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EDITORIAL: AN 'INCREDIBLY BRAZEN' KILLING


NOVEMBER 8 -The youngest daughter of slain Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Chesney, wails upon seeing her father’s body as it was being brought out of the Baybay jail where he was killed by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group purportedly during a shootout. —ROBERT DEJON
It used to be that the more dangerous place for crime suspects was the streets, where they were prey to both cops and fellow lowlifes, where they could be shot at any time and die like vermin. Nowadays, it’s a police precinct — that supposed outpost of law and order in the tiniest communities — or a jail. Certainly, that was the thinking of Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, police chief of the town of Albuera in Leyte, and his chief suspect, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, when they worked out an arrangement last August whereby the latter — who had been tagged by no less than President Duterte as a drug lord in the Visayas — would come clean on his activities.READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Misuari’s resurrection


INOVEMBER 12 -NQUIRER FILE
If the climate change issue is any indication, President Duterte appears to be inclined lately to include the consensus of his Cabinet in his official decision-making. He had previously declared his dislike for the Philippines to commit to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and help in the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying this was a lopsided, onerous and even hypocritical imposition on a poor country by developed nations. But he has since changed his mind and announced that the government would ratify the agreement, and crediting his Cabinet’s recommendation for the shift in policy. He may want to consult his official family again, especially his national security cluster, on the wisdom of his forceful embrace of the discredited Nur Misuari. The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and founder of the once-secessionist Moro National Liberation Front has been a fugitive from the law since 2013, when a faction of the MNLF loyal to him laid siege to Zamboanga City. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Carlitos D. Basa -9 justices weighed and found ‘lackey’


NOVEMBER 12 -I was only five years old when martial law was declared by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. I did not personally experience the early atrocities of the martial law years; but as I grew in age, I became aware of them as I heard more and more horrible stories about human rights violations from older people who shared them in whispers in many “umpukan.” Also, I witnessed how a neighbor, a member of the defunct Philippine Constabulary, would show off and fire his government-issued armalite rifle whenever he got drunk. The general atmosphere then was of fear, great fear—of government, and of people in uniform. And one could sense it affected most of the public. I learned more of the martial law abuses when I involved myself in social movements. I joined political rallies, including the biggest of them all, the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution. Marcos is no hero! READ MORE...

ALSO: By Vicente L. Rafael - Duterte, war maker


NOVEMEBR 12 -Why is President Duterte so angry at those critics, especially from the West, who accuse him of human rights violations? Perhaps it is because he feels that such critics, by speaking out, are themselves violating his rights as the sovereign embodiment of the people—rights that include the right to violate the rights of some in order to protect the lives of others. Critics of Mr. Duterte contend that human rights are universal and transhistorical, protected by both the state and civil society. From this perspective, state-sanctioned killings of suspected drug dealers, much less drug users, amount to criminal acts. The President’s brutal response to this accusation is to say, in effect: I am in a state of war, not peace, and so I must fight. I must kill or be killed so that others might live. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL - An ‘incredibly brazen’ killing


The youngest daughter of slain Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Chesney, wails upon seeing her father’s body as it was being brought out of the Baybay jail where he was killed by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group purportedly during a shootout. —ROBERT DEJON

MANILA, NOVEMBER 14, 2016 (INQUIRER) Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:07 AM November 08, 2016 - It used to be that the more dangerous place for crime suspects was the streets, where they were prey to both cops and fellow lowlifes, where they could be shot at any time and die like vermin. Nowadays, it’s a police precinct — that supposed outpost of law and order in the tiniest communities — or a jail.

Certainly, that was the thinking of Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, police chief of the town of Albuera in Leyte, and his chief suspect, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, when they worked out an arrangement last August whereby the latter — who had been tagged by no less than President Duterte as a drug lord in the Visayas — would come clean on his activities.

READ MORE...

In exchange for an affidavit identifying the government and police officials who allegedly provided protection to his fugitive son Kerwin, who was said to have run the largest drug trade in Eastern Visayas, Espinosa was allowed by Espenido to stay in his police station for close to two months. During his stay, his safety was fundamentally assured.

Espinosa, after all, stood as a vital witness, perhaps the government’s strongest one, against the 226 persons he had named in his affidavit. The names included those of 19 politicians, four members of the judiciary, 38 policemen, seven from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), one from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, three from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, one from the Army, and three from the media — a staggering picture of corruption in high places.

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Charges were soon filed at the proper offices against 47 of the 226 persons named. It was thus vital to keep Espinosa alive, so the cases could proceed and his drug network neutralized.

But all those cases are now in jeopardy. On Oct. 5, on grounds of illegal possession of firearms and drugs, Espinosa was transferred to a subprovincial jail in Baybay City. Exactly a month later, he was dead — killed in what the CIDG in Eastern Visayas claimed was a shootout. According to the cops on duty, the CIDG men barged into the prison supposedly to serve a search warrant on Espinosa at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. The guards were shoved at gunpoint into one corner while the CIDG team went to the separate cells of Espinosa and Raul Yap, another drug suspect. Minutes later, shots were heard.

