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!

 

THE PRESIDENT’S BUCKET LIST

President Duterte, in his many speeches, has often intimated that he may not live to see the end of his six-year term. And considering the two incidences wherein he allegedly passed out (in Peru during the APEC summit, and in Malacanang during a recent huddle with three of his most trusted men), we now have more compelling reason to believe that the president might know something that we don’t —a reason that could explain why he seems to be constantly working under a tight deadline.

In any case, I decided to help our dear president by making his bucket list for him. And considering that I have already written a significant number of articles about this tough-talking leader, doing this list from his perspective turned out to be a piece of cake. So, c’mon. Together, let us check out and keep track of Digong’s list of things he wants to do before he kicks the proverbial bucket. 😉


1. To make good on my promises by appointing my campaign supporters to various government posts

Mark Villar as the DPWH Secretary? Check.
RJ Jacinto as the Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology? Check.
Kat De Castro as DOT Undersecretary? Check.
Arnell Ignacio as Pagcor’s Assistant VP for Community Relation and Services Department? Check.
Jimmy Bondoc as Pagcor’s Assistant VP for Entertainment? Check.
Aiza Seguerra as the Chairman of the National Youth Commission? Check.
Liza Diño as the Chairperson of the Film Development Council? Check.
Her father, Martin Dino, as the SBMA Chairman? Check.
Freddie Aguilar as the Chairman of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts? Check.
Cesar Montano as the COO of Tourism Promotions? Check.

(Bondoc and Aguilar’s assumption of office, however, did not push through since both positions are not coterminous with the President’s tenure.)

Mocha Uson? Hmmm, I would have to think hard where that woman would fit in my administration.
I have also appointed at least half a dozen of my campaign donors and their relatives to the Cabinet and other positions, and have granted Robin Padilla absolute pardon.


2. To release former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from her four years of hospital arrest

As early as during the campaign, I already said that I found the evidence against that poor, innocent woman weak. Thank goodness, 11 of the SC Justices thought the same way I did.

I also want to have Bong Revilla released. It’s a promise I made to the Caviteños during the campaign.

3. To allow Ferdinand Marcos’ burial in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani

I don’t care if doing so would piss off a considerable portion of the population, or if it would open anew the festering wounds of the past, or if it would not agree with how the various courts (both local and international), the Constitution and the history itself regard the late dictator. What’s of utmost importance is that I get to keep my promise to the family of my idol, especially to Madam Imee, one of my biggest campaign contributors.

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Photo credit: theintercept.com


4. To wage a bloody all-out war against illegal drugs

The number of drug addicts in the country is quite staggering and scary. I have to slaughter all these idiots. The 5,617 casualties in a matter of five months since I assumed office constitute a mere drop in the bucket. Come on, people, Hitler killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust! And don’t dare threaten me with a law suit. As the President of the Philippines, I have a presidential immunity. I’m also considering planning to pass a law before I step down to absolve me of all acts that may be construed as crimes. Or I could simply pardon myself for mass murder.


5. To sever our ties with the imperialist nations, particularly with the US that once 
denied my visa application

And what could be the swiftest and most effective way of doing that than cursing them all including their emissaries. Obama, you son of a whore! You, stupid and inutile United Nations, you son of a b***h! To the international press, p*******a ninyo! To the European Union, f**k you! Find me a Singaporean flag and I’ll burn it, son of a b***h! To the Australian government, stay out. This is politics! To US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, you gay son of a b***h!


6. To be besties with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin

There are now three of us against the world —China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way. For those of you claiming that China is a bully, you are sadly mistaken. In fact, China magnanimously offered to build rehab centers in the country to address our problem with drug addiction. Never mind that most of the biggest drug lords operating on our shores are Chinese.


7. To make Leila De Lima suffer the way she made me suffer with her relentless probe on the Davao Death Squad during the years I was Mayor of Davao

I will expose her colorful love life for everyone’s scrutiny and I will draw a drug matrix to uncover her role in the drug trade in Bilibid. The heck with proof and evidence. I just need to smear her reputation and besmirch her spotless public service record. Oh, okay, maybe I can use a handful of the convicted criminals in Bilibid, a self-confessed drug lord, and a scorned ex-lover to fabricate some stories to further implicate her. This is going to be one spectacular show in Congress that the gullible Filipinos will fall for.


8. To establish my own religion

What if there’s no God? Would you still want to be part of the most hypocritical institution, the Catholic Church? I have a new religion now, the Iglesia Ni Duterte. Come, join me. Who knows, maybe my God will also have a two-way conversation with you like He did with me when He made me promise never to curse again.

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Photo credit: thesummitexpress.com


9. To meet, face-to-face, the most beautiful woman in the universe

This happened when our very own Pia Wurtzbach, the reigning Miss Universe, paid me a visit in Malacañang. Aside from chatting about our recent wins in our respective fields and about our beloved Mindanao, we also took some selfies. Cool!


10. To desensitize the Filipinos to violence and aggression

With 5,617 drug-related deaths in 5 months, the death toll now averages at 37 a day. And people prefer to go out into the streets to protest the burial of a former president rather than mourn the death of these drug addicts and drug pushers. I must be doing something right. Presently, I’m also working on desensitizing them to my incurable swearing and potty mouth (I do not have to clean up my mouth. I am a president, not a diplomat!), to the lack of decency and integrity among most of my officials and supporters, and to the blatant disregard of the law. I cannot accomplish the countless promises I made during the campaign if I will be a stickler for the rules.


11. To help our law enforcers regain their lost glory and confidence

I will take good care of them by promising to double their salaries, monitoring the condition of their camps, providing all that they need in fighting the enemies of the state, and protecting them from any legal trouble. Should they commit “lapses” in the performance of their duties especially during the execution of Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel, they would not have to worry about ending up behind bars. I will grant them pardon. Did you see what I did with Supt. Marvin Marcos, the CIDG Region 8 Chief who was relieved by Bato due to his alleged involvement in illegal drug trade? I ordered his reinstatement that same day that he was sacked from his post. And when he and his team were implicated a few days after in the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who they said shot at them while they were serving Espinosa a search warrant in his jail cell before the crack of dawn, I readily believed their story. Not even the NBI findings can sway me.


12. To reinstate death penalty

That is the only way to ensure that criminals pay for their sins in case God does not really exist. I don’t care what the “bleeding hearts” and human rights groups have to say but, when that bill is passed, death penalty can easily be meted out to anyone convicted of possession of dangerous drugs, among other crimes.


