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4 MILLION DRUG USERS 'IN REALM OF POSSIBILITY', DANGEROUS DRUG BOARD (DDB) INSISTS[RELATED: ‘Vigilantes’ nabbed in barangay outpost]
[RELATED(2): Cayetano - Duterte’s war on drugs a program to ‘get people out of poverty’]
[RELATED(3): Think tank - After Korean slay, Lack of lead agency, rising opposition hound Duterte's drug war]


FEBRUARY 7 -The Dangerous Drugs Board shares its Quezon City office with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. File photo This article is a supplement to Philstar.com NewsLab's special report on Duterte's war on drugs. President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that there are 4 million addicts in the Philippines is "within the realm of possibility," the Dangerous Drugs Board says. The math, however, does not support this assertion. According to the DDB's 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines released in September 2016, there are around 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines, around 2.3 percent of the population. This is the official figure, although the president has repeatedly mentioned 4 million users, whom he has characterized as addicts and as "slaves." Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, meanwhile, has been quoted in GMA News' "Balita Pilipinas" as saying there are 3 million addicts in the Philippines. He cited the same DDB survey. Pero may margin of error kasi iyan na plus or minus five percent, so it can even go as high as—so 2.3 plus 5 percent, that's 7.3 percent. That's even higher than the global average," DDB Chairman Benjamin Reyes told Philstar.com in an interview this month. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates a global average of 5.2 percent. "So, 'yung sinasabi ni president na four million? It's actually probable. Kasi nga, pasok siya doon sa margin of error eh," he said. READ MORE...RELATED,
‘Vigilantes’ nabbed in barangay outpost...RELATED(2)  Cayetano - Duterte’s war on drugs a program to ‘get people out of poverty’...RELATED(3), Think tank - After Korean slay, Lack of lead agency, rising opposition hound Duterte's drug war...

ALSO: Pacquiao - Drug traffickers deserve death penalty
[RELATED: Death penalty to exclude plunder; House majority concensus]


FEBRUARY 7 -Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday defended anew the urgency of reimposing the death penalty on drug trafficking. During the first public hearing of the Senate justice and human rights committee on the proposed death penalty bills, Pacquiao said “drug traffickers deserve death penalty." “We need to take a firm stand against drug traffickers. On a personal level, I can forgive. However, the heinous crime of drug trafficking is committed not just against a person, but against the nation. Drug traffickers deserve death penalty,” Pacquiao said. Pacquiao said the Senate committee should tackle separately the seven bills proposing the revival of death penalty. READ MORE...RELATED, Death penalty to exclude plunder...

ALSO: Enough of criticisms, PNP Chief tells Church
[RELATED: Liberal Party to rise again, says VP Robredo]


FEBRUARY 7 -CBCB PRESIDENT VILLEGAS -Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa is through bowing to the Catholic Church, it seems. Following the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s statement against the Duterte ad-ministration’s inten-sified crackdown on illegal drugs, de la Rosa blasted the Church leaders for their stand against the rising number of deaths in the country. “You know, please tell them I can communicate to God without passing through them. I believe in God, I am a Catholic,” he stressed. The Church, just like the PNP, according to de la Rosa, is not a perfect organization. “When they say that the PNP has members who are not perfect, that some cops are part of syndicates… why, aren’t priests imperfect too? Aren’t some of them up to no good?” he asked. “I go to church because I respect the Church. Not all priests are bad. They should view us that way too,” the PNP chief added. He also denied Monday the CBCP’s claim that there is a “reign of terror” among the poor Filipinos following the government’s war on drugs. READ MORE...RELATED, Liberal Party to rise again, says VP Robredo...

ALSO:
EDITORIAL -Pastoral letter or political manifesto?
[RELATED COMMENTARY: Used again]


FEBRUARY 8 -The Catholic Church which has more than a few grudges against Rody has now taken to the pulpit to sway the public toward a confrontation with Rody about his war on drugs and in the process chip away at his current high public support in accordance with the grand plan of ousting him. The other day, Catholic bishops called on Catholics to speak out against summary killings. In a uniform sermon throughout the country at Sunday mass, priests told the faithful that silence makes them an “accomplice” in the rising death toll of the war on drugs. Accomplice to what crime? The pastoral letter did not say but the tone of the sermon blamed Rody for the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJK) happening as a result of his war on drugs. While not naming Duterte in the pastoral letter, the bishops urged “elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests.”  “We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts,” the letter said. The police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are also currently under the public lens after the gruesome killing of South Korean Jee Ick Joo within the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at the hands of rogue policemen. Rody and his PNP chief Bato de la Rosa, said that investigators are following a trail that may lead to the involvement of a powerful South Korean-based syndicate preying on residents in the country. That the EJK incidences being carried out by those in the frontline of Rody’s war needs proving, a fact which was not acknowledged by the Catholic bishops in the pastoral letter. READ MORE...RELATED, Used again---

ALSO:
Aguirre won’t bow down to opposition, especially those aligned with yellow LPs
[RELATED: De Lima twits Aguirre: Who’s the real protector of drug lords?]
[RELATED(2):
Aguirre to Pangilinan, De Lima, Trillanes: Sorry, during the first hearing on the Jack Lam bribery case]


FEBRUARY 8 -Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday refused to bow down to his critics, particularly elements of the opposition who are against his confirmation at the Commission on Appointments (CA), stressing that their calls for him to resign are not backed by any factual or legal basis. The Justice secretary said this following after he was called out by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, an opposition congressman, to relinquish his post.
It turns out that Villarin is crying foul because of the pending drug raps at the Department of Justice (DoJ) against Sen. Leila de Lima. Aguirre earlier told The Tribune that the four criminal complaints against the embattled senator are nearing resolution. “(When it comes) to Sen. de Lima, it’s an all-out war. When it comes to his ‘brods,’ investigations are going nowhere,” Villarin claimed. “If the Justice secretary cannot do his job, then he better resign.” It will also be recalled that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is known by critics to be aligned with the Liberal Party, was criticized by Aguirre for “desperately dragging” him to the P50-million extortion scandal at the Bureau of Immigration. READ MORE...RELATED, De Lima twits Aguirre: Who’s the real protector of drug lords?...RELATED(2) Aguirre to Pangilinan, De Lima, Trillanes: Sorry, during the first hearing on the Jack Lam bribery case...

ALSO: Trillanes urges Aguirre: Quit now, BI bribe scandal may reach Duterte
[RELATED: Aguirre mulls installment of CCTVs inside AFP detention facility]


FEBRUARY 11 -Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (left) and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS) Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, on Sunday, to resign and save President Duterte from embarrassment following the latter’s alleged involvement in certain controversies that included the bribery or extortion scandal at the Bureau of Immigration (BI). The BI controversy is such a big case with deep implications that may even lead up to the President, according to Trillanes during a radio program. When contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer later, the senator, who arrived late last week from a trip to the United States, did not want to expound on his statement that the BI scandal might reach the presidential level. “It could lead up to the President because this is such a deep case … I’m just saying that there is much information that have yet to be uncovered in this bribery scandal, ” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding he would participate in the resumption of the Senate justice committee’s inquiry into the BI controversy on Thursday (Feb. 16). READ MORE..., RELATED  Aguirre mulls installment of CCTVs inside AFP detention facility.....


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4M drug users 'in the realm of possibility,' DDB insists


The Dangerous Drugs Board shares its Quezon City office with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. File photo This article is a supplement to Philstar.com NewsLab's special report on Duterte's war on drugs..

MANILA, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 (PHILSTAR) By Jonathan de Santos (philstar.com) | Updated February 7, 2017 - President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that there are 4 million addicts in the Philippines is "within the realm of possibility," the Dangerous Drugs Board says. The math, however, does not support this assertion.

According to the DDB's 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines released in September 2016, there are around 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines, around 2.3 percent of the population.

