if the country’s economic conditions continued to improve and the government collected more taxes.
The president also promised better housing units for the police, the military and jail personnel.
Modern equipment would also be given to these government agencies, the president stated.
“I want to build a strong army. I want to build a strong police, a strong BJMP,” he said although the chief executive noted that the purchase of fire trucks was hampered following allegations of anomalies surrounding the deal.
Men take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases, underneath beds and hammocks made out of old blankets (pictured) 

Filipino en take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases, underneath beds and hammocks made out of old blankets (pictured)

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How Did Duterte Come To Power in the Philippines? Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors…

October 18, 2017

By  – @inquirerdotnet

 / 05:06 AM October 16, 2017

How did the demagoguery begin? With the morbidity of the killings hitting the poor’s hovels, we begin to ruminate perplexed at how this catastrophe will end.

It will end as how it began.

The campaign canonized him on the impetus of anger with elitist politics, a signal of discontent with the status quo. An outsider to Manila-centric politics was seen as the antidote to the nation’s skewed power dynamics. This proved its greatest irony: In fact, this was a candidate traditionally elitist to the core. What caused the ignorance?

Rodrigo Duterte was invincible in Davao City as local autocrats are in their own turfs. No semblance of public furor, an important democratic institution, has been seen in Davao directly against him in his 20 years of power. Supporters used this as a fundamental reference of his “popularity.”

In 2007, a National Bureau of Investigation report identified Paolo Duterte and a business partner as “members of a big-time syndicate engaged in smuggling high-end cars, used clothing, rice and sugar.” The contraband, said to be concealed in container vans, entered Davao without the necessary import permits, the report said, because the alleged operators “enjoyed the protection of some corrupt Customs officials and members of the Philippine National Police.” A subsequent report by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group echoed: “These activities were undertaken without any arrest or apprehension by concerned government agencies due to the alleged power and influence of Davao City Mayor Duterte.”

In 2012, a Commission on Audit report said that Davao City Hall hired 11,000 individuals for six months, including 110 consultants, costing P677 million. The sample audit conducted found city hall “could provide only a master list of those hired, their fixed wages, positions and the funding source but not official contracts or accomplishment reports.” Only 59 casuals showed up for the audit. City hall claimed the rest were out on field work “but there were no pass slips as proof, no deployment plan.”

How did these impact the Davao public, accustomed to talk sub rosa? Media sources explain that these reports “get written; whether they are pursued is another matter.” The common answer given was: “Jun Pala’s murder was instructive. The Dutertes take political issues personally. Davao media is monitored.” (Note: Pala, radio commentator highly critical of the Dutertes, was fatally shot by riding tandem gunmen on Sept. 6, 2003.)

The Filipino electorate had also seriously skimmed over what was supposed to be a red flag: the fat Duterte dynasty, four members in power (total of five, counting the President’s brother, who was city councilor). Provincial politics is a replica of Manila, with the same detritus that litters Manila. He was no outsider to the system.

“The nation was so desperate for change that it was seduced by the Pied Piper,” writes Cesar Polvorosa, professor and writer based in Canada. At the outset, the vitriolic rhetoric was a novelty, fun even. It wore out as a broken record (including his jokes on the late Justice Arsenio Solidum). The loquaciousness exposed his flip-flopping common to traditional politicians, an apparent accommodation of interests. The public saw “heightened expectations that are not actualized,” writes Jose Ma. Montelibano. Mr. Duterte was indecisive as his predecessor was who protected his own kith and kin.

So-called “narco lists” remain unverified, having once included a Calbayog city judge long dead. And take note, Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors of reckoning during the campaign.

The disguise worked in Davao. In the national level, he is stripped of all disguises. The popularity was ampao: puffed
and empty.

Local autocrats cannot be scaled up to the national level. Being First Family is not all pomp and power; there is also fair game under a magnifying glass.

The final arbiter will be how they measure up to accountability and commit to transparency, matters alien to an intimidated public and media in Davao. Signing the waiver is for love of country.

