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FROM THE INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: JACK LAM, ON THE LAM


DECEMBER 13 -Jack Lam is on the lam. It’s a pun hard to resist, but there’s more to it than plain jesting. Troubling implications about the motives and methods of the war on criminality that the Duterte administration is waging are onceagain unavoidably raised with the increasingly curious case of Lam. The Chinese gambling operator has been accused by the government of, among others, employing 1,316 Chinese nationals without the proper work permits in his online gaming office in Pampanga, attempting to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and committing economic sabotage. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Sorry, but…


DECEMBER 15 - “It’s not that I’m sorry for the decision, but I’m sorry for those who were caught in the crossfire,” he said. On Sunday, at a festival in Tarlac celebrating the Nativity, President Duterte apologized for the loss of innocent lives in his war on drugs. “It’s not that I’m sorry for the decision, but I’m sorry for those who were caught in the crossfire,” he said. He had earlier described these casualties as collateral damage, the unfortunate result of police using automatic weapons when confronting criminals: “When they meet, they exchange fire. With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people and they die.” He added that America, among other countries, also kills innocent civilians when it bombs hostile territory. “Why do you say it is collateral damage to the West and to us it is murder?” he said. The apology and the depiction of his brutal campaign as par for the course do little to honor the memory of the young “collateral damage” such as San Niño Batucan, 7, Danica May Garcia, 5, and Althea Barbon, 4, whose violent and senseless deaths should give law enforcers pause. Why should the young pay the ultimate price for the folly of their elders, and the hubris of leaders who think themselves infallible and above law and reason? “Forgive me, but I really cannot lose the momentum here,” the President said. “As I have said, this is a matter of survival for my country.” READ MORE...

ALSO: From Letters to the Editor - Unlike any previous PH presidents


DECEMBER 15 -GOOGLE IMAGES
When criminals strike, they operate under no rules whatsoever. No one expects them to give their victims “due process,” and that’s simply taken for granted. In just minutes, they get what they want. But when the victims’ relatives try to seek retributive justice, they are expected to allow the criminals all the benefit of “due process,” i.e., court proceedings to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. That could take some 10 or 15 years. Admittedly, the playing field is so screwed up. As a lawyer grappling with the niceties of the law after my own son fell victim to a bullet from motorcycle-riding robbers, I was just too glad to react with any sense of revulsion to the “overkill” weeks the “Duterte Diehard Squads” dealt some motorcycle-riding thugs with, as they were fleeing from the scene of their crime. So very dead in their tracks—and nevermore to be a threat to society. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Martin Andanar - Confidence in the police


DECEMBER 15 -ANDANAR:
Members of the Philippine National Police will not have their guns sealed with tape this holiday season. PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said he has enough trust in the discipline of the force he leads to abandon the traditional practice. Besides, proud police officers walking around with the muzzles of their guns taped makes for a sorry sight. The practice of taping gun muzzles was a measure adopted many years ago to prevent police officers from discharging their guns during the New Year revelry. We have no measure to indicate to us the success of this practice. Each year, stray bullets continue to take casualties. If we cannot trust our police officers to keep their firearms safe during the holidays, can we trust them with fighting crime? Taping gun muzzles seems a puny measure to stop the illegal discharge of firearms even as it demeans our police officers. Much of the illegal discharge of firearms that happens in the mad revelry with which we welcome the New Year appears attributable to unlicensed firearms and their irresponsible owners. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL: On the lam


Jack Lam. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, DECEMBER 19, 2016 (INQUIRER)  Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:14 AM December 13, 2016 - Jack Lam is on the lam. It’s a pun hard to resist, but there’s more to it than plain jesting. Troubling implications about the motives and methods of the war on criminality that the Duterte administration is waging are onceagain unavoidably raised with the increasingly curious case of Lam. The Chinese gambling operator has been accused by the government of, among others, employing 1,316 Chinese nationals without the proper work permits in his online gaming office in Pampanga, attempting to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and committing economic sabotage.