This is the official figure, although the president has repeatedly mentioned 4 million users, whom he has characterized as addicts and as "slaves."

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, meanwhile, has been quoted in GMA News' "Balita Pilipinas" as saying there are 3 million addicts in the Philippines. He cited the same DDB survey.

 
DBB chair confirms Duterte's data by philstarnews

"Pero may margin of error kasi iyan na plus or minus five percent, so it can even go as high as—so 2.3 plus 5 percent, that's 7.3 percent. That's even higher than the global average," DDB Chairman Benjamin Reyes told Philstar.com in an interview this month. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates a global average of 5.2 percent.

"So, 'yung sinasabi ni president na four million? It's actually probable. Kasi nga, pasok siya doon sa margin of error eh," he said.

READ MORE...

This was a reiteration of the DDB's position, sent in December 2016 by Corazon Mamigo of the board's Policy Studies, Research and Statistics Division, that "the claim of President Duterte that there are an estimated 4 million drug users in the Philippines is within the realm of possibility." She said, citing the same margin of error, that there may be as many as 5.7 million drug users in the country.

But the margin of error in the 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines is ±0.9 percent according to the DDB's presentation when the survey results were released last year and in the full report that was released to Philstar.com.

Asked to explain what the basis was for assuming the margin of error of ±5 percent, Reyes pointed to the 95 percent confidence level. "[That] means you have ±5 percent chance of not being correct," he said.

Doing the math

But Alyson Yap, a full-time member of the faculty at Ateneo de Manila University's Department of Quantitative Methods and Information Technology, disagrees with the assessment and called the conclusion dangerous.


Members of ADMU's Department of Quantitative Methods and Information Technology said the numbers don't add up.

Yap, who teaches combined statistics and operations management, said that using the the rate and confidence level used in the DDB report, the range would actually be "between 0.0185 to 0.0267 or between 1.85 percent to 2.67 percent only." That is around 1.4 million to 2 million people.

He said that the DDB may have gotten the +-5 percent error margin from the 95 percent confidence, an approach he disagreed with strongly in terms that cannot be published here.

"If we are to look at the upper bound of this proportion, from the estimated 1.75 million drug users, the maximum possible drug users is just roughly 300,000 (318,503.58 to be exact) more," he said.

Other data points to drug problem

Despite the discrepancy in estimates, DDB data indicates that the number of drug users was on the rise between 2010 and 2015.

In its December letter to Philstar.com, the DDB said that surveys "should be used with other data sources which can validate an observation." The 2015 survey includes input from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and DDB said the increase in the number of arrests and inmates indicates a rise in the number of drug users.

The PNP, for example, made 44,453 drug-related arrests in 2015 against 5,002 in 2011. "Although this can be interpreted as an increase in efficiency of carrying out the task against dangerous drugs, improvement in efficiency alone cannot make such high increase in arrests if the population of dangerous drugs violators has not increased tremendously," the DDB said in its report.

DDB Chairman Reyes said that the nationwide surveys, which are done every three years, cannot be compared with each other because of changes in methodology in each one. He said that the differences can be attributed to budget constraints and the need to bid the project out to research firms.

He said, however, that the 2016 survey will likely be the baseline for future surveys.

Reyes said that it is better for programs to target the upper limit. "Sa perspective ng program management, you always target 'yung mas mataas. 'Di baleng mag-overshoot, [basta] huwag kang kulangin."

Not all users are addicts

 
DDB chair explains difference between drug... by philstarnews

Although the DDB is firm that there may actually be 4 million drug users in the Philippines, Reyes explains that not all of them are addicts or even drug dependents. He said that many—including the president—lump drug use and addiction together but that "technically and definitely, they are different."

"There's a big difference between drug use and drug dependence," he said, stressing that treatments for those cases differ. The DDB, which sets drug policy, has recommended four levels of treatment for dependence and addiction.

Those with severe substance use disorders—around one percent of users—are supposed to undergo six-month in-patient programs in rehabilitation centers. Between two to ten percent of users, those with less severe dependence on drugs, can be treated through out-patient programs.

The rest are for community-based treatments and interventions that the local anti-drug abuse councils will set up. The DDB and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are already working to set up and strengthen community-based programs, which, Reyes said, are the most important front in fighting the country's drug problem.

He said that if the local ADACS fail to give recovering addicts and dependents post-treatment support, there is a risk that they will return to using drugs. "Pag ganun ang nangyari, baka may mga magsasabi na hindi gumagana ang rehabilitation kaya huwag na lang," he said. — Philstar.com NewsLab; Videos by Efigenio Toledo IV

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

‘Vigilantes’ nabbed in barangay outpost By Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 10, 2017 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


TOKHANG: Screen grab from a STAR exclusive video shows a member of a police raiding team breaking down the door of a baran­gay outpost used by suspected members of a vigilante group in Tondo, Manila the other day. Top photo shows one of the suspects being handcuffed during the raid.

MANILA, Philippines - Tasked to maintain peace and order in their community, three barangay peacekeepers instead allegedly used the drug war to embark on a vigilante killing spree.

Police raided on Wednesday afternoon a barangay outpost in Tondo, Manila and arrested three members who admitted their involvement in the disappearance and killing of drug suspects.

The police identified the suspects as Manuel Murillo, 33; Marco Morallos, 33, and Alfredo Alejan, 42.

They belong to the Confederate Sentinel Group (CSG), whose members are reportedly part of the barangay peacekeeping action teams.

It was the first time that suspects in drug-related vigilante killings were unmasked and arrested.

Their arrest stemmed from the complaint of Christina Saladaga, who accused the three of forcibly taking last Jan. 2 her 16-year-old son Charlie whom the suspects accused of being a drug peddler and robber.

The group’s leader Ricardo Villamonte, whom Saladaga confronted last Tuesday, told her that Charlie was probably executed by policemen.

“He said my son was salvaged by policemen but we know they were the ones involved,” Saladaga said, fighting back tears. This prompted her to seek the help of policemen.

One of the suspects, Murillo, admitted they killed the teenager on orders of “Kumander Maning,” their name for Villamonte.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the suspects were among the vigilantes who rode on the government’s war on drugs.

“The people thought they would not be discovered and the police would be blamed,” Dela Rosa said.


Screenshot shows the three suspected vigilantes behind bars after their arrest in Tondo, Manila.

He made the conclusion after investigators found out the suspects were involved in three other vigilante killings of suspected criminals last year.

The victims were Rene Desierto who was killed in November; Danilo Penalosa in October and Oliver Pableo last September.

The arrest of the suspects dispelled accusations that the vigilante killings, which fall under the category deaths under investigation (DUI), were sanctioned by the state.

“It’s very clear as far as these killings are concerned, which are included in DUI cases, were not done by the police,” he said.

Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, Manila Police District director, said the CSG was once accredited by the MPD Police Community Relations Group.

However, the police became suspicious when they received reports that the group was involved in several summary executions in Tondo.

“They are mostly targeting other rival groups,” Coronel said, referring to other criminal syndicates operating in Manila.

Aside from murder, the suspects are also facing cases of illegalpossession of firearms and ammunition.

MPD raid

Combined elements of the Manila Police District intelligence operations unit, special reaction unit, homicide section and MPD-Station 1 raided a unit owned by Murillo at building 22 Aroma Temporary Housing along Road 10 in Barangay 105.

The parents of Saladaga, who was killed last New Year’s Day, pointed to Murillo as one of the persons who picked up their son at the corner of Capulong street and Road 10.

Saladaga’s body was found the following day stuffed in a sack floating off the breakwater of Isla Puting Bato in Tondo. The victim had a gunshot wound in the face.

In a sworn statement, Saladaga’s younger sister said that Murillo, Morallos and another unidentified person took her brother.

