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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)
FROM PHILSTAR

BY SARA SOLIVEN DE GUZMAN: SEX, DRUGS AND DECEPTION
[In 2014, PDEA statistics showed 40 percent of minors arrested for drug possession. Drug syndicates use children as drug pushers. Children arrested are brought to the DSWD in compliance to RA No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006). What happens there is beyond me. All I know is that after a few weeks the same children are back on the streets. Mr. President just do your job! Don’t listen to all these bozos. We need to protect the innocent and punish the criminals. As you said, “It is not just a problem but a crisis for the country. It is not only epidemic but pandemic.” ]


AUGUST 22 -By Sara Soliven de Guzman
I cannot believe it! If all these allegations against Senator Leila de Lima are true, she should resign. Better yet, she should head straight to jail. How can the former Secretary of the Department of Justice get away with all of what is said about her? No, I am not talking about her private life. Susmariosep! Directly under the DOJ is the Board of Pardons and Parole. Other agencies attached to it are the: Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Immigration, Land Registration Authority, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, Office of the Solicitor General, Parole and Probation Administration, Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Public Attorney’s Office. The question is: What does a President do when he discovers major anomalies and betrayal made by a former cabinet secretary? He punishes her. He makes her accountable for anything under her watch. And I think this is what Duterte is doing now. The issue in this whole scandal is Duterte’s determination to stop the Philippines from being a narco-state. Ninety-three percent of our barangays have been penetrated by illegal drugs hurting six million of our youth. There are three million pushers who have been cuddled and protected by generals, congress and LGUs. If it is true that De Lima has cuddled drug lords during her watch as the DOJ Secretary then Duterte’s fight is necessary. It is imperative. It is not even inconceivable for him to blame the past administration (who left the country in jeopardy and in limbo) and also hold them accountable for this alleged crime. He blames the Aquino administration for its failure to curb the drug menace in the country saying, “Six years have passed and nothing happened.” United Nations 2012 World Drug Report stated that the Philippines has the highest rate of ‘shabu’ use in East Asia. Our geographic location has made us a major hub for the drug in Southeast Asia. This explains why there have been a lot of incidents of Filipinos getting arrested in other countries for transporting or selling ‘shabu.’ It is said that ‘shabu’ is brought into the country from Japan, China, and Korea. But it is also grown domestically in “meth labs.” In 2013, the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed reports that the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel had started operations in the country.About nine Chinese drug cartels are involved on most illegal drug trade in the Philippines. According to the US State Department report on international drugs, syndicates that organize and finance the trafficking of ‘shabu’ in the country are mostly ethnic Chinese. As a matter of fact, President Rodrigo Duterte has named the members of a large Chinese triad group in an interview with PTV-4 last July 7. The members of the triad group included Chinese drug lords under the protection of Marcelo Garbo Jr., one of the Philippine National Police generals named by Duterte on July 5. In the past years, the rise in the number of drug users in the country is alarming. READ MORE...

 ALSO: By Alex Magno -  Relentless
[After two days of televised hearings on the so-called “extrajudicial killings” marring the “war” against illegal drugs, one could only ask: What was this all about? But President Duterte is relentless. He understands more than most of us the scale of the scourge and its grave implications to our social development. He will not allow the momentum this campaign managed to generate to dissipate. Never before have we seen street crimes drop so dramatically. Never before have we seen community leaders rally to support the police. The fact that Bato has achieved rock star status in a matter of weeks is testament to the success of this campaign.]