READ MORE...

No charges have yet been filed against Lam, who has managed to flee the country, but that did not stop President Duterte from ordering his arrest even without a warrant, on grounds that economic sabotage is a continuing offense. That was about 10 days ago. Last week, the President changed his tune by saying Lam could return to the Philippines—in fact, resume his business—once he pays the proper taxes. Lam will no longer be arrested, he said, if the gambling operator manages to “settle his obligations.” He added: “Just pay taxes, don’t bribe anybody.”

Is there a case against Lam, or none? The perception that unfortunately arises from the way this issue has unfolded so far is that the President’s whim and temperament for the moment are driving the prosecutorial action against Lam, rather than any solid evidence the government may hold against him. Consider the bribery allegations: Aguirre brought up the original scenario—that Lam’s interpreter Wally Sombero, a former police official, attempted to bribe him and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Andrea Domingo when Sombero interceded for Lam. But, Aguirre would subsequently clarify, there was no “overt act of bribery” and it “was only my perception.”

Think of it: Aguirre, the justice secretary, airs a grave criminal allegation against someone one moment, and then dismisses it as flimsy imagining the next, as if he were merely thinking aloud. Think of the danger such reckless behavior could unleash on ordinary individuals subjected to his hyperactive “perception”—if indeed that was all there was to Lam’s case. As it happens, Aguirre’s clarification meant nothing for his boss, who still ordered the arrest of Lam—partly based on the bribery allegation that his justice secretary said never happened!

Strangely, Mr. Duterte has not ordered the arrest of Sombero, who, after all, according to Aguirre initially, was the instigator of the bribe offer. Nor is there any action yet against two immigration commissioners who, in a lurid sideshow to this story, allegedly extorted P50 million from Lam. According to columnist Ramon Tulfo, an ardent supporter of the President, the commissioners are not only appointees of the administration, they are also Mr. Duterte’s “brods” in Lex Taleonis, the law fraternity at San Beda College. “President Digong will surely be fuming with anger” once he learns about this, Tulfo wrote.

Is he? Would he? Mr. Duterte appears to have considerably softened his stance against Lam with his announcement allowing the gambling operator’s return as long as he pays the proper taxes. Good point—but that isn’t even the biggest of Lam’s alleged sins, if we are to go by the administration’s pronouncements. Lam has to face the more consequential charge of economic sabotage—specifically, for the over 1,000 Chinese illegals he had hired for his Pampanga operation. Unlike the “perception” of bribery, this actual undertaking can be cross-checked with paperwork, documents and the very actions of public officials: How did those Chinese workers manage to get in without the right documents, in the first place?

This case is crying out for a proper, thorough and transparent investigation, and not the erratic, capricious prosecution that the administration appears to be running so far. Jack Lam is on the lam, and all the President’s horses and all the President’s men can’t seem to get their act together on it.


EDITORIAL - Sorry, but…Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:26 AM December 15, 2016



On Sunday, at a festival in Tarlac celebrating the Nativity, President Duterte apologized for the loss of innocent lives in his war on drugs. “It’s not that I’m sorry for the decision, but I’m sorry for those who were caught in the crossfire,” he said.

He had earlier described these casualties as collateral damage, the unfortunate result of police using automatic weapons when confronting criminals: “When they meet, they exchange fire. With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people and they die.”

He added that America, among other countries, also kills innocent civilians when it bombs hostile territory. “Why do you say it is collateral damage to the West and to us it is murder?” he said.

The apology and the depiction of his brutal campaign as par for the course do little to honor the memory of the young “collateral damage” such as San Niño Batucan, 7, Danica May Garcia, 5, and Althea Barbon, 4, whose violent and senseless deaths should give law enforcers pause. Why should the young pay the ultimate price for the folly of their elders, and the hubris of leaders who think themselves infallible and above law and reason? “Forgive me, but I really cannot lose the momentum here,” the President said. “As I have said, this is a matter of survival for my country.”

