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DE LIMA '100% SAFE' IN PRISON, PEOPLE WANT HER IN PRISON, NOT DEAD, SAYS DUTERTE
[COLUMN FROM MANILA STANDARD: Silence and Lent]


FEBRUARY 27 -In this Feb. 24, 2017 photo, Sen. Leila De Lima turns herself in to the Philippine National Police CIDG team at the Senate building in Pasay City. PNA/Avito C. Dalan
Sen. Leila de Lima is "100-percent safe" at police headquarters Camp Crame, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday, as she advised his outspoken critic to pray for the truth to come out. De Lima, who was arrested last Friday on charges that she accepted bribes from jailed drug lords, fears for her safety, noting that some inmates were killed inside their prison cell. Duterte believes that the senator's fear are unfounded. "She is 100-percent safe there," the president said in a chance interview in Malacañang. "I think people are interested not to see her dead but to see her in prison for what she did," he added. Asked what his message is to de Lima, Duterte replied: "Well, she can always pray that the truth will come out eventually if there is another truth." READ MORE...COLUMN Silence and Lent...

ALSO: Trillanes 'too insignificant' to merit attention, Duterte says
[RELATED: At yesterday's rally, Aguirre asks crowd - Who do you want next? Crowd shouted 'Trillanes']
[RELATED(2): SolGen Calida preps charges vs. Trillanes for coddling DDS 'hitmen']


FEBRUARY 27 -During last Saturday's pro-Duterte rally, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked the president’s supporters who should be next to be jailed after Sen. Leila de Lima. The crowd responded by shouting “Trillanes.” File
President Rodrigo Duterte Monday refused to react to issues involving Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, saying he is too “insignificant” to merit attention. “He is too insignificant to bother yourself. Ba’t papatol ka? (I won’t bother to comment),” Duterte said in an ambush interview with reporters in Malacañang. A fierce critic of Duterte, Trillanes recently accused the president of not declaring more than P2 billion in his bank accounts, an allegation he also made days before the May 2016 elections. Trillanes also claimed that Duterte had wanted him dead since the chief executive won the presidential race. READ MORE...RELATED, At yesterday's rally, Aguirre asks crowd - Who do you want next? Crowd shouted 'Trillanes'... RELATED(2)
SolGen Calida preps charges vs. Trillanes for coddling DDS 'hitmen'...

ALSO: Duterte on accuser Lascañas -  As a policeman, I saw him once, twice a year
[RELATED: Rody unfazed by ‘exposés’ by more ‘recanting’ witness]


FEBRUARY 27 -President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that he knows retired police officer SPO3 Arthur Lascañas who flipped his previous statements to confirm the existence of the Davao Death Squad. "Well, as a policeman, yes. I saw him once, twice a year," Duterte said in a chance interview in Malacañang. Duterte said that that when he was still a mayor of Davao City, he would give the police money to buy drugs to build cases against the suspects. "It so happened that, itong mga ibang pulis pocket-up, gaya ‘nong mga pera, because you know you have to give the police money, because if they go out and hunt for trafficking of drugs, there must be a selling and a buying, otherwise, there is no trafficking. Kaya ‘yung sinasabi na binibigyan sila ng pera, I do not deny that," Duterte said. READ MORE...RELATED, Rody unfazed by ‘exposés’ by more ‘recanting’ witness...

ALSO:
LP senators ousted from majority, committee posts after formal motion from Sen Pacquiao
[RELATED: Senate majority purges yellows; Move aimed to 'clear blurred lines' hampering work in Senate, Sotto said]


FEBRUARY 27 -Senators vote on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 to replace Sen. Franklin Drilon with Sen. Ralph Recto as Senate president pro tempore after a motion by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao office/Released
(3rd update, 5:43 p.m.) — Several senators from the Liberal Party have been ousted from their committee chairmanships and were booted out of the majority on Monday. Sen. Manny Pacquiao declared the senate president pro tempore post, held by Sen. Franklin Drilon, as vacant. He also declared the chairmanships of the committees on education, agriculture and health as vacant. The three committees were all chaired by Liberal Party members who have been voicing opposition to some of the administration's policies. Senate President Koko Pimentel (right) swears in new Senate President Pro-Tempore Sen. Ralph Recto, who replaces Sen. Franklin Drilon. Drilon and colleagues Sens. Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan become part of the Senate minority. Pacquiao office/Released  Sen. Ralph Recto, who was previously the minority leader, has been elected as the new Senate President Pro Tempore, replacing Sen. Franklin Drilon. Both senators are members of the LP. READ MORE...RELATED,
Senate majority purges yellows;Move aimed to 'clear blurred lines' hampering their work in Senate - Sotto said...

ALSO: Robredo slams Duterte admin 'obsessed with monopolizing power'
[ALSO: Gordon firm, calls cop ‘damaged witness’; ''To the  public's detriment if Senate accepts damaged witness' dubious testimony'.]


FEBRUARY 27 -Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday slammed the Duterte administration as “obsessed with monopolizing” after senators affiliated with the Liberal Party were booted off key positions. “What happened in the Senate today is characteristic of an administration obsessed with monopolizing power and intent on marginalizing those who have opposing views,” she said. “This has happened before. In the past, this paved the way for a one-man rule,” she added, in apparent reference to the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. READ MORE... RELATED, Gordon firm, calls cop ‘damaged witness’; ''To the  public's detriment if Senate accepts damaged witness' dubious testimony'....

ALSO: By Cielito Habito - Badly divided
[RELATED EDITORIAL: Why the spirit of EDSA has faded]


FEBRUARY 28 - Cielito Habito -What is happening to our country?” “Is there hope for the Philippines?” I am again hearing these questions crop up increasingly in casual conversations. The first was famously attributed to the late former vice president Emmanuel Pelaez when he survived an ambush in July 1982—a period marked by spreading dissent against the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship. It has been a while since I last heard these questions asked around me with the same frequency I’m hearing them now. To me, they signal a growing feeling of frustration and helplessness at a situation seemingly getting out of hand. And events of the last week appear to dramatize quite well what is wrong. The Inquirer’s Sunday headline said it all: “A nation divided,” it said, on photographs of two opposing rallies in different parts of the city. READ MORE...RELATED EDITORIAL Why the spirit of EDSA has faded...


