Friendly reminders

A LAW EACH DAY [KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY] By Jose C. Sison

Tatay Digong’s” rapport with lots of Filipinos both here and abroad is quite impressive indeed even if it is mainly based on news items posted in social media by his trolls. He is really reaping a lot of praise and admiration every time he visits places here and abroad and delivers speeches laced with invectives, insults and cuss words. As his adorers in social media repeatedly claim, he is the best president the Philippines ever had. Maybe they are correct here but only in the sense that he has substantially maintained his popularity even if his trust and approval ratings have gone down by several percentage points.

He must bear in mind however that running the affairs of the State involves more than just winning the hearts and minds of the people by going around and making speeches. It is about time for him to really buckle down to work especially because the election where he won handily has been over for almost a year now. It is his performance rather than his popularity which will determine whether he is really the best President that the Philippines ever had.

He may really become the best President of the Philippines if he would just refrain from reacting angrily and hitting below the belt those who criticize or disagree with him. He should just accept them as part of his job and even perhaps consider them as attempts at helping him succeed as President. Better still, he should change his style by talking less and acting more; or he should back up his words with concrete actions. As the lyrics of a song goes: “you say it best when you say nothing at all”, and just “do it.”

In this connection, it may be worth citing and reminding “Tatay Digong” of his very strong words regarding his much vaunted fight against corruption. He said he will not tolerate even a “whiff” of corruption in his government. For this reason, he axed some government officials who are apparently close to him like National Irrigation Administrator (NIA) Chairman Peter Lavina, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno and Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioners Argosino and Robles who were caught extorting from Chinese gambling czar, Jack Lam. His announcements in this regard were really quite sensational that surprised and put to shame and embarrassment those implicated. Up to now however, such sensational announcement has not been followed through with the filing of the necessary action in Court so that the axed officials will be penalized under applicable laws. Firing them and then letting them go without the corresponding punishment under the law if found guilty, only give the impression that this fight against corruption is all “palabas” with him as the bida.”

Also regarding his oft repeated announcement on the fight against criminality, the cases that immediately come to mind is the murder inside his jail cell of Albuera, Leyte Mayor and suspected drug lord Rolando Espinosa. The killing was carried out by policemen from Leyte headed by its Chief, Marcos, allegedly for the purpose of serving a search warrant. This killing has already been found by a Senate committee to be premeditated and charges of murder have been recommended to be filed against the policemen. But even before the cases can be filed in Court, Duterte himself already promised the policemen that they will be pardoned if convicted. In fact Duterte appeared to be publicly admitting that he ordered the killing of Espinosa. Is this not encouraging criminality instead of fighting it?

Of course there is also the case of former Davao City policeman Arturo Lascanas. Initially in the Senate investigation on extra judicial killings, he belied the allegations of Matobato another policeman from Davao that there is a Davao Death Squad. In fact Matobato admitted that he participated in the killing of several people particularly broadcaster Jun Pala. Later on however Lascanas completely reversed himself and confirmed Matobato’s allegations on the existence of  a Davao Death Squad during Duterte’s reign as Mayor and that he was one of its members who participated in the killings of several suspected drug addicts and criminals.

Apparently Lascanas has perjured himself by making conflicting statements under oath. He has also admitted under oath his participation in the liquidation of several criminal suspects on alleged orders of Duterte. So, there is probable cause to charge him with perjury and multiple murders. Yet up to now, the Department of Justice has not even conducted a preliminary investigation of said crimes for purpose of filing the corresponding charges in court. Lascanas was even allowed to slip out of the country and go to Singapore. This glaring inaction makes a mockery of Duterte’s fight against criminality. And worse, it has given rise to a public perception that this administration is avoiding a full blown court trial of these cases where the gory details of the killings and Duterte’s possible role therein may be fully revealed.

It would also be better for Tatay Digong to refrain from making off-the-cuff remarks and announcements that could send a wrong message. His recent statement on the possible selling of Philippine islands in the South China Sea to China if said country gets “very rich”, may be interpreted to mean that the Philippines is not faithfully defending its territories or, as former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario recently commented, it “may put us in a poor strategic position without the benefit of flexibility especially if there is a need to negotiate.”

Tatay Digong should also be reminded that in announcing his plans of action against some oligarchs or their business enterprises, he should be more specific as to the facts and the law of the case instead of just issuing threats and general statements. Better still he should not anymore announce his plans of action but just carry them out.

These are just some friendly reminders which Tatay Digong should hopefully consider to ensure that he succeeds in his endeavor to promote the best interest of our country and people.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

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