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HEADLINES NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...
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HUNT IS ON FOR OWNERS OF BIGGEST SHABU LAB DISGUISED AS PIGGERIES, FARMS IN PAMPANGA
[RELATED: PH to nations at UN: Don’t interfere: Yasay blunts criticism on drug war, killings]


SEPTEMBER 25 -A PDEA officer inspects the hydrogenerator complex of a shabu laboratory at the foothills of Mt. Arayat in Barangay Lacquios, Arayat, Pampanga yesterday. The facility, which can produce 100 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu daily, is the biggest so far shut down by police. It was discovered during a routine inspection of all industrial facilities, specifically piggeries and farms, following the discovery of a shabu lab in Magalang, Pampanga two weeks ago. MICHAEL VARCAS
CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Philippines – Police are hunting two Chinese nationals tagged as operators of the so-called mega-shabu laboratory discovered in Barangay Bano, Arayat, Pampanga, Thursday during a raid. Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police acting director, identified the two Chinese nationals as Anthony Reyes Cua and Jacky Lee Shi. The shabu lab was disguised as a piggery-corn crasher facility. Aquino said a Toyota Corolla Altis found abandoned at the shabu lab complex is registered in the name of Cua. Found inside a Honda Civic was Shi’s driver’s license. The two vehicles are now in the custody of the Arayat municipal government. Based on documents found at the scene, the two Chinese lived in Binangonan, Rizal and in Pasig City, Aquino said. Earlier arrested was Hong Wenzheng, caretaker of the mega-shabu laboratory. He is now in the custody of the Pampanga police intelligence branch. READ MORE...RELATED, PH to nations: Don’t interfere: Yasay blunts criticism on drug war, killings ...

ALSO: PNP lists 20,584 kids as drug users, pushers
[RELATED: Duterte allies press bill on rehab centers]


SEPTEMBER 25 -TANAY, RIZAL: The fresh wind blowing through the spacious rundown facility can make one feel relaxed, energized, or even nostalgic. But many of those who had taken temporary residence here had been constantly plotting to escape—until recently. “They tell me, ‘we no longer want to get out of here because of what we hear from TV,’” recounts resident psychologist Lucia Larracas. In fact, one former resident was killed in his community just a few weeks after his release from here. A current resident, meanwhile, has told Larracas that supposed vigilantes recently killed three of his friends back home. According to the boy, his friends’ lifeless bodies were found separately, but in the same manner: each hidden under a car. This is Tanay Boystown—officially known as the National Training School for Boys (NTSB)—which houses minors in conflict with the law. Most of the residents here have a history of illicit drug use, but youthful restlessness could also have been another factor in the urge of many to break free from the facility. These days, however, that urge has been overtaken by the fear of getting caught in the government’s anti-drug campaign and ending up dead. The Boystown’s residents are apparently not the only minors thinking this way. Among the hundreds of thousands of people who have surrendered to authorities in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, tens of thousands are minors, or those under the age of 18 years. READ MORE... RELATED, Duterte allies press bill on rehab centers...

ALSO: Military sees no destab threats to oust Duterte


SEPTEMBER 26 -The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not monitored any group out to destabilize the Duterte administration as it dismissed the possible involvement of active soldiers, or even those retired, in any attempt to oust the President. Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP-public affairs office chief, stressed that the 125,000-strong military has learned its lessons during previous adventurism. “So far, we are not seeing any interest group that could destabilize…we have not monitored any, even in the group of retirees,” Arevalo said. “The Armed Forces of today has grown to become more professional. We have learned from our past experiences and we don’t want a repeat of what happened in the past,” he added. The mutinous Magdalo group, composed of some 300 junior officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP, launched the short-lived Oakwood mutiny in 2003 — calling for the ouster of then President Arroyo. In 2006, senior officers of the Scout Rangers, led by then Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, and Marines, led by Col. Ariel Querubin, also plotted to withdraw support from Arroyo. None of the military uprisings against Arroyo succeeded and those found to be key players like Lim and Querubin were incarcerated. No less than Malacañang floated a supposed destabilization plot being hatched by Filipino-Americans based in the United States against Duterte. Duterte himself raised the possibility of a US-backed coup d’etat against him.
However, Duterte has been visiting military and police camps all over the country — promising salary increases and modern equipment to the troops. READ MORE...

