THE PSYCHOPATH’S SYCOPHANTS (Part 1)

Psychopath – (noun) a person with antisocial personality disorder manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse, in extreme egocentricity, in failure to learn from experience, etc. Psychopaths tend to lack normal human emotions such as guilt. They also lack the ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships. They are often highly intelligent and skilled at manipulating others.

Sycophant – (noun) a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage; a servile self-seeking flatterer.

 

Power could be such a potent motivation that people are willing to go to great lengths to possess it — or even to get close to it. It is no wonder, therefore, that when Duterte won the presidency, opportunists of all colors and sizes huddled up close to and swarmed Malacanang.

Just like flies would to manure.

Many members of the opposition readily deserted their respective sinking ships and jumped into that of the PDP-Laban, which was fast getting jam-packed with the other political chameleons.

New alliances and coalitions between other political parties and the president’s party were formed.

People who supported and worked for Duterte’s campaign saw it as the perfect opportunity to collect and reap the benefits of being a loyal boot and ass licker.

Those closest to him, meanwhile, elbowed their way through the burgeoning crowd to secure the meatiest positions available.

Needless to say, their efforts paid off.

Despite Duterte’s initial pronouncement that he will get only the best and the brightest people because “the Filipinos deserved nothing less,” he went on an appointing spree (with their contribution to his campaign as the main qualification for the selection of those appointees) weeks before he was proclaimed the election winner.

The following are some of the President’s political appointees. Together, let us know them a little better and see if, indeed, their connection to the Palace was not their only credential to their current positions. We will also take a peek at what they have managed to bring to the table thus far.

 

Aguirre (1)

 

DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II. He was the legal counsel of Hubert Webb in the celebrated Vizconde massacre case; the former lawyer of Sen. Lacson and Ramon Tulfo; the deputy counsel who conducted the direct examinations of now Sen. Trillanes and the other Magdalo members during the investigation of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny; Duterte’s fraternity brother in San Beda and his lawyer when he was linked to the Davao Death Squad by then CHR Commissioner Leila De Lima; the defense lawyer of retired SP04 Bienvenido Laud (the owner of the quarry in Davao believed to have been the burial ground of the DDS victims); the founder and president of the Brotherhood for Duterte Movement; and the controversial target of the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s ire during the Corona impeachment trial. (Yes, Aguirre and the Hear-No-Evil lawyer are one and the same.)

When Aguirre was appointed by then presumptive Pres. Duterte to head the DOJ, the latter’s orders were quite specific: “Focus on illegal drugs, graft and corruption and heinous crimes, and file appropriate charges no matter who gets hurt.”

After only a year at the helm of the Justice department, Aguirre has already figured in a plethora of controversies.

The government’s drug war has already killed thousands, many of which were perpetrated by unidentified masked men, yet no single killer has been held legally accountable. Amid the international community, the Catholic Church and the human rights advocates’ resounding call for accountability and end to the killings, the Dep’t. of Justice has remained deafeningly silent.

Aguirre used 12 convicted felons (all of whom were granted immunity and witness protection, while 5 of whom have had pending applications for pardon or clemency) to testify against Sen. De Lima during a congressional probe on the Senator’s alleged involvement in the drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison. (Said felons were reportedly granted certain perks and privileges in exchange for their testimonies.) At the same public hearing, he threatened to present sex videos allegedly of De Lima and Dayan “to establish their relationship.” He also released fake BDO deposit slips to further implicate De Lima. During presscons and interviews even before a single case against De Lima was filed before a court of law, he found great joy in destroying the Senator’s reputation by accusing her of being the country’s biggest drug lord — an action that utterly ran counter to what a judicious Justice Secretary should be.

To date, Peter Lim is still as free as a bird despite PDEA and Kerwin Espinosa’s separate testimonies that the presidential friend is a bigtime drug lord. (Lim has been, in fact, named by no less than the President himself in his drug matrix as among the top-tier drug lords operating in the country.) Just recently, DOJ downgraded the murder charge against the 19 policemen involved in the rubout of Mayor Rolando Espinosa. (Ex-CIDG Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos, the team leader, has long been involved in illegal drugs, according to PNP Chief Dela Rosa.) Both of these despite the administration’s controversial War on Drugs.

It is also on his watch when the bloody raid (eyewitnesses assert that it was a massacre, not a raid) against the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City took place. Amid claims of irregularities in the execution of the operation, and a clamor to look deeper into the incident that resulted to the death of 15 people, the DOJ thru its constituent agency, the National Bureau of Investigation, has been conspicuously quiet. Yet again.

Aguirre has the uncanny habit of parroting Duterte’s statements. According to him, the killings of thousands of drug suspects and criminals may not be considered crimes against humanity because those drug suspects and criminals are not humans. Duterte has been repeatedly heard making the same statement.

The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul Jack Lam had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. The DOJ Sec. was even quoted telling an ex-BI official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte’s frat brothers and appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.

