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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Sealing off police guns a stupid edict

“Elevate those guns a little lower.”Andrew Jackson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — We laud Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa for finally breaking the usual practice of sealing off policemen’s guns ahead of the New Year festivities.
We were among those in the media who criticized the move, which was the brainchild of past PNP leadership starting during the time of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.
We considered the order as “unnecessary” and “suicidal.”
When the guns of our lawmen were sealed off, they could not respond to emergency cases or crimes. They would be like sitting ducks if armed criminals or terrorists attacked them vice versa.
The purpose of sealing off their guns was to prevent them from firing indiscriminately during New Year celebration.
This was on top of the “stern” warning from the PNP hierarchy that they would be dealt with accordingly if they used their guns to celebrate New Year.

PROFESSIONAL

Stern or whatever warning is also not necessary for professional cops or military men. Only scalawags and bad eggs will disobey and ignore lawful orders.
Each year since the order was made, reports showed that many innocent civilians, some of them children, were injured and killed after being hit by stray bullets fired during the New Year’s eve.
Either the stray bullets came from the firearms of some rogue cops or undisciplined military personnel who ignored the order from their higher command, or from the guns of trigger-happy civilians.
There are many loose firearms in the hands of drunken maniacs who don’t give a hoot if innocent bystanders and children are injured or killed as long as they will fire these guns during the New Year revelry.

DOUBLE

Police should double their efforts to round them up as preventive measure. There should be no ifs and buts for those caught in possession of these unlicensed guns.
There should be no exemptions. No padrino or political considerations. No palakasan. No kumpare or kumare system.
Eliot Spitzer once said: “Yes, people pull the trigger – but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.”
In fact, even without a New Year celebration or election gun ban, possession of loose firearms is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.
An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.

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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in CRIME, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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Iloilo biggest winner in anti-drugs war; biggest loser in shame campaign

“A good reputation is more valuable than money.”
— Publilius Syrus

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY –– In the government-led battle against illegal drugs in the Philippines in 2016, Iloilo City could be the biggest “winner” if the number of murdered and “neutralized” drug lords, small-time traffickers, and drug addicts is used as the barometer.
With a population of 424,619, Iloilo City could also be the biggest “loser” when it comes to the “shame campaign” initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte immediately after he assumed office in July.
Among those slain in the brutal crackdown against drug pushers was the Odicta couple, Melvin and Meriam, of Iloilo City. They were killed by unidentified gunmen in Caticlan Port in Aklan on their way back after “surrendering” to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mike Sueno in Quezon City in August.
The Odictas were the country’s biggest names in illegal drug trafficking to fall in 2016. Following their death, some of the couple’s top runners were either killed in “encounters” with police or arrested.

‘SHABULIZED’

Aside from naming Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, ranked No. 5 in the 2014 World Mayor, as alleged protector of illegal drugs, Duterte also called the “City of Love” the “most shabulized city” in the country.
The tag, strongly belied and disputed by Mabilog and other local officials, demoralized some Ilonggos, especially those living in other parts of the world who suspected politics behind the “smear” drive.
Duterte also named three other prominent Iloilo mayors as “narco-politicians”: Alex Centena of Calinog, Siegfredo Betita of Carles and and Mariano Malones of Maasin.
Like Mabilog, they all cried foul.
Duterte based his accusations on the list provided by his intelligence henchmen who had been tipped off by narcotics agents, some of them were reportedly allies of political rivals of those on the list.

SHAME

The shame campaign, which caught many local chef executives whose names were on the list flat-footed, didn’t prove the guilt of the maligned mayors and governors.
Duterte, in fact, had flip-flopped and apologized to some of those he mentioned in the list, underscoring suspicions that he was fed with half-baked if not unverified reports from the field.
Two of them, Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao and Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, however, were killed by police in separate encounters–all related to Duterte’s nationwide campaign against illegal drugs.
Some three thousand suspected drug traffickers and drug addicts have been summarily executed since Duterte and his national police director, Chief Supt. Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa launched the “all-out” war against illegal drugs in the country.

