• Leila as yellow muse

     

    The propaganda mill is in full throttle as the yellow mob celebrates its most hallowed day of the year which is the 32nd anniversary of the Edsa People Power, which is, however, becoming irrelevant to young Filipinos who were made aware of the incompetence of the previous administration under yellow President Noynoy Aquino.
    The Filipino millenials grew up from the terms of former President Gloria Arroyo then to Noynoy and now President Duterte and the contrast is too glaring in which Noynoy practically wasted six years of governance and opportunity to improve the lives of the ordinary Filipinos.
    Now, the yellow Edsa celebration is equated with elitist socials among the yellow mobs and the compulsory closure of the major roadway Epifanio de los Santos Ave. to accommodate the yellow mob attests to the exclusive nature of the event.
    Leila de Lima also had evolved as the rallying figure for the yellows, which is indeed a tragedy since the “demand” from members of the yellow mob and their foreign network is not even in the hands of President Duterte but the courts.
    Leila was arrested last February 2017 on three charges related to the narcotics trade under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
    The critics of Rody, mainly the Liberal Party, the Akbayan and other yellow fanatics, all cry that the charges against Leila are trumped up and that she is the victim of “a vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation.”
    The Senate minority which is dominated by the LP demanded the “immediate release” of de Lima after one year of being incarcerated.
    The group, composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros, claimed the Senator is the first “prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.”
    The group attributed the detention of de Lima to “her investigation of the Davao Death Squad as then chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and later investigation of the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in the country as a senator — which earned the ire of then Davao Mayor and now President Duterte.”
    The idea, however, is far from the truth as Rody even often cites the CHR ruling under de Lima that did not result in a prosecution in defense against extrajudicial killings (EJK) leveled against him.
    Also the moral ground of the yellow senators is completely shot since most of the yellows, among them Drilon and Pangilinan, kept quiet when their “colleagues” Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. were similarly detained for most of the term of yellow President Noynoy also on scripted pork barrel misuse charges that de Lima, then Justice Secretary not only oversaw, but also coached witnesses to testify against the three senators.
    A classic example of selective justice unseen in the annals of Philippine politics was the long detention of former President Gloria Arroyo on the basis of charges which all turned out to be based on weak charges and were all dismissed in the current administration.
    Still, de Lima is being depicted as a suffering martyr of the yellow principles which have the bottomline of ousting Rody.
    The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) also contributed to the yellow voices with both demanding that all charges against de Lima be dropped immediately to pave the way for her release.
    AI added that de Lima is a prisoner of conscience and has been jailed on politically motivated drug charges.
    “The charges against Senator Leila de Lima are pure fiction. She has been singled out and targeted for nothing but her courageous opposition to President Duterte’s appalling policies. We consider her to be a prisoner of conscience and urge the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
    AI followed the same script used by the yellow senators attributing to Rody’s irritation on her for the probe she had conducted on the DDS when she was CHR head as the underlying reason for her continued detention.
    A well-orchestrated fiction, nonetheless, on Rody is being cranked up to speed up efforts for his ouster.

     