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Philippines: It’s bad to be dismissed as a lightweight and buffoon

October 16, 2017

A diplomat who watched President Duterte perorating against the European Union last week said the remarks were so incredible he felt like cracking up.

It was not an uncommon reaction. There was the President of the Philippines, his trademark rudeness on full display, ranting at the wrong group over a call that was never made even by what should have been the target of his rage.

Others were aghast, especially after Duterte told EU ambassadors that they could leave the country “within 24 hours” and China and Russia would take up any slack in trade, aid and other areas of cooperation that might be affected.

China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have so far kept silent, but they must be bemused by Duterte’s mention of their countries backing the Philippines each time he feels slighted by western states. There’s this “us against them” scenario playing in Du30’s mind that may not be shared by his idols.

Duterte has a good sense of humor – it’s priceless in his job – and it’s fine if people think the President is simply joking. But it’s bad, both for himself and the country, if the international community starts dismissing him as a lightweight and buffoon.

*      *      *

President Duterte has said his principal adviser is himself. In reality, it looks like he does listen to others, and he acts on what he hears. Since taking office, he has convened the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council twice (the same number as his predecessor did in six years), enduring the insufferable ego maniacs of Congress. He convenes the Cabinet regularly and meets practically every week with his security officers.

Dirty Rody had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from his preferred take-no-prisoners approach to fighting the drug menace. But the end (or suspension) of Tokhang and Double Barrel indicated he is sensitive to public opinion at least as reflected in surveys.

So he does listen to others. And it should be possible for him to sit down regularly with a Cabinet cluster that can brief him on foreign policy matters, or at least where he can bounce off his ideas before he starts shooting his mouth off in public.

I know several diplomats who have learned to adopt a wait-and-see attitude each time Duterte says something offensive or out of this world about other countries and their leaders. The diplomats know that the President’s damage control team quickly gets to work issuing clarifications and putting out fires.

While the wait-and-see attitude is useful for keeping long-term diplomatic ties healthy, it also means foreign capitals are starting not to take the word of the Philippine president seriously.

Also, even while waiting for the administration’s firefighters to arrive, foreign representatives are not entirely numb to offensive statements. Hurtful words tend to hurt, especially when uttered in public by a nation’s highest official. I know for a fact that certain diplomats have taken offense. Whether we like it or not, their perceptions affect bilateral relations.

*      *      *

The President likes to say he doesn’t give a whit. But it may be useful for him to remember that over 10 million Filipinos are working all over the planet. They are vulnerable to the sentiments not just of the governments in their host countries but also by their private employers.

Duterte may also want to consult the local business community, whose enterprises may be affected by his intemperate remarks on cutting diplomatic ties.

Filipinos are working overseas, incurring tremendous social costs, because of lack of decent job opportunities back home. Many of them are vulnerable enough to abuse and treatment as second-class citizens.

It’s also useful to remember that the Philippines is competing with its Asian neighbors in attracting foreign direct investment as well as travelers who can boost the tourism industry and downstream economic activities.

The Philippines already suffers enough in terms of national competitiveness, thanks to a host of problems including red tape, corruption, high energy and labor costs and poor infrastructure. Vietnam is currently soaking up foreign investments even from neighboring countries such as Japan. Having a president who likes picking unnecessary fights can only push the Philippines further down in competitiveness rankings.

Foreign relations need delicate handling by trained diplomats, who can send a clear message when the President is slighted by what he believes is interference by foreign devils. It’s possible to say go to hell, or go back where you came from, and sound reasonable.

*      *      *

The President can redirect his rage at those responsble for many of the problems bedeviling the nation. The Metro Rail Transit, for example, is a disaster waiting to happen and needs urgent attention. The MRT 3 breaks down practically daily. If it figures in a grievous accident in which lives are lost, blame will be heaped not only on the officials in the previous government who created this mess, but also on the current administration, which after all has been in office for nearly a year and a half.

