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Archive for the tag “Duterte Administration”

Senate President Tito Sotto: How old is really thirteen?

And that question is: ”How old is 15, really?” No, that’s a good question. I’m not saying that a person is as smart as they’re gonna be at 15. That’s not what I’m saying, man. But I am saying, 15 to me… is old enough to decide… whether or not you want to be pissed on. That’s me. If you can’t make a decision like that by the time you’re 15… then just give up, motherfucker, because life is way harder than that” Dave Chappelle from ‘For What it’s Worth’ (2004)

I know that Dave Chappelle isn’t a politician, but he is a comedian. But I had to start with him, as this here piece will be about age. Because suddenly now Senate President Sotto in the Philippines, wants to make the legal age for prosecution and able to answer for their crimes down to thirteen (13). As of today, it is already fifteen (15). Therefore, the legal age are already low and early to be able to serve time for possible crimes.

I want to ask the politician, if he could change the legal age for other things, as they should not only have possibility to fine, detain and prosecute the youth, but also other things. Because, why is it just the negative aspect and the positive aspect of life that is given to the thirteen year old. Since, if your opening the gates to make them liable, shouldn’t they be able to do more other things too, without concern of the state?

MANILA — Alarmed by the rise in the number of crimes now being committed by minors, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is pushing for the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years old. In filing Senate Bill 2026, Sotto noted that criminal syndicates are exploiting the provisions of Republic Act 9344 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 by using minors in the commission of crimes” (…) “In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 2026, Sotto said, “Due to the continuing challenge in the implementation of RA 9344, as amended, the aforesaid law must be further amended to lower the minimum age of criminal liability in order to adapt to the changing times.” “This bill will finally give clarity to the true intention of the law. The amendment to the law will institutionalize the criminal liability of teenagers who committed serious criminal offense,” Sotto said. He added that not only was the law abused by criminals but the innocence of these youngsters were deliberately taken from them” (Philippines News Agency – ‘ Sotto wants to lower age of criminal liability to 13’ 25.09.2018 link: http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1049043).

With this Senate President Sotto, shouldn’t they be allowed to run for any public office in an election? Why cannot even a thirteen year old vote in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections? In the recent election the youngest ones to vote in the SK in 2018 was 15 years old. Therefore, they cannot elect anyone or be eligible to get public office. But behind bars is fine and dandy. They have to wait to be 18 to be a candidate for Municipal Councilor, 21 years to be a candidate either for ARMM Regional Assemblyman or Mayor/Vice Mayor of City. To get into House of Representatives, you have to be 25 years old or in the Senate being 35 years old. If you considering to run for the two highest offices you have to be 40 years old, this being Vice-President and President. Therefore, the youths of age thirteen can be criminal liable, but cannot ever consider to run for office, not even in their local SK Election.

That is why Sotto, should consider his approach, as he can criminalize these youths, but they have no initial power. While it coming to work, the DOLE Guidelines of 1st January 2018 of work for minors states: “Under Republic Act No. 9231, children below the age of 15 are not allowed to be employed in any public or private establishment except when they work directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or guardian or when their participation in public entertainment or public information is essential. In any of the exceptions, the employer, parent or guardian should first secure working child permit from DOLE before engaging the services of the child” (Philippines Information Agency – ‘DOLE issues new guidelines on employment of minors in public entertainment’ 09.11.2017 link: https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1001624).

The DOLE has such strict rules about a minor, which is a thirteen years old individual, as they cannot work without guardians approval or the DOLE too as well. Therefore, when they need this to work together with parents or their approval for work, why can the same individual be criminal liable? Shouldn’t it be automatic to be working too?

So, we have quickly figured out they cannot vote, not be eligible to elected or work unless DOLE gives them permit. Should they still be able to become outlaws and get a criminal record? Really?

Just to put it further to prove the dire need to question it, is that a person between 18 to 21 needs consent of marriage from either father, mother or legal guardian to be allowed to married in the Philippines. So a person, cannot without consent of their parents get married, but they can get legal ramifications for their actions? Have Sotto even thought of all of this?