ALSO: Remember P-Noy? He’s speaking up
[In it, he narrated how his father and his fellow opposition leader, Sen. Jose “Pepe” Diokno, suffered in the hands of the dictator, and how the Filipino people collectively fought to regain their freedom. “It has happened before and it could happen again if we allow it. What is important is we should not tell ourselves that for sure, this would never happen again,” Aquino said.]
[RELATED: Noy keeps vow of silence on current affairs]


SEPTEMBER 25 -P-NOY FANS: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as these alumnae of St. Theresa’s College Quezon City wait their turn for selfies with former President Benigno Aquino III at a martial law forum. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
During his first public appearance since he stepped down from office on June 30, former President Benigno Aquino III found himself besieged by questions about martial law, current politics and, not surprisingly, his love life. Among the questions he ducked—thanks to his self-imposed yearlong moratorium on speaking out about the present administration—was one that asked him to comment on today’s political environment. “This is an observation and you don’t even have to comment … but nowadays is another case of creeping martial law,” one woman said. The former President simply looked back at her and tried not to smile, drawing laughter and cheers from the audience. At the forum on Friday night at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, Aquino met with several nuns from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as the ICM nuns, who played a vital role in the antimartial law movement. He talked with Sr. Iluminada Torres, also known as Sr. Luming, and Sr. Consuelo Varela, also known as Sr. Consuy, who both smuggled out of prison the letters of his late father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who was among the opposition leaders jailed by strongman Ferdinand Marcos during martial law. READ MORE...RELATED Noy keeps vow of silence on current affairs ...

ALSO: PH peace panel ready for 2nd round of talks with NDF
[ALSO ON CHINA-PHL: Warming of ties slows Beijing’s Panatag Shoal plan]


SEPTEMBER 25 -WINNING MOMENT Members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (from left) Fidel Agcaoili, Coni Ledesma, Jose Maria Sison, Luis Jalandoni, Juliet de Lima and Asterio Palima raise their fists and hold an NDFP flag to mark the end of the first round of peace talks with the government panel in Oslo, Norway. EDRE OLALIA/CONTRIBUTOR
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Philippine government is all set for the next round of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) from October 6 to 10 in Oslo, Norway, a government peace adviser said on Sunday. Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, an adviser of the Philippine peace panel and national president of the League of City of the Philippines, said all reciprocal working groups were “functioning well.” “I think it’s all systems go for the next round. We’re ready for peace,” Pamintuan said in a statement. The Duterte administration revived the negotiations, stalled during the Arroyo administration, by approving the temporary release of several leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who serve as advisers of the NDF peace panel. READ: Duterte: All NDFP consultants will be in Oslo for peace talks The first round of talks was held last August 22 to 28, also in Oslo. READ: Peace talks between PH gov’t, Reds resume The CPP, NDF and the New People’s Army have waged one of the longest insurgencies in Asia as they seek genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and an independent foreign policy. RAM/rga THE FULL REPORT ALSO,
CHINA-PHL: Warming of ties slows Beijing’s Panatag Shoal plan...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Hunt on for owners of biggest shabu lab


A PDEA officer inspects the hydrogenerator complex of a shabu laboratory at the foothills of Mt. Arayat in Barangay Lacquios, Arayat, Pampanga yesterday. The facility, which can produce 100 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu daily, is the biggest so far shut down by police. It was discovered during a routine inspection of all industrial facilities, specifically piggeries and farms, following the discovery of a shabu lab in Magalang, Pampanga two weeks ago. MICHAEL VARCAS

CAMP OLIVAS, PAMPANGA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  By Rick Sapnu September 25, 2016 - Police are hunting two Chinese nationals tagged as operators of the so-called mega-shabu laboratory discovered in Barangay Bano, Arayat, Pampanga, Thursday during a raid.

Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police acting director, identified the two Chinese nationals as Anthony Reyes Cua and Jacky Lee Shi.

The shabu lab was disguised as a piggery-corn crasher facility.

Aquino said a Toyota Corolla Altis found abandoned at the shabu lab complex is registered in the name of Cua. Found inside a Honda Civic was Shi’s driver’s license. The two vehicles are now in the custody of the Arayat municipal government.

Based on documents found at the scene, the two Chinese lived in Binangonan, Rizal and in Pasig City, Aquino said.

Earlier arrested was Hong Wenzheng, caretaker of the mega-shabu laboratory. He is now in the custody of the Pampanga police intelligence branch.

READ MORE...

The local government, in coordination with the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, carried out the raid on the shabu lab.

Personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection and the local government accidentally discovered the shabu during fire safety and sanitary inspections at the piggery located at the foot of Mt. Arayat.

Meanwhile, in Bacolod City, a high-profile drug suspect has been cleared by a regional trial court judge of drug charges.

RTC Branch 47 Judge Therese Blanche Bolunia dismissed the case against Gerald Cuadra, citing the nullity of the search warrant used by the police in raiding his house last May.

Cuadra was arrested in his residence in Brgy. 1 Poblacion, Bacolod City, for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

With the “nullity” of the search warrant used by the police for justifying the raid, the evidence recovered from Cuadra’s house was deemed inadmissible in court, Bolunia said.

Without such evidence the court sees no reason to continue trying the case, she also said.

Cuadra was among the four high-profile drug personalities in Negros Occidental arrested by police in line with the Oplan Double Barrel campaign of the PNP.

He was released from Bacolod District Jail last Wednesday.

The raid on Cuadra’s house yielded an estimated P1.2 million worth of suspected shabu, assorted live ammunition and firearms of various caliber, among others.