With the Christmas season upon us, traffic gridlocks are also back around the Customs zone in Manila’s Port Area. And people suspect the reason for the long lines of trucks waiting forever for the processing of shipments is not road traffic mismanagement but fierce haggling over tara, in preparation for a merry Christmas.

Businessmen are starting to express impatience over the start of the promised infrastructure building frenzy, dubbed build, build, build. At least on the socioeconomic front, Duterte is still taken at his word.

In matters of foreign policy, he has been burned enough and must understand the virtue of discretion.

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

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.)

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Philippines and Duterte — “No return to the old discredited system.”

October 15, 2017


By Randy David – @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:12 AM October 15, 2017

So long as Filipinos believe that President Duterte is the country’s last card in its bid to survive the challenges facing it, so long will they stand by him regardless of the cause he espouses or the position he takes on any issue. This, to me, is what the recent opinion polls of the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia seem to be saying, despite the slight variations in their results.

No other president in recent memory has tested public opinion as sharply as Mr. Duterte has in his first year. No one has risked so much political capital on so many unwinnable issues in such a short time as this president. By wading into countless controversies on various fronts, and by doing so often in the most uninformed way, he has given the public every opportunity to either reject him or embrace him. There appears to be almost no room for a neutral attitude when it comes to Mr. Duterte. This is borne out by the surveys.

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The polls show that a good majority of our people continue to repose their trust in him. SWS gave him a net trust rating of +60 in its September 2017 survey, a substantial decline of 15 points from its June poll, but still considered “very good” by the SWS’ own rating system. In the Pulse Asia survey for September, on the other hand, trust in Mr. Duterte stood at a high 80 percent, a mere one-percent drop from the preceding June survey. This makes the President the most trusted person among the government’s highest officials.

Notwithstanding the increasingly strident voices heard on both sides of the political divide, public opinion still seems to clearly favor Mr. Duterte. I don’t think this is due to any specific policy or program, or to anything by which he has tried to define his presidency — like the bloody campaign to rid the country of the menace of illegal drugs. Neither is it attributable to any visible or concrete achievement of his in any area of governance. I suspect it is due, rather, to a deep public disenchantment with the old political order that the former Davao City strongman has been expressly recruited to dismantle.

It was this antisystemic impulse that catapulted Mr. Duterte to the presidency; it is this same force that keeps him there and makes the people unmindful of his lack of clear direction and basic unpreparedness for the nation’s highest office. What the people showed in the last elections is that they were ready to try anything in the name of change, any kind of change.

When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.

I don’t think anyone else had grasped that sense of overwhelming despair or responded to it in the way Mr. Duterte did. There was, after all, no vital indication that the people thought the country was headed in the wrong direction in the years preceding the 2016 presidential election. Indeed, the economy was growing steadily under a president who managed to maintain his reasonably good approval ratings over an extended period, except toward the end of his term.

Yet, if we look back more closely, we might find that there were already telltale signs of a growing disaffection with a government that seemed chronically unable to respond to what appeared at first glance as simple problems. Emblematic of this state of affairs was the Metro Rail Transit that kept breaking down and couldn’t seem to meet the minimum standards of public service. Always, the dark shadow of corruption and incompetence loomed as an explanation for the sad state into which the mass transport system in general had fallen.

Then the Mamasapano massacre happened — a tragedy that encapsulated all the dire consequences of a leadership that seemed devoid of political will, coordination, and empathy. In the end, it was the petty crime of extorting money from unsuspecting passengers who fell victim to the airport racket “tanim bala” which portrayed in a large way the uselessness of a government that could not identify with the aggravations experienced by the ordinary Filipino in daily life.

As it happened, therefore, Filipinos went to the polls last year looking for a strong-willed president who would punish the corrupt, rid the country of criminals, waste no words on incompetent public officials, and whip the whole government service into line. In their eyes, the entire system had become so corrupted that only a confirmed outsider to the ruling political class would have filled the bill.

