PNoy And His Men: Di Sila Maka-Move On!

Mabuti pa si Kris Aquino.  She knows that her brother, ex-President NoyNoy, faces the possibility of being jailed over the botched Mamasapano mission that led to the deaths of 44 police commandos more than two years ago.

She sent a text to President Duterte, asking him not to go after her brother. “Huwag mo namang ipakulong si NoyNoy,” she said.

The former President is facing homicide charges before the Ombudsman in connection with Oplan Exodus, a police operation on January 25, 2015 against terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir and Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

But as far as PNoy and his men (and women) are concerned?

Well, we all saw that photo of NoyNoy, along with supporters “in black” trying to project the impression that the EDSA commemoration is still about the Aquinos and the promises of change from 31 years ago.

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And speaking of promises, Aquino’s former spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, just tweeted this:

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What a moronic tweet, taking Duterte to task for “promises” that have not been fulfilled six months into his presidency.

How soon can Lacierda forget the many promises of his former boss that have not been fulfilled after six years of NoyNoy being in a bubble?

Comparing Duterte’s 6 months vs. Aquino’s 6  years, the Philippines has seen significant changes under Digong never imagined by any Filipino to happen in any administration. But they did under Duterte!

And if we can be so literal about promises, Aquino promised to let himself be run over by a train if his promise to improve Metro Manila’s light railway system by a certain date didn’t happen.

Well, it didn’t.

Filipinos are still waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

Persecution? Rappler’s Fake Headline

On Monday, four sitting senators were stripped of committee chairmanships, including the position of Pro-Tempore, the  second highest position in the Philippine Senate.

Franklin Drilon was removed from the Pro-Tempore position and was replaced by Ralph Recto.

Francis Pangilinan was relieved as chair of the agriculture committee; Bam Aquino was removed from the education committee; and Risa Hontiveros from the health committee.

All, except Hontiveros, belong to the Liberal Party (LP) of Ex-President NoyNoy Aquino. Hontiveros of Akbayan, however, is aligned with the LP.

In the world of politics, such maneuvering by the dominant party or coalition is not out of the ordinary.  It is quite common for legislators try to coalesce with or distance themselves from others as part of a strategy to get support for legislation, policy or ideology.

Even in the United States, key committee chairmanships are usually given to members of the ruling party.

But the online-only news outlet Rappler chose to print a fake headline, as seen in the following screen capture:

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Really, Rappler?  Persecution?

First of all, nowhere in Rappler’s story was the word ‘persecution’ mentioned by any of the senators. Is Rappler now acting as spokesperson or revisionist for the Opposition?

Second of all, there was no resistance on the part of any of the senators to the motions put forward bySenator Manny Pacquiao.  As a matter of fact, all four senators seconded the very motions seeking their ouster.  We can hardly call that persecution!

Rappler reported that the LP senators see Malacañang’s hand in their ouster from the key posts following the arrest and detention of party mate Senator Leila De Lima.

It’s was an ally of De Lima , Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, who was quoted much earlier as saying that the lady senator’s arrest was “political persecution.”  It seems Rappler is mixing up its own reporting to fit an idea for a specific headline.

Rappler wants to “take back the Internet.” Maybe we should take back online news from Rappler.

Senator Risa Hontiveros Calls Filipino Millennials ‘The New EDSA’ While Musician Jim Paredes Berates Them

img_9402Senator Risa Hontiveros. Musician Jim Paredes.  They’re on the same team. Both are anti-Duterte.  They are fans of the Black and White Movement that tried to gather hundreds of thousands to commemorate EDSA 31 last weekend for their own selfish, political reasons (they failed).

But Hontiveros tried to project a different image, one that is very concerned about the future of this country, calling Filipino millennials — those who weren’t even born during the People Power Revolution of 1986 — ‘The New EDSA.’  She called on the youth to show up at EDSA 31.

Well, the youth did show up. Like the small group of Duterte Youth,  unfurling a banner supporting President Duterte and his programs for change. The same kind of change that represented the spirit of EDSA 1.

But what happens?  This Filipino-Australian named Jim Paredes, riding on the coattails of his being a celebrity from decades past, confronts this group of millennials, talking down on them as if he owns EDSA and had the moral authority to lecture the youth on the alleged extra-judicial killings under the Duterte administration.

Nevermind that Paredes’ mom was a member of a middle-class group that planned and executed the murder of Filipinos under the guise of wanting to expel a dictatorial regime. It was called the Light-A-Fire Movement that carried bombings that killed and injured innocent people. I believe such a group is called ‘terrorist’ in millennial terms.

