Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Woe Oracle (for the Punisher)

Woe to you who rule with an iron fist
drenched with the blood of thousands of people including street-children
executed by your death-squads in squalid slums of your city
with the applause of many who live in comfortable subdivisions.
You tell us this is the price that must be paid
so that we can walk the streets at night without fear.
Now you want to continue your killings spree all over the land.
Do you think that your crimes and sins have been absolved by your election?


Woe to you with your clenched fists
that will soon be smeared with the blood
of thousands and thousands of your brothers and sisters
whose right to life and due process you deny
so that you can walk the streets at night without fear.
Now you ask everyone to move on and to unite. For what?
In order that the death squads will multiply their serial mass murder?
So that your idol can carry out his revolution from the center like the late dictator?
Is your voice really the voice of God? Which god are you talking about?


Woe to you who put your trust in a man
accused of murder and plunder
whom you believe can save the nation and get rid of crime and corruption.
You ignored your conscience and embraced your dark side.
A time of reckoning will come
when the biggest criminal will be held accountable
including those who allowed him to continue the mass murder.
Don't give the excuse that you did not know what you were doing.


A time will come when the punisher will be punished.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Prospects under a Duterte Presidency: Scenario Analysis


As elections draw near, the possibility of Rodrigo Duterte becoming president has become imminent barring last minute extraordinary developments or “miraculous events” that would derail his candidacy – the latest of which is the allegation of hidden wealth.

            If the surveys are to be believed, and his supporters refuse to believe all the allegations against him, he is assured of getting at least 33% of the votes.

            The question now is what could happen when he becomes president. Will he be able to carry out what he promised and intends to do?  Will he be able to fulfill the expectations of his followers?

            This is an attempt at presenting a scenario analysis based on what Duterte promised to do as  reported in the media and the possible consequences should he carry these out.

 

 

What Duterte  Promised and Intends to Do

 

What attracted many voters to Duterte is the promise of change. “Pagbabago, Disiplina.” This has been his battle-cry. This is reminiscent of Marcos’ battle-cry when he declared Martial Law and promised to create a New Society (Bagong Lipunan) with discipline as one of the pre-requisites (“sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan”). To many his of followers, Duterte is the last hope of the country, the only one who can save the country -- the Messiah.

            At the core of his agenda is to stamp out criminality and corruption by all means necessary. This include extrajudicial killings, ignoring the rule of law and basic human rights of suspects which he regard as a Western concept. As Mayor of Davao, he was accused of inspiring and supporting the Davao Death Squad which has murdered 1,424 victims from 1998-2015. This earned him the name of “the Punisher.” He boasted that if elected, it will be bloody – the 1,000 will become 100,000. He said that the fish in Manila bay will grow fat. There won’t be any need to build prisons, just more funeral parlors.  This would imply multiplying and unleashing the death squads nation-wide. The targets are mainly suspected criminals. But in a speech to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), he warned them not to strike during his term of office – otherwise he will also kill them.

            In carrying this out, he will not brook any opposition. He warned congress, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Ombudsman not to resist this campaign. Otherwise, he will close down or abolish congress if it starts impeachment proceedings against him.

In his latest speech in April 28, 2016 during the release of the military man held prisoner by the NPA, Duterte reiterated the following:

            Since the present setup and constitution is not enough to effect change, he will abolish congress and the constitution and form a revolutionary government. He will start a revolution from within – (similar to Marcos’ idea of a revolution from the center).

            He will declare a ceasefire with the NPA and resume the peace process and quickly reach a peace agreement.  

            Earlier he had expressed his desire to enter into a coalition government with the communists. He promised to give them  cabinet positions. In a speech he told the NPA, that if he becomes president, the NPA will have one foot in Malacanang. He declared that he will be the first leftist president of the Philippines. While denying that he is  a communist, he affirmed that he is a socialist.  Based on his pronouncements, the form of government that Duterte will try to adopt can be labeled as autocratic-socialist in coalition with the communists and moving towards a parliamentary-federal form of government. Marcos way of governing is Duterte’ model. Duterte promised to give Marcos a hero’s burial. The only difference between Duterte and Marcos is that Marcos was not a leftist and the communists were the targets of repression and extrajudicial killings. Under a Duterte government, the communists will be partners and they can help in eliminating suspected criminals. After all, the first batch of the Davao Death Squads were composed of former communists/Sparrow units hit-men.

In various interviews, especially with Vice Ganda, Duterte declared his support for gay marriage and divorce. So these would be some of the changes that he would introduce especially with a new constitution. With a new constitution, term limits can be abolished. So he can reign for as long as he wishes.

 

 

Worst-Case Scenarios

 

Many things can happen under a Duterte Presidency. What I will present is the worst-case scenario if he carries through what he promised and intended to do. I hope this will not happen. None of this will happen if he just sits back, relax and bask in his power and glory and does very little to change society or if he plays his cards very well.

            After his inauguration, President Duterte is expected to immediately launch his anti-criminality drive. He has given himself 3-6 months to stamp out criminality or he will resign. If he follows the rule of law and due process six years is not enough to do this. The PNP will have to engage in intelligence gathering or search their data base. They will then have to do case build up, find evidence, and file the case in court. Since the judicial system is very weak the cases will drag in court for many years.

            So shortcuts have to be made, like what happened in Davao. This means organizing and multiplying the death squads all over the country– franchise style. Training will be rapidly conducted while barangay units are required submit the names of the notorious drug users, pushers, petty thieves, etc. There will be police officers who will handle the death squads. Other police officers will be emboldened to carry out extrajudicial killings on their own as they are encourage to take the law into their hands with impunity. This will require a huge budget which can be taken from the intelligence fund. If a peace agreement is immediately reached with the CPP, he may request the NPA  to also form their own death squads to go after the suspected criminals.

The bodies will pile up unless the death squads concentrate on a few high-profile targets  or the big criminals (crime bosses, drug lords). It is easier to eliminate the juvenile delinquents and the small fries. Fighting against drug lords will be more difficult especially through extrajudicial killings. To protect themselves, these criminal syndicates could build up their armed components  and engage the death squads and there will be war in the streets – a la Mexico. Violence could escalate.

