More questions than answers – Lascanas retraction, EDSA people power, Duterte’s ouster


Update: Hours after this post was published, the Senate through a vote of 10 Senators in favor against 7 who opposed, to refer Sen Trillanes’ motion to re-open the hearings on the Davao Death Squad to the Committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen Lacson. The Senate will then meet again to discuss on how to handle Sen Trillanes’ resolution.

Yesterday, in a press conference at the Senate, lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group and Sen Antonio Trillanes IV accompanied former police officer SPO3 Arthur Lascanas where he made public the confession that the ‘Davao Death Squad’ was real, he was its leader and former Davao City Mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte was behind the DDS.

A complete turnaround of his previous testimony in a Senate investigation into the Davao Death Squad back in September 2016, that, at that time, he belied the testimony of self-confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato.

Media reports say that ‘in genral‘, Lascanas and Matobato’s testimonies match.

First question that comes to mind: Why has Lascanas retracted his earlier testimony? For sure, his lawyers from FLAG has advised that he will expose himself to perjury charges, not to mention earn the ire of Duterte’s loyal supporters. What made him change his tune? Was he being pressured back in September to deny the existence of the Davao Death Squad? Who was putting the pressure?

Will the Senate re-open its investigation into the Davao Death Squad? Sen Trillanes has already filed a resolution to do so, yet Sen Dick Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee Justice and Human rights which conducted the September investigation has given the thumbs down. For him, this matter should now be brought to before the courts.

Which brings us to the next question, can Duterte be sued for the alleged serious crimes before he became President? In other words, would Presidential immunity necessitate his impeachment first, before he can be properly charged for the murders that the so-called Davao Death Squad committed thru his orders?

This brings to mind a discussion on the Presidential or executive immunity by constitutional expert Fr Joaquin Bernas, SJ where he cited landmark cases decided by the US Supreme Court that dealt with its limits. He then moved on to a similar case closer to home: the prosecution of former President Joseph Estrada for the alleged plunder during his term, and whether he still had immunity after he has be removed from office since the alleged crimes took place while he was President. Our own Supreme Court ruled against Estrada but I don’t think it squarely applies to Duterte’s case as the allegations: murder of which he was allegedly the mastermind, are criminal offenses that took place before he became President. It seems this issue will also end up before the Supreme Court.

Going back to the impeachment of Duterte, this will not happen, yet, as he still enjoys the support of the supermajority in the Lower House. Who knows, the ever-reliable Lozano may yet again beat everyone to the punch by filing an impeachment case only to be rejected by Duterte’s allies in Congress giving the President another year of being shielded from impeachment.

What about extra-constitutional means of removing Duterte from power? Talk is ripe about a planned ouster of President Duterte that will coincide with the upcoming celebration of the EDSA People Power’s 31st anniversary. Would this happen? Is this the reason why this year’s program of commemorating the EDSA revolution has been toned down by the Palace and held within the safe walls of Camp Aguinaldo?

And what does Sec Martin Andanar knows that National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana doesn’t that he’s the only government official that’s been vocal about these so-called plans of removing Duterte from the Presidency? The press has already had its field day with Sec Andanar regarding this issue, yet the question still stands: what is the basis for his claims?

Or is this the administration’s tactic of handling the recent retraction and accusation of Lascanas? For now, we don’t know if what he has told yesterday at the Senate, that Duterte was behind the Davao Death Squad after all, or is just really another push by those who want Duterte out of power?

The lawyers from FLAG, now the laywers of Lascanas, are battle-tested lawyers for justice, human rights and accountability. They would not take on Lascanas if they think he doesn’t have the goods or he is not credible.

What will happen next? Only time will tell.

Image by ABS-BCN News

Lessons learned from GMA

Since I mentioned about education rights in my previous entry last night, and after reading Schumey’s post in which he asks, is it an Omen of things to come? I cannot help but recall and share the nice little group chat (offline) I had with Sir Yuri, Marx, and a couple of SERVE volunteers yesterday morning at school.

SONABeing in the advocacy committee of the Lasallian volunteers, we were thinking about what activities to hold in anticipation and response the forth coming State of the Nation Address or SONA of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this July 24th. There were ideas that floated around the group but died down because it will not prosper and from our past experience here in De La Salle University – Dasmariñas, it has been of little to no effectiveness. That idea was to gather the Lasallian students in a large hall and listen to the broadcast of GMA’s SONA. Sounds good?

Nah! It wasn’t good enough. Sure the students would be able to hear GMA’s lies coded into the SONA but then after that ‘now what?’ Knowing that the Lasallian students in Dasmariñas are the perfect embodiment of passivity and apathy (hurtful, but true) the activity proposed would not serve our objectives, which is to steer the students into pro-active participation in social issues, and would only be a waste of time. We would also be lucky if the students would really pay attention and listen in to the SONA otherwise they would just wait for the activity to be over while cursing us, the organizers, for locking them up in the auditorium and forcing them to listen to something they have totally no interest in.

