Philippines: New Anti-Terrorism Law might have some unfortunate consequences…

That the government of the Philippines wants to strengthen its legislation and its power to contain and control terrorists makes sense. Especially with the recent insurgency in Marawi in Mindanao and the Red Brigade there. The Government is within its right to extend its powers, ensure safety of its territory and rules to stop future insurgencies and terror attacks on the Filipino Nation. That is all understandable, however, they should still consider the implications and what a new law does to freedom of expression, liberty and justice for all. That it doesn’t come in conflict with these ideals.

Some of the things that is striking out in this new anti-terrorist law is that it will create a new legal instrument, a new precedence, where appointed top cabinet officials will have the opportunity to participate and issue arrest orders through the Anti-Terror Council (ATC). Meaning, it is lawmakers and technocrats who are finding whose deemed fit for becoming terror suspect and whose associated with terrorist. This is not done by detective or intelligence officers, no, but appointed cronies of the state. That is worrying enough itself.

That the law also stretches the ability to keep people arrested without warrants and eases the means of wire-tapping, surveillance and such. It is surely done in a sense of safeguarding the public, but at the same time. If the ATC somehow deems someone randomly, they can easily arrest someone in the name of terror, allegedly say they are terrorist without a trial keep someone in custody for about 14 days with a possibility of a 10 day extension.

If a person is really unlucky, let’s say a journalist or an activists. Whose suddenly posting a press release or statement from a questionable organization. That the ATC might deem as Terrorist. Than, the person might be charged with 12 years in prison for helping to distribute illegal material and promoting the organization. Even if the intent was only to inform the public and not get people to participate in terrorism. That is what is also dangerous about this law.

It opens up to wormholes like this and it depends on the powers at the ATC and the agencies of the Philippines to set it out and in order. The ideals are good, the steps are positives, we all should strive to combat and defeat terrorism, in all sorts and fashion. That is fine and dandy. However, this legislation is stretching things far and makes it possible to arrest someone on the hunch and on a limb. When, they might was just posting some random tweets or random Facebook posts. They were not doing it malice or with intent to incite terror, but it was from the wrong group. Therefore, they could get into trouble.

That is my worry here. Many parts of the law is reasonable and makes sense. As a sovereign and as a state, you want to have the ability to surveillance and to gather evidence of possible people who wants to commit these sorts of activities. However, when this law is make it so broad and gives huge powers to Council not made-up of intelligence officers nor law enforcement. That opens up the gates for possible political mind-games, where the political enemies becomes terrorists. Even if the only thing they do is to buy rice and flowers for the people of their Barangay.

I hope this get dealt with positively, but this is passing all parts of the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate has all agreed upon the articles. It only need the Presidential signature and seal before becoming law. That is why the ATC and whose getting there is important. Because, they will become the Terrorist Hunters and the ones deciding the fate of people. They will be vital in this and have the last word in a way. Peace.

Philippines-USA: A tit-for-tat, a diplomatic dispute over one jailbird

We are now seeing the consequences of the financial budget of 20th December 2019 in the United States. Which there was some stipulations, where the United States and the Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will sanction officials connected in the their deemed “illegal” arrest of Senator De Lima.

There is no official stance nor anyone listed in the Philippines, as this is just one statute and one promise. As the Department of State have to prove evidence and be able to connect the dots of the arrest and the charges put on the hostile President Rodrigo Duterte critic, Senator Leila De Lima. With that in mind, it didn’t take long before President Duterte retaliated against the U.S. and the ones sponsoring this sort accusation.

Now we know the deal and it is a reality. The President has already restricted Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Partick Learhy and the third Sen. Edward Markey. These are the authors of the amendment, which states this about the Philippines.

Clear as the message sends, the Philippines doesn’t accept being a whipping-boy or one whose getting humiliated by the United States. As they are already on the daily basis now doing human rights violations on their borders, detaining kids, separating kids and toddlers from their parents and not even having hospital conditions for the refugees and asylum-seekers. So in this regard, as there are thousands of lives in jeopardy on the Southern Border of the United States. Maybe, the Senators in the U.S. should focus on them for a minute.

In regards to De Lima, she is most likely in jail because she’s defying the President and got into legal trouble because of that. Just like former Senator Antonio Trilanes too. All who dares to defy to a certain amount of level gets into trouble. One way or another.

What I do like about this, is that the Filipino administration dares to retaliate. Even if it is to opposition Senators in the United States. It would have been more provoking, if the Filipino went after Republicans and the others who voted it in. As the Senate needs Republican support to get it through. Even if this is just one mere amendment.