            The bigger problem is that there are many police personnel and politicians who are also involved in criminality – many are big time criminals. This could be complicated if they are targeted by the death squads.  As the spiral of violence continues and the killing spree escalates, there are two possible reaction:

            The first is silence or even applause. The majority will support the killings and not raise an outcry. They think that those suspects deserve to be killed. This is the price to be paid if they want to walk at night without fear.

The other response is civil society including the leaders of the Church could speak out and demand investigation and accountability. The Commission on Human Rights will act and there will be demand for congressional hearing.

            If the government fails to address the killings, there will be groups that will raise the issue at the international level. A case could be filed in the International Criminal Court. If he is successfully prosecuted, he could be isolated internationally and sanctions could be imposed on the country like what happened to Syria and Iran.

            Meanwhile, as the six months deadline expires and he is not able to stamp out criminality, Duterte will be pressured to keep his word and resign from the presidency.

The possibility of resigning is remote since he has been known to renege on his promises. He is also afraid that if he resigns, he is vulnerable to lawsuits and could end up in prison.

             Impeachment proceedings could be filed in congress and the trial will be conducted by the senate. He will be most vulnerable because he has very few allies among senators and representatives. Unlike previous presidents who had the power to release pork barrel to representatives and senators and therefore attracted turn-coats, this power has been taken away by the Supreme Court due to its unconstitutionality. So Duterte will be unable to control congress and senate.

            There could be two grounds for his impeachment: corruption (hidden wealth, failure to declare in SALN his assets – ala CJ Corona) and human right violations (extrajudicial killings). This could happen within the first six months.

            If as he promised, he will abolish congress and form a revolutionary government if he is impeached, he will find it impossible.  The constitution does not give him such power so this would be an unconstitutional and illegal act. To carry this out successfully he has to operate outside the law. He needs the support of the police, the military, the political parties.  He also needs the support of the citizenry who can go out to the streets and form as his people power that will defend him. He is assured of one third of the adult population that supported him and voted for him although how many are willing to fight it out in the streets remains to be seen. He can rely on the support of Pastor Quiboloy – the appointed son of God – and his followers. He can also rely on the Iglesia ni Cristo. But there could also be many supporters who would likely turn against him once the issue of corruption is proven (like what happened to Erap).

            If during the early period of his presidency, he is able to make peace with the communists and enter into an alliance with them, he can count on their support to establish a revolutionary government. He could have at his disposal their legal organization, the mass bases and the armed component – the NPA. This is an opportunity for them to later dominate the government and eventually seize state power which is their ultimate objective.

            The PDP-LABAN is a hollow party with few members in the senate and congress, so it cannot provide substantial support to Duterte  in the halls of congress especially if an impeachment proceeding is initiated.

            Since he does not have any legal  basis for dissolving congress and form a revolutionary government, Duterte cannot rely on the police and military to support him. If they hold on to their professionalism, they will not follow illegal orders.  Besides, many in the military have branded him as a traitor for his alliance with the CPP/NPA. So his order to close down congress could be ignored as the impeachment proceedings continue.

            There will be turmoil in the streets as civil society and the Church mobilize rallies against him and his supporters face them off. There could be clashes in the streets.

As this is happening, due to uncertainty, the economy will suffer. The capital flight that has started even before the elections will continue. This will be worsened with his coalition with the communists and the clashes in the streets. There could be an economic crisis if the uncertainty and instability continue and if he tries to impose a nationalist and socialist economy. If he is true to his socialist ideology, this could mean introducing a socialist economy which usually includes state control of the means of production and the nationalization of major industries (this type of socialism has already been abandoned by former socialist countries like Russia, China and Vietnam).

With his anti-US stance and  perceived pro-China sentiments, and with his alliance with the Communists, the US would probably make sure that he does not stay in power for long since he is perceived as a threat to their long term interest – which is the dominance in Asia and the South-China/West Philippine Sea. It would not be surprising if  the CIA is already very busy.

There could be sections within the military that will be organizing for a possible coup or for withdrawing their support (like what happened during EDSA II that toppled Estrada in 2000). A revolutionary coalition government with the Communists will provoke counter-revolution.

            What happens next will depend on who will be the vice-president and how far Duterte is able to carry out his intention in abolishing congress and installing a revolutionary government in  coalition with the Communists.

            If the vice-president is Bongbong Marcos, he could take over as president if Duterte is impeached or is forced to resign. However, civil society and the Church won’t be enthusiastic to carry out another people power if it means handing over to Bongbong the presidency. It will be the return of another Marcos to Malacanang.  If Lenny Robredo is the vice-president, that will be another story.  There will be more vigorous effort to oust Duterte.

            There are other alternative scenarios beside what has been discussed above. One of the risks that Duterte faces is an assassination attempt. This could come from the CIA , the military, or crime lords he is wants to eliminate extrajudicially. The other uncertainty is his health. He is already 71 years old and suffering from several diseases that will continue to worsen (Buerger's disease - the disease causes inflammation and thrombosis in small and medium-sized blood vessels, typically in the legs and leading to gangrene. It has been associated with smoking. Another is “Barret’s esophagus” that leads to cancer). In an interview, he once said that he could be the first president to die in Malacanang.

Thus, it is not certain if he can complete his term of office or hold on to power. Duterte has been projected as a superhero or a messiah who can save the Philippines. There is a tendency to  liken him to Mussolini and Hitler. But Mussolini had his National Fascist Party and Blackshirts and Hitler had his National Socialist Party and SS. Both dictators  had strong political parties and organized movements backing them. Duterte has none of this except his DDS, a moribund PDP-Laban and possible support of the CPP/NDF/NPA which may not be enough. Being commander in chief does not guarantee loyalty and support from the AFP if he operates outside the constitution and is perceived by them as a traitor for his connection with the CPP/NPA. Although he promised to double  their salaries, that is not enough to buy their loyalty. In a Rappler interview,  he hinted about a purge within the military for those who will not cooperate and talked about the Manila Bay as wide enough for them (his comment about the fish in Manila Bay getting fat is not only for criminals). Hyperbole?  If he does this, this could even endanger him more.