Despite his release from jail. Chief Insp. Dianne Grace Catedral, PRO 18 spokesperson, said that they would continue to monitor Cuadra’s activities.

Cuadra is a son of Jose Kim “Boy” Cuadra who is serving time at the New Bilibid Prison for drug offense. – Gilbert Bayoran

----------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

PH to nations: Don’t interfere: Yasay blunts criticism on drug war, killings posted September 26, 2016 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta and AFP


Address. Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. addresses the 71st session of the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24. AFP

UNITED NATIONS—Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Saturday pushed back against criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, telling the United Nations not to interfere.

“We urge everyone to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals, without undue interference,” Yasay told the UN General Assembly.

There has been growing international alarm over the rising death toll from Duterte’s crackdown on crime, with human rights groups saying that security forces are engaging in extrajudicial killings.

Duterte won elections in a landslide in May after vowing to eradicate the illegal drug trade in six months, and promising that 100,000 criminals would be killed in the process.

Since he took office on June 30 about 3,000 people have been killed, about a third of them suspects shot dead by police and the rest murdered by unidentified attackers, according to police statistics.

“We have not and we will never empower our law enforcement agents to shoot-to-kill individuals suspected of drug crimes,” Yasay told the General Assembly.

“Extrajudicial killings have no place in our society, and in our criminal justice system.”

The top diplomat told the General Assembly that Duterte enjoyed a 92-percent approval rating at home for his stance and suggested that his campaign was misunderstood.

“Our actions, however, have grabbed both the national headlines and international attention for all the wrong reasons,” he said.

He argued that corruption and drugs had “torn apart many of our communities, destroyed our families and snuffed out the hopes and dreams of our people—young and old—for a bright future.”

Invoking the UN’s new sustainable development goals adopted last year, Yasay said his country would not be able to meet those goals without tackling corruption and drugs.

Relations between Duterte and the United Nations have been tense after the newly-elected leader launched several tirades against the world body for its criticism of his tactics, even threatening to pull out—a threat he later withdrew.

Earlier this month, Duterte declined a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of a meeting in Laos of South East Asian leaders, and later referred to him as a fool.

The Palace on Sunday reiterated Yasay’s call for non-interference, and said this reflected the stance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“It’s the Asean way, part of the Asean values that whatever happens in other countries, we will not get involved. Whatever happens to us, they will also not get involved. We have our own problems to solve and they also have their own problems to solve,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on state-run radio dzRB.

On the other hand, Andanar said, President Duterte had invited the European Union and the United Nations last week investigate the so-called extrajudicial killings and alleged human rights violations.

“This means that the President is open to international organizations to check on the records on extrajudicial killing,” Andanar said.

Asked if the government impose certain restrictions on how the investigation would be conducted and if these were a form of censorship as Senator Leila de Lima suggested, Andanar said he had not seen any restrictions.

“The President is willing to write a letter to invite them,” he said.

“We are not hiding anything and we are not pretending,” he said, referring to the President’s tendency to use expletives.

“When the President became a candidate, he always mentioned ‘PI’ in his sorties. But still, he won... This means our countrymen sees our President in a deeper way,” he said.

Earlier, De Lima said she found it questionable that the administration would decide which places could be visited and which persons were to be interviewed by UN special rapporteurs during a planned visit to the Philippines.

“What kind of investigation can we expect if the government is going to decide how the investigation is going to be conducted by UN rapporteur’s team?” she asked.

“What is the sense of inviting independent probers if they are not going to be allowed freedom of movement and action, and are going to be dictated upon on the extent of their visits and sources of information?” she added.


MANILA TIMES

PNP lists 20,584 kids as drug users, pushers BY VINO LUCERO ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 TOP STORIES

TANAY, RIZAL: The fresh wind blowing through the spacious rundown facility can make one feel relaxed, energized, or even nostalgic. But many of those who had taken temporary residence here had been constantly plotting to escape—until recently.

“They tell me, ‘we no longer want to get out of here because of what we hear from TV,’” recounts resident psychologist Lucia Larracas. In fact, one former resident was killed in his community just a few weeks after his release from here. A current resident, meanwhile, has told Larracas that supposed vigilantes recently killed three of his friends back home. According to the boy, his friends’ lifeless bodies were found separately, but in the same manner: each hidden under a car.

This is Tanay Boystown—officially known as the National Training School for Boys (NTSB)—which houses minors in conflict with the law. Most of the residents here have a history of illicit drug use, but youthful restlessness could also have been another factor in the urge of many to break free from the facility. These days, however, that urge has been overtaken by the fear of getting caught in the government’s anti-drug campaign and ending up dead.

The Boystown’s residents are apparently not the only minors thinking this way. Among the hundreds of thousands of people who have surrendered to authorities in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, tens of thousands are minors, or those under the age of 18 years.

READ MORE...

Drug pushers, too?

