"This year will be a year of reckoning for Mr. Duterte."
Toward the end of last year I wrote that 2019 will be a reckoning of sorts for President Duterte. People will be asking whether he has delivered on his promise of change.
Recall that this promise was anchored on the situation on illegal drugs and corruption.
Indeed the President marked his first year in office with his bloody war on drugs. Police records show that about 5,000 have died. However, unofficial estimates show that the real number could be twice or thrice that.
So has the President succeeded in enforcing law and order? Has he succeeded in curbing corruption as well?
Santa Banana, when we say peace and order, we do not just refer to the problem of illegal drugs. It’s multi-faceted. For example, there is insurgency, and there is terrorism.
The war on drugs will not end, not even upon the end of Mr. Duterte’s term. The menace of illegal drugs is a health issue.
The President himself said that there are three million to four - million drug users in the Philippines. Does he mean that he will not stop until every one of them is dead?
The issue is simply one of supply and demand. For as long as there is demand, drugs will keep coming in. And with the kind of Customs we have, smuggling is a sunshine industry.
This is why I have been calling on the President to prioritize community-based rehabilitation centers. True rehabilitation hinges on family support.
On corruption, Mr. Duterte must now realize that corruption will not end so long as there is human intervention and discretion in government functions.
The President must have realized by now that corruption is embedded in government activities. He can only reduce it.
This year is an election year, and the President wants to have his favorite candidates win. If the people are satisfied with his performance, then perhaps these candidates will win.
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The passing of Henry Sy Sr., the richest Filipino and founder of the SM conglomerate, reminds me also of the passing of two others—Al Yuchengco of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., and George SK Ty of Metrobank.
As a journalist of nearly seven decades, I knew them all personally. I knew they shared the same vision for a better Philippines and education for all. They have one thing in common. Given all their blessings, they always gave back to the people.
During the 1950s, when I was president of the Business Writers Association of the Philippines, Yuchengco was named Young Insurance Man of the Year. He was a personal friend, and he always gave me the opportunity to brief his companies of business prospects every beginning of the year.
Ty was also a personal friend. At the time he made me a judge of his annual “Best Teacher of the Year” and many other awards. His philanthropic activities were legendary.
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Makati City councilors allied to former Mayor Junjun Binay have become bottlenecks to the many projects of reelectionist Mayor Abby Binay.
They have been making the 2019 budget hostage as they try to derail the noteworthy projects of Mayor Abby. Don’t they realize that they are causing the people to support Abby more?
Her brother Junjun should realize that these councilors are doing him a disservice!
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People have been asking if the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law will truly spell change in Mindanao. Under the law, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be replaced by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
My answer is that it will not.
There are many other factors that will come into the picture. For example, Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front was not included in the BOL. Aside from the MNLF, there is also the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Terrorism is in vogue in Mindanao. In fact, this gave rise to the extension of martial law there.
To expect peace and order in Mindanao is futile, even after the BOL is ratified. I say dream on.
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The passport data mess at the Department of Foreign Affairs is baloney. I wonder who started this mess.