AUIGUST 25 -By Alex Magno
After two days of televised hearings on the so-called “extrajudicial killings” marring the “war” against illegal drugs, one could only ask: What was this all about? The hearings, obviously, will produce no new legislation. Gang wars, rubouts and vigilante killings are illegal as things stand. It will be redundant to declare them illegal all over again. The hearings did not establish killing as police policy. No orders were found instructing police to shoot first and ask questions later. If scalawags in the police force went out to liquidate their erstwhile “assets” under the shadow of a determined campaign against illegal drugs, it is the duty of the PNP to establish this and file the appropriate charges. That appears to have been done, at least within the capacity restraints of the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP. If the drug syndicates engage each other in a bloody fight for control of territory, that will result in killings not directly attributable to the official campaign against the entire network of drug peddlers. If a syndicate decides to terminate a low-level pusher who absconded money, wrap the poor man in packing tape and pronounce him the pusher that he is, the murder should not be attributed to the police campaign. Some of the tallies done by some media organizations, however, lump casualties in the gang wars with those killed in the police-led campaign. Sure, there are innumerable cases of police misbehavior. The Pasay cops who killed suspects in their custody, the Antipolo “ninja cops” who picked up and liquidated a couple who sold the meth they recycled, these are all symptoms of bad eggs in the police organization. The current campaign against the drug syndicates is of unprecedented magnitude. At the first instance, it reveals the scale of the drug problem that the preceding administration simply allowed to fester. At the onset, President Duterte said that the drug menace has grown to such proportions it will reduce us into a narco-state in a few years. It is that specter that drives up the energy and the passion of those charged with fighting the menace. The drug syndicates are not easy to deal with. They are armed. They have heaps of money to throw around, to buy influence with. They will not hesitate to use force to protect turf. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Other penalties
[How do you deal with incarcerated convicts who run criminal operations outside prison?]


AUGUST 26 -It’s a question that has stumped authorities since drug deals at the national penitentiary became known: how do you deal with incarcerated convicts who run criminal operations outside prison? They can’t be arrested and they can’t be put behind bars. They can’t be kept in solitary confinement forever. True enough. How about preventing the convicts and their families from benefiting from dirty money? Drug trafficking is covered by anti-money laundering laws. The Bureau of Internal Revenue can also look into the tax payments of relatives of the convicts suspected of running drug operations from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. Authorities know who the high-value convicts are; they are segregated from other prisoners at the maximum security facility of the NBP. These are the same inmates who have enjoyed VIP perks including a sauna and Jacuzzi, a music recording studio, air-conditioned cells, the services of prostitutes, and confinement in private hospitals outside the NBP at the slightest complaint of illness. How these perks became possible has been attributed by President Duterte to corruption fueled by drug money in the previous administration. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - One step closer to peace


AUGUST 27 -After several fits and starts, the peace process between the government and communist rebels appears to be finally taking off. Despite the withdrawal of an order for a unilateral ceasefire, President Duterte ordered his officials to proceed with the formal talks in Oslo, Norway with representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. The unilateral ceasefire was also restored. Yesterday, at the end of the five-day talks, the CPP-NDF finally matched the gesture as both sides agreed to an indefinite truce. In Davao Oriental yesterday, the CPP’s military arm the New People’s Army released two policemen to a group led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen, police station chief in Governor Generoso town in Davao Oriental was captured last May 29. Police Officer 1 Michael Grande of the Banaybanay police station was captured on June 19 in Lupon town. In Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, PO1 Richard Yu of the Carmen town police, who was kidnapped in early July, was also freed by the NPA. President Duterte had demanded the release of the police officers and a stop to NPA attacks on government forces. On Aug. 19, the NDF ordered the release of the policemen as a goodwill gesture, matching the release of Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma so they could join the NDF negotiating team. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Sex, drugs and deception


By Sara Soliven de Guzman

MANILA, AUGUST 29, 2016 (PHILSTAR) AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 22, 2016 - 12:00am -I cannot believe it! If all these allegations against Senator Leila de Lima are true, she should resign. Better yet, she should head straight to jail. How can the former Secretary of the Department of Justice get away with all of what is said about her? No, I am not talking about her private life. Susmariosep!

Directly under the DOJ is the Board of Pardons and Parole. Other agencies attached to it are the: Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Immigration, Land Registration Authority, National Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, Office of the Solicitor General, Parole and Probation Administration, Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Public Attorney’s Office.

The question is: What does a President do when he discovers major anomalies and betrayal made by a former cabinet secretary? He punishes her. He makes her accountable for anything under her watch. And I think this is what Duterte is doing now.

The issue in this whole scandal is Duterte’s determination to stop the Philippines from being a narco-state. Ninety-three percent of our barangays have been penetrated by illegal drugs hurting six million of our youth. There are three million pushers who have been cuddled and protected by generals, congress and LGUs.