From July 1 to August 28, or roughly the first two months of President Duterte’s term in office, 20,584 minors have surrendered to local police offices, according to the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC). Surprisingly, nearly 30 percent of the minors who gave themselves up did not even have files with the police.

Some 65 percent or more than 13,000 had previous records with the police as “first-time offenders” while about eight percent or 1,595 were repeat offenders.

More than 98 percent of these minors admitted to being drug users, while only 273 or 1.33 percent surrendered as drug pushers or sellers, and 66 (0.32 percent) as drug couriers or runners.

Of this total, 3,971 were children from Central Visayas. Northern Mindanao, meanwhile, has the second highest number of children drug surrenderees at 3,783. Zamboanga region came in far third with 2,196.

The PNP tally of minor surrenderers, by the other administrative regions of the country, from July 1 to August 28, 2016 are: Davao Region, 1,988 minors; Caraga, 1,821; Soccsksargen, 953; Negros Island, 729; Bicol Region, 719; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 696; Eastern Visayas, 642; Calabarzon, 534; Cagayan Valley, 511; Central Luzon, 479; Western Visayas, 408; Ilocos Region, 387; Metro Manila, 276; and Cordillera Administrative Region, 228.

A quantum leap

This two-month tally of minor surrenderers is a quantum leap from comparative figures gathered by the PNP from 2010 until June 2016 and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)’s record of rescued minors from anti-drug operations from 2011 to June 2016.

According to the PNP, the minors involved in illegal drugs during the 78-month period covering 2010 until June 2016 included 5,110 illegal drug users and 371 “traders/sellers.”

Meanwhile, PDEA recorded 889 rescued minors from anti-drug operations across the country during the 66 months running from 2011 to June 2016. Of this number, 383 were noted as drug possessors; 343 as drug pushers; and 92 as drug users; 40 as “visitors of a drug den”; eight as drug runners; seven as illegal drug cultivators; four as drug trade “cohort”; four as drug- den “maintainer”; three as drug trafficker; three as drug-den employees; and two as drug couriers.

Forty-six percent or 410 of the children were 17 years old at the time they were rescued. Among the youngest of the rescued during this period was a six-year-old alleged pusher, followed by a seven-year-old supposed drug runner, and another alleged pusher, aged nine.

‘Initial contact’

The law prescribes a different handling of minors to that of legal-age offenders. For example, police refer to the actual rescue of minors as “initial contact,” as opposed to “arrest” that is used for legal-age offenders.

Processing of child drug surrenderers and rescued minors are also different, according to PNP Women and Children Protection Center chief Rosauro Acio. For instance, he says, drug tests can be done on rescued minors only if they have a determined drug-related offense. But when a child surrenders, Acio says, “he or she will be subjected to a drug test upon surrendering. Because the child volunteered, and we have to determine what substance he or she is taking—if it’s marijuana, shabu, or Ecstasy.”

“We go to the crime lab, we get the urine,” he says. If the results are inconclusive, they also do blood tests.
Acio also points out that children are supposed to be handled more sensitively if they are rescued from drug trade.

“If the child claims that he is being abused, we have to look for the abuser, we have to look for the syndicate,” he says. “(The abuser) would be the one facing a case in court, and the child should be considered as the victim.”

Acio adds that all records and processing of children should be handled by the Women and Children Protection Desk of local police stations, and all protocols mandated by the law should be followed.

Release to parents

The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Operations and Investigation Manual says, among other things, that a rescued child’s age must be determined through a copy of a duly authenticated Birth Certificate from the National Statistics Office (NSO) or, in the absence of it, through a dental examination by the PNP’s Crime Laboratory Service or a “competent medical practitioner.” In the meantime or if doubt of the offenders’ age persists, Acio says “[the child will]have to be presumed as a minor, if it is in [the child’s]favor.”

A child in conflict with the law or CICL should also be turned over immediately or not later than eight hours to the Local Social Welfare Development Office (LSWDO) or an accredited non-government organization (NGO).

The child’s parents or guardians, as well as the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), should also be notified of the child’s apprehension, and notification of these parties shall be noted in the initial investigation, according to the PNP manual.

CICLs who are 15 years old and below will be immediately released to their parents, guardian, or nearest relative, the manual says. But children aged 12 to 15 who committed offenses punishable by more than 12 years of imprisonment shall be mandatorily placed in a Bahay Pag-asa’s Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center.

If detention is necessary, the child shall be separated from adult offenders and offenders of the opposite sex. Locking up a child in a detention cell is prohibited.

Overbooked centers

According to law, local government units are tasked to fund their own Bahay Pag-asa, wherein minors in conflict with the law can be admitted to receive intervention, rehabilitation, and reformative care.

A document from Protective Services Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) describes Bahay Pag-asas as being designed to “provide short-term residential care for children in conflict with the law…who are awaiting court disposition and/or provide intensive intervention to CICL who have committed serious offense or those who are repeat offenders.”

