There would “never, never” be a repeat of the terrorist siege that destroyed the city of Marawi, President Duterte has vowed. The commitment is welcome as city residents pick up the pieces of their old life and the arduous task of rebuilding starts.
Besides preventing a repeat of the five-month siege, government forces now face the challenge of stopping the terrorism from spilling over into other parts of Mindanao and the rest of the country. With the deaths of Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, officials in Metro Manila are on alert for possible terrorist violence.
Last week, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested a woman for using online messaging services to encourage Muslims in the country and overseas to join the Maute forces in Marawi. Karen Aizha Hamidon, 36, was arrested on Oct. 11 at her condominium unit in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
Hamidon is accused of using social media to recruit fighters from around the world to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, carrying on the work of her first husband, a Singaporean security guard named Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek. Singapore detained Sidek in August 2015 for inciting violence and planning to join ISIS. Hamidon’s second husband was Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the Filipino leader of the ISIS-inspired Ansar al-Khalifah who was killed by police last January.
Although Hamidon has also been accused in ISIS-inspired chat groups of being a spy, her arrest, announced yesterday, raises concerns about terrorist activities outside Marawi including Metro Manila. Al-Qaeda-linked groups such as Southeast Asian terror cell Jemaah Islamiyah or JI have been active in the Philippines even before minions of Osama bin Laden launched the horrific attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.
Since 2000, Hundreds of Filipinos have been killed in terrorist attacks from Mindanao to Metro Manila attributed to JI, the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Bombs have been set off in parks and markets, at an airport and a wharf, on buses and a ferry as well as a coach of the Light Rail Transit. The Mautes have been decapitated and severely weakened in Marawi. Now security forces must see to it that the group will stay weak.
Subject Washington SyCip and biographer Butch Dalisay in 2015
The last time I saw Wash SyCip was from a far distance. It was his 95th birthday on June 30, 2016, and a long line of well-wishers — businessmen, politicians, and other celebrities — had queued up at the ballroom of the Shangri-La Makati to greet him and have their pictures taken with the icon. I thought for a second about falling in line, just to say hello, but then decided against it, already having spent more time with Wash than most people except his closest associates. He looked more frail than I had ever seen him, even as he kept up a cordial countenance seated in his chair on a raised dais, and I felt content to remember the sprightlier octogenarian I had first met a decade earlier.
Of course I knew who Washington SyCip was well before then; my wife Beng worked as an artist in the communications department of SGV in the 1980s, but I had never met the man himself — not until an opportunity arose to bid for and to write his biography in early 2006, when he was turning 85. I felt very fortunate to have been chosen for the job — and that’s what it was to me then, a job, albeit one involving an illustrious subject. I had no inkling that I was about to enter into a privileged friendship, something that would extend well beyond the writing of a book.
I had already done books for and about other personages in politics and business, and would do many more after Wash. But none of them — meaning no disrespect to or disregard for my other clients — would come close to the biography I would write for Wash, and it had everything to do with the uniqueness of the man, who lived not only an extraordinarily long life but also one far more colorful than you would credit an accountant for.
For months, we met Saturday mornings in his seventh-floor SGV office, and chatted for a couple of hours about phases of his life, proceeding chronologically from his childhood to the key decision to open his own accounting firm, a moment that I would later decide to open the book with. (Wash: Only a Bookkeeper was published in 2009 by the SGV Foundation and the Asian Institute of Management, and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2010.) Immediately I felt at ease with his polite formality; no artificial chumminess there or dramatic flourish, just a quiet consistency of well-remembered detail, everything from trying to learn the foxtrot for a graduation dance and breaking Japanese codes in Calcutta to carrying a cold, dressed duck under his arm on the New York subway to bring to a lady friend.
Most readers, I’m sure, were looking for the grand contours, the big business decisions — and there’s all that in the book — but I tried to keep things homely, and was glad that Wash was game for it. He liked to play Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago on his iPod — but not being a techie, often forgot to recharge it.
My last message from Wash
When he learned that I collected pens, he sent a bunch of them over to my house; I opened the box and saw that he had gifted me with some very nice ballpoints, which I thanked him for. When a perceptive associate gently reminded him that I collected not ball pens but fountain pens, he sent another box of the correct writing instruments — CEOs like him typically received scores of these as gifts and stored them away in drawers — with an apologetic note, even more graciously acknowledged by the ecstatic recipient. And every Christmas we would receive a box filled with some lovely piece of décor handcrafted by a microenterprise he supported in Cebu.
He had a soft spot for Filipino talent of all kinds. He once hosted a party at his home for President Cory Aquino, some ambassadors, and similarly lofty people. After dinner, he sprung a surprise on them. “Just get into your cars and follow me!” he announced with a twinkle in his eye. He led the convoy to a dimly downscale stretch of Boni Avenue, down into the happy maw of Club Mwah, the gay musical revue. Cory had a blast, and I had fun watching Wash garlanded by that feathery parade.
Sometimes I dropped by his office or chatted with him in the corner of a soirée to hear him share his views on current goings-on, both of us probably thinking that they would be useful inputs to the centennial update of his biography, but really just to catch up. It was these unscripted asides, his inviting trust, that I felt most privileged by. I suppose biographers come in through some special door, and with Wash, that door always seemed open.
Last July I received an envelope from Wash, and even without opening it I could feel that it contained a pen inside. “Dear Butch,” said the accompanying note, “This is the only pen that I have come across which may be new to your library. Just note the owl at the head of the pen. Sincerely, Wash.” It was a ballpoint, but I didn’t mind — owls (and turtles) were his trademark avatars.
