Opinion: Red-Tagging could happen to you

Just as the Philippines government are red tagging people. This as part of their activities to hurt the New People’s Army (NPA) and the whole CPP-NPA. It is natural that the government and the army is working to dismantle the insurgency of the communist army in the Republic. That is all natural.

However, the tool of red tagging of people might hit the public wrongly. As it is proven that loud activists and “non-associated” people with the CPP-NPA have been targeted by state this way. They have been wire-tapped and monitored. The people could easily be detained without warrants, restricted travels, examinations of bank accounts and seizure of assets. That is the powers the state takes if they have red tagged you.

If that is done wrongly, then the state has the powers of deeming you associated, connected or abating terrorists. That the state works to stop terrorism and organizations is all natural. That is to safeguard the public and the citizens from the dangers of extremists. However, the red tagging might not work for its purpose.

Especially, when there is knowledge and been reported that the activists who has spoken out against gender violence. There even been in the past where the government has gone after supposed “front-groups” of the CPP-NPA without any basis or claim. Where they could not identify the association or accessory to it. Therefore, undermining its own efforts. Targeting individuals and organizations without basis to do so. Just to justify their efforts against terrorism.

The red tagging has even gone as far as targeting outspoken celebrities. These have gotten bad mouthed and been listed. Because they dared to speak out against the government stance. Which by the act of doing so isn’t abiding or association with terrorism, but just using their free speech to speak their minds.

Just like the red tagging is easily applied on other civil society organization and non-governmental organizations. Which in the end would target the ones who works against government policy and therefore, easily deemed fit for the programme. Then the program is more of a tagging the ones daring to speak out against it, then for the purpose of labelling the ones who is associated with the CPP-NPA.

So, the idea itself to identify and label terrorist and the ones associated isn’t that bad. That has been done by governments since forever. However, targeting all left-wing and outspoken critics of the government. That is a bad look, as most of them is most likely not associated with the groups in question. They are not financially backing them or supporting in any fashion. Only because of a inkling of “red” and the state can use their powers to suffocate you. Take away your freedom and liberties. Destroy your image and your livelihood.

If these folks are supporting the CPP-NPA it is understandable. As the state is working to destroy and annihilate this threat to the Republic. That if someone would use their time, effort and machinery to support the CPP-NPA. This makes sense and I can understand the actions made. So, that these folks doesn’t get support or help from outside forces. However, the red tagging might cover a broad spectrum of people, than just these ones.

That is the problem with it. This can be used to muffle critics and CSO’s who works in good spirit, but not always following the state or its objectives. Because, they work after other charters and ideas for a better society. That is how things has always been. Someone on the front-line being revolutionary, being radical, but later will deemed as a normal thought. That’s because of the ideals and political standpoints. Which today might differ from the state, but later would be deemed as reasonable. Therefore, the red tagging might target these folks, instead of the ones supporting terrorists.

That is the whole problem and why we got to discuss it. Since this isn’t making the Republic better, but instead making it easier to silence critics. Which isn’t a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. Peace.

Phillippines: National Security Council (NSC) – Jevilyn Cullamat was a Victim of the Armed Movement We Condemn, Not a Martyr Whose Death is to be Romanticized (01.12.2020)

Phillippines: UN extends call for help to Typhoon Vamco-affected areas in Northern Luzon (27.11.2020)

Philippines: Duterte should apologize to the VP [for his 20 minute rant against her]

Should you become the President, if you want, buy a lot of swimsuits and swim when the floods come” – President Rodrigo Duterte addressing Vice President Leni Robredo

In the last few days Vice President Leni Robredo have worked on sites at typhoon hit areas after the ‘Goni’, ‘Rolly’ and ‘Ulysses’. She has been out to the areas and been a public face in the midst of trouble for the citizens in these areas. With this she has proven her character and been vocal to get more help for the ones in need. That has hurt Malacañang Palace and President Rodrigo Duterte.

We could clearly see by the statement of the live nation address and the 20 minutes long infuriated rant on her. Instead of addressing the needs of the people. The President was focused on her and was lying. He was trying to forge a narrative and wasn’t sincere. That because he wants to have the glory and be the big-man. Accordingly, Leni was his target because of her efforts after these storms and typhoons.

Clearly, Duterte pride was hurt as Robredo has been in the field and acted like a public servant. This is something that makes him look and indecisive. He knows that this make him look weak and not capable. As she is out there and participating in the emergency response to the affected areas of the typhoons.

Yes, Duterte is a President. A head of state and doesn’t have to be everywhere and cannot be everywhere at any time. Just like any other person. However, if he wanted to show his face and be with some of the ones who are hurt by the typhoons. He could have taken a day-trip without it hurting the programs, the plans and the scheduled affairs of the Presidency. Yes, the old man could be afraid of COVID-19, but his supposed to be in Davao. A region that is hit hard with the sickness and he cannot be sheltered from it forever.

President Duterte was in the wrong. To ask for accountability of each other is fine. However, using lies and misogyny has no place. That the President uses this to make himself look good. Is just a dumb move. If he wanted to look great. He should have taken a trip and been visible. Everyone understand that he cannot always go and has business to attend too. Nevertheless, that cannot be reason all the time. Especially, in crisis like these and where the Republic is hit with more and more troubles.

Leni Robredo isn’t the one who usually tends and attends things correctly. The VP has created unnecessary storms and conflicts, because she haven’t done the right thing. Where she haven’t filed the right papers or informed the authorities accordingly. Therefore, she can be wrong too. It is not about that. I’m not a great fan of Robredo. No, I am not, but here Duterte is off the rails.

Duterte should not get away with this. This sort of behaviour isn’t cool, it isn’t funny and shouldn’t be a thing. Rodrigo should act like a man and not like spoiled brat. That is seeing someone else is playing with his toys. He better get a grip and maybe even talk to the VP. Give her a call and apologize. Because, this is beneath his station. The rant shouldn’t have happened. The man should know better. Would the man accept this sort of talk about his daughter [Sara Duterte] and Mayor of Davao? I doubt he would accept it. He would hunt the man down… asap.

Therefore, when we knows. The President should pay amends and also see what the VP have done of late. Which has been the right thing for the same government that his serving. The President and VP serves the same government and is responsible for the same citizens.

President Duterte, this was wrong and dumb. Your better than this. I hope, because this isn’t cutting it. Peace.

Philippines: Kagawaran ng Katungan – Anti-Terrorism Council – Press Statement (14.10.2020)

Philippines: National Security Council – The P16,44 B Barangay Development Program is meant to Empower Communities Suffering from the Violence of the NPA (30.09.2020)

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.