From the moment he opened his mouth at the start of the electoral campaign, Mr. Duterte had become that figure. It had nothing to do with the specific issues he championed (like the shift to a federal form of government), or what he pledged to do if elected (like riding a jetski and carrying a Philippine flag to the nearest Chinese outpost, or dumping the dead bodies of drug pushers into Manila Bay to fatten the fish). People were looking for a weapon against the system, and they found it in him.

This antisystemic impulse will likely outlive President Duterte. So deep are its wellsprings that the people will learn to resolve their cognitive dissonance (the conflict between beliefs and information about events) by reinterpreting events rather than by altering their beliefs. They will find ways to rationalize and reinforce their trust in the card they had picked—until a more persuasive symbol of change comes along, someone who will offer a coherent plan and a bolder but optimistic view of government. One thing is certain, though: There can be no return to the old discredited system.

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Philippine DEA being ‘demonized’ by Amnesty International — Duterte Administration Says

October 14, 2017
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said AI simply wanted to “demonize” the PDEA after President Duterte tasked the agency to take over the government’s flagship campaign from the Philippine National Police (PNP). File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday decried the vilification campaign against the Duterte administration by Amnesty International (AI) in undermining the capabilities of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead the war against illegal drugs.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said AI simply wanted to “demonize” the PDEA after President Duterte tasked the agency to take over the government’s flagship campaign from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“While Amnesty International is known to be disparaging of the frontline role of the PNP in the anti-illegal drug campaign, now it sees the relief of the agency as a mere public relations stunt,” Abella lamented.

“PDEA is the new object of AI’s, and similar groups’ ire and vilification. Nevertheless, the government will proceed in its drive to make the Philippines a crime-, corruption- and illegal drug-free nation,” he said.

Abella said Malacañang remains “hopeful” that PDEA operations “will not be jeopardized by the interference of outside agencies that fail to appreciate our desire, not for a drug-tolerant but drug-free nation.”

Duterte on Thursday ordered the PNP to pull out from the war against drugs and tasked the PDEA to take the lead in the anti-drug campaign.

The PNP’s “Oplan Tokhang,” the flagship campaign against illegal drugs, was halted along with “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” and other anti-illegal drug operations in the field.

Duterte signed a memorandum on Wednesday directing the PNP, along with the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Bureau of Customs and all other agencies to refrain from spearheading drug operations.

The order also covers all ad hoc anti-drug task forces.

Duterte had said his order was to “satisfy” the call of rights groups and the international community to tone down his brutal campaign against drugs.

AI, however, said Duterte’s decision to shift the responsibility of pursuing the campaign against drugs could be just a “short term” public relations stunt to appease the growing criticism.

James Gomez, the watchdog’s international director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said putting PDEA in charge was just meant to squelch public furor over the mounting number of dead people, most of whom are poor and young.

Gomez said Duterte had done this before when the police were temporarily ordered to cease conducting anti-drugs raids following the outrage over the killing of a South Korean businessman inside the PNP headquarters.

No reforms were done and Duterte immediately reinstated the PNP to the drug war under “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded.”

Gomez said the government should end the brutal war and adopt a policy that would respect and protect human rights.

Duterte on Friday said he would maintain a hands-off policy in the campaign against illegal drugs since he has already tasked PDEA to lead the campaign.

He added critics and human rights advocates who were noisy about the killings will be “winning” in his decision to pull out the PNP from the drug war.

Duterte said he gave the authority to PDEA in a bid to shield the PNP and law enforcement agencies from the accusations of summary killings of drug suspects.

In a television interview on Friday night, Duterte admitted his decision would have serious consequences on the drug problem. He did not elaborate.

More money for PDEA

On the other hand, a party-list congressman proposed giving more support and budget to the PDEA.

“Congress should give PDEA between P10 billion and P15 billion so it can hire more agents and personnel to be more effective in the anti-drug war,” Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said.

“They need it because they are undermanned, underequipped. If they are not given the necessary funding support, they will fail,” he said.

Atienza said the P900-million funding for next year for the anti-drug campaign of the PNP should be realigned to augment PDEA’s P2.6-billion budget.

