MAGANES: The gains under the 100 days of Duterte’s administration
I am not a big fan of President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte. In fact during the last election, I was a supporter of Senator Grace Poe for the presidency because I believed on her 20-point agenda and of tracing her father’s roots- King of Philippine Movies Fernando Poe Jr. here in Pangasinan particularly San Carlos City- a boost for the Pangasinenses like me.
But Poe came in third on the results of the election, trailing behind Mar Roxas. Duterte, the reluctant candidate at the start of the campaign, won by a six-million votes. To many political observers in the country, Duterte’s feat at the polls was surprising particularly because that he had no organized political machinery to back him up. He presented himself to the electorates by posturing as the “common guy” we see on the streets- brusque and unadulterated cuss words coming forth from his mouth. He promised to get rid of illegal drugs within six months, end other forms of criminality in our society and stop corruption in all levels in the government.
These maybe the reasons why he endeared himself to the electorates who for many years have been longing for a leader who could change the systems in the country’s governance. He was the cynosure of the eyes of the common Filipinos, but a pain in the neck of the oligarchs, church leaders and the socialites. The common Filipinos mirrored in him the sincerity and honesty of a new leader.
Fifteen days before he assumed the presidency on June 30, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has already bolstered its crackdown on illegal drugs. There were raids made on suspicious drug dens and laboratories. Suspected drug users and pushers were arrested and if they are not lucky,are silenced for life. It was a show of force and a prelude to the incoming leader’s penchant to end the activities on illegal drugs.
Duterte has also selected the composition of the members of his cabinet, many of them has been his classmates and friends during his college days taking up law at San Beda College. For a change, he also took into his cabinet leaders of the communist and socialist movements, an action frowned upon by his critics. But he is the elected president. Who could question his wisdom?
Then came the day he was sworn in. His first move was to strengthen the police forces. He appointed and promoted to 4-star Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to head the PNP. His first mission was to crack down on the drug lords including their illegal drug trading. General “Bato” patterned his operation when he was still the chief of police of Davao City, the turf for more than 20 years of “Mayor” Duterte. He operationalized nationwide his Oplan Tokhang (katok and hangyo, meaning knock and plead) and Oplan High Value Targets (HVTs) under his Operation Double Barrel. Indeed, the operations on illegal drugs paid off as 700,000 drug users and pushers surrendered nationwide.
Despite the successes however, Duterte has become the center of tirades by the human rights advocates. As of September 30, more than 3,000 drug personalities have been killed, half of which according to PNP leadership, were legitimate police operations and the others were either perpetrated by vigilante groups or the drug lords themselves.
The “killings” did not escape the eyes of the erstwhile Chair of Commission on Human Rights, now Senator Leila De Lima. She spearheaded a Senate inquiry into what she called “extra judicial killings” (EJK) to the consternation of President Duterte. News from local media permeated the international community as these were zeroed in on EJKs. The United Nations, United States and the European Union warned Duterte to stop the killings. However, Duterte invoked the sovereignty of the Philippines and the legality of what he’s doing for the country.
Instead, he announced the content of the first narco-list, naming mayors, judges, policemen, etc. He also presented the illegal drug link matrix at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) where De Lima was named as the coddler of the detained drug lords together with former Justice Undersecretary Francisco “Toti” Baraan III, General Franklin Bucayu, De Lima’s driver Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, 2nd District Board Member Raul Sison, former Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan and former Governor, now 5th District Rep. Amado T. Espino Jr. However, Sison, Rafael Baraan and Espino were cleared by Duterte, saying that he could not find anything to link them to drug trade .
At the Senate House, De Lima, who chaired the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, was ousted from that position and was replaced by Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon. Senators were dismayed on how she presented during hearings self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato to pin down President Duterte as the purveyor of Davao Death Squad and EJKs in Davao City.
At the House of Representatives, an inquiry is zeroed in on the link of De Lima with the drug lords at the NBP. Detainees were invited to shed light on the alleged drug money that flowed to the campaign coffer of De Lima during the last election and worst even her sexual relations were unearthed.
These were at the surface of Duterte’s accomplishments for 100 days amid his cussing and pronouncing expletive statements. But what were the real accomplishments of his administration if we go deeper into his administration? Why were these not being exposed by the media? In fact, Duterte was the only president who had not experienced the luxury of 100 days honeymoon with the media. He was bombarded with tirades, questioned on his foreign policies as well as on violence in the country because of illegal drugs.
Let’s look at this accomplishments: the issuance of Executive Order for the Freedom of Information (FOI),one-stop shop for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), initial release of political detainees, open war with the bandit group Abu Sayyaf, free irrigation fees for farmers, distribution of the farmlands of Hacienda Luisita to farmers, renovation of international airports at NAIA, confidence building with PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, free rice subsidy for the beneficiaries of 4Ps, suspension of seven mining firms, end of contractualization in big companies, and the list continues.
Let’s look beyond the “killings”. Let’s ignore the verbal war between President Duterte and Senator De Lima. Why don’t we focus on the changes he has promised before us? And, let’s learn the art of “waiting”.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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