Senator Risa Hontiveros: A Dose Of Her Own Medicine?

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First, let us get this out of the way: we are not saying that any person should be found guilty just by mere association. There has to be more convincing and proven fact that would link anyone to a crime or illegal act — beyond reasonable doubt, as judges and lawyers like to say.

However, we can’t help but be amazed at how certain things that a person says or does circle back in a manner that speaks of the cliche, ‘a dose of one’s own medicine.’

One person we have in mind is Senator Risa Hontiveros, known to be a mouthpiece of one of the factions opposed to Rodrigo Duterte.

On several occasions, Hontiveros used her bully pulpit to condemn Rodrigo Duterte for his public comment on rape and his war on drugs which the senator labeled as a “deadly failure.”

But when a person she is associated with — not be chance but by choice — is the subject of alleged criminal acts that Hontiveros has openly talked about, then she loses her credibility as well as her integrity to comment on both the war on drugs and rape.

Businessman and alleged Customs “middleman” Kenneth Dong was arrested on Tuesday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with a rape case. He is the same Dong who is now the subject of a Senate investigation on a P6.2 million shabu shipment from China.

“The 33-year-old Dong found fortune and connections by selling industrial weighing scales. He then opened a construction business, and now owns a luxury club in Cebu.
He was a campaign donor to Senators Risa Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva in the last two elections.

Statements of Contributions and Expenditures show Dong donated P3 million and P5 million in 2013 and 2016 respectively for Hontiveros. He also contributed P3 million to the then-TESDA chief in 2016.

Then, for some interesting turn of events, Hontiveros and Villanueva, along with other politicians, became Dong’s wedding sponsors.

In a recent television interview, Hontiveros described her connection with Dong as “not deep.”  Whatever that means.

The fact remains that her association with Dong renders the lady senator void of the moral ascendancy to continue to criticize the president on the two issues.

It would be wise for Hontiveros to recuse herself for now until Dong’s guilt or innocence is decided in a court of law.

 

As Expected, Supreme Court Rules Against Leni Robredo’s Supporters

IMG_3549Several weeks ago, Politikal Pinoy asked a rhetorical question: Is Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni in violation of the Philippine Constitution? 

We knew what the answer was.  Even a non-lawyer would know.

It is clearly in violation of Republic Act No. 6713 which establishes a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees to uphold the time-honored principle of public office being a public trust. It also lists prohibited acts and transactions pertaining to elected or appointed public officials.

Section 7 of the Act lists, among others, the following prohibition:

(d) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. – Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.

The key words here are “directly or indirectly.” Some Leni supporters had argued that because they were not giving money directly to Leni, it would not violate the law.  They were clearly wrong, and the Supreme Court has just issued a ruling confirming what we thought all along.

Of course, as expected, Leni’s supporters are appealing the ruling.  They surely need some good advice on how to use their resources wisely.  It’s just a waste of time.  Or perhaps, a calculated delaying tactic?

Let the electoral protest process proceed, so that we can put this circus behind us — regardless of its outcome.

The Irony Of North Korea’s Threat To Strike Guam With Its Missiles

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base GuamThere was a reason Japan attacked Hawaii in 1941.  It was not only because it was the closest U.S. state from Asia, but it also was host to one of the largest American military  installations in the Pacific at Pearl Harbor.

Fast forward to 2017.

In the escalating conflict between America and North Korea, the communist nation has threatened to strike the island of Guam, a U.S. territory, with its nuclear warhead.

Guam is even closer to Asia than Hawaii, and it continues to host a huge American military presence and facilities.

North Korea claims it has the capability of firing a missile directly at the U.S. Mainland, California to be exact.

But like the Japanese attack that triggered World War II, a strike on Guam is a symbolic strike on America.  But it is also a strike on the U.S. military, whose installations are just hours away from the Korean Peninsula.

But can you imagine if the Philippines still hosted the U.S. military at Clark and Subic? The country could have been a strategic target by North Korea in terms of proximity and military target.  It seems the Philippines’ decision to say goodbye to U.S. bases more than a quarter of a century ago may have saved the country from being caught in the potential crossfire between North Korea and America.

It is also ironic that while Guam is a convenient target for North Korea, the fact remains that as a territory, the island does not directly participate in electing U.S. presidents. Like other U.S. territories, citizens living in Guam didn’t have a hand in electing Donald Trump who now threatens North Korea with fire and fury if it does, indeed, attack Guam.