13. To lower the age of criminal liability from 15 years old to 9

Organized crimes and adult offenders are purposely capitalizing on these children below 15 to commit crimes such as drug trafficking because the criminals know that the children cannot be held criminally liable for their actions. So, parents, look after your kids. When your 9-year-old babies violate the law, they can no longer get off the hook that easily.


14. To put up a revolutionary government as a precursor to my long-time dream of federalism

Don’t listen to the crap peddled by the paranoid. It is not true that a “revolutionary government would be much more totalitarian because it is extra-constitutional”; that I “would have absolute power”; that I “can abolish key institutions like Congress, like the courts”; and that I “can introduce a new political system, legal system, social system, economic system.” That’s just all crap —a product of their wild imagination. Nothing more.

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VP Leni, hired through phone call, fired through text message? Photo credit: adobochroniclesdotcom


15. To annoy and humiliate Leni until she, on her own accord, decides to leave my cabinet

Before the international and national media, I will tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs (that I and Carlos Dominguez ogle at). I will slash the budget of HUDCC by half, I will not act on her appointment recommendations, and I will not sign any EO she will endorse for my approval. As a coup de grâce, I will have Jun text her to let her know of my instruction for her to desist from attending all cabinet meetings henceforth. And being the epitome of decency, I’m sure that she will be extremely insulted by the rudeness and will resign right away. These yellowtards are pathetically predictable. They’re nothing like my beloved Dutertards.


16. To watch Pacquiao beat Mayweather –to a pulp. And to see the People’s champ as my successor in case Bongbong doesn’t make it.

Alan Peter Cayetano? He’s nothing more to me than a lowly lapdog and a reliable errand boy.


17. To declare Martial Law if the threat of illegal drugs further escalates

I have already tested the waters when I once warned Sereno of not interfering in my campaign against drugs, lest I would be forced to declare Martial Law. I also issued a warning that I may suspend the writ of habeas corpus if lawlessness persists. Unfortunately, people showed massive resistance in both occasions. But, hey, I managed to declare a national state of lawlessness following the deadly blast in Davao. I was also able to successfully place the country under Terror Alert level 3 following the foiled bomb attack near the US Embassy. There’s still hope, I think. It’s just a matter of impeccable timing.


18. To suspend Nur Misuari’s trial and have the arrest warrant against him lifted

He is the MNLF Chairman and I need him in the peace talks. Let us temporarily set aside the fact that over 200 people were killed and thousands more were displaced during their 20-day attacks on Zamboanga City in 2013. I also released Communist leaders for the peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF.

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Photo credit to the owner


19. To help the Marcoses make their way back into Malacañang

The reason why I was hesitant to offer Leni a cabinet position right after I assumed office was because of Bongbong. He is my friend, and I did not want to hurt his feelings. Also, I am deeply indebted to the Marcoses. First, my father used to be a cabinet member of the late Ferdinand Marcos. Second, thanks to the Marcoses, I got an overwhelming support from the Ilocanos during the last elections, while I failed miserably in Bicol. Third, Gov. Imee was one of my campaign donors when I ran for office. And, fourth, I have always idolized Pres. Marcos. He was the brightest president our country has ever had. If the choice was solely mine, I would have Bongbong for my VP. In fact, that’s how I introduced him to the Filipino community in China –as my second in command. It’s a good thing, though, that Bongbong has his electoral protest. There’s a chance that he will still be my VP. As Bongbong confidently puts it, “I will eventually take my seat that is being kept warm for me.”


20. To be hailed as the best president in the solar system

I want to make my supporters proud, so when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conferred upon me what could possibly be the biggest honor any man could ever receive, I was ecstatic. Finally, a legit agency has acknowledged my burning desire to change this country —even if it costs me my life.

HOW TO CRUSH A TWISTED MIND

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I saw this FB post on a friend’s wall the other day. I didn’t know if he wrote this himself or if he just copy-pasted this from his ka-DDS. What I knew for certain was that I couldn’t let this go unanswered. However, what was supposed to be a short comment to rebut his statement became a lengthy article –an article that’s only fit for a blog. Read on! 🙂

My Answers:

True, we apparently see different sides of the picture.

YOU CALL YOURSELVES SILENT MAJORITY, I ONLY SEE A LOUD MINORITY.

You see a loud minority, I see a group of courageous Filipinos who are willing to stand up, to go out into the streets, and to make their voices heard in the face of all these blatant attempts to twist, distort and revise our history. I see a group of fearless Filipinos who are trying to fight for truth and justice despite the fear of being bullied, harassed, threatened, humiliated, bashed, mobbed, badgered or stigmatized by online trolls, rabid Duterte apologists and Marcos loyalists. I see a group of dauntless Filipinos who will go to battle with everything that they’ve got to ensure that they will never again go through the same hell that they experienced under Marcos’ tyrannical rule.

YOU HATE MARTIAL LAW, WELL I LIKE THE MARCOS ERA.

You like the Marcos era, well I detest and loathe it. Marcos was a despot, a tyrant, a dictator. He plundered our coffers to the tune of $10 billion. Under his close watch and on his specific instructions (research about the Gen. Orders he issued), 70,000 were jailed, 35,000 were tortured, 3,257 were killed, and 769 were gone without a trace. He was an autocrat who abolished the Congress, destroyed our institutions, persecuted his critics, trampled over our most basic political and civil rights, clamped down on all media entities, and sequestered countless private companies to enrich his family and his cronies. He was an unrepentant liar who fabricated stories about his medals and his role during the WWII, the source of his massive wealth, his reason for declaring ML, the real socio-economic condition of the country, and his excesses and abuses during his reign of terror. He was an economic saboteur who left us with a jaw-dropping external debt of $28.3 billion (debt that we are all paying until year 2025) and the humiliating title, “The Sick Man of Asia.” He was a power-hungry oppressor who made a new Constitution to legitimize and accommodate his desire to take control over the country, beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of two 4-year terms in office.

YOU SEE VICTIMS, I SEE PEACE AND ORDER.