That is why I am writing this, because it is natural as a youth, a teen starting life, not fully matured or even considering of the implications of your acts. Shouldn’t be able to do all adulting first, before you get cost of being grown. However, the Senate President thinks otherwise.

Therefore, Mr. Sotto, should you allow them to work, married or even be eligible to get elected into office? Since you propose them to be criminal liable. If they can get punished by the state, shouldn’t they get all the opportunities of the state as well. Peace.

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Is the Filipino getting into a debt-trap with China like Sri Lanka and Tonga?

If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has.”John Maynard Keynes

There are worries about the rising levels of debt the Philippines has to China. That should worry all Filipino. Since, this will be repaid, even as the infrastructure projects under the President is served now. The time for repaying these debts will come. This might be the next one after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte might have to answer for that. But he should be worry himself of the levels he is putting the Republic in, unless he wants important parts of the infrastructure be “given” to the Chinese as a way of repaying the debt like Sri Lanka did.

The conclusion of an agreement with China to manage the Hambantota port was seen as inevitable after the government buckled under Chinese pressure when the China Communication and Construction Co Ltd, which was building the port city, demanded USD 143 million as compensation for the stalling of the work. The Sri Lankan government was also compelled to renegotiate the Colombo Port city project last year, which had been suspended due to criticism about the Chinese ownership of 20 hectares of freehold land as well as controversy over the project’s possible negative environmental impact” (Smruti S. Pattanaik – ‘New Hambantota Port Deal: China Consolidates its Stakes in Sri Lanka’ 17.08.2017).

This story should be worrying for the Philippines as the rising debt to China will come to roost one day. Duterte has accepted and taken it for his projects, but will it be sustainable. That is something he himself should ask himself and also if they can repay this debt without paying a high price.

Jovito Jose P. Katigbak reported in June 2018 this: “Another issue worth noting is debt sustainability. There are concerns that borrowing heavily from China will lead the country into a debt trap. A 2017 Forbes article contends that the Philippine government debt could swell up to USD 452 billion by 2027, which translates to a debt-to-GDP ratio of 197 percent. The estimated figure is based on an annual 10 percent interest rate on loans levied by the Chinese government, hence tying the Philippines into a “virtual debt bondage”” (CIRSS Commentaries – ‘BRIDGING THE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT GAP THROUGH FOREIGN AID: A BRIEFER ON CHINESE ODA’ June 2018).

If the Filipino doesn’t get to worried about the amount they are borrowing from China. It isn’t only Sri Lanka who has eaten over more debt than they can swallow and has to repay with other means. There are worry in the Pacific island of Tonga.

As reported from Tonga: “Chinese aid in the Pacific region has increased dramatically in recent years and the country has become the region’s second-largest donor. Tonga’s debt to China has been estimated to be more than $100m by Australia’s Lowy Institute think-tank. The prime minister told local media last week that countries would get together to ask the Chinese government to “forgive their debts”. “To me, that is the only way we can all move forward, if we just can’t pay off our debts,” he added. Beijing has refused to write off loans in the past but has given Tonga an amnesty on repayments” (Simone Rench – ‘Tonga premier to ask China to ‘forgive’ Pacific debts’ 21.08.2018 link: https://www.publicfinanceinternational.org/news/2018/08/tonga-premier-ask-china-forgive-pacific-debts).

We have seen what the Chinese done to the Sri Lankan and Tongan counterparts. Both of instances could be happening to the Philippines. Not that you wish that, but the repayments of the growing debt will happen at one point. Even if there is long grace-period of lower rates on the interests as promised to Manila. You can wonder when the Beijing want to recoup the funds and the debt.

Right now, Duterte has a good relationship with Beijing, but when do they feel they have invested enough in the Build! Build! Build! (BBB) projects and wants profits and returns on the investments?

Because the Chinese will not do this forever. They might act nice at first and investing in infrastructure projects as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but when time goes by and lack of repayment hits the fan. The familiar faces of Beijing will get their value for the money and the sovereignty will be taken away. As a port, a piece of mines or exploration of some sort of industrial output will go directly to Beijing and a state owned company. Since they will get their repayment for all the offered debt to the nation.