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De Lima '100% safe' in prison, people want her in prison, not dead, says Duterte


In this Feb. 24, 2017 photo, Sen. Leila De Lima turns herself in to the Philippine National Police CIDG team at the Senate building in Pasay City. PNA/Avito C. Dalan

MANILA, FEBRUARY 28, 2017 (PHILSTAR)  By Alexis Romero Updated February 27, 2017 - Sen. Leila de Lima is "100-percent safe" at police headquarters Camp Crame, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday, as she advised his outspoken critic to pray for the truth to come out.

De Lima, who was arrested last Friday on charges that she accepted bribes from jailed drug lords, fears for her safety, noting that some inmates were killed inside their prison cell.

Duterte believes that the senator's fear are unfounded.

"She is 100-percent safe there," the president said in a chance interview in Malacañang.

"I think people are interested not to see her dead but to see her in prison for what she did," he added.

Asked what his message is to de Lima, Duterte replied: "Well, she can always pray that the truth will come out eventually if there is another truth."

READ MORE...

"Ako naman di naman mahilig mang ano ng kapwa tao. Yung nasa akin, pinapatay ko, criminal talaga namang dapat patayin yan. (I am not fond of persecuting people. I just want to kill criminals). How can we move in this country kung lahat bangag sa droga (if everyone is high on drugs)?" he added.

"Miski ganito lang ako (Even if I'm just like this), I love my country and I would really destroy you (drug lords)."

Duterte declined to comment about claims that there was insufficient evidence against the senator.

"I think the case has been filed, a warrant has been issued and it is subjudice. I would not want to violate the standard operating procedure of court. You're not supposed to be giving your opinion while the case is pending," he said.

Duterte said he does not know if another prominent personality would be arrested over illegal drugs.

"Honestly, I have not called (Justice Secretary Vitaliano) Aguirre once. That's the truth. I don't interfere with their jobs," the president said.

Jee Ick-joo, a Korean businessman earlier accused of being involved in the drug trade, was found to have died inside Camp Crame in October last year allegedly in the hands of police officers who abducted him.

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COLUMN FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Silence and Lent Eagle eyes by Tony La Vina posted February 28, 2017 at 12:01 am by Tony La Viña



“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

These are the powerful words uttered by the priest as he ceremonially places ash on the foreheads of Catholics during the Ash Wednesday celebration, which signals the beginning of the Lenten Season. This year, Ash Wednesday will be tomorrow.


BY TONY LA VINA

In his Lenten message, Pope Francis reflects on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Lying before the door of the rich man, Lazarus fed on the crumbs falling from his table.

This biblical narrative is most timely and appropriate especially today with the unjust persecution of Senator Leila de Lima, the continuing massacre of the poor, and the looming passage of the death penalty bill at the House of Representatives. The trolls and mob cheering these developments can only be chilling for a country that says it is Christian and Catholic.

If we hold a mirror to ourselves as a people, we will be shocked at what some of us have become: The opposite of the people of God. We are a people supposedly of faith, love, mercy and compassion, but many of us have become, today, filled with hatred, resentment, vengeance and deceit.

Going back to the parable, Francis tells us in contrast about the rich man who becomes “vain out of greed, his appearances mask [ing] ‘an internal emptiness,’ making him a prisoner of his sin.”

He said the rich man’s real problem, then, is that he failed to heed God’s word, and because of this, he lost his love for God and began to despise his neighbor. “The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God,” he said, adding that “when we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.” Lent, he added, “is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor.”

What is beautiful about Christianity, notwithstanding the imperfection, inconsistency, and hypocrisy of bishops, religious, priests, and believers (me included), is that it liberally dispenses the message of hope and love to friends and foes alike.

Surely, no matter how wretchedly sinful a person might be, Christ’s inexhaustible love and mercy remains available to whosoever chooses to return to his loving embrace. As Francis also once said, “When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.”

Mercy then is what the next 40 days is all about.

Because I have experienced and continue to experience the Lord’s mercy, in spite of my relentless sinfulness, I would like to accompany my readers during this season of Lent. I will share reflections at least once a week, probably preceding each Sunday of Lent and onwards even to the first weeks of Easter. Aside from the scriptural readings, I will use as material the relevant homilies and addresses of Pope Francis, excerpts from my Lenten reading—Shusako Endo’s novel Silence (that has now been made into a movie by Martin Scorcese), and passages and prayers from the personal spiritual journal I kept during a 30 day Ignatian retreat I experienced in 2015.

We are not at a good time today, in this country and world.

In the Middle East and Africa, and here at home with the collapse of the unilateral ceasefires by the New People’s Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the violence of our language precedes and accompanies the bullets and bombs that are killing combatants and civilians alike. Global and domestic politics has reached rock bottom, vicious and poisonous, with narcissistic politicians dominating the headlines and cyberspace. These will worsen before they get better.

This Lent, let’s ask for silence so we can listen to the assurance of salvation. Another, better and kinder world is possible. But before we get there, we must ask forgiveness and convert.

SILENCE

Silence will lead our hearts to that moment of metanoia, a word explained very well by Saint Pope Paul VI: “Through the word of Christ a message is transmitted to him which invites him to conversion and grants forgiveness of sins. These gifts he fully attains in baptism. This sacrament, in fact, configures him to the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, and places the whole future of the life of the baptized under the seal of this mystery. Therefore, following the Master, every Christian must renounce himself, take up his own cross and participate in the sufferings of Christ. Thus transformed into the image of Christ’s death, he is made capable of meditating on the glory of the resurrection.”

Silence will help us see that we have been and are forgiven, that the love and power of God is greater than all the evil in this country and world. Silence will make it easier for us to say yes to the cross and participate in the passion and death of our Lord.

Silence will help us rejoice when, come Easter vigil night, we proclaim the Exultet: “This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave . . . O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer! Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!”

And so as Lent begins, I share the prayer with which I began my retreat in 2015. It was suggested to me by my retreat master, Fr. Chris Dumadag, SJ - the novice master of the Society of Jesus, truly a holy priest who understands and teaches young Jesuits nd searching lay persons like me the work of the Spirit. I offer it now to all my reader, so that you will all be graced with silence in this season:

“Slow my pace, Lord. Slow my life. Come sit by me at the well. I am exhausted. Give rest to my heart; bring calm to my feelings.

Come lead me to the mountain. I am empty. Give me these hours the leisure to be still that I savor the quiet of rolling hills, tasting the presence of the Divine.

