Too funny. We might have a brown Asian Trump in the Philippines.
“In the USA, we don’t have an ambassador. No ambassador will go there. Until now, we do not have an ambassador in the United States. I don’t feel like sending one,” Duterte said while delivering a speech in Davao City this week.
President Duterte did not offer any further explanation for his comment. It has been seven months since the Philippines had an ambassador to the US. The Philippines Embassy, however, is still operational under the leadership of a deputy ambassador.
Duterte has tried to appoint a new envoy a couple of times, but all the candidates have refused for various reasons. Duterte tried to appoint Chief Protocol Officer Marciano Paynor, but he was too busy with preparations for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum and the post remained vacant.
Last December, Duterte named a columnist of The Star, Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez as the new ambassador to the US. Romualdez initially accepted the offer but eventually refused to take the office, citing eye problems.
“I love my country but I have to take care of my health,” Romualdez said on Thursday.
Duterte’s reluctance to name a new envoy to the US can be perceived as a “disturbing message,” according to former Philippines Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario.
“I believe [that this] is a matter which should be urgently revisited,” del Rosario said on Friday.
Relations between the Philippines and the administration of former US President Barack Obama were quite turbulent since Duterte assumed office in June 2016. Durerte’s controversial bloody “war on drugs,” which has claimed over 7,000 lives in just seven months, has attracted numerous allegations of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings. Duterte, in his turn, criticized President Obama and told him to “go to hell,” threatening to end the Philippines’ close ties with Washington and indicating the possibility of embracing China as a key ally instead.
The Philippines president welcomed Donald Trump’s presidential victory, and many believed that would help mend relationship between the two countries. Late in January, however, Duterte accused the US of building a “permanent” arms depot in his country and warned Trump that such actions jeopardize security treaty between them. Earlier this week, Duterte supported Trump’s travel ban, which does not affect the Philippines, However, he said he would do nothing to help illegal Philippines migrants if they get caught in the US.
by James Corbett
February 5, 2017
Remember when I warned about the worrying signs that Filipino President Rodrigo “Dirty Harry” Duterte was setting up a police state, including deputizing the public to kill suspected criminals, threatening martial law if the judiciary tried to stop him and endorsing the killing of journalists? Well, to adopt the parlance of the millennial Buzzfeed set, you won’t believe what happened next!
Actually, you will believe it. The Philippines has turned into a police state.
Specifically, Duterte himself had to halt his own self-declared war on drugs earlier this week because (who could’ve guessed it?!) the Filipino police had taken it as carte blanche to go on a kidnapping, murder and theft spree. A new report on the killings alleges that the police “have behaved like the criminal underworld they are supposed to be suppressing, taking payments for killings and delivering bodies to funeral homes.” It goes on to accuse the Filipino “authorities” of a “systematic, planned and organized” campaign of killings that could constitute a crime against humanity.
As if to underscore the point, a new story broke this week of a South Korean businessmen who was killed by a gang of “rogue” police officers. Using a fake warrant, the Philippines’ finest arrested him, dragged him to the national police headquarters, strangled him to death, cremated him and flushed his remains down the toilet.
Bowing to the mounting pressure, Duterte gave a speech earlier this week to announce a dramatic change in plans. “I have ordered the police to stop all operations,” he said. “No policeman in this country anywhere is allowed to enforce laws related to the drug campaign.”
All’s well that ends well, right? I mean, you can’t make an omelette without killing 7,000 people, right? And, after all, at least the man who consciously models himself on Clint Eastwood movie characters had the sense to call an end to the program, right?
Wrong. He’s not ending his war on drugs. In fact, he’s about to make it even worse.
While Duterte is taking the national police off the drug beat, he’s instead handing the reins over to the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency, who will be acting with the support of the military. Oh, and he’s now threatening to kill even more people and extend the drug war, originally slated to end in March, until 2022, the end of his presidential term. But don’t worry about martial law; he insists that he won’t need to declare it in order to enlist the military in his slaughter.
That a government-sanctioned death squad program has turned into a nightmare of blood, violence, criminality, corruption, mayhem and terror should surprise no one. That we are moving into an era where strong-man authoritarian thugs not only implement such programs but are increasingly lauded for it should, if not surprise, at the very least concern everyone.
I’ve seen it even in my own audience. “Maybe this is just being misrepresented by the lying fake news media,” they say. “Maybe the Philippines needs a tough-talking straight shooter like Duterte to deal with the drug problem,” they argue. Interestingly, none of the people who make these comments seem to actually live in the Philippines, so, presumably, they do not expect to deal with the consequences of Duterte’s undeclared martial law or face the prospect of jackbooted police thugs showing up in the night with a fake warrant to drive them to a holding cell and murder them.
Ask the people of El Salvador what they think of the idea of government death squads to stamp out a nascent “terror problem.” In the 1980s the Reagan administration gave support to the Salvadoran government in its civil war with a left-wing insurgency that had attempted a coup in 1979. Their method of operation, still veiled behind classification but now partially revealed and referred to as “the Salvador Option,” was to fund nationalist death squads to hunt down and kill suspected rebels and sympathizers. Numbers are not certain, but the final report of the Truth Commission set up in the wake of the slaughter concluded that “the death squads in rural areas account for a significant proportion” of the 70,000-80,000 deaths in the 12-year conflict.