READ MORE...

Unfortunately, San Niño, Danica May and Althea can no longer appreciate such lofty nationalism. They were ordinary kids caught in the war on drugs that appears to have driven both police and vigilantes to frenzy like sharks by the smell of blood.

By accounts, San Niño was at home in Consolacion, Cebu City, on Dec. 3 when he cried out in pain and clutched at his bloodied stomach. Not soon after, he was dead in a hospital where he had been taken—a victim, according to his father, of a stray bullet fired in the course of a “failed police operation” concerning a suspected drug pusher.

Earlier in the war on drugs, two motorcycle riders barged into Danica May’s home in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, while the family was having lunch, and opened fire. The apparent target was Danica’s grandfather, Maximo Garcia, who had surrendered to police days ago after being told he was on a drug watch list. He was questioned briefly but was allowed to go home. Now, with two men chasing him, Garcia ran to the back of the house toward the bathroom from which Danica May emerged just as the gunmen fired. She was hit in the head and died in hospital.

Althea was riding on the back of her father’s motorcycle in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and was looking forward to the popcorn he had promised her. But she was shot by policemen targeting her father who was on their drug list.

Asked by reporters about minors caught up in the violence, Mr. Duterte said those cases would be investigated, but added that police could kill hundreds of civilians and not be held criminally liable. “It could not be negligence because you have to save your life. It could not be recklessness because you have to defend yourself,” he said. These words render hollow his promise to investigate the extrajudicial killings that, per reports, have breached 4,000 since he took office five months ago.

About a third of those killings were a consequence of police operations that Mr. Duterte had publicly encouraged, even to the point of quickly clearing the policemen involved in the suspicious death of Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, in his prison cell. Cops will not go to jail for doing their job, he had promised time and again, fueling the climate of impunity and emboldening criminal elements into using the war on drugs for their ends.

The unintended consequence of his brutal campaign does not faze the President, who has raged against criticism from human rights groups and foreign governments: “We have 3 million drug addicts and it’s growing. So if we do not interdict this problem, the next generation will be having a serious problem. You destroy my country, I’ll kill you. And it’s a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I will kill you… There is nothing wrong in trying to preserve the interest of the next generation.”

The irony involving “our young children” is right there.


INQUIRER LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
From:
STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, lexsquare.firm@gmail.com 

Unlike any previous PH presidents Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:10 AM December 15, 2016


DECEMBER 15 -GOOGLE IMAGES

When criminals strike, they operate under no rules whatsoever. No one expects them to give their victims “due process,” and that’s simply taken for granted. In just minutes, they get what they want. But when the victims’ relatives try to seek retributive justice, they are expected to allow the criminals all the benefit of “due process,” i.e., court proceedings to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. That could take some 10 or 15 years. Admittedly, the playing field is so screwed up.

As a lawyer grappling with the niceties of the law after my own son fell victim to a bullet from motorcycle-riding robbers, I was just too glad to react with any sense of revulsion to the “overkill” weeks the “Duterte Diehard Squads” dealt some motorcycle-riding thugs with, as they were fleeing from the scene of their crime. So very dead in their tracks—and nevermore to be a threat to society.

READ MORE...

Bleeding hearts cried foul that the “suspects” were never given any chance in a court of law. To them we throw it back: Did the victims of those scumbags get any such chance?

It’s no wonder to me now that President Duterte is nailing it every time he faces the people to explain his side of the so-called extrajudicial killing narrative. I have been to some of his sorties where he talked on and on without triggering a yawn from anyone. I was totally amazed by the eager reception and rapt attention he always got not only from the usual captive audience, but even from former skeptics like me.

The President is nothing like any of the past presidents we heard before; they were so much into pompous but empty rhetoric. Even his curses and cusses, whenever he starts perorating about his “war” on drugs and criminality, sound much like he is taking the expletives right out of the people’s mouths and articulating their deep-seated frustrations. The people are sick and tired of a government promising everything but doing nothing to make this country safe.