What is most doubtful is if he really can get things done and bring about genuine and meaningful change or will he lead our country to ruin. He may have the political will but he lacks the political machinery and the other leadership skills like vision, compassion, integrity and emotional intelligence necessary to effect genuine change. It is doubtful if he can effectively and single-handedly eliminate criminality and corruption. He himself has been accused of being a criminal and as corrupt as other politicians with the extrajudicial killings and allegations of hidden wealth. His power is limited. The presidency is just one branch of government. Congress is not like the city council that he can easily dominate, dictate upon or abolish. He doesn’t have control of the Supreme Court. There are independent institutions that can hound him if he commits any abuse of power such as the Ombudsman and the Commission of Human Rights. He cannot do anything he wants to get his own way no matter how much he may curse or bully his way through. The whole country is not a city like Davao.

His other option is to just sit back and relax and enjoy his remaining years in Malacanang and try to survive the next six years, doing very little. But the specter of impeachment will always be there due to allegations of hidden wealth which is not reflected in his SALN. One thing is sure – those who voted him will be disappointed. But this always happens because Filipinos always expect too much from their presidents without realizing that the president’s power is limited – he cannot be the Messiah or the Savior of the country. They fail to realize that change begins within each one, and together they can change Philippine society.

A legacy that a Duterte presidency could leave behind is that of government officials, police officers and military personnel that have gotten used to extra-judicial killings, who think of themselves as above the law and act as judge and executioner, thereby weakening instead of reforming and strengthening the judicial and law enforcement system. Another legacy could be that of imposing an autocratic rule that had been rejected by People Power 30 years ago. The worst legacy is a people who have lost their conscience – of knowing what is right and wrong – fully supporting mass murder and the violation of human rights and  disregarding the rule of law and due process,  who think that there is nothing wrong with cursing, committing adultery, lying and stealing. It is a people who have lost their soul and freely embraced their dark side.

            Let us pray to God that we will be spared from this catastrophe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Extrajudicial Killings: A Moral Perspective

(On July 30, 2003, 13 years ago, during the launching of the Coalition Against Summary Execution or CASE, I gave this speech. I am posting this here to help Christians in their discernment as they elect the new president. It is important that we are guided by our conscience because our choices could lead to more killings and we become accomplices to mass murder)
 
Extrajudicial Killings: A Moral Perspective

 
Almost daily, the newspapers and TV report  the series of killings of suspected criminals by the dreaded death squad. This is happening not only in Davao but in other cities in Mindanao.

Many of those killed were petty thieves, drug addicts and pushers. Many of them were still young.

What is happening reminds me of the secret marshals and the cases of salvaging during the Martial Law.

The questions is: Can these killings  be morally justified? Is it right to kill these criminals?

Those who order and perpetrate these killings obviously think that there is nothing wrong with terminating these criminals with extreme prejudice. They think they are doing society a favor because they are getting rid of these criminals, they are defending society from evil people. They believe that the elimination of these criminals is a deterrent to crime. Thus, they act as prosecutor, judge and executioner – carrying out  capital punishment – the death penalty.

I am sure that there are many ordinary citizens who think the same way. That is why there is very little public outcry. They believe  these criminals – especially these drug pushers and suppliers – deserve to die.

Is it right to kill these criminals?

In spite of good intentions, the means used  is not only illegal, it is also immoral.

The end does not justify the means. We cannot achieve a good end with evil means. It is not right to fight crime by committing a crime.

Those who order and carry out these summary executions of criminals become criminal themselves. They are guilty of the crime and sin of murder. What they do violates God’s 5th commandment: You shall not kill.

The direct and intentional killing of human beings, no matter how sinful they are, is a grave sin. Murderers are answerable not only to the law but to God.

The killing of these criminals cannot be considered as an act of self-defense. They did not directly threaten the life of the killers. While their activities are harmful to society, there are lawful means of dealing with them.

No one has a license to kill – not the government officials, not the police and military, and not any civilian. No one can arrogate to himself the power of life and death over other people – only God can do this.

Those who enforce the law must uphold the law. They are not above the law.

The Church upholds the right to life of all human beings – whether, unborn, young, old, and even criminals. The right to life is inalienable. It flows from the principle that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and possess human dignity. Thus, life is sacred. No one can be deprived of the right to life – not even those suspected and found guilty of crime.

This right to life is now enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Church’s opposition to vigilante killings or summary execution is consistent with its opposition to abortion, capital punishment, war and euthanasia.

So, by all means, those in authority should go after the criminals, bring them to justice and punish them appropriately. But they should use means that are legally and morally right. They should not become what they abhor.

There is no need to become criminals in the fight against criminals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Victims of the Davao Death Squad: Consolidated Report 1998-2015


 
           I recently received a consolidated report of the killings perpetrated by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) since 1998 up to the end of 2015.  The source will not be mentioned for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that since the killings started, they have been monitoring these cases. I know them very well and I have been collaborating with them as we denounced these killings and worked with the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Watch. They are hesitant to make the report public out of apprehension that it will be used for political purposes. I believe that to hide this would be a disservice to the nation since I believe that the body count could multiply many times over throughout the whole country in the next six years. The original report that I have is in Excel format, and very detailed (year by year, according to age, sex, areas, weapons used, etc). What I present is a summary and my own analysis. I know that when I do this, I am risking my life. But the truth must come out before it is too late.

 The total number of persons killed by the DDS from 1998-2015 is 1,424. Let me repeat in words – ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR victims. This can be considered as MASS MURDER perpetrated by the same group, inspired and supported by the same persons. The data does not include those killed in other cities where the DDS have expanded franchise-style.

Out of 1,424, there were 1,367 male and 57 female. This means that those murdered by the DDS were not only men, there were also fifty-seven women.

Looking at this according to age there were 132 children killed (17 and below) -- 126 boys and 6 girls. The youngest was a 12 years boy and a 15 year girl. There was a 9 year old boy who was killed by a stray bullet – he was not an intended target.

There was a total of 476 young adults (18-25) murdered – 466 male, 19 female. The number of older adults (26 years and above) killed were 612 (466 male, 28 female).  There were victims whose age were not given – 201 (191 male, 10 female).