Bring me from the running of the day and the doing of the duties to the sitting in the evening to know the reward of being.

Set aside the problems of mind; Soothe the aches of the heart; give rest to the body that I hear the music of my being and know a quiet that allows the soaring of the soul.

Be gentle, Teacher, teaching the truth of being. In gentleness, command silence. In stillness, embrace my spiritand re-enkindle with love . . . and opening the embrace give freedom to the soul.

Slow my pace, Spirit of Love. Breathe into my being, Word . . . And with a mighty wind blow the incarnate word to the ends of the earth.”

[AMEN! PHNO]


PHILSTAR

Trillanes 'too insignificant' to merit attention, Duterte says By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated February 27, 2017 - 5:33pm 4 201 googleplus1 0


During last Saturday's pro-Duterte rally, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked the president’s supporters who should be next to be jailed after Sen. Leila de Lima. The crowd responded by shouting “Trillanes.” File

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte Monday refused to react to issues involving Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, saying he is too “insignificant” to merit attention.

“He is too insignificant to bother yourself. Ba’t papatol ka? (I won’t bother to comment),” Duterte said in an ambush interview with reporters in Malacañang.

A fierce critic of Duterte, Trillanes recently accused the president of not declaring more than P2 billion in his bank accounts, an allegation he also made days before the May 2016 elections. Trillanes also claimed that Duterte had wanted him dead since the chief executive won the presidential race.

READ MORE...

Duterte has denied the allegations and even called the senator a tulisan (brigand). He also vowed to resign if Trillanes could prove that he has even half a billion in his bank accounts.

During a pro-Duterte rally in Manila last Saturday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked the president’s supporters who should be next to be jailed after Sen. Leila de Lima. The crowd responded by shouting “Trillanes.”

The arrest of De Lima, who has been accused of accepting bribes from jailed drug lords, was seen by the president’s critics as political persecution. Officials have denied that De Lima’s arrest is politically motivated.

Duterte said his critics have nothing to fear unless they are involved in illegal drugs.

“If you yourself are into drugs, you should be afraid,” the president said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Aguirre asks crowd: Who do you want next? By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2017 - 12:00am 43 1235 googleplus0


AGUIRRE says he asked the question 'who do you want next' in jest...

MANILA, Philippines - A day after Sen. Leila de Lima was detained at Camp Crame, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II asked yesterday thousands of supporters of President Duterte who they want next.

“Who do you want next (to be jailed)?,” Aguirre asked the crowd as reported by GMANews online.

The crowd replied: “Trillanes.”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is one of the vocal critics of Duterte.

Aguirre was one of the officials who showed up at the prayer vigil and rock concert for President Duterte in Rizal Park late yesterday afternoon.

But when asked to clarify his remark, Aguirre said he was asked that question even before he gave his short message to the crowd, explaining that he did not mean anything as it was only intended to entertain people.

“The question has been asked even before I spoke for about two minutes. It’s only a way of entertaining people,” he said.

He stressed that it was not his intention to have another argument with Trillanes. “Why do you want people to quarrel when there is nothing to it.”

He said he was merely asking the people to help him in providing support to the administration of President Duterte.

“I said help me in supporting the administration of President Duterte. I don’t need the help of anybody outside the DOJ (Department of Justice) family,” said Aguirre.

“In prosecuting criminals, you need lawyers not just anybody.”

The gathering in Rizal Park is set to last until today.

De Lima was arrested on drug charges on Friday and detained at the PNP Custodial Center.

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

RELATED(2) FROM THE INQUIRER

Trillanes, you’re next – SolGen Calida By: Erika Sauler - Reporter / @erikaINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 07:16 PM February 27, 2017

.
Senator Antonio Trillanes says he is not afraid to be in prison or even die for opposing Duterte...

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is next.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday said his office was now studying the filing of charges against Trillanes for coddling self-confessed criminals Arthur Lascañas and Edgar Matobato.

In a pro-Duterte rally in Luneta on Saturday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II asked the crowd who they want to go next after Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte’s human rights record, was arrested on drug trafficking charges.

“[Trillanes is] also a person of interest. Why is he hiding and protecting this self-confessed criminal?” Calida said in a press briefing, referring to retired policeman Lascañas.

Trillanes has revived the issue of supposedly undeclared P2.2 billion in transactions from 2006 to 2015 in Duterte’s bank accounts.

Calida said Trillanes was liable for providing security to a person who admitted killing his two brothers.

But as to what specific charges to be filed, Calida said, “Give me more time and I’ll have the proper case to be filed against him.”

“How can you believe the statement of a perjurer? But since he wants to be in the limelight and he claims to have killed so many persons, he should be arrested,” Calida said.

“Even (Edgar) Matobato, why is (Trillanes) coddling them? Is this the job of a senator?” Calida said.

Lascañas and Matobato have provided details on the killings allegedly carried out by the Davao Death Squad./ac


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Duterte on accuser Lascañas:  As a policeman, I saw him once, twice a year February 27, 2017 7:01pm By TRISHA MACAS,

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that he knows retired police officer SPO3 Arthur Lascañas who flipped his previous statements to confirm the existence of the Davao Death Squad.

"Well, as a policeman, yes. I saw him once, twice a year," Duterte said in a chance interview in Malacañang.

Duterte said that that when he was still a mayor of Davao City, he would give the police money to buy drugs to build cases against the suspects.

"It so happened that, itong mga ibang pulis pocket-up, gaya ‘nong mga pera, because you know you have to give the police money, because if they go out and hunt for trafficking of drugs, there must be a selling and a buying, otherwise, there is no trafficking. Kaya ‘yung sinasabi na binibigyan sila ng pera, I do not deny that," Duterte said.

READ MORE...

"Ganito ‘yan. Lahat… Magtanong ka ng lahat na army, lahat ng pulis na dumaan ng Davao, I give money every command conference, tapos operating. Ngayon, kung meron silang buy-bust, maghingi ng pera ‘yan, pambili. Kasi kung wala kang pera, walang transaction sa shabu. Iyong iba, binulsa. Tapos sinabi, binibigyan. Bakit kami magbigay ng pera sa kanila? May sweldo sila," he added.

"But ‘yung iba binulsa ‘yung drug money na pambili, binulsa pa ‘yung pera ng -- ‘yung pusher. Kinuha pa ‘yung shabu pati ‘yung pera nila," Duterte said.

Lascañas said that the DDS was paid up to P100,000 per target.

