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KRAKOV, POLAND: POPE FRANCIS, VISITING AUSCHWITZ, ASKS GOD FOR THE 'GRACE TO CRY'
[RELATED: Photos of Pope Francis in Krakow for World Youth Day celebrations]


JULY 29 -Francis greeted 12 of the camp’s former prisoners one by one. Credit David W. Cerny/Reuters KRAKOV, POLAND,  Francis visited the former concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz on Friday during a trip to Poland. While there, he said a silent prayer and met with survivors of the camp. Pope Francis walked in the footsteps of his two predecessors on Friday as he visited the former extermination camp at Auschwitz, where he paid silent homage to the more than one million victims, mostly Jews, who perished there during the Holocaust. Right before his visit, Francis said he “would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds.” He said he intended to go “alone, enter, pray,” adding, “And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.” The pope began his visit to Auschwitz — in what is now the Polish town known as Oswiecim, about 30 miles west of Krakow — by meeting 12 survivors of the camp. He greeted them one by one, mostly in silence, expressing his sorrow and respect by clutching their hands, looking into their eyes and kissing them tenderly, once on each cheek. Francis was the third pope to visit Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II visited on June 7, 1979, declaring “No more war!” and “Only peace!” Pope Benedict XVI, who as a young man was inducted unwillingly into the Hitler Youth and the German Army, went on May 28, 2006, and asked: “Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate this?” Francis made his way to the infamous Block 11, an inconspicuous brick building where Nazi guards had tortured prisoners. The pope entered the basement, which housed 28 dark cells. He stopped in a cell that had once housed the Rev. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in 1941 and was canonized in 1982. Francis sat in a chair in the middle of the cell, bent his head and prayed for some time. READ MORE...RELATED, Photos of Pope Francis in Krakow for World Youth Day celebrations...

ALSO:
Steve Harvey to host next Miss Universe tilt in PH—DOT
[RELATED: One epic night -
Sunshine Cruz, Jessy Mendiola, Marian Rivera and Sam Pinto, warmed partygoers’ hearts at the shindig of a men’s magazine]


JULY 30 -Steve Harvey holds up the card showing the winners after he incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez at the winner at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Las Vegas. According to the pageant, a misreading led the announcer to read Miss Colombia as the winner before they took it away and gave it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. AP FILE PHOTO
 After last year’s gaffe, comedian Steve Harvey will still host the Miss Universe pageant in Manila in January 2017, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT). In a report by radio DZMM on Friday, Tourism undersecretary Kat de Castro, citing the Miss Universe organization, said Harvey wanted to personally apologize to Filipinos after last year’s mix-up in the announcement of winner. Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner of last year’s pageant, instead of rightful winner and Filipino bet Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. The DOT on Thursday announced that Miss Universe will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 30, 2017. The government said it will not spend a single centavo in hosting expenses, as it will be shouldered by the private sector. YG/JE RELATED STORIES Steve Harvey apologizes for Miss Universe mix-up; misspells PH, Colombia Steve Harvey may host Miss Universe again after signing multi-year deal—report FULL REPORT. RELATED, One epic night - Sunshine Cruz, Jessy Mendiola, Marian Rivera and Sam Pinto, warmed partygoers’ hearts at the shindig of a men’s magazine...

ALSO: Jailed earlier in Saudi, San Juan ‘pusher’ now owns condo units[RELATED: Philippine crime war packs decaying jails]


JULY 29 -Former overseas Filipino worker Abdullah Magarang is presented to San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez after he was caught with shabu during a drug buy-bust in Quezon City on July 28, 2016. (Photo by JODEE AGONCILLO/INQUIRER)
A former overseas worker who police said was jailed for five years in Saudi Arabia for drug peddling was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly resuming his criminal activity on a larger scale. Although he was caught in a buy-bust operation in Quezon City, Abdulla Magarang was presented on Thursday to San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and Vice Mayor Janella Estrada of San Juan City, where the police said his “bigtime” operation thrived. Magarang, 49, and his 29-year-old driver Teejay Sammy Calub met with a poseur buyer around 3 a.m. in front of an apartelle on Kamuning Road. By then, the police had tailed their gray Honda CRV starting from San Juan. Senior Supt. Victor Arevalo, the San Juan police chief, said the two suspects were caught with 70 grams of “shabu” worth P98,000 when they met the undercover officer, who had asked for only P3,000 worth of the drug. Magarang had been operating as a pusher in San Juan for a year, “selling in bulk in transactions that can be worth half a million pesos each,” Arevalo said. READ MORE...RELATED, Philippine crime war packs decaying jails, Warning graphics unthinkable conditions...

ALSO: Cha-cha set as top agenda in Congress
[RELATED: Solon warns - No parameters, Chacha free for all]


JULY 30 -DRILON
ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR CON-ASS SOUGHT Congress will have as its top agenda amending the 1987 Constitution, or Charter change (cha-cha), primarily in determining the mode to do it which will be either through a constitutional convention (con-con) or a constituent assembly (con-ass), leaders of both legislative chambers said yesterday. “The proposed review of the 29-year-old Constitution will be the ‘top priority.’ We will take up all the proposed measures and resolutions calling for the review of the Constitution as soon as the organization of the Senate is finalized and completed,” the chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said yesterday. Drilon said his committee “will take into consideration the preference of the President in drafting its recommendations.” A senior member of the House of Representatives proposed the creation of an advisory council composed of constitutional experts and leaders of various sectors tasked with setting up the parameters in amending the 1987 Constitution before Congress can convene itself into a con-ass that would be tasked to revise the Charter. This developed as Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez disclosed that not all 22 proposed states to be created under a federal system may impose the death penalty which is part of the legislative agenda proposed by the Duterte administration. The Duterte government and leaders of Congress are leaning on con-ass over a constitutional convention (con-con) as the mode of introducing urgent amendments to the 1987 Charter. Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez said parameters should be set for charter change (cha-cha) prior to the convening of the con-ass. “My proposal calls for the creation of a council of leaders or experts that will recommend the provisions of the 1987 Constitution that necessitates amendments. Charter change should not be open-ended, there are many provisions which have no problems and need no fixing,” he said. Benitez, former chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development said the council can be appointed by the president or by Congress. READ MORE... RELATED, Solon warns: No parameters, Chacha free for all...