So where is the disconnect, Ms. Hontiveros and Mr. Paredes?

Did you guys discuss this when you showed up at EDSA in your matching black t-shirts?  img_9382

I think the Filipino millennials deserve a clearer message.

Jim Paredes’ Demeanor And His Family’s Violent Past

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By now, many Filipinos have seen a video showing singer and vocal supporter of the Aquino administration Jim Paredes, confronting a small group belonging to the Duterte Youth that went viral on the Internet.  The group was peacefully protesting at the People Power Monument on EDSA.

Politikal Pinoy will not glorify Paredes’ outburst by quoting him or linking back to URLs showing him staring down at a member of the group. There’s Google for that.

He came on like a nutty professor scolding his students, or better still, a privileged and wealthy haciendero  insulting and cursing his house help or gardener.

We used to love his music (and that of his group, Apo Hiking Society).  We admire his guts. But we condemn his demeanor towards the young folks. In that confrontation, he painted himself a a self-righteous adult who thinks that only he has the right to free speech and assembly.

It is no secret that Paredes, now also a citizen of Australia, came from a middle-class family.  It is no secret either that his mother Esther Jimenez was a member of the group, “Light-A-Fire Movement.”

It was a group of prominent people who decided that violence was the solution against “abuses” of the Martial Law. They perpetrated many terroristic bombings in Metro Manila in the early 80’s. They trained mostly in the United States, with targets here in the Philippines.

In the US, its members were Filipino exiles and Filipino-Americans, mostly unnamed but led mainly by Heherson Alvarez, Raul Daza, Bonifacio Gillego and Charles Avila, along with a naturalized American citizen, a Greek native, Steven Psinakis (husband of Precy Lopez of the Lopez clan).

On September 12, 1980, bombs went off in Metro Manila, one badly damaging Rustan’s mall in Makati. The explosion at Rustan’s injured 70 people and killed an American tourist. On the night of October 4, 1980, more blasts rocked the Philippine Plaza, Century Park Sheraton, and Manila Peninsula hotels.

Doris Nuval Baffrey, a Filipina married to an American, on October 19, 1980, detonated an explosive at the PICC while President Marcos was addressing an international conference of the American Society of Travel Agents. Doris Nuval Baffrey and 15 other people were arrested in connection with the PICC bombing. Marcos issued more arrest orders for some 30 persons allegedly indirectly tied to the bombing including Ninoy Aquino and 8 others living in the US, among them Psinakis. Baffrey’s group, the “April 6 Liberation Movement”, had ties to the Light-A-Fire Movement.

In Metro Manila, the core operatives of the Light-A-Fire Movement based in the Philippines, was arrested while meeting in Quezon City. Among them were businessman Eduardo Olaguer, AIM professor Gaston Ortigas and Ester Jimenez, mother of Jim Paredes (of the Apo Hiking Society fame). They were all convicted and sentenced to die by electric chair in 1984. — source: Kahimyang Project

In a 2009 article written by Paredes’ sister, Paulynn P. Sicam, she recounted a conversation with their mother: “Why, Mom?” we asked, incredulous. “Why not?” she replied defiantly. “Martial law has gone on long enough. Somebody had to do something.”

“She said that when she saw how young people who had joined the underground were willing to give up their lives to restore our freedoms, she felt ashamed of her normal and comfortable life.”

So ironically, Jim’s demeanor towards the Duterte Youth was directly in contrast to his mom’s admiration of young people who speak their mind. It seems Paredes, though professing continued commitment to fight for freedom, continues to speak from his favorite bully pulpit — a comfortable life and a privileged class of Philippine (and Australian) society.

Senator Leila De Lima Got What She Deserves: Due Process

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It is precisely due process that has brought Senator Leila De Lima to this point of her arrest. In an extra-judicial scenario, she could have been picked up and jailed the very instant when allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons first surfaced.

Due process enabled her to remain free for a long time, and to defend herself in Congress and in the court of public opinion. Along the way, she was also free to hurl accusations of her own (and she did) against the President, the Justice Secretary, and the witnesses called to testify against her in the Legislative hearings.

De Lima herself had, on many occasions, welcomed the filing of charges against her in a court of law so that she can prove her innocence in the appropriate venue.  That time has come.

It was the judicial — not the executive or legislative  — branch of government that issued her warrant of arrest based on the required ‘sufficient evidence’ and ‘probable cause’ to start the due process.