The victim’s relatives admitted that Saladaga earned money by tapping illegal electrical connection in the neighborhood and committing petty crimes.

Murillo initially denied involvement in the killing of Saladaga, but he later told investigators that he knew what happened and identified Morallos as the one who shot the victim.

Murillo later accompanied the team that raided the nearby house of Morallos in a maze-like alley and arrested him. Police nabbed Morallos and recovered a 9 mm pistol inside the house.

Morallos then pointed to their hideout, a makeshift house along Road 10, where they had hidden their weapons.

Chief Insp. Rozalino Ibay led the police team that arrested the third suspect Alejan. The policemen also recovered bullets in his pocket.

The policemen used a battering ram to gain entry to the hideout and found several weapons, including a .38 caliber revolver, two homemade shotguns, assorted bullets and a jungle bolo.

An organizational chart of the so-called Confederate Sentinels Group, with photographs of the officers and members, was conspicuously displayed at the hideout.

The raiding team also discovered a secret passage at the back of the house leading towards the center of the squatter’s area.

Murillo told The STAR that they belong to the group that was responsible for extortion activities victimizing truck drivers along R-10 and they were also behind the disappearance of several drug personalities in the area.

He said they were taking orders from Barangay 105 kagawad Michael Sibucao, alias Boss Michael; Villamonte alias Kumander and his brother-in-law alias Onic.

Murillo told the police they cased subjects to be “operated,” planning and designation of their hit man.

He also admitted that they harassed Saladaga’s family and threatened them “if they do not leave the community.”

“No one is willing to talk about us because they know that they could be in danger,” he told The STAR.

Murillo added that they were behind some of the killings in Tondo that were attributed to extrajudicial killings by the police.

Ibay said the arrest of the suspects and the exposure of the group “practically solved most of the deaths under investigations that were mostly attributed to the police in the area.”

The police launched another operation to arrest the remaining members of the group.

Insp. Noli de Castro said charges of murder, grave threat and illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions would be filed against the suspects.

Meanwhile, another alleged drug pusher was killed yesterday by suspected vigilantes riding tandem on a motorcycle in Barangay Maronquillo, San Rafael, Bulacan.

Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat, acting director of the Bulacan police, said Roy Venturina, 39, of Barangay Maronquillo was shot several times in the body.

Police said the victim was standing in front of a feed mill owned by his brother when the suspects shot him and fled on board their motorcycle.

Caramat said the victim was a well-known drug pusher operating in San Rafael town and included in the police list of suspected drug dealers in Bulacan. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Ric Sapnu

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RELATED(2) FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Cayetano: Duterte’s war on drugs a program to ‘get people out of poverty’ Published February 7, 2017 10:14am By KATHRINA CHARMAINE ALVAREZ, GMA News

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday defended the Duterte administration’s war on drugs as a “program to get people out of poverty.”

In a speech before the Filipino community in New York City Monday, Cayetano decried the wrongful branding of the anti-drug campaign as a “war against the poor.”

“The war on drugs is a program to get people out of poverty. Because no family with a drug addict as a brother, son, or father can get out of poverty. If we have three million addicts, that means we have three million families with a problem,” he said.

“The poor have become common victims of the drug pushers. When they become hooked on drugs, they engage in other crimes to sustain their vices. If the government will not intensify its drug operations, the poor will continue to be exploited by the drug pushers,” Cayetano added.

“The poor cannot defend themselves, they need us most,” he said.

READ MORE...

Cayetano is a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte. He ran as Duterte’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2016 national elections.

Cayetano said human rights groups should visit the country to “see for themselves” how the anti-drug campaign is supposedly making Filipinos much safer in their own communities.

“It’s not to criticize but to show you that in a multicultural world and with different socioeconomic backgrounds and different drugs, you can’t judge us simply from your point of view. Come over and see what’s happening,” he said.

Cayetano issued the statement after a report released by the Amnesty International said the spate of drug-related killings were “systematic, planned and organized” by authorities and could constitute crimes against humanity.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had also released a pastoral letter and expressed concern over the war on drugs, saying there exists a “reign of terror in many places of the poor.”

“Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account. An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong," the CBCP's pastoral letter read in Sunday masses over the weekend said. —ALG, GMA News

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RELATED(3) FROM PHILSTAR

Think tank: Lack of lead agency, rising opposition hound Duterte's drug war By Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) | Updated February 10, 2017 - 2:37pm 2 67 googleplus0 1


President Rodrigo Duterte faces problems in his drug crackdown following the kidnap-slay of a Korean businessman by operatives of the Philippine National Police. AP/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The government's indefinite "pause" on its war drugs is an indication of two major problems the government of President Rodrigo Duterte faces in its campaign to rid the Philippines of illicit narcotics.

This was the assessment of an international relations analyst following events that led the government to suspend its vaunted anti-illegal drugs crusade.

Malcolm Cook, a non-resident fellow at the Lowly Institute for International Policy in Australia, said the indefinite halt in the government's campaign poses two major problems for the president.

First, the political opposition in the country seems to be finding its voice again due to the policy reversal and the media's persistent coverage of the human costs of the war against drugs, according to Cook.

The second problem, according to Cook, involves the lack of any government agency that could take the lead role after some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were discovered to have abused their authority for personal gain.

The government suspended last month its war on drugs to give way to the internal cleansing of the PNP following the kidnap-slay of a Korean businessman by operatives from the PNP-Anti-illegal Drugs Group (AIDG). AIDG was also dissolved following the scandal that rocked and caused the Duterte administration a great deal of embarrassment.

READ: Bato suspends drug war for 'internal cleansing' PNP

According to Cook, there are signs that the dialling back of the government's policy and the persistent media coverage of the daily killings have reinvigorated a "meaningful opposition."

"On 5 February, a pastoral letter equating the war on drugs with a 'reign of terror' on the Filipino poor was read out in all Catholic churches," Cook said, referring to the letter from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that severely criticized the president's draconian approach to the drug problem.

READ: Full Text: CBCP's pastoral statement vs illegal drugs

Cook added that it seemed that Vice President Leni Robredo was already starting to accept the role as leader of the opposition to the Duterte government. Cook noted that Robredo, who quit the Cabinet in December, expressed her support for the bishops' letter and called it a potential tipping point.

The lack of a possible lead agency in the drug war is another source of headache for the president, according to Cook. Although the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is seen as a good-performing agency, it could not assume the lead role because of its size, Cook said.

"However, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is much too small to take on the battle, at least as it has been conducted to date," Cook said. He added that the agency had fewer than 1,700 employees and 800 drug enforcement officers.

Cook said that the president would also face difficulties in calling on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to play a bigger role. The AFP does not have the training to conduct this war, according to Cook. The Palace has also not yet issued a written order setting out the legal basis for the use of the Army which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asked for.

More than 7,000 suspected drug offenders were reported killed in the government’s “Double Barrel” drive—both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings, since Duterte took office on June 30.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Pacquiao: Drug traffickers deserve death penalty Published February 7, 2017 11:06am By KATHRINA CHARMAINE ALVAREZ, GMA News

Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday defended anew the urgency of reimposing the death penalty on drug trafficking.

During the first public hearing of the Senate justice and human rights committee on the proposed death penalty bills, Pacquiao said “drug traffickers deserve death penalty."

“We need to take a firm stand against drug traffickers. On a personal level, I can forgive. However, the heinous crime of drug trafficking is committed not just against a person, but against the nation. Drug traffickers deserve death penalty,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao said the Senate committee should tackle separately the seven bills proposing the revival of death penalty.

READ MORE...

Pacquiao is the author of three death penalty bills on certain heinous crimes involving dangerous drugs, on kidnapping, and on aggravated rape.

He said “less compelling reasons for other offenses” might “weigh down” the urgency of reimposing death penalty for drug traffickers.