The U.S. likes to have the upper-hand and expect everyone just to bow down. I like the touch of returning of the favour. Even if it amounts to nothing. Not like Durbin, Learhy or Markey have any investments, anything substantial to gain from the Filipino republic. Still, the sentiment I like. Because, it shows pride and courage of their sovereign state.

While the U.S. are allowed to this, use their legal framework to sanction people. But when they dare another sovereign. Expect to be retaliate against. Not just begging and kneeling underlings asking for mercy. That will not happen from this administration and certainly not from Duterte.

What I really wonder about: Is this really worth it all? Even for criminal injustice? The reality is that the men amending the law in the U.S. doesn’t change the charge nor the incarceration of De Lima. Only amplifying the Filipino to be more hostile. If they wanted legal justice for her, they should maybe have used more diplomatic means. Than, using the sanctions this way.

I might think the charges on De Lima is wrong, but the outcome of using your means this way. Will not do anything constructive. Especially, knowing the administration your dealing with. It is like these naive Yankees didn’t know. Yankee Doodle Ho. Peace.

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte – Christmas Message (25.12.2019)

Opinion: Duterte’s own goal…

I don’t know about you, but in this instance I thought no matter what President Rodrigo Roa Duterte would be the winner, as he hired Leni Robredo as the Co-Chair of the ICAD three weeks ago on the 6th November 2019. Today we are clocking 24th November 2019. This means the Vice-President got 18 days at the ICAD.

In this matter, I thought she couldn’t win. She couldn’t manage with the mandate of ICAD and neither the strings of the ICAD to succeed in anything. But apparently, the President couldn’t manage to anyone questioning him and reporting to him. Who wasn’t “Yes Men” or the following his protocol to the T.

Because, this is only a loss for the President. Who couldn’t see Leni fulfilling her time or even manage to implement anything. Therefore, it isn’t Leni’s loss, but the President. However, before I dwell on that, let me show the weird timeline of this matter. Will show three pieces, of when she was announced, limiting her power and now the firing. Before addressing the matter on my own.

Hired:

MANILA — A day after accepting the challenge to lead the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has called for her first meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Malacañang said on Thursday. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was told by Executive Secretary (ES) Salvador Medialdea through a phone call that Robredo and ICAD members would meet to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to fight illegal drugs” (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos – ‘Robredo to meet with ICAD members: Palace’ 07.11.2019, PNA).

Limited scope:

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday said Vice President Leni Robredo would remain as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair but would have limited access to classified information in the fight against the proliferation of illegal narcotics. “Need to know lang siya. If she asks something, then you give her…you give her half of it. The other half, if it’s a classified information, there is no need for her to know,” President Duterte said during a press conference in Malacañang” (PCOO – ‘President Duterte clarifies VP Robredo’s role as ICAD co-chair’ 20.11.2019).

Fired:

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 24) — President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Vice President Leni Robredo from her post as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), less than three weeks after her appointment, his spokesperson told CNN Philippines. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sunday that apart from her missteps, Duterte fired Robredo because she spoke with foreigners, was asking for the scope of her powers and was among those daring the President to fire her, along with Senator Francis Pangilinan. “So pagbibigyan niya (Duterte) na rin si Pangilinan,” Panelo said. [Translation: So the President is also giving in to Senator Kiko Pangilinan.]” (Ina Andolong and Xave Gregorio – ‘Duterte fires Robredo from anti-drug czar post’ 24.11.2019, CNN Philippines).

If the President and his close associates thinks this is wise. These three weeks will not be remembered as a tale of success or victory. This is not Build! Build! Build!, where you can show off a few bridges, pieces of roads and possible transit projects. No, this is actual changes on the drug-war and prove that its legit.

Because, the mandate of ICAD was already marginal as is, the powers of the ICAD and the Co-Chair isn’t that significant. The mandate alone together with the others is limited. That’s why in the end, its up to the President if he wants the police, the army and other agencies to act differently in concern of the drug-war.

That’s why, I thought Vice-President Robredo couldn’t win this one. But by firing her only after three weeks. Before, she even started. Even as she has talked to NGOs and ambassadors of foreign nations. She is still viable to do that, even as that hurts the pride of the President. Not like she was selling out or giving away islands or territory to the Chinese. No, she was just talking.

President Duterte was the loser here. He lost it and couldn’t manage to be asked what sort of mandate and possible tasks she could consider at the Co-Chair of ICAD. Like that is too much to dare? Even if she dared him to fire her. That was a trick and he went for it.