He earned the title “The King of Fake News” after exposing to the media that some opposition lawmakers, in connivance with some Moro clans, were behind the Marawi clashes. He even used a photo (which turned out to be an old one) to support his claim. Before that, he also accused former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, along with a Laguna solon, of allegedly trying to bribe the inmates who testified against De Lima to recant their testimonies. He once accused Sen. Trillanes, moreover, of having benefited from the PDAF scam with Napoles. All claims were eventually proven to be baseless, malicious and outright lies. Sen. Grace Poe lambasted Aguirre for “propagating fake news like a troll,” while the NUJP called him a “mean-spirited coward” for blaming the media for his blunders following Aguirre’s yet another claim that he was just being misquoted by the media.

He is also among the 11 government officials tagged in the criminal complaint filed against Duterte at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.

 

For the succeeding parts of this article, we shall get better acquainted with these other notable Duterte sycophants:

POLITICAL APPOINTEES (continuation)

  1. PNP Chief Director Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
  2. Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida
  3. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
  4. Budget Sec. Benajamin Diokno
  5. Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III
  6. Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano
  7. Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
  8. Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo
  9. Communications Sec. Martin Andanar
  10. PCOO Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson
  11. Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
  12. DSWD Assistant Sec. Lorraine Badoy
  13. Ambassador to the UN Teddy Boy Locsin Jr.
  14. Tourism Promotions Board COO Cesar Montano

ELECTED OFFICIALS

  1. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
  2. Senate Pres. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
  3. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard “Dick”Gordon
  4. Senate Ethics Committee Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
  5. Senator Manny Pacquiao
  6. House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas
  7. House Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali
  8. Kabayan Party List Rep. Harry Roque

NGO

  1. Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC)

A GLIMPSE AT THE PRESIDENT’S FIRST YEAR IN MALACANANG

Indeed, time flies so fast. Isang taon na pala ang lumipas since Duterte took his oath last June 30, 2016 as our country’s 16th president.

Ayon sa kanyang inaugural speech, “Malasakit. Tunay na Pagbabago. Tinud-anay nga Kausaban (Compassion. Real change.) – these are words which catapulted me to the presidency. [But] these slogans were conceptualized not for the sole purpose of securing the votes of the electorate. Far from that. These were battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change.”

 

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Duterte and his children during the inauguration ceremony

Real Change.

‘Yan ang pangako n’ya when he was still campaigning.

‘Yan ang ikinondisyon n’ya sa utak nating lahat na kailangan ng bansa.

‘Yan ang pinaniwalaan ng 16,601,997 Pilipino na bumoto sa kanya.

‘Yan ang inasahan at patuloy na inaasahan natin mula sa kanya at sa kanyang administrasyon.

After 365 days in Malacanang, masasabi ba natin that the President was able to deliver on his promised change? Or have we all been taken for a ride?

C’mon, let’s find out by looking back at his first year in Malacanang!

 

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the pile of bodies under Duterte’s War on Drugs

 

Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation

Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, thousands are killed in just a span of one year. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.

 

Pork Barrel has made a comeback

Under the 2017 National Budget, a Congressman gets an annual allocation of P80 million while a Senator gets P200 million. The SC ruling specifically prohibited the post-enactment intervention of members of Congress in the national budget. To effectively go around that ruling, Congressmen were asked to submit a list of projects before Malacanang had to present the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress. Under PNoy’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), members of the Congress were making postenactment identification of projects, while under Duterte’s PDAF, everything is done preenactment or during the budget preparation. Budget preparation should be the domain of the executive branch. When the legislature is asked to participate in it, the whole exercise could easily open doors to patronage and corruption. Meanwhile, the House leadership claimed that “they are just exercising their power of the purse.”

 

An identified drug lord is set free

According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace, unscathed, and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.

 

Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman

The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.

According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace and wheel chair–, representing Pampanga’s second district at the House of Representatives.

 

Rampant Human Rights violations

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”

 

The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate, and the downgrading of charges against the perps

According to the result of the NBI’s investigation and of the probe of the Senate Committee on Public Order, the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Supt. Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the President himself a few days before the rubout. Despite the glaring evidence against the team, though, DOJ recently downgraded the charges against the perps from murder to homicide. Marcos and his men are now out on bail.

 

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the clandestine burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani

 

Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero

The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.

 

The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president

Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.

 

The Vit Aguirre-Jack Lam rendezvous

The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. Aguirre was even quoted telling an ex-Bureau of Immigration official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte and Aguirre’s frat brothers and presidential appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.

 

Slashed budget for calamity funds

Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.

 

Camp Crame is now Camp Crime

Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.

 

The death of Project NOAH

The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.

 

The near-collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels

Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners.  The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.

 

The ongoing election protest of Bongbong Marcos

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is moving forward with the case after ruling that Marcos’ election protest is sufficient in both form and substance. As service fees for the contested precincts, Marcos has been ordered to pay P66.2 million while Robredo P15.7 million. Historically, it takes around 4 years for the PET to resolve electoral protests.

 

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a mugshot of Sen. Leila de Lima taken after her arrest

 

Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail

Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the bigtime drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of a handful of Bilibid convicts and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.

 

Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts

With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.

 

The country is considered a major money-laundering hub

According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”

 

Higher monthly pension for SSS pensioners and Higher monthly premiums for all SSS members

To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.

 

The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury

During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.