De Lima will have all the avenues available to her under the rule of law to contest the charges, including her arrest. Those processes have, as a matter of fact, already begun, through the senator’s legal team.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also critical of some of Duterte’s policies including the rampant drug killings and the restoration of the death penalty, said if the accusations against De Lima were indeed true, due process should still be afforded to her.

Kung nagkasala, imbestigahan pero siguruhin na ang tamang proseso pagdaanan. Pero kung wala pang kaso may judgment na, ano iyong assurance natin na (If she has committed a sin, she should be investigated but she must undergo due process. But if a case has not yet been filed, yet there is already the judgment, what is our assurance that) she will be afforded the due process of law?” Robredo said. The VP now has the answer to her question.

Palace officials said the warrant of arrest issued against the senator gives her the opportunity to clear her name. We agree.

De Lima will finally have her day in court. She, VP Robredo, as well as all those who support or have been critical of the senator should all welcome this development.

It’s been a long time coming. But oftentimes, that is what due process entails.

EDSA 31: Lost In Commemoration

img_9329The EDSA Monument is crumbling. The hope and ideals for which it stands are lost in commemoration, 31 years later.

Today it speaks of betrayal against those who fought hard to restore freedom and democracy, and who sought to expansively create a better Philippine society where the man on the street will have the same rights and opportunities as those who control government and private enterprise with their vast resources and power.

Today, the EDSA Monument has become a bully pulpit for a watered-down issue that concerns only a few: exhuming the remains of Ferdinand E. Marcos from the burial site at Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.

Is this what the movement under which many fought hard and risked their lives has come down to? Dig up a grave?

How about making EDSA 31 a rallying cry to finally end poverty, corruption, criminality, oligarchy and to  preserve and defend our  freedom from local and foreign threats?

But no, more than anything else, it seems that what is most important is to  live and relive the memory of a dead man buried underground and to keep harping with an old and tired meme of “Never Again,” while our nation and people continue to languish under the same, or worse circumstances that led us to march on EDSA in the first place.

EDSA 31: lost in commemoration.

False Testimony, Perjury, And Aiding And Abetting A Crime

IMG_9300.PNGDISCLAIMER: This is not a legal opinion.  Rather, it represents questions that may be in the minds of lay people — the Filipino people. We make no assertions of any guilt or innocence.

Aiding and abetting is a legal doctrine related to the guilt of someone who aids or abets in the commission of a crime. It exists in a number of different countries and generally allows a court to pronounce someone guilty for aiding and abetting in a crime even if they are not the principal offender.

In Canada, a person who aids or abets in the commission of a crime is treated the same as a principal offender under the criminal law.

If we were to apply these laws and principles in the case of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas, could it be that Senator Alfonso Trillanes who staged this political theater is guilty of aiding and abetting?

We all know that Trillanes had a hand in bringing Edgar Matobato, self-confessed member of the alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS), to testify before the Senate while providing him protective custody.

Matobato’s Senate testimony all but crumbled and failed to establish the existence of the DDS under then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

One of the counter-witnesses was Lascañas who, under oath, denied Matobato’s claims on the DDS.

PERJURY: the willful and corrupt taking of a false oath in regard to a material matter in a proceeding.

Then yesterday, in a press conference put together by Trillanes, Lascañas flip-flopped and is now claiming that the DDS did exist in Davao and that he was personally involved in the “extra-judicial killings.” His statement at the press conference, was of course, not made under oath.

UNLESS PROVEN WITHOUT REASONABLE DOUBT, Lascañas’ new statement could be nothing but FALSE TESTIMONY.

Nobody knows for sure what made Lascañas completely change his statement on the DDS.  For now, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and accept what he said at the press conference that it is his fear of God and his conscience that prompted him to make this “public confession.”

So, let’s focus on Trillanes.

If he knew that Matobato’s testimony  was false but still acted to bring the witness before the Senate hearing — and provided him protective custody — isn’t that tantamount to aiding and abetting?

If Trillanes knew that Lascañas’ Senate testimony was the truth and is now facilitating the retired police officer’s recanting of his testimony under oath (and for whatever consideration that may have been promised for Lascañas), can that not be considered aiding and abetting?

Of course, we do not know what Trillanes knows or does not know.  Only he can answer that.

But let’s also give him the benefit of the doubt, and let him prove his case and that of Lascañas.

Aiding and abetting: guilt of someone who aids or abets in the commission of a crime. 