This doesn’t make him look wise nor brilliant. It makes him look stupid and that’s not a look any President want to have. As a Head of State, he should been more calm and given her time. That is if, he was sincere about appointing her. Not that I think he was a single second, but still he should been more easy. No matter how head-stirring it would be to work with her. Because, Leni should have gotten more than a hot-minute at ICAD.

She couldn’t even report, be apart or have any possible time to achieve squat. Not like he could have changed much in three weeks either. The ploy was to get her in and let her fail. Instead, he failed and shown that his temper cannot stomach another busy-bee, whose has the courage to question him. That was to much for Rodrigo. That’s why Leni had to get axed.

President Duterte, this make you look stupid, not smart. FYI: If you had kept Robredo at ICAD, she could have failed and not achieved much. Been a stalwart and loose canon on-ship, as she could only do minor tweaks and not significantly change anything. The results would be mediocre, but you could have pinned on her.

Still, with that, you didn’t see that and you now look dumb. Not a good move. Not a good move. This was built for her, so that she couldn’t win, but even with that in the cards. You still lost your gamble. You had the winning hand, but you folded. You couldn’t even bluff, you just had to give up and let the others win. Peace.

Opinion: VP Leni Robredo joins a battle she cannot win

Vice President Leni Robredo cannot win this anti-drug war. Even if she now becomes the Co-Chair at the ICAD. The President and his actions on the drug-war alone will reside, even as she has the helm of the ICAD. President Rodrigo Duterte has through the Executive Order No. 15 of 2017 and the Memorandum Order No. 17 of 2017. Already put the strains and the wordings in.

Where ICAD mandate and role is already put. The Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) by these documents are still the overall lead agency, while the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) will remain as the policy making one.

The ICAD is a monitoring mechanism to ensure all the various agencies and government organizations are implementing all the policies, laws and issuances pertaining to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. That means the ICAD will monitor and supervise these organizations: DILG, DDB, DOJ, DOH, DepED, DSWD, DTI, DA, DND, TESDA, PIA, PAO, OSG, PCG, PNP, NBI, BOC, BI, AFP and AMLC.

That means the ICAD will secure the implementation of the DDB and ensure the PDEA are working accordingly. The ICAD shall then again prove their work and report to the Office of the President. This all means, the ICAD is a formal board following the works, but not directly doing it.

The task of becoming the Drug-War Czar of Robredo is a failing one from the get-go. The ICAD by the stipulations in the Executive Order and Memorandum of 2017 shows the intention. Just like the NBI, PNP, AFP, BoC, Philpost and all other agencies and existing anti-illegal drug task forces shall resume to provide active support to the PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operation. Therefore, the ICAD will provide support of PDEA, just like the other agencies are supposed to provide support of PDEA.

Therefore, if she wanted to change something. That was not being the chair of the ICAD. That would be directly involved in the DDB or PDEA. The other agencies are following the order there. The ICAD is just a supervising and monitoring unit. It is not the directing authority. Not by how the paperwork of 2017 says.

In this regard, Duterte has done a bargain. He let the PDEA chair of the hook. Gave the OVP more responsibility. While she has really less control, than how it looks. No matter how the OVP plays this out. The DDB and the PDEA might screw her over. The reports to the Presidency better be more joyful, than the ones whose been presented since its inception in 2017.

Robredo has gotten the short end of the stick. She is played before she’s touching the ground. The agency should have gotten ordered and co-chair in, wasn’t ICAD but PDEA. If she was there, should could have stopped killings and murder of civilians. However, she’s just monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the DDB policies.

OVP Robredo seems like she doesn’t understand that herself. But I cannot see her winning in this manner. Not happening and Duterte outplayed her. Robredo cannot be the winner. Not in this bargain. Unless, she has a magical wand and change the realities from the get go. Peace.

Opinion: Duterte needs to hire an headhunter, since he re-appoints Uson!

Mocha Uson appointed Deputy Executive Director of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, according to new list of presidential appointees from Malacañang” (Rappler, 30.09.2019).

I don’t know what President Rodrigo Duterte see in Mocha Uson, who previously worked for the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) until she stood as a candidate for the AA Kasosyo Party-list for the recent elections this Mid-Term Elections this May 2019. Therefore, she shouldn’t be eligible to be appointed in the first place. If the law of someone standing on a list as an nominee still stands. Even if the COMELEC are accepting her today. Trying some definition mombo-jumbo, which isn’t existing before the Uson showed up.

Mocha Uson was terrible in the PCOO, she was hectic and blatantly stupid on her blog. She was campaigning blindly for the President in the previous election. Now, she is appointed again. Even if it is directly impossible. She will have a high-ranking official in the OWWA.