If it is true that De Lima has cuddled drug lords during her watch as the DOJ Secretary then Duterte’s fight is necessary. It is imperative.

AQUINO ADMIN

It is not even inconceivable for him to blame the past administration (who left the country in jeopardy and in limbo) and also hold them accountable for this alleged crime. He blames the Aquino administration for its failure to curb the drug menace in the country saying, “Six years have passed and nothing happened.”

United Nations 2012 World Drug Report stated that the Philippines has the highest rate of ‘shabu’ use in East Asia. Our geographic location has made us a major hub for the drug in Southeast Asia.

This explains why there have been a lot of incidents of Filipinos getting arrested in other countries for transporting or selling ‘shabu.’

It is said that ‘shabu’ is brought into the country from Japan, China, and Korea. But it is also grown domestically in “meth labs.” In 2013, the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency confirmed reports that the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel had started operations in the country.

About nine Chinese drug cartels are involved on most illegal drug trade in the Philippines.

According to the US State Department report on international drugs, syndicates that organize and finance the trafficking of ‘shabu’ in the country are mostly ethnic Chinese. As a matter of fact, President Rodrigo Duterte has named the members of a large Chinese triad group in an interview with PTV-4 last July 7.

The members of the triad group included Chinese drug lords under the protection of Marcelo Garbo Jr., one of the Philippine National Police generals named by Duterte on July 5.

In the past years, the rise in the number of drug users in the country is alarming.

READ MORE...

In 2014, PDEA statistics showed 40 percent of minors arrested for drug possession. Drug syndicates use children as drug pushers. Children arrested are brought to the DSWD in compliance to RA No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006). What happens there is beyond me. All I know is that after a few weeks the same children are back on the streets.

Mr. President just do your job! Don’t listen to all these bozos.

We need to protect the innocent and punish the criminals. As you said, “It is not just a problem but a crisis for the country. It is not only epidemic but pandemic.” All those nincompoops, out there to destroy you are either naďve, dumb or funded by the bad guys. They are all scared of your actions because they know they can be next in line.

As the Malacańang spokesperson said: “The President is taking the position of parens patriae as parent of the nation. He is calling attention to clear the present danger of drugs. It’s his moral obligation to make sure the public is properly warned of the drug menace.” Continue your unwavering fight against drugs Mr. President. You are the only President who has come out strong and courageous with an iron fist to save our people, to save this country from oblivion.

* * *

My dearest aunt, Mercy Soliven-David, younger sister of my late father Maximo V. Soliven passed away last Thursday after a long fight with cancer. My father would always talk about her life in Basilan. She moved to Basilan from Manila with her family in the late sixties but returned to Manila when the Moro uprising began in the late seventies.

In one of my dad’s columns, he wrote, “When my late brother-in-law Mariano David and my sister Mercy still had their large rubber and copra plantation in Galayan, Maluso, Basilan, Taosug raids were frequent in their area. After “Marno” died of heart trouble, the Department of Agrarian Reform stole the plantation away from my widowed sister Mercy and “gifted” it to scores of Muslims who had never even worked on the farm (all her employees had been Christians).

In the wilder era of raiders coming all the way from Sulu, my sister had to teach her children, even her youngest, a one-year old, the “silence game,” meaning that when they hid in the bushes as far away as possible from the creek (from which the Taosug raiders came by boat), once she announced to the kids “silence game, children!” They would all cover their mouths and keep totally quiet, lest the heavily-armed raiders notice their place of concealment.”

It has always been Tita Mercy’s dream to see her beloved Basilan again.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Chartered City of Basilan was the fourth biggest city in the country in terms of land area, and used to be called a first class city. It exported copra, coconut oil, rubber and lumber.

The Moro uprising led by the MNLF under Nur Misuari in 1971 affected Basilan’s economy. This was aggravated by the declaration of martial law. Politics came into play.

The Yakan uplanders fought with the Tausug lowlanders and their allies. This Yakan-Tausug battles throughout the 1980s ended in the burning of Isabela City’s downtown market in 1987. Basilan gained a bad reputation as the Philippines’ “Wild, Wild West”. Since then, Basilan became a no man’s land and the rest of the region was never the same again.

Tita Mercy left her heart in Basilan.