Perjury and False Testimony are both crimes.

Davao Death Squad: When You Corroborate The Claim Of A False Witness, What Does That Make You?

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Lascañas at a press conference called by Senator Trillanes

A veteran Davao policeman on Monday, February 20, appeared at a press conference called by Senator Trillanes to corroborate earlier claims by whistle-blower Edgar Matobato on the involvement of President Rodrigo Duterte in the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

“Totoo po ang Davao Death Squad,” declared SPO3 Arturo “Arthur” Lascañas, who retired from the Philippine National Police in December last year. (The Davao Death Squad is real.)

Four months ago, Lascañas testified under oath before the Philippine Senate, denying his involvement in the Davao Death Squad.

Matobato’s Senate testimony all but crumbled and has not helped any to prove the allegation about the existence of the DDS under then Mayor Duterte. No less than Senate President Aquilino Pimentel has said that Matobato’s testimony was a “waste of time.”

How credible is Lascañas press conference statement after his flip-flop?

In his statement, he said that it is his fear of God, his love for his country and the pursuit of his personal conscience that led him to make this “public confession.” Take that from a man who now claims he has conspired to commit murder!

Any witness testimony should be considered in the light of a person’s credibility and integrity. Certainly, someone who turns 180 degrees on a statement under oath should not be considered credible nor reliable. Especially when circumstances on his turn-around seems to have been instigated by yet another non-credible individual in the person of Trillanes.

I am reminded about one of God’s Commandments: ‘Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’

So if you corroborate the statement of a “false witness” what does that make you, Mr. Lascañas?

And what does that make of you, Mr. Trillanes?

Duterte’s Campaign Against Corruption And Investor Confidence In The Philippines: A Rebuttal

img_9260Politikal Pinoy does not claim to be a political or economic genius, but we don’t have to be one to know when a so-called expert makes claims that are completely the opposite of the real situation in the Philippines under the Duterte administration.

In a piece published by Forbes magazine, Panos Mourdoukoutas has painted a grim picture of the Philippines related to the campaign against corruption, illegal drugs and the future of foreign investments. This is our layman’s attempt at a point-by-point rebuttal of Mr. Mourdoukoutas’ claims:

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Mourdoukoutas

“President Rodrigo Duterte’s death squads didn’t kill corruption in the Philippines last year. But they killed freedom and democracy, and will kill the country’s economic growth and equity market.”

The use of the term “death squads” is old and tired, and none of the political and media accounts and investigations have proven without reasonable doubt that such “state-sanctioned” vigilante killings exist.

Reference to these “death squads” has been an ineffective strategy used by those out to discredit President Duterte and his war on drugs. Much like the use of the term “death panels” by those in the U.S. who are out to discredit and repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Freedom and democracy are alive and well under the Duterte administration. It’s exactly why we are able to read biased analysis of Philippine events like this article by Mourdoukoutas.

The opposition and the media in the Philippines have not been silenced. On the contrary, they thrive, and in many ways, are encouraged to speak up. When actress Agot Isidoro called the president a “psychopath,” his response was classic: she has the constitutional right to free speech.

Although Duterte’s campaign to end illegal drugs and corruption may actually intertwine, these are two separate, specific goals of the administration. So for Mourdoukoutas to suggest that the war on drugs hasn’t killed corruption is to oversimplify both issues that have been pervasive in the country.

Corruption is not exclusive to the current administration. On the contrary it has been inherited not just from the immediate past administration but several administrations that came before. To conclude that Duterte’s campaign against corruption has failed — less than a year into his administration — speaks of ignorance of the extent of the problem. Can anyone name a world leader that has eliminated corruption in just a few months?

The Philippines dropped six notches in the 2016 Corruption Index country ranking published recently by Transparency International.”

This very statement by Mourdoukoutas reveals his bias against the current administration. The last time I checked, there were twelve months in a year. Half of 2016 was under the administration of NoyNoy Aquino, where we can argue, corruption and illegal drugs thrived. So, to blame the current administration for the 2016 drop in the Philippines’ corruption index is not only an exercise in futility but a re-writing of actual events in history.

Fighting corruption is a big bet for Philippines and for foreign investors buying Philippine stocks. Why? Because winning it would mean the Philippines has won the war against corruption and pushed forward and become a developed country.”

I think President Duterte understands this, exactly. That’s why he has made the campaign against corruption one of the pillars of his administration. From all indications, he intends to win the war against corruption, just like he intends to win the war on illegal drugs.

