Thank You Pia Wurtzbach For Protecting The Rights Of People With HIV/AIDS

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As former executive director of the Filipino Task Force on AIDS of Northern California and HIV education director of the Life Foundation of Hawaii, I cannot be more pleased and impressed at the statement of Miss Universe #PiaWurtzbach criticizing the public shaming of one of the 11 men who were arrested in a drug bust operation at Bonifacio Global City. The man was reported to be HIV positive.

Pia was criticized for pointing out that it wasn’t necessary (and actually illegal) to name the HIV-positive person.

Sure, assuming that the man in question knew of his HIV status, it was wrong of him to engage in risky behavior of injection drug use and (unprotected?) sex.

But the law is the law. People with HIV, like anyone else with other health conditions, have the right of confidentiality regarding their medical conditions.

We need to separate morality and basic individual rights, including privacy.

The men involved in this unfortunate incident could have been informed PRIVATELY about the HIV status of the subject individual.

Thank you, #PiaWurtzbach for your advocacy on HIV/AIDS.

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Bureaucracy Won’t Be Solved By Creating More Bureaucracy

The House of Representatives has approved House Bill 6579 creating a Commission to simplify procedures for securing business permits and licenses.

To be known as the Ease of Doing Business Commission (EODBC), the new body is tasked to oversee a national policy for streamlining business requirements throughout the country, ensuring transparency in business registrations and other public transactions.

National and local government agencies will be mandated to post a comprehensive checklist of requirements for every type of license, clearance or permit.

But wait, isn’t that already the inherent mandate of all taxpayer-funded institutions?

Delays in securing business permits and licenses are oftemtimes the result of too much bureaucracy in government agencies.  In effect, the new House bill creates one more level of bureaucracy by doing what the government agencies are supposed to be doing in the first place.

If some government agencies such as those issuing driver’s licenses or passports were able to streamline their in-house procedures to be more efficient and transparent, why can’t all the others?

Politikal Pinoy thinks that the EODBC is just a waste of taxpayer money.

Congress might as well pass another bill creating a Commission to check on the work of the EODBC.

We cannot solve bureaucracy by creating yet another level of bureaucracy.

Did ABS-CBN News Put Japanese National In Compromising Situation That Could Lead To Deportation?

In its eagerness to report on protests held in connection with this week’s ASEAN Summit in Manila, ABS-CBN News may have compromised the immigration status of a Japanese national whom the network photographed participating in a rally in Mendiola.

Foreign nationals are prohibited from participating in protests against the government.

Earlier, the Bureau of Immigration issued Operation Order No. SBM-2015-025 which enjoins foreign nationalst to observe the limitation on the exercise of their political rights during their stay in the country.

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The same order states that they are prohibited from joining, supporting, contributing or involving themselves in whatever manner in any rally, assembly or gathering, whether for or against the government.

Featuring a foreigner on its headline story for the Mendiola protest may be an interesting angle, but ABS-CBN’s lack of knowledge of the law may have put the Japanese national in danger of deportation.

This is a clear case of journalism being practiced without the necessary research and expertise — a situation all too common among many of the so-called mainstream news media in the country.

 

President Duterte’s Approval Rating Is Better Than Many Influential World Leaders

61D9095D-6A2F-47B1-8097-5B3AED244B36Because of the overwhelming interest in my previous post on the approval ratings of influential world leaders, I have taken the time to update the figures based on latest surveys available from reliable news sources.

Please note that many polling groups conduct surveys, so there would always be differences in figures. Numbers also depend on when the surveys were conducted.

D85588F7-B9D6-414E-AA58-3670909D12EAPollsters also use different terminology and methodology. Duterte’s 48 percent is NET rating, meaning the number of those who disapprove is deducted from the number of those who approve. Other surveys simply report actual numbers of those who approve and disapprove.

HAVING SAID THAT, it is a fact that DU30 remains ahead in the ratings among many world leaders, including those of the U.S., Britain, France and Japan, among others.

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Malacañang Statement On Drug-Related Killings And EJKs

IMG_5516The Executive shares the expressed concern of the Senate on the recent spate of drug-related deaths and similarly condemns extrajudicial killings.

But we need to clarify again that extrajudicial killings, or EJKs, are not State-sanctioned. There are no State-sponsored killings in the Philippines, a conclusion made by the Senate committees on justice and human rights, on public order and illegal drugs which previously conducted investigations on EJKs.

There is relentless effort on the part of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to carry out their operations properly and within legal processes.

The same police operations, heavily criticized by some quarters, saw the voluntary surrender of 1,308,078 drug users; the arrest of 107, 156 drug personalities; the rescue of 578 minors; and the seizure of 2,465.65 kilos of shabu worth 12.7 billion pesos, as of August 29, 2017 – facts overlooked by our critics.

While the President is harsh against those involved in illegal drugs, he is equally appalled by misdemeanors of police scalawags. We thus welcome the Senate’s investigations and inquiries on erring police personnel as a manifestation of a freely functioning and democratic State mechanism.

The President remains firm on the need to cleanse the police of its misfits, especially those responsible for these violations. More than 1,900 drug-related investigations of allegations against law enforcement officials have been carried out between July 1, 2016 and June 15, 2017 by the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS). Of this total, 1,045 cases have moved to the administrative proceedings stage and 159 law enforcement officials face dismissal from service, with many others undergoing pre-charge investigations or summary hearings.

These erring persons in uniform do not have a place in a State organization which is a human rights duty-bearer, with a primary role to protect the right to life, liberty, and property of the people by way of an effective anti-illegal drug campaign.