I wondered even when she was in PCOO, what sort of skill-set did she have to be there? What part of her previous career has made capable of being there and serving the President?

Now, I wonder even more, as she will be in-charge of vital office and help Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), that is no joke. The OFW work hard all across the world with various of professions and needs support from its state. As well, as guidance and knowledge to help them to cope away from home. Therefore, the OWWA is vital to plenty of OFW.

There President Duterte has put Uson. He could have at least returned her to the PCOO, where she could only boggle headlines, making campaigns look unprofessional but in the OWWA she can make life worse for hard-working Filipino’s abroad or overseas.

Mocha Uson is only there because her loyalty to the President. Nothing else, because she is not brilliant, neither educated in any fields associates connected with the OWWA. Uson has been an Social Media personality, whose got skills in the field they are appointed too.

That is why, when he re-appoints Uson. I start to believe Duterte needs to hire a head-hunter, someone who can find people skilled, experienced and whose knows the bureaucratic system and actually knows the deal.

I don’t believe she was fit for the PCOO and certainly not the OWWA. It is a joke. This should be satire and not real life. What has she done to the President to get this perks and this positions? Because, it must be in return for something. If not, it doesn’t make sense.

What gives?

I don’t know, but something will give way, I suppose. Peace.

Philippines: National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) – Postponing the May 2020 Barangay and Sanggunlang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) remains inadequately justified, and will extend terms of office without voters’ consent (25.09.2019)

Philippines: Memorandum for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs – Chinese Apology on the Recto Bank Collision Incident (28.08.2019)

Philippines: President Duterte – Message – Araw ng Kaglitingan (09.04.2019)

My Letter to President Duterte: Do you got something to hide?

Oslo, 17th March 2019

Dear Sir, His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the President of the Republic of Philippines.

I am writing today to you and yours for a very simple reason. Not that I have the answers, but I am seeking those. Because I am worried about you and your administration. Since, the act of withdrawal from the Rome Statute and leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) came to affect today.

A quick brief about the ICC and the Rome Statute: “The primary mission of the International Criminal Court is to help put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes” (…) “On 17 July 1998, a conference of 160 States established the first treaty-based permanent international criminal court. The treaty adopted during that conference is known as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Among other things, it sets out the crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, the rules of procedure and the mechanisms for States to cooperate with the ICC” (…) “ The mandate of the Court is to try individuals (rather than States), and to hold such persons accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression, when the conditions for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction over the latter are fulfilled” (ICC – Understanding the International Criminal Court).

The reason for writing this is very clear as an outsider, a man who follows the Republic and sometimes worried about the state of affairs. I’m writing to you President Duterte, because this is a serious gamble. Your risking more than just some mere donations or bilateral loans, you are risking more than that.

Mister President, your actually taking yourself out of institution, whose prosecuting for international crimes and crimes against humanity. Which is a very specific court, not just any tribunal. Why I am asking, because your administration accepted the verdict of another international court, which ordered a verdict in your favour. That was the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on the 12th July 2016 [The South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China)]. Therefore, the administration your running has accepted this and didn’t question the sovereign of this nor the laws it used for the ruling of this court.

If you as President are saying the ICC shouldn’t have any grounds of investigation you, than the same Republic and the same administration accept the verdict of another international court either. That is just an easy assessment, Mr. President.

As we are seeing the Republic leaves the ICC, could there be another reason for leaving it? Are you afraid of cases built up against you? Would you be afraid if they really investigated or looked into the anti-drug war? Are you afraid of what you did as Mayor of Davao?

I just got to ask. Since there has to be something, a reason why you are afraid of the ICC. If you had nothing to hide, if you had nothing to look into or questionable activity. You wouldn’t have revoked the Rome Statute and run away from the International Law?

I am really questioning it, since the same state had no issues accepting one International Court, but leaving another one. Are you leaving the laws and statutes of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague too? That would have been a bit fair, especially if your a supreme sovereign and not wanting any interference. This is a weird argument using against one, but accepting the other one.

I just had to ask. I don’t anticipate any answers, but the Filipino should get to know. Just not some PR Stunt and sample of the Withdrawal of the Rome Statute. There should be released an legal argument released to the public to read and with justified explanation. If not, we can wonder, if the you as a President is afraid of the ICC and what they could find.

I hope you could answer to that and also show grace. Not that I expect any, but as an outsider. This is just weird. No one is running away from something unless, they got something to hide. That is just ordinary fashion in these manners.

Best Regards

Writer of Minbane