ALSO: Rody promises pro-Pinoy Charter


JULY 31 -“I am not stupid to allow the new Constitution to be anti-Filipino. Expect that. That is the job of the President. If worse comes to worst, they won’t know what will come to them if they disrespect the Filipinos,” Duterte said in his address to troops in Davao del Norte. Presidential Photographers Division/Released
MANILA, Philippines – A “pro-Filipino” Constitution will take the place of the current one, President Duterte assured the nation on Friday as he warned lawmakers against using the constituent assembly (con-ass) approach to Charter change to protect their vested interests and keep themselves in power. “I am not stupid to allow the new Constitution to be anti-Filipino. Expect that. That is the job of the President. If worse comes to worst, they won’t know what will come to them if they disrespect the Filipinos,” Duterte said in his address to troops in Davao del Norte. Rather than stir distrust for lawmakers, Duterte advised the people to put their trust and confidence in them. Duterte added he would closely monitor the crafting of a new Constitution to make sure it would be pro-Filipino. A new Charter is intended to pave the way for a federal form of government, which Dutere strongly advocates. He admitted changing his mind and dropping his earlier preference for a constitutional convention, citing the staggering cost of taking the con-con path – estimated at P200 billion to P300 billion. “I’d like to address myself to it. I don’t want con-con. Why? It’s expensive. It will run into billions,” he said. “The Philippines will be spending like about P200-P300 billion. It’s a waste of money,” he added. “So I said, let Congress do it. You, as Filipinos, can you easily turn your back on your country that easily? If so then let’s just sell the Philippines,” he said in Filipino, addressing the lawmakers. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pope Francis, Visiting Auschwitz, Asks God for the ‘Grace to Cry’


Francis greeted 12 of the camp’s former prisoners one by one. Credit David W. Cerny/Reuters

KRAKOV, POLAND, AUGUST 1, 2016 (NEW YORK TIMES) By JOANNA BERENDT JULY 29, 2016 - Francis visited the former concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz on Friday during a trip to Poland. While there, he said a silent prayer and met with survivors of the camp.

Pope Francis walked in the footsteps of his two predecessors on Friday as he visited the former extermination camp at Auschwitz, where he paid silent homage to the more than one million victims, mostly Jews, who perished there during the Holocaust.

Right before his visit, Francis said he “would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds.” He said he intended to go “alone, enter, pray,” adding, “And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

The pope began his visit to Auschwitz — in what is now the Polish town known as Oswiecim, about 30 miles west of Krakow — by meeting 12 survivors of the camp. He greeted them one by one, mostly in silence, expressing his sorrow and respect by clutching their hands, looking into their eyes and kissing them tenderly, once on each cheek.


Oswiecim, Poland — Pope Francis on Friday walked alone through the notorious wrought-iron “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) gate as he visited the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Free for once of his security entourage or cardinals, he sat on a bench among the trees and bowed his head in prayer, remaining at length in silent contemplation before meeting Holocaust survivors. “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty,” the pope wrote in a memorial book. CAPTION FROM THE TRIBUNE NEWS REPORT

Francis was the third pope to visit Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II visited on June 7, 1979, declaring “No more war!” and “Only peace!” Pope Benedict XVI, who as a young man was inducted unwillingly into the Hitler Youth and the German Army, went on May 28, 2006, and asked: “Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate this?”

Francis made his way to the infamous Block 11, an inconspicuous brick building where Nazi guards had tortured prisoners.

The pope entered the basement, which housed 28 dark cells. He stopped in a cell that had once housed the Rev. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in 1941 and was canonized in 1982. Francis sat in a chair in the middle of the cell, bent his head and prayed for some time.

READ MORE...

Leaving the cell of Father Kolbe, Francis, 79, the first pope from Latin America, signed the Auschwitz guest book, writing in Spanish: “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Francis then left his companions and walked alone beneath the notorious gate that carries the cruel motto “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Sets You Free.”

 
http://nyti.ms/2a4YGcZ
Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters. Watch in Times Video »

“This site bore witness to the most systematic, industrialized atrocity in the history of humanity,” Rabbi David Rosen, who is the international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee and accompanied the pope, said in a phone interview. “In such a place, words are inadequate, and it’s silence that becomes the ultimate expression of solidarity with the victims.”

The poignant silence was punctuated with the recitation of a Hebrew psalm.

“Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord!” the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael J. Schudrich, recited. “Lord, hear my voice.”

Hours later in Krakow, the pope said that “cruelty did not end in Auschwitz,” citing war, atrocities in war zones and the torture of prisoners, The Associated Press reported.

Unlike his predecessors, Francis, born in Buenos Aires in 1936, did not have personal links to the wartime destruction of Europe. As a seminarian during the war, John Paul helped save a Jewish girl; Benedict, after deserting the German Army, was briefly interned in a prisoner-of-war camp.

Francis met with a group of Polish Catholics who had been recognized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem, as “righteous among the nations” for having risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. He has urged Catholics to help people of other faiths who are seeking refuge, and he appealed this week for Europeans to offer protection to Muslims who had poured into the Continent from places like Syria.

More than 1.7 million people visited the memorial complex at Auschwitz last year. But for many years after World War II, the town played a complex role in the fraught history of Christian-Jewish relations in Poland.