 

 

There Should Be No Bail For A Rapist Even If He Is A Man Of God

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Now comes the news that the Marikina City Prosecutor’s Office allowed Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos, the priest caught with a 13-year-old girl while on the way to a motel over the weekend, to post bail and was released from detention at 2:49 p.m. on Tuesday.

In a resolution, Prosecutors Nikolai Salinas, Ricardo Paet Jr. and Linda Adame-Conos granted Lagarejos’ petition and was allowed to post bail of P120,000.

Lagarejos is facing a complaint for violation of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old pimp involved was not allowed to post bail.

The case against Lagarejos is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, he should have been charged with rape, even if it was not consummated. A criminal act remains a criminal act if there is intent or pre-meditation.

But I can see why the priest was not charged with rape.

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 otherwise known as R.A. 8353 describes rape as a sexual act with anyone below 12 year of age. In Chapter Three, it says rape is committed “when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented,” which means over that age it is approved provided there is consent and no force used.  THIS LAW NEEDS TO BE CHANGED!

Common sense dictates that consent is not necessarily present even when the child is 13 years old.  She was forced into a sexual encounter with the priest.  By a pimp.

Granting that prosecutors don’t have the legal basis to charge the priest with rape under RA 8353, there is another law, RA 7610, which provides for special protection against child abuse and exploitation.  This law protects those who are under 18 years of age.

What is a greater form of child abuse than rape?

The decision to grant bail to Lagarejos sends the wrong message to sex traffickers, rapists and child abusers.  And it definitely creates the perception that “men of God” receive special treatment under civil law, when strictly speaking, they should be held to higher standards.

 

 

 

 

The Fallacy Of The Oxford University Study On ‘Paid Trolls’

IMG_3175The headline reads: “Duterte camp spent $200,000 for troll army, Oxford study finds.”

For the anti-Duterte camp, the “study” provides a ‘scientific’ ammunition for their continuing smear campaign against the popular Philippine president and his reform programs. Oxford University! Prestigious indeed!

But the Oxford study is nothing but a fallacy, especially as it pertains to the sections on the Philippines.

Just look at the references at the end of the study. The two citations that were the basis for the study’s conclusions regarding the Duterte troll army were — surprise, surprise — Rappler!  Yes, the same Rappler that manufactured the infamous 7,000 “extra-judicial killings” (EJKs) under Duterte’s war on drugs.  Manufactured without any solid proof, I might add.

It disappoints me that the Oxford study authors based their conclusions on ‘opinion’ pieces/reports published by a notably biased news source.

$200,000 or P10 million may seem like an extravagant amount to spend for a social media “army troll.”  But as Duterte himself, admitted, it was an amount used during the presidential campaign — no different from the PR, media or propaganda campaigns and funds put in place by all political parties in support of their candidates in an election.

It is quite convenient for the anti-Duterte folks to make a big deal about the funds spent for a social media campaign.  But taken in the context of what political parties spent in the elections prior to 2016, we can see that Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban spent the least among the major political parties:

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Lastly, the Oxford study gives the wrong impression that Duterte continues to have a PAID troll army to help boost his popularity, defend his actions, and ward off the opposition’s criticism against his administration.

Most of Duterte’s so-called social media warriors are volunteers, concerned individuals who believe in the president and the changes that he has initiated and continues to pursue for the country.

Duterte does not really need to employ a paid social media troll army. His popularity and the support for his programs and policies are already evident among those that matter most: an overwhelming, super majority of the Filipino people.

 

Philippines President Duterte’s War On Drugs Is Working; Indonesia Is Proof

IMG_3155.PNGMany countries in the West think that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is not working. Nevermind that these same countries have their own illegal drug trade problems and have not come up with a viable solution.

But we don’t have to look towards the West to find countries or governments that believe Duterte’s campaign actually works. Indonesia is a perfect example.

Indonesia has become a target for international drug dealers who have shifted their attention from the Philippines after the country began meting out harsh punishments to suspected drug dealers under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has said.

“The firm actions in the Philippines have caused drug dealers to look for a new market and Indonesia is that new market,” BNN drug control head Insp. Gen. Arman Depari said in a press conference at the headquarters of the Jakarta Police on Thursday.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said the police would get tough on foreign drug smugglers and would not hesitate to shoot smugglers who resisted arrest.

Duterte’s war on drugs has become a model for other countries with similar drug problems.