Why The Adoption Of The Philippines’ Universal Periodic Report (On Human Rights) Is A Victory

IMG_5160.PNGYesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted the Philippines’ Universal Periodic Report (UPR) which, in simple terms, is a report on the country’s human rights record.

The Department of Foreign Affairs welcomed the adoption, while — as expected — the media spinned the news to fit their bias against the Duterte administration.

Those who are familiar with the UPR process know that it includes statements and recommendations from member-states, as well as statements and responses from the country being “audited.”

All eyes were focused on the outcome of the UPR in the light of allegations about extrajudicial killings (EJK) in connection with the government’s war on drugs.

Anti-Duterte elements had hoped for a stinging rebuke and censure on the alleged EJKs in the Philippines.

But the Philippine delegation to the Council — while giving first-hand information on government efforts to promote the human rights of Filipinos — disputed and rejected accusations of summary killings which we can only assume were based on hearsay perpetuated by the biased local and international media.

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Al Hussein

Earlier, both Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Deputy Permanent Representative Philippine Mission to United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva Maria Teresa Almojuela hit United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for having severely mischaracterized the situation in the Philippines in his report to the Human Rights Council.

“The Philippines has provided the Human Rights Council with all the facts regarding the campaign against illegal drugs in our report to the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in May 2017,” Secretary Cayetano said.

“The Commissioner’s report would have been balanced and accurate had he considered the information that we provided, instead of just relying on uncorroborated information,” he added. “The Philippines has actively participated in the Universal Periodic Review process, and was one of the first countries to undergo the review in 2008, having championed the establishment of the UPR process under the UN Human Rights Council Mechanism.”

The news media can twist and turn yesterday’s development at the Council, but there is no denying that indeed, the Philippines can rightly claim victory for having undergone this process with flying colors, but above all — for showing to the Filipinos and the international community — that the country cannot and will not be ruled by foreign states constantly trying to undermine its independence.

And while we’re at it, kudos to the Philippine delegation for putting the icing on the cake when, just before the Council voted on the UPR, it announced that a bill was just passed outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination, and that the day before, President Duterte had declared a National Day of Protest.

Human Rights, you say?

In the end, what matters most is what Filipinos see and experience in their own country, not the tinted vision of the international community.

The Truth Behind CHR’s P1,000 Budget For 2018

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Here’s  the reality about the Commission on Human Rights budget.

The P1,000 approved by the House is not the final CHR budget for 2018. The Senate has approved a P678 Million budget for CHR.

A Bicameral committee of both the House and Senate will reconcile their differences and come to a compromise agreement.

So, here’s my proposal:

Let’s the take the mean between the House and Senate numbers (Add the two figures together and divide it by 2.)

P678 Million plus P1,000 divided by 2.

So that’s half of the CHR budget approved by the Senate.

Granting President Duterte will approve the Bicamercal budget proposal for CHR, then CHR must cut everything in half: the salary of Commission Chair Chito Gascon, the number of CHR commissioners, the number of staff and their salaries and benefits, travel, media budget, etc.

That would be greatly detrimental to the already dismal performance and accomplishments of CHR, which would then justify its abolition.

But why wait? Abolish CHR NOW! Save the taxpayers’ money!

Mocha Uson’s Video That Went Awry

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It was supposed to be a video that would show the bravery of the Commander-in-Chief, personally visiting his soldiers and police in war-torn Marawi City.

The video, posted on Mocha Uson’s blog, had an aura of a Hollywood movie, complete with “Jaws”-like musical score. Some called it “melodramatic.”

It showed President Duterte in full military gear and weapon, along with his Special Assistant Bong Go.

Not a just a few souls questioned the need for Duterte and Go to don protective helmets, bullet-proof (we assume) clothing and ammunition (which we hope Go would know how to fire, just in case.)

But many argue that the president was in a war zone, where snipers could easily take him or his team out.  And that is the truth, and we accept that argument.

But the war zone argument quickly fails as the video shows Mocha Uson — supposedly walking the streets of war-torn Marawi — without any protective helmet or bullet-proof attire.  Very Hollywoodish super-heroine genre. Unless, of course, the video was somehow spliced together, but we’ll give the video our benefit of the doubt.

Uson, Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), was doing her job to cover the president’s visit with his military and police.

When journalists are imbedded with the military and ride or move along with military men and women in a combat zone, they, too, wear protective helmets and bullet-proof attire.

So we don’t understand what the video showed of ASEC Uson: open to unfriendly fire…

What Is Relevant In A News Report?

Among the many things that I learned from being executive director of the San Francisco-based Asian American Journalists Association for almost ten years is the issue of what’s relevant and what’s not in a news report or coverage.

The race or ethnicity of a person is relevant only when describing a crime suspect that’s at-large, or if the news story has implications of, say, discrimination based on skin color, or immigration status.  But even such guidelines are not set in stone.  Each news story is different from another.

So when I read this photo caption about Kian Loyd Delos Santos from an ABS-CBN news story, I cringed:

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“A student from a Catholic school.”

The caption implies that just because Kian attended a Catholic school, the killing is somewhat uncalled for — unlike when a student is from a public, non-sectarian school?

Does this mean that students from a Catholic school will never ever be involved in any wrongdoing or violation of the law? (This is just a rhetorical question and is not a judgment on the guilt or innocence of Kian).

It’s just like saying that a Catholic priest will never be involved in the sexual abuse of a child, just because…

The bottom line is that the ABS-CBN News caption is pure and simple: BIASED.