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!

 

GRATEFUL (STILL) FOR 2016!

Bidding farewell to the old year to give way to the new one is always a bittersweet moment for me. It prods me to pause for a while, take stock of my life, and reflect on the many blessings I received during the last twelve months.

2016 has been a tumultuous year, but it brought with it many lessons and reasons to be thankful for.

People all over the world died and are dying due to a myriad of reasons — senseless wars, natural disasters, accidents, famine, crimes and diseases. I am thankful for each day that I find myself surrounded by my family and enveloped in the warmth of their love. Life is the most precious gift that we should never take for granted.

There are people who grow old not really knowing their passion and mission in life. There are also those who can’t act on them because of the fear of embarking on uncharted territory, or the fear of being judged, or some other more pressing limitation. I am just thankful that I was able to discover my passion for writing and my mission to hone, use and share that talent to inspire, entertain, empower, and educate others. I will continue to aim to be the voice of the voiceless.

Many of us, when faced with adversity and challenges, or when presented with seemingly tempting choices, tend to lose sight of and drift away from our most fundamental values and beliefs — as conscientious Christians, as law-abiding citizens, and as peace-loving individuals. I am thankful that, despite the frustrations and pent-up anger of a great number of Filipinos, and their ensuing clamor for change, I managed to maintain a tight grip to my moral compass, to stand firmly by my personal values, convictions and principles, and to remain faithful to my most basic beliefs.  Without that compass to carry around, one’s identity may forever be lost.

At a time when we are overwhelmed by a multitude of seemingly more urgent and important concerns, it is quite easy to put health-related issues on the proverbial back burner. I could only be thankful that my surgery last June was successful and virtually painless, that my father who suffered from two consecutive major strokes four years ago is now doing great, that my 66-year-old mother still has the stamina of an ox, that all my children, siblings, in-laws, and other relatives are physically well, and that my husband continues to enjoy splendid health two years after his kidney transplant. Health is wealth, indeed.

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Before the elections back in May, I actively campaigned against then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. I am thankful that, when he won the presidency (by a landslide, no less), I was able to graciously accept my defeat. I managed to move forward from what I then perceived to be my countrymen’s betrayal. I overcame my feelings of disappointment, hurt and anger. However, I vowed to remain vigilant, fearless, resolute and involved in guarding against those who would pose as threats to our nation and everything that it stands for, and at the same time, to keep an open mind to the new president’s not-so-conventional ways. I vowed to continue to be respectful of the Office of the President and to help in whatever capacity, but to not be blind to abuses of power, to never allow tyranny, and to help protect the country’s Constitution at all costs — even if the greatest threat to our democracy would come in the form of the President himself.

In the wake of the most engaging and divisive election that our country has ever witnessed, my respect for many of my friends, relatives and acquaintances crumbled. My relationships with them cracked and, eventually, shattered. For me, it is not a simple case of differing opinions. Rather, it is the kind of people that they chose to support, and the kind of people they have become as a result, that I find mind-boggling and disturbing. I am thankful though that, because of that same election, I was able to develop friendships and bonds based on mutual respect, and shared beliefs and aspirations. Friendships forged between and among people who adhere to the same principles and advocacies, I have come to realize, tend to be healthier, stronger and more productive and enduring.

Ever since the new administration took office, the country has been rocked unabatedly by many controversies, issues and tragedies — the dismissal of cases against former PGMA and her eventual release from hospital arrest; the historical revisionism perpetrated by the Marcoses and their minions; the staggering number of casualties as a consequence of the government’s continuing war on drugs; the severing of ties with the country’s long-time allied nations and trading partners; the death of decency, compassion and other values that used to be inherent in every peace-loving Filipino; the burial of a despicable dictator in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani; the impending return of another Marcos in Malacanang. The list appears to be endless. I am just thankful that all these developments galvanized us, Filipinos, to revisit our history, to rouse from our slumber of apathy and complacency, and to take to the streets our collective resistance and protest against all these injustices. The flames of vigilance, activism and patriotism have now been rekindled.

In the face of my struggles –– both personal and political —, I am thankful that my faith in the Lord has remained complete, absolute and unwavering. I trust that everything that happens to me, to my family, to my country, and to my planet is designed for a higher purpose — to be revealed to me in His own perfect time. I believe that He will not bring me any burden that I cannot carry. Finally, I am optimistic that the coming days will usher in genuine hope, and positive and concrete solutions to all our problems.

Thank you and goodbye, 2016!

Hello and welcome, 2017!

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.

pia-duterte
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.

source
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.

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/