“Kailangan na nating magpasa ng batas na pupugsa, punto-pot-punto, sa lumalala pa rin nating problema sa droga. There is now a need to enact a measure that will decisively repress drug trafficking,” Pacquiao said.

“We cannot ignore the immensity of the drug problem in our country. We cannot maintain the status quo. We need to take a firm stand against drug traffickers,” he added. — RSJ, GMA News

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Death penalty to exclude plunder By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 10, 2017 - 12:00am 4 40 googleplus0 0


In an interview over radio station dzRH yesterday, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said this was the consensus reached at last Wednesday’s caucus of the super majority coalition allied with President Duterte. Youtube

MANILA, Philippines - Pro-death penalty lawmakers have agreed to exclude plunder in crimes punishable by death, in case the administration’s legislative measure is passed in Congress.

In an interview over radio station dzRH yesterday, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said this was the consensus reached at last Wednesday’s caucus of the super majority coalition allied with President Duterte.

Applied only to government officials, whether elected or appointed, plunder is a crime of illegally acquiring at least P50 million from public funds, or as a result of using one’s office to enrich oneself.

Alvarez said the crime of plunder falls under a “special law” with the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The death penalty was abolished in 2006 under former president and now Deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo.

As such, former president Joseph Estrada was meted a life term when he was convicted of plunder in September 2007.

Alvarez also defended the House leadership’s decision to observe a party vote on the death penalty, saying it is his job to push the administration’s legislative agenda.

Alvarez is the secretary-general of the country’s ruling political party PDP-Laban and, as Speaker, the titular head of the almost 300-member House of Representatives.

The Congress head added he is ready to vacate his post if the House members do not like his leadership anymore, even as he warned them to toe the party line on the death penalty issue or leave the coalition.

Last Wednesday, Alvarez said even Arroyo – under whose presidency he served as transportation and communications secretary – faces removal from her post as deputy speaker if she opts to vote against the revival of the death penalty.

ARROYO WILL ABSTAIN

But Arroyo made clear earlier she would abstain from voting on death penalty bills, even as she is against its revival.

In a separate radio interview with Gerry Baja over dzMM also yesterday, Alvarez said the Duterte administration is looking at passing the death penalty bill by mid-March, before Congress goes on the Lenten break.

Sacrificing principles An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) tasked to care for prisoners said lawmakers against the death penalty must not sacrifice their principles by allowing themselves to be pressured by Alvarez’s threat for them to abide by the party vote or leave the coalition.

“It is our hope and prayer that our representatives will follow their conscience in voting for the taking away of the life of the person,” CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care executive secretary Rodolfo Diamante said in a statement yesterday. “Moreover, they should not sacrifice their principles in a measure that will only satisfy the ego of the present leaders in the House. It is not worth it to pass a law that will not really serve justice to people concerned.”

More antis than pros At the Senate, Sen. Richard Gordon said senators opposing the death penalty outnumber those in favor.

Gordon is against the death penalty’s revival. He is the chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, which began hearing on the measure last week.

Gordon said he and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III had counted 10 senators in favor of the death penalty out of the 24-seat Senate.

Those who have expressed disapproval of the measure are Sens. Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, Francis Escudero and minority leader Ralph Recto.

De Lima urged her colleagues to cross party lines when the revival of the death penalty is put to a vote.

“The issue of possible re-imposition of death penalty is addressed more to the conscience of the members of both houses of Congress,” De Lima told reporters yesterday. “Lawmakers should transcend political affiliations in this particular issue, especially with the points raised by some members of the Senate that treaty commitment cannot be taken for granted.”

Drilon said the Philippines would have a bad image of not honoring an agreement if the death penalty is revived.

Over station Bombo Radyo Dagupan, Drilon claimed in an interview that under the Constitution, treaties entered into by the Philippines are parts of laws that must be obeyed in the country. – With Evelyn Macairan, Paolo Romero, Eva Visperas, Helen Flores


TRIBUNE

Enough of criticisms, PNP tells Church Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 07 February 2017 00:00 By Mario J. Mallari, Angie M. Rosales and Pat C. Santos

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa is through bowing to the Catholic Church, it seems.

Following the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s statement against the Duterte ad-ministration’s inten-sified crackdown on illegal drugs, de la Rosa blasted the Church leaders for their stand against the rising number of deaths in the country.

“You know, please tell them I can communicate to God without passing through them. I believe in God, I am a Catholic,” he stressed.

The Church, just like the PNP, according to de la Rosa, is not a perfect organization.

“When they say that the PNP has members who are not perfect, that some cops are part of syndicates… why, aren’t priests imperfect too? Aren’t some of them up to no good?” he asked.

“I go to church because I respect the Church. Not all priests are bad. They should view us that way too,” the PNP chief added.

He also denied Monday the CBCP’s claim that there is a “reign of terror” among the poor Filipinos following the government’s war on drugs.

READ MORE...

In its most strongly worded comments yet on the crackdown on drug pushers and users, the CBCP, in a pastoral letter issued last Sunday, said killing people is not the answer to trafficking of illegal drugs, as it voiced concern about the indifference of many to the bloodshed.

The CBCP stated that an additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor.

But de la Rosa countered. “Reign of terror? What do they like, we just allow the drug problem to proliferate?” he asked.



The Church group issued the letter following the presidential order calling for the PNP to stop all anti-illegal drugs operations following the involvement of several active police in the kidnap-slaying of South Korean Jee Ick Joo right inside Camp Crame last October 18.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since Mr. Duterte launched his anti-drugs campaign seven months ago, more than 2,500 in what police say were shootouts during raids and sting operations. The rest are variously attributed to “vigilantes,” or to drug lords wiping out rivals or clearing their trail, or eliminating distributors who can barely remit funds because of the crackdown. These are collectively called “deaths under investigation” or “DUI.”

Right to comment

Amid the controversial extrajudicial killings, some senators admitted that it is the right of CBCP to express its strong stance.

“CBCP members, being citizens of the Republic, can also comment, but let’s try to keep church and state separate, but not totally airtight separate from each other. If it is running the government, let’s give the government some slack or leeway to run the government,” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.

“The CBCP can comment. Let’s allow them to comment. They are citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. But of course, just like citizens, they will try to influence policy, through the policy makers,” he added.

The Senate leader also said it would serve well for Mr. Duterte to listen to all comments but the final say is up to him.

Both Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the same with the CBCP, saying the Church group cannot be blamed into believing that majority, if not most, of the reported killings were drug-related.

“How many can be attributed to the police? There are no exact figures, that’s the problem. And then of course the concentration was the enforcement, but all the while the government’s concentration should be enforcement, prosecution, prevention and rehabilitation,” Sotto noted.

“The Philippines is still a democracy so anybody can say anything they want. Of course they can say anything they want inasmuch as anyone is allowed to do so,” he added.

Lacson, like Pimentel, said the CBCP’s comments are “healthy for democracy.”

“It’s not good if everyone kept quiet. It’s good to hear their side. It’s good to hear the side of different sectors — religious, NGOs (non-government organizations),” he stressed.

Two other senators — Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima — reminded the government to uphold its responsibility to protect Filipinos, promote their welfare and keep them safe.

“The campaign against illegal drugs and heinous crimes must not cost us the lives of our people, especially the innocent. The poor, already living under the weight of historical and structural injustices, have carried the burden of this anti-crime drive,” Pangilinan stressed.

“Our government must uphold its responsibility to protect our people, to promote their welfare and make them safe. It must pursue justice to the families who have lost their loves ones to criminals,” he added.

De Lima said the CBCP’s pastoral letter reminds the government of the universal moral values that she said were “apparently lost and forgotten among people since the start of the drug war.”

The senator also lashed back at Malacañang for saying Church leaders are “out of touch” with their members who are in favor of the war on drugs and its effects.