As of second quarter of 2016, there were 36 Bahay Pag-asa across the country, 34 of which are already operational. Of the remaining two, one is still waiting to receive CICLs, while the other needs renovations to be a usable facility.

Aside from locally funded Bahay Pag-asa, the DSWD also funds youth regional rehabilitation centers. At present, the state agency has 208 children in its youth regional rehabilitation centers and field offices, according to the data from its Protective Services Bureau.

Calabarzon’s youth rehabilitation center has the most children in its custody at 72, followed by Ilocos region’s center, 27 and Eastern Visayas, 25.

But the DSWD data seem to have left out facilities like the Tanay Boystown, which is under the department.

Boystown bursting

The Tanay Boystown currently houses 327 minors in conflict with the law.

NTSB Officer in Charge Lucia Almeda says that while the official purpose of Boystown is to admit sentenced children, it is also obliged to house those with ongoing trial because of the lack of facilities that can cater to these minors.

Tanay Boystown has a housing capacity of 120 to 130, according to Almeda, which means it is overbooked by some 200. This has forced the facility to bar new residents while it awaits the repair and renovation of a cottage damaged by a typhoon. At present, Boystown has four usable cottages, two of which have more than a hundred residents each sharing the space.

When PCIJ visited Boystown recently, repairs were still underway, and the facility’s youthful residents were busy fetching water from a single source way across the compound.


INQUIRER

Duterte allies press bill on rehab centers Philippine Daily Inquirer By: DJ Yap, September 25th, 2016 03:28 AM


SEPTEMBER 25 -The Duterte administration is planning to put up rehabilitation centers for drug users in different regions across the country, presidential spokesperson ..GMA NEWS NETWORK

As President Rodrigo Duterte presses his war on drugs, lawmakers are urging the House of Representatives to hasten the approval of a bill that would establish drug rehabilitation centers in all regions of the Philippines to help reform drug dependents.

“The immediate enactment into law of our House Bill No. 9 will start the comprehensive process of changing lives and bringing the drug dependents back to their families and communities,” Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu said on Saturday in a statement.

House Bill No. 9, one of 25 similar measures waiting for action by the House dangerous drugs committee, would put up a drug rehabilitation center in every region of the country.

The bill is coauthored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Representatives Rolando Andaya Jr., Karlo Alexei Nograles, Michael John Duavit, Carlos Cojuangco, Elisa Kho, Benhur Salimbagon and Rodel Batocabe.

The committee chair, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, said the rehabilitation aspect of the drug war was a priority of President Duterte’s administration, as shown by his allocation of

P3 billion in the budget of the Office of the President for the construction of drug rehabilitation centers. TVJ

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TRIBUNE

Military sees no destab threats to oust Duterte Written by Mario J. Mallari Monday, 26 September 2016 00:00

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not monitored any group out to destabilize the Duterte administration as it dismissed the possible involvement of active soldiers, or even those retired, in any attempt to oust the President.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP-public affairs office chief, stressed that the 125,000-strong military has learned its lessons during previous adventurism.

“So far, we are not seeing any interest group that could destabilize…we have not monitored any, even in the group of retirees,” Arevalo said.

“The Armed Forces of today has grown to become more professional. We have learned from our past experiences and we don’t want a repeat of what happened in the past,” he added.

The mutinous Magdalo group, composed of some 300 junior officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP, launched the short-lived Oakwood mutiny in 2003 — calling for the ouster of then President Arroyo.

In 2006, senior officers of the Scout Rangers, led by then Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, and Marines, led by Col. Ariel Querubin, also plotted to withdraw support from Arroyo.

None of the military uprisings against Arroyo succeeded and those found to be key players like Lim and Querubin were incarcerated.

No less than Malacañang floated a supposed destabilization plot being hatched by Filipino-Americans based in the United States against Duterte.

Duterte himself raised the possibility of a US-backed coup d’etat against him.

However, Duterte has been visiting military and police camps all over the country — promising salary increases and modern equipment to the troops.

READ MORE...

NDF, Communist Party

The left-wing National Democratic Front (NDF), for its part, is not discounting conspiracy theories that the US is out to oust Duterte due to his leftist tendencies.

Top NDF leader and suspected Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon said certain elements in the military are against the administration’s peace negotiations with the communist movement, which was a view supposedly fueled by the US government.

“We know that even before President Duterte was elected, there were already elements of the US government and members of some influential groups who were planning to stop the left’s influence on the government,” Tiamzon said at a forum with students of the Rizal High School in Pasig City.

But Arevalo stressed that the AFP would not join any move to disrupt the positive momentum in the country in terms of peace and economic gains.

“We have very good economic gains…we are brokering peace will all quarters, it’s quite remote for the Armed Forces to be the one to cause destabilization,” Arevalo said.

Historically, Duterte’s fears are possible as he has repeatedly noted the predicaments endured by vocal anti-US leaders in the Middle East, particularly Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Kaddhafi of Libya, who were both ousted and eventually killed, allegedly by American infiltrators.

