POSTSCRIPT / September 27, 2016 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Is sniffing incense worse than shabu?

SOME readers still ask where we stand on certain issues related to President Rodrigo Duterte as if our discussions in this space are not extensive and clear enough. But such probing is understandable, considering the static in the air.

One reader, Lupita – a long-time friend who should be able to read even my darkest thoughts – questioned me days ago with “Ano na, Coyang?” when I commented on Duterte, ExtraJudicial Killings, his anti-narcotics drive and other topics.

Part of my response to her: “Legitimate causes in the Senate and the House hearings are tainted by the personalities pushing them.

“In the Senate, summary killings are a serious concern that should be investigated by a truly independent body. But the Senate inquiry was being pushed by then committee chair De Lima, who cannot be trusted. Her active role undermined the quest for justice for EJK victims.

“The House inquiry naman has been taken over by Justice Secretary Aguirre of the Executive branch. It is anomalous that a Legislative hearing is managed by the Executive whose objective is not remedial legislation but De Lima’s elimination. I don’t really care if the DDS gets her before karma does.

“As for Duterte, many times I’m dismayed by his being not presidential. I want to be proud of my president! I wince seeing his coarse mannerisms and hearing the gutter language that stains his public statements.

Sayang siya. It would be a long time before we could have another leader who is as simple and sincere as he is. Believe me, I want Duterte to succeed.

“But he cannot do things by himself, neither with his acolytes giving him a false sense of Righteousness and Invincibility with their burning of incense and singing hosannas before him.

“Since all of us are sinners and since 99.99 percent of public officials are not clean — and Duterte knows this vulnerability — everybody is afraid to raise questions. The President has thus captured both chambers of the Congress. The Supreme Court is about to capitulate too. Some of us in media may have been intimidated also, if not coopted, into tempering our criticisms.

“This seeming acquiescence all around is bad for the President, and our nation. He is in danger of thinking he is right even when he is not.

• Arayat shabu lab: Monument to greed

LIKE MANY Capampangans, my cabalen Atty. Batas Mauricio is wondering aloud in social media why Pampanga officials failed to spot early enough the huge shabu laboratory-factory standing in gleaming splendor at the foot of Mt. Arayat.

Arayat Mayor Emmanuel “Bon” Alejandrino was quoted as saying a team from the municipio chanced upon the lab-factory last Sept. 22 while on a fire safety and sanitary inspection in Barangay Lacquios.

The site, lush with trees and shrubbery, was supposed to be for a piggery and corn crusher. (The stink of a piggery is sometimes used to disguise to neighbors the foul smell that shabu-making emits.)

“It’s the biggest facility to be found so far, with big equipment,” Senior Supt. Rodolfo Recomono, provincial police director, said. “This is not a kitchen-type of laboratory.” Its two Chinese operators are being hunted, while the caretaker, also a Chinese, has been arrested.

Batas Mauricio is incredulous: “The laboratory is just too grand and too complicated in design to escape detection – unless the authorities have been blinded by something. The structure looks like a monument to official greed and corruption.”

He urged the Congress committees inquiring into the narcotics menace to include the Arayat factory and other illegal drug-making plants recently raided in the province. Three shabu labs have been found in Angeles City since March.

Pampanga has been in the news not only in connection with illegal drugs but also with carjacking and violent crimes. It is expected to be dragged into the picture again when the Duterte administration’s anti-crime campaign shifts to big-time illegal gambling.

Lacquios is some five kilometers from Barangay Balitucan in Magalang town where the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the police also discovered last Sept. 7 a piggery farm concealing an underground shabu laboratory. Seven Chinese were arrested there.

• OFWs ask Duterte to simmer down

BACK to Duterte’s tart tongue, Gene Alcantara (president of European Network of Filipino Diaspora [ENFiD]), appealed in an open email to the President:

“There are almost one million Filipinos living and working in Europe. Many of us are either European citizens already or have permanent residence. We were shocked by your recent outburst. Do you really have to swear at us with both your words and your fingers?

“We have been working hard at protecting our reputation here as hardworking and law-abiding citizens. Please do not make our job more difficult.

“Many Filipinos voted for you in Europe, and we accept that you are now our President. But please show us that you also have the interests of Overseas Filipinos by not swearing at the very people who have not only given us and our families work and better futures but who value our contributions.

“The Europeans are our friends as you will have known when they came to help us massively following Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

“You may not like it when people appear to be questioning your methods, but it is the norm in European countries to discuss matters openly and to have objective political debates without anger or name-calling.

“It is my personal hope that your administration will truly result in great things for the country. I just hope our friends in Europe will not react negatively to how you express your views, and that they will give you the time to deliver what you promised.”

(Pahabol: We borrowed last Sunday from a Twitter post of Achmedina @imatwistedPoet a proposed response by witness Edgar Matobato to the disparaging cross-examination by Sen. Manny Pacquiao during the Sept. 22 Senate hearing. Thanks.)

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 27, 2016)

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