The President said that he only gave orders to the chiefs of police in Davao City when he was a mayor.

This included Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa who used to hold the post.

"I give the orders to the chief, kay Bato. Wala akong bata-bata na ganoon. Even sa military. I just go to the kay ano…Don’t make it a habit of -- ‘di ba sinabi ko? Every now and then do not create a false -- I do not need it. I said, I do not need it, I do not like it," he said.

Duterte said that he never denied about his campaign against criminality in Davao City.

"I did not deny that hundreds of criminals died in Davao City. Sa 23 years ko? Eh talagang naubos. But, you know, I’m a -- an employee of the government, I built a city and I will build a nation," Duterte said.

"Hindi ko trabaho ‘yang…Pero sa pulis, upon my order, just the same. 'Do not destroy my country, do not deprive us of our young people. You will die.' They’re the same orders that I’m giving here," he added. —NB, GMA News

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Rody unfazed by ‘exposés’ by more ‘recanting’ witness Written by Ted Tuvera Tuesday, 28 February 2017 00:00



UNPERTURBED

For President Duterte, no matter how many witnesses Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes present before the Senate, including witnesses who recant and whom Sen. Richard Gordon call paid witnesses, he remains unperturbed by these claimed “exposés” being laid out by the Senate duo in their bid to pin the President down on his alleged orders to kill suspected drug pushers and addicts and his links to the alleged Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Mr. Duterte is unfazed by the alleged revelations made by retired Davao City Police Chief SPO3 Arturo Lascañas linking him to the DDS even if more witnesses against him surface in the coming days.

Breaking his silence on Lascañas, the President told reporters in an ambush interview at the Palace yesterday that he is certain of more “exposés” against him surfacing.

“Oh, well… There might be another one coming after the recantation of ( Lascañas) and more recantations. I’m sure,” the President said, unperturbed by the so-called exposés.

Mr. Duterte, moreover, appeared to have ignored Lascañas’ claims that he had ordered the killing of suspected drug traffickers during his 23-year stint as Davao City Mayor.

“I did not deny that hundreds of criminals died in Davao City in my 23 years as mayor. Well, the (drug pushers in Davao City) are all gone,” the President said, but stressed that it was his order to policemen to go after the drug lords and drug pushers, which were legal orders.

He denied that he utilized the services of the vigilante group DDS.

“Ordering the vigilantes to kill them (drug manufacturers and pushers) is not my job...but when it comes to the police, they do it , upon my order.

“Do not destroy my country, do not deprive us of our young people [because] you will die,” he emphasized.

The Chief Executive also did not deny what Lascañas and even London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International bared that operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are given financial incentives in carrying out anti-narcotics operations.

“The charge that I give the police money, I do not deny that,” Mr. Duterte said.

“Ask all the members of the army, all the members of the police who were in Davao. I give money in every command conference... (the money which is given for) operating expenses,” he explained further.

The money he gives, the President noted, is meant for operations such as “marked money” needed during buy-bust operations.

However, some PNP officials are illegally pocketing cash incentives given to them, said Mr. Duterte.

“There are those who pocket the money (pretending) to buy the shabu from the pusher, then get the pusher’s shabu along with stealing the money from the pusher,” Mr. Duterte said.

He denied that he and Lascañas had a “close friendship” saying that he merely knows the retired policeman as a policeman.

“Well, I only know Lascañas as a policeman. But I (only) saw him once, twice a year,” the President said despite the retired Police official’s claim of being the long time Davao City mayor’s right-hand man.

The Chief Executive said that he does not have any police or military chum who could be considered as his “right hand man” except perhaps for his long time sidekick, Special Assistant to the President Christopher ‘Bong’ Go.

Gordon insists: Not the Senate

The testimony of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas should be heard by the Ombudsman and not by the Senate, Senator Gordon reiterated yesterday.

The probe on Lascañas, however, to proceed will proceed as planned under the committe on justice, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, head of the panel said.

Gordon, in continuing his objection to the hearing under the said committee, insisted that the Ombudsman and not the Senate should take cognizance of Lascañas’ testimony.

Gordon made this remark after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday released a copy of the affidavit of Lascañas where he relayed the origin of the so-called vigilante group Davao Death Squad.

Last week, Gordon described it as a “slap in the face” of the Senate to hear Lascañas’ new testimony after he retracted his first testimony in a October 2016 Senate probe denying the existence of a death squad.

Last February 20, however, Lascañas claimed that there was indeed a death squad hired to kill criminals and non-criminals in Davao City.

Gordon said that allowing Lascañas to make a new testimony in the Senate after he lied becomes “inconsistent” and appears “dubious.”

PROBE BY LACSON

Lacson earlier said that he will schedule a date on the hearing on Lascañas’ testimony as soon as he receives a copy of the affidavit.

The probe into Lascañas’ testimony was referred to Lacson’s committee after 10 out of 24 senators voted to proceed with the hearing.

Lacson said that if there will be no intervention from any of his colleagues, it will remain in his committee.

In his 12-page affidavit, Lascañas said that he is now ready to “tell the truth” about the existence of the death squad after initially denying it in a Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings last October 2016.

It was self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato who first claimed that there was indeed a death squad. However, Lascañas rejected his claims noting that he feared for the safety of his family in Davao City.

On another note, the President is not yet sure if he is restoring the PNP’s mandate to hunt down narcotic traffickers through its Oplan Tokhang while recognizing the apparent resurgence of the illegal industry in the past weeks.

Mr. Duterte says that he has ordered PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa to look for committed operatives first before allowing them to have a hand on the war against illegal drugs.

“Dela Rosa’s job is to look for young men in the PNP who are imbued with patriotic fervor to serve their country...Well, I said, give me men that I can trust to handle the campaign against drugs,” he said.

“There is again a rise of the drug activities by 20 percent. Like I have been telling you, it’s (Drugs) a virulent thing,” the Chief Executive lamented.

Lascañas ordered to kill me-Trillanes

Trillanes a few days ago came up with an incredible allegation against President Duterte saying he had ordered supposed extrajudicial killings (EJK) whistleblower Lascañas to “plot an assassination” on him.

Trillanes, in a television interview, said Lascañas confessed to him that he was given instructions to eliminate Trillanes through Duterte’s alleged trusted aide SPO4 Sanson “Sonny” Buenaventura, a security escort and driver of Mr. Duterte when he was Davao City Mayor since 1988 until December 2008, when he retired from the post.