Notably, Bolivian President Evo Morales, in 2008, bared a coup attempt against his government that’s accordingly sponsored by the US whose Ambassador to Bolivia at that time was Philip Goldberg.

Goldberg, who was eventually expelled from Bolivia, is the current US Ambassador to the country and has been a frequent subject of Duterte’s personal tirades, even calling him once as a “gay” and “a son of a whore.”


INQUIRER

Remember P-Noy? He’s speaking up SHARES: 2196 VIEW COMMENTS Philippine Daily Inquirer By: Nikko Dizon, September 25th, 2016 01:01 AM


P-NOY FANS: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as these alumnae of St. Theresa’s College Quezon City wait their turn for selfies with former President Benigno Aquino III at a martial law forum. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

During his first public appearance since he stepped down from office on June 30, former President Benigno Aquino III found himself besieged by questions about martial law, current politics and, not surprisingly, his love life.

Among the questions he ducked—thanks to his self-imposed yearlong moratorium on speaking out about the present administration—was one that asked him to comment on today’s political environment.

“This is an observation and you don’t even have to comment … but nowadays is another case of creeping martial law,” one woman said.

The former President simply looked back at her and tried not to smile, drawing laughter and cheers from the audience.

At the forum on Friday night at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, Aquino met with several nuns from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as the ICM nuns, who played a vital role in the antimartial law movement.

He talked with Sr. Iluminada Torres, also known as Sr. Luming, and Sr. Consuelo Varela, also known as Sr. Consuy, who both smuggled out of prison the letters of his late father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., who was among the opposition leaders jailed by strongman Ferdinand Marcos during martial law.

READ MORE...

The former President, however, refrained from further comment on the planned burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani at the forum organized by the STCQC Alumnae Association (STAA) and STC High School Batch ’93.

Permanent record

“I’ve kept quiet about the Marcos burial because I’ve had so many years to say my point and it’s time to hear everybody else’s point. Haven’t they [now] shared their own stories?” Aquino asked.

There was a need, he added, to challenge continuing attempts to revise history and make the younger generation believe that martial law was good for the country.

“We need a permanent record of what actually transpired [given] the attempt to revise history. There was a generation that actually cannot imagine what our generation had to go through. When you cannot imagine, it is easy to say, ‘Yes, it is fiction’ and afterward, ‘That never happened. Therefore, we don’t have to be vigilant.’ And we are back to square one,” Aquino said.

The martial law video that was the heart of his final Independence Day speech as President at the vin d’honneur in Malacañang was also shown at the forum on the lessons of martial law.

In it, he narrated how his father and his fellow opposition leader, Sen. Jose “Pepe” Diokno, suffered in the hands of the dictator, and how the Filipino people collectively fought to regain their freedom.

“It has happened before and it could happen again if we allow it. What is important is we should not tell ourselves that for sure, this would never happen again,” Aquino said.

Abused the Constitution

Without mentioning Marcos by name, Aquino said that “this person who was at the pinnacle of Philippine political power … had a chance to do something good for our country.”

But, he added: “The bottomline is, [he] abused the Constitution by employing martial law to remain in power in perpetuity.”

In a light yellow, short-sleeved dress shirt, Aquino was in high spirits when he walked onstage as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Many more expressed their gratitude for his six-year presidency, saying he had made them proud to be Filipino and had been an inspiration to them.

As expected, the ever-burning question on his love life drew one of the loudest cheers from the crowd.

Aquino was also asked about life as a private citizen, to which he said he had so far read 16 books, listened to his CDs, watched DVDs, and continues to fix his music room. The former President is a known audiophile.

Don’t rush

To the millennials who asked for advice on how to be good citizens and leaders, Aquino said: “You have to know yourself and know what you want to do. Don’t rush yourselves.”

He added: “The most fortunate people in the world are those able to engage in something that they are happy with.”

The older members of the audience asked how they should engage people who appeared to have lost sight of the good, to which Aquino said the best option was still to engage one’s fellow citizens and not give up caring about what’s happening around.

Asked if he was going to seek an elected position again, he replied: “Can we just say if there is a need? I don’t think anyone in my family has shied away from anything we should attend to.”

But, Aquino added, he was inclined—as he was before—to think of how going back to public service would impact on the people around him. TVJ

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Noy keeps vow of silence on current affairs By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 25, 2016 - 12:00am 4 2073 googleplus0 0


Former president Benigno Aquino III speaks during an informal forum at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City the other night. BOY SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines – He hasn’t gained much weight but it’s apparent in his face that he is getting his much-desired rest. He has finished reading 16 books, sometimes finishing 800 pages in two days and is enjoying old movies dating back to the 1930s.

He does not go out often, he says, and still does not have anyone to share life with.

