Category: rodrigo duterte

duterte’s drug war & the “hearsay” divide

recently the president admitted na nagkamali siya when he promised to rid the country of shabu in six months, imposible daw pala, even in the next five years, it just cannot be done, he says, by a single president over just one term.

i thought it might mean a CHANGE in strategy, from killing killing killing alleged addicts and pushers without due process to finally policing customs and coastlines and preventing the smuggling of shabu and it’s component chemicals into the country.  but no.

He [said] having a long coastline to watch over and thousands of islands to guard make it difficult to prevent the entry of illegal drugs.

“We do not have the equipment, kulang man (It’s not enough). And you know the coastline,” he added.

he made us a new promise instead:

I assure you, by the time I make my—kung buhay pa ako (if I am still alive)—five years from now, drugs will be at its lowest,” he said.

too soon bato’s police were back on the streets big time, in multiple synchronous operations across bulacan, and later in manila.  killing alleged addicts and dealers without due process, puro hearsay, mostly info solicited from barangay peeps and neighbors, atbp., as if we didn’t know how easy it is to point fingers, especially if under duress of authorities with quotas to meet.  hearsay, sabi-sabi, is good enough in this environment, and once you’re on that list, it is said, you’re on the list forever, never mind if you’ve been rehabbed or you were clean to begin with at napagdiskitahan lang, which may have been the case with kian.

In an unusual move, allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Senate on Friday condemned the killing of a 17-year-old senior high school student in Caloocan City, with some pushing for a probe into the boy’s death and those of scores of suspects in the past bloody week described as the deadliest since the start of the government’s drug war in July last year.

This is one of the rare instances during which senators who belong to the majority caucus in the Senate have publicly spoken against the killings related to Duterte’s brutal and unrelenting war on drugs.

The policemen who shot to death Kian Loyd Delos Santos on Wednesday night were not only abusive but also “killers and criminals,” according to Sen. Francis Escudero.  “The CCTV footage and eyewitness account clearly show that the boy was killed.”

five more years?  we cannot have five more years of this.  it is too painful for the body politic, mr. president, sir.  and it is dangerous: what monsters are we turning our police forces into?  and we the people, do we really want to become desensitized to inhumane treatment by government?  read yen makabenta’s It’s not fun waking up in a ‘narco-state’.

When Duterte absolves the police of wrongdoing in the drug war, no matter what the abuses, I believe he is crossing a red line in constitutional government. It is dangerous to himself and to his presidency.

It is not explained away by protesting against due process of law and human rights.

The presidential rhetoric is both inflationary and demoralizing.

Believe it or not, the police profession is supposed to exercise intellectual leadership in the criminal justice system. The police must take the lead in the fight against crime and violence.

not all shabu addicts are bad people who get violent  and criminal under the influence and who deserve to be eliminated just like that.  and even addicts who do get violent and criminal do not deserve to be killed without due process and rehab options.  we are better than this.

but yeah our world would be a better place without shabu, and it’s weird that the president isn’t trying harder to turn off the supply.  the real job is to stop both the manufacture here and the smuggling-in of shabu and its components.  the customs shabu fiasco was the perfect opportunity for the president to demonstrate that all his tough talk vs. drugs and corruption is not just talk and empty threats.  instead he chose to prop up and make excuses for faeldon.

“But Faeldon, I will stand by him. He’s really honest. Kaya lang nalusutan siya because lahat diyan sa Customs, corrupt. My God,” Duterte said on Wednesday in his speech in Malacañang during the celebration of the 19th anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

“I hope I would not offend any particular person but almost all [are corrupt]. Sila ‘yong magagandang bahay…magaganda ang kotse [They are those who have beautiful houses and beautiful cars] ,” he added.

he hopes he would not offend anyone in particular?  i am aghast.  seriously?  ayaw niyang maka-offend ng mga corrupt?  hindi siya nagagalit nang  bongga  sa mga corrupt na ito na tone-toneladas kung magpasok o magpapasok ng shabu?

it’s bad enough that hearsay is acceptable only in cases against the poor and powerless, not in cases against the rich and powerful.  what’s worse is, when they do have enough evidence and/or search warrants on the rich and powerful, the suspects end up dead.  as in, silenced forever.

in the bureau of customs naman, a different kind of silencing is going on.  in Have we truly become a full-blown narco state? kit tatad wonders what faeldon knows.

…something DU30 may not blithely ignore. Analysts close to this issue, however, believe Faeldon may be in possession of certain sensitive information, which makes it hard for DU30 to get rid of him, unless he volunteers to step down. …Amid the apparent efforts of some quarters to link DU30’s son Paolo, the vice mayor of Davao City, to the dangerous drugs shipment from Xiamen, Faeldon has not said one word clearing him of any suspicion. If Faeldon knows Paolo is not at all involved in any monkey business at the pier, shouldn’t he have come to his defense after the customs broker Mark Taguba mentioned his name, quoting wild rumors, in a congressional hearing? He did not.