That is what Duterte is risking, if it is oil exploration and extraction, mineral resources or even ports that is vital to the business done in the Philippines. Does he wants to risk that for the signature building of the BBB?

Peace.

NDF of the Philippines: Duterte-Lorenzana Notion of Localized Peace talks is totally absurd and stupid for Five Major Reasons (16.07.2018)

Opinion: OVP Robredo cannot the filing options for travel expenditure, isn’t that weird?

Newly elected Philippine Vice-President Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo delivers a speech after taking her oath during an inauguration ceremony in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Well, it is just me, but I am not surprised anymore, but the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo had first in 2016, under used funds, but in 2017, the same office cannot deliver the supporting documents in time. That is just weird, as this is the next-highest public office under the President. It isn’t merely public servants in a get-away and remote island dozens of miles away from Manila. No, this is one of the highest regarding places close to the Malacañang. Therefore, that this office is under scrutiny for their practices are not a good look.

MANILA – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged cash advances for local travels made by personnel of the office of Vice President Leni Robredo that were not liquidated within 30 days. In its annual audit report on the Office of the Vice President, the COA said traveling expenses of the agency amounted to P26.446 million for local travel and P953,550.75 for foreign trips in 2017. Delays in liquidation ranged from two days to 116 days” (Ayalin, 2018).

It is hard to believe that the OVP employees and secretaries, public officials in general are that lax with recites and with transactions papers, that they are losing it or forgetting to fill the forms for 116 days. They just don’t do that, unless it is deliberate. You don’t wait months upon months to deliver what your obligated to deliver. That is what you do in a public office and to prove your spending of the state coffers. That is all natural. Unless, you want to hide your spending and usage of the funds. Since using up to 116 to show where the money is spent is ruthless at best.

That VP Robredo should feel ashamed, she should, as her office is not following standard practice. Even if they might have cleared the accounts and the funds, that has been in question. Still, it opens up a huge level of doubts and possible misuse of state funds. Because, if the employees and the officials within the office are using so long to fill the forms and prove the spending. Than, in practice, it can go to mistresses, to pay for businesses or even perks beside the offices. Who knows right? They might spend it elsewhere and not on local travel as part of the job. Since the proof of that is coming months later and are later proven.

At this point, when the COA can find this maladministration and this lack of compliance with the codes of conduct as public servants/officials, you know there are underlying problems and somewhat something else beneath numbers. If there was even more to question, it should be digging into as well. Since these offices could be doing more with the funds they are getting. This is just the travel expenses and the advanced payouts, what about the salaries itself or the other perks as the high office it is?

That should be real question and since the COA is flagging it and the OVP says they have complied. Why should COA not have the proof of the real transactions, while the OVP trying to clean their hand of dirt? They have already not complied and not shown character, they are already proving lack of trust and lack of care for public funds. Peace.

Reference:

Ayalin, Adrian – ‘COA flags delayed liquidation of OVP cash advances; Robredo’s office says amounts ‘fully liquidated’’ (29.06.2018) link: http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/29/18/coa-flags-delayed-liquidation-of-ovp-cash-advances-robredos-office-says-amounts-fully-liquidated

Philippines: President Duterte 32nd EDSA Message (24.02.2018)

Opinion: Is President Duterte showing weakness, since he cannot stomach a reporter from Rappler?

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has been a strongman whose fought the good fight for the people against government corruption, also used martial law to beat Islamist’s in Marawi on the island of Mindanao. Now, he has also broken the dialogue with the communists rebels, of the militia of the New People’s Army. Therefore, as he has used the army and police to battle drug-cartels and militias. You would expect a fellow President to manage a few journalists.

President Duterte has now started a spat and unnecessary, as the Christopher Lawrence “Bong” has stated today to the media after 48 hours of foolishness from themselves. This is crisis made out of stupidity made by the Malacañang. Duterte and Bong just acting dumb by kicking out a reporter from Rappler. Pia Randa yesterday on the 20th February and then barring her from entering today.