But former president Benigno Aquino III said he is doing okay. He is keeping his promise to stay quiet and give President Duterte a sort of a honeymoon for a year, as he, too, enjoys a break from politics.

In an informal forum at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City on Friday night, Aquino could not be provoked or baited to comment on current developments, even when told about “creeping martial law” or how divided the people had become because of opposing political views.

He chose to keep the conversation positive and light throughout the night.

The only time he mentioned President Duterte was when he talked about the peace talks with the communist rebels. He said the President and communist leader Jose Maria Sison appeared to have a modicum of trust and could see eye-to-eye.

Like most Filipinos, Aquino expressed hope the peace talks with the communists would succeed and that there would be sincerity.

At this time, singer Phil Perry’s version of the song “Just To See Her” is a favorite and music in general is a constant companion, whatever his mood.

He hasn’t taken to Facebook or Twitter, preferring to deal with people “face to face” but enjoyed posts with the #SalamatPNoy hashtag. That night, the former president received some more thank you’s for serving the country and being an inspiration to the young.

Like most Filipinos, he gets stuck in traffic as he travels without much security now. He had just watched a concert of singer and friend Noel Cabangon, who launched his latest album, Traffic Jam.

Stop debating, start helping But being the country’s former leader, Aquino could not escape questions about the latest developments.

Asked if he had lost faith in the Filipino because of what had been happening, Aquino said he could not fault people for their decisions.

They may just be lacking in information and have gone astray, but Aquino said the people would always go back to whatever was right and think about the best for their fellowmen.

He developed patience while he was a congressman and had always believed that it would be better to engage, and possibly turn people to one side, rather than close doors for a compromise.

“Why debate?” he asked, saying actions could speak louder than words and that there were many ways by which Filipinos could help others.

For journalists under attack, Aquino said there was no point arguing online. He said those who had established themselves as credible media practitioners would always have an audience and people would “look for you” because of their belief in the kind of work they do.

Aquino said while he was president, he enjoyed most talking to the young people, as this always gave him an energy boost in the face of the many things he had to do.

“You can’t please everybody all the time,” he noted, and the hardest thing was that some people would come up to those in government with so much anger as to why things were not happening as fast as they wanted.

Merely absorbing the positive and the negative issues surrounding a powerful office is difficult enough, plus “you’re always conscious that whatever you do gets magnified.”

The former president intends to keep his hiatus from politics going for as long as it is not needed for him to get actively involved again.

Enjoying the break

Since he stepped down, Aquino is facing various cases and gets dragged into current issues every now and then, but these did not seem to cast a heavy burden on him – at least it did not show that night, as he was constantly smiling and joking.

As regards his love life, Aquino said: “I used to ask people who had successful relationships, how do you know (who to marry)? They keep on saying, ‘You’ll know.’ No, that is why I am asking, how will you know? ‘You’ll know.’ At this age, I am quite surprised that those who said ‘you’ll know’ are the ones who have solid relationships, those who try to characterize it are the ones who fell out of it.”

But Aquino said he could not be faulted as he did try as early as 18 years old to find the “one” and that he did propose to a former girlfriend but it “didn’t work out” and so he would just have to wait.

Giving up, he said, could not be an option because it would be the greatest sin to do so.

Once the right one comes along, Aquino expressed belief it would already be “peace time.” If not, maybe he still has a mission from God.

Somehow, he said, “I let the right one go way, way back” but the person was happy and “I am happy for her, seeing her with a big, natural not fake smile, that is also a blessing.”

As former president, Aquino said “you’re not allowed to be human” and you always have to be in control.

Now that he can choose what to do, he said he would like to devote time to make changes in the country permanent, possibly provide jobs through a business and be a salesman for the Philippines.

He cannot work for year because of the ban on elective officials joining the private sector but after that, he can start moving around and talking about what has been gained and present the Philippines’ “best face” as its father for six years.


INQUIRER

PH peace panel ready for 2nd round of talks with NDF Inquirer Central Luzon By: Tonette Orejas, September 25th, 2016 03:55 PM


WINNING MOMENT Members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (from left) Fidel Agcaoili, Coni Ledesma, Jose Maria Sison, Luis Jalandoni, Juliet de Lima and Asterio Palima raise their fists and hold an NDFP flag to mark the end of the first round of peace talks with the government panel in Oslo, Norway. EDRE OLALIA/CONTRIBUTOR

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Philippine government is all set for the next round of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) from October 6 to 10 in Oslo, Norway, a government peace adviser said on Sunday. Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, an adviser of the Philippine peace panel and national president of the League of City of the Philippines, said all reciprocal working groups were “functioning well.” “I think it’s all systems go for the next round. We’re ready for peace,” Pamintuan said in a statement.

The Duterte administration revived the negotiations, stalled during the Arroyo administration, by approving the temporary release of several leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who serve as advisers of the NDF peace panel.

READ: Duterte: All NDFP consultants will be in Oslo for peace talks

The first round of talks was held last August 22 to 28, also in Oslo.