You see peace and order, I read and research and listen about the horrors and atrocities of ML. I know the agonizing stories of Primitivo Mijares, the author of The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand  and Imelda Marcos, (and his son, Boyet, who was tortured and killed in front of his father), of Archimedes Trajano who was severely tortured, mutilated and dumped on a roadside after he questioned Aimee Marcos about the latter’s appointment as the National Chairman of the Kabataang Barangay, of Hilda Narciso who was repeatedly raped by military men while in detention, of Liliosa Hilao who was raped and tortured in front of her 16-year-old sister (Her dead body bore cigarette burns on her lips, injection marks on her arms, bruises and gun barrel marks. Her internal organs were removed and her vagina was sawed off to cover signs of torture and sexual abuse). There are countless more (some remain faceless and nameless up to this day) who suffered water cure, electric shocks to genitals, Russian roulette, strangulation, cigar and flat iron burns, and other brutal torture methods at the hands of Marcos’ torture units.

YOU HAIL NINOY AS A HERO –A MARTYR, WELL HE IS A COMMUNIST SUPPORTER.

You see Ninoy as a communist supporter, yes I see him as a martyr whose assassination ignited the fire of Filipinos’ fury and upheaval against the Marcos’ regime. Any well-read and judicious Filipino knows that the murder, subversion and weapons possession charges hurled at him right after the declaration of ML were all fabricated. Now, if successfully negotiating with Hukbalahap’s Luis Taruc for the latter’s unconditional surrender is being a communist supporter; if consistently and brazenly criticizing Marcos for the latter’s tyrannical rule, corruption and other excesses is being a communist supporter; if exposing the summary execution of the 26 Muslim young men in what was to be known as the Jabidah Massacre is being a communist supporter; if deciding to come home against the advice of the people around him, because he believed that the Filipino is worth dying for, is being a communist supporter; if one’s death triggered a long-awaited transformation in many Filipinos –that they finally found the collective courage to rise against a dictatorship after years of shameful and fearful stupor—is being a communist supporter…. then, yes, I guess Ninoy was indeed a communist supporter.

YOU FLAUNT YOURSELVES IN THE STREETS BECAUSE OF THESE MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS, WELL WHY DON’T YOU DO THE SAME AND BLAME CORY AQUINO FOR THE MENDIOLA MASSACRE?

Yes, we flaunt ourselves in the streets because of these Martial Law victims, and we will continue to do so until the Marcoses’ attempts and efforts to crown the late dictator as a hero are completely thwarted. We also attacked the Cory administration for the Mendiola and the Hacienda Luisita massacres, the Ramos administration for its widespread militarization and its pro-imperialist, pro-bureaucratic and anti-people’s policies and programs, the Estrada administration for its shameless corruption and booty capitalism, the Arroyo administration for the Ampatuan Massacre and the plunder and graft and corruption cases filed against her, The PNoy administration for the Kidapawan Massacre and the Mamasapano Encounter, and now, the Duterte administration for the unabated extrajudicial killings and the president’s idolatry of the late dictator. As Philippine-loving citizens, we will continue to be vigilant and clamorous and fierce watchdogs of this country —regardless of who is at its helm. I hope you do your share, too.

YOU BLAME BONGBONG FOR WHAT MARCOS DID, WHY NOT BLAME BIMBY FOR THE BUNGLES OF HIS GRANDMA AND UNCLE?

We blame Bongbong for many of the crimes committed during Martial Law, but we also hold him accountable for the sins he committed henceforth. He continues to whitewash the Marcos dictatorship’s crony capitalism, of which he had been a part. In 1985, when he was 26 years old, his father appointed him chairman of the board of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat). In 1986, after they were ousted, government auditors discovered that Philcomsat was one of the many corporations and organizations used to siphon ill-gotten wealth out of the country. To this day, he continues to shamelessly live off the fruits of the legendary Marcos plunder while arrogantly peddling the lie that his father’s unbelievable wealth is legitimate. He continues to commit a grave injustice to the Martial Law victims when he said, “Pera-pera lang ang habol ng mga ‘yan”, referring to the 9,539 human rights victims in the Hawaii class suit who won the case against the Marcos estate. He continues to play dumb and innocent, while we all know that he is hardly that.

YOU SEE EJK TODAY? WELL, ALL I SEE IS IT IS HIGH TIME SOMEBODY DID SOMETHING.

Yes, we see the state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings today. How can’t we? In just a span of five months, the death toll has already risen to close to 5,000! (Figures from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed that as of Oct. 10, 3,844 people have died since the administration launched its war against drugs on July 1. -PhilStar). It is high time that somebody did something, you said? You are absolutely right. Our growing problem with illegal drugs is a menace that is adversely affecting every fiber of our society, and we all have to act now.  The drug lords, drug pushers, drug coddlers and narco-traffickers must be meted out with the most stringent penalty under the law, as they destroy the lives and future of their victims especially the youth and the most vulnerable. The drug users, on the other hand, should be considered as victims or, at the very least, as seriously ill members of society who need immediate treatment. Unless they commit crimes punishable by law, they should not be jailed. Nor killed. They should be rehabilitated.

DON’T EVER IMPOSE YOUR TWISTED MIND ON US.

The last time I checked, we are still living in a democratic country. And under the democracy we enjoy (which the Martial Law victims paid dearly for), we have the right to express ourselves freely. We have the right to speak —or in our present digital age, to voice our opinions, beliefs and convictions using our preferred social networking site. We also have the right to organize. We are not imposing our views on anyone because we know that we can only do so much, especially in as far as educating the open-minded is concerned. You might also want to write an article about your blind support of Duterte and Marcos and, I assure you, I won’t allege you of imposing YOUR twisted mind on us.

CHECK YOUR FACTS! (PRO-MARCOS ARGUMENTS AND CLAIMS QUASHED)

 

In his book, The Life of Reason, philosopher and novelist George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Germans are not proud of what happened during the Holocaust and, to ensure that their people will be constantly reminded of its horrors and atrocities, and that no one will dare toy with the idea of following in Adolf Hitler’s footsteps, museums and memorials are erected all around Germany.

In the Philippines, no such museum or memorial is built to remind us of the dark days of Martial Law.

No serious efforts to educate the youth about what really transpired during Martial Law are launched.

No major actors have been put behind bars for their abusive and oppressive roles in the execution of Martial Law.

To aggravate the situation is the Filipinos’ propensity to easily forgive and forget. And those who are either “enlightened” or who have first-hand experience of the tyrannical rule of the dictator sit in complete, comfortable and prolonged silence, complacent with the assumption that Filipinos must have already learned their valuable lessons from the past and thus would, at all costs, avoid it from ever happening again.

How naïve could we be, right?