They have stated this to the media:

Let us be clear: The case of Rappler is not an attack on press freedom. Members of the media, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, continue to be hard-hitting yet they can cover the activities of the President. Ms. Ranada’s accreditation, which would give her access to Palace activities, lies on Rappler’s accreditation. If Rappler wants to have direct coverage of certain events inside and outside Malacañang, it may apply for Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) accreditation. Two things could have avoided Rappler’s present predicament: One, get a temporary restraining order. Two, be a Filipino corporation. Unfortunately, Rappler failed to obtain a TRO and failed to show that it is a Filipino entity” (Presidential Communications Operations Office – ‘From the Presidential Spokesperson – On Rappler’ 21.02.2018).

By the standard of the ownership of Rappler, it is owned by Dolphin Fire Group (31%), Maria Resa (23%), Hatchd Group (17% ), Benjamin So (17%), Public Trust and Media Group (5%) and 4 minority owners with about 5%. So the ownership of Rappler and Rappler Holding Company is based in the Philippines, even if they have gotten funding from abroad Omidyar Network and North Base Media. Both foreign, but the ownership is still Philippines based. Therefore, the attacks on this is a bit strange.

That is just the quick defense of Rappler and their ownership, which should be easily accessed to the President and his associates. Since they can get all registers and all files on the company. Since the Rappler Holding Corporation has to pay taxes and levies like any other. I would expect the Spokesperson to the President knowing this. Even I could find this information without very little research, since this is public, as a public company and with open access to the domain.

However, this isn’t just about press freedom, this is about the open scar of weakness. That the President doesn’t like one story about Navy Frigate Deal. Maybe, the President should be transparent about the trade and deal, also show the process of the agreement with set supplier of the boat. Not just spray venom and show fury over Rappler writing a story. Show the truth, drop the arrangement, mark the classified details, which only the military can know and show the paper-trail if the story is false. That would be mature and prove transparency in his actions. However, he takes away press credentials and beats the messenger, instead of showing the true face of Navy Frigate deal.

I hate to say it, but Duterte looks weak and foolish with this. He could have shown his true character and riding the storm. Instead he seems hot-headed and unwise. Duterte been swift and wise in cracking down on terrorists and communist rebels. But doing this to a report from Rappler is childish and petty. He is supposed to be better and have better reasoning behind it. Clearly, he lost it a bit and need guidance.

Sometimes the ego of a person goes to far, in this instance it has. Duterte forgotten, that he represent all parts of the people, even the critical ones. They are labeling Rappler foreign when its not, and trying to muffle their reports. However, instead of debunking and showing the legitimate agreement, which is the main reason for this attack on the media company.

The reporter in question is known for being critical of Duterte, that is fact, still Duterte and Malacañang press corps could need that. But the administration and the president seems misguided. Duterte should show strength, not weakness. This is weak, really weak, petty even.

President Duterte, you have been able to beat the hell out of terrorists and are doing what you can beat communist rebels. Two noble fights, also the third to get rid of the drug-cartels. All of that has been for the betterment of the republic. However, this attack on Rappler, as it has been now from the administration since January 2018. This is just the latest after the state revoked it license. Seemingly, you have the courage and boldness to beat the ones with guns, ammunition and drugs.

But, you cannot manage a report from Rappler? Is that your Achilles heel? That is weak tea. Really weak tea. Steaming hot water, but with no flavor. Peace.

Duterte’s Administration is relentless: Since the Philippines declined EU Aid today out of Sovereignty!

Today, the European Union’s grants through the EU-Philippines Trade Related Technical Assistance IV, the fourth project and continuation of state aid between them was declined today. The Southern Asian State protested the language and certain parts of agreement, that the EU was proposing. The republic of Philippines has declined it, because they feel the money is tainted and belittling them. That is why the Rodrigo Duterte administration has decided to leave the money on the table and not take it.

This sort of act is something the EU isn’t used too. It is rare, but the State Aid in the Program of TRTA-IV has its bounds and they setting the score for what and how the Philippines can act. It put boundaries and levels to how it can act, as the EU will monitor and check if the state is complying directly with UN Conventions.