 

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Gina Lopez during the final hearing held by the Commission on Appointments

 

The Commission on Appointment’s rejection of Gina Lopez

Gina Lopez is one of Duterte’s appointees that could have effected real change in the country with her unwavering advocacy for the protection of the environment. Her appointment, however, was rejected by the powerful bicameral CA. Duterte attributed CA’s decision to the power of lobby money.

 

The reimposition of death penalty

Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes were removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under the new law, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!

 

The Lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old

Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.

 

Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea

Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the seabed for possible mineral deposits.

 

The inclusion of archrivals Duterte and De Lima in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World

Duterte’s supporters rejoiced when the popular President topped the readers’ poll for this annual list. Their joy was short-lived, though, when they learned that the name of Sen. Leila De Lima somehow found its way to the prestigious list. Duterte was listed under the Leaders category, while De Lima under the Icons. The write-up on Duterte was assigned to and written by Cesar Gaviria, the former Colombian president that Duterte called stupid for criticizing his war on drugs. The write-up on De Lima, on the other hand, was penned by Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former US Ambassador to the UN.

 

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Mocha Uson’s appointment as the PCOO Assistant Secretary

 

Mocha is now a legit source of information

With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when Philippine Star gave her her own column, when DZRH gave her a tv show, and when the president gave her a government position. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead? No one, but her boss PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar came up with a brilliant piece of advice: Uson should hire page managers for her blog. Hopefully, we won’t shoulder that extra expense. Uson’s monthly salary of more than P106,000 (plus allowances and bonuses) is already hard to accept, as it is.

 

SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction

Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it is possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she is found to be the least guilty among those involved in the controversial Pork Barrel scam.

 

Lower personal income taxes but Higher excise taxes

As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning P250,000 and below will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that measure would entail, higher excise taxes on petroleum products, automobiles and sugar-sweetened beverages, and VAT on lease of residential units, sale of real property and in electric cooperatives will be implemented. Note that the net effect of all these additional taxes (increase in the prices of basic commodities, meds, fares, housing, etc.) would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes.

 

Duterte’s foreign trips that cost thrice more than his predecessors’

The government spent at least P386.2 million of taxpayers’ money on the President’s 21 foreign trips during his first year in power. (Said figure does not include the cost of his last 4 trips – to Cambodia, Hong Kong, China and Russia). Former Pres. Fidel Ramos called Duterte’s Russian trip a junket because of the countless free riders. Aside from the 16 (out of 23) cabinet secretaries and around 300 businessmen, also spotted in the trip were Gen. Bato Dela Rosa and his wife, the Commanding Generals of all three major service commands (the army, navy and air force), former MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, actors Robin and Rommel Padilla, Phillip Salvador, Cesar Montano, Sandra Cam, concert producer Bernard Cloma, Mocha Uson and his manager Byron Cristobal, and presidential son Baste.

 

The declaration of Martial Law over the entire Mindanao

Despite the AFP and the Presidential Spokesperson’s repeated initial statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control, Duterte declared Martial Law for the whole Mindanao. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.”

 

The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension

With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.

 

The revision of history

Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)

 

The desensitization of the Filipino people

We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.

 

The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials

When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.

 

The dismissal of the impeachment complaint filed against Duterte

The members of the House Justice Committee unanimously voted that the impeachment case filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against Pres. Duterte was sufficient in form but insufficient in substance. Impeachment is considered both a political exercise and a numbers game, and since Duterte maintains a stronghold at the Lower House, with at least 267 out of the 293 lawmakers as his allies, no impeachment complaint against him is expected to prosper.

 

The Resorts World Manila attack that left in its wake 38 casualties and at least 54 injured

The attack, perpetrated by a lone gunman, showed Gen. Bato Dela Rosa’s thirst for media exposure. It was a developing situation at the time yet he was providing updates –which turned out to be unverified reports—to the media. According to him, the gunman was Caucasian (Jessie Carlos was Filipino who used to work in the Dep’t. of Finance), was killed by government troops (he was wounded in a firefight with the casino’s in-house security before he burned and shot himself), that no one got hurt except for those who suffered minor injuries due to the stampede (37 died due to suffocation), and that a member of the casino’s security accidentally shot himself in panic (a Resorts World official denied such incident). He later urged the public to stop spreading unverified information. Bato is such a clown.

 

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the filing of complaints against Duterte at the ICC

 

The filing of a criminal case against Duterte before the ICC

Atty. Jude Sabio, Edgar Matobato’s lawyer, went to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands where he accused Duterte of being a mass murderer. “The lawyer claimed that Duterte has been waging mass murders constituting crime against humanity from his term as mayor of Davao City under his Davao Death Squad to the present after assuming the presidency through his bloody drug war.” Also included in the complaint are 11 of Duterte’s senior administration officials.

Just a month after, Sen. Trillanes and Congressman Alejano also flew to The Hague to file a supplemental communication against Duterte. They cited the unabated and systematic killings in the country and Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as compelling reasons for the ICC Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation on the situation in the Phils.

 

Senate Pres. Pimentel and eight other senators flew to France to repair the PH-EU ties

Amid Duterte’s repeated verbal attacks against the EU, his rejection of its $278.7-million grant, and his arrogant statement that we can survive without EU’s assistance, nine of our honorable senators decided to use taxpayers’ money to fix the relationship between the powerful union and the Philippines. Said effort and expenses could have easily been avoided if only the President learned how to control his dirty mouth.