Up until her death, she never had the chance to realize her dream of returning to the beautiful land she once fell in love with. I hope and pray that one day we will see that dawn of a new day in the many areas of Mindanao and as Tita Mercy looks down from heaven she will be happy to see what has become of it. May you rest in peace dear angel of poetry, don’t forget to hug my Papa Max really tight and tell him how much he is missed down here.

Each mourned, beloved one, though laid within the sod, shall wait, till then, each one shall have, reunion under God. For those whom we have parted with, for those whom we no longer see, each holy soul, shall near, each day, a meeting in eternity! – Max Soliven


Relentless FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2016 - 12:00am 2 894


By Alex Magno

After two days of televised hearings on the so-called “extrajudicial killings” marring the “war” against illegal drugs, one could only ask: What was this all about?

The hearings, obviously, will produce no new legislation. Gang wars, rubouts and vigilante killings are illegal as things stand. It will be redundant to declare them illegal all over again.

The hearings did not establish killing as police policy. No orders were found instructing police to shoot first and ask questions later.

If scalawags in the police force went out to liquidate their erstwhile “assets” under the shadow of a determined campaign against illegal drugs, it is the duty of the PNP to establish this and file the appropriate charges. That appears to have been done, at least within the capacity restraints of the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP.

If the drug syndicates engage each other in a bloody fight for control of territory, that will result in killings not directly attributable to the official campaign against the entire network of drug peddlers.

If a syndicate decides to terminate a low-level pusher who absconded money, wrap the poor man in packing tape and pronounce him the pusher that he is, the murder should not be attributed to the police campaign. Some of the tallies done by some media organizations, however, lump casualties in the gang wars with those killed in the police-led campaign.

Sure, there are innumerable cases of police misbehavior. The Pasay cops who killed suspects in their custody, the Antipolo “ninja cops” who picked up and liquidated a couple who sold the meth they recycled, these are all symptoms of bad eggs in the police organization.

The current campaign against the drug syndicates is of unprecedented magnitude. At the first instance, it reveals the scale of the drug problem that the preceding administration simply allowed to fester.

At the onset, President Duterte said that the drug menace has grown to such proportions it will reduce us into a narco-state in a few years. It is that specter that drives up the energy and the passion of those charged with fighting the menace.

The drug syndicates are not easy to deal with. They are armed. They have heaps of money to throw around, to buy influence with. They will not hesitate to use force to protect turf.

READ MORE...

Several policemen and army troopers have been killed since this campaign began. Those complaining about the heavy-handedness of the police should also understand policemen put their lives on the line each day of this campaign. They work with the necessary disadvantage of being in uniform while the assassins of the syndicates move anonymously, shooting from speeding motorcycles.

True, our existing facilities are woefully inadequate to deal with the number of arrests this campaign is generating. Our jails are packed. Our rehab centers are few. Our courts are overloaded. Government does not have enough lawyers to write all the indictments for drug offenders.

But should the campaign against illegal drugs grind to a halt because of these limitations?

We will never be ready to cope with the fallout from a campaign as large and as determined as the one in progress. If we wait for all the jails and all the rehab centers to be built, the nation will die.

Likewise, if we wait for search warrants to be issued and grant the syndicate all the niceties of “due process,” nothing will come out of this campaign. This effort intends to shock and awe, to shake the trees so to speak to force out the bats. It relies on the syndicates panicking as much as on the diligence of our anti-drug police teams.

The menace has reached unbelievable proportions. Drug lords detained at the national penitentiary, it turns out, continue to control the trade. This is the reason why sending in the SAF became necessary.

If the syndicates operate out of jail, they must enjoy the cooperation not only of the jail guards but of much senior officials as well. This is the reason why President Duterte no less is focusing on mapping out the network of influence-peddling that produced this improbable situation.

3 MILION FILIPINOS

According to the PDEA, as many as three million Filipinos are hooked on drugs. The severely addicted account for some of the most horrible murders that happened. Even if government does nothing, as it did in the preceding six years, there will be much blood in the streets, inflicted by the zombies with addled minds or the syndicates enforcing their collections.