“It’s like saying that our countrymen no longer value life, liberty and social justice. It is the President who is out of touch with reality when he thinks he can dispense of these basic values in his drug war and still manage to keep the country’s spiritual and moral fabric intact,” de Lima added.

Disputing Malacañang’s claim that bishops have lost touch with reality, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, said they are not grounded with certainty.

“It’s not a lie that innocent people were killed and many fear of becoming victims of extrajudicial killings” he added.

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

RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Liberal Party to rise again, says VP Robredo Written by Tribune Wires Friday, 10 February 2017 00:00 By Julius Leonen


ROBREDO

With the opposition still in hot water for being directly linked to an alleged plot to destroy the Duterte Administration, leading opposition figure Vice President Leni Robredo bared that the Liberal Party (LP) is now planning to rebuild itself by aligning with its former partners.

It appears that different sectors are are more or less the same members of Congress today who were yesterday’s LP allies when the LP was the ruling party under then President Benigno Aquino.

The LP appears to be banking on its former allies in strengthening the LP’s dwindling membership.

Elements of the opposition, or the “Yellows” as their critics have branded them, have been under fire over allegations of concocting a plot to destabilize President Duterte’s government, all aimed at the hidden agenda for their political party to return to power and position.

Robredo was recently tagged in a purported email leak dubbed as “Leni Leaks,” where destabilization emails allegedly witten by United States-based LP stalwarts under the “Global Filipino Diaspora Council” was exposed.

The Vice President, however, categorically denied all accusations her fiercest critics have hurled at her. Robredo insisted that her party cannot speak of destabilization since their membership is dwindling.

LP STRATEGIC MEETING

In a press briefing at the Quezon City Reception House, Robredo told reporters yesterday she attended the LP’s two-day strategic planning two weeks ago, where she met Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and former leader Aquino.

READ MORE...

The so-called Strategic Meeting of the LPs could either get allies for a coup in the future staged by the LPs for its comeback or, the LPs need to get more allies in preparation for the 2019 elections.

Usually, when a political party loses its members to the new ruling party, as turncoatism of politicians is almost a tradition in this country’s politics and political system.

The LP for instance in 2007 had little for it going--electorally, and they coalesced instead with the then oppositionparty of former President Erap Estrada to get their members included in the opposition slate.

LP planning a comeback—Leni

Robredo said that the Party is planning its comeback by establishing alliances with its former partners from different sectors and strengthening its membership, which she had said earlier to be dwindling after their allies and LP members joined the “super majority” under the stewardship of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.



The reported meeting with the LP members for the their strategic planning may have arisen as the LPs seem to be putting several developments together that have been reported, such as the Amnesty International report condemning Mr. Dutrete for the extra-judicial killings over his war on drugs, as well as the recent opinion piece of the former Colombian President pointing out that the all out war he had employed when he was the chief executive did not work, saying it was a waste of money and too many had been killed.

COLOMBIAN EX-PRESIDENT

He noted that Mr. Dutrete is repeating the mistakes he had committed in his own war of drugs.

As a response, Mr. Duterte called the former Colombian president, Cesar Gaviria “the idiot,” saying that Columbia’s drugs consisted of cocaine, which he compared to Marijuana, but that the Philippine drug lords manufacture shabu, which destroys the user mentally.

Gavira said in a New York Times commentary that Rody is repeating the mistakes he made in his own drug war in Colombia.

Gaviria found out immediately that it was he who repeated the mistakes of other leaders in criticizing Rody’s war. Before him were former US President Barack Obama, and former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon.

Then there was also the development of the discovery of over 200 rogue cops, who were berated by Mr. Duterte and sent off to Basilan, where the Abu Sayaff terrorists operate.

PASTORAL LETTER

Just last Sunday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, issued a pastoral letter read by all the priests during mass.

Robredo quickly seized on this development, saying that the pastoral letter now opens the eyes of the Filipinos, and that they are no longer afraid nor silenced because the Chruch is now firmly on the side of the people.

The latest development in the news is the bill on the death penalty, which is being pushed by the Speaker in the House of Representatives, which is being condemned by the Church.

Some members of Congress who are against the death penalty, such as the leftist group in the House, have already announced that they will resign from the supermajority should the death penalty bill pass.

Other members of the supermajority who are also against thr bill have protested against the death penalty.

Speaker Alvarez had said that those in the supermajority who will vote against the death penalty bill will be out of the majority, inlcuding its officials.

These are perhaps the sectors and members who will be out of the majority Robredo and the remaining LP members Robredo and the LPs will be tapping.

The Vice President said: “What we did was to set the Party’s direction. We all know what happened to the party after the elections. From what I understand, that’s the decision, to go back to our core, how the Liberal Party started, what it believes in, and how to live up to those values,” Robredo said.

Sectoral representative will be LP allies

“The Party is not made of politicians alone, but of representatives of different sectors. That’s the direction we’re taking, to go back to our former partners from other sectors, and we will once again strengthen the Liberal Party,” Robredo said.

Robredo, however, said that the strategic planning is just the beginning, explaining that the party’s reorganization will start first with establishing and improving relations with their members based in the provinces.

“The outcome of (the initial meeting) was good. It was not yet a gathering of all the LP members. The meeting was only a strategic planning session of the core members, among whom are interim officers and representatives,” Robredo said.

The Vice President said that the LP will soon set a meeting for all its members and that Sen. Pangilinan’s team will start laying ground for the opposition political party’s reorganization efforts.

Leni wants ‘hearsay’ AI report probed

Robredo also called on the Duterte administration of particularly the Department of Justice (DoJ), to probe the report by Amnesty International (AI), which has been dubbed by staunch Duterte allies as mere “hearsay,” where it was said that police personnel are being paid to kill illegal drug suspects.

Robredo dismissed the statements of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and other government officials suggesting that the AI report is allegedly a part to discredit the Duterte administration’s brutal crackdown on narcotics trade.

“These are very serious accusations, but there is still no formal investigation into this. It remains an accusation. From what I heard the last time, it will be taken up in the Senate committee on public order and safety,” Robredo said.

Robredo insisted that since the DoJ chief holds the government’s prosecutorial power, he should instead order an investigation on the damning report, which was found by the AI’s critics as baseless since it does not show concrete proof of their sources’ accounts.

“You’re the chief of the Department of Justice. You hold the prosecutorial power. You shouldn’t make judgments if you haven’t looked into the report yet,” Robredo said of Aguirre.

“If you have already made judgments, what is the assurance that justice will still be served if there is already a decision when an investigation has yet to be made,” she said.

Violent war on drugs hopeless, Leni insists

In other developments, Robredo suggested that since no country has won a militarized, violent war against illegal drugs, the Duterte administration’s chances of eradicating the narcotics trade will likely end up the same.

Robredo expressed support for former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, whom President Duterte had called an “idiot,” following the ex-leader’s statements for Duterte.

“The statement of the former president is important because he went through the same path. His story is important not for us to emulate but for us to learn from it,” Robredo said.

“I hope the government listens to his story and looks at the experience of those who have gone through the same so that we don’t repeat the mistakes. We can see that in the past seven months, we have been going through the same cycle,” she said.

Robredo echoed Gaviria’s suggestion to President Duterte to instead shift his views on eradicating illegal drugs by means of violence, and instead look at it as a public health and security issue.

Under Gaviria’s administration, however, Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who has been hailed as the largest supplier of cocaine in the United States, accounting for around 80-percent of the drug shipment, was arrested.


TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Pastoral letter or political manifesto? Written by Tribune Editorial Tuesday, 07 February 2017 00:00



The Catholic Church which has more than a few grudges against Rody has now taken to the pulpit to sway the public toward a confrontation with Rody about his war on drugs and in the process chip away at his current high public support in accordance with the grand plan of ousting him.