Three decades after the country succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship, we watched in utter shock and horror as Bongbong Marcos, the scion of the late strongman and kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was almost elected as Vice President –a position that is a heartbeat away from the seat his father held with an iron fist for more than twenty years. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed.

But, of course, we know better.

We know that Martial Law is not merely a figment of someone’s wild and delusional imagination. It is not some legend or an old wives’ tale. Martial Law is real. And it is up to us to join hands and counter the revisionist accounts being peddled and spread in social media.

In a humble effort to answer this urgent call, I hereby listed some statements and frequently-asked questions that aim to discredit the truth, and answered them to the best of my ability.

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Shouldn’t the Marcos rule, which was characterized by a great economy, a myriad of infrastructure projects, and peace and order, be considered the golden era of the Philippine history?

No, the Marcos years should not be considered the golden age of our history!

From 1962 to 1986 (the period before Marcos became president up to the year he was ousted from Malacanang), the country’s total external debt grew from $360 million to $28.3 billion –debts we will pay until year 2025. Peso-dollar exchange rate also surged from P3.50 to a dollar in 1966 to P20.53 to a dollar in 1986. Poverty rate when he first took office in 1965 was 41%. It was 58.9% in 1985, a year before he was ousted. Moreover, our gross domestic product (the total amount of products and services produced in the country) dropped from 3.4% in 1966 to 1.4% in 1986. We fared poorly compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors. From the second richest nation in Asia, we became “The Sick Man of Asia”.

To justify the country’s skyrocketing external debt, the regime embarked on an infrastructure spending spree. All those infrastructure projects, though, were over-priced to accommodate the Marcoses and their cronies’ kickbacks. They also blatantly and wantonly plundered the public coffers and ransacked and sequestered huge local companies until they had almost drained the country and its people of all their resources. PCGG pegged at US$10 billion the total amount of the ill-gotten wealth amassed by the Marcos family during their 21-year reign of terror. Of that amount, only US$4 billion had been confiscated and returned to the treasury. The remaining US$6 billion is yet to be recovered.

Industrialization was neglected under Marcos. Although the Marcos era is remembered by many as an age of industrialization, it was characterized by “crony capitalism” where Marcos’ closest allies were awarded industries and ambitious industrial projects, many of which ended up being inefficient or bankrupt. International Monetary Fund’s Philip Gerson said, “Only Marcos cronies got rich during his rule. The rich got richer, while the poor got poorer.”

Also, the martial law years resulted in poor work conditions as testified by the sharp rise in underemployment which, at one point, afflicted a third of the employed. This dissatisfaction in the labor force (especially among skilled workers) later gave rise to the widespread growth of the OFW phenomenon after 1986. (Read this.)

Prior to his declaration of Martial Law, Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus (The writ serves as a safeguard against warrantless arrests and illegal detentions). Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were suppressed. Political leaders, student activists, journalists, church personalities, and virtually anybody who dared challenge the people in power or were simply deemed enemies of the state were arrested, tortured, raped or killed. Friends and relatives of the 882 desaparecidos or victims of enforced disappearances gave up hope of ever seeing their loved ones again.

Why is Marcos portrayed as a villain? He is the country’s greatest president ever!

No, he is not! He was a despot, a tyrant, a demagogue, a dictator, a mass murderer, a torturer and a plunderer.

Under Martial Law, 70,000 were incarcerated, 35,000 were tortured, and 3,257 were killed. Historian and writer Alfred McCoy wrote, “the Marcos government appears, by any standard, exceptional for both the quantity and quality of its violence.”

According to the Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2004, Marcos is the world’s second most corrupt leader of all time.

Marcos only declared Martial Law to enforce law and order.

Limited by the 1935 Constitution to only two terms, Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 and made a new Constitution to legitimize his extended rule. He ruled as the Philippine president for 21 years. His claim that he felt the need to declare ML because the country was threatened by the Communist and the Moro rebels was without basis. From only a handful in 1969, the number of NPA rebels reached 25,000 during his regime because of the human rights abuses and the worsening socio-economic condition during that time.

The Marcoses were rich even before FM became president.

Marcos was not born rich. His father was a lawyer-politician in the province allegedly killed by the Philippine troops for being a Japanese collaborator (Makapili or Filipino traitor) during the war. Regarding the Marcoses’ claim that he made his fortune from the gold taken from the Japanese, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Gabriel Singson had this to say. “It was impossible for the Marcoses to have had 4,000 tons of gold as Imelda once claimed in a newspaper. The BSP only had 650 tons of gold reserves during the Marcos years.

Marcos has been dead for 17 years now. Can’t we just forgive him?

It is easy to ask someone to forgive, especially if you have not been a victim of the same offenses committed against that person. It is easy to tell someone to move on if you have not experienced the same physical pains, emotional trauma and psychological anguish that that person had been forced to endure. It is easy to advise someone to forget if you have not been arrested, abducted, detained, tortured, raped or stigmatized, or if you have not lost a loved one to a heinous crime.

More so, it is difficult to heal without justice.

What we need before we, as a nation, can really forgive and heal from the horrors and nightmares of Martial Law is a full accounting of the perpetrators’ sins (stolen money, corruption of our social institutions, economic sabotage, and human rights violations). Then, we demand from them (or their families) acceptance or acknowledgment of the injustices perpetrated during Martial Law. We also demand remorse and restitution and, finally, retribution. Those are the basic prerequisites for forgiveness.

It is only then that we can accord the Marcoses and their cronies the benefit of human forgiveness, and only then can that forgiveness lead to national healing, reconciliation and peace. And, yes, closure.

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Why should we even care about this issue? (Apathetic:) We were living a comfortable and peaceful life during Martial Law! (Millennial:) It happened years before we were born!

To the apathetic:

I can’t actually find the words that won’t betray the extreme disgust and revulsion I feel towards your kind. The world is much worse and much more dangerous because of people like you. You should just be grateful that you and your family were spared, that someone else took up the cudgels on your behalf, that people sacrificed their lives so that others like you could continue living in your little world of apathy and indifference. There’s a special place in hell reserved only for you.

To the millennials:

You are now enjoying all these liberties and rights (to watch your favorite tv show, to express your opinions on social media, to stay out until the wee hours of the morning, to criticize any official of the government, to meet with your friends, to join rallies and demonstrations, and many others) because people dared to fight the Marcos dictatorship. The least you could do is to make sure that you acquaint yourself with the country’s history –not the revised version but the accurate one, the one penned with the blood of the countless Martial Law victims. And if it’s not too much to ask, share those facts and verifiable truth with your friends.