…The problem is, a photo has surfaced in the social media showing Paolo in a friendly pose with Kenneth Dong, the alleged middleman in the illegal P6.4 billion drug shipment. And some people are giving undue importance to it. No one is saying the young man has any fascination for any narco king—whether it be Burma’s late opium king Khun Sa, or Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, or Mexico’s Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. But by linking him to Kenneth Dong and the rest of his narco chain, his enemies clearly want to show his guilt by association.

the president himself has minced no words about how much worse the corruption is than he thought, shabu-related corruption in particular.

He [said] that the war on drugs had exposed so many people involved in the business of illegal drugs, it was like pressing “worms out of a can.”

“I didn’t have an idea that there are hundreds of thousands of people already in the drug business. What makes it worse is they are cooperated now by people in government, especially those in elected positions. So, it will be government versus government,” he added.

there’s the rub.  government vs. government.  big shots vs. big shots.  tila nga napakaraming very-important-people and their networks ang tatamaan. napakaraming mawawalan ng trabaho (kawawa naman).  at magkakaalaman, mabubuking (sa wakas), kung sinosino nga ba sa mga honourable na iyan ang sinasandalan at dinadatungan ng mga drug lord.  sinosino ba sa mga honourable na iyan na nagmamalinis ang mga kalaban pala, mga kaaway pala, ng taong-bayan. clear lines would finally be drawn, and that would be oh so good for nation.

i’d have thought that a showdown was right up digong’s alley.  i thought he might be the anti-hero hero who would end narco rule and institute systemic changes, set things right, no matter what.  alas, our astig prez seems to be intimidated out of his wits.  too much baggage?

“I have to stop drugs, really stop. And it will stop,” he said in a speech during a tourism event in Davao City Friday night.  “I will kill you if you destroy my country and you start f****** with my children,” he added.

“my children”?  slip of the tongue?  or just another bad joke.

seize the day, faeldon!

commissioner nick faeldon should stop with the threats to expose influence peddlers in congress (and elsewhere) and JUST DO IT,  name names!  otherwise he and his cohorts (yes, i remember them from oakwood, too) are proving to be all-bark-and-no-bite and only complicit with the scandalous corruption in the bureau of customs that has been going on like forever.

i’ve heard too many stories from family and friends who have had to deal with customs so napaka-credible sa akin ng info ni senator ping lacson re the payola, the lagayan, in aid of quick access to, or outright smuggling of, all kinds of goods, legit and / or not.

… “Open secret. Alam natin ang three o’clock habit, Friday,” Lacson said in a radio interview, referring to the alleged weekend practice at the BOC when bribes are supposedly divided.

Brokers, according to Lacson’s information, usually pay an average of P27,000 to P30,000 for payola per container. At least 10,000 containers pass through the Bureau every day.

“So P27,000 times 10,000, that’s P270 million per day. Payola ito. Tara lang ‘yan. ‘Pag multiply mo ng 365 [days], easily that’s P98.55 billion,” Lacson said.

“So kung P98.55 billion a year, payola lang ito…Ang budget deficit natin for this year so far [is] P147 billion. So dalawang taon pa lang, wiped out na ang budget deficit. Eh napupunta ito sa bulsa, di naman sa gobyerno,” he said.

but wait, there’s more, sey ni amy pamintuan ng philstar:

… a witness was forced to admit before the House inquiry that he gave BOC officials P27,000 as grease money for every shipping container waved through the “green lane” at the Port of Manila.

The amount is on top of the legitimate fee of P40,000 per container, according to Customs broker Mark Taguba, who imported a shipment from China in May that was found to contain 605 kilos of shabu valued at P6.4 billion. Taguba said he handled the release of 500 shipments through the BOC from March to May this year alone, although Customs officials said the actual figure is 630. That’s P17 million in bribes in just three months.

that’s a lot of money.  does all the 40K go to government?  if yes, great (but maybe not, no?).  27K per is still a lot, given the huge volume daily.  kaya pala, basta taga-customs, madatung, maraming kotse at bahay, panay ang biyahe, malaki ang tiyan, ang sarap ng buhay, ang saya-saya.  ang balita pa, parang dynasty dyan — by the time daw one retires, naipasok na ang anak, kapatid, pamangkin, inaanak.  mana mana.  all at the expense of nation.