That is putting the granted money in a possible questionable state and insult the Asian counterparts, even if they not even signed into UN Conventions that they could be breaking. This is the sort of attack on the sovereign will the Duterte Administration doesn’t want to comply too. That should be respected, since the EU is also right to put strains on their given funds, but then they shouldn’t expect the receiver to just take it anyway.

Expected results:

– EU-Philippines Trade Related Technical Assistance IV The project contributes primarily to the progressive achievement of SDG Goal 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth” but also promotes progress towards Goal 1 “No Poverty” and Goal 10 “Reduced Inequalities”. It will support the uptake of GSP+ preferential tariffs by Philippine exporters therefore offering incentives to comply with UN Conventions on Human Rights which are a prerequisite before GSP+ can be granted (and maintained). The EU monitors compliance with HR Conventions annually. Besides, the action is expected to support FTA negotiations including on labour rights with a view to align the Philippine legislation and enforcement on international best practices” (EU, P: 4, 2016).

As we sees in the documentation of 2016, is really compelling what the EU expect to do. They are really telling that the incentives are made for them to follow UN Conventions, if not the grants will not be maintained or granted the development, nor the projects in the TRTA-IV. The Philippines are in their right mind, to not take the money that would put strains and also be monitored. So if the Philippines wouldn’t comply to the demands of the grants, they would be withheld. Secondly, that meaning, that if the Philippines took the money. They could possibly loose them if the EU doesn’t think they are following the right UN Convention on any given day or by any evidence of violence. Without taking the context or the reason for it. Because that would play to European narrative of the violence and the Drug War, not the basic understanding or the popularity of the war against the political and drug-infested triad’s, that has been in Philippines. So the Duterte administration has their reasons for doing it, not that its beautiful or a success story, but a needed remedy for a already problematic state of drug triad’s in certain parts of the Republic.

So I was happy, when I heard!

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines formally rejected at least P380 million (6.1 million euros) in aid from the European Union, Ambassador Franz Jessen confirmed Wednesday, January 24. Jessen, head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, was referring to the EU-Philippine Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) worth 6.1 million euros, or around P383.64 million. Asked if the Philippines has ever formalized the rejection of EU aid, Jessen said: “It was formalized in the sense that we had, for example, the TRTA, a document that actually had to be signed by the end of the year. And that has been returned to us unsigned.” In an interview with reporters after the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Jessen said the TRTA “was rejected at the end of the past year.” The Philippines earlier said it is rejecting all forms of aid that come with conditions, such as respecting human rights” (Esmaquel III, 2018).

That the EU Ambassador Jessen feels slapped in face and humiliated is natural in the circumstances. He should know how Duterte defended his nation in 2017. This isn’t news, they are not accepting to be belittled and told by foreign powers how to act and do. Neither does the EU want to be played second fiddle by the United States or Russia. Neither wants the Philippines. TRTA-4 are now suspended or never unleashed, since the EU-Philippines has had this formal agreements and grants for decades. So the previous government of Philippines has accepted the contracts and Memorandum of Understandings in TRTA to TRTA-III. Now the TRTA-4 had different sorts of things to achieve and projects to support. All from Electricity and Power projects in Mindanao to other sustainable initiatives.

But the 6.1M Euros was the price and the loss for the Philippines. But they would have been monitored and checked their grants by EU Monitors. It wasn’t just the use of Human Rights, but the continues checks to be allowed to get the grants. That is the paternal instinct of a more powerful ally. That is what the EU would have done to the Duterte Administration. Rodrigo Duterte didn’t accept this, neither did his closest allies. Clearly, they didn’t want to risk the embarrassment or being questioned for their internal affairs. Especially not a grant of 6 million euros. That would be a cheap trade for what sort of behavior the EU could do and that should be insulting for any statesman. Peace.