Thus, almost 50 percent of the victims were young people (children and young adults). Most the victims were killed in urban poor areas (e.g. Buhangin, Agdao, Bangkerohan, Boulevard, Matina, Toril). Most of those killed were involved in illegal drugs – as users and pushers. There were also those involved in petty crimes – theft, cell-phone snatching, gang members. There were 14 cases of mistaken identity – they were not the intended targets but the DDS hit men mistakenly hit the wrong target.  There were some who had gone away after being warned that they were on the hit list and after some years, after reforming their lives, came back thinking that they were safe. Their names were still on the list so they were still killed.

Thus, one can say that majority of the victims of the DDS were young and poor – juvenile delinquents considered as the weeds of society. There were no reports of drug lords or big time criminals among those killed by the DDS. There were two journalists who were believed to have been murdered by the DDS – Jun Pala and Ferdie “Batman” Limtungan. Jun Pala was a radio commentator who constantly spoke out against the DDS and Mayor Duterte. There were two previous attempts on his life and he accused Duterte of being behind these attacks. He was finally killed by motorcycle riding men on the third try. Ferdie “Batman” Lintuan also spoke out against the DDS and also the alleged anomalies in the construction of the People’s Park which he linked with Mayor Duterte. He was also killed by motorcycle riding men.

The victims of the DDS were unarmed. They did not fight back. Many were just sitting down on street-corners  outside sari-sari stores, talking with friends and then suddenly shot in cold blood. There were some who were just released from prison and while waiting for public transportation on the side of the road were suddenly shot by motorcycling men. How the DDS knew the exact time and place they were to be released is amazing. Another victim was killed inside his home in front of his mother and three children who were begging the DDS not to kill him. One of the most well-known case is Clarita Alia – a vegetable vendor in Bangkerohan – whose teen-age sons (who were below 17 years old) were murdered by the DDS. I was asked by Clarita to bless the  body of her boy, Fernando before he was buried.

I have personally witnessed the aftermath of two DDS killings. The first was in our parish church in Bajada. While officiating a Wedding Mass I heard shots outside in the carpark. I immediately rushed outside after the Mass to find out what happened. I saw the body of a teen-age boy lying in our church ground surrounded by people. He had just been shot by DDS hit-men while sitting in the car park with his friends. The killers escaped on a motor-cycle. There was a police car nearby but the police just fired warning shots into the air and did not go after the killers. The boy who was killed lived in a nearby slums area. He had been suspected as one of those who broke the window of a car  park in our church and stole some items two weeks earlier.

The second time I witnessed the aftermath of a DDS killing was while mountain-biking in Lomondao, a distant barangay in Davao. As I neared the place I met three motorcycle riding men speeding back to the city. When I arrived in the place I saw people who gathered around the body of a young boy. When I asked what happened, someone told me it was the DDS. The boy was cell-phone snatcher and drug user. He added, the boy deserved to die.
 
The killings have not stopped. The DDS continue their murderous spree even to this day.  For the last five years (2011-2015), there were 385 victims of extrajudicial killings in Davao -  39 of them below seventeen years old and 118 young adults (18-25). In 2011 there 111 reported DDS killings, in 2012 there were 61, in 2013 there were 101, in 2014 there were 52 and there were 60 in 2015. The DDS usually take a break during the campaign period. They will continue their operations after the elections.

So far, no one has been held accountable for these killings. There has been no official investigation by the police or the city government. The police do not acknowledge the existence of the DDS. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) came to Davao for a public hearing and also met secretly with witnesses – family of the victims and former members of DDS. Although the CHR recommended prosecution, this could not prosper because nobody was willing to testify in court out of fear. The DDS are still around and anybody who testifies will surely be targeted for assassination. I have met some of these witnesses and understand their fear. They claimed that some of those listed as victims were their former companions who knew too much and were suspected of betraying the DDS. So while former DDS members talked about how they were recruited, trained and how they operate, and who their handlers were and their link with some police and local government officials, all these information could not stand in court because they were not willing to testify in spite of the sworn statements made before the CHR. Much of the information can also be found in the report of the Human Rights Watch in 2009 You Can Die Anytime: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao. One of the findings of the Human Rights Watch report reveals the link between the DDS and the police:


“According to these “insiders,” most members of the DDS are either former communist New People’s Army insurgents who surrendered to the government or young men who themselves were death squad targets and joined the group to avoid being killed. Most can make far more money with the DDS than in other available occupations. Their handlers, called amo (boss), are usually police officers or ex-police officers. They provide them with training, weapons and ammunition, motorcycles, and information on the targets. Death squad members often use .45-caliber handguns, a weapon commonly used by the police but normally prohibitively expensive for gang members and common criminals.

The insiders told Human Rights Watch that the amo obtain information about targets from police or barangay (village or city district) officials, who compile lists of targets. The amo provides members of a death squad team with as little as the name of the target, and sometimes an address and a photograph. Police stations are then notified to ensure that police officers are slow to respond, enabling the death squad members to escape the crime scene, even when they commit killings near a police station.”

 
The Human Rights Watch Report also revealed the modus operandi:

 “Our research found that the killings follow a pattern. The assailants usually arrive in twos or threes on a motorcycle without a license plate. They wear baseball caps and buttoned shirts or jackets, apparently to conceal their weapons underneath. They shoot or, increasingly, stab their victim without warning, often in broad daylight and in presence of multiple eyewitnesses, for whom they show little regard. And as quickly as they arrive, they ride off—but almost always before the police appear.”

They deserved to die.” This is what Mayor Duterte said while denying involvement in these extrajudicial killings. At one time, he read a list in his TV program.  A few weeks later many of those in the list were killed by the DDS.

They deserve to die.” This is also the attitude of many residents of the city towards the victims of the DDS. This shows who are behind them and why there has been little outcry regarding these mass murders.

             It appears that the DDS killings are the center-piece of Mayor  Duterte’s campaign against criminality in Davao City. To fight against criminality, you simply kill the criminals through extra-judicial executions carried out by the DDS. No need to arrest them, put them on trial and imprison them if proven guilty. No need for due process of the law. Criminals do not have rights – that is a western concept. For criminals there can only be one punishment – death. It doesn’t matter if you are a petty criminal – even if you are only a drug addict or pusher or cell-phone snatcher, you deserve to die. The killings are meant to be a deterrent to crime - to instill fear on everyone so that they will stop committing crime. According to Human Rights Watch Report:

“The continued death squad operation reflects an official mindset in which the ends are seen as justifying the means. The motive appears to be simple expedience: courts are viewed as slow or inept. The murder of criminal suspects is seen as easier and faster than proper law enforcement. Official tolerance and support of targeted killing of suspected criminals promotes rather than curbs the culture of violence that has long plagued Davao City and other places where such killings occur.”