JULY 31 -4 hours ago -he Pope urged followers to "believe in a new humanity"  From the section Europe Share Pope arrives at the mass - Image caption THundreds of thousands of people have been attending a huge mass celebrated by Pope Francis on the last day of his five-day trip to Poland. At the World Youth Day gathering, the pontiff urged young people to embrace hope and put prayer at the centre of their lives. The event took on a carnival atmosphere with pilgrims dancing, singing and waving flags. The visit marks the 1,050th anniversary of Poland's adoption of Christianity. Some reports said as many as three million pilgrims, mostly young people, were at the mass, held in a vast field called the Campus Misericordiae near the southern city of Krakow. 31 JulyImage copyrightAP BBC.COM

For about a decade, a controversy persisted over a convent of Carmelite nuns in Oswiecim, just outside the death camp. The dispute at times seemed to spill over into claims about who had suffered the most. Poland was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939; its prewar Jewish population of about three million, the largest in Europe on the eve of the war, was nearly wiped out. John Paul ordered the nuns to leave the convent in 1993.


When Francis arrived in Poland, he made headlines for saying that the world is at war, but said it is not a religious one. He made the comments just a day after a priest was killed in France. "I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don’t want war. The others want war," the pope said. (Getty)

Rabbi Rosen credited the pope’s predecessors for paving the path to reconciliation, saying that Francis had become “the embodiment and epitome of overcoming differences between Jews and Christians.”

Rabbi Rosen added: “Francis has been saying all along that it is impossible to be a Christian and an anti-Semite. His visit in Auschwitz is an enormous message of solidarity with the victims and affirmation of his unequivocal reprehension of anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism.”

Follow Joanna Berendt on Twitter @JoannaBerendt.

A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2016, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Pope Visits Auschwitz, Pleading With God to Give Him ‘the Grace to Cry’. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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RELATED FROM IBTIMES ONLINE

Photos of Pope Francis in Krakow for World Youth Day celebrations
The murder of a priest in Normandy has added to security fears around the Pope's visit for World Youth Day.
David Sim By David Sim July 27, 2016 17:19 BST 72

Pope Francis is in Poland to preside at a gathering of more than a million Catholic youth from around the world, sometimes called the "Catholic Woodstock".

However, the usually joyous event is being held in the aftermath the murder of a priest in a church in Normandy, France. The killing of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, forced to his knees by Islamist militants who then slit his throat, has added to security fears surrounding the Pope's visit for World Youth Day.


Pope Francis waves as he is welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda at Balice airport near KrakowDavid W Cerny/Reuters

Thousands of young Catholics from around the world are gathered in Krakow for the festival. Over 350,000 people from 187 countries have registered online but organisers expect up to 1.5 million people to attend the main events, which include a night vigil with the pope on Saturday (30 July) and an open-air mass celebrated by the pontiff on Sunday.

World Youth Day was established in 1985 by Polish-born Pope John Paul II, whom Francis declared a saint in 2014, and aims to inspire young people to follow Christian values of peace and love in life.

The gatherings are held every two or three years. The first meeting was held in Rome in 1986, attended by John Paul II and some 30,000 participants. The largest World Youth Day gathering was in the Philippines in 1995, when an estimated five million people attended a Mass celebrated by John Paul II.


A view of the altar during the Opening Mass in KrakowJanek Skarzynski/AFP

Security was already tight after a string of violent attacks in France and Germany. Polish officials say they have deployed tens of thousands of security officials to cover the event. Francis is expected to use the event to pay tribute to the murdered priest, who some say should be declared a martyr because of the way he was killed for his faith.

Pope Francis said the murder was particularly "barbarous" because it happened during the central rite of Christian worship as the priest was saying morning Mass. He spoke to reporters on the papal plane en route from Rome to Poland.

Asked about the slaying of the priest, Francis replied: "It's war, we don't have to be afraid to say this." He clarified that when he speaks of war, he is speaking of "a war of interests, for money, resources. ... I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don't want war. The others want war."

During his five-day visit to Poland, the Pope will visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and pray at Czestochowa, site of the country's holiest shrine.

GOING DOWN POPE MISSED LAST STEP FELL


Pope Francis is helped by Vatican Master of Ceremonies, Mons. Guido Marini as he stumbles on the altar as he celebrates a mass in Czestochowa, Poland, Thursday, July 28, 2016. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia PHILSTAR HEADLINE: CZESTOCHOWA, Poland — Pope Francis missed a step and fell to the ground Thursday as he walked on an open-air platform to celebrate Mass at Poland's holiest shrine of Jasna Gora. In a dramatic moment, the 79-year-old Francis, walking in his long robe with an incense holder in his hand, did not notice a step down from the platform and fell to the ground before the altar. Francis braced his fall with his left hand and priests around him rushed to help, with Mons. Guido Marini, an aide, helping him back to his feet. PHILSTAR NEWS REPORT


INQUIRER

Steve Harvey to host next Miss Universe tilt in PH—DOT @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 05:34 PM July 30th, 2016


Steve Harvey holds up the card showing the winners after he incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez at the winner at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Las Vegas. According to the pageant, a misreading led the announcer to read Miss Colombia as the winner before they took it away and gave it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. AP FILE PHOTO

After last year’s gaffe, comedian Steve Harvey will still host the Miss Universe pageant in Manila in January 2017, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

In a report by radio DZMM on Friday, Tourism undersecretary Kat de Castro, citing the Miss Universe organization, said Harvey wanted to personally apologize to Filipinos after last year’s mix-up in the announcement of winner.

Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner of last year’s pageant, instead of rightful winner and Filipino bet Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

The DOT on Thursday announced that Miss Universe will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 30, 2017.