RIGHTS

Human rights advocates in the Philippines and abroad have criticized the apparent state-run extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and asked the president to halt the carnage.
They expressed alarm that some of those killed by lawmen in alleged “shootouts” were suspected pushers and young drug addicts and not convicted criminals.
Senator Leila De Lima, a former Commission on Human Rights commissioner, questioned the EJKs saying criminals are presumed innocent until proven by the court.
Duterte, who vowed to wipe out criminality in the country within six months starting in July, responded with derision and called his critics “SOB.”
When the president and Dela Rosa could not meet the six-month deadline, Duterte asked for extension.
Killings are feared to escalate anew in 2017.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS

 

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An over acting speaker

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

– WINSTON CHURCHILL

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — I find the call of Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez to investigate the alleged plot by former US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg to oust President Rodrigo Duterte not only funny but OA (over acting).
Alvarez’s call was prompted by a report on December 27 by the Manila Times that Goldberg has allegedly left a “blueprint” on how and why Duterte should be kicked out or a “recommendation to the US State Department for the removal of the Philippine President from office.”
Alvarez was quoted in the news as saying, “If true, this has serious consequences not only on our country’s political stability but also on the economic and social fabric of our nation. It would also have grave repercussions on our relationship with the United States.”
Alvarez added: “In view of this serious allegation I am calling for a congressional investigation to find out if there is basis to this reported ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.”
If true, but how true?

SOURCE

In that news, writer Dr. Dante Ang, publisher of Manila Times, quoted only “a source”.
In fact, the title of the story already revealed everything: “US ex-envoy plotting Duterte fall – source.”
The story did not have direct allusion to any US Embassy official in Manila or Lisbon, Portugal, the news’ dateline. No direct quote from any former or concurrent Goldberg subaltern.
No official statement from the US State Department. Only a source. Ang’s “source” outlined or summed up Goldberg’s alleged “strategic recommendation ostensibly to the State Department for the ultimate removal of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte from office.”
News is news. A source can either be credible or sham. A source can either be true or poisonous. It can be a molehill that became a mountain when translated into straight news.
Not everything that is reported in the newspapers though warrant a congressional investigation. If reporters invoke “sources” in their stories, our legislative body can’t resort to knee-jerk reaction if it finds the media stories “alarming.”

RESOURCE

If Alvarez will call for a House probe on the allegation, who will they call as resource speakers? Not the Americans, of course.
Not Dr. Dante Ang. Not the employees of Manila Times.
Ang can never be compelled to reveal his source or sources. The Supreme Court has ruled that any journalist can’t be obligated, compelled, or coerced in any forum to name his sources.
This will shield credible sources “who requested strict anonymity for fear of retribution or retaliation.”
The law also protects journalists from self-incrimination just like the ordinary citizens.
If invited by Alvarez’s House investigation committee, we doubt if Ang will cooperate.
The Americans, as well as those who have no love lost for President Duterte, will only laugh while over-acting Alvarez, et al waste the people’s money in a House investigation that will reveal nothing.

-o0o-

The wisdom of having three branches in a democratic government is to have a check and balance.
This explains why the executive, legislative, and judiciary are co-equal in the government structure.
The president can’t execute any major executive fiat without concurrence from congress. The president have the veto powers if it finds the law passed by congress lacking in substance and inefficient.
If the court finds the acts of the executive and legislative branches to be unlawful, it can always interfere by invoking the legal parameters.
The speaker of the House can be a political sympathizer or ally of the president, but he can’t use his office to act as mouthpiece of the executive body.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS

 

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Pinoy victims of EJKs, ‘You’ve got a friend’ in James Taylor

“When you stop growing you start dying. An addict never stops growing. A user is a continual state of shrinking and growing in his daily cycle of shot-need for shot completed.”
― William S. Burroughs

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — When a visiting friend asked me in September this year to accompany her to the place where John Lennon was assassinated in New York City 37 years ago, I first pointed to her the former residence of James Vernon Taylor in the Upper West End Avenue in Manhattan.
Taylor lived in the next building from Lennon.
“I’m interested on John Lennon’s apartment. Bring me there,” the friend badgered me.
We walked from Central Park’s Strawberry Fields (where Lennon’s ashes had been scattered by Yoko Ono after cremation and where Lennon’s “Imagine” song had been playing non-stop) before proceeding to Dakota, in the gate of Lennon’s apartment where he was shot in the head by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980.
It was Taylor who first had an eerie encounter with Chapman, then 26-year-old Texan, 24 hours before Lennon’s murder.
Could he have prevented the assassination of one of music industry’s most talented, charismatic and highly-regarded artists in history?