  • Putting Reds in their place

    Rody may have given the communist movement an ultimatum to go back to the negotiating table with the government’s petition for a court designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) as terror groups.
    Last Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DoJ) urged the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in a 55-page proscription petition to issue an order declaring CPP and the NPA also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007.
    The more significant effects of such a court declaration would be for the government security forces to have more elbow room in running after communist rebels who are now considered political prisoners when arrested.
    An HSA coverage would allow the government to apply anti-terrorist laws to make the rebels accountable for their misdeeds.
    President Duterte earlier declared the CPP-NPA as terrorists after launching atrocities against security forces while at the same time baiting the government to pursue the peace process.
    Rody accused the rebels of insincerity and vowed to launch an unrelenting war against the insurgents while indicating that it is now more difficult to restart the stalled negotiations during his term as he had lost confidence in the communist movement which once considered him as an ally.
    The CPP-NPA covered by the HSA would give the government the legal basis to cut the financing of the rebel group that Rody had said mainly comes from European institutions.
    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said under the law, affiliate revolutionary groups of the CPP-NPA would also be considered terrorist groups, and anyone proven to be financing them would be held liable.
    Roque said a designated person is “any person or entity designated or identified as a terrorist, as one who finances terrorism or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction and pursuant to the proclamation which implements the Human Security Act.”
    Even the UN Security Council prohibits the giving of funds to terrorist organizations, Roque said.
    CPP-NPA named as a terrorist group will enable law enforcement agencies to run after individuals who will, in any way, provide financial support to the NPA now that it has been described as a terrorist organization, Roque said.
    If the court grants the petition, the government will seek the permission of the Court of Appeals to engage in wiretapping activities against members of the communist groups, as well as apply for a freeze order on, and examination of the bank accounts and assets of their financiers, leaders, and identified members.
    In his earlier proclamation, declaring the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups, Rody directed the Department of Foreign Affairs “to publish the foregoing designation of CPP-NPA and other designated persons, organizations, in accordance with Sections 3 and 15 of RA 10168 and its implementing rules and regulations.”
    The proclamation was issued after the CPP-NPA launched a series of violent attacks which the President described as inhuman.
    The government petition with the Manila court was needed to provide Rody’s proclamation to have a legal basis through the HSA coverage of the communist rebels.
    The petition stated the CPP-NPA is just buying time by deceiving the government in entering into peace talks while their main purpose is to mobilize their forces in preparation for a “people’s war” to overthrow the duly-constituted authorities, seizing control of the government and imposing a totalitarian regime.
    Such a strategy was too plain during the negotiating period when Rody declared a unilateral ceasefire which the communist groups were reluctant to reciprocate and even during a ceasefire period, the NPA would launch operations against government positions.
    The CPP-NPA also committed acts of terrorism such as murder, kidnapping, arson and other activities for purpose of sowing terror and panic, according to the petition.
    “Thus, there is no other time to put an end to their deception, to their protracted people’s war and to their evil plan of imposing a totalitarian regime, but through the filing of this petition and, consequently, by declaring respondents CPP-NPA as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations and or group of persons,” the petition said.
    Among those cited in the petition are the ambush of four policemen and members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives in Bansalan, Davao del Sur last March 2017 and a team of Army personnel conducting humanitarian operations in Catubig, Northern Samar.
    The Bansalan ambush resulted in the killing of four policemen while another was injured. On the other hand, a soldier was killed and another wounded in the Catubig ambush while they were on their way to deliver relief supplies to residents affected by typhoon Urduja last December.
    Terror activities and atrocities were committed by NPA rebels in Negros Occidental and Oriental, Surigao, Misamis Oriental, Bukidon, Cagayan de Oro City and Davao, it added.
    Of course, the window remains open for the communist groups to return to the negotiating table but this will be on Rody’s terms.