 

Positive economic momentum, Volatility of the stock market, and Peso depreciation

In 2016, the economy grew by 6.8% — a stellar performance that economists attribute to the stable and fast-growing economy that the previous administration turned over to Duterte. According to them, the positive momentum will carry us through 2017, but beyond that, certain factors – the success or failure of the implementation of Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, the country’s political stability, Trump’s America First policy, etc. — will ultimately dictate our fate.

Last year, the Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at the former POTUS Obama in connection with the latter’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.51 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is now at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,” has a domino effect.

  • Higher government debt-servicing
  • Higher cost of foreign goods and services
  • Inflation in the prices of domestic products
  • Soaring oil prices

http://www.doh.gov.ph/node/6750

 

Duterte’s unexplained and prolonged absences  

The President admitted, albeit grudgingly, to going to Guangzhou, China during the New Year holidays for a medical visit. He, again, went into some sort of unexplained hibernation –4 days in February, June 12-16, and June 20-27. Because of these absences, people are calling for the full disclosure of Duterte’s medical records.

 

An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system

Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.

 

President Duterte is expected to stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY TATAY DIGONG

Dear Tatay  Digong,

Marami po akong naririnig na negative things na sinasabi nila laban sa iyo at, bilang isa sa iyong 103-milyong mga anak, nasasaktan ako. Sino po ba namang anak ang gugustuhing matawag ang kanyang ama na psychopath, sociopath, demagogue, misogynist, pathological liar, murderer at plunderer? Wala po siguro. Subalit, ngayon, halos buong mundo ang tumutuligsa sa iyo dahil sa inyong mga kilos at pananalita. At, sadly, pati ang pagtingin nila sa ating bansa at sa mga Pilipino ay apektado.

Dati po, kilala ang Pilipinas bilang “Asia’s bastion of Christianity.” When foreigners would describe us, lagi nilang sinasabi na ang mga Pinoy ay mabait, masayahin, matulungin, madasalin at magiliw sa mga panauhin. Ngayon, may reputasyon na tayo bilang bastos, bayolente at kriminal.

Tatay, tanggap ko po na sanay kayo sa “gutter language.” Hindi nyo po inilihim sa amin ‘yan kahit na noong panahon ng kampanya. Pero nangako po kayo sa amin na, once elected at bilang respeto sa iyong posisyon bilang Ama ng Bansa, you will become dignified. Ang sabi mo pa nga, “cussing will be a thing of the past.” So, ano po ang nangyari? Mula sa Pope, sa mga Presidente at Ambassadors ng iba’t-ibang nasyon, hanggang sa mga journalists, human rights advocates, mga kalaban sa politika at kaparian — lahat sila ay nakatikim ng iyong infamous na pagmumura. Hanggang ngayon, sa mga public appearances nyo, hindi pwedeng hindi ka magmura.

Tinitingala ka namin, Tatay, at itinuturing na aming role model. Sana po, mas maganda ang mga naririnig naming salita mula sa ‘yo. Isa pa po, cursing the other heads of state will foster animosity between their countries and ours. Bilang isang third-world country pa naman, alam nyo po na hindi natin kayang mag-survive without the help of our allies. Hinay-hinay lang po, Tatay.

Sabi din po nila, wala kayong “Palabra de Honor.” Mahilig daw po kayong magbitiw ng mga pangakong alam nyo namang imposible nyong matupad.

Nangako kayo that you will “solve our traffic woes in 100 days.” Tatay, walong buwan na po kayo sa Malacanang pero ang traffic sa EDSA, lumala pa. Pangako nyo rin that you will fight “patronage politics” pero pinayagan nyo ang paglilibing kay Macoy sa Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, ang pagpapalaya kay GMA, ang pagpapatakas kay Peter Lim, ang pangangamkam ng China sa pinag-aagawang bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, at ang pagtatalaga ng mga showbiz personalities sa gobyerno. Totoo po na lahat sila ay nakatulong sa iyong kampanya pero, sana po, huwag ma-compromise ang kapakanan ng bansa sa pagnanais nyong makabayad ng utang na loob sa kanila. Country above all else po dapat, hindi ba?

Galit po kayo sa corruption, at hinahangaan ko po kayo dahil diyan. Pinagbantaan nyo pa nga dati ang mga corrupt officials na ihahagis nyo sila mula sa helicopter in mid-air, di po ba? E bakit nasa gabinete nyo pa po si Justice Sec. Aguirre? Very obvious naman during the senate investigation na plano nyang mag-extort ng pera mula kina Jack Lam. Pumutok lang ang issue kaya naghugas-kamay na lang siya. Si Sen. Pacquiao, malaki po ang atraso nya sa BIR. At si Sen. Cayetano, saang kamay ng Diyos po kaya niya nakuha ang malaking pera that he donated for your campaign?

Itong si Sen. Trillanes po, he claims na may hawak siyang mga documents proving na nagkaroon ng around P2.2 billion in deposit transactions sa bank accounts nyo. Para po mapahiya at tuluyan nang manahimik si Trillanes, bakit hindi na lang po kayo pumirma at mag-issue sa mga banko nyo ng waiver ng bank secrecy? That would effectively put to rest all these corruption allegations against you, Tatay.