While Politikal Pinoy does not necessarily support the indiscriminate killing of drug lords, pushers or addicts, the message that Indonesia is sending to the rest of the world is that governments must be tough in dealing with the problem.

Karnavian’s message must be taken in context.  The police will not indiscriminately shoot drug smugglers — only those ‘who resist arrest.”

It has always been the message of Duterte when admonishing law enforcement personnel to fire their guns at suspected criminals who fight back arrest.  I think it’s called self-defense.

But what could be a better testimonial on Duterte’s drug war than an official statement from Indonesia that drug dealers have shifted their attention FROM the Philippines to Indonesia.  Duterte has scared them away!

Simple Math Could Solve NAIA’s Immigration Backlog

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If you have passed through immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) lately, you must have encountered the unusually long queues to get your travel documents processed.

Several months ago, it has been reported that there seemed to be an exodus of immigration personnel at NAIA due to President Duterte’s ban on overtime pay. Consequently, immigration booths at the airport’s arrival area have been clearly understaffed.

Why personnel recruitment by the Bureau of Immigration hasn’t caught up with the understaffing boggles my mind.

It doesn’t take a genius to solve the immigration backlog at the airport.  It just needs some simple math.

Let’s take a look at Terminal 1 where most international flights come in on a daily basis, and let’s further narrow it down to a six-hour time period, between 6 a.m. and 12 noon.

There are at least 15 international flights that arrive each morning.

Let’s just assume that based on the capacity of a 747 aircraft, each incoming flight carries an average of 400 passengers. That’s 6,000 passengers whose passports and visas need to be processed on arrival.

The last time (which was yesterday) that I went through NAIA’s immigration, I noticed that several of the immigration booths were not sufficiently staffed.  I recall seeing a total of about 10 immigration officers.

That means that each officer would have to process 600 passengers for that 6-hour period, or 100 per hour — assuming it takes one minute to process each person.

I understand that recruiting for additional personnel takes time and follows an established process, but there are some quick, albeit temporary fixes that BOI can look into, like deploying (and training) some of their supervisors or employees from other departments to fill in the vacuum until a more permanent solution is put in place.

I’ve personally seen great changes at NAIA since Duterte became president, but unless this immigration backlog is addressed, none of the other changes will matter to the travelers and visitors.  Oftentimes, the first impression could be the last.  And that does not bode well for our tourism or the administration for that matter.

Oh, and while we’re at it.  The posted NAIA hotline number at the arrival area doesn’t work.  I know because I tried to call the number several times while waiting for my turn at immigration to complain about the long queues. All I got were dropped calls.

Hello, NAIA,  can you hear me now?

EU Delegation Visit With De Lima Speaks Well Of Duterte

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(Photo: ABS-CBN News)

A 12-member delegation from the European Union (EU) is in the country on what is being described as a four-day “fact-sharing” mission.

The group includes EU’s Sub-committee on Human Rights members Soraya Post (Sweden), Adam Kosa (Hungary), Joseph Weidenholzer (Austria), and Rikker Karlsson (Denmark).

We all know, of course, that the trip is obviously a “fishing expedition” aimed at gathering ‘information’  to justify EU’s recent resolutions criticizing the alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s war on drugs, and demanding the immediate release of incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima.

The mission would not be complete without the well-publicized visit with De Lima at her detention cell at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Politikal Pinoy believes that while most Filipinos are skeptical of — and perhaps even angry about — the EU mission, it actually speaks well of President Duterte.. For how can a leader accused of violations of human rights and of being a dictator even allow this biased and misinformed group to come to the country, and more so to visit self-proclaimed “political prisoner” de Lima? He could have easily blocked their entry to the Philippines and ordered the PNP to deny a visit with the senator.

We can only anticipate the group to come up with some derogatory report, as I am sure Commission on Human Rights’ Chito Gascon and his group, as well as political leaders identified with the Opposition, will do all they can to paint a less-than-rosy picture of the Duterte government.  It will not be a surprise if the likes of Senators Trillanes, Hontiveros and Aquino are meeting, or have already met with the group. Also expect the biased local media to collude in this effort.

But Duterte is always true to his word about defending each person’s right to criticize him. He has proven again and again that he respects the constitutional right of everyone to free speech.

The fact that the EU group is here and is not being prevented from what to say or do while in the country is a slap on the face for those who have been very critical of the president and who have been trying to destabilize the Duterte government.