“He told me that Duterte through Sonny Buenaventura wanted to have me killed but he had hesitated. He merely suggested another mode to get rid of me. So he begged off from that mission,” Trillanes said.

“He suggested that I can be rammed by a truck or something to make it look like an accident. Something like that,” he added.With Angie M. Rosales


PHILSTAR

LP senators ousted from majority, committee posts By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated February 27, 2017 - 4:52pm 116 3043 googleplus0 0


Senators vote on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 to replace Sen. Franklin Drilon with Sen. Ralph Recto as Senate president pro tempore after a motion by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao office/Released

MANILA, Philippines (3rd update, 5:43 p.m.) — Several senators from the Liberal Party have been ousted from their committee chairmanships and were booted out of the majority on Monday.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao declared the senate president pro tempore post, held by Sen. Franklin Drilon, as vacant.

He also declared the chairmanships of the committees on education, agriculture and health as vacant. The three committees were all chaired by Liberal Party members who have been voicing opposition to some of the administration's policies.


Senate President Koko Pimentel (right) swears in new Senate President Pro-Tempore Sen. Ralph Recto, who replaces Sen. Franklin Drilon. Drilon and colleagues Sens. Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan become part of the Senate minority. Pacquiao office/Released

Sen. Ralph Recto, who was previously the minority leader, has been elected as the new Senate President Pro Tempore, replacing Sen. Franklin Drilon. Both senators are members of the LP.

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Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a Liberal Party ally who chaired the committee on health, has been replaced by Sen. JV Ejercito.

Sen. Cynthia Villar replaced Sen. Francis Pangilinan of the LP as chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food.

Sen. Bam Aquino has also been ousted as chairman of the committee on education and has been replaced by Sen. Francis Escudero.

Aquino, Drilon, Hontiveros and Pangilinan are now part of the Senate minority along with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

The four LP senators ousted from their posts were also those who visited Sen. Leila De Lima at her office before her arrest last week. They also attended the 31st anniversary celebration of the EDSA revolution at the People Power Monument in Quezon City last Saturday.

"If this is the price to pay to show up on the streets of EDSA, talking about democracy, talking about the issues of violence on our streets... If this is the price to pay, I gladly pay that price," Aquino said on being stripped off his committee chairmanship.


In this Feb. 7, 2017 photo, Liberal Party Sens. Kiko Pangilinan (center), Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros attend the hearing on the proposed revival of the death penalty with Sen. Leila de Lima (right). Pangilnan is the president of Liberal Party. Senate PRIB

De Lima, also an LP member, is facing charges for her alleged involvement in the new Bilibid Prison drug trade.

Last Thursday, the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant against De Lima over drug charges by the Department of Justice. The neophyte senator is currently detained at the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame. — with reports from Paolo Romero

 
Pacquiao ousts Drillon; LP senators form minority by philstarnews

Pacquiao ousts Drillon; LP senators form minority RepostLike Philstar.com by Philstar.com
Add to Senator Manny Pacquiao motioned to remove Sen. Drilon as senate president pro-tempore as well as to boot out other LP senators from their committee positions.

Video clip from the Senate of the Philippines Publication date : 02/27/2017 Duration : 01:52 Category : News

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

Senate majority purges yellows; Move aimed to 'clear blurred lines' hampering their work in Senate - Sotto Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 28 February 2017 00:00 By Angie M. Rosales and Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

RECTO NEW SENATE PRO TEMP

The Senate majority booted out Liberal Party (LP) senators and one LP ally from the dominant bloc by stripping them of their Senate posts.

Senate majority floor leader Vicente Sotto III said the move was aimed at “clearing the blurred lines” which sometimes have hampered their work in the upper chamber.

All it took was 15 minutes for four senators from the majority bloc identified with the previous administration, or the so-called yellow bloc, to find themselves being “ousted” from their leadership and committee chairmanship posts. Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros effectively became the minority bloc with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who was the last hold out of the original opposition senators.

In another unprecedented move, majority of those in the so-called “super majority” coalition have decided to strip Pangilinan, Aquino and Hontiveros of their chairmanships while Drilon was replaced by Minority Leader Ralph Recto as president pro tempore.

The decision was reached during a closed-door caucus attended by 10 senators, without a member of the LP bloc, shortly before they held the afternoon plenary proceedings.

All of those present in the caucus were tight-lipped as to what was discussed in the meeting, leaving reporters to surmise the possibility of the impending hearing on the testimony of retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas or the possible transfer of referral concerning his testimony from the committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson to the committee on justice and human rights under Sen. Richard Gordon.

Blurred lines

But based on the statement issued by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, “work in the Senate has been hampered by the blurring of lines between the majority and the minority to the detriment of public interest.”

“There have been instances where the majority, instead of closing ranks, ended up divided,” he said.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III echoed the same, adding that clear lines have to be drawn in other for them to achieve the Senate’s legislative agenda.

“Let’s just say that we’re going to clear the blurred lines,” Sotto told reporters before the afternoon session or before Sen. Manny Pacquiao sought on the floor the declaration of the chairmanships of the said senators vacant.

Pacquiao also nominated Senators JV Ejercito, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Cynthia Villar to take over the posts in the committees on health, education and agriculture, respective.

Incidentally, Pangilinan, Hontiveros and Aquino “seconded” the motion on their “removal” from their committees.

Recto’s assumption was backed by 17 senators who voted for him by raising their hands and what transpired next saw him taking an “oath” before Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel.

Escudero voted for Recto which now made him also a member of the majority bloc.

VOTED FOR RECTO TO REPLACE DRILON

Those who voted for Recto’s election as president pro tempore were Senators Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Win Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Vicente Sotto III, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel.

Those who voted against Recto’s assumption were Senators Sonny Angara, Aquino, Drilon, Hontiveros, Recto and Trillanes.

Aquino attributed to the issue of their openly supporting embattled Sen. Leila de Lima, taking a stance on matters such as the alleged extrajudicial killings and appearing in the Edsa People Power anniversary celebration last Saturday, members of the Liberal Party (LP) bloc in the Senate have been stripped of their committee chairmanships.

“This is really a political move - a partisan move. I believe we were given a sample because we’ve been very adamant about policies like the death penalty. We are against that and also the lowering of the age of criminal liability. The support on Senator de Lima and our presence on Edsa,” he said.

