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Tribune Editorial

Time to recalibrate drugs war

Saturday, 21 January 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial

The tokhang for ransom incident that resulted in the murder of South Korean Ji Ick-joo risks becoming the waterloo of the war on drugs if Rody insists on defending the police despite the blatant racket.
Rody had defended the action of the elements of the Crimimal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 led by Supt. Marvin Marcos in what became clear was a rubout of suspected illegal drug trade protector Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
The Ji incident is already threatening to sour the relationship between the Philippines and South Korea as its Foreign Ministry demanded justice for its citizen believed to have been victimized by the police.
Ji’s wife delivered the P5 million ransom two weeks after he was abducted by members of the police force in the guise of carrying out an anti-narcotics operations, which as it turned out was an extortion attempt that went awry.
Somewhere along the “hulidap” (arrest then hold-up) extortion operation that would have pinned drug charges against the Korean, who was a0 long time resident of the country and familiar with the ways of the local police, something went wrong in which the victim likely pushed back against his captors.
With Ji dead, the cops still tried to squeeze money out of the situation and shifted to kidnap for ransom, of course with a dead hostage.
The difference between the Espinosa rubout affair and Ji’s murder was that the killing of the Albuera Mayor is a local affair while in the case of the Korean, Rody is expected to face ramped up pressure from foreign governments on the conduct of the anti-narcotics war.
Such a mistake was what the yellow mob is assiduously waiting for or even working for against Rody in the overall effort to oust him.
Evidently, Seoul, which is not an actor yet in the criticism of Rody’s war, will not let go of Ji’s case and has been coordinating closely with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to get daily updates.
Based on the information acquired by Seoul authorities, a gang of eight people, four Philippine police officers and one former policeman among them, were involved in the abduction last October.
Ji’s wife paid the abductors a P5 million ransom two weeks after Ji was kidnapped in Angeles City when it turned out, the man was already dead.
Ji, who has resided in the Philippines since 2008 running a recruitment company, was murdered the same daay or the next day he was seized, and his body was burned to ashes in a crematorium, whose owner is  a former police officer, who it turned out is a member of the tokhang for ransom syndicate.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Dionardo Carlos said the racket was an “old modus operandi” by exploiting police anti-drugs operations.
There were suggestions that the syndicate, with  member  SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel, surrendering to  the NBI, was being funded by a group trying to discredit the PNP in the war on drugs.
The burden, however, of proving this,  falls on the PNP hierarchy, mainly PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa.
The usual alibi of the police in such situations is that the victim resisted arrest or “nanlaban” that was used even in the killing of Espinosa, an excuse of Marcos and company to which Rody appeared to have subscribed, even as he also claimed that he will let justice take its course and will not meddle in the NBI probe and the courts.
This would have to apply on Ji who was a businessman and had no likely involvement in the drugs until his tragic tokhang for ransom encounter.
The dilemma of Rody is his assumption that an admission of gross mistakes and abuse of the police in the conduct of anti-narcotics operations would result in the weakening of the war on drugs and a possible loss of morale or worse, incite grumbling in the police rank.
It would be futile for him, however, to insist that all cops are innocent when it comes to their acts on the war on drugs.
More absurd is his vow to assume all mistakes of the police force in drugs operations which the public never demanded of him.

Have Reds offered anything?