When the CIDG team left, Espinosa was found shot in the head, chest and stomach; a .38-cal pistol and a packet of “shabu” were allegedly recovered from his cell. The CIDG men spun out the now-standard police tale: The suspect put up a fight, and so had to be put down. It would have been easy to confirm this story but for the cops’ telling act of confiscating the hard drive of the closed circuit television camera; it has yet to resurface.

The jail warden of Leyte, Homobono Bardillon, is having none of the police’s story. Bardillon said Espinosa was heard begging for his life moments before he was killed. The CIDG team, incidentally — or perhaps not — was headed by Supt. Marvin Marcos, whose aunt, Lalaine Jimenea, was among those Espinosa had named in his affidavit. Jimenea has a pending charge at the prosecutor’s office in Leyte based on that affidavit; given the basic conflict of interest, why was Marcos leading a team that has now apparently eliminated a material witness?

That’s what it is from whatever angle one looks at it: Espinosa was the victim of a rubout — right inside a jail, apparently by cops tasked to keep him alive. Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia has described the killing as an “incredibly brazen” act. Sen. Dick Gordon, who had said early on that no extrajudicial killings are happening under the Duterte administration, is now singing a different tune — that Espinosa’s death is “a slap in the face” of the Philippine justice system. However one may call it, this shocking act by state agents cries out for immediate, unsparing scrutiny and investigation.


EDITORIAL: Misuari’s resurrection Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:18 AM November 12, 2016


INQUIRER FILE

If the climate change issue is any indication, President Duterte appears to be inclined lately to include the consensus of his Cabinet in his official decision-making. He had previously declared his dislike for the Philippines to commit to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and help in the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying this was a lopsided, onerous and even hypocritical imposition on a poor country by developed nations. But he has since changed his mind and announced that the government would ratify the agreement, and crediting his Cabinet’s recommendation for the shift in policy.

He may want to consult his official family again, especially his national security cluster, on the wisdom of his forceful embrace of the discredited Nur Misuari. The former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and founder of the once-secessionist Moro National Liberation Front has been a fugitive from the law since 2013, when a faction of the MNLF loyal to him laid siege to Zamboanga City.

READ MORE...

The reason? Misuari was furious at having been excluded from the peace talks that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III had initiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front—talks that appeared to be going swimmingly for a period that the contours of a new Bangsamoro political entity replacing the ARMM was under serious discussion. Misuari threw a tantrum at what he felt was his enforced irrelevance by sanctioning his followers’ rampage in Zamboanga. After 18 days of tension and violence, Zamboanga, a major economic hub in the South, lay bleeding from the enormous damage—parts of it in rubble, a number of civilians dead, more than 100,000 people displaced.

A warrant was issued for Misuari’s arrest but he disappeared, reportedly hiding out in Malaysia. But early this year, sensing the political winds shifting with the elections near and a sympathetic Mindanaoan candidate, Mayor Duterte of Davao, bidding fair to become the Philippines’ next president, he emerged from his jungle fastness and preened before his followers in an MNLF “plenum” in Sulu.

Despite his wanted status, Misuari was apparently confident that his political exile was about to end. True enough, among the first things the newly inaugurated President Duterte signaled was his willingness to set aside the law and reinstate Misuari as a serious partner in the peace process he envisioned for Mindanao. Soon he called for the suspension of the warrant for Misuari’s arrest and invited the MNLF leader to visit Malacañang.

That visit came to pass a week ago, with Misuari flying out of Jolo in a private plane and meeting the President in the Palace. Mr. Duterte even allowed him to make his statement from the presidential podium—an unprecedented breach of protocol, but one that Misuari lapped up as he expressed profuse thanks for the political resurrection granted him by the administration.

Mr. Duterte may know something about Misuari that the public doesn’t, hence his fulsome accommodation of the former rebel. But there is the public record: Aside from the Zamboanga carnage for which he still has to account, Misuari was a failure as ARMM governor, frittering away the billions of pesos poured into the region and basically botching the job that was given him as a virtual reward for forging a peace agreement with the Ramos administration in 1996.

In other words, he had his chance, and he blew it. Why is the Duterte administration now rehabilitating someone who has, at the very least, failed his own people? If Mr. Duterte’s aim is to be inclusive in his Mindanao peace campaign, where are the similar overtures to the MILF and other stakeholders in the region? How come Misuari appears to enjoy the favored ear—as if the country hasn’t learned its painful lesson from his track record?