During the plenary session, immediately after Senator Escudero was named as his replacement, Aquino emphasized that he does not begrudge his colleagues for their decision.

“For the record, let me just say that it was a pleasure being your committee on education chairman and if this is the price to pay to show up on the streets of Edsa talking about democracy, talking about the issues of violence on our streets, if this is the price to pay, I will gladly pay that price,” he said.

Hontiveros lamented the loss of “independence” of the upper chamber under the Duterte administration.

Hontiveros who is a member of Akbayan party but aligned with the Liberal Party (LP) members in the Senate said that she decided to join the majority bloc, then the 17th Congress opened last July, “under the premise that it will push for a strong and independent Senate.”

“Sadly, this is no longer the case. Thus, I decided to concede the chairmanship of the committee on health and move to the minority,” she said.

Nonetheless, Hontiveros said she will not be impeded, despite the latest development on panel assignments in the upper chamber, from pushing for universal healthcare for the public or intimidate her from defending democracy and human rights.

Drilon, for his part, tried to brush aside the significance of the day’s event.

DRILON REACTS

“Nothing. We are not kapit-tuko (We do not cling like lizards),” Drilon said when asked by reporters after the plenary session on how he felt over the “reorganization” which apparently no one saw coming except some of those in the majority bloc who moved to have him and four other colleagues from the Liberal Party (LP) “bloc” within the so-called “super majority coalition” stripped of their committee chairmanships.

Numbers game

“After 19 years in the Senate, nothing surprises me anymore,” he said.

“It’s a numbers game. They have the numbers. But just for the record, the LP supported Senate President (Aquilino “Koko”) Pimentel when we reorganized the 17th Congress. That’s on the record. We offered him six votes and part of the first 13 votes that he got included seven from LP and its allies,” Drilon said in trying to contradict the claims of Pimentel as well as Majority Leader Sotto that somehow depicted them as “obstructionists” in the legislative agenda of the administration.

“They are the ones who kicked us out so you ask them,” Drilon said.

As they take on the role of the minority bloc, the senator said they will continue scrutinizing the bills that will be presented and continue doing their jobs as upper chamber members.

Considering that he has not been replaced as chair of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, Drilon said it’s up to the majority whether they will alow him to keep the panel under his wing.

“The chairmanship of the committee is always the will of the majority. It’s up to them,” he said.

Robredo stirs intrigue

Following the Senate shake up, Vice President Leni Robredo tried to inject intrigue into the move saying that it clearly characterized an administration “obsessed with monopolizing power”.

The vice president said the recent events in the Senate has happened before under the dictatorial leadership of Ferdinand Marcos, “in the past, this paved the way for a one-man rule.”

She underscored that “democracy demands dissent.”

In her statement, she emphasized that the Liberal Party is mandated with this current administration “to put national interest before politics.”

“What happened in the Senate today is characteristic of an administration obsessed with monopolizing power and intent on marginalizing those who have opposing views.”

Continuing further, the vice president said despite their efforts, “it is now clear that the Duterte administration is incapable of tolerating dissent, no matter how constructive.”

In her firm declaration, Robredo vowed that they “will not be silenced” as “our nation deserves no less.”

Robredo, resigned from her post as then government’s housing czar after being ordered to “desist from attending all Cabinet meetings.”


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Robredo slams Duterte admin 'obsessed with monopolizing power' Published February 27, 2017 6:14pm By ROSE-AN JESSICA DIOQUINO, GMA News

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday slammed the Duterte administration as “obsessed with monopolizing” after senators affiliated with the Liberal Party were booted off key positions.

“What happened in the Senate today is characteristic of an administration obsessed with monopolizing power and intent on marginalizing those who have opposing views,” she said.

“This has happened before. In the past, this paved the way for a one-man rule,” she added, in apparent reference to the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

READ MORE...

The Senate on Monday stripped LP members of their committee chairmanships and removed party leader Sen. Franklin Drilon as senate president pro-tempore.

LP interim president Sen. Francis Pangilinan (committee on agriculture), Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (committee on education), and party ally Sen. Risa Hontiveros (committee on health) all lost their respective committee chairmanships.

Sen. Leila de Lima, an LP member and Duterte's staunch critic, was arrested a day before the said gathering, over one of the three drug charges filed against her.

The senators said they saw Malacañang's hand in their ouster, which Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo has denied. —JST, GMA News

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ALSO FROM THE TRIBUNE

Gordon firm, calls Lascañas ‘damaged witness’; ''To the  public's detriment if Senate accepts damaged witness' dubious testimony'. Written by Angie M. Rosales Monday, 27 February 2017 00:00



TRILLANES CITES 2-HOUR LASCANAS VIDEO

Sen. Richard Gordon is not yielding in his opposition to allowing retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas to testify at a Senate hearing after reversing his earlier testimony as Gordon called Lascañas a damaged witness whose recantation, if allowed to pass, would stain the “integrity and dignity of the Senate.”

In a statement, the chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights said it would be to the public’s detriment if the Senate would accept a damaged witness whose testimonies would be dubious.

Gordon called for greater emphasis on protecting the dignity and integrity of institutions, such as the Senate, as it serves as the vanguard of democracy and a bastion of knowledge and information in which committees investigate issues in aid of legislation. At the Oct. 3 hearing, Lascanas flatly denied allegations of his involvement in the DDS.

But at a press conference organized by Trillanes at the Senate last week, Lascanas claimed he was pressured into lying under oath when he testified before the Senate committee hearing.

Controverting his testimony at that hearing, Lascanas confirmed that the DDS does exist, claimed that President Duterte, then Davao City mayor, paid between P 20,000 and P100,000 for each kill, and narrated the supposed hit jobs on prominent personalities that were allegedly ordered by Duterte.

“He lied to all of us. And to come down now and say, ‘Pretty please second chance.’ No! You already stained the dignity of the Senate by lying and we do not want that dignity, that respect that must be accorded this body, to all the 24 constituting the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines, be stained,” he said in reference to Lascanas.

Another whistleblower, Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed assassin and who claims to be a member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), called Lascañas in an earlier Senate testimony as one of the “most powerful policemen in Davao City.”

Gordon stressed that no one should be allowed to trifle with the Senate as it would set a bad precedent in all investigations conducted by the the upper chamber committees.