Reference:

European Union (EU) – ‘Annual Action Programmes 2016 Part IV and 2017 Part I in favour of the Asia region to be financed from the general budget of the European Union’ (05.07.2016)

Esmaquel III, Paterno – ‘Philippines formally rejects P380 million in EU aid’ (24.01.2018) link: https://www.rappler.com/nation/194426-philippines-formally-rejects-european-union-aid

Philippines: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales statement: “If the President has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.” (29.09.2017)

Phillippines: NBI files complaint against the Police in the case of Kian Santos – “one single purpose, that is to kill victim” (31.08.2017)

Philippines: A Clear Message from the Duterte Administration to the Maute Group today!

Today the was a majority from the Senate in passing the Martial Law. This is happening while the skirmishes from the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) towards the Maute Group in Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur. The insurgence from Maute Group in the city started at 23rd May 2017. The Government has today sent a clear message to them. Not only in the air, but also through the airways. So that the people of Mindanao should feel safe and rest assured that the state has their interest. Take a look!

AFP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. made the warning as the Maute group members dug in on the eighth day of fighting. “We aired this message in the hope of ending this soon and reducing any more loss of lives and property,” Padilla said in a statement” (…) “President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao on May 23 while on an official visit to Russia following the attacks by the terror group. Padilla expressed confidence the joint operations of the military and the police would turn out to be successful. “For the terrorists, not surrendering will mean their sure death,” he said” (Reyes, 2017).

In his briefing for diplomats on Tuesday, Cayetano said: “Whatever you sow, you will reap. We believe that if you sow injustice, crime, illegal drugs or narcotics, then you will reap disorder or, in other words, there will be no order nor peace.”(…) “It was our hope that President Duterte would be able to institute the reforms needed by the country without declaring martial law in any part of the country. However due to actual rebellion, terrorism, and the presence of ISIS on Philippine soil, the declaration of martial law in Mindanao became a necessity,” he said” (Esmaquel II, 2017).

So the state has put out a clear message, but the funding the Maute might be more simple than ISIS. That is also connected to the grand issue for the Duterte Administration, the drug-war. The war on drugs and their powers. Like this briefing from Dela Rosa!

In a press briefing on Monday, Dela Rosa said that the Maute group—the self-styled ISIS supporter which has besieged Marawi City in Lanao del Sur since last week—were known to have “protected” drug lords as early as last year. “Even before July 1, when I assumed my post and announced that drug lords should surrender, we received information that majority of drug lords here in Metro Manila, Luzon and Visayas went to Marawi to hold a ‘drug summit.’ And they were protected by the Maute group and narco-politicians,” Dela Rosa said, during the briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City” (…) “Dela Rosa, however, was quick to deny the President’s statements that the Maute brothers were former policemen in Manila dealing in drugs. “They’re not police…they just act like they are (pulis-pulisan) to protect drug lords. That may be why the President said that,” Dela Rosa said, in Filipino” (Maitem, 2017).

Therefore, this might be connection with the drug-war, but that is not sure. So the Maute Group trying to control the area for the sake of narco-politicians. Still, the official from the state is otherwise. Considering it all, this might be plausible as the gear and the units of Maute was the most professional militants I have seen in a while. Their arms and the weapons was modern and therefore someone had to provide the monies for these weapons. Still, this just speculations at this point. The narrative though together with present war on drug-cartels are clearly evident of retaliation.

Still, the key message from today is that the Maute Group should desert their weapons and stop the insurgency in Marawi city by men either supported by terrorist groups or drug-cartels. It is still clear that the Martial law can make sure they are taken down. Unless, they are surrounding to the authorities. Peace.

Reference:

Reyes, Dempsey – ‘Surrender or die, Maute told’ (30.05.2017) link: http://www.manilatimes.net/surrender-die-maute-told/330196/

Esmaquel II, Paterno – ‘Cayetano to diplomats: ‘No abuses’ under martial law’ (30.05.2017) link: http://www.rappler.com/nation/171449-cayetano-diplomats-abuses-martial-law-mindanao

Maitem, Jeoffrey – ‘Bato Dela Rosa confirms Maute Group’s drug links’ (31.05.2017) link: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/900608/bato-dela-rosa-confirms-maute-groups-drug-links#ixzz4iatxOEWs

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