Just the other day, during the celebration of International Women’s Day, you vowed to uphold gender equality. Mapaninindigan nyo po ba talaga ‘yan, Tatay, o isa na naman ‘yan sa marami mong rhetorical statements? Alam naman nating lahat na lagi nyong ipinagmamalaki ang pagiging matinik nyo sa chicks, na kesyo kaya nyong pagsabay-sabayin ang ilang babae sa buhay nyo. Hindi po ba’t isa nga ‘yan sa mga dahilan kung bakit nag-file ng annulment of marriage ang dati nyong asawa?

During the campaign, napulaan kayo dahil sa insensitive nyong comment about the Australian missionary na ginang-rape at pinatay ng mga preso. Kumalat din ang mga pictures nyo na nagpapaupo kayo sa hita at nanghahalik ng mga female supporters nyo. Nang naging Pangulo naman kayo, isa sa mga unang naging kontrobersya laban sa inyo ay ang pagpito nyo sa isang female reporter during a press conference. Hayan tuloy, sa Hollywood tv show na “Madam Secretary,” pinalabas nilang bastos ang Presidente ng Pilipinas. Kahiya-hiya po tayo sa buong mundo. Pero hindi po natin sila masisisi. Depictment lang po iyun ng kung ano ang mga naisusulat at napapanood tungkol sa inyo.

You also seem intimidated by strong women, especially women who have the balls to stand up to you. Nariyan sina Sen. De Lima (na hindi kayo tinantanan for your alleged human rights violations mula noong kayo pa ang Mayor ng Davao), SC Chief Justice Sereno (na kinwestyun ang paglalabas mo sa publiko ng mga pangalan ng mga “narco-judges”), Ombudsman Carpio-Morales (na pinaghinalaan mong siyang nagbigay ng go-signal na isiwalat ang iyong di-umano’y multibillion-peso bank accounts noong panahon ng kampanya), VP Robredo (na walang-tigil sa pagpuna sa mga patayan under your War on Drugs) at UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard (na gustong imbistigahan ang spate of unlawful killings na nangyayari under your administration). Dahil parang hindi nyo alam how to deal with strong women like them, you resort to insult and threat. Tila, you want to humiliate them. You want to break them. You want to silence them. You want to control them.

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Photo credit: mironline.ca

Tatay, sa palagay nyo po ba, kung buhay pa ngayon ang inyong ina ay ikatutuwa niya ang mga ginagawa nyo sa mga kabaro nya? O ang pagpayag nyong mailibing sa LNMB ang diktador na si Marcos? Malamang po, hindi. Alam naman po natin na matapang niyang nilabanan ang lahat ng uri ng pang-aabuso noong panahon ng Martial Law, di ba?

Siguro po, dahil sa pagtingala din sa inyo bilang kanilang ehemplo kaya may mga supporters kayo na nangharass online dati sa mga kabataang babae na nakilahok sa protest rally against the controversial Marcos burial. Tatay, ganyan kalaki ang inyong kapangyarihan at impluwensya sa amin. Kaya kung gusto nyong maging magalang kami, sana po, maging mabuting modelo ka sa amin.

During your speeches, lagi nyo rin pong sinasabi na alam nyo ang ginagawa nyo dahil kayo ay dating abogado. Pero sa bibig nyo na rin po nanggaling that, when you were a city prosecutor in Davao, you used to plant evidence to help the authorities when going after criminals. Tatay, hindi po ako abogado pero sigurado po ako na ang ganoong gawain ay labag sa batas. Alam ko rin po na may batas tayo laban sa bribery. So bakit hindi nyo po kinasuhan ang Mighty Corp na, ayon kay Mr. Salvador Panelo, ay sinubukan kayo dating suhulan? Katulad ng claim ni DA Sec. Manny Piñol na binigyan siya ng isang malaking agricultural company ng Rolex watch worth P450k, ng claim ni Justice Sec. Aguirre na sinuhulan diumano ni dating Sen. Jamby Madrigal at Binan Rep. Alonte ng P100 million ang mga convicted druglords to recant their testimonies against Sen. De Lima, at ng claim ni Sec. Andanar na binayaran daw ng $1,000 ang mga reporters who covered the presscon of self-confessed DDS leader Lascañas. Totoo po ba ang mga claims at allegations na ‘yun, o produkto lang lahat ng fake news?

Tatay, you are aware how sensitive the Filipinos are sa usapin ng Martial Law. Marami pa pong sugat ang hindi naghihilom mula sa madilim at mapanupil na mga taon ng pamumuno nina Marcos. Kaya, sana po, huwag mong gagamiting banta ang pagdi-declare mo ng Martial Law under any circumstance. Ginagawa mo kaming parang mga bata na tinatakot mo when we step out of line. Hindi po nakakatuwa ang ganun, Tatay.