Since the ouster of Marcos in 1986, our country has not progressed much. Weren’t the presidents that came after him equally guilty of betraying the people’s trust?

If you think that our life today is comparable with that during Martial Law, you must be reading only the revisionists’ accounts of history. I suggest that you expand your horizons. Or, better yet, scroll back up and read again.

All the other leaders –before, during or after Martial Law– have their own shortcomings and lapses in judgement. Whatever the post-Marcos presidents did is theirs to answer to the people. They would have their time, with history as the ultimate judge of their respective leaderships. Right now, though, the issue at hand is that of Marcos.

Why all this noise? Isn’t LNMB just a place for dead people?

The LNMB is no ordinary cemetery. It was established as a fitting resting place for deceased

  • Medal of Valor awardees
  • Presidents of commander-in-chief, AFP
  • Secretaries of national defense
  • AFP chiefs of staff
  • Generals/flag officers of the AFP
  • Active and retired military personnel of the AFP (including active draftees and trainees who died in line of duty, and active reservists and CAFGU Active Auxiliary who died in combat-related activities)
  • Former members of the AFP who laterally entered or joined the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police
  • Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1890, World War I, World War II, and recognized guerrillas
  • Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artist and other deceased persons whose interment and re-interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress or the secretary of national defense
  • Former presidents, secretaries of defense, dignitaries, statesmen, national artists, widows of former presidents, secretaries of national defense and chief of staff (Read this.)

LNMB, as its name implies, symbolizes heroism. It is in our best interest to recognize and value symbols and what they stand for. Otherwise, the flag would just be a piece of fancy cloth, the Noli and El Fili just storybooks, and the monuments and statues just overpriced slabs of rocks.

Ferdinand Marcos’ family should not be held accountable for the late president’s transgressions.

Yes, they should be. And they owe the Filipino people an apology over the Martial Law atrocities. Big time!

 According to the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA), Imelda Marcos was the biggest Marcos crony, whose free rides in the Philippine Airlines made its debt balloon to $13.8 billion in 1986. She was also the head of the Metro Manila Commission (precursor of the Metro Manila Development Authority) which, by the end of 1985, had accumulated debts of P1.99 billion (which included $100 million in foreign loans) in its 10 years of existence.

Bongbong, meanwhile, continues to whitewash the Marcos dictatorship’s crony capitalism, of which he had been a part. 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 anywhere between $9,700 to $97,000. (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.

When the Marocses fled to Hawaii, US Customs inspectors found around 300 crates filled with jewelry, gold, as well as 1,500 documents described by then US Lawmaker Stephen Solarz as “an encyclopedia of corruption.” The documents included a Marcos memo to the PNB that ordered transfer of P20 million to him, a list of expenses for Imelda’s overseas trips, a memo showing deposits and interests in overseas banks amounting to $30 million, around $11.2 million in commissions from Westinghouse (the designer and builder of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant), a listing of precious gems, deposit certificates and bearer bonds worth $4 million, as well as stock transfer deeds, bank documents, financial information about hotels,  and payments made directly to the former dictator and his wife for “Disaster Relief Projects.” Marcos was indicted in the US in 1988 for racketeering. He was accused of stealing more than $100 million to buy buildings in New York. He died later, before any verdict was handed out. (Watch this.)

Bongbong once said that, “The sins of the parents, if there are any, are not for the children to inherit.” That may be correct. It is not correct, however, to shamelessly live off the fruits of the legendary Marcos plunder while arrogantly peddling the lie that his father’s unbelievable wealth is legitimate. He also committed a grave injustice to the Martial Law victims when he said, “Pera-pera lang ang habol ng mga ‘yan”, referring to the 9,539 human rights victims in the Hawaii class suit who won the case against the Marcos estate. (Read this.)

Recently, Imee Marcos said that she cannot make a categorical admission of guilt over what happened during Martial Law because she was still “too young” then. I think, we should help Ms. Marcos refresh her failing memory by reminding her of Archimedes Trajano’s unfortunate fate. Trajano, a 21-year-old Mapua student in 1977 questioned Imee, during an open forum, on the latter’s appointment as the national chairman of the Kabataang Barangay. He was seized and dragged out of the venue by the presidential daughter’s bodyguards and, hours later, “his body was found severely tortured and beaten to death.” (Read this.)

As a former president and soldier, doesn’t Marcos deserve to be buried at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani?

No, and I have four arguments to support my unequivocal answer.

First, according to no less than the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Marcos is unfit for a hero’s burial, stating that his records as a soldier during World War II “is fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies”. Based on the NHCP study, Marcos “lied about receiving US medals (Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Order of the Purple Heart). His guerilla unit, the Ang Mga Maharlika, his leadership of it, and his claimed rank promotion from Major to Lt. Col. were never officially recognized by the US officials. Most importantly, some of Marcos’ actions as a soldier were officially called into question by the upper echelons of the US military.” These include:

  • his command over the Allas Intelligence Unit (described as “usurpation”)
  • his commissioning of officers (without authority)
  • his abandonment of USAFIP-NL presumably to build an airfield for Gen. Roxas
  • his collection of money for the airfield (described as “illegal”)
  • his listing of his name on the roster of different units (called a “malicious criminal act”)

NHCP added that, “A doubtful record does not serve as sound, unassailable basis of historical recognition of any sort, let alone of the burial in a site intended, as its name suggests, for heroes.” (Read this.)

Secondly, according to the rules of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFPR G 161-375 dated 11 Sept. 2000)), Marcos, as a former president, is entitled to a cemetery plot at the LNMB. Stated on that same regulation, however, are two important conditions under which qualified personnel can be disqualified to be interred in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. These are:

  • Personnel who were dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service
  • Personnel who were convicted by final judgement of an offense involving moral turpitude (Read this.)

Marcos cannot be disqualified on the basis of the second condition because he was never convicted by final judgment of any offense involving moral turpitude (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary defines moral turpitude as anything “which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals”). Although we can cite countless offenses involving moral turpitude committed by Marcos, he died before he could be charged, tried and convicted.

But the first condition is an altogether different matter.

There is only one way for any president to be dishonorably separated, reverted or discharged, and that is by revolution of the people who, as the sovereign authority, had temporarily vested its governmental powers in that official. The EDSA or People Power Revolution of 1986 “dishonorably discharged” Marcos not only for conduct unbecoming of an officer but, most significantly, for the slew of crimes he committed during Martial Law.