             It has been very difficult to speak out against these extrajudicial killings because majority of the people in Davao support these.  The archdiocese of Davao under the leadership of Archbishop Fernando Capalla came out with a pastoral letter: “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and held several prayer vigils. We were a minority -  a small voice whose cry in the wilderness was drowned out by the applause of the majority. The blood of 1,424 victims of the DDS was the price that was paid so that there could be peace and order – so that all can walk at night without fear. This was the peace of the cemetery, an order maintained by death squads – by criminals.
            And the mass murder continues and there will be more blood spilled – not just in Davao but the entire Philippines. Mayor Duterte promised that if elected “the 1,000 will become 100,000.” He declared that “it will be bloody.” He said there will be” no need for more jails -- just funeral parlors.” He promised to “eliminate criminality in the entire country within 3-6 months.” How will he do it? The answer is what happened in Davao – through the DDS under the direction of many police officers who deny their existence, with the financial support coming from businessmen and also drawn from the government coffers.

           “I’m willing to go to hell, as long as the people I serve live in paradise.” Is this an admission on the part of Mayor Duterte  that what he has done is a grave sin against God that could someday earn him divine punishment?

Is Davao a paradise after 18 years of DDS extrajudicial killings? Has criminality been eradicated? According to the data from PNP covering 2010-2015, out of 15 chartered cities Davao was fourth in terms of Total Index of Crimes: 37,797 incidents.  In terms of murder, Davao was no. 1 (1,032 incidents) and in terms of rape Davao was no. 2 (843 incidents).  This report gives the impression that in Davao you can be murdered and raped any time. Murder is not really that bad if the DDS and the Mayor can do it. Rape is not really that bad if the Mayor can callously joke about it, wishing he was the first in line when he heard that a hostage – an Australian Lay Missionary - was raped.
Meanwhile, the families of victims cry out for justice as the DDS continue their killing spree. The national government has failed to address this mass murder that could soon multiply many times over, God forbid.      

If the DDS is not stopped and those behind it is not held accountable, there will be a national bloodbath. Those who support it and allow it to multiply will have blood in their hands – they will be accomplices to mass murder. The one who orders this is a mass murderer – the biggest Criminal of them all. 
If it is alright to kill suspected criminals – who can stop any one from taking the law into their own hands? Anyone can become judge and executioner – not only the police and public officials. Anyone can form their own vigilante groups. There won’t be any need for prisons or lawyers or judges. There won’t be any peace, no order as long and human rights and the rule of law are disregarded. Meanwhile, the big criminals, the big thieves and murderers will continue to rule the land. If it is o.k. to kill criminals,  who can prevent anyone from killing the biggest Criminal of them all?
It could be chaotic. We could be entering another dark period of our history -- like the dictatorial period in the past or worst.  

Al Jazeera Documentary on DDS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QtJfNncVow

Friday, April 08, 2016

Merciful Leaders: Criteria for Elections in the Year of Mercy

(This is my article for my column which will be published in the CBCP Monitor)

Merciful Leaders: Criteria for Elections in the Year of Mercy

 
As the national and local elections draw near the question that everyone is asking: “who should I vote for?” It is not for the  clergy to dictate to the faithful who to vote for but we can only provide some guidelines that can help them make up their mind. The CBCP in previous elections came out with such guidelines which remain valid at this time. All that one needs to do is to review and follow what has already been laid down.

Since this year has been declared by Pope Francis as the Year of Mercy, it would be appropriate to emphasize “mercy” as one of the chief qualities that we have to expect from the politicians we should vote for.

What does it mean for leaders to be merciful?

It means being aware and concerned about the situation of the people – their suffering and pain. Since majority of the people are poor, their main concern is how to alleviate their poverty. They take the side of the poor. They are concerned about their hunger, their hopes and their dreams. They make sure that the economy excludes no one and benefits the majority instead of just enriching the big capitalists and foreign corporations.

Merciful leaders are concerned about the destruction of the environment and its effect on the people. They are concerned about the effects of mining on the farmers, fishermen and the indigenous peoples. They know that coal-fired power plants contribute to global warming and the coal mining is the most destructive form of mining. They know that logging and deforestation causes floods, droughts and global warming. They avoid getting involved in these activities and will do all in their power to put a stop to these activities and come up with policies that will save the environment and mitigate climate change as well as promote disaster risk reduction and management.

Merciful leaders are concerned about the effects of the never ending war on the nation. They know the effect of the spiral of violence on a traumatized people. They know how armed conflict prevents economic development. Thus, they go out of their way to build peace – a peace that addresses the roots of conflict and that leads to healing and reconciliation. They are willing to pursue the peace process with both the MILF and the NDF that will ensure a genuine and lasting peace.

Merciful leaders are not corrupt and do not tolerate corruption. They know that corruption perpetuates poverty, war and the destruction of the environment. They will do everything to stamp out corruption at all levels in government and hold accountable those guilty of corruption.

Merciful leaders are concerned about criminality and do their best to make sure that justice prevails. They make sure that those who have committed crimes are prosecuted and meted appropriate punishment. They respect the rights of people – even those accused of crimes – and follow the due process of the law. They avoid shortcuts and do not promote extra-judicial killings. They believe that even if people make mistakes, commit sin, or do terrible things no one is totally evil and beyond redemption. They deserve to be given another chance. Thus, they reject capital punishment and promote restorative justice.

Merciful leaders respect the basic human rights – especially the right to life - of everyone from the moment of conception to its natural end. They are merciful especially to the weakest – the unborn – and will make sure that their rights are respected. They will never allow abortion. They are merciful to the elderly and make sure that their rights and privileges are respected. They will make sure that the family will always be protected. Mercy should not be selective nor should it discriminate. It should be inclusive.