isa pang tanong: are faeldon and his oakwood cohorts on the take na rin, like everybody else? sana hindi.  i like to think na bumubuwelo lang sila and that they will finally find the guts to name names, for starters.  no guts, no glory.

but on second thought, it’s not as if there is reason for optimism.  i just saw, listened to, faeldon with henry omaga diaz on dzmm teleradyo and nothing he said inspired confidence.  parang he’s more concerned with PR (public relations) and so we have popular athletes as agents of goodwill aka intel officers kuno.  nakakaloka.

also, parang prinoproblema niyang masyado yung mga mawawalan ng hanapbuhay kung sakaling magkaroon ng purge [my word], i suppose masyadong maraming tatamaan, please correct me if i misheard or misunderstood or read too much between the lines.

sa ganitong sitwasyon, hindi ba nararapat na ang mangibabaw ay ang kapakanan ng buong bayan, hindi ng iilan?  yes, change will be painful for some, pero siguro naman nakaipon na sila, nakapagpayaman na sila, lamang na lamang na, i mean, you know, puwede ba, bayan naman.

and, teka, ilan ba yung “less than 10” congressmen?  9?  2?  more than 5?  less than 5?  i’m so bitin.  it’s so lame, or should i say limp.  whatever.  may i say lang to the house of reps, please stop na with the executive sessions that only serve to protect yourselves.  we’re not all dumb.

anyway i’ve been expecting more from these oakwood guys.  i was looking forward to something as audacious as  the 2003 attempt to take over the arroyo government.  today, in the time of duterte, one can only wonder why faeldon and his men seem so timid and impotent.  surely, duterte has faeldon’s back?  surely, duterte would support a challenge to the status quo, even if only on the BOC front, for the sake of the country and the people he says he so loves?

or is everyone just joking pala.  paano na.

The Tragedy of Marawi for a Chastened Duterte

Criselda Yabes

The destruction of the Islamic city of Marawi has tragically confounded the aspirations of President Rodrigo Duterte, the small-town mayor who became the Philippine President and has discovered that his ambitions outweighed his capabilities.

Based on his experience as the mayor of Davao City, where he had a friendly relationship with the region’s Muslims, Duterte promised during his presidential campaign to deliver an elusive peace in the southern Philippines in his term.

The fighting that raged throughout Ramadan to flush out terrorists pledging allegiance to the Islamic State has reached catastrophic proportions not seen in the recent cycle of violence on Mindanao island.  The Islamists at the very epicenter of his polity say they want to establish a caliphate, with jihadis crossing onto Mindanao’s unguarded beaches from Yemen, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.

The president too has not been seen in public – raising serious questions over the 72-year-old’s health –for the most part of the crisis that has claimed more than 400 lives, displacing tens and thousands of Muslims, while the military battled in what was once a heritage city that has gone to ruins, the fighting now tapering off in its sixth week.

Suddenly appearing at the presidential palace for the late celebration of Eid al-Fitr, Duterte said he was saddened and angered and fell back to his default mood of cursing the tragedy of the Maranao tribe in Marawi – whom he had often boasted were among his blood families.

No longer the tough guy

And the tragedy for the president is that his pulse of Mindanao, of which he is a “proud son,” is no better than those of his predecessors who also had to face the rawness of the decades-long conflict. It has dismantled his armor of being the tough guy in the neighborhood.

The map of Mindanao has been scorched with far too many killings, battles, burnings – reaching major proportions seemingly every two years, the last of which was a botched police operation in early 2015, before that a rebel siege in a largely Christian city in 2013, and the killings of scores journalists by a warlord family in late 2009.

The battle for the city of Marawi in northwestern Mindanao, whose population once numbered 200,000 but which is now wrecked,  has defied military logic, with the commanders forced to send in the armor and artillery and to pour down bombs in a series of air strikes, asking help from the Americans that Duterte had scorned, to bear the brutal challenge of the terrorists’ arsenal of high-powered weapons.

No longer fighting and running

It used to be that rebels would fight, withdraw, and fight another day. Not this one.

The president hadn’t realized that the Maute group that he had belittled would strike in such a spectacular show of force. He said himself that if it had been a war against the old guard of the Moro National Liberation Front and its breakaway Moro Islamic Liberation Front, he would have “endured it and pleaded peace with you.”

“What is painful to me is the entry of a fractured ideology and they don’t even know what they’re doing. All they want is to kill and destroy,” he said. “If they went to a forested area, claim a particular mountain and fight there I could have forgiven them.”

That was the specter of Marawi: radicalization choosing Mindanao to make its mark in Southeast Asia from orders in the Middle East. When the fighting broke out on May 23, the terrorists could have taken over, raised the black flag over the hills of the army brigade camp, to establish a wilayat, an  Arab word for a dominion,  that would have been of unimaginable consequences. They were stopped in the nick of time.