Thirdly, Section 1 of the Republic Act No. 289, the statute that provides for the creation of a national pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the country, states that a pantheon which shall be the burial place of their mortal remains (in this case, the LNMB) shall be constructed “to perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and generations still unborn.

The question to be asked then should be, What is it exactly about Marcos that would be worthy of inspiration and emulation?

Prof. Winnie Monsod has this to say. Is it “his forcing himself on the Filipino people for 13 more years after his last term had expired? His stealing from the people (P170 billion, and still counting)? His being considered the second most corrupt leader in the world? His abuse of powers to incarcerate his opponents? His violations of human rights? His cheating in the 1986 “snap” election—the final straw for the Filipino people?”

Finally, Imelda Marcos was made to sign an agreement with the government when they were allowed to bring to the country the late dictator’s remains in 1992. The four conditions thus expressly stipulated in the agreement were:

  • the body was to be flown directly to Ilocos
  • Marcos would be given honors as a Major, his last rank in military service
  • Marcos’ body was not to be paraded in Metro Manila
  • Marcos was not to be buried at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, but in Batac, Ilocos Norte, beside his mother (as apparently requested by him)

We all know that the Marcoses, being Marcoses, did not feel the need to comply with those conditions.

The body was not buried but put on a refrigerated display for more than 13 years. Apparently, the family was waiting for a “friendly” president to come along –a president who would grant their wish of immortalizing their patriarch at the Libingan. Well, they finally got it when Duterte won the presidency. On November 18, 2016, in a sneaky attempt to elude the outrage of the Filipino people, the Marcoses snuck in into the LNMB the late dictator’s  body for a secret burial. According to anti-Marcos activists, it was clearly an unscrupulous move to preempt their appeal of the SC’s decision. (The group already filed with the Supreme Court a manifestation that they will be appealing the latter’s decision to allow the burial, and the petitioners were supposed to have 15 days to do it.)

According to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, “This is a continuing deception and underhandedness of the Marcos family and they are just continuing the abuses and atrocities committed during Martial Law.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros couldn’t have said it better. “There is no grave, no mausoleum, no decision of any court or order from any president that will keep the truth that Marcos is not a hero.” Also, I wonder what the Marcoses would have felt when, at the end of the military gun salute and when the triangular-folded flag was handed over to them, these words were spoken, “on behalf of a grateful nation…”

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The Supreme Court has already decided. Shouldn’t that decision put an end to all these protests?

I read this somewhere. “Apartheid was legal, the Holocaust was legal, Slavery was legal, Colonialism was legal.” And now, with the nine SC justices’ affirmative votes, the burial of the late dictator Marcos at the LNMB is also legal. Clearly, legality does not establish morality.

The Supreme Court decision is an utter “disregard to the historic truths and legal principles that persist after Marcos’ death,” Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said.

The SC, as well as the international judicial tribunals, in several decisions in the past have acknowledged and documented the plunder and human rights violations committed by Marcos. It was because of this very acknowledgment that our present Constitution was framed in such a way that out rights are tightly safeguarded, democratic practices and principles are ensured, and the possibility of another Martial Law would be subject to the most stringent of requirements. It was also because of this very acknowledgment that the State recognizes its moral and legal obligation to provide reparation to the Martial Law victims through the RA No. 10368 or the Reparation of the Human Rights Victims Law. Finally, if was because of this very acknowledgment that the PCGG was tasked to recover the billions of dollars that comprise the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.

With its controversial decision, SC had somehow contradicted all their earlier decisions that suggest that Marcos was a plunderer and human rights violator.

Also, the Supreme Court chose to scrutinize the technicalities of the petitioners’ arguments rather than contemplate the latter’s fervent appeal for truth and justice when it asserts that the case should have been filed first with the proper RTC and when it maintains that the LNMB is not a national shrine but is merely a military shrine. It also claims that the interment will not, in any way, confer upon Marcos the status of a hero because the purpose of LNMB, despite its name, is “neither to confer to the people buried there the title of hero nor to require that only those interred therein should be treated as a hero.” It also alleges in its decision that the matter of contention has become a political issue.

How could the Supreme Court be that insensitive? Part of their mandate as an independent, impartial, effective and efficient Judiciary is to defend the welfare of the people and to protect their rights.

The Supreme Court further declares that “Marcos should be viewed and judged in his totality as a person. While he was not all good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, just a human who erred like us.” (I know, I also had difficulty believing that these words were penned by our judicious magistrates.)

But we have to remember that the SC justices are just men and women who could be as fallible and corruptible as any of us. They could also commit grave mistakes. And, definitely, they and their decisions are not beyond reproach.

Pres. Duterte has been elected into office by an overwhelming landslide win. We, the voters through our votes, authorized him to do what he promised during the campaign he would do should he win.

I swear, this argument did not come from an unsophisticated mind of a troll. This came from no less than Salvador Panelo, the Chief Legal Counsel of Pres. Duterte (yes, he is the same man who lawyered for these personalities: Marcoses on the cases of ill-gotten wealth against them, Andal Ampatuan, Jr. on the Maguindanao massacre case, Bong Revilla, Jr. on his PDAF plunder and graft cases, former Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez on the double murder case of two UPLB students, former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos on the electoral sabotage case, Philip Medel on the murder case of actress Nida Blanca, Deniece Cornejo on her rape case against Vhong Navarro, Dennis Roldan on the kidnapping case of a Chinoy boy, and of course, Pres. Duterte on the case of hidden wealth filed against him by Sen. Trillanes.)

Anyway, to answer his argument, I did not vote for Duterte, and his vocal position on the Marcos burial at the LNMB was one of the reasons why. However, when he won the election, I endeavored to respect the choice of the greater number of voters while making a vow to be vigilant with my duties to question, to guard, to challenge and to seek truth and justice at all times.

It is in keeping with that vow that I am questioning the reason behind the President’s decision to allow that burial.

According to the SC decision, it is because of his desire for national healing and reconciliation (which I wrote above is not feasible without meeting the basic requirements for forgiveness) –a statement which is not in harmony with his public pronouncements on the subject. His decision is borne out of his desire to fulfill his promise to the Marcoses during campaign and as a payback for his debt of gratitude to Imee Marcos for financially supporting his presidential bid.

He also said that the issue over the burial is a fight between two families. With that single carelessly-thrown statement, he was able to reduce the Filipinos’ struggles for two decades, the fear and horror and nightmare of Martial Law, the lives lost and the billions of dollars plundered from our coffers, into one inconsequential, capricious issue that requires minimum scrutiny and deliberation.