The other day, Catholic bishops called on Catholics to speak out against summary killings.

In a uniform sermon throughout the country at Sunday mass, priests told the faithful that silence makes them an “accomplice” in the rising death toll of the war on drugs.

Accomplice to what crime?

The pastoral letter did not say but the tone of the sermon blamed Rody for the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJK) happening as a result of his war on drugs.

While not naming Duterte in the pastoral letter, the bishops urged “elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests.”

“We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts,” the letter said.

The police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are also currently under the public lens after the gruesome killing of South Korean Jee Ick Joo within the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at the hands of rogue policemen.

Rody and his PNP chief Bato de la Rosa, said that investigators are following a trail that may lead to the involvement of a powerful South Korean-based syndicate preying on residents in the country.

That the EJK incidences being carried out by those in the frontline of Rody’s war needs proving, a fact which was not acknowledged by the Catholic bishops in the pastoral letter.

READ MORE...

The letter issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stated that Church leaders found disturbing the lack of strong rejection by many Filipinos of the daily killings in the country.

“To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it,” the bishops said. The phrase “Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent,” is added.

The letter said if “we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths.”

Rody, due to his acid mouth stating that he would like to kill all drug offenders, has repeatedly denied that his administration is behind the extrajudicial killings in the country.

The pastoral letter said the bishops will continue to speak “against evil” in a country “shrouded in the darkness of vice and death.”

The bishops said they agree that the narcotics trade needs to be stopped but reiterated that killing suspected drug pushers and users and not giving them due process is not the solution to the problem.

The prelates also expressed concern for those killed and the victims’ families which the letter said their lives “have only become worse.”

“An additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor.

“Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account,” the letter stated.

The bishops, however, acknowledged that killing is a “grave sin” which is equal to pushing of illegal drugs “except for self-defense.”

The bishops, thus, have turned a blind eye or were deaf on the actions taken by Rody’s administration on the EJKs such as the current overhaul of the police force.

Rody’s harsh statements on drug offenders were brought about more by his determination to the campaign rather than a threat which translates to his critics as motive to ascribe to him the string of EJK in the drugs war.

It added that a wrong cannot be corrected by another wrong. “A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong,” the letter added.

The Church leaders also called on the government to get to the bottom of the drug problem and criminality — poverty and corruption.

The bishops said the government should also give priority to reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges.

“The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality,” the bishops said.

The bishops therefore are acknowledging that Rody can’t entirely be blamed on the turnout of the campaign.

The letter even cited the need for cooperation between different sectors of the society to solve the drugs problem.

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

RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD (COMMENTARY)

Used again posted February 08, 2017 at 12:01 am by Jojo Robles


JOJO ROBLES

OF APPROVAL, NOT FEAR

The bishops of the Philippine Catholic Church have got it all wrong. The silence that they heard, if they listened hard enough, is one of approval, not one of fear.

I wish the good members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had consulted with their priests on the ground before issuing that pastoral letter read in many churches last Sunday. Yes, the same clerics who have also avoided, for a lot of valid reasons, using their pulpits in order to once again meddle with purely secular affairs like politics.

I say only “many churches” because I’ve been told that a good number of priests chose not to read the pre-cooked seven-point homily denouncing alleged extra-judicial killings prepared by the CBCP. And I am convinced that if the bishops had asked their front-line clerics why they didn’t read the pastoral letter, they would have understood the situation better.

The overall theme of the CBCP’s sermon was that ordinary Catholics should overcome their fear and speak out against the reported killings of suspected drug pushers and users. By failing to be heard, the bishops said, the faithful had become accomplices in the deaths brought about by the war on drugs initiated and implemented by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bishops bemoaned the “reign of terror” that was gripping the land. And despite admitting their own failings as churchmen—which they did not specify—they said they felt compelled to send out their message.

VERIFYING WITH THE FLOCK

My own belief, as an ordinary Catholic, is that the bishops have once again fallen into the trap of buying into a set of political beliefs without verifying these with their flock. And the main reason that the politically naive leaders of the Church have been gypped is because their current leader, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, is a foremost exponent of that belief system.

Villegas, if he were a tad more attuned to the true sentiments of the faithful, should have stepped down as CBCP president first before the pastoral letter was read in churches all over the land. And he could have asked some other bishop to write it, instead of claiming authorship of the document at its end, as if he was really proud of what he did.

Sin, Aquino and Villegas

But Villegas is an acknowledged protégé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and spiritual adviser and family friend of both Cory and Noynoy Aquino. The fact that the bishops issued a letter written by Villegas himself speaks volumes of its lack of impartiality, as well as of the lack of empathy that those two former presidents are famous for.

And Villegas and his fellow top clerics are still smarting from the attacks that Duterte has leveled against them. They can be forgiven if they feel that they needed some payback – and they only had their pulpit to use in retaliation.

So Villegas and the bishops succumbed to the temptation. But they never thought to ask the faithful, who constitute the church, if what they said was really what the people believed.

* * *

Because the bishops, without any basis, can say that the people are cowering in fear as Duterte carries out his drug war, I think my own assertion—that they wholeheartedly approve of it—is just as valid as theirs. And I think that I have more evidence than just any bishop living in a diocesan “palace” possesses when I say that most church-going Catholics are law-abiding citizens who are actually (if silently) cheering the government on in its campaign.

For the life of me, I can’t remember ever hearing the Church denounce the evils of drug addiction. And even as I listened to last Sunday’s homily in its entirety (even if I felt a great urge to simply walk out), I tried to recall the CBCP condemning the Mamasapano massacre, the failed response to the victims of Typhoon “Yolanda” or even the massive theft of the pork barrel and DAP funds—and I drew a blank.

(This was the same church, after all, that used its parishes to remind voters about the commandment against stealing, which was a pointed reference to one of the presidential candidates that Villegas and his fellow Yellows really worked hard to beat. Tell me again it isn’t dabbling in partisan politics with this pastoral letter.)

But I already started to relate my experience at church last Sunday. Allow me to complete the story.

Because I was so incensed that our local priest had foregone his usual practice of explaining the Gospel and the readings to read the letter and even decided to ad lib on the same theme afterwards (he was a young man and obviously more easily swayed than other, more seasoned clerics, by conveniently packaged politics), I decided to approach him after mass.

After I had made sure that only he could hear me speak, I told him:

“I am praying for you.”

The priest looked at me with a smile and replied: “Thank you.”

Then I got to the point: “I pray that no member of your family ever becomes the victim of a drug addict.”

Then I walked away without saying another word. I didn’t even look back at the priest—and I didn’t hear him offer a reply.


TRIBUNE

Aguirre won’t bow down to opposition, especially to those aligned with yellow LPs Written by Tribune Wires Wednesday, 08 February 2017 00:By Julius Leonen

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday refused to bow down to his critics, particularly elements of the opposition who are against his confirmation at the Commission on Appointments (CA), stressing that their calls for him to resign are not backed by any factual or legal basis.

The Justice secretary said this following after he was called out by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, an opposition congressman, to relinquish his post.

It turns out that Villarin is crying foul because of the pending drug raps at the Department of Justice (DoJ) against Sen. Leila de Lima. Aguirre earlier told The Tribune that the four criminal complaints against the embattled senator are nearing resolution.

“(When it comes) to Sen. de Lima, it’s an all-out war. When it comes to his ‘brods,’ investigations are going nowhere,” Villarin claimed. “If the Justice secretary cannot do his job, then he better resign.”

It will also be recalled that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is known by critics to be aligned with the Liberal Party, was criticized by Aguirre for “desperately dragging” him to the P50-million extortion scandal at the Bureau of Immigration.

READ MORE...

Aguirre’s confirmation at the CA was also deferred due to opposition by Trillanes. The opposition senator opposed the confirmation due to the Justice secretary’s tirades against him.