“Since the PNP has been directed to stop conducting anti-drug operations, necessarily, that fund should be transferred to PDEA,” he added.

Atienza supported the President’s decision to transfer the lead role on the anti-drug war from the PNP to PDEA.

“We should all rally around President Duterte’s decision to give the PDEA this job. After all, the PDEA is the primary agency tasked with the government’s anti-drug effort. The police, on the other hand, should concentrate on apprehending criminals roaming the country today,” he said.  – With Jess Diaz


Philippines: ‘Paranoid, insecure’ President Duterte blasted for threatening to declare revolutionary government

October 14, 2017
In a same statement, Tindig Pilipinas said President Rodrigo Duterte is threatening to “annihilate” the country’s democracy by “playing his ultimate power game.” Presidential Photo/Richard Madelo 

MANILA, Philippines — A coaltion of cause-oriented groups and individuals on Saturday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte and called him a “paranoid” for threatening to declare a revolutionary government to quell efforts of the Left and his critics.

“Only a paranoid and insecure little man afraid of losing power will rationalize the need to impose a revolutionary government upon the people,” Tindig Pilipinas said in a statement.

“Like any abuser sensing that his victims are seeing him as the abuser that he is, he senses doom. He knows he is an empty can once he loses control,” it added.

“We call on all democratic forces within and outside the state to resist this move to subvert our nation for the interests of one man, his family and his cohorts.”

Duterte on Friday said he would not hesitate to impose a revolutionary government to quell alleged destabilization moves against his administration—a claim that the country’s top security officials already dismissed.

He added that he would use the revolutionary powers to avert the country from falling into chaos as he accused the Communist Party of the Philippines of playing a key role in the destabilization efforts.

Once the military government is restored, Duterte said he would order the security forces to arrest all destabilizers and go on a full-scale war against the communist rebels.

A lawyer, Duterte noted that his hands would not be tied in case he declares a revolutionary government – unlike when he imposes martial law, which mandates the reporting to Congress within 60 days upon declaration.

With the military and the police on his side, he doubted whether any effort to take over the government would be successful.

In the same statement, Tindig Pilipinas said Duterte is threatening to “annihilate” the country’s democracy by “playing his ultimate power game.”

“He is playing for survival. Let no one see this as anything else but weakness. There is nothing reformist, much less revolutionary in this,” the group said.

For their part, Liberal Party senators also on Saturday criticized the Duterte administration for insisting that the party has a plan to destabilize government.

They also pointed out that criticism is not tantamount to destabilization efforts.

“Ang kritisismo at pagpapahayag ng saloobin ay mga haligi ng demokrasya at hindi dapat ituring na destabilisasyon laban sa pamahalaan,” said Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the president of the former ruling party.

Based on Article 3, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Fundamental rights such as freedom of speech are recognized by the Constitution in building and maintaining a democratic society.

Last week, the firebrand leader accused the LP of conspiring with communists to oust him from office—an allegation that both entities denied.

READ: LP senators, Reds deny conspiracy to oust Duterte


Philippines: Time for Dutertismo To Change Course

October 14, 2017


President Rodrigo Duterte addresses delegates at the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and its 50th Grand Celebration, Tuesday Aug. 8, 2017, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

(First published on October 13) The sharp decline in public satisfaction with and trust in President Rodrigo Duterte may reflect the end of his “honeymoon period,” as the general public begins to critically reexamine their expectations for this administration and juxtapose them with its actual performance. Based on the third quarter survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS), 67 percent of adult Filipinos were satisfied with the president’s performance, while 14 percent were undecided and 19 percent were dissatisfied. This leads to Duterte gaining a net rating (satisfied minus dissatisfied) rating of +48, a whopping 18-point drop from his +66 rating during the second quarter. The same survey indicates that 73 percent of Filipinos continue to trust Duterte, while 15 percent remain undecided and 12 percent give him little trust. This gives him a net trust rating of +60 (very good), down from +75 in June.