There are many people who clamor for strong leaders who they think can stop criminality, corruption and all forms of evil in society. They want leaders who can instill discipline among the citizens with an iron hand. They want ruthless leaders. For them being merciful is a sign of weakness. But what happens when leaders lack mercy? We can end up with a society where terror reigns, where dead bodies pile up and human rights are violated, where due process and the rule of law are ignored. It will be a repressive society - without freedom and where people are afraid to criticize the powers that be -- otherwise they too could be assassinated. Instead of peace and order, we will have the peace of the cemetery and a semblance of order maintained by ruthless bigger criminals.  Meanwhile, the vast majority remains poor and their children who have gone astray are mostly the victims of death squads. The big criminals – big time thieves and murderers -- are at large and hold office: the politicians who steal millions of the people’s money and responsible for the death of thousands.

Tough and ruthless leaders have emerged at various times in the past with disastrous results. We have to say: NEVER AGAIN!  No to ruthless leaders. Yes to merciful and compassionate leaders.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Never Forget… Never Again

             Forty three years ago President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. He abolished congress, suppressed press freedom and other civil liberties and violated the rights of the people.  Thousands of opposition leaders and student activists were imprisoned. Suspected subversives and criminals were subsequently arrested or executed (salvaged) without due process. His justification for his dictatorial rule:  to save the republic, reform society and build a new society – ang Bagong Lipunan . He emphasized discipline and one of the slogans was: “sa ikakaunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.”  Through farcical referendum and plebiscite, Marcos enacted a new constitution which provided a legal basis for his dictatorial rule, with a subservient judiciary and parliament. He tried to replace the oligarchy with his cronies who controlled all sectors of the economy. Thus, he monopolized  political and economic power. He was a ruthless, repressive and corrupt dictator, who enriched himself while majority of his people wallowed in poverty. Many of those in the military and the police became corrupt as well and engaged in torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances.

I was one of the victims of the Marcos dictatorial rule. In 1973, on the first anniversary of Martial Law, I was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for seven months. My crime: producing and distributing leaflets that denounced the dictatorial rule. I was just an 18-year old college seminarian studying at a University in Cebu and involved in student activism. After I was released from prison and continued my priestly formation, I was constantly haunted by a recurring nightmare reminding me of the terror and pain I experienced.  During that dark period, priests that I personally knew were among the victims: Fr. Godofredo  Alingal, SJ the parish priest of Kibawe assassinated for his prophetic denunciation of military abuses and Fr. Rudy Romano, CSsR, a fellow Redemptorist who was abducted and made to disappear by military intelligence agents. There were BEC leaders and pastoral workers who were arrested or killed by military and paramilitary units.  A few months before the end of the Marcos era, my mother was murdered and robbed by a gang composed of members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC - now known as PNP-SAF) who were later killed in a shootout with the police after another robbery attempt. Everything seemed so hopeless at that time until the miraculous EDSA  People Power which was for me a manifestation of God's liberating action in history.

 It seemed a long time ago and many have forgotten or are ignorant about the dark period of the history of our country.  Nowadays, there are many who believe that Marcos was the greatest president of the Philippines and who question the heroism of Ninoy Aquino whose death later became the inspiration of the People Power. These are the people who are too young and ignorant to know what really happened or old enough to be instruments or collaborators of the Marcos dictator and who benefited from his rule. These are the same people who are clamoring for his son to run for the highest office. Some are supporting the candidacy of a politician who has the reputation of being as corrupt as the former dictator and is being investigated for plunder. Others who are fed up with the judicial system and rule of law are clamoring for a strong man – another dictator – who will instill discipline,  rule with an iron hand, abolish congress, ignore human rights and civil liberties and unleash the death squads all over the country to stamp out criminality. They want history to repeat itself.  This is our fatal flaw. Our collective memory as a nation is as short as our noses. Ferdinand Marcos is long dead but his legacy lives on. Graft and corruption is imbedded in our political, economic and judicial systems. There are government officials as well as those in the military and police who think and act as if they are above the law, who use their positions to enrich themselves, and who violate human rights. Forced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings continue.

Those of us who witnessed, who suffered and who survived that dark period have an obligation to remind the nation and the new generation of the evil of the Marcos dictatorial rule and its persistence in our time. We will continue to cry out: “We will never forget. Never again.”

Here’s a poem I wrote which sums up what I and many went through under detention:

 
   A Prisoner's Psalm

 
From this dark and damp cell
I cry out to you --
Lord, can your hear my groaning 
I cry to you all day long,
I call out to you in the night
But you are so distant or absent.

My throat is sore, I cannot scream anymore
Day and night they ask me all sorts of questions,
they strike, punch and kick me  when I do not answer.
My fingers are swollen, I cannot clench my fist
My ribs are broken, I cannot stand erect
My whole body is enflamed, it is getting numb. 

I was thirsty and they forced me to drink  rum.
to loosen my tongue and reveal to them the truth.
They stripped me off my clothes and my dignity.
They are preparing the machine that will electrify my body.
And now I dread the sound of footsteps and the opening of the door.
I prefer this darkness than face the glaring light.

They said only I can end my suffering
if I confess to them everything and betray those
who oppose this dictatorial regime.

How much longer, do I have to suffer?
How much longer can I hold on?
How much longer can I maintain my sanity?
Will I ever see again the sky and the sun?
Will I ever see again the faces of those I love and serve?
Or will they make me disappear forever?

Lord, do not abandon me?
Deliver me from these kidnappers and murderers
who are trying to maintain peace and order.
Deliver me from these mercenaries in uniform
whose obsession is to defend national security
the security of this blood-thirsty and power hunger dictator
the security of his cronies and their big business interests
the security of his alien lords and their bases and investments.
 
O, Lord my God,
I know you are neither blind nor deaf.
Your mercy and compassion endure  forever.
You have always been a subversive God -
you depose the mighty from their thrones and raise the lowly.
I cry out now to you: subvert this dictatorial regime!
Let your Spirit fill the hearts of those who are struggling
to build a kingdom of justice, peace and freedom.
 
From this dark and damp cell
I cry out to you, Lord can you hear me?
Into your hands I commend my broken body
and my wavering spirit.
           

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We Who Mourn (A Poem on the Mamasapano Encounter)


We Who Mourn*

Amado L. Picardal, CSsR

 

You grieve for the loss of the 44 who perished in our cornfields.

We too are grieving not only for them but for our dead:

            18 mujahideens, a little girl and six other civilians caught in the  crossfire.