Naniniwala po ako na matapang ka pero bahag daw po ang buntot mo kapag China na ang kaharap mo. During the campaign, ang sabi mo, magji-jet ski ka papuntang Spratly, itatanim mo ang bandila natin doon at hahamunin mo ang mga Intsik sa suntukan o barilan. Bakit po ganun? Ngayon na kinakamkam nila ang malaking bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, biglang wala kayong magagawa dahil superpower sila? Tatay, teritoryo at kasarinlan po natin ang pinag-uusapan at ipinaglalabanan dito; ang lupain na iiwanan natin sa ating mga anak at sa kanilang mga anak. Huwag nyo naman pong isuko nang ganung kadali lamang ito lalo pa nga’t based on the ruling na ipinalabas noong isang taon ng Arbitral Tribunal ng United Nations, naipanalo po natin ang ating arbitration case against China. Tayo po ang may exclusive sovereign rights sa West Philippine Sea!

Nang nagsalita kayo sa harap ng ating mga kababayan na nasa Myanmar, sinabi po ninyo that you are against same-sex marriage dahil ayon po sa inyo, aside from our Civil Code, Katoliko tayo. Kung saan po kamo tayo ipinwesto ng Diyos, dapat doon lang tayo. Seryoso ka ba sa statement mong ‘yun, Tatay, o nagbibiro ka lang? Dati po kasi, namumula ako sa ginagawa mong pagmumura at pambabatikos sa Simbahang Katolika. Tapos, ngayon, ang paniniwala ng Katolika ang gagamitin mong sandata laban sa apela ng mga members ng LGBT community? Isa pa po, ito ang linya nyo during the campaign, “Same sex marriage is good. Everyone deserves to be happy.” Ano po ang nangyari? Sinabi nyo lang ba yun dati to secure their votes? That is not so good, Tatay.

During that same speech, sinabi nyo rin po na safe na sa Pilipinas. Sa punto pong iyon, I’m sure na nagjo-joke lang kayo.

Let me remind you, Tatay, that under your War on Drugs, mahigit 7,000 na ang namamatay ayon sa official report ng PNP. May mga “suspected” drug offenders, may mga cases of mistaken identity, at may mga bystanders – either during legitimate police operations o by rogue police officers o vigilantes na masyadong siniseryoso ang call nyo to “slaughter them all.” Just today, I heard the news about a Chemical Engineering magna cum laude graduate from UP Los Banos na bigla na lang nawalang parang bula. Nag-aabang siya ng sasakyan at 4 am dahil first day of work nya sa kumpanyang inaplayan niya. Meron rin pong isang 20-year-old na lalaki ang dinukot ng mga naka-bonnet na assailants at isinakay sa isang van na walang plaka. Ang lalaking yun ay papunta lang sa drug store para bumili ng gamot dahil may sakit ang kanyang baby. Safe ba kanyo?

Alam nyo po, everytime na lumalabas ng bahay ang mga anak ko, kinakabahan at natatakot ako. Pero, bilang ina, ang kaya ko lang pong gawin ay ang pabaunan sila ng mga habilin: (1) Huwag makikipagtinginan sa mga pulis; (2) Lalayo sa mga naka-motorsiklo, lalo na kapag riding in tandem o nakasuot ng bonnet; (3) Kapag naka-witness sila ng krimen, tumakbo palayo; at (4) Kapag namamaga ang mata nila dahil sa magdamagang pagre-review, magsuot ng colored glasses. Mabuti na po ang nag-iingat, ‘di po ba? Baka mapagbintangan silang drug addict, bigla na lang itumba at takpan ng placard na nagsasabing, “Addict ako, huwag tularan.” Hindi ko po kakayanin kapag nangyari sa isa sa mga anak ko ang ganun.

Isa pa po sa mga naririnig ko is that you cannot tolerate criticism. Kaya nga po yata galit na galit kayo sa ipinadalang video message ni VP Leni sa UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs ay dahil isiniwalat nya ang mga totoong kaganapan sa bansa dahil sa inyong War on Drugs. Masyado kamong “atat” sa posisyon si VP. At part lang kamo ang lahat ng ‘yan (pati na rin ang Impeachment Complaint na inihain laban sa inyo) ng destabilization plot against your administration. Tatay, sa tingin ko po, hindi na kailangan ang ibang tao to destabilize your government. Kayo lang po — kasama ang inyong mga kaalyado na sina House Speaker Alvarez, Senate Pres. Pimentel, Justice Sec. Aguirre, PNP Chief Dela Rosa, Solicitor General Calida, Senators Pacquiao, Sotto, Gordon at Cayetano, mga appointees na sina Cesar Montano, Perfecto Yasay at Mocha Uson, at ang mga ka-DDS ko at mga bayarang trolls — ay sapat na to do the job effectively. Self-destructing nga raw po ang administrasyon nyo e.

Finally po, Tatay, nakikiusap ako sa inyo. Stop inciting emotional chaos. Temper your emotions lalo na kapag nasa harap kayo ng publiko. And don’t try to silence the opposition. Dapat nga po, you welcome dissent dahil ‘yun ang katunayan na buhay ang demokrasya sa ilalim ng iyong pamumuno.

‘Tay, I really hope and pray that you will soon start acting like the unifying and dignified President that you promised us you will be. The country deserves nothing less.

Nagmamalasakit,

Ang inyong anak

 

PS: Don’t forget to take your meds, Tatay. Nag-iiba ang timpla nyo kapag nakaka-miss kayo e.