The release of the survey results was exceptionally timely, as the Stratbase ADR Institute had organized a roundtable discussion on Tuesday that aimed to flesh out the successes and shortfalls of Duterte’s first year in office. Featuring Richard Javad Heydarian, non-resident fellow and author of the Special Study titled “Duterte’s First Year in Office: Assessing the Balance Sheet,” the roundtable provided critical avenue for select leaders in the political-diplomatic field, business community, and civil society to exchange ideas and insights as to why Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings suddenly plunged, and what the Duterte administration can do in order to reverse the downward trend and win back public support for its security, governance and development agendas.

Major policy ruptures and political risk

During his presentation, Heydarian cited major ruptures in policy and causes of political risk which, in varying degrees, could have had detrimental impact on Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings. The most controversial of which is the War on Drugs, which has not only experienced growing criticism at home but has also raised alarm within the greater international community. Based on the latest report of the Philippine National Police on the anti-illegal drugs campaign, there were already 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 1, 2016 and Sept. 16, 2017. Of these, 3,850 individuals died in police operations, 2,290 individuals died due to drug-related deaths and 85 government personnel (82 policemen, 3 soldiers) were killed in action.

According to Heydarian, the problem with the war on drugs is that it has been inextricably linked with the erosion of basic human rights and civil liberties, owing to the increase in extrajudicial killings and lack of accountability of law enforcement agencies and other unknown perpetrators of criminal violence. This prompted legislators from the United States and European Union, as well as legal luminaries of the International Criminal Court, to voice out their concern over the ballooning casualties which, if left unaddressed, may incur reputational and economic costs for the Philippines through expulsion from the United Nations Human Rights Council and imposition of economic sanctions, respectively.

Aside from the war on drugs, Heydarian identified “debt trap” Dutertenomics and fiscal or tax reforms as two other major causes of political risk that need judicious evaluation and effective implementation. Citing the Pulse Asia survey dated March 2017, Heydarian recounted that the three most urgent national concerns are economic in nature: improving/increasing the pay of workers (43 percent), controlling inflation (41 percent), and creating more jobs (39 percent). While Duterte deserves credit for his determination to advance his two signature initiatives, Build, Build, Build, Infrastructure Project and the tax reform, in order to level the economic playing field, improve the domestic investment climate, and render economic growth more inclusive, concerns over the sustainability of projects, the progressive leftist-technocratic divide within his Cabinet, and policy predictability, among others remain. In addition, overreliance on Official Development Assistance (ODA) with high interest rates from prospective donor countries such as China may lead to another wave of ballooning of the country’s foreign debt.

Opportunities for positive change

On the brighter side, Heydarian noted that the Philippine government has also made progress on some national issues. First, Duterte ought to be credited for pushing for a more inclusive and comprehensive peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as well as keeping Malacañang’s gates open for the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

Should Duterte succeed in brokering enduring peace agreements both with the Moro and Communist insurgents, the Philippine defense and security establishment will be able to stave off the advance of Islamic State in Mindanao, facilitate agrarian reform and rural development in Communist-infested areas, and devote much of its energy on external defense, especially in light of China’s growing assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea. Second, Duterte’s unwavering support for the anti-trust regulation and the passage of key constitutional amendments, such as the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investments, would contribute to creating a more stable policy environment which, in turn, would usher the democratization of the domestic economy and improvement of the country’s business and investment climate.

Echoing Heydarian, it is imperative for Duterte to focus less on exacting political vendetta and focus more on state-building. In other words, he ought to address the issues closest to the gut of ordinary Juan, namely: preservation of law and order, generation of economic opportunities and strengthening of local institutions of governance.

Dindo Manhit is the president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, a partner of

“Revolutionary Government” — Philippines President Duterte issues new threats than sound like dictatorship, one day after botched expelling of EU diplomats

October 14, 2017


© AFP/File | Duterte said he would resort to a revolutionary government, as opposed to martial law that would require congressional approval, if communists and other opponents tried to destabilise his rule

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned he is prepared to establish a “revolutionary government” to fend off alleged efforts to oust him, fuelling fears of a looming dictatorship.He issued the warning on state television late Friday as he railed against the press, European lawmakers and other critics of his drug war that has left thousands dead and led rights groups to warn of a crime against humanity.