In a statement issued yesterday, Aguirre said that he will not resign as chief of the Department of Justice (DoJ), adding that he will continue to serve as the Justice secretary as long as he enjoys the trust and confidence of President Duterte.

Aguirre added that he will continue to wage the war against the country’s narcotics trade despite coming under fire from Sen. de Lima’s allies in Congress.

“The call for my resignation is without any factual or legal basis. I am appointed by the President. And for as long as I enjoy his trust and confidence, I will continue to serve as his steward in the Department of Justice,” Aguirre said.

“I will continue to pursue his three-pronged mandate to wage war against drugs, against corruption and against criminality,” Aguirre said.

The justice secretary insisted that only the President can sack him from his post, stressing that he will step down as the DoJ chief only if the President will ask for his resignation.

“However, if the President will ask me to resign, or if I feel that I have lost his trust in any way, I will not stay any moment longer,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre and Duterte are fraternity brothers at San Beda College’s Lex Talionis.

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

RELATED FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

De Lima twits Aguirre: Who’s the real protector of drug lords? Published February 10, 2017 3:46pm By KATHRINA CHARMAINE ALVAREZ, GMA News

Senator Leila de Lima on Friday scored Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II as the “real protector and coddler” of drug lords for supposedly allowing special privileges of high-profile inmates detained at Camp Aguinaldo.

De Lima said Aguirre could have “concealed or suppressed” the confidential memorandum of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which states that the Justice secretary authorized the use of electronic gadgets in exchange for the testimony of convicted drug lords during a House probe on the Bilibid drug trade.

“How can we expect Aguirre to investigate himself? As I see it, it's possible that they concealed or suppressed those documents as the facts disclosed therein, especially the December 9 confidential memo, are very sensitive as they are explosive,” De Lima said.

“So, sino ngayon ang mga tunay na protector and coddler of drug convicts [and] drug lords?,” she added.

De Lima is being accused by the Duterte administration of being a protector of drug lords during her term as Justice secretary.

It was De Lima who first claimed having proof that Aguirre restored the privileges of high-profile inmates for testifying against her in a House committee investigation.

In a BuCor memo dated December 9, 2016, legal office chief Alvin Herrera Lim reported about the inmates use of electronic gadgets, among others, inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial and Detention Center.

“We were informed that based on AFP's confidential investigation, the high profile inmates detained in AFP Custodial and Detention Center continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles e.g. use of electronic gadgets, smart television sets, air conditiong units, internet, cellular phones,” Lim said.

“When pressed for comment, elements of both [the Philippine National Police] and BuCor invoked that they are just following the express instruction of the Hon. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II to allow the entry of the above-enumerated gadgets in return for the testimony they gave during the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside New Bilbid Prison,” the memo said.

De Lima said Aguirre should confirm whether or not his office received a copy of the memo through BuCor chief Director General Benjamin delos Santos.

“Dapat sagutin ni Aguirre yung tanong — natanggap ba n'ya o ng opisina n'ya 'yung mga docs na yan? If so, ano ang ginawa n'ya, kung mayroon man? Bakit ngayon lang siya nag-uutos na imbestigahan 'yang mga kontrabando na 'yan?," De Lima said.

“Those documents speak for themselves. This yet again another scandal in this administration should be seriously and thoroughly investigated. Enough of their deceptions and hypocrisies!,” she added.

Aguirre had already directed Delos Santos to conduct an investigation into the matter.

He also claims that the memo was only based on “hearsay,” as he questioned the motive of Lim.

“Kinukwestiyon ko rin po 'yung kanyang alleged findings through this hearsay testimony,” Aguirre said. — MDM, GMA News

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

RELATED(2) FROM RAPPLER.COM

Aguirre to Pangilinan, De Lima, Trillanes: Sorry, during the first hearing on the Jack Lam bribery case Rappler.com Published 8:24 AM, February 01, 2017 Updated 11:32 PM, February 01, 2017

The justice secretary earlier accused Pangilinan – along with De Lima and Trillanes – of offering immunity to immigration officials to pin him down in the Jack Lam bribery case. He concedes it is hearsay.

'
SORRY.' Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre during the first hearing on the Jack Lam bribery case. Photo by Joseph Vidal/PRIB

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is the type who does not hold back when making public accusations against certain personalities, including – or especially – the former justice chief and his fellow Bedan, Senator Leila de Lima.

And Aguirre did just that last week, shortly after the Senate held its first hearing on the supposed bribery attempt of tycoon Jack Lam.

In media interviews, the justice secretary said Senators Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, and Antonio Trillanes IV were planning to offer immunity to two key personalities, former immigration associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, so they could pin him (Aguirre) down.

When the Senate resumed its hearing on Tuesday, January 31, no less than Pangilinan himself manifested to confront the Cabinet official about his allegations. The apology came swiftly.

“Mister Chair, distinguished members of this honorable committee, to the Filipino people, I take this opportunity to rectify an error and, hopefully, blot out any tarnish caused on the reputation of a member of the Senate,” said Aguirre, reading out loud a prepared statement.

Aguirre confirmed media reports, and admitted to naming Pangilinan as one of the senators allegedly part of the plan to pin him down in the bribery attempt case.

He then quickly added: “After verifying from my sources, and referencing the information we have, let me state for the record that the good Senator is not involved in any plot or any plan as reported earlier. I apologize to Senator Kiko, a good public servant and an even better person, for any blemish caused to his unsullied reputation.”

Pangilinan thanked Aguirre for the apology. Links to articles about the justice chief’s apology were even sponsored posts on Pangilinan’s official Facebook account.

The apology for Senators De Lima and Trillanes, however, didn’t come as swiftly.

De Lima also confronted Aguirre, asking him to clear her as an alleged “plotter.”

The justice chief did not readily relent.

“I have to verify again because of the 3 that I mentioned, only Senator Pangilinan denied his role… with respect to De Lima and Trillanes…will I be given time, perhaps again next week to verify?” said Aguirre.

After some prodding by Blue Ribbon committee chair Senator Richard Gordon and apparent disbelief on De Lima’s part, Aguirre finally caved in. He apologized to both De Lima and Trillanes “if they did not do it.”

“But somebody told me, so that is hearsay,” he added, explaining that apparently, someone else had overheard the senators talking about the alleged immunity offer.

Aguirre’s apology could not have come at a better time. On February 1, the Commission on Appointment's (CA) Committee on Justice and Judicial and Bar Council is set to convene precisely to deliberate on Aguirre’s appointment.

Without a CA nod, Aguirre is unable to maximize his powers as justice secretary.

Pangilinan also happens to be part of the CA committee that will discuss his appointment. – Rappler.com

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INQUIRER

Trillanes urges Aguirre: Quit now, BI bribe scandal may reach Duterte By: Christine O. Avendaño - Reporter / @10avendanoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 09:03 PM February 12, 2017


Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (left) and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS)


MANILA — Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, on Sunday, to resign and save President Duterte from embarrassment following the latter’s alleged involvement in certain controversies that included the bribery or extortion scandal at the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The BI controversy is such a big case with deep implications that may even lead up to the President, according to Trillanes during a radio program.

When contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer later, the senator, who arrived late last week from a trip to the United States, did not want to expound on his statement that the BI scandal might reach the presidential level.

“It could lead up to the President because this is such a deep case … I’m just saying that there is much information that have yet to be uncovered in this bribery scandal, ” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding he would participate in the resumption of the Senate justice committee’s inquiry into the BI controversy on Thursday (Feb. 16).

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And finally expected to appear at Thursday’s hearing will be the elusive Wally Sombero, who allegedly gave P48 million to sacked BI associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, according to Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the justice committee.

Gordon said on Sunday that Sombero called him up last Friday to say he would attend the Thursday hearing, as the Senate was poised to issue a subpoena for him and ask the Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday (Feb. 13) to cancel the latter’s passport.