The government said it will not spend a single centavo in hosting expenses, as it will be shouldered by the private sector. YG/JE

RELATED STORIES

Steve Harvey apologizes for Miss Universe mix-up; misspells PH, Colombia

Steve Harvey may host Miss Universe again after signing multi-year deal—report

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

One epic night by Maan D’Asis Pamaran July 29, 2016 (updated) Share77 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share80 Photos by Jansen Romero


HOTNESS PERSONIFIED (From Left): Sunshine Cruz, Jessy Mendiola, Marian Rivera and Sam Pinto, warmed partygoers’ hearts at the shindig of a men’s magazine. /mb.com.ph

It’s been 16 years since one men’s magazine launched its Sexiest Women campaign and by the looks of it, there is no letting up for shapely curves and long limbs.

In attendance at the party thrown recently for FHM Philippines’ 2016 edition of the campaign were some of the country’s popular beauties. The men in the audience strained to see them, hooting support when their favorites came out.

Among the highlights of the night was the entrance of statuesque Sunshine Cruz, the first Filipina to grace the magazine’s cover. Then there’s the special appearance of Marian Rivera, a hall of famer, topping the list a total of three times. The new mom endeared herself to the audience being her usual witty self, playfully retorting “Thank you, I’m taken” to a gentleman in the audience who professed his love. She then apologized for rushing off, explaining, “Hinihintay na ako ng anak ko!”

Some things are worth waiting for, it is said, and this is true with Rhian Ramos landing her own FHM cover. It was revealed it took several years before she agreed to pose for the magazine. She was fifth in the sexiest list this year, with Jennylyn Mercado, Nadine Lustre, and Angel Locsin placing second to fourth, respectively.

The magazine was revamped recently, with articles that provoke a more thoughtful appreciation of women and relationships and this was felt on stage that night. The raunchier numbers were provided by the event sponsors’ performers, but the ladies on the list, for the most part, were more effective showcasing their form in outfits that left some things to the imagination.

The finale was of Jessy Mendiola triumphantly entering the stage, breaking into a sultry dance number in a fiery-red outfit. She gushed at the honor bestowed on her by netizens, dedicating her victory to them. She said her win is an example of how being sexy does not have to fit a certain mold. She joked about putting one over Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, quipping she (Jessy) is “confidently sexy with a heart.”

Other beauties present that night were Sam Pinto, Max Collins, Andrea Torres, Rochelle Pangilinan, Rachel Anne Daquis, Bangs Garcia, Daiana Menezes, Margo Midwinter, Roxee B, Jahziel Manabat, and more.


INQUIRER

Jailed earlier in Saudi, San Juan ‘pusher’ now owns condo units By: Jodee A. Agoncillo
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:06 AM July 29th, 2016


Former overseas Filipino worker Abdullah Magarang is presented to San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez after he was caught with shabu during a drug buy-bust in Quezon City on July 28, 2016. (Photo by JODEE AGONCILLO/INQUIRER)

MANILA — A former overseas worker who police said was jailed for five years in Saudi Arabia for drug peddling was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly resuming his criminal activity on a larger scale.

Although he was caught in a buy-bust operation in Quezon City, Abdulla Magarang was presented on Thursday to San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez and Vice Mayor Janella Estrada of San Juan City, where the police said his “bigtime” operation thrived.

Magarang, 49, and his 29-year-old driver Teejay Sammy Calub met with a poseur buyer around 3 a.m. in front of an apartelle on Kamuning Road. By then, the police had tailed their gray Honda CRV starting from San Juan.

Senior Supt. Victor Arevalo, the San Juan police chief, said the two suspects were caught with 70 grams of “shabu” worth P98,000 when they met the undercover officer, who had asked for only P3,000 worth of the drug.

Magarang had been operating as a pusher in San Juan for a year, “selling in bulk in transactions that can be worth half a million pesos each,” Arevalo said.

READ MORE...

He allegedly got his supply from Quiapo, Manila. In San Juan, most of his buyers were in Barangay San Perfecto, Arevalo added.

Although “jobless,” Magarang owns at least two condominium units on Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, according to a report by Chief Insp. Hoover Pascual, chief of the San Juan police anti-illegal drugs unit. The suspect did not deny this when arrested.

A native of Iligan City, Magarang spent five years in jail in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on drug charges, investigators told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The circumstances leading to his release in Jeddah were not immediately known.

Facing Gomez, he admitted being a drug user but denied being a pusher.

Before getting Magarang and Calub, the San Juan police have arrested 15 drug suspects since the start of the month. SFM/rga

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Philippine crime war packs decaying jails Ayee Macaraig, Agence France-Presse Posted at Jul 30 2016 04:46 PM


Inmates sleep on the ground of an open basketball court inside the Quezon City jail at night in Manila in this picture taken on July 19, 2016. There are 3,800 inmates at the jail, which was built six decades ago to house 800. Noel Celis, AFP

MANILA - Mario Dimaculangan shares a toilet with 130 other inmates in one of the Philippines' most overcrowded jails, and conditions are getting worse as police wage an unprecedented war on crime.

Security forces have killed hundreds of people and detained thousands more in just one month as they have followed the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has said the top priority at the start of his six-year term is to eliminate drugs in society.

Those detained appear doomed for lengthy stints in an underfunded and overwhelmed penal system, like in the Quezon City Jail where Dimaculangan has wallowed for 14 years while his trial over murder and robbery charges have dragged on.

"Many go crazy. They cannot think straight. It's so crowded. Just the slightest of movements and you bump into something or someone," Dimaculangan told AFP in one of the jail's packed hallways that reeked of sweat.

There are 3,800 inmates at the jail, which was built six decades ago to house 800, and they engage in a relentless contest for space.

Men take turns to sleep on the cracked cement floor of an open-air basketball court, the steps of staircases, underneath beds and hammocks made out of old blankets. Even then, bodies are packed like sardines in a can, with inmates unable to fully stretch out.

When it rains, the conditions are even worse as inmates cannot sleep on the basketball court, which is surrounded by the cells in decaying concrete buildings up to four storeys high.