Or ask the victims of the death squads in Iraq unleashed by Colonel James Steele, a veteran of the Salvador Option who oversaw the Iraqi Special Police Commandos in 2004. Recruiting Shia fighters from notorious militias like the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army and unleashing them on Iraq’s Sunnis, this “special commando” death squad begat secret detention centers, torture and a wave of sectarian violence that had not been present in the country to that point.
Or ask the victims of the kill/capture program that spawned the Salvador Option in the first place, the Phoenix Program. As listeners to The Corbett Report over the past week will know, the Phoenix Program was the CIA-directed psychological warfare operation during the Vietnam War that pioneered the technique of terrorism-in-the-name-of-counterterrorism, which included interrogation centers, torture, and grisly assassinations of suspected Viet Cong sympathizers (i.e., anyone the Americans or South Vietnamese didn’t like).
And now Trump advisor Erik Prince has suggested reviving the Phoenix Program for use against ISIS, the terror boogeymen du jour who were created, trained, equipped and funded by the US and their allies—and who would fall instantaneously if state support were cut off. Because what could go wrong with a military death squad given free rein to identify, capture, torture and kill anyone they want in one of the most sensitive regions of the globe?
Of course, the idea that the Phoenix Program needs “reviving” is a bit of misnomer. Not only have versions of it been deployed in Honduras, El Salvador, Iraq and now Syria in various forms over the decades, it also served as the blueprint for the US’ own Department of Homeland Security. Phoenix Program researcher Douglas Valentine has an entire section on the Phoenix-DHS connection in his new book, The CIA As Organized Crime, including the modeling of the DHS’ “fusion centers” after the Phoenix intelligence and operations coordinating centers in Vietnam.
After I reported all of this earlier this week, someone bothered to email me with the one-line message: “This is what we need.”
This is 2017 in a nutshell for me (so far, at least): #MakeDeathSquadsGreatAgain.
It’s a strange line of thought for erstwhile freedom advocates to suspect that a government death squad could be the answer to our problems, but such is the renewed authoritarian age in which we’re living. People are looking for a big strong daddy government leader to come in and beat up the bad guys and make things great again. And, increasingly, it looks like that’s what they’re going to get. Well, the beating-up-people part of it, anyway. And killing. Lots and lots of killing.
And here I am in the absurd position of having to actually say that maybe, just maybe, government death squads are a bad idea. Ask the people of the Philippines.
Feb 2, 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared that the country’s drug problem has become a national security threat, and that he intends to issue an official order directing the military to help in his campaign.
Duterte said on Thursday that he does not intend to declare martial law, but added that his controversial war against illegal drugs will continue.
“I’m taking in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and raising the issue of drugs as a national security threat so that I will call on all the armed forces to assist,” he said in a speech broadcast online from his hometown of Davao City.
Referring to suspected drug criminals, he said in a mix of Filipino and English, “You bleed for those son of a b***h. How many? Three thousand? I will kill more if only to get rid of drugs.”
Duterte made the statement after the Philippine defence ministry urged him on Wednesday to call on the military for help in going after drug criminals and corrupt police officers.
The Philippine police, the country’s main law enforcer, earlier said that it would suspend its anti-drug campaign and “cleanse” its ranks, after it was revealed that some of its officers were carrying out kidnap-for-ransom operations using the drug war as a cover.
Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman living in the Philippines, was among those who fell victim to the police syndicate. His murder inside Philippine police headquarters in Manila triggered a congressional investigation causing international embarrassment for Duterte.
On Monday, Duterte lashed out at the police, telling them, “You care corrupt to the core. It is in your system.”
As of January 31, there have been 7,080 people killed during the first seven months of the Duterte presidency, according to the police. Of that number, 2,555 were killed in police operations, while 3,603 others were killed by unknown suspects.
|As of January 31, 2017 the death toll related to the anti-drug war had hit 7,080 [Al Jazeera/Ted Regencia]|
‘Economy of murder’
On Wednesday, Amnesty International Philippines reported that police officers were being paid by the government for killing drug suspects.
“This is not a war on drugs, but a war on the poor. Often on the flimsiest of evidence, people accused of using or selling drugs are being killed for cash in an economy of murder,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director.
The Amnesty International’s investigation, documented at least 33 cases involving the killings of 59 people.
A previous Al Jazeera investigation also revealed that police officers were involved in attempted killings of unarmed drug suspects, who had already surrendered to authorities.
But in his speech on Thursday, Duterte was adamant, saying that even US President Donald Trump supports his policy, repeating the details of his conversation with the American leader in December.
He has previously said that his war on drugs would continue until the end of his term in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned against the militarisation of Duterte’s drug war.