Duterte said he would resort to a revolutionary government, as opposed to martial law that would require congressional approval, if communists and other opponents tried to destabilise his rule.

“If your destabilisation is taking place and there is chaos already, I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term and I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full scale war against the reds,” Duterte said, in reference to communist rebels who have waged a nearly 50-year insurgency.

Duterte cited the precedent set by Corazon Aquino, who established a revolutionary government soon after leading a “People Power” uprising in 1986 that ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favour of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections. She is revered by many Filipinos who continue to see her as a heroine of democracy.

Under the post-Aquino constitution, presidents are limited to a single term of six years.

Duterte’s critics fear the 72-year-old, who has repeatedly threatened to impose martial law, is intent on dragging the country back into dictatorship and allow himself more freedom in prosecuting his drug war.

Duterte was elected last year largely on an incendiary law-and-order platform in which he promised to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing 100,000 people.

Since he took office 15 months ago, police have reported killing 3,850 people in anti-drug operations while thousands of others have been murdered in unexplained circumstances.

Many Filipinos continue to support Duterte, seeing the charismatic politician as a saviour fighting corruption and crime.

But opposition has started to build, with the influential Catholic Church and leftist groups taking a prominent role in speaking out against his drug war.

Rare street protests broke out last month after police involved in the drug war killed two teenagers in controversial circumstances.

The Philippine military, which backed Marcos until the last days of his dictatorship, did not respond to AFP’s request for comment on Duterte’s warning.


Malacañang admits Duterte ‘being fed wrong info’ on EU

While stressing the need ‘for correct reportage,’ Malacañang fails to acknowledge its responsibility to relay correct information to President Rodrigo Duterte

Published 5:40 PM, October 13, 2017
Updated 6:31 PM, October 13, 2017
WRONG INFORMATION. Malacañang admits that President Rodrigo Duterte 'was being fed the wrong information' on the EU. Malacañang file photo

WRONG INFORMATION. Malacañang admits that President Rodrigo Duterte ‘was being fed the wrong information’ on the EU. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang admitted that President Rodrigo Duterte was “being fed the wrong information” after the Chief Executive threatened to expel European diplomats based on the wrong premise.

Because Duterte’s statement was based on wrong information, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella then clarified on Friday, October 13, that “there’s no directive” for ambassadors of the European Union (EU) to leave the Philippines within 24 hours.

“It’s not a question of being misinformed. That means to say he was being fed the wrong information,” Abella said in a press briefing on Friday.

Abella said Duterte “was reacting to what he was reading,” as Duterte wrongly believed that the European Union wants to have the Philippines expelled from the United Nations.

He then called on the media to “heed” Duterte’s request “for correct reportage.”

In the same speech where he launched his misguided tirade against the EU, the President himself had urged all government workers to give truthful information.

“To my fellow workers in government, especially those who form part of the Communications Office, I enjoin you to remain committed to your duty to upholding the truth at all times. Never exaggerate, never misinterpret, never agitate as you communicate our platform of governance. In other words, do not be arrogant,” he said, shortly before lashing at the EU on Thursday.

While stressing the media’s job to report correctly, Abella failed to say that the highest official of the land is ultimately responsible for the decisions he makes.

Abella also did not say that Malacañang is responsible for ensuring that correct information reaches the President.

This is part of complete staff work, where staff members handle the nitty gritty of solving a problem, and all the superior has to do is approve or disapprove the staff’s recommendation.

Complete staff work is crucial in any president’s decision making.

This is important especially when it involves a warning to kick out all diplomats of the EU – the second top destination of Philippine exports, a major donor of the Philippines, and the fourth biggest source of overseas Filipino workers’ remittances. (READ: FAST FACTS: How important is the EU to the Philippines?)