PNP chief Bato de la Rosa put the matter so well before the senators. He declared he would be happy if the President orders them to let up on the anti-drug campaign. The police chief and his men are exhausted. The capacities of the police force are stretched to the limits.

But President Duterte is relentless. He understands more than most of us the scale of the scourge and its grave implications to our social development. He will not allow the momentum this campaign managed to generate to dissipate.

Never before have we seen street crimes drop so dramatically. Never before have we seen community leaders rally to support the police. The fact that Bato has achieved rock star status in a matter of weeks is testament to the success of this campaign.

This could be the moment we finally tip the balance in favor of order. The lapses and errors all seem minor given the scale of this effort.


EDITORIAL - Other penalties (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2016 - 12:00am 1 8 googleplus0 0

I

It’s a question that has stumped authorities since drug deals at the national penitentiary became known: how do you deal with incarcerated convicts who run criminal operations outside prison? They can’t be arrested and they can’t be put behind bars. They can’t be kept in solitary confinement forever.

True enough. How about preventing the convicts and their families from benefiting from dirty money? Drug trafficking is covered by anti-money laundering laws. The Bureau of Internal Revenue can also look into the tax payments of relatives of the convicts suspected of running drug operations from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. Authorities know who the high-value convicts are; they are segregated from other prisoners at the maximum security facility of the NBP.

These are the same inmates who have enjoyed VIP perks including a sauna and Jacuzzi, a music recording studio, air-conditioned cells, the services of prostitutes, and confinement in private hospitals outside the NBP at the slightest complaint of illness. How these perks became possible has been attributed by President Duterte to corruption fueled by drug money in the previous administration.

READ MORE...

How hard is it to curtail the activities of this handful of inmates? Merely limiting their access to communication with the outside world and closely monitoring any visit by relatives or friends should go a long way. But even such measures can be nearly impossible to implement when prison guards and officials look the other way.

Anti-narcotics agents have pointed to the NBP as the control center of the illegal drug trade in Metro Manila and other areas. The inmates widely suspected of involvement have been identified, so authorities should be able to at least minimize the illegal activities. At the same time, authorities should go after the inmates’ suspected cohorts outside prison including coddlers in government through lifestyle checks that may warrant indictments for corruption and money laundering. Authorities can move to freeze or seize assets. There are other ways of penalizing criminals. Putting them behind bars is just one of the punishments.


EDITORIAL - One step closer to peace (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 27, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

After several fits and starts, the peace process between the government and communist rebels appears to be finally taking off. Despite the withdrawal of an order for a unilateral ceasefire, President Duterte ordered his officials to proceed with the formal talks in Oslo, Norway with representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. The unilateral ceasefire was also restored.

Yesterday, at the end of the five-day talks, the CPP-NDF finally matched the gesture as both sides agreed to an indefinite truce. In Davao Oriental yesterday, the CPP’s military arm the New People’s Army released two policemen to a group led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen, police station chief in Governor Generoso town in Davao Oriental was captured last May 29. Police Officer 1 Michael Grande of the Banaybanay police station was captured on June 19 in Lupon town. In Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, PO1 Richard Yu of the Carmen town police, who was kidnapped in early July, was also freed by the NPA.

President Duterte had demanded the release of the police officers and a stop to NPA attacks on government forces. On Aug. 19, the NDF ordered the release of the policemen as a goodwill gesture, matching the release of Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma so they could join the NDF negotiating team.

READ MORE...

What remains to be seen is whether the ceasefire will hold. Doubts have been raised on the extent of control that exiled leaders of the CPP-NDF wield on NPA fighters. The communist movement has been riven by factions that have engaged in bloody purges in the past. The greatest threat to the life of CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison in case he returns to the Philippines is reportedly posed not by government forces but by his enemies within the communist movement. CPP-NDF negotiators must show that they can stop the extortion activities of the NPA, which include the bombing of telecommunications towers, buses and offices of those who refuse to pay “revolutionary taxes.”

The President has made it clear that a coalition with the communists, whose ideology is at odds with a democratic system, is not possible. But the two sides can enjoy peaceful co-existence, cooperating on common aspirations such as social justice and a better life for the poor. In working for these aspirations, the agreement reached in Oslo is a most welcome development.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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