  • There’s no media ban

    Some groups, obviously instigated by critics of President Duterte, are trying to apply the creeping dictatorship line with the Palace treatment of an online news outfit which ran afoul with the foreign ownership limit under the Constitution.
    While it would be a legitimate concern for local media, described as among the most free in the world, if the administration starts screening news stories as what had happened during the martial law years of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the Palace, the Office of the Press Secretary, or the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) have the responsibility to assure legitimate Presidential news coverage is being practiced.
    The issue against Rappler and consequently its reporters is the revocation of its license to operate by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) involving the breach of the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in media.
    It is a simple question of Rappler still having the privilege covering the President or not.
    What is being touted is that the outfit is now barred from the Palace as an offshoot of a story that implicated Special Presidential Assistant Bong Go to supposed irregularities in the P18 billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP).
    If that is the argument, then the Philippine Daily Inquirer and other publications as well as TV stations that carried the story should have suffered the same consequence.
    The case is too simple since Rappler can only assert press freedom if it can prove to be a legitimate member of media which it clearly is not in a position to do due to the SEC decision on its license.
    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque found a middle ground and stated that Rappler won’t be barred based on the media eligibility requirements until the SEC decision becomes final since an appeal is still in the courts. The next day, Roque announced that Rappler adn its reporter are banned from the Palace premises.
    The country’s biggest media organization, the National Press Club (NPC) while disagreeing with the order to bar a Rappler reporter from the Palace grounds said reporters should avoid having a “culture of entitlement.”
    “Journalists, like public officials they often criticize, should not be onion-skinned nor be possessed with the culture of entitlement. We sometimes deserve the treatment we get by the way we comport ourselves. Tit for tat,” the NPC said.
    The NPC noted that the incident on the Rappler reporter was inflated as it stated that it found this as “a simple case of misunderstanding.”
    The SEC ordered the closure of Rappler last month claiming it violated the Constitution’s restriction on foreign ownership of local media.
    Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Rappler should settle its ownership issue at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first before its reporters are allowed to cover Malacañang.
    “They should fix their personality as a local corporation otherwise they cannot cover (the Palace),” Medialdea told reporters in an interview.
    Roque for his part, said the only time reporters would be barred from covering Palace briefings and events would be due to security threats and an exclusive coverage solely for the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), as it is the Palace which accredits local media.
    Roque said, if the SEC decision to close Rappler is sustained, Rappler will have to seek accreditation to cover briefings from the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), instead of the MPC.
    Another option, Roque said, is to seek accreditation from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to cover the briefings as a blogger.
    Roque on the first day said he will personally pick up Ranada if she would again be barred from entering the NEB.
    Adn he did so.
    He, meanwhile, said that should “the worst case scenario” happen, Ranada is still free to cover press briefings via live streaming.
    An objective view of the situation would indicate that it is a non-issue since other agencies have been doing the same to prevent bogus media or what is brutally labeled as “hao-shiao” media or fly by nights from practicing their illegal craft.

  • When giants collide

    The threat of an actual armed conflict igniting betweeen the United States and China over passage in the South China Sea remains low but it has been elevated a few notches as a result of the Chinese buildup of structures believed to be military in nature in some of the formations in the contested seas.
    The recent developments merely confirmed the tack followed by President Duterte on China, which is to engage the Asian giant which is a huge departure from the previous policy of confrontation, is correct.
    Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana admitted in a forum the risk of “miscalculation” and armed conflict in the South China Sea has risen as China starts to challenge US dominance in the disputed waters.
    Lately, China has been suspected to have expanded its communications links and other facilities on artificial islands in the area, despite Beijing’s denial saying that it is building only civilian facilities.
    Sta. Romana said the balance of power in the region is shifting as the two global powers compete for control of the waters.
    From the start, Rody has taken an independent foreign policy to disentangle the country from being labeled as a hopeless American lackey in the region.
    The position taken by the administration is that the maritime friction is more between the United States and China rather than between China and the Philippines.
    His administration also took a diplomatic approach on the territorial conflict. China and the Philippines, for instance, have an ongoing Bilateral Consultative Mechanism (BCM) in which both countries periodically consult which was not even imaginable two years ago amid a tense maritime standoff between both countries.
    While relations improve between the Philippines and China, the US seems to have raised its presence in the South China Sea while also wooing Rody whom it wants to consider still a solid ally.
    Sta. Romana said that which is under dispute is the dominance in the Asian waters which Sta. Romana predicted “a shift in the balance of power.”
    He compared the two powers to bull elephants engaged in a heated battle for dominance that the Philippines should keep off unless it wants to be trampled on.
    The Carl Vinson, with a fleet of about 40 fighter jets and roughly 5,000 American sailors, arrived in Manila this week in a display of American presence in the disputed region. A US aircraft carrier is also expected to dock in Vietnam in March, the first time in more than four decades.
    But the presence of the warship would not change China’s established advantage in the region.
    “The aircraft carriers’ visits are only symbolic – to show that America still has a military presence in the region and that it is still a hegemon,” Xu Liping, a researcher on Asian-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.
    “With the military construction program on the three major islands in the South China Sea, China has built an effective network of intelligence gathering and defense abilities,” he said.
    Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, had told a congressional hearing that China had unilaterally built seven new military bases in the South China Sea, with new facilities including “aircraft hangers, barracks facilities, radar facilities, weapon emplacements and 10,000-foot runways”.
    Sta. Romana said China gave the Philippines an assurance that the military assets it is deploying on disputed islands in the South China Sea are not aimed at the Philippines and other neighboring countries.
    “It is part of the rivalry between a rising China and the US over the South China Sea,” Sta. Romana said.
    Sta Romana underlined the independent foreign policy of Rody: “We want to remain friends with both, and to gain the maximum benefit.”
    The Philippines, with its strategic location in the Asian region and its strongly Western-influenced culture, can only hope in vain of assuming a neutral role in the conflict.
    The independent foreign policy of Rody, however, offers the country a wider latitude in maneuvering away from sustaining a major impact from the struggle among the superpowers.