The cash-strapped national government has a daily budget of just 50 pesos ($1.10) for food and five pesos (11 cents) for medicine per inmate, although with the bulk buying of supplies, Quezon City Jail detainees have a sustainable diet of soup, vegetables and meat.

Buckets of water are used to flush the scarce toilets, with the stench compounded by the rotting garbage in a nearby canal.


Inmates sleep on the ground of an open basketball court inside the Quezon City jail in this picture taken on July 21, 2016. Noel Celis, AFP

UNTHINKABLE CONDITIONS

The jail's management does what it can to make life bearable, such as running dance competitions and other rehabilitation activities.

Inmates also say there have been improvements in recent years, particularly with the food and more rehabilitation programs.

But Raymund Narag, a criminal justice scholar at the Southern Illinois University in the United States, said such conditions were unthinkable in Western nations.

"If this happened in America, there would be a riot every day. Courts would declare these jails unfit for human habitation," Narag told AFP.

The Philippine penal system is the third most congested in the world, according to the University of London's Institute for Criminal Policy Research.

Jails nationwide have nearly five times more inmates than they were built for, according to government data.

And the situation is set to get much worse, very quickly.

Under Duterte's crime war, police have reported arresting more than 4,300 people for drug-related crimes since he took office on June 30.

Duterte has repeatedly urged his law enforcers to do more, calling on them to triple their efforts to eradicate the drug menace that he says is threatening to turn the Philippines into a narco-state.

The population of Quezon City Jail, which houses inmates in a northern district of the Philippine capital who are on trial but not yet convicted, has grown by 300 since Duterte won May elections.


AGUIRRRE

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told AFP government was preparing locations for new prisons while courts have been ordered to prioritize the expected deluge of drug cases.

But Duterte has said little about far-reaching reforms needed to fix the systemic problem of overcrowding.

"If there are no new jails, no budget increases, no additional courts and prosecutors, the system will explode. That will be a humanitarian crisis," said Narag, the scholar who speaks from harrowing personal experience.


Inmates sleep on the steps of a ladder inside the Quezon City jail at night in Manila in this picture taken on July 21, 2016. Noel Celis, AFP

JUSTICE DELAYED

Narag, 41, was locked up in Quezon City Jail in 1995 as a 20-year-old after being accused of killing a student from a rival college fraternity.

It took seven years for a court to acquit him, which is about the average length of a trial in the Philippines and one of the main drivers of the overcrowding problem.

Dimaculangan is the longest-serving inmate in Quezon City Jail, after being charged with killing a politician's relative in 2001. Dimaculangan is a pseudonym, because his real name cannot be used for legal reasons.

He insists he has a "clear conscience" but cannot get a chance to prove his innocence in court, averaging just one trial hearing a year in a chaotic judicial system notorious for its lack of judges, publicly funded lawyers and court rooms.
Dimaculangan said his spirits used to rise when he was informed of a date for a court hearing, but he had been disappointed too many times with cancellations or postponements.


Inmates rest in their sleeping quarters inside the Quezon City jail at night in Manila in this picture taken on July 18, 2016. Noel Celis, AFP

"Now when they say I have a hearing, I don't care anymore," he said.

With no hopes of freedom, Dimaculangan said he had turned to his Catholic faith and values.
"My purpose is to help my fellow detainees," he said.

"God did not send me here because I am a thief. There are many thieves out there but how come they are not in jail?"
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse


TRIBUNE

Cha-cha set as top agenda in Congress
Written by Angie M. Rosales and Charlie V. Manalo Saturday, 30 July 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print 1 comment


DRILON

ADVISORY COUNCIL FOR CON-ASS SOUGHT

Congress will have as its top agenda amending the 1987 Constitution, or Charter change (cha-cha), primarily in determining the mode to do it which will be either through a constitutional convention (con-con) or a constituent assembly (con-ass), leaders of both legislative chambers said yesterday.

“The proposed review of the 29-year-old Constitution will be the ‘top priority.’ We will take up all the proposed measures and resolutions calling for the review of the Constitution as soon as the organization of the Senate is finalized and completed,” the chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said yesterday.

Drilon said his committee “will take into consideration the preference of the President in drafting its recommendations.”

A senior member of the House of Representatives proposed the creation of an advisory council composed of constitutional experts and leaders of various sectors tasked with setting up the parameters in amending the 1987 Constitution before Congress can convene itself into a con-ass that would be tasked to revise the Charter.

This developed as Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez disclosed that not all 22 proposed states to be created under a federal system may impose the death penalty which is part of the legislative agenda proposed by the Duterte administration.

The Duterte government and leaders of Congress are leaning on con-ass over a constitutional convention (con-con) as the mode of introducing urgent amendments to the 1987 Charter.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez said parameters should be set for charter change (cha-cha) prior to the convening of the con-ass.

“My proposal calls for the creation of a council of leaders or experts that will recommend the provisions of the 1987 Constitution that necessitates amendments. Charter change should not be open-ended, there are many provisions which have no problems and need no fixing,” he said.

Benitez, former chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development said the council can be appointed by the president or by Congress.

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It will be assigned to guide the con-ass as to what provisions of the 1987 Constitution should be amended and recommend proposed amendments or new provisions.

“This scheme will allow the constituent assembly to complete its assigned task within the time period allotted by Congress. At the same time, only vital and urgent amendments will be considered,” he explained.

Alvarez said the Con-ass will be convened as soon as the Charter change bill has been approved by the end of the year.

Alvarez said ratification of the proposed amendments to the Constitution will be presented in a plebiscite that will be simultaneously held with the mid-term elections in 2019.

The target schedule for the regular operation of the new federal government will be in 2022.

He also hinted that some states to be created will be clothed with legislative powers that will either impose or prohibit the death penalty.