Another one of his reasons is because Marcos “was a soldier. He was there to fight for his country. Even if he is not a hero, he is a Filipino and he is, once upon a time, a president. That’s the law, we cannot go out of the law. I am not dwelling on his exploits.” Let me answer this with a statement from someone who is adept at history. Maria Serena Diokno, the Chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) who resigned following the controversial burial, said “The justice of history, anchored on historical truth, is far greater than that which any court, including the highest court of the land, can render (or in this case, fail to render). As President of our Republic, you have the unique opportunity and obligation to heed the demands of the justice of History, and thereby lead the way to true healing.”

As for me, let me leave the President with this image

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…and the readers with this message:

Wake up, kabayan! Fight historical revisionism NOW.

Tomorrow may be too late.

 http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/124682-marcos-economy-golden-age-philippines

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/v2/09/21/14/life-under-marcos-fact-check

https://www.scribd.com/document/330360599/AFP-Regulation-Allocation-of-Cemetery-Plots-at-the-Libingan-ng-mga-Bayani?secret_password=kyAUvy7WRFJSQznwFOno#fullscreen&from_embed

https://carmmaph.wordpress.com/tag/bong-bong-marcos/

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9c6mrxI4zoYS2I0UWFENEp6TkU/view

ww.filipiknow.newt/lesser-known-martial-law-photos/

AN OPEN LETTER FOR MY FELLOW FILIPINOS

My Dearest Kababayan,

I’ve always prided myself for handling stressful situations well. If there are negative people around me, I could easily avoid them. If a social media friend proves to be too annoying or too antagonistic, I could effortlessly block him from my account. If a conversation steers toward a potentially upsetting subject, I could smoothly drag it back to safer ground. If a television channel or a radio station I’m tuned in suddenly becomes too loud for my taste, I could quickly change it or turn the TV or radio off.

Life could be that simple.

Why would I subject myself to hypertension-inducing or wrinkle-causing situations when avoidance is a far more convenient, healthy and favorable choice, right?

During the height of the election campaign, however, I realized that there are certain issues that could only be dealt with by confronting them head-on.

One of such issues is the possible return of a Marcos in Malacanang.

The Marcos camp, using a teeny-weeny portion of their billion dollar plunder during Martial Law, was able to successfully launch an online propaganda of a twisted version of history. Our history.

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Photo credit: philstar.com

People like you and me, complacent in the knowledge that Filipinos have already learned valuable lessons from the past, did nothing to counter these efforts. I, on a personal level, even engaged in a word war with a confraternity brod when he sweepingly referred to the Filipino electorate as “bobotante”. After all that we have gone through as a nation, we have grown into smart and intelligent voters, I argued. We didn’t deserve such a disparaging label.

So through our complacency, we inadvertently allowed our history to be twisted by people with equally twisted minds, and through our inaction, we have unwittingly agreed for this perverted act to be accepted by the ignorant, the gullible, the forgiving or the narrow-minded.  

The little less than 14 million votes that Bongbong Marcos garnered in the vice-presidential race is a testament that a great number of Filipino voters are, indeed, “bobotante”.

Kababayan, my heart is shattered into a million pieces right now. I am hurting. I am frustrated. I am disappointed. I am furious.

When are we eventually going to learn?

Yours,

Mom On A Mission (Lorelei B. Aquino)

PS: I want to share this Facebook post with you in the hope that the strong and powerful words used by the writer will rouse you from your comfortable slumber; that you will emerge from the warm web of lies you have cocooned yourself in – informed, wiser, more aware; that, in the future, you will be one of us as a vigilant guard of truth and a staunch protector of our national patrimony.

Emma, I couldn’t have penned this better. You are truly a gem! Thank you.

To all my FB friends and families,

Please indulge me.

During the dark years of our country under Martial Law, people died and sacrificed their lives to regain our freedom. Cronies like Danding Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile, Lucio Tan & many more flourished. Billions were plundered and none of those have been returned despite court rulings finding for the government. Just to be clear again—money lost, lives lost and those cannot be undone.

I, as much as the next man, value my freedom — but even more so because it’s the kind of freedom that claimed lives. I just can’t take any of these for granted.

Those who opposed Marcos then did not hide behind a nasty tweet or a rising FB post with a meme to stand up to the late corrupt dictator. They took to the streets and faced tanks and guns aimed at them without hesitation.

They did not deactivate their social media accounts when they were outed. Instead, they were abducted from their homes or their workplace only to be tortured (or killed) beyond recognition.

So, here’s the deal…if you are one of these.

* If you have voted for BongBong Marcos whom I consider without a doubt, as one of the world’s unrepentant crooks and you are one of the 13 million voters who want a Marcos back in Malacanang and just a heartbeat away from the presidency, I question your judgement.

* If you continue to spread lies about Martial Law where a total of 107,240 were either jailed without due process, tortured, raped, electrocuted, burnt and 3,240 of them were executed but only 75,000 of them came forward when the country passed a repatriation law to compensate victims of Martial Law because the rest are either still missing or already dead without justice, I question your integrity.

* If you’re a Marcos apologist or a history revisionist who try to justify the Marcos atrocities or prodding us to move on for the sake of progress, I believe you are not only intellectually dishonest but also morally confused.

* If you’re one of those people who say, “the victims have moved on, why can’t you?” I would like you to put yourself into the shoes of these people — just 3 regular people — and see if you’ll be okay with Martial Law:

* Liliosa Hilao, the first female and student activist to die in detention during martial rule. Her body, when found, showed signs of torture—her lips bore cigarette burns, her arms had injection marks, and her body was full of bruises. According to her sister, her internal organs were removed to cover up signs of torture and possible sexual abuse.

* Boyet Mijares, who was only 16 years old when he disappeared. His only sin – being the son of the whistleblower and writer Primitivo Mijares.

* Archimedes Trajano, who was 21 when he questioned Imee Marcos on why she was the National Chairman of the Kabataang Barangay during an open forum. A few days later, he was found dead. His body showed signs of torture.

* So, are you still okay with it? Do you still think of Martial Law as that “thingy”?

If you are any of those above, then it means we do not share the same values. We have nothing in common. There is no reason for us to be FB friends or be friends of any kind, in any way, shape or form.