            Not counting those massacred in Corregidor almost 50 yrs ago

            and over 60,000 who perished in our homeland through the years –

casualties and collateral damage of war.

 

You demand for justice for the 44.

We too demand for justice and for peace

after what we have suffered through the centuries.

You have not seen the tears in our eyes.

The TV networks only showed the tears of those left behind by the 44.

You blame us, condemn us, and hate us – as if it was all our fault.

 

We were peacefully asleep when we heard gunshots.

It was still dark when armed men arrived in our place.

We did not know who they were.

We thought we were under attack from rival groups

or that the ceasefire agreement had been broken by the military.

If they were military or police, why did they not coordinate with us

or inform us of their presence?

They fired at us and we fired back.

There were also others who joined the fray.

It was kill or be killed.

We killed many of them.

They also killed some of our brothers.

A bloody encounter brings out the worst in each one of us.

In order to prevail we become ruthless.

And it takes a long time to put out the raging fire.

We found out too late that it was a misencounter.

 

You call it a massacre,

as if we planned the whole thing.

You call us terrorists harboring wanted terrorists.

You say only a dead Moro is a good Moro.

You say that we cannot be trusted.

And now you want to dash the only hope for a just and lasting peace -

 the scrapping of our peace agreement that we have labored for so long.

And you want to unleash another all out war on us and our children.

 

Please remember this.

There will be no victors in this war. Only victims.

Next time it won’t just be 44 who will come home in bodybags

and it won’t be only 18 of our Mujahideens that will be buried in our cornfields.

The number of widows and orphans will multiply.

Not counting the billions of pesos spent in bombs and bullets

that can better used for the poor.

 

You want to unleash  your armed might and subjugate us?

The Spanish conquistadores tried.

The American imperialists tried.

Successive presidents from Marcos to Erap tried.

They did not succeed.

You may turn our homeland into a no man’s land

and impose the peace of the graveyard.

But the traumatized orphans will grow up someday,

filled with hate and will swell the ranks of the Mujahideens

who will not be open to talk peace like us.

The spiral of violence will continue.

We will live in perpetual war that will be waged all over the country.

Is this what you want?

 

We are not the enemy. You are not our enemy.

Our ancestors welcomed your ancestors to our homeland.

The land which you claim as your own used to belong to us.

All we ask is for justice and a land we can call our own.

But we will not drive you away from our homeland

that you also regard as your promised land.

 

Our faith may differ but we have much in common.

The Christ you follow is the Jesus (peace be upon him) that we revere in the  Qur’an –

            as Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus Son of Mary) – born of the Virgin Mary,

            al Masih (the Messiah),  Al Nabi (the Prophet), who suffered and died

            and ascended into heaven and will return as judge at the end of time.

We both believe in One God/Allah – the almighty, the merciful

and we both honor Abraham (Ibrahim) as our father in faith,

we are all children of Abraham, children of the one God/Allah.

 

We have to embrace each other as brothers and sisters,

neighbors and friends, fellow Filipinos,

living in peace – a just and lasting peace

in our homeland that you also call your promised land.

 

We mourn together for our loss.

Let us work together to attain justice and lasting peace

so that what happened in the cornfields of Mamasapano

and other battlefields in Mindanao

will never happen again.

 

 

(*this poem was not written by a Muslim or a supporter of the MILF but by a Catholic priest who wants to “walk in the shoes” of those hated by the majority of Christians who support an all-out war in Mindanao and scrap the BBL)

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Silent Church? A Response to President Noynoy Aquino


Was the Church Silent Under the Arroyo Administration?

A Response to the Welcome Address of President Noynoy Aquino

Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR

 

 
In his welcome address to Pope Francis in Malacanang a week ago (Jan. 16, 2015), President Benigno Aquino III paid tribute to courage of the clergy during Martial Law and for vividly living up to the vision of "the Church of the poor and the oppressed"  that "nourished compassion, faith and courage of the Filipino people ... This allowed millions to come together as a single community of faith and make possible the miracle of the EDSA People Power Revolution." At the same time he denounced the Church for being silent in face of the abuses under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration:

 
"Hence, there was a true test of faith when many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which we are still trying to rectify to this very day.In these attempts at correcting the wrongs of the past, one would think that the Church would be our natural ally. In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin. Is it any wonder then, that they see the glass not as half-full, or half-empty, but almost totally empty. Judgment is rendered without an appreciation of the facts."

 

The president lamented that the clergy who were silent during the previous administration are now his critics in his efforts to correct the wrongs of the past. He accuses them of rendering judgment "without an appreciation of the facts."

Many netizens and journalists criticized the President for his inappropriate remarks, lacking in delicadeza and good manners, and out of touch with the occasion. Imagine, criticizing the host - the Philippine Church - in front of the Pope. Others, praised him for speaking his mind and for telling the truth even if it was not the proper occasion. That it was inappropriate everybody can agree. But was he speaking the truth? Was the Church really silent under the Arroyo Administration?

There may have been some members of the clergy, religious and faithful who were silent. But there were also many who spoke out against the abuses of the previous administration. The facts speak for themselves. Below are some excerpts from news reports and their url links:

“On March 8, 2006 Bishop Navarra, backed by dozens of clergy and leaders of religious congregations led more than 10,000 marchers in a prayer rally at the Bacolod public plaza to denounce Macapagal-Arroyo’s state of national emergency, threats of martial law reimposition, mining expansion, and Charter change, among others.
In the program, Navarra read his pastoral letter, the main message of which is to “disturb the conscience of the leaders of this land,” and calls on the people to register their protests as Christians.
“Be more vigilant for truth, remain steadfast witnesses of the truth, because we are adrift in a turbulent sea of lies and falsehoods,” Navarra urged the marchers.
“We have to make our voices heard as we search for truth and for the redress of our human dignity impaired by machinations of people with vested and partisan interests – the very reason why as Church and concerned citizens we strongly registered our protest against the imposition of state of national emergency, albeit lifted already,” Navarra also said.
After the bishop’s message, representatives of cause-oriented organizations, civil society, media, lawyers and local government units offered their respective prayers, most of whom offered their call for more vigilance, courage, righteousness, and resoluteness in seeking the truth, removal of GMA, and “liberating the people.”  Fr. Aniceto Buenafe, director for social action of the Diocese of Bacolod, elated by the big turnout of ralliers, said: “I am so glad that people have responded positively to our call, and showed their readiness to resist the threat of martial law reimposition.”“I hope our actions and statements here will be heard in the national level, especially in Malacañang, so they would know we are disgusted with the way GMA runs our government and country.” (http://www.bulatlat.com/news/6-6/6-6-bacolod.htm