In the meantime, Congress will have to act on the proposed restoration of the death sentence.

Earlier, Alvarez disclosed that the ruling PDP-Laban and its allies has decided to abandon proposals to convene the con-con for cha-cha, pointing out that con-ass is both an economical and faster method.

Reacting to the House leader’s disclosure, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez vowed to support con-ass on the condition that no incumbent official will benefit from the new constitutional provisions.

Suarez agreed that the most economical way to amend the 1987 Constitution is through con-ass.

However, he warned that Filipinos remain wary about lending trust to congressmen and senators to amend the Charter, saying that mistrust on a con-ass has been made known in past attempts to pursue this mode of cha-cha.

Suarez said the Duterte administration can capitalize on its popularity and enormous public trust to push for con-ass.

Alvarez disclosed that government will spend at least P6 to P7 billion for the holding of a con-con which will include expenses for the election and operation of the convention and its delegates.

Pro con-con solon protests

This early, however, deliberations in the Senate on the mode of amending the Constitution could turn out to be contentious as there are those already protesting the shift from con-con to con-ass.

Neophyte Sen. Risa Hontiveros called on Duterte and his allies in the House of Representatives to reconsider their decision, abandoning earlier plans and instead take the con-ass route to institute a federal form of government by year 2022.

Such move, she said, goes against the interest of democracy especially as processes and people participation are being set aside because of fiscal cost.

“The process of revising the constitution must be participatory and democratic. There should be no shortcuts in democracy. The political and economic ambitions of a few cannot lord over the people’s interests,” she said.

“The attempt for a ‘cheaper and faster’ mode to amend the constitution also raises concerns that the shift to federalism is being done haphazardly. I urge the government to take the necessary time in fulfilling the important and difficult requirements in order for the shift to federalism to become successful. This includes breaking up political dynasties, dismantling private armies, and building financial sustainability, among others,” she added.

The matter of weighing in the cost of Charter change and the need to fast track the procedure in order to put it in place the soonest time, is a dangerous thought, the senator said.

“This is the seed of undemocratic politics. It assumes that democracy is a luxury rather than a right that developing countries like ours cannot fully enjoy. It assumes that democracy has a price tag and that it can only be enjoyed by the people, subject to the availability of funds,” Hontiveros said.

“I am confident that the government has enough resources to fund the necessary costs of building the democratic infrastructure and processes for people to directly participate in progressively amending our constitution,” she added.

Drilon said he considers the revision of the Constitution a “a delicate task” that needs the active involvement of all stakeholders.

“We will hear from all stakeholders and experts to discuss the best mode of amending our Constitution. The committee will do its best to come up with the most appropriate and beneficial strategy. But what is more important is that the mode that we will apply will be ‘acceptable’ to all the Filipinos, to whom the amendments will be submitted for ratification,” he said.

Hontiveros said it cannot be helped but be extremely worried especially as some vested quarters are pushing for con-ass which she said is less prone to public scrutiny and more susceptible to control of big businesses and traditional politicians.

“I am wary that this will renew desires to relax constitutional limits on foreign ownership of land and businesses. It can be recalled that during the campaign, President Duterte mentioned that he is open to lifting the Charter’s restriction on foreign ownership of Philippine corporations. This is completely opposite to the principles of federalism. Federalism’s goal is to equitably distribute development and resources to the regions. The government cannot effectively redistribute wealth by giving premium to foreign interests,” she added.

Sen. Richard Gordon does not see any problem with the matter of resorting to con-ass as a mode of amending the Charter saying it will be more expedient since it will allow senators and congressmen to take on the task.

Gordon himself prefers con-ass over con-con saying that it is least expensive and most expeditious mode compared to con-con and people’s initiative.

“There is no doubt that there is a need to amend the Constitution to make it adapt to the competition in the global economy, to make it flexible. But it must be understood by the masses. The Constitution provides three processes to do so but I think the best means is Constituent Assembly since there is no need to spend because there will be no campaign and may staff na,” the senator said.

“Both Houses should vote separately to approve any amendment to the Constitution and it must go to a plebiscite,” he added.

Gordon noted that instead of presenting all the amendments to the Constitution in one plebiscite, it should be done per provision so the public would have a better understanding of the amendments to be injected in the Charter before they vote on it in a plebiscite.

“Like in America, they do the revisions per amendment. Even in the United Kingdom (UK), when they amend their uncodified Constitution they don’t do it in one whole go. Explain the baseline of what we want to change in the Constitution for the people to understand. In the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitution, one voluminous Constitution were presented to the people,” he said.

In the Senate, the resolution filed for the two Houses to amend the Constitution called for con-con.

Drilon himself introduced Resolution 1 which disqualifies members of Congress at the time of the adoption of the resolution, to become candidate for election as delegate to the Convention. Such members are called to be elected by Jan. next year.

Drilon’s resolution also prohibits candidates in the May 2016 elections to qualify as candidate for election as delegate in con-con.

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Solon warns: No parameters, Chacha free for all Written by Gerry Baldo Monday, 01 August 2016 00:00


ANDAYA

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. yesterday warned that amending the Constitution could end up as a free-for-all with which all parts of the Constitution can be tinkered.

“It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, for as long as it catches the mice. The question is, which mice?” Andaya asked.

Andaya pointed out that unless those who are going to amend the Charter, be it by delegates to the constitutional convention (con-con) or by members of Congress in a Constituent Assembly (con-ass), are guided by clear parameters, the move could end up in an overhaul of the whole Constitution.

He argued that “pre-set agenda” should be established to make sure it will “not veer off topic.”

Andaya said the call to amend the Constitution does not come from federalism proponents alone.

“There’s a constituency lobbying for the lifting of economic restrictions. There are those who want to water down its progressive provisions like agrarian reform and the no foreign bases clause.

“There are also those who are keeping silent at this time, who want to lift term limits of elected officials, “ Andaya said.