Duterte-critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV claimed that aside from executing a sworn affidavit on his allegations linking Mr Duterte to extra judicial killings (EJK) and the DDS operations during his term as Davo City Mayor, Lascanas has a two-hour video of his confession on his charges against Mr. Duterte even up to the time he was already the Chief Executive.

Trillanes, however, said efforts to block the appearance of Lascanas before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, even on a last minute, cannot be disregarded.

Chaired by Lacson Probe has big probability

There would be no turning back on the called Senate probe once Lascanas submits his signed affidavit to the said committee chaired by Lacson, expected to be made early today, which would prompt the panel to schedule a hearing on Thursday, following the observance of the so-called three-day rule, the period at which the committee will notify individuals to be called in the proceedings.

Trillanes, in a radio interview, said Lascanas is willing to spill the beans so to speak on his knowledge of alleged killings ordered by Duterte and carried out by the DDS even shortly before his “retirement” from the group or before he “turned himself in” to Church leaders early this year.

“He had his testimony on video so it has a record if something happens to him. It was all of two hours of testimonies. So there were a lot of revelations. You know he (Lascañas) was in the inner circle of then Mayor Duterte as regards the killings that happened,” he said.

Trillanes said Lascanas revelations made last Feb. 20 before media was just the tip of the iceberg as there are more damning information in the details of his testimony.
Gordon, however, lamented testimonies at the Senate are being treated lightly.

“In the Senate, it is easy to lie and you are forgiven. You can even hold a press conference inside the Senate. What happens to the investigations we hold? What happens to the people who relies on the Senate to get justice?” he said.

Incidentally, a similar case in the past showed how the senator have given so much weight on a recantation of a witness during his re-investigation on the so-called fertilizer fund scam committed several years ago.

Gordon said the recantation of Feshan Phils. President Julie Gregorio, whose company was the largest supplier of fertilizer for P728-million fertilizer fund scam allegedly engineered by former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, showed that a huge chunk of the funds purportedly intended for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA’s) Farm Input- Farm Implement (FIFI) project ended up in some individuals’ pockets.

“The recantation was clear. (It was an) admission against interest practically since he was referring to what happened in which he was forced because he wanted to sell the stock of Feshan and he was given that chance,” he said.

Serious consequences



Trillanes, in dropping hints on the seriousness of the charges of Lascanas against the President, said it will surely result to serious consequences insofar as Mr. Duterte is concerned.

“It was him (Duterte) who was the mastermind for the string of killings in Davao City of not only pushers or petty criminals but also innocent individuals. That would be the gist of what Arthur Lascanas will reveal,” he said.

Trillanes said he is not ruling out the possibility of some groups that would try to discredit Lascanas and prevent the Senate from hearing his testimony.

“Anybody can feel that they are exerting efforts to stop Lascanas to appear before the Senate so much so their claim of him having no credibility becomes doubtful,” he said.

Trillanes added that Lascanas has been keeping a journal or memoire since 2015, dating back before his recent “recantation” or shortly after he had a “spiritual awakening” following a successful kidney transplant operation.

“He signed every page of the journal where he confessed privately on the things he did,” he said.

Trillanes said it’s understandable for Lascanas to “lie” before them when he testified in the committee chaired by Gordon as he was then still not prepared to make a public confession.

CHURCH LEADERS LASCANAS' EMMISARIES

Through Church leaders who acted as Lascanas’ emissaries, Trillanes was contacted alongside the members of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

Although initially, the senator said he had reservations, he was only convinced after Lascanas agreed to meet him and open up personally to him.

“I said I need to hear it for myself. I was really shocked. I felt that God really touched him. There is no other explanation on what pushed him to do that,” he said.

Paid to kill, paid to lie

Former Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles also cautioned senators against quickly jumping into Lascañas’ flip-flopping statement on the DDS saying the former police officer’s statement can be hardly relied on.

In his social media account, Nograles, who was a five-term congressman from Davao City, said it is not far-fetched for someone who admits to being paid to kill, can also be paid to lie.

“A person who can be paid to kill can also be paid to lie,” said Nograles.

“So, why waste taxpayers’ money on a mercenary gun-for-hire testimony or narrative” he stressed.

As a former lawmaker, the former Speaker said he cannot see any reason why the Senate has to pursue a probe on the Lascañas’ flip-flopping statement.

“Congress conducts hearing in aid of legislation. I’m sorry but I cannot imagine any legislation we can derive from mercenaries and guns-for-hire like Lascañas,” said Nograles.

Nograles shared Gordon’s position that the self-confessed hired killer be referred instead to the courts.

“I go with Senator Flash Gordon,” said the Speaker of the 14th Congress.

Meanwhile, the former Speaker’s son, House Appropriations Committee Chairman and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the murder confessions of Lascañas especially his alleged involvement in the killings of his own relatives.

If the alleged killings truly happened, the NBI should arrest Lascañas for multiple murder.

“He admitted to killing people in his attempt to implicate President Duterte in the alleged existence of extra-judicial killings. Therefore, he must be captured and immediately brought to court for multiple murder charges. He cannot be considered as a state witness and claim immunity because he is the most guilty person in these killings,” the younger Nograles said.

No public support

An advocacy group, meanwhile, also blasted Lascanas saying he will not gain support from the public for his recent tirade against President Rodrigo Duterte because he lacks credibility.

This was according to Leon “Ka Leon” Estrella Peralta, founding chairman of Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines (ATM), Inc. in an interview during the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City.

Peralta chided Lascanas saying the former police officer is a proven perjurer and has no credibility even with his carefully scripted testimony.

Lascanas has recently claimed that Duterte was connected with the crime committed by the DDS when he was still a mayor of Davao City.

But all his testimonies were criticized by Peralta saying Lascanas can’t expect to gain sympathy from the public because the fruits and benefits of the government’s responsive governance and aggressive war on drugs and crime are already felt nationwide.

Peralta likened the Philippines under Duterte today to Singapore in the late 1960s when the government of Lee Kwan Yew was reaping censure and condemnation from libertarians and human rights groups for its vigorous campaign against criminality and corruption.

The advocacy group’s head said if the country stays the course, like Singapore, it shall also reap the harvest of peace and order, good governance and prosperity.
It also cited the loopholes of the testimonies of Lascanas that it said will never hold water.