 
In 2008, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported denunciation from CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo’s condemnation of the Arroyo administration:

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has disputed the Arroyo administration’s claim of economic progress and condemned corruption in government. “Twenty million hungry Filipinos will disagree with the proclaimed “ramdam ang kaunlaran (progress is felt)” with their own experience: “Ramdam ang kahirapan, ramdam ang gutom (Poverty is felt, hunger is felt),” Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said Tuesday.  “The benefits of the much-proclaimed economic growth are not felt by the masses,” the CBCP president said in a statement which he issued jointly with three other bishops and vocal administration critic, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.  Asked by reporters later if he thought that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was corrupt, Lagdameo unhesitatingly said “yes.” Asked if the President deserved to be removed from power, he said “the answer should come from the people who see what’s happening in our country.”  Lagdameo told a press conference that the statement, which called for “immediate reforms,” was the product of “communal discernment” with Cruz, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, Banga-Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas and Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra.  “In the past few years up to today, we have watched how corruption has become endemic, massive, systemic and rampant in our politics. Corruption is a social and moral cancer,” said Lagdameo, who clarified that he was making the statement as the archbishop of Jaro and not as the CBCP president.  “In response to the global economic crisis and the pitiful state of our country, the time to rebuild our country economically, socially, politically is now,” Lagdameo said.  “The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we have matured from our political disappointments is now.  “The time to prepare a new government is now,” he said.

Villegas stressed that they were not calling for another mass revolt.  “We are making this statement because we believe that if we had been less corrupt we would be better prepared to face the impending global crisis. The problem of the Philippines is not population, the problem is corruption,” Villegas said. “We are not social troublemakers, we are soul troublemakers. We want to disturb consciences… then the change that we want in government and society will really come from within us,” he said.   Cruz said it was the “strongest statement” that Lagdameo had made so far during his incumbency, “the most straight language written, as straight as it could be.”  The CBCP has been divided over directly challenging Ms Arroyo over allegations of corruption.  In February at the height of the scandal over the aborted $329-million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corp., the CBCP called a special plenary meeting but did not ask for the President’s resignation. The CBCP instead “strongly condemned the culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political order.” (http://www.inquirer.net/specialreports/inquirerpolitics/view.php?db=1&article=20081029-169024)

It was not only the bishops who condemned the abuses and corruption of the Arroyo administration. Priests and religious also did so. The AMRSP (Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines) provided support and sanctuary to Jun Lozada the whistle-blower who exposed the corrupt deals of President Gloria Arroyo. In my own, way I also denounced the president. Here is a GMA news report about my Bike-Tour around the Philippines in April 2008:

Redemptorist "biking priest" Amado "Picx" Picardal arrived in Manila Sunday for the Manila and North Luzon legs of his 56-day, 4,750-kilometer bike tour for peace.  The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Monday that Picardal will deliver his letter of concern to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacañang on April 27.
"On April 27, on his way back from Northern Luzon, he will bike around Manila and deliver (his) letter to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo," the CBCP said on its website Monday.
Picardal is expected to tour Northern Luzon then make his Malacañang delivery on his way back from the north, it said.  Earlier, Picardal said that while he does not expect President Arroyo to receive him or his letter personally, he will make its contents public once he formally submits it to the Palace.  He said his letter to Mrs Arroyo will denounce her and her government for perpetuating a "culture of death."  "Delivering a letter to Malacañang is just a side trip and I don't expect the President to meet me or to read the letter - it is just symbolic. I will make the contents of the letter public - in it I will denounce the President for perpetuating the culture of death and corruption and for being a hypocrite (she goes to Mass every day and claims that it is God's will that she is president). Although I want her to resign, I will not be demanding her resignation because I know that it will be futile - she will continue to cling to power at all cost," he said in his Web log in March.  Also, he said his letter will tell Arroyo she will face the judgment of history and of God, and her worst punishment will be to live the rest of her life in shame and disgrace.”
(http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/87989/news/nation/biking-priest-in-manila-to-deliver-letter-to-arroyo).
 
These news reports cited here are just examples to how that President Aquino rendered judgment on the Church "without an appreciation of the facts." He bore false witness against the Church in front of Pope Francis, the whole nation and the whole world. He was not only rude, he was also a liar. This is what made his welcome address very offensive.

 
The Church was not silent during the dark days of Martial law, the Church was not silent during the Arroyo administration, and the Church is not silent under Aquino’s administration. It is not his hair – or lack of it -  that has to  be admonished. It is what is lacking below his hair. He follows the neo-malthusian solution to the problem of poverty: more free condoms and birth control pills. Sure, some of his political enemies are already in prison for corruption, but what about his friends and allies. He continues to defend his PNP chief who has been charged with corruption. Pope Francis’ comment about corruption in government was in reference to the present administration. While talking about reforming the corrupt political system, President Aquino defended patronage politics and the corrupt pork-barrel system (PDAF & DAP) until these were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. While he has come up with a peace agreement with the MILF, he has not shown any interest in continuing the peace process with the NDF. This administration has not adequately responded to the disasters caused by successive typhoons and other calamities. The victims until now are still waiting for the implementation of rehabilitation program. He even snubbed the anniversary of Yolanda in Tacloban even if he was just nearby. He talks about climate change and protection of the environment while allowing mining and the construction of more coal-fired power-plants. What I find lacking is his mercy and compassion.

I supported his candidacy because I thought he is a decent man who who would continue the legacy of his parents whom I admire so much. I was mistaken. To my regret, he has turned out to be a big disappointment in the end. I wonder of his parents would b e proud of him. With all his good intentions, he is not up to the challenge of becoming a great leader like his parents. His welcome address to the Pope in Malacanang was pathetic and a monumental embarasssment to the nation. He was not just rude, he also did not speak the truth. That was un-presidential of him. This was the lowest, ugliest moment of the papal visit.