LENI ROBREDO, THE LAST (WO)MAN STANDING (An Open Letter for Congresswoman Leni)

Dear Madam Leni,

You are the only woman Vice-Presidential candidate, but that is not what sets you apart from the others aspiring for the same position.

What makes you stand out is your unique brand of tsinelas leadership.

Some people would ask,” Ano po ba ang tsinelas leadership?”

A legacy of your late husband, tsinelas leadership encapsulates your qualities of connecting with the poor and marginalized whom you serve, of keeping your close ties with the masses, and of breaking barriers through accessibility. It is the readiness to get your feet wet and dirty in doing your job. It stands for good governance and genuine public service.

It is the leadership quality that is conspicuously lacking in most of our government officials and politicians today.

While members of Congress are known for their opulent lifestyles, ostentatious display of wealth and power, and patent style of grandstanding, you have managed to stay simple, humble, unassuming and practical.

You take the public bus in going to and from Naga every week, you constantly visit your constituents, you live in the same apartment unit where you and Sec. Jesse started your family, you bring your youngest daughter to school each morning before you go to work, you do your own grocery, and you shun the limelight (you were even caught using the backdoor entrance of the Batasan plenary hall to avoid the SONA red carpet).

In an interview, you said that simplicity is a commitment for your family so you will “remain rooted and avoid getting tempted and becoming used to the perks and privileges that come with the job”.

If only all our politicians could be like you, Ma’am, corruption would now be a thing of the past.

But that’s just it.

You are not a politician.

You are a public servant.

Even before you were thrust into the chaotic world of politics by the untimely demise of Sec. Jesse, you were already serving the people. For free. As an advocate lawyer, you were helping the farmers through your affiliation with Saligan, and the oppressed and the indigent sectors through the Public Attorney’s Office.

Being a staunch champion of women’s empowerment and gender equality, you helped establish and chaired the Naga City Council for Women to give women a voice in governance and decision-making. You also founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga to provide training and livelihood opportunities for the women of your beloved hometown.

When you got elected in 2013 as the representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur, you were able to author or co-author a total of 14 laws and 121 bills.

Ma’am, that was quite a feat for any political novice!

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According to one brilliant lawmaker, Filipinos should choose their next leaders based on three standards — academic excellence, professional excellence and moral excellence.

Please join me, Ma’am, in evaluating your five VP opponents with reference to these standards.

Alan Peter Cayetano

A graduate of the Ateneo Law School, Cayetano entered politics at a young age. Hardworking and passionate, he is known to espouse worthy causes. He fearlessly exposes and relentlessly investigates government officials involved in illegal activities.

I have always been a Cayetano supporter even if he is a member of a political dynasty — that is, until he made Mayor Duterte his running mate.

I don’t understand why a public servant of Cayetano’s caliber, academic background and integrity would condone, and even defend, someone who is prone to making reckless, malicious and callous statements; someone who has allegations of extra-judicial killings and, recently, unexplained wealth under his belt; someone who can’t present concrete, admirable and plausible plans of action for the country; someone who can incite, and revels in, a mob reaction from his supporters; and someone whose lifestyle is an insult to the very values we hold dear as Filipinos. Why would Cayetano throw away his moral compass and his father’s legacy of good governance? Why would he turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the glaring iniquities that he so dauntlessly fought against in the past?

I just don’t get it.

Francis “Chiz” Escudero

A graduate at the UP College of Law with a master’s degree in International and Comparative Law from the Georgetown University, Escudero impressed me with his dedication and intellect. In his eighteen years of public service (he served as Congressman from 1998-2007 and as Senator from 2007-present), he was able to file more than 500 bills and to pass 144 laws. I also admire the stance he assumed on certain issues (pro-impeachment charges against GMA, pro-RH bill, pro-FOI bill, pro-Corona impeachment, against divorce, against imposition of new taxes).

There are just three things that I take against the smooth-talking senator.

Firstly, he is in favor of a Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But, then, I should have seen that coming. His father, after all, is the late Salvador Escudero III, a known Marcos crony.

Secondly, he is prone to support politicians of either questionable integrity or doubtful capability. Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Jejomar Binay — I have no idea what principle or guideline Escudero employs in choosing whom to give his loyalty to.

Thirdly, he is the second poorest senator but he was able to afford a lavish Balesin wedding (and another fancy reception in Manila) to actress Heart Evangelista. Escudero’s defence that they did not spend beyond their means only managed to rouse suspicion regarding two important points: the issues of propriety and conflict of interest. By the way, among their principal sponsors are Hans Sy (of the SM group of companies), Ramon Ang (of San Miguel Corporation), Fernando Zobel (of Ayala Corporation), Andrew Tan (of Megaworld Corporation), Lance Gokongwei (of Robinson’s Corporation, Cebu Pacific and JG Summit), Bobby Ongpin (of Alphaland), and Jerry Acuzar (of New San Jose Builders).

Quite impressive, huh?

Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV & Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan

Trillanes graduated cum laude in the Philippine Military Academy and later earned his master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines. He is one of the most productive senators during the 15th and 16th Congress, with a total of 1,109 bills and resolutions filed, 56 of which have been passed into law.