“All of them are waiting to jump into the ‘cha-cha’ bandwagon. The others are readying their riders,” the six-term lawmaker said.

“When we revise the Constitution, will it be a repair job or a total overhaul? There are some who say that it would only be a surgical strike. We just excise the bad ones.’ But I am sure there are those who would say that it is going to be amended and that we should amend it once and for all,” he said.

Andaya admitted that the proposals coming from “vocal groups” for Charter change have merits . “The lifting of economic provisions school would say we are important. The Federalistas would counter that theirs is more urgent. The question is, ‘could these be consolidated? These are the things which must be resolved before the gavel is banged,“ he said.

“This is important,” Andaya stressed , “because nobody can dictate on what the convention or the constituent assembly can do. “Experts say that a con-con has plenary powers so it can dictate its own agenda. ”

To prevent an “uncontrolled cha-cha,” Andaya called for the drafting of a “nonpartisan charter change study” to be done by experts appointed by President Duterte.

“You need this study group composed of eminent persons to prepare the road map. And what they will come up with will be the working paper for charter change. You cannot immediately throw this working paper to politicians. There has to be parameters,” he said .

Andaya recalled that the scheme of commissioning experts to do a study on possible revisions to the basic law was done by Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo. “ So there’s a precedent.”

Andaya said Duterte can appoint a “Group of 10, maximum of 20” from the “academe, grassroots, business, judiciary ” and give them a “120-day deadline” to submit their recommendations “on what provisions of the Constitution should be “improved or cured of their defects.”

“President Digong can call it a presidential commission or a citizen’s commission , but what is important is that these will come from the people,” he stressed.

Andaya said while Congress is working on the 2017 national budget from August to December, this high-powered study group can do its work.



“Congress really can’t work on the constitutional amendments since Congress will be busy with the budget. So, while Congress deliberates on the budget the experts can prepare their recommendations,” Andaya said.

If the majority shifts its preference to a convention, then just the same the recommendations are ready, Andaya said.

Fariñas twits Lagman on cha-cha

There’s no “inordinate fast-tracking” of Charter change with the Duterte administration’s pronouncement that it prefers to do it via a con-ass instead of a con-con as originally planned.

This was the reaction of House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to the statement of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that the “supermajority” in Congress want to rush the shift to a federal system of government to replace the current unitary-presidential one.

“There’s no ‘inordinate fast-tracking’. It’s simply practical and plain common sense. A constitutional assembly would spend no more than P2 billion, while a con-con, from P6 to P7 billion, and that figure is only for the election of delegates,” the lawmaker explained.

“The salaries of the delegates, the complete personnel of the Convention, and the rental for the venue (seat) of the convention would cost at least 10 times more than the election costs.

“Congress can earmark the estimated billions to be spent for a two-year con-con to other productive uses, such as education and health, or perhaps even mitigation of traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” Fariñas pointed out.

DIOKNO

For his part, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said a constitutional convention will take longer to organize. It will cost P6 to 7 billion to hold a separate election but if it can be synchronized with the barangay election, it will cost much less.

“How many delegates will we elect? If it’s by district, then that’s going to be very expensive. You have to pay the salaries of the delegates and their staff, purchase vehicles. You need to organize a separate secretariat, rent office space, buy office supplies and equipment. And you cannot predict a definite timetable as to when it can complete its work,” Diokno said.

The Budget Secretary said this would be a major overhaul of the Constitution after 30 years. “My reading is that President Duterte wants Charter change done as soon as possible. He has even said that if Charter change is completed and federalism is already in place in three to four years, then he is willing to step down,” he added.

ANDANAR

Meanwhile, Communications Chief Andanar said that as far as the Palace is concerned, they respect the opinion of some lawmakers that criticize President Duterte’s federalism bid by way of Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) as a railroading effort.

HOUSE SPEAKER

Alvarez that the savings from using con-ass as a mode of constitutional change in lieu of con-con can also be channeled to President Duterte’s wish to immediately effect salary increases in the ranks of policemen, the military and members of other law enforcement agencies.

“As echoed by Speaker Alvarez, the President desires an immediate increase in the salaries of uniformed personnel. In fact, the President just a couple of days ago said that soldiers will immediately see an increase in their pay this month,” added Fariñas.

“So while Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno may say that the DBM can fund con-con, the point is, why spend for con-con when this is done via con-ass the same amendments to the Constitution may be achieved with savings of up to several billions?” said Fariñas.

“Apart from the budgetary savings which may be channeled to other uses, the con-ass can be finished in a year’s time, if the members of both houses of Congress will do their work and study what existing provisions need to be amended or revised, or new ones included in a new Charter,” Fariñas said.

The lawmaker said the issue of who sits as Minority Leader has nothing to do with President Duterte’s decision to opt for a constitutional assembly.

“The Charter change initiative seeks to bring about comprehensive reforms in Philippine society. Congressman Lagman speaks out of turn when he insinuates that the Duterte administration has an ulterior motive in seeking Charter change and shifting to federalism. President Duterte has even said he would resign once the federal system has been set up,” Fariñas said. With Tribune wires


PHILSTAR

Rody promises pro-Pinoy Charter (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 31, 2016 - 12:00am 


“I am not stupid to allow the new Constitution to be anti-Filipino. Expect that. That is the job of the President. If worse comes to worst, they won’t know what will come to them if they disrespect the Filipinos,” Duterte said in his address to troops in Davao del Norte. Presidential Photographers Division/Released

MANILA, Philippines – A “pro-Filipino” Constitution will take the place of the current one, President Duterte assured the nation on Friday as he warned lawmakers against using the constituent assembly (con-ass) approach to Charter change to protect their vested interests and keep themselves in power.

“I am not stupid to allow the new Constitution to be anti-Filipino. Expect that. That is the job of the President. If worse comes to worst, they won’t know what will come to them if they disrespect the Filipinos,” Duterte said in his address to troops in Davao del Norte.