Friday, 20 January 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial

The communist movement that always equates its pursuits as being for the interest of the “people” is now seeking an end to the ceasefire that the National Democratic Front (NDF) unilaterally imposed but only after being continuously badgered by Rody.
Rody had long declared his own ceasefire before the communists acceded to answer in return.
The NDF rationalized its plan to end the ceasefire on Rody’s unmet promises to the insurgents amid the ongoing peace negotiations.
“The strong sentiment of the NDF forces on the ground and the masses in many parts of the country is for the withdrawal of the NDF unilateral ceasefire, because of broken promises on the release of political prisoners and violations of the ceasefire by the government,” NDF peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili said.
The probable truth is that the claimed masses’ support for the armed Reds are non- existent. If themasses are truly with the commies, it is because they fear retribution from these armed Reds should they go against the armed commies.
The local movement is led by long-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Jose Ma. Sison. The CPP follows a hardline Maoist doctrine which was derived from the former Soviet Union’s Red front ideology.
The concept it is espousing which is a socialist communal state has long been discredited.
The Chinese have opted for an open economy while maintaining its supposed communist political setup while the Soviet Union has broken and from which emerged the Russian republic.
The communist movement is still carrying an ideology that believes a social and cultural upheaval is needed through an armed revolution to allow workers and peasants, the proletarians, to have a predominant role in a new government, which remains a theory.
Communist movements around the world, however, revolved around a key powerful figure who exercises dictatorial powers and not a state ruled by proletarians.
The NDF is calling for the release of 434 political prisoners affiliated with the communist movement even before the signing of the peace agreement, which by the indication of the communist leaders may not come at all.
The government is seeking a peace deal within 12 months but Agcaoili said the communists would need at least two more years to realize a series of economic and political reforms before even beginning “serious discussions” on a final peace pact.
Those economic and political reforms have yet to be agreed on and were the agenda in current negotiations in Rome.
The NDF, the CPP’s political arm, is now claiming a consensus has been reached to terminate its unilateral ceasefire.
Based on past negotiations with the rebel group, the release of the political prisoners did not help in reaching a peace deal but only benefited the strengthening of the CPP which was able to consolidate its forces after the release of some of its major officials.
Agcaoili said “the panel is also very aware that the people are tired of promises from politicians and the Manila government that are routinely broken.”
The real public, however is skeptical over the NDF’s demand since its interest appears more on the retrieval of its top cadres rather than forging a peace agreement.
Rody already had shown goodwill in negotiating for peace with the communists in surrendering some government posts to its allies and pardoned 18 CPP leaders who were convicted for murder and kidnapping.
Rody, however, is not ready to fall into what appears to be a trap laid out by the CPP in the current negotiations.
“My aces are in prison,” he said, referring to the jailed communists.
“If I release them, all my cards are lost. There would be nothing else to talk about,” he added.
Rody’s statement showed his awareness of the capability of the communist movement in terms of advancing its agenda.
The government’s time frame for the signing of a peace pact with the communists is an agreement by August which is impossible to meet considering the outlandish demands of the NDF.
The NDF, beyond grudgingly imposing a unilateral ceasefire after Rody complained that it has not complemented an earlier unilateral ceasefire of the government, had not shown a commitment to the peace process.
The government accommodating the NDF should have limitations while the claimed “masses” the NDF frequently refers to are waiting for the communist movement to show sincerity.

Collateral damage

Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial

China’s cynicism is again being fed by recent events that  involve two of its main preoccupations, which are Japan and Taiwan.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines has filed a note verbale, which is a mild form of diplomatic protest with China after a United States think-tank reported that Beijing appears to have installed anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapons on seven man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies report said anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems designed to guard against missile attack were installed on the islands.
The US think-tank citing new satellite imagery, added it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military-length airstrips on these islands.
The build-up is being fueled by incoming US President Donald Trump’s emerging policy on Taiwan, the leader of which, Tsai Ing Wen, frequented the United States, holding two visits, within this month.
Media mouthpieces of China warned Trump that it will “take the gloves off” if he keeps challenging the “One-China” policy.
Trump has been issuing statements mainly on his social media account that have been making the Chinese apprehensive over a Trump presidency.
In one of his posts he asked why can’t he accept a phone call from the Taiwanese leader when the US government sells military hardware to Taiwan.
Earlier, he posted that Tsai called him to offer her congratulations for his poll victory.
China reacted immediately to the post, warning Trump to honor the “One-China” policy in which Taiwan is considered a province of the mainland.
Also in an interview with Wall Street Journal, Trump said the longstanding policy was up for negotiation.
Last Saturday,  after his latest comments, the Chinese foreign ministry warned Trump the One-China policy was non-negotiable.
The state-owned China Daily in an editorial Monday noted that Trump “will seldom be given the benefit of the doubt twice, because doing the same thing for a third time shows intent.”
Another of China’s bugbear is Japan, whose leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had an intimate visit with Rody. Abe and his wife Akie even had a meal in Rody’s house in Davao City, which was beyond protocol of a visiting leader.
China’s state-run news agency Xinhua said in a commentary that Abe attempted “to enhance his chummy ties with Rodrigo Duterte, president of a country who currently holds the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and a drifting-away US ally” by offering  an aid package of $8.66 billion or about P434 billion.
“By making himself the first head of government to officially visit the Philippines this year and the highest ranking leader to ever visit Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte, Abe is leaving no stone unturned to draw the Philippines back to the US-led alliance network, which has stirred up tensions in the South China Sea and the whole Asia Pacific at large,” Xinhua said.
It noted, however, Abe’s calculated plan is doomed to be futile as more and more Asia Pacific countries, including the Philippines, “have realized the importance and correctness of win-win cooperation as well as the toxicity of the zero-sum and Cold War mentality.”
It added that the arbitration through the United Nations (UN)-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague which ruled to nullify China’s nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea was a Hollywood-style farce.
“Directed by two non-claimants of the South China Sea, the United States and Japan, the political buffoonery had deeply damaged mutual trust between China and the Philippines, which was ruled by then Philippine President Benigno Aquino. But the plot was immediately reversed after President Duturte’s inauguration, who has a better and deeper understanding of the South China Sea issue and a foresight of a strategist over its future,” it added.
China it appears does not have any beef against Rody but is pursuing its military buildup on the islands it built due to uncertainties over Trump and Japan’s move to win over the Philippines.
Rody, despite his overtures to China, will have to face up to being drawn into the worsening maritime dispute.

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