INTERVIEW

In a 2010 interview with BBC, the now 68-year-old American singer-songwriter and guitarist, revealed that Chapman “…had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon. And it was surreal to actually have contact with the guy 24 hours before he shot John.”
After Lennon was officially declared dead in the nearby Roosevelt Hospital, Taylor alleged he heard Chapman “shot–five, just as quick as you could pull the trigger, about five explosions.”
Taylor, born in Boston, Massachusetts, stayed in New York City as he was on a methadone maintenance program to cure him of his drug addiction.
Yes, fellas. The singer who popularized “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Fire and Rain”, “How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you)”, “Handy Man”, “Your Smiling Face”, was a former drug addict.
Taylor was in the news in the Philippines after he cancelled his Manila concert in February 2017 in protest of the extra-judicial killings (EJK).

MESSAGE

In his personal blog (www.jamestaylor.com), the five-time Grammy Award winner, wrote dated December 20, 2016:
I’ve been eagerly looking forward to playing for my Philippine audience ever since we added Manila to our tour of the Pacific this coming February. So it saddens me to cancel our concert there. I don’t think of my music as being particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand.
The scourge of addiction is a worldwide problem and does serious harm, not only to the addict but to our society. For a sovereign nation to prosecute and punish, under the law, those responsible for the illegal trade in drugs is, of course, understandable, even commendable; but recent reports from the Philippines of summary executions of suspected offenders without trial or judicial process are deeply concerning and unacceptable to anyone who loves the rule of law.
I offer my heartfelt apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause my Filipino friends but I must now announce that I will not be performing in Manila this February. All tickets sold will, of course, be fully refunded. I am grateful to my promoter, Renen de Guia, for his patience and understanding.
This decision will, in no way, affect my plans to perform as announced in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
James Taylor

-o0o-
To all victims of EJKs in the Philippines, as well as other drug dependents targeted by summary executions, let’s listen to a song from “a friend”:  You’ve Got A Friend
By James Taylor
When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you’ve got to do is call
And I’ll be there, ye, ye, ye
You’ve got a friend
If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep you head together
And call my name out loud now
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at you door
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yes I will, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall, ye
All you have to do is call…

 

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Thank you for the inspiration, Graciano Lopez Jaena!

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

— Tecumseh

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By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — We commemorate Graciano Lopez Jaena’s 160th birth anniversary on December 18, 2016.
The reason why Ilonggos are so proud and probably the most-inspired journalists in the Philippines in this generation is because of fellow Ilonggo Lopez Jaena.
Could the son of Jaro, Iloilo City, who died in poverty, have been swallowed by the prevailing system that decimates the moral fiber of many enterprising journalists had he lived in today’s generation?
Born on December 18, 1856 and died on January 20, 1896, Lopez Jaena was not only an outstanding journalist, but was also an orator at par with the country’s and even the Asia’s best.
As the first ilustrado to arrive in Spain where he started the Propaganda Movement against our Spanish colonizers, Lopez Jaena became revolutionary when he formed a triumvirate with Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcel H. del Pilar.
But he became well known for his newspaper, La Solidarid.
No wonder contemporary journalists in Iloilo today flood the Western Visayas community with newspapers.
Almost every freedom-loving and lovers of letters and literature want to become newspapermen or to own and manage their own newspaper in the Ilonggo-speaking populace.
It runs in the Ilonggo blood.
Before he became famous, Lopez Jaena was first sent by his parents to study at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Jaro which had been opened under the administration of Governor General Carlos María de la Torre y Nava Cerrada.
In the seminary, he served as a secretary to Claudio Lopez, his uncle who was the honorary vice consul of Portugal in Iloilo.
But he had ambition to become a physician. Lopez Jaena convinced his parents that he needed to enroll in a university in Manila.

ADMISSION
He was denied admission at the University of Santo Tomas because he did not have a Bachelor of Arts degree when he was at the seminary in Jaro.
Lopez Jaena was appointed to the San Juan de Dios Hospital as an apprentice.
He eventually dropped out due to financial difficulties and returned to Iloilo.
His assimilation with the poor ignited his feelings about the injustices common in that era.