9 justices weighed and found ‘lackey’ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM November 11, 2016
 

I was only five years old when martial law was declared by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

I did not personally experience the early atrocities of the martial law years; but as I grew in age, I became aware of them as I heard more and more horrible stories about human rights violations from older people who shared them in whispers in many “umpukan.” Also, I witnessed how a neighbor, a member of the defunct Philippine Constabulary, would show off and fire his government-issued armalite rifle whenever he got drunk. The general atmosphere then was of fear, great fear—of government, and of people in uniform. And one could sense it affected most of the public.

I learned more of the martial law abuses when I involved myself in social movements. I joined political rallies, including the biggest of them all, the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Marcos is no hero!

READ MORE...

And he will never be to the people who suffered so much at the hand of his brutal regime. Filipinos who use common sense in arriving at major decisions will never entertain even the thought that Marcos deserves to be honored and emulated.

Now, he is to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because nine “lackey” justices see no specific law prohibiting the interment of a dictator in a sacred ground reserved for heroes worthy of emulation.

Indeed, why is there no such specific law?

That there is none may be providential—to test our (common) sense of history and decency. Unfortunately, nine supposed-to-be honorable justices failed the test—and failed us.

CARLITO D. BISA, carlitobisa@ymail.com


Duterte, war maker By: Vicente L. Rafael - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:08 AM November 12, 2016



Why is President Duterte so angry at those critics, especially from the West, who accuse him of human rights violations? Perhaps it is because he feels that such critics, by speaking out, are themselves violating his rights as the sovereign embodiment of the people—rights that include the right to violate the rights of some in order to protect the lives of others.

Critics of Mr. Duterte contend that human rights are universal and transhistorical, protected by both the state and civil society. From this perspective, state-sanctioned killings of suspected drug dealers, much less drug users, amount to criminal acts.

The President’s brutal response to this accusation is to say, in effect: I am in a state of war, not peace, and so I must fight. I must kill or be killed so that others might live.

READ MORE...

You who criticize me cannot see that my violence is pure. It is disinterested and sacrificial, meant to cleanse society with the blood of the guilty. So how dare you tell me in public that I am wrong! I am right because I have the right to take away the lives of those who threaten to take my people’s lives. For these drug lords and dealers and addicts and users—no difference, really, among them—are no longer human, much less citizens once they are possessed by the devil of drugs. They, and all those who defend them or call for due process, are also guilty and deserve to die. Or at least, as in the case of Leila de Lima, they deserve to be publicly shamed.

By criticizing me, you seek only to take away my freedom to act, the very same freedom you claim for yourselves. I know what you have done, how you have grossly violated the rights of your minorities and people you have colonized, including those in my own country. So do not tell me that I do not have the same right that you have long enjoyed: the right to summarily execute others.

When you lecture me about human rights, you only really seek to humiliate me, to treat me like a dog on a leash. You violate my character and honor by telling me that I cannot be like you, that I cannot kill my own people the way you have done with yours. In the face of your insults, I can only return the favor by cursing you, paying you back with my violent language and intent.

It is not hard to see how Mr. Duterte and his critics occupy two different worlds: for the latter, a post-1945 world of rights meant to constrain fascist horrors and revolutionary excess; for the former, an older world of authoritarian politics (some would say datu-ship) that draws on fascist discourse and revolutionary martyrdom to do away with any constraints. He emerged, after all, from the spectacular violence of post-Edsa Davao, where “people power” included death squads battling with various criminals and New People’s Army Sparrow units. While his cosmopolitan critics install human rights as a key foundation of governance, Mr. Duterte sees it as a hindrance and prefers instead the force of his personality articulated through extrajudicial methods that have defined his experience with politics. As with absolutist kings, provincial warlords or Mafia leaders, Mr. Duterte regards public criticism to be an injury to his personhood, requiring less a rational defense as an irrational torrent of abuse meant to reduce his critics to silence or death.

So long as Mr. Duterte remains wedded to an idea of power where he alone can decide and others must follow, and where social problems like drugs are to be treated as existential crises, he will always call for war as both metaphor and method for mobilizing society and securing its support. Treating social problems as matters of war, he will insist on his right to act on his own terms rather than on the basis of the human rights of those he acts upon. And so long as he is able to sustain this narrative about war, and compel the belief among the majority of Filipinos that society is in a state of emergency, he will be able to use the state to impose his will and still retain his popularity. Things will change once people stop believing in this story. New stories will then emerge, those that draw attention to his suspect claims about drugs based on flawed facts and paranoid, hyperbolic assumptions.

But it is hard to say when or even if that will happen. Since dead bodies keep turning up in the streets every night almost like clockwork, it does feel like the country is in a state of war, albeit one that is rapidly and tragically becoming normalized.

Unleashing the police, rival gangs and assorted hired killers, Mr. Duterte incites—and clearly thrives in—the very conditions of crisis he claims to be fighting. Barely beyond his first 100 days in office, he has quickly established himself as a wartime president seeking to annihilate what he regards as the country’s enemies—his own people.

Vicente L. Rafael (vrafael@uw.edu) teaches history at the University of Washington, Seattle.


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