Honasan, on the other hand, earned his Bachelor of Science degree, along with the academy’s highest leadership award, from the Philippine Military Academy. He was a highly decorated soldier and was one of the principal players in the 1986 EDSA revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.  As a Senator, Honasan’s primary advocacies include environmental, military, police, and agrarian reform issues.

Trillanes led the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege as a protest against the prevalence of social injustice and the rampant corruption during PGMA’s administration. Honasan, with the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and allegedly under the tutelage of then Defense Sec. Enrile, staged a total of six coup attempts against the Cory administration. Two of these attempts became bloody – the Aug. 1987 coup left 53 dead while the Dec. 1989 coup left 99 dead (50 of which were civilians) and 570 wounded. He was also allegedly behind the Oakwood Mutiny and Feb 2006 coup attempt against PGMA.

While I understand their apparent discontent and resentment that compelled them to rebel against the government, they should have, in my opinion, upheld their constitutional mandate to enforce the law and to protect the people and the state. There are other ways — legal ways — to express one’s grievances, that could prove to be more effective and casualty-free. PGMA is now under hospital arrest, isn’t she?

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

I tried, really hard, to find any redeeming quality that could somehow humanize in my eyes this dictator’s heir. But to no avail.

All I can see when I look at Bongbong is the face of a chronic liar.

He presents his father’s dictatorial rule (what he fondly calls the Golden Years) “as the best thing that ever happened to this country.” That statement is, of course, in stark contrast with what the historians have to say, “The Marcos government appears, by any standard, exceptional for both the quantity and quality of its violence.” Under Martial Law, 70,000 were incarcerated; 35,000 were tortured; 882 went missing; and 3,257 were murdered.

In the comic booklet that Bongbong’s camp released late last year, he depicted his family as the clueless victims of the US soldiers who greeted them with guns when they landed in Hawaii in 1986. It is, again, in stark contrast with the personal accounts of the journalists who witnessed the Marcoses’s arrival at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. According to them, the Marcos family “was greeted by high ranking US military officials and by the old friends of the ex-president and Madam Imelda, Hawaii’s governor and his wife, who both placed leis around their necks.

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Bongbong claims that it is the government that is blocking the compensation of Martial Law victims. Debunking that, the PCGG said that “court records would show that it was the senator who was hindering the return of his family’s ill-gotten funds to the people”.

He maintains that he has never been accused of abuse of power during his father’s presidency. However, “in 1985, when he was 26 years old, his father appointed him chairman of the board of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat), receiving a monthly salary of around US$9,700. This, despite that fact that he rarely went to the Philcomsat office. In 1986, government auditors discovered that Philcomsat was one of the many corporations and organizations used to siphon ill-gotten wealth out of the country.”

Bongbong has been arrogantly proclaiming that his father’s wealth came from legitimate sources. “In 2003, however, the Supreme Court defined the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family as those in excess of their total legal income of around $304,000 only, earned from 1965 to 1986. So far, PCGG has managed to recover about $4 billion, less than half of the $10-billion fortune believed to have been amassed by the Marcoses through the years.

He also lied about his academic credentials by claiming to have an undergraduate degree at Oxford University, one of the world’s most prestigious and elite universities. However, Oxford confirmed that Bongbong definitely did not earn such degree. In his official resume’, he also claimed to have earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Wharton School records do not show any Marcos Jr. in their list of graduates.

Bongbong is emphatic in saying that he has never been implicated in anomalies involving corruption during all these years of his public service. He, however, figured in whistleblower Benhur Luy’s list of lawmakers involved in the multi-billion scam. P205 million of his PDAF is allegedly allocated to the six fake NGOs owned by Napoles. Wow, that’s a lot of money!

Lastly, he said that, “The sins of the father are not the sins of the son…..It is not my obligation to apologize for the sins of the past administrations.” But he and his entire family have been, for decades now, enjoying the fruits of those sins. His election funds may very well be coming from the legendary Marcos plunder. And, for goodness’ sake, he is just a heartbeat away from Malacanang should he win this coming election!

So, please, Congresswoman Leni. Do not let the dictator’s son win.

Do not let another Marcos rule the country.

Do not let Bongbong Marcos make fools of the Filipinos for the second time.

Rest assured that we, the enlightened and vigilant people of this country, are with you in this endeavor. You won’t be alone.

Now, let me end this letter with the words I shared in the Women For Leni page.

“Like every Filipino, I wish for a better Philippines.

I want to leave my children and my children’s children with a country that is lovingly steered by public servants with unquestionable integrity, uncompromising principles, stellar work ethics, fervent compassion for the underprivileged, and genuine concern for our beloved Luzviminda.

Leni, for me, is the embodiment of all that. And more.

Modest and unassuming, she hates to be in the limelight. She is a reluctant leader who was forced to dip her finger in the dirty waters of politics due to her passion to serve the people. She is a woman of action who does not hesitate to have her hands dirty in reaching out to the needy. She has a name that is untarnished by corruption and is synonymous with “tsinelas leadership.” She is the epitome of an empowered Filipina, the voice of the voiceless, the champion of the oppressed.

My conscience would never let me vote for anyone else.”

Respectfully yours,

Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)

 

Note: For a complete list of Leni Robredo’s accomplishments, click here.