IN ONE of his rambling and profanity-laden speeches, President Duterte said he would no longer push through with the creation of the Truth Commission. This body was supposed to get to the bottom of what truly happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao where 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police were killed a little over two years ago.
I don’t know if this was the aftermath of an alleged text message of former presidential sister Kris Aquino, who supposedly pleaded with the President not to send her brother to jail.
I think Mr. Duterte was clear enough when he said that he would rely on the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the pending cases relating to Mamasapano.
But why rely on BS Aquino-appointed Conchita Carpio Morales, who excluded the former President from those accountable for the massacre? Can we truly expect Morales to be fair?
I cannot see the logic behind the Ombudsman’s exclusion of BS Aquino even as probable cause was found against his subordinates, former SAF Chief Getulio Napeñas and PNP chief Alan Purisima. Recall that Purisima was on preventive suspension at the time of the operation.
With the proposed commission now in limbo, how can the bereaved families of the Fallen 44 ever get justice?
I wonder if we would ever find the answers to these questions: Why did BS Aquino break the chain of command in bypassing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and then PNP Chief Leonardo Espina? Purisima was suspended for alleged graft.
Why didn’t BS Aquino, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, assist the beleaguered SAF in the face of a combined force of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other armed groups already butchering the SAF contingent?
What was the role of the Americans in that debacle?
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As far as I am concerned, the biggest mistake of President Duterte from the beginning of his term was the appointment of Gina Lopez, heiress to the Lopez clan, owners of ABS-CBN, as secretary of environment and natural resources.
If it was the idea of the President to get the support of one of the largest radio-television networks of the country, he is now being proven wrong. What Lopez is doing to the mining industry—she closed down 23 big mine firms and suspended five others—creates bigger problems. Lopez has become a big problem to him.
My gulay, the President should listen more to Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez, his senior adviser. Dominguez said there would be no less than P653 million in foregone government revenues.
Dominguez said that of the total P441.92 million revenue losses from the affected mining firms, the remaining P211.72 million would represent taxes lost. Worse, closure of mines in mining communities would have adverse effects on communities.
The light at the end of the tunnel for the affected mine firms is the fact-finding body on the audit reports of Lopez and her anti-mining allies. This will be through the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, which Dominguez heads.
President Duterte should have known from the start that Lopez, a self-proclaimed environmentalist and a staunch anti-mining advocate, was a square peg in a round hole. She is obsessed about killing the mining industry in the Philippines. She is on record as saying that if she had her way, there would be no mining at all in the Philippines.
Santa Banana, without mining, would she have a cellphone, or iPad to use and utensils with which to eat? Where would Lopez get her trinkets to wear and a vehicle to go to work? Where does she think the helicopter she used to fly over mines to inspect come from?
My gulay, some 1.2 million direct jobs and induced employment have been lost. And Lopez does not care.
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In an obvious attempt to mollify the relatives of the Fallen 44, the National Police Commission is pushing for Medals of Valor to be given to the men who died in Mamasapano.
Together with the medal is a monthly pension of P20,000 and several incentives and privileges.
They deserve to have some commendation, but not Medals of Valor which are given only to soldiers and policemen who died in the line of duty, performing some heroic acts.
What the relatives of the Fallen 44 deserve is justice. This can only be had if people responsible for feeding the SAF 44 to the dogs get the punishment they deserve.
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For all intents and purposes, the move of the administration and its allies in the Senate to bring back the death penalty is dead. This is because of the country’s international commitments signed by the President and ratified by the Senate.
In fact, the Senate hearing on the death penalty was suspended by Senator Dick Gordon, Blue Ribbon committee chairman, until the Department of Justice comes up with a legal justification that the Philippines would not violate any international treaty if the Senate were to enact the law reimposing the death penalty.
One such treaty is the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which committed the country not to imposed death penalty. Since it is basic in law and that international commitments form part of the law of the land, violation of such international commitment would isolate the country.
Aside from this fact, there is no empirical data to support the claim that death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Anybody who abides with the moral law will know that life is sacred, and only God can terminate it. It is barbaric, to say the least.
In any case, I can almost predict that the reimposition of the death penalty will not pass Congress. While Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the Dutertards are all for it, the House is divided on the issue. Since the Senate must also enact the law reimposing the death penalty, I foresee that the death penalty will not succeed.