So with that idea dead and scrapped, we scratched our heads scouring our minds for a better idea. So far, the most feasible one we’ve been able to come-up with yesterday was to ask the different college councils and the University Student Council to come up with their own version of the ‘State of the Nation Address’ written according to their own observations even research about what they think is the true state of our country in GMA’s times. There’s no need to force every student to listen to GMA’s damned voice but instead this approach lets the students’ voice to be heard. It’s something that is proactive, democratic and a good test to see how socially aware our elected student leaders are in DLSU-D. Otherwise, it seems that the clamor for the national leadership to step down would be echoed in the La Salle Dasmariñas’ campus, a microcosm of the Philippine society.

Since there were no other ideas that surfaced during that frantic search for a better one, our conversation moved into its usual stage of fooling around and making, often satiristic jokes and remarks both about the national government and the student council even the University’s administration.

One of us mused that we should instead support GMA because everything she has been doing is right and correct. Like Arroyo, we should be happy that the Filipino family is being torn apart thanks to the flight of our workers to find employment abroad, leaving behind their families. It’s okay, it’s alright, they do send in billions worth of dollar remittances every year that keeps our economy from taking its last breath. Never mind again, the fact that the Filipino family is being destroyed and its concept diluted and corrupted by imperialist, globalised economic policies.

Pope BeanAgain, we should support Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her moves to stifle the efforts in ferreting out the truth about the alleged election cheating and corruption by her administration and conceding to her ideas that: 1) there is no other alternative to her when it comes to leading this nation, 2) this is a moral issue and morality would not put food in your tables, only the bitter and bigger sacrifices of your loved ones whom GMA has driven away out of our country, and finally, which is the bombshell of it all 3) ‘God put me here.’

Add to this the following recent points; 4) those who are against Arroyo’s administration are also against the peaceful life of the nation, 5) if anyone is to bring the issue of morality again, just ask the Bishops whom had just been blessed with envelopes from the Palace, about what is moral and immoral, 6) the economy is doing good, our GDP and GNP have risen-kuno, and our unemployment rate has gone down significantly (huwat?!). Truth is, the reason this is such because the government has excluded those who have actively stopped seeking employment or applying for a job (yung mga sumuko na dahil hindi talaga makahanap ng trabaho at hindi naman makaalis ng bansa) from the unemployment statistics.

stewieHowever, the most relevant and heart-felt point we shared yesterday was the realisation that in order for anyone to get their desires, needs and wishes granted by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, they have to break free and rebel, even revolt against her. Hasn’t anyone noticed that ever since the Oakwood mutiny up to the threat of a coup, the Armed forces has been constantly showered with gifts, bonuses, budget increases, excuses from Senatorial hearings even the license to kill everyone they consider to be Left of Center.

Just recently, without even requesting for it, the military have just been given an extra Php 1 Billion for the their war-effort against the Communists in the countryside, (well goodluck with that), of course the 1 Billion is not purely for buying ammunitions and weapons and stuf, it will also be used for the housing projects of the soldiers (young footsoldiers in fact).

edukasyonIt is in this realization that we have come up with a rather radical, yet fun solution to help the education department get its badly needed budget increase without the stingy words from the President. The solution is to stage massive protests in schools and universities, class walkouts, noise barrages even the closing down of schools and colleges altogether. Never mind petitions, appeals and tearful attendance during budget hearings because it doesn’t work anymore, not with GMA that is. She wants action, she wants people directly calling out to her with their needs, often in violent and even dangerous means.

The military got away with it, I wonder if the education sector could.

Diarrhea…good or bad karma

ToiletTelling the origins of the [tag]Yakult[/tag] [tag]bacteria[/tag] and the reactions I get from my classmates always keeps me up. Drinking something that is full of bacteria that was first found in the poop of an infant has some amusing effects on the facial expressions of the weak-stomached. It is not strange really because many strains or kinds bacteria have been living inside our guts ever since our early evolution. Scientists are even saying that we may not be able to survive without them inside our bodies. It’s a symbiotic relationship, both parties are benefitting from each other.

However, I cannot help but think that the President recently suffering from [tag]diarrhea[/tag] is caused by [tag]karma[/tag]. Bad karma. The Filipino saying goes, “Makakarma ka din.” has taken effect. Why karma? [tag]Impeachment[/tag], rebellion, mass protests, all things she fought in a dirty downright dastardly way last year has now come back to haunt her, plus that “bum stomach.” The second round of the impeachment or round two, which the opposition has prepared for quite extensibly has begun, her all-out war policy against the “left” which pundits says is her last card in the poker game that is Philippine [tag]politics[/tag]. So the what’s the solution? Good karma, and being the desperately God-fearing Filipino that she is, the President visits the Pope in Rome bearing gifts…as offerings for blessings and protection? To ward off the calling of ‘Mang Doro’?

If there’s one person who needs protection, aside the President herself – from the threat of being impeached and booted out of her seat in Malacañang to end up in the gleaming porcelain ‘thinking chair’ – that other person is Pope Benedict XVI. Recall that before the late Pope John Paul II died, he was paid a visit by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo clad in a black dress with a matching veil as if she has just arrived or came to early as it turned out, to a funeral.

Pope John Paul II wasn’t the only public figure who has passed away shortly after encountering Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Fernando Poe, Jr. Raul Roco and former PCGG chair Haydee Yorac just to name a few. All like Pope John Paul II, were good men and woman of out time. So is the President suffering from bad karma or is she the bad karma?