Guidelines on complete staff work

The Malacañang bureaucracy, especially during the time of former president Fidel V Ramos, has always been expected to be keen on complete staff work.

In June 2011, then Presidential Management Staff (PMS) secretary Julia Andrea Abad issued the Guidelines on the Conduct of Complete Staff Work for the Presidency.

Based on these guidelines, “the President expects the Departments to have undertaken complete staff work (CSW) on all briefing papers and memoranda submitted to him.”

Several officials of the Duterte administration and even the President himself, however, have used wrong information several times in the past.

In June, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II used a 2015 photo to tag opposition lawmakers in the Marawi crisis that erupted in May this year.

In May, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson posted a photo of soldiers in Honduras to call for prayers for the Philippine army.

Duterte himself has fallen for so-called fake news, as when he believed the propaganda that Rappler is being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency of the US.

Duterte has also released a matrix of alleged drug personalities, which contained wrong entries, including the name of a certain “Jaguar” who was already dead. –

Philippines: Amnesty International Says Changes to Duterte’s Drug War are Only a “PR” Move — Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

October 13, 2017
The recent decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to designate the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead office to conduct the war on drugs could just be a “PR” move by the government, according to Amenesty International. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — Amnesty International said on Friday that the recent decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to shift the responsibility of pursuing his ferocious campaign to eradicate narcotics to the country’s anti-drugs agency could just be a “short-term” public relations move meant to appease the growing opposition to it.

Duterte this week signed an order designating the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the main office in pursuing drug operations and relegated the Philippine National Police to a supporting role.

READ:  FLAG chair: Order for PDEA to lead drug war confusing

James Gomez, the watchdog’s international director of southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that the decision to put PDEA in charge of the government war on drugs was just meant to squelch public furor over the mounting number of dead people most of whom are poor and young.

The AI official said that the president had done this before when the police were temporarily ordered to cease conducting anti-drugs raids following the outrage over the discovery that cops belonging to the PNP’s anti-drugs unit were involved in the kidnapping, extortion and killing of a South Korean businessman inside its national headquarters in Camp Crame.

He added that the announcement would have little “meaningful” impact  and urged the president to discard altogether “the government’s fundamental policy of supporting extrajudicial executions of drug suspects.”

“President Duterte has pulled police off drug operations once before, in January this year, only to reinstate them a few weeks later,” Gomez said in a statement reacting to the Philippine leader’s announcement.

“We are concerned that this too may be nothing but a short-term PR move in response to growing public outrage about the drug war’s many victims, which are overwhelmingly poor, and include children,” he added.

Based on the latest survey of polling firm SWS, the president’s approval ratings plunged by 18 points in September.

The president’s office said that this plunge was because the survey was conducted just days after Duterte declared a national day of protest to allow Filipinos to air their grievances against the government.

Another survey by rival Pulse Asia however demonstrated that Duterte had maintained trust and approval ratings of 80 percent.

The announcement of the president also came in the wake of a string of police killings of teenagers in August sparked a widespread public condemnation of brutality and disrespect for due process, something that the 15-month-old administration of the former Davao City mayor had never seen.

Gomez said that what the government should do was to end its “murderous ‘war on drugs'” and adopt a policy that would respect and protect human rights.

“It is also crucial that there is accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, many by police officers, and that those responsible are held to account,” he said.

READ:  Opposition senators: Change of lead agency not enough; shift drug policy, too

The AI official warned that the killings, which may constitute a crime against humanity, would continue as shooters just happened to be doning different uniforms.

The AI and Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights campaigner, have both released early this year excoriating reports on the government’s war on drugs that detailed police shortcuts and payments to kill drug suspects.

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Duterte in response blasted these international groups and governments for what he saw as “interference.”

On Thursday, he mistakenly blasted the European Union and threatened to cut diplomatic ties to its member-states over statements by a group parliamentarians warning the government that it risked losing preferential trade arrangements if it would continue with the campaign.