  • Noy should be probed again

    The Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) turned out to be another residue of the yellow straight path to reaches of the previous administration which is now being deflected to Rody in the hope of his administration taking the rap for it.
    The FAP is a key component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernization program, as it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats and its cost reaching P16 billion makes it one of the richest single deal.
    The two frigates under the deal will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns that the country badly needs for national security.
    The acquisition of the two frigates is also the first step to provide the Philippine Navy with modern and capable warships to protect the country’s vast maritime territories.
    Chief detractors of President Duterte, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Rep. Gary Alejano, both of the discredited coup party Magdalo, tried to pin Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and later on Rody himself as having an inordinate interest in the project.
    A probe into the project only revealed what it actually is, which was a done deal when Rody took the reins of government and was awarded during the time of Noynoy under then defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
    It was on Aug. 18, 2016, that the notice of award was issued to South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the conforme was signed by HHI on September 13, 2016.
    A month after, Lorenzana sent the Notice of Award, and shortly after being confirmed by the Commission on Appointments on Oct. 19, signed the contract agreement with HHI. A Notice to Proceed was then issued to HHI on Dec. 13 of the same year.
    After that, the project was stalled at the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage after the Navy and HHI raised conflicting concerns on the combat management system (CMS) to be installed on the frigates.
    The CMS is a computer system that is considered “the brain of a naval combat vessel.”
    HHI, citing a provision in the contract, claims “sole right” to choose the CMS maker and selected fellow South Korean company Hanwha Systems as the preferred supplier.
    Former Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said that the PN preferred the Tacticos system made by Thales of The Netherlands.
    Go was accused of intervening in the CMS acquisition.
    The whole FPA package was started in June 7, 2013 when former defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the Acquisition Decision Memorandum 2013-019 to initiate the immediate implementation of the acquisition of two brand new Frigates for the Philippine Navy with an approved budget of P18 billion.
    In June 16, 2016, HHI was declared as the winning bidder and was issued the Notice of Award.
    The ongoing Senate investigation was initiated by opposition lawmakers in the Senate — Minority Leader Franklin Drilon along with Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, and Trillanes —through Resolution 584 to look into allegations that Go had endorsed a letter to the defense department regarding the project.
    The contract, if it indeed has any flaws, would have to be addressed to the officials of the previous administration, particularly since it was revealed in the Senate probe that HHI was blacklisted by the South Korean Supreme Court (SC) when the contract was sealed.
    Noynoy or his officials, particularly Gazmin and former members of the Department of Defense (DND) bids and awards committee, should be asked to answer the questions now being raised on the project.

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