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: 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.

Philippines: Statement of Vice President Leni Robredo on the President’s plan to “ignore” the arbitral ruling in favor of joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea (12.09.2019)

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

Opinion: Duterte won the Midterms 2019!

The Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte can be acclaimed the victor of the 13th May 2019 Midterms, as his candidates all across the board is sealing their victory. The preliminary results within the 24 hours after the polls was already making it look like a landslide and that was all on unofficial results. Now, that more and more results is out. The proof is in the pudding.

There is no denying it, the magic twelve, the 12 Senators of these Midterms is people in favour and associated with the President. All of them is on board and the Opposition Candidates are not able to get in. Not as its only small canvassing left of the votes. Even with the glitches and the problematic SD-Cards, the results are still the same. The ones whose blessed with endorsement from the President has all become part of the magic twelve.

There are also the knowledge of the local governments where allies, associates and former workers of the President have won seats, mayoral or positions of representatives. This is all across the board. They have been announced and the truth is out.

What we have seen is some questionable things, what is more defining is the lack of value of the ballots, as this is prolonging suspension, as the Senators are not finalized after 48 hours. Tomorrow, it will be a week since the 13th May to 20th May 2019.

Because, it is rare, that the official results takes this long time. That we’re on the 6 day since the polls and the COMELEC is not able to issue the Official Results. As they are still partial for the Senators. Still, these results are showing that the President is getting his endorsed candidates.

This seems also likely in the local governments all around. By all means, there districts and towns, where mayors are in opposition, but these are either retaining their place or a minor victory. As there are several of others in the area, where the ones in association of the President are getting positions. Therefore, this is a slam dunk.

The results, the victories been made on both local level and national level is a sign that the President and his associates got a strong grip on power. That the politicking and bargaining will continue, as the dynasties, the plunders and others are still in the realm of power. These people are in and around the President. He might speak vile about corruption, but some of the people he has endorsed are plunders and been charged for that.

President Duterte has won this one, nothing else to say and that the opposition are wiped out. They are really hit hard, even as the COMELEC haven’t delivered proper polls, because the announcing of official results has taken so long. This jeopardize the results and also the credibility of the polls. This is well-known facts and also is a worrying sign. It should have been done quickly and not over this long time.

Duterte should be worried about COMELEC, unless he wants that to stain his victory and possibly next election. As the Commission needs to be revamped and secured enough funds for the up-coming elections.

The President have won now, but if they want to look totally good. The COMELEC needs something, the system needs upgrades, as the days goes by, the strength of the election dwindles. Since, it shouldn’t be this hard to count the ballots. Peace.

Philippines: NAMFREL – Preliminary Findings and Observations on the 13th May, 2019 Midterm Elections (18.05.2019)

Philippines: NAMFREL reacts on ballot pre-shading video (17.05.2019)

Opinion: Seems like Duterte wins the 2019 Mid-Term Elections!

Well, if I understand the results I have seen so far, as they are only preliminary, they are in favour of the ruling party, their allies and of most of their well-wishers. Seemingly, this election is solidifying the position of President Rodrigo Duterte, not only in the Senate, but in local government too. As the wards I have seen its been all positive for him.

I might be that I am just checking in the right corners of the Republic. But he seems like winner now. That the PDP-Laban and the other allies are victors. The Independents and the Opposition many places are losing their steps.

Therefore, as this election goes, it seems that the President is just getting stronger. That is how it seems as off now, but when the official results are out. It might change, but this election seems like his.

While National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) own statement earlier today have sent stern warnings from their volunteers on the way the elections was conducted in various of areas. As there was technical glitches in the voting machines, there was acknowledged of buying votes and so on. Therefore, these elections aren’t perfect, as there are certain things that still needs to be addressed. This was from their statement of 2100H Filipino Time 13th May 2019. There will be surely more statements from them and the likes. Showing the other side of the Election too.

We have to see how this goes, but by now, the results are going in favour of the President and his allies. Unless, there is a lot of unverified results hidden somewhere. This seems like a giant haul for him and nothing else.

By the time I wake up, the results might be different. But as I go to sleep, the results are surely a vindication of the Presidency, as he has more of his people in positions, not only in the Senate, but also elsewhere. Peace.