Sombero was alleged by the two BI officials to have given them the bribe in behalf of casino mogul Jack Lam in exchange for the release of 1,300 Chinese nationals illegally working for Lam at his hotel casino in Pampanga.

But Sombero, who went to Singapore and Canada during the height of the BI scandal, claimed the two BI officials extorted money from Lam in exchange for the release of his Chinese employees who were arrested in November 2016.

In an interview with dzBB radio on Sunday, Trillanes agreed that Sombero, who had skipped the Senate inquiry three times since it started last month, has become “key” to finding out the truth about the controversy.

“Whatever version (Sombero) gives, there will always be someone who will be pinned down here so if I were him, now that he would come here, he should tell the truth because that will be the one to save him,” he said.

Trillanes disclosed he had been getting information of how deep the case has become because it involved a business worth billions of pesos and powerful personalities.

Meanwhile, Trillanes slammed Aguirre for allegedly giving VIP treatment to high profile convicts at a military custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo for testifying against Sen. Leila de Lima’s alleged drug links.

Trillanes said this was tantamount to “tampering with the testimony of witnesses.”

“He had committed so many incompetent things. This should not be only talked about. He would spare the President this embarrassment if he resigns,” he said of Aguirre.

Trillanes doubted Mr. Duterte would fire the justice secretary, opining that the President seemed to be the type who would not fire his friends.

Trillanes also said that Aguirre’s continued stay at the Department of Justice ” will see the investigations against him to continue to go on and we cannot say if this could lead up to the President (as the investigations go) deeper.”

Asked to elaborate, he merely said “we cannot say where it will go.”

In the same dzBB program but separate interview, Gordon said Sombero’s appearance at the inquiry would help piece the story behind the BI scandal.

He said Sombero expressed fears for his safety in a letter he also wrote the committee. Gordon said the Senate security would provide Sombero security from his arrival until his appearance in the Senate committee on Thursday.

Asked whether Sombero named who has been threatening his life, Gordon said the retired policeman did not say so.

Gordon also said that Sombero admitted he told Aguirre when he met with the justice secretary and with Lam in 2016 that Lam needed a “godfather” but it did not mean he wanted to offer a bribe.

” I told him to just explain (at the hearing),” he said. SFM

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RELATED(3) FROM THE INQUIRER

Aguirre mulls installment of CCTVs inside AFP detention facility By Philippine News Agency on February 11, 2017

MANILA –The Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to install CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Detention Center where some high profile inmates are temporarily detained.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the move is due to reports stating that some high profile inmates are living lavish lifestyles at the military’s detention facility.

”I think its not hard to do and it is necessary I think because of this and we put CCTV,” Aguirre told reporters during a press conference last Friday.

He explained that some inmates were detained at the AFP Detention Center due to the congestion inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Building 14 in Muntinlupa City and also to avoid the conflicts between some inmates.

”Alam po ninyo its only because of the congestion of the BuCor that’s why we were forced the get annex of the new bilibid sa Camp Aguinaldo (and) kasi the very reason they were put there because of the riot dalawang riot yun, namatay yung isa for which reason until now they could not be put together dun sa bldg. 14 where they are supposed to be housed before dun sila nag-rumble eh, dun sila nagsaksakan,” he noted.

He also recalled that he decided to transfer high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian from the NBP to the National Bureau of Investigation Detention Center due to safety reasons.

The DOJ chief added that Sebastian’s wife asked to have him transferred for fear for his life after the riot at the NBP’s Building 14.

”As a matter of fact that is the very reason why Jaybee Sebastian was also taken out of bldg. 14 and put sa NBI because of Jaybee Sebastian was complaining, his family was complaining that his life was very much in danger,” he added.

Sebastian was stabbed during a riot inside Building 14 of the NBP last year. Two other high-profile inmates were injured while another one was killed during the stabbing incident.

Aguirre said earlier stated that the claims of Senator Leila De Lima that he has restored the privileges of inmates of the NBP who testified in the inquiry of the House of Representatives on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary are mere hearsays.

“I absolutely and categorically deny the allegations made by Sen. De Lima that I have ordered the restoration of the alleged “lavish” lifestyles of the inmates who testified against her at the House of Representatives probe in the proliferation of the Drug Trade at the New Bilibid Prison. The inmates being referred to are presently detained at the AFP Custodial and Detention Center in Camp Aguinaldo,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre then immediately issued an memorandum to Bureau of Corrections chief Benjamin Delos Santos to investigate the matter.

He also showed to media some photos of the inmates detained in Camp Aguinaldo which show their rather simple lifestyle in contrast to the claims of De Lima.

“These pictures were taken February 10, 2017 at around 11:15 a.m. at the AFP Custodial and Detention Center in Camp Aguinaldo. These are the conditions of our inmates now. Is this a lavish lifestyle? You are more than free to visit them at Camp Aguinaldo if you doubt these pictures,” Aguirre told reporters.

He also refuted the statement of De Lima referring to a confidential memorandum dated Dec. 9, 2016 where Atty. Alvin Herrera Lim, chief of the Legal Office of the Bureau of Corrections, stated that: “When pressed for comment, elements of both PNP and BuCor invoked that they are just following the express instruction of the Hon. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II to allow the entry of the above-enumerated gadgets in return for the testimony they have during the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside the New Bilibid Prisons.”

He also believes that the leak of the confidential document regarding the alleged special privileges granted to high-profile inmates was meant to prevent him from getting the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA) for his post.

“Ang motibo is malapit na yung confirmation hearing ko (The motive is because my confirmation hearing is nearing),” said Aguirre when asked about the possible reason for the disclosure of the document.

AGUIRRE TO CA THIS WEDNESDAY

The Secretary is scheduled to face the CA again this Wednesday with the hopes that it will confirm his appointment to his post.

Aguirre said that he consider to investigate the leak of the December 9, 2016 memorandum signed by Lim.

“Actually doon sa release ng confidential documents you should not release it unless you are authorized,” he explained.

“But we will give him due process,” Aguirre added.

The document which is addressed to BuCor Director General Benjamin Delos Santos shows the minutes of the December 2 conference of the counsels of the BuCor, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the high-profile Bilibid inmates being held at the detention facility of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) in Camp Crame.

Aguirre cited that Lim had already been suspended twice for offenses committed during the time of then Justice Secretaries de Lima and Emmanuel Caparas.

Lim is currently facing another administrative complaint, this time under Aguirre’s watch, for representing himself as a private lawyer in Lucena City without permission from the Justice Secretary and in violation of Civil Service laws.

Aguirre said that, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) received the document, Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo sent a letter dated January 4 to Lim who was told to rectify and make clarifications on the memorandum since “the Secretary nor any of his representative from the Department did not authorize nor give instructions related to the abovementioned matter.”

However, Aguirre said until now Lim has yet to act on Orceo’s letter.

Meanwhile, BuCor chief Benjamin Delos Santos on Friday ordered the relief of all the prison guards stationed at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) detention facility due to these reports that some high profile inmates temporarily detained there are given special privileges.

Delos Santos ordered the 21 prison guards headed by Prison Guard 3 Marlon Mangubat to be transferred back to the New Bilibid Prison to be investigated to determine their possible liability.

In response to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II memorandum issued on Wednesday, Delos Santos said a clearing operation was conducted by a joint team of BuCor and members of the Special Action Force (SAF) at the said facility.

The BuCor chief said the joint team have dismantled air conditioning units and also searched all the rooms and no cellular phones were found in the rooms of said inmates.

He said there is only one phone installed at the reception area for emergency purposes, under watch by BUCOR-SAF and all calls are logged individually showing inmates name, time, date and party contacted.

He added that there is only one television set installed and that is at the reception area for scheduled viewing.


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