“Using military personnel for civilian policing anywhere heightens the risk of unnecessary or excessive force and inappropriate military tactics,” Phelim Kine, HRW deputy director, said in a statement to Al Jazeera.
Kine said there is also a “deeply rooted culture of impunity for military abuses” in the Philippines, and that the military’s “long history of masking extrajudicial killings” of suspected communist rebels “has sinister parallels” with police anti-drug operations.
Source: Al Jazeera News
Jan 30, 2017
Police in the Philippines are suspending their war on drugs until they have “cleansed” their ranks of “rogue” officers, the head of the national police force has said.
Ronald dela Rosa, the director-general of the National Police, told reporters on Monday that he was disbanding anti-drugs units following a botched kidnap-for-ransom operation of a South Korean businessman.
Jee Ick-joo’s body was found inside the grounds of the national police headquarters in October. His head was wrapped in packaging tape and he had been strangled.
“To all the rogue cops, beware! We no longer have a war on drugs,” Dela Rosa said.
“We will cleanse our ranks … then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs. The president told us to clean the organisation first.
“I don’t know how long it will take to cleanse the PNP. But with each and every one of us cooperating, helping each other, maybe in a month, we can do it,” he added.
The campaign, which also includes officers going from house to house in search of drug suspects, has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people, according to a police report cited by the Manila-based news website Rappler.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from the capital Manila, said the government and police force were sending conflicting messages.
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte, who swept to power in May elections on a pledge to eradicate drugs, vowed to forge ahead with his war on drugs until the last day of his term.
“This is a complete turnaround from his election promise that he will be able to eliminate the presence of narcotics in his first six months of office,” our correspondent said.
Senator Leila De Lima, Duterte’s most outspoken critic, said the president and his police chief “should categorically give the order to end the killings”.
The dismantling of the anti-drug units meant “they are aware that the very men involved in anti-drug operations … are involved in illegal activities under the guise of the so-called war on drugs,” she told ANC television.
Duterte’s anti-drug campaign has caused alarm in the West, and rights groups accuse Duterte of turning a blind eye to a wave of alleged extrajudicial killings by police, mostly of low-level peddlers. Police deny this, claiming self-defence.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies
Random thoughts:Excellent documentary on the raging war on drugs the Philippines is enduring at the moment.There are 12 million Philippines living in extreme poverty. Most of these poor souls have little choice but to deal drugs. Of course most of them are also addicted.The Philippines right now is a nation of crystal meth addicts and corruption is embedded in every square inch of that country.
The Philippines’s controversial President Rodrigo Duterte came to power on his promise to crack down on crime. Dubbed “The Punisher”, he addressed his subjects, encouraging them to kill drug addicts. However, his inauguration was followed by a wave of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers and now he denies any involvement with the vigilante violence.
A dramatic increase in brutal street executions coincided with the start of “Project Duterte”, the police programme aimed at “Drug Use and Trafficking Elimination through Rehabilitation, Training and Enforcement”, many Filipinos claim they have lost all trust in the country’s law enforcement.
Most of the street murders carry distinct hallmarks; the victims’ heads are wrapped in adhesive tape, they are left with stab wounds and a sign accusing them of being drug “pushers” is left at the scene. Some believe the police are behind the murders, others that the drug cartels kill their own to cover their tracks. RT Doc spoke to a “death squad” member who claims to have been hired by the authorities to assassinate suspects. The more prominent an alleged drug dealer, the more his killers are paid. The President concedes that there may be innocent victims but he simply describes them as ‘collateral damage’.
Street murder without trial, suspects dying in police custody, overcrowded prisons, vigilante terror squads hunting targets for the price put on their heads and innocent lives lost: all this adds up to the flip side of the Philippines’ war on drugs. President Duterte talks exclusively to RT Doc.
Duterte on Tuesday accused the Church and its bishops and priests of corruption, womanizing and said he was abused by a priest as a student of Ateneo de Davao University. He also said three Cabinet secretaries had been molested.
Speaking to the families of Special Action Forces who died in Mamasapano in 2015, Duterte advised the crowd to read “Altar of Secrets” by Aries Rufo to discover the truth about church officials, saying he would resign if its allegations were untrue. He added he might pen his own book about the Church, entitled “Hypocrisy.”
“I challenge the Catholic Church,” he said. “You are full of sh*t. You all smell bad, corruption and all.”
He accused the Church of corruption, and slammed it for previously asking the government for a Pajero car. “Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourselves?” he said. “That’s so expensive and so many people have nothing to eat.”
“Son of a b*tch, the jerks accepted it,” he added.
It wasn’t all hate, however, Duterte pointed out that he and the Church have something in common: womanizing. He told the audience that Bishop Teodoro Bacani had two wives, like him.
During his speech, the president also made time to defend his harsh war on drugs, which has been marred with allegations of extrajudicial killings.
Church officials are among those who have criticized the populist president for his stance, with Bishop Broderick Pabillo recently urging the Church to speak out against the more than 6,000 drug killings carried out under Duterte.
He also reminded the crowd that he won the election despite the Church’s warnings against him.