READ: Peace talks between PH gov’t, Reds resume

The CPP, NDF and the New People’s Army have waged one of the longest insurgencies in Asia as they seek genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization and an independent foreign policy. RAM/rga

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ALSO FROM THE INQUIRER

Warming of ties slows Beijing’s Panatag Shoal plan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:52 AM September 26th, 2016

BEIJING—China’s next big target for construction of an artificial island in the South China Sea has long been assumed to be a cluster of rocks poking above sapphire waters near the Philippines.

For several years, Chinese Coast Guard vessels and fishing trawlers have hovered around the reef, known to the world as Scarborough Shoal and to Filipinos as Panatag Shoal. Giant dredges, suitable for building a military base, were recently rumored to be on their way there.

But the election in May of a new President in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who has since showered threats and epithets on the United States, has changed China’s calculation.

That does not mean China has given up on the long-term goal of what could be a vast military base on Panatag Shoal. But for the moment, the plans appear to be postponed.

More important for Beijing right now, Chinese analysts say, is friendship with Mr. Duterte and an effort to wean his country away from its treaty alliance with Washington.

Transforming a shoal right under his nose would ruin any chance of that, these analysts say.

Irrational move

“It would be irrational to build it into a fortress now,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of international relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

“The government would like the Philippines to at least remain neutral in the rivalry between the United States and China. Now at least they have a chance,” he said.

In July, an international tribunal in The Hague delivered a harsh rebuke to China’s activities in the South China Sea, including its construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, not far from the Philippines.

But China has ignored the decision.

The Obama administration praised the ruling as legally binding but refrained from trumpeting it.

The reasoning was that little could be done, short of risking military confrontation, to stop the construction of facilities like hangars for fighter jets and buildings for radar and surface-to-air missiles.

Military bases

Three of seven artificial islands in the Spratlys are designed as military bases, the American military says.

Among them, Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) has a harbor bigger than Pearl Harbor, and another, Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), has a land perimeter nearly the size of the District of Columbia’s, a submarine warfare officer in the US Navy, Thomas Shugart, said in a paper issued this past week.

Together, the three islands could probably accommodate as many as 17,000 military personnel and support aircraft able to deter or counter an American military intervention, said Shugart, who is serving as a senior military fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington but writes as an independent analyst.

Even bigger prize

Panatag Shoal, with a deep lagoon covering nearly 155 square kilometers, offers an even bigger prize as a potential Chinese military base.

“The picture would become even worse were China to build and militarize a similar island base at Scarborough Shoal,” Shugart wrote.

Both China and the Philippines claim the shoal, which the United States used as a firing range during the Vietnam War. Until 2012, Chinese and Filipino fishermen operated there.

Then China seized the shoal, and Chinese Coast Guard vessels have chased away Filipino fishermen ever since.

Overlapping claims

Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh called on the claimants to exercise self-restraint and solve the disputes by peaceful means.

Pham said the parties should abide by international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and respect diplomatic and legal processes.

Just 280 km from the Philippine coast and Subic Bay, where the United States stations fighter jets and naval vessels, Panatag Shoal is in a particularly strategic place.

Its conversion into a military base would enable China to project military power across the South China Sea from a triangle of bases formed by the shoal, the Spratly archipelago to its south and the Paracel Islands farther to the west and closer to the Chinese mainland, Shugart said.

Anticipation regarding China’s plans for Panatag Shoal has been building since March, when, at a meeting in Washington, US President Barack Obama warned President Xi Jinping of China against taking action that could activate American treaty obligations to the Philippines, said a senior US state department official.

In the heated arena of South China Sea politics in China, the shoal—known as Huangyan Island here—has become a touchstone for both hawks and more moderate voices.

Two fiery speeches at campuses in southern China in July by a popular current affairs television personality, Jin Canrong of Renmin University in Beijing, drew support from online chat forums.

Construction next year

He said that China would begin construction on Panatag Shoal next year, and that despite the warnings from America, “the spirit of President Xi is, ‘We must do it.’”

Jin described piling sand on coral at Panatag as an ambitious project that would take four years but said that China needed to complete it to achieve de facto military control over the South China Sea.

In an interview after his speeches, Jin said the tribunal ruling would have no effect on China’s plans for Panatag Shoal.

Still, Mr. Duterte’s openness to talking with China, and his cantankerous attitude toward the Americans, would probably delay the construction plans for Panatag Shoal, Jin said.

A pause, he said, would allow for talks between China and Southeast Asian nations on a so-called code of conduct to lay down rules of behavior in the South China Sea.

On the heels of Mr. Duterte’s election, China and the Philippines began preparatory talks last month at a meeting in Hong Kong between former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and Wu Shicun, the president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a Chinese government think tank.

The spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Lu Kang, said on Friday that China looked forward to Mr. Duterte’s visiting Beijing soon. Reports from New York Times Service and AP/TVJ


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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