We can only wait and see if the group chooses to be selective in the people they meet while in the Philippines to conduct their fact-finding.  Hopefully they find and report facts and not faux.

We hope that they also meet with Filipinos who are among the 82% who fully support Duterte

 

U.S. Government Needs To Clean House Before Meddling With Philippine Affairs

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Photo: Time.com

Now comes the news that the Congress of the United States will hold an inquiry this week into the Philippines’ war on drugs.  The hearing will be conducted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

The inquiry is so wrong on many levels.

U.S. Congress has no jurisdiction over internal affairs of the Philippines.  Other than a possible statement of concern or condemnation, anything that results from this inquiry has no real effect on the Philippines — other than perhaps the U.S. cutting or threatening to cut “development aid” to its former colony.

It is also a waste of U.S. taxpayer money, not to mention the fact that the inquiry is hypocritical at its best  It only shows America’s reputation as a bully and world police.

U.S. Illegal Drug Trade

An analysis of recent surveys and research studies places the size of the illegal U.S. drug market at $200 billion to $750 billion per year, with most estimates coming in between $400 billion.

In addition, while also critical of the drug trade (and resulting violence) of Mexico and other South American countries, the U.S. has been identified as the primary consumer of illegal drugs produced by its neighbors.

A report also estimates that  people are killed in the U.S. Drug War at the rate of one a week.

Congress and the Western media can condemn the Philippines’ war on drugs all they want, but it does not change the fact that more than 80% of Filipinos support President Rodrigo Duterte, including his war on drugs and corruption.

This is not the first time that the West has tried to dip its finger into the internal affairs of the Philippines.  The European Union had previously passed a couple of resolutions to that effect.  With no impact.

The West can continue to dangle its “development aid” before the Philippine government, but the Duterte administration is not biting it.

Duterte has had huge success securing aid from other non-traditional allies, especially within the Asian region.

So, U.S. Congress: you’d be better off cleaning house first before meddling in Philippine internal affairs.

 

What Do Dinky Soliman And Celeste Legaspi Have In Common?

IMG_3006.PNGWhat do former Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman and former singer Celeste Legaspi have in common?

No, not hair color.  Legaspi’s grey hair appears to be part of the natural aging process while Soliman’s constantly-changing streaks is the result of artificial hair coloring.

What’s common between the two personalities is that both are supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo and are among a group of women that has taken up the cudgels of helping the Vice President raise funds to help defray the costs of challenging former Senator Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest relating to the accuracy and authenticity of the votes for VP in last year’s Philippine national elections.

Aside from Legaspi and Soliman, the others in the group that calls itself the “formidable six” are  Mel Alonso, Karina Bolasco, Nina Yuson and Paulynne Sicam.  The group claims that there are a lot of other women leaders involved but “who for valid reasons must remain anonymous.”  Advising the group is pro bono lawyer Atty. Pingky Bartolomme-Barnabe. (Source: Philippine Star)

Politikal Pinoy personally knows of others who have publicly announced their contribution to “Piso Para Sa Laban Ni Leni,” the fundraising initiative aimed at raising money for Robredo’s legal fees.

We have recently questioned whether the fundraising campaign is in violation of the Constitution which prohibits public officials from receiving gifts.

Section 7 of the Act lists, among others, the following prohibition:

(d) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. – Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.

Some offer the excuse that since proceeds from “Piso Para Kay Leni” are not given DIRECTLY to Robredo, but rather towards the fulfillment of the required legal fees, then it does not violate the Constitution.  But the law is clear that acceptance of gifts is prohibited  — directly or indirectly. (If I pay for someone’s air fare as a a gift, it is still a gift even if I paid the airline directly for that person’s plane ticket using cash or my credit card.)

Then, the group admits that it has filed a petition allowing it to submit directly to the Presidential Electorial Tribunal (PET) the amount raised cost to help defray the deposit required of the VP for the recount.  There lies the group’s inconsistency: claiming that its fundraising campaign is not against the law while recognizing that it needs imprimatur from the Supreme Court (acting as the PET).

They also claim that Robredo herself has nothing to do with the initiative, although they have informed her of their intentions to help with the legal fees. The fact that the Vice President — as far as we know — has not objected to the initiative makes her “complicit” to any violation of the law.

Then again, Politikal Pinoy can see why Robredo is not directly involved in the fundraising campaign.  She’s too busy with her and her family’s foreign travels.

Such a circus.