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Lopez Jaena’s potentials as a reformer and writer became apparent at the age of 18 when he wrote the satirical story “Fray Botod” which depicted a fat and lecherous priest.
Lopez Jaena ribbed Fray Botod’s false piety which “always had the Virgin and God on his lips no matter how unjust and underhanded his acts are.”
The story was not published, but a copy circulated widely in Iloilo. The infuriated friars could not prove that Lopez Jaena was the author, thus he became off the hook, so to speak, temporarily.
The son of Jaro refused to testify that certain prisoners died of natural causes when it was obvious that they had died at the hands of the mayor of Pototan town, thus he was pilloried.
He continued to agitate for justice. When he received threats on his life, he sailed to Spain in 1879, where he pursued the Propaganda Movement.

LAND
In the land of our colonizers, Lopez Janea became a leading writer, propagandist, and speaker for reform of the homeland.
He finally pursued his medical studies at the University of Valencia but did not finish, thus incurring the ire of Rizal.
Lopez Jaena defended why he did not finish his medical studies by saying, “On the shoulders of slaves should not rest a doctor’s cape.”
“The shoulders do not honor the doctor’s cape, but the doctor’s cape honors the shoulders,” Rizal intoned.
The national hero died of tuberculosis in poverty on January 20, 1896, 11 months short of his 40th birthday.
He was buried in an unmarked grave at the Cementerio del Sub-Oeste of Barcelona the following day.
Marcelo H. del Pilar’s death followed on July 4. Rizal was killed on December 30 by firing squad in Bagumbayan.
Their deaths ended the great triumvirate of Filipino propagandists, but their works contributed in the liberation of their compatriots from the Spanish colony.
Lopez Jaena’s remains have not been brought back to the Philippines.

 
 

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Duterte to Defensor: Federalism on my mind

“Federalism should be able to maintain unity among all. But this does not mean that we should boycott regional voices and the voices of ethnic groups.” — Khil Raj Regmi

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — We were not surprised to learn that President Rudy Duterte admired Iloilo Governor Art Defensor as mentioned in a Philippine regional newspaper recently.
In 2015 when Duterte visited Defensor in the Iloilo Capitol, the future Philippine president sent former Cotabato governor and now agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol as his advance party.
Duterte was aware he would be late in his appointment with Defensor because of tight schedules in his Iloilo sorties.
Duterte knew Pinol was in good speaking terms with Defensor, a fellow Ilonggo, thus the former Davao city mayor was confident Pinol would be a perfect emissary.
“Diin na si Mayor Duterte?” Defensor asked Pinol as he entered the Office of the Governor. “Manong Art, on the way na sila na traffic lang. Nag press con pa sila didto sa Diversion Road.”
While waiting for Duterte, Defensor signed some papers on his table.
Pinol was entertained by prominent capitol officials led by Board Member Demy Sonza and Provincial Administrator Raul Banias.
“Mayor Digong (Rudy Duterte) has so much respect for Manog Art (Gov. Defensor). He believes that Manong Art, being a seasoned public servant, can understand the depth of his advocacy about federalism,” Pinol told Sonza and Defensor’s subalterns who surrounded him and took photos with him.

WELCOME

When Duterte arrived about 45 minutes later, Defensor accorded Duterte, who belonged to another political party, with a warm welcome.
They did not talk about politics. Duterte made known his intention why he was there and why he had been going around the country: to promote federalism.
Duterte did not seek Defensor’s support for his presidential bid (Duterte had repeatedly rejected calls from supporters to run for president saying he was only interested to promote federalism).
He enumerated the reasons why there is a need for the country to shift to federal form of government. Defensor, a veteran lawmaker and expert in political science, lent his ears to Duterte.
Duterte knew that Defensor was one of the only few public officials in the country today who have not been tainted with corruption.
At the back of Duterte’s mind, whether federalism will snowball, Defensor can survive because he believes that the Iloilo governor is clean and untarnished as a public servant.
Duterte knew his visit wasn’t a waste of time because he was explaining his platform to the right person.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2016 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS

 

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