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Will the ‘narco-mayors’ resign?

SOME 1,400 “narco-mayors” have been invited by President Duterte to a “meeting” at Malacañang on Wednesday next week. This is in the wake of reports that he had told them to resign—or get killed.

This is a follow-up to the long list of politicians and even policemen allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

The problem is that once a mayor is tagged by the President as a narco-politician, he is already deemed guilty. In effect, he would be a dead man walking. He would be an easy target for vigilantes who have also claimed thousands of lives since Mr. Duterte took power.

As a former Davao City mayor, a lawyer and former prosecutor, the President should know that they are just suspects, innocent until proven otherwise. They are entitled to due process.

These are held sacrosanct under the Bill of Rights in our Constitution.

The only alternative, as I see it, is for the President to charge them as being involved in the illegal drug trade in courts. But how much time would it take to charge 1,400 individuals? The trials would take an eternity, knowing how the wheels of justice grind here in the Philippines.

The President has given them the option to resign. But will they?

I don’t know what the President intends to do with those invited to the Palace. Will he listen to them when they deny their involvement in the illegal drug trade?

While I believe that President Duterte is on the right track in combating the drug menace, I also hope he would always be mindful of the rule of law. We are in a democracy. Even criminals and suspects are entitled to it.

* * *

The arrest order and deportation of Indian nationals— “bombays” as they are known in the vernacular—involved in the usurious lending trade can resonate with the poor. They have been victims of those motorcycle-riding Indians involved in the notorious “5-6” lending scheme.

When I was business editor of the defunct Philippines Herald at Intramuros during the 70s on to the 90s, every payday, I used to see a motorcycle-riding “Bombay” sitting at the entrance to our building, ready to do business with Herald employees. My gulay, this Indian national I saw would lend the equivalent of P5, but would charge P6 when payday came. That’s an outrageous and clearly usurious interest rate.

Years later, I met the same Indian, and he told me he was now in business with his fellow Indians and residing in Dasmarinas Village. I said to myself that the “5-6” money lending business must indeed be very profitable. To add insult to injury, these Bombays do not even pay taxes because they have no permits from government to operate.

Thus, the proposed crackdown is timely.

* * *

The appointment by President Duterte of controversial starlet Margaux “Mocha” Uson to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board brings to fore the relevance of reviewing and classifying movies in the age of the Internet.

I hate censorship of any kind.

Even when I was named by the late President Marcos as a member of the three-man Media Advisory Council during Martial Law, I formed an organization of all radio and television networks—“Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas—to police the broadcast industry. This was so we could get out of the censorship during Martial Law regime. The KBP had its own set of standards that the broadcast industry follows to the present day.

The MTRCB is a useless and irrelevant agency at this time of global communication and technology.

It remains as a convenient dumping ground for political proteges. The salaries and other perks given MTRCB members can be of better use elsewhere.

* * *

A couple of my friends called me up yesterday to ask why I have become a “Duterte fan” in my column. I wrote about the reasons President Duterte has maintained his excellent poll survey ratings.

True, I like President Duterte, despite his foul mouth. I may be critical of the extrajudicial killings and violation of human rights. But I find Duterte, the person, interesting.

Look at his humility. He shuns the perks and privileges of people in power. He flies economy when traveling to and from Davao. He refuses to follow protocol and meets with fellow heads of state in his barong Tagalog with his collar unbuttoned and his sleeves rolled.

To a columnist like me, he is unlike other presidents. He is a maverick. He is not your usual politician.

* * *

This news has not made headlines, but, it’s a welcome development for people of Caraga that the President’s economic managers have laid out a development roadmap that will strengthen regional centers and see the use of Cagayan de Oro as the country’s fourth economic center after Metro Manila itself, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

The naming of Cagayan de Oro by the National Economic and Development Authority ensures the spread of government resources, which has long been held by Metro Manila, to the countryside.

According to Neda, Cagayan de Oro is poised to become the newest “Metropolitan Center” due to its projected population growth, its strategic location as gateway and logistics hub for northern Mindanao and its status as an education center in the south.

CDO is dubbed as “City of Golden Friendship” due to its many shopping malls and business process outsourcing hubs. It has a population of around 600,000 compared to Metro Manila’s 12 million.

Topics: Emil Jurado , President Rodrigo Duterte , narco-mayors , narco-politician , illegal drugs , Indian nationals , Margaux “Mocha” Uson , Cagayan de Oro City
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