The president said it would not have worked anyway, because “we are a Malay race, we are not that brutal and we respect life.” Had he not known that terrorists who had first come to the shores sowing violent extremism in the minds of the local rebel groups were from Indonesia and Malaysia, and were ethnic Malays?

Open park

Mindanao is an open park for the terrorists crossing the waters from neighboring countries in the southern fringes; and without strict identification control and border patrols that are emblem of internal security. it’s a walk to the rebel enclaves.

The plains and the mountains around the borders of Lanao del Sur (of which Marawi is a part) and Maguindanao provinces have been training grounds since the 1990s for Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. It was then that an Indonesian named Ibrahim Ali was among the first batch of the so-called cadets.

It was Ali, according to one intelligence report, whom the IS had wanted to designate the emir for Southeast Asia but who was killed in a shootout in late 2015 in the Philippines’ Sultan Kudarat Province, that was intended to capture a leader of another rebel group. The military was to discover later that it was Ali the bomb maker who was among the casualties.

Consequently, it was a daring leap for Isnilon Hapilon to be named the emir for the Southeast Asian Caliphate from his Abu Sayyaf rebel base on Basilan island to the mainland’s northwest frontier to join forces with the Maute family – steeped in money and in clan wars – that held fort in a remote town called Butig, about an hour away by land from Marawi.

It was believed the Mautes had previously harbored radicals, one of whom was an Islamic teacher from Indonesia who was killed in late 2012.

Two of the Maute sons became the up-and-coming terror bloc generation, going by the deeds of the Islamic State that were evidently a departure from the main rebel groups negotiating peace with the government. The Maute group was responsible for the bomb attack last September in President Duterte’s hometown of Davao, a blow to what was supposed to be an impenetrable “alternate seat of power.”

Twice in the midst of the crisis in Marawi, the president withdrew from public view, sparking rumors of failing health. He had boldly announced that the siege would come to an end on the Philippines’ Independence Day, June 12, but that didn’t happen as the battle went on to take control of the city while he himself missed the celebration that was expected of a president. His spokesman said he needed to rest.

Meanwhile he had declared martial for the entire island of Mindanao, reminding his guests at the palace gathering for the Muslim festival, seated at ornate tables under bright chandeliers, that the Marawi crisis had forced his hand.

False confidence

“I knew everything,” he said, “I knew the deployment of the snipers and where they hid the weapons. I already had a complete picture and I knew it would be a long fight.”

He had been in Moscow when the fighting struck in the afternoon of May 23, raising the question of how much he really knew, when on his Russian trip he had in his entourage about 50 police and military generals that included senior commanders and their deputies who took their wives along in what became evident as a junket.

Scattered information from the intelligence community had sensed that something was afoot a couple of weeks in advance, sources said, taking notice of a swelling of forces in the Maute stronghold. One intelligence group from the Navy, dubbing their project Target Pocket Bingo, had been following Hapilon for about three years, maybe more.

Eventually crumbs of information led them from the southern islands all the way up to Marawi, where special units of the army and the navy were called in for the hunt. Within half an hour gunfire erupted from the building in which Hapilon was believed to have been staying, triggering a battle that has changed dimensions in the conflict.

The military said Hapilon might have escaped the fighting and that they believe one of the principal Maute brothers has been killed. Weeks on, the president told his audience in the palace that a casualty among the Maute family was a cousin, “did you know that?” – putting himself in a perplexed state of having been deceived, making him a victim among the thousands of Maranaos who had lost what they had because of “this adventure.”

“Ungoverned spaces”

He promised, again, to rebuild Marawi from the rubble, to bring back its prosperity – if by that he meant its shadow economy thriving on guns and drugs and other illegal trades. The city may well be the denouement of things that can’t go back to the way they were before. It was one of those “ungoverned spaces” labeled by the navy’s special operations force that has caused radicalization to fester.

The military was one step behind in having tried averting it, but it wasn’t fast enough to douse the fire of violent extremism.

After it has been destroyed in order to save it, Marawi has to be resurrected with a symbol erasing the past. It will have to start on a clean slate, this crisis being a heartbreaking wake-up call for all of Mindanao. The president may have to stop harking back to his one-dimensional view of the Muslim narrative, because it has to move forward or risk greater failures.

He said he couldn’t bear watching the suffering on television, he would turn it off or change the channel to watching cartoons instead.

Tug of war

Manuel L. Quezon III

As the hearings in the Supreme Court on the martial law petitions take place, many hope to find out what ought to have been put on the record weeks ago—namely, what factors contributed to President Duterte’s decision to impose martial law in Mindanao.

Read on…