“Lascanas said in his testimony that Duterte was elected mayor of Davao City in 1988, some two years after being appointed by the late President Cory Aquino after the Edsa revolution in 1986, but the issue about the claim of human rights grups of targeted killings came out only in 1998 when there was two alleged cases recorded or a gap of 10 to 12 years,” Peralta said. Charlie V. Manalo


INQUIRER COMMENTARY

Badly divided By: Cielito F. Habito - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:10 AM February 28, 2017


By: Cielito F. Habito

What is happening to our country?” “Is there hope for the Philippines?”

I am again hearing these questions crop up increasingly in casual conversations. The first was famously attributed to the late former vice president Emmanuel Pelaez when he survived an ambush in July 1982—a period marked by spreading dissent against the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship. It has been a while since I last heard these questions asked around me with the same frequency I’m hearing them now.

To me, they signal a growing feeling of frustration and helplessness at a situation seemingly getting out of hand. And events of the last week appear to dramatize quite well what is wrong. The Inquirer’s Sunday headline said it all: “A nation divided,” it said, on photographs of two opposing rallies in different parts of the city.

READ MORE...

Those questions, when I hear them asked, are not necessarily coming from the side of the so-called “yellow army” or, even less likely, from those derisively branded as “Dutertards”—the groups representing opposite sides of the spectrum of sentiments Filipinos now have about the political state of the country.

Rather, I’m hearing the questions asked by people who would identify with neither group, and could only witness the vicious exchange of words from the sidelines. But these people also largely believe that the Marcos years were among the darkest in Philippine history. The sense of frustration and hopelessness embodied in the questions is fueled in conversations on the outlook for the next presidential election in 2022, and when the prospect of yet another Marcos presidency is seen not to be remote.

There’s no question that this prospect has been enhanced by acts and statements of the current President himself, who has made no secret of his admiration for the dictator—and this is where the divisiveness of his leadership seems most manifest.

UNIFYING LEADER

Last September, I wrote hopefully, and perhaps too optimistically, of President Duterte’s potential to be a unifying, bridging leader. I cited his unique background as a longtime city mayor who kept close touch with those he governed, with his ear close to the ground in a hands-on style of leadership.

I cited how surveys showed him as having had an unprecedented broad base of support spanning all socioeconomic classes and a wide range of geographic regions. Even with a minority 39 percent of the vote, he seemed uniquely positioned to be the leader behind whom Filipinos could all rally, the team captain to exhort us all to row our national boat in one direction (a favorite analogy of his predecessor and avowed mentor, Fidel V. Ramos).

I expressed hope, as he neared completion of his first 100 days in office then, that he could still evolve (translation: change) into this unifying role, provided he would acknowledge how vitally important it is that he does. It would require his acceptance that his position demands statesmanship and a leadership that builds bridges rather than widens gaps among Filipinos, and with the foreign community.

Filipinos who still give him a positive approval rating, still comprising the majority today (at least according to the surveys), probably expect (or hope) that he can still evolve into that mold.

Eight months into his presidency, I feel that hope slipping away fast.

He has been quoted as declaring that he neither intends nor aspires to be a statesman. It doesn’t help that his new counterpart across the Pacific is no less divisive, and even more flamboyantly so. Reinforced by some equally divisive characters in his Cabinet, President Duterte is getting us nowhere toward bridging our society’s deep political divides. It has become quite evident that a bridging kind of leadership will not happen within his watch.

Even FVR, seen as instrumental in getting the former Davao City mayor to run for the highest office, has become rather critical of his divisive leadership.

We are, indeed, a country divided. Good economic fundamentals notwithstanding, our deepening societal divisions will in due time undermine our economic prospects, and with it, our people’s general welfare. I cannot help but echo: Is there hope for the Philippines?

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES (EDITORIAL)

Why the spirit of EDSA has faded BY THE MANILA TIMES ON FEBRUARY 28, 2017 EDITORIAL

MANY Filipinos, as well as foreign observers, are straining to understand why the spirit of EDSA and People Power has faded so drastically that it now takes a ton of effort to cajole a crowd into attending the official commemoration of the event.

The answer is not simply that there are many more among us who are skeptical of EDSA than those who are enthralled by it. More telling, we think the reason is that the EDSA commemoration has become confused and torn by warring objectives and personalities.

Some believe that one should go to the avenue on the historic dates of February to commemorate a special day. But others believe that people should assemble there instead to protest against the government, demonize President Marcos, and re-fight the battles that they have lost.

And then there are those who think that EDSA is irrevocably married to the Aquino legacy or family brand.

Offended by the propaganda, some think an anti-EDSA commemoration would be a fitting change.

The essential purpose of commemorating an event has been lost because some have mistakenly loaded on the annual remembrance goals and objectives that are not validated by what our people truly feel or believe.

The official EDSA commemoration has also been distorted by incessant misrepresentation and false counts of the numbers who do attend.

Some have also foolishly made the EDSA remembrance a mock battle between the administration and its critics – leading to frenetic efforts by both sides to load the numbers on their respective ends, in order to claim an illusory victory.

These conflicting goals miss the point.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier has written, “Each crisis brings its word and deed.”

The crisis hour in February 1986 brought the deed, but we still have not found the words to remember properly what happened.

While other peoples have had no problem recalling the great events in their history, including their civil wars, we Filipinos have perennially been tormented by the task of perpetuating EDSA.

EDSA or People Power has lost its luster because successive governments from President Corazon Aquino onwards have been unable to find the right approach to memorialize the event.

The first Aquino government, with a push from the Philippine Catholic Church, tried to foster the fable that what happened in February 1986 was a miracle. And yellow propagandists and hagiographers foisted the foolhardy scheme of elevating Cory to Catholic sainthood.

Other compatriots, who truly figured in the military revolt, have tried to expand and magnify the event, beyond what it could realistically bear.

Perhaps most unfortunate of all, some have sought to make EDSA a partisan in the nation’s politics. This misguidedly leads to a situation where every ruling administration is forced to manipulate the EDSA remembrance to serve its political objectives.

The 2017 commemoration of People Power was precisely disfigured by such conflicting objectives. While administration critics fanned talk about a new people power uprising on February 25 that would oust President Duterte, supporters of the administration trooped to the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park to do their own rally of support on the same day. And they swamped the paltry numbers at EDSA.

While politicians and partisans battled for media time and space, the event at EDSA faded from our memories and into the background.

The saddest irony is that EDSA, a real explosion of People Power, was relegated to the status of a false event like the Jabidah massacre, which never happened.


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