It’s one thing to have differing opinions but it’s another thing if you go out of your way to disinform, revise and promote the legacy of the Marcoses. That I can’t take.

I do not resent you or hate you. I just do not want to be affiliated with you anymore. That’s why I will be purging my FB list shortly. Feel free to be one step ahead and delete/block me now if you fit any of the descriptions above.

It was nice knowing you.

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.

WRITING TO THE “MESSIAH”(An Open Letter for Mayor Digong Duterte)

Dear Mayor Duterte,

With your recent controversial statements, you have managed to annoy, antagonize and even enrage a lot of people. Anti-Duterte campaigns are being launched in an effort to discredit you to your supporters. They want to depict you as a blabbering “bruskong berdugo”.

In a personal attempt to really get to know you beyond your media persona, I poked around, rummaged through the internet, and dug deeper. I watched numerous videos and read countless articles about you. And the following is what I learned about the man that Filipinos either love to hate or hate to love.

Incredible. People’s reaction to your candidacy from the moment you filed your COC in December was swift, solid and intense. It was, undeniably, their way of letting the present administration know that they have had enough. They are fed up with the widespread corruption and the seemingly lack of effective and timely action in addressing the most basic problems that Filipinos face on a daily basis. Four months (and countless of blunders on your part) after, your support base is more intact than ever. They have grown in number, in strength and in intensity. And they have become blind to your faults.

Reluctant. It took a while for you to finally be convinced to join the presidential race. You said that you lack enthusiasm for the job. In every opportunity you get, you don’t fail to remind us that you’re just doing it to answer the people’s urgent clamor for change. You make us – me – feel indebted to you. Your exact words then? “If you want me to do it, then I’ll do it. But in my way.

Charming. Talking to you is never boring. During campaign sorties, public debates or interviews, you always manage to entertain your audience with your poker-faced humor, flippant remarks, witty one-liners, snappy comebacks, and animated stories. And if you happen to be on the right mood, you even treat them to steamy shows just like what you did in Pampanga.

Fair. You believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and protected at all times. And if that right is violated by common law criminals, you feel the need to eradicate the perpetrator of the crime – without the benefit of the legal due process. You said that the way to stop violence is to use violence. It’s just ironic to have to hear that coming straight from the mouth of a lawyer, who is supposedly the agent of the administration of justice.

Authentic. Unlike most politicians, you are brutally frank. You mean what you say and you say what you mean. No beating around the bush, no frills and gimmicks, caution usually thrown to the wind. You really are a breath of fresh air, Mayor Digong! (Or a PR nightmare to your team, depending on one’s perspective). Your accusation that Mar did not really graduate from Wharton triggered a childish word ward and slapping challenge between the two of you. Your insinuation that you, along with other boys, were sexually abused by priests during your years at the Ateneo de Davao High School created quite a stir among the Jesuit community. Your pronouncement before the Ilocanos that you are in favour of giving the late President Marcos a hero’s burial did not sit well with your anti-Marcos supporters. Your declaration before the Kapampangans that you will release CGMA if you’re elected president was, likewise, not acceptable to your anti-Arroyo followers.

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Photo credit: http://wethepvblic.com/

Passionate. Moderation is not in your vocabulary. Do you still remember the warning you issued during your interview with Maria Ressa? “If my efforts to improve the country were to be blocked by a corrupt Congress, I would declare a revolutionary government and close down Congress.” On the issue of the disputed West Philippines Sea, meanwhile, you said that it would be futile to engage China in a war because we don’t have a chance of winning. What you will do, instead, is to ask the Navy to bring you to the nearest point [in the sea] that is tolerable to them and you will ride a jet ski. “I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?” Hay naku, Mayor.

Exciting. Because you have a big, bad mouth (“bastos na bibig” was how you aptly put it), people are always waiting in rapt attention for your next controversial, explosive and, often, scandalous confessions and revelations. Let me see if I get this right, okay? No other politician uses expletives and swear words with such alarming frequency. No other politician publicly curses the beloved Pope. No other politician disparagingly uses the word “bayot” (gay) to refer to a political opponent.  No other politician regales his audience with a story that is insulting to the kasambahay. No other politician openly admits that he is a flirt and a womanizer. No other politician wants to make a candidate from another party his Assistant President “because she is beautiful”. No other politician has made a joke about a deceased rape victim. No other politician, Sir. Just you. Are you sure you don’t have a political death wish?

Generous. Also on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, you said that if China will offer to build vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the Philippines, you will shut up for the entire duration of your presidency. That is, indeed, very generous of you, Mayor. But what happens to your campaign lines, “I am Rodrigo Duterte. I am a Filipino and I love my country, the Philippines. It is the land of my birth, it is the home of my people.”? You are planning to abandon the country’s long-standing claim to the territory for a few trains!

Eager. One of your many campaign promises is getting rid of corruption, drugs and criminality in about three to six months after you assume the presidency. Of course, that statement earned cheers from your supporters, but jeers and raised eyebrows from your critics. Personally, I don’t think that’s achievable. Unless you declare another Martial Law and become another Marcos.

Appreciative. Your team, friends, family and supporters will do virtually anything for you. I’ve heard numerous times how your running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, would appeal to the electorate. “If you don’t want to vote for me, okay lang po. But, please, vote for Mayor Duterte.” Commendable, right? But how did you repay such thoughtful and unselfish gesture? When you were in Ilocos, you said that if you are not able to stamp out crime in 3-6 months, you “will step down and give the presidency to Bongbong.” (As if the presidency is a cheap toy that a child can easily give or share with his playmate!) BBM, for his part, exploited that carelessly-thrown statement to mock Cayetano during their public debate. That was, after all, an opportunity too golden to pass up. When your daughter said that she herself was a rape victim, apparently in an effort to help you get out of the rut you effortlessly put yourself in with your repulsive remarks on rape, how did you show her your appreciation? You publicly announced that you don’t believe her claim. You even called her a drama queen! If that’s how you treat the people who show you love and concern, Mayor, I don’t want to think how you deal with those who openly antagonize you.

You have to admit, you don’t fit the mold of the typical politician, Mayor Digong.

I would like you to know, though, that I can accept and forgive you your insensitivity, your indiscretion and your indecency. I can even try to develop an appreciation for your unique brand of humor. I can also pretend to like your extra-judicial plans of action to battle crimes.

What I can NOT do is to willingly entrust in your hands the great responsibility of holding the reins of my country and its future. I will make sure of that when I cast my vote.

Sincerely,

Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)