While President Duterte has been ineffective in fighting corruption, his flip-flops over the South China Sea disputes have been taking their toll on the Philippines‘ stocks …”

Again, it is too early to judge Duterte’s fight against corruption. It takes some time to dismantle a decades-old evil that has practically been ingrained in the Filipino psyche.

But to label Duterte’s stand on the South China Sea dispute as “flip-flops” once again is a misreading and misinterpretation of the president’s pronouncements. The fact is, he has never even hinted of totally giving up the Philippines’ sovereignty over the islands that we believe belongs to us. What is clear though, is that Duterte knows where we stand vis a vis a powerful neighboring country like China, so his strategy is to use diplomacy rather than the military, in promoting the mutual benefits of both countries while not giving up our claim to the disputed territories.

“Apparently, investors are concerned about the political and economic future of that nation (Philippines), and the prospects for on-going economic integration of the region and the global economy — most notably China, which needs a market frontier for its manufacturing products.”

Investors are, of course, expected to be concerned about the political and economic future of ANY nation. Their business depends on it. I agree about the economic integration of the region. With political and economic changes happening in the West, notably Europe and the Americas, it bodes well for the Philippines to work with its neighbor countries to strengthen the economy of the entire region. And the Philippines is poised to be leading in this effort, especially this year when it holds the chairmanship of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian National.

Forecasts and manifestations seem in direct contrast to what Mourdoukoutas is claiming. The Philippines is seen as the next ground zero for business and infrastructure growth. Governments like the Netherlands have already promised to invest in Duterte’s Philippines, not to mention the deals that our president has sealed during his recent state visits to China, Japan and our other Asian neighbors. It’s BILLIONS in investments!

So while the likes of Mr. Mourdoukoutas are bearish about the Philippines’ economy, we, the Filipinos are bullish!

UPDATE! Continuing its trend of economic gains, the Philippines moved up 12 notches and scored higher than world average in the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom (IEF). The Philippines placed 58th in latest index from 70th place last year.

Conducted by Washington-based think tank Heritage Foundation, the IEF covers 186 countries and reveals a positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of socioeconomic goals, including poverty elimination, greater per capita wealth, healthier societies, cleaner environments, and democracy.

Moral Ascendancy?

IMG_9226.JPGWhen Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte chastised the Catholic Church, saying that it had no “moral ascendancy” to criticize him and his war on drugs, he wasn’t speaking in his usual manner of hyperbole. Rather, he was vocalizing what most Catholic Filipinos dare not to bring up or discuss in public, among other things — sexual abuse.

Whether or not one would believe Duterte’s claim that as a young man, he was molested by a Catholic priest, the issue of sexual abuse by men in religious vestments
is one that has been veiled in secrecy for many decades.

In a book titled, “Altar of Secrets,” writer Aries Rufo courageously reveals the sexual misconduct of individuals who are preachers of morality. Citing mostly anonymous sources, Rufo takes his readers through two decades of experience covering the Catholic Church as part of his beat. He claims that some “princes” of the Catholic Church have lived immoral lives.

Rufo’s book is also about injustice, corruption, financial mismanagement, and the abuse of power by people who happen to be bishops and priests.

In a cinematic revelation of the sexual scandals in the Catholic Church, the Hollywood film, “Spotlight” tells of the true story of a team of investigative journalists from The Boston Globe whose reporting led to the acknowledgment of a long history of sexual abuse by men of God, exacerbated only by a systematic cover-up by Church hierarchy.

A new piece by Al Jazeera concludes that sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church is a growing problem in the Philippines. The investigative report has revealed that priests suspected of abuse are seldom prosecuted.

Merman Aldea, an outreach worker helping victims of abuse, told Al Jazeera that some of the victims  had barely started school and were often terrified to speak out. “The youngest is six. They are afraid they will be cursed or ‘God’ will curse them if they go against these people.”

Imagine your six-year-old son or daughter going through this ordeal!

So while the Catholic Church in the Philippines — led by the leadership of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines — has left no stone unturned in dipping its fingers in affairs of the state, despite the constitutional mandate on the separation between the two entities , it has been slow in casting the first stone at its erring colleagues.

Moral ascendancy you say? How about hypocrisy?

So before we, the Catholic Faithful, put our trust in our bishops as they continue to lecture us and the government about human rights, sanctity of life, justice, and the perils of crime and poverty, we need to first establish their moral authority in expecting their flock to condemn some of the very evils that they themselves are guilty of.