Just ruminate on this:

How the heck did the number of drug addicts/pushers reach more than 4 million if past administrations did anything about the drug menace in this country—which, as it turned out, now involves generals in the uniformed service, public officials in very high places, and such other “honorable” lowlifes as their coddlers/protectors? How could past presidents have played dumb all those years?

On a more flippant note, if the Constitution has to be amended, I for one would like to see the presidential term limit expunged. Mr. Duterte cannot undo in six years what past presidents had been ignoring for decades.

But will he survive past his age in the 70s? There is a saying that people with very active sex lives manage to remain alive up to a hundred and five. By the way, Mr. Duterte’s eyes light up as he watches pretty girls go by, I rest my case.

STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, lexsquare.firm@gmail.com 


Confidence in the police By: Martin Andanar - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM December 15, 2016


ANDANAR:


Members of the Philippine National Police will not have their guns sealed with tape this holiday season. PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said he has enough trust in the discipline of the force he leads to abandon the traditional practice. Besides, proud police officers walking around with the muzzles of their guns taped makes for a sorry sight.

The practice of taping gun muzzles was a measure adopted many years ago to prevent police officers from discharging their guns during the New Year revelry. We have no measure to indicate to us the success of this practice. Each year, stray bullets continue to take casualties.

If we cannot trust our police officers to keep their firearms safe during the holidays, can we trust them with fighting crime? Taping gun muzzles seems a puny measure to stop the illegal discharge of firearms even as it demeans our police officers. Much of the illegal discharge of firearms that happens in the mad revelry with which we welcome the New Year appears attributable to unlicensed firearms and their irresponsible owners.

READ MORE...

Whether they tape their gun muzzles or not, the police force will be closely observed by our citizens. Social media reports of guns being fired will surely be a more effective check on reckless gun owners. The police force, however, will be hard-pressed to demonstrate that it has transformed into the disciplined organization our citizens want it to be.

The PNP has been in the limelight in the past five months, during which a relentless campaign against the networks of illegal drugs was waged on orders of President Duterte. Scalawags in uniform have been ferreted out. Disciplinary action has been taken against policemen found positive for drug use. Ranking police officials suspected of protecting drug syndicates have been named and shamed. So much is being done to assure our citizens their police force is reliable and trustworthy.

The PNP, over the past five months, has been under pressure. The police was given tough goals to achieve in record time. The war on drugs as well as the looming threat of terrorist attacks have kept our policemen on their feet, putting in longer hours and working each waking day. The entire police force will be on high alert status through the holidays with leaves cancelled and shifts lengthened.

Our policemen, at the same time, are challenged to uphold the PNP’s prestige. So many deaths in the course of the antidrug effort are unfairly attributed to policemen. The Internal Affairs Service is pushed to work harder and investigate so many deaths attributed to “gang wars.”

Recently, the National Bureau of Investigation concluded that the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa by operatives of Region 8’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group was murder. The whole affair was politicized when the President admitted he had asked for the retention of Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos, who led the raid on the Leyte jail that resulted in the killing of Espinosa. However, we must take note of the President’s rationale for Marcos’ retention: to study his movements with the goal of destroying the drug apparatus. We must also remember that the President said he will not interfere in the legal proceedings against Marcos.

We do not have all the facts or the full story about what really happened in that jail. At any rate, we are sure the President’s main concern is to keep police morale high as the war on drugs kicks into high gear. He has assured all our policemen they have his full backing as they do the perilous and often thankless job of fighting criminality. Until all the facts are known, and unless all the facts prove otherwise, he must assume regularity in the way policemen do their work.

Hopefully, the public will maintain the same attitude. We must assume the PNP is a disciplined and professional organization constantly conscious of its mission to serve the people.

Except for a few scalawags here and there, the PNP has gone a long way toward an organization worthy of our people’s trust and confidence. We must help it along and shape it into a fully accountable force. We have only one PNP.


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