Rather than stir distrust for lawmakers, Duterte advised the people to put their trust and confidence in them.

Duterte added he would closely monitor the crafting of a new Constitution to make sure it would be pro-Filipino. A new Charter is intended to pave the way for a federal form of government, which Dutere strongly advocates.

He admitted changing his mind and dropping his earlier preference for a constitutional convention, citing the staggering cost of taking the con-con path – estimated at P200 billion to P300 billion.

“I’d like to address myself to it. I don’t want con-con. Why? It’s expensive. It will run into billions,” he said.

“The Philippines will be spending like about P200-P300 billion. It’s a waste of money,” he added.

“So I said, let Congress do it. You, as Filipinos, can you easily turn your back on your country that easily? If so then let’s just sell the Philippines,” he said in Filipino, addressing the lawmakers.

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He stressed lawmakers deserve the trust of the people as they are democratically elected. “That is the essence of democracy. We elect leaders,” he maintained.

“It means to say there should always be trust; because if you look at the con-ass with distrust, it’s like you’re saying they’re thieves. You do not have monopoly of anything in this planet,” he pointed out.

As Congress prepares to take up proposals to amend the Constitution, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said lawmakers would have to decide first whether the Senate and the House of Representatives would vote as one or separately under con-ass.

“Since the Constitution is silent as to the voting, whether jointly or separately, then both interpretations are possible,” Pimentel said.

“I respect the views of every senator on the issue of Charter change and federalism. I have my own views on this, but the last thing I want to do is impose my own views on others,” he maintained.

“My job as Senate president is to allow every view to be heard, so that we and the people themselves can weigh all the arguments and make an informed choice when the time comes for them to vote for the ratification of a new Constitution,” he added.

Pimentel pointed out that the PDP-Laban, of which he is president, has long advocated federalism.

He said there is a need to address the imbalance in the distribution of resources and the uneven development of various regions under the present system.

“We shall be open to all proposals and recommendations. This is the essence of democracy,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that while the Constitution is indeed silent on the issue, he does not see any senator agreeing to a joint voting by the two chambers.

“I don’t think any one member of the Senate will agree to render his vote irrelevant. We may have to review Section 1, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution, including the deliberations of the Con-con delegates, to clarify the intent of that provision,” Lacson said.

“Further, if a simple enactment of laws requires separate voting of both houses of Congress, a more important duty of proposing amendments to the Charter should logically involve the two chambers deliberating and voting separately,” he added.

SOTTO

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the issue of voting alone is likely to spark heated debates among the legislators. “I’m sure we will vote separately,” he stressed.

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said voting should be done separately, as doing otherwise would surely drown out the voice of the 24-man Senate. The House has close to 300 members.

Think again With the push for Charter change and federalism gaining ground in Congress, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said there is need for further study the matter as such “radical” change would have far-reaching impact on the country.

For one, he said most federal countries have huge territories and may indeed be best governed under a federal system of government.

“The country must not venture on a radical constitutional change without a solid prior study delving on the pros and cons of federalism,” he said in his counter SONA last week.

“Territorially huge countries are constrained to federalize because of their sheer size. The small size of the Philippines may not justify federalism,” he pointed out, noting that seven of 10 large federated nations had only been forced to decentralize power.

Big federal states are the US, Australia, Canada, Russia, India, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Venezuela.

“We must not be galvanized into frenzied approbation of the proposed federal system – which is principally based on motherhood statements of superior efficacy and unvalidated benefits,” he asserted.

He described arguments for federalism as “nebulous” and the projected benefits from such system “grossly tentative.”

A shift to federalism, he added, could “heighten ethnic and regional rivalries destructive of national unity.”

“Change to federalism is costly.

It would entail billions of pesos to set up state governments and ensure the delivery of state services. Moreover, the states would have to fund regulatory expenditures like salaries of personnel, development of infrastructure and even the holding of regular elections,” he warned,

Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat Jr., for his part, said taking the con-ass path to Cha-cha “will mean that debate will be limited to the elected members of the 17th Congress.”


BAGUILAT

He said it is through constitutional convention that “consultations will be more inclusive and valid views from various sectors such as the academe, civil society and religion groups will be considered.”

A con-con approach, he said, would “make sure that any change to the Constitution, from which all laws emanate and should conform to, will be deliberate, well thought out and passed with the intention of helping the majority, and not just serve the interests of a powerful few.”

Leaving the task of amending the Constitution to Congress alone, he said, would mean letting lawmakers promote or preserve their vested interests.

“If we want to avoid shenanigans arising from the formation of the ruling party and the selection of the minority, we will need true political reform and genuine political reform cannot be achieved by a constitutional assembly,” he said.

“Putting in place a clear anti-political dynasty provision and reforming the party-list system, among others, are not viable in the hands of Congress alone,” he added.

He also expressed fear the debate on the shift to federalism would take valuable time otherwise spent on discussing priority bills of President Duterte, such as the re-imposition of the death penalty, the lowering of the age of criminality, tax reform and the passage of Freedom of Information Act.

“Congress would be overburdened by the discussion on constitutional change. Death penalty, FOI, the mining law, among others, will all require long debates. Having a constituent assembly will sideline these discussions,” he said.

He said even discussions on the Bangsamoro Basic Law alone had taken much time and effort.

“BBL covering one region, took forever to discuss, what more cha-cha and the shift to federalism that will cover the entire country?” he said.

“If P7 billion will indeed be required to have a constitutional convention, then it is a price I think we should pay. It is not too heavy a price for something as important as constitutional amendment,” the lawmaker said.

“Unless the plan all along is to railroad the bills with a supermajority and a coopted minority. But that would be unfair to the Filipinos.” – Christina Mendez, Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla, Artemio Dumlao


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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