His generosity was well known, but it was never the showy or sentimental kind. He believed above all in the capability of the poor to learn and to lift themselves up with a little help. Despite the American citizenship he had to accept in a time of war, he thought and acted as a true global Filipino.
When he passed away last week on a plane above the Pacific — bridging the two shores he knew best, and still on the job at 96 — I was requested to draft an obituary, and I replied, choking, that it was going to be my honor. It was the first — and, almost certainly, the only — time I would shed a tear for someone I wrote about.
* * *
The petitioners and residents of San Andres Bukid in Manila sought relief from the high court. File MANILA, Philippines — The families of 35 drug suspects killed by police in supposed anti-narcotics operations yesterday filed a petition against the Duterte administration’s war on drugs before the Supreme Court (SC).
The petitioners and residents of San Andres Bukid in Manila sought relief from the high court.
In a 57-page petition filed by lawyers from the Center for International Law, the group asked the SC to issue a temporary protection order prohibiting police from getting near their homes and workplaces.
Named respondents were the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel, MPD Station 6 commander Superintendent Olivia Ancheta Sagaysay and Superintendents Jerry Corpuz and Robert Domingo.
The other respondents are members of the MPD Station 6. They are Police Officers 2 Rhafael Rodriguez, Princeton Felia, Jocelyn Samson, Francisco Mendoza and Roestrell Ocampo; PO1s Harry Allan Cruz, Kennith Gaa and Efren Guitering; PO3s Allan Escramosa and Rodolfo Ocampo Jr., and Senior Inspector Concorcio Pangilinan.
The petitioners also sought to stop the respondents from harassing, contacting or communicating with them directly or indirectly.
A majority of the drug suspects had surrendered to authorities under Oplan Tokhang but were still killed by police, according to the group.
“Even those who were merely at the wrong place, at the wrong time were killed. It appeared that the police have generated a ‘kill list’ from the barangays,” the petition read.
The residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid asked the SC to stop police from coercing barangay officials to submit a list of drug suspects in the community.
The petition cited the violence allegedly perpetrated by members of the MPD Station 6 in San Andres Bukid and nearby areas.
The petitioners asked the SC to enjoin the respondents from conducting anti-drug operations in San Andres Bukid without coordination and presence of representatives from the PDEA, barangay officials and members of media.
Similar petitions against the war on drugs have been filed before the high court.
A petition for a writ of amparo was filed by a survivor and families of four men allegedly killed by operatives of the Quezon City Police District during anti-drug operations in Payatas last year.
Last month, a group of lawyers, led by Evalyn Ursua, asked the high court to order the PNP and other government agencies to resolve drug-related killings.
Last week, human rights group Free Legal Assistance Group filed a petition that sought to stop the PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel.
Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war. Senate PRIB, File MANILA, Philippines — Because of the human rights situation in the Philippines, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is reportedly trying to convince US senators to discourage US President Donald Trump from proceeding with his trip to the Philippines, diplomatic sources said yesterday.
Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war.
US Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed the meeting with Trillanes through his official Twitter account on Oct. 18.
“Senator Trillanes and I discussed US-Philippines alliance, combating corruption and protecting human rights amid their narcotics crisis,” Rubio wrote.
Last night a member of the staff of Trillanes said the senator was on “official business” in the US.
The staff member, who declined to be identified, expressed surprise over the reports that Trillanes was trying to discourage US officials from attending the ASEAN leaders’ summit next month.
“We don’t know anything about that but the senator is indeed in LA (Los Angeles),” the staff member said.
Trump is set to visit the Philippines in November to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings, the White House confirmed last month.
The visit will take place during a tour from Nov. 3 to 14 which will also include stops in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.
Trillanes also met with other US lawmakers, sources said.
“Trillanes has been discussing the human rights situation in the country and trying to convince the US senators to discourage Trump from coming to the Philippines,” a source said yesterday.
However, the source said that Trump’s visit to the Philippines is for the ASEAN summit.
“The visit is really about ASEAN and not just the Philippines,” the source said.
The same source said the controversial drug war, which has been widely criticized by foreign media and human rights organizations, is now being implemented by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and no longer by the police.
In a memorandum dated Oct. 10, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Postal Office and other “ad hoc anti-drug task force” to leave the implementation of the drug war to the PDEA, raising the public’s hopes that the agency would adhere to the rule of law.
Duterte’s memorandum came just days after his latest survey results showed the biggest drop in his ratings.
Duterte’s net satisfaction and trust ratings suffered double-digit drops in the third quarter of the year amid criticisms over his brutal war on drugs.
Six in 10 Filipinos, or 67 percent of adult Filipinos, said they were satisfied with Duterte while 19 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction score of “good” +48.
If Trump’s visit to the Philippines pushes through, however, it might signal an improvement in US-Philippine relations.
Duterte severely criticized the US government during the time of then president Barack Obama for expressing concern over the bloody anti-drug campaign. – With Paolo Romero
A White House official said Mr Trump's conversations with the families of dead servicemen were private.
Mr Trump later told reporters: "I did not say what she [Ms Wilson] said... I had a very nice conversation."
When asked about what "proof" he could offer, Mr Trump said: "Let her make her statement again, then you will find out."
Ms Johnson responded to Mr Trump's denial by tweeting: "I still stand by my account of the call b/t @realDonaldTrump and Myeshia Johnson. That is her name, Mr Trump. Not "the woman" or "the wife".
By Anthony Zurcher, senior North America reporter, BBC News
In US politics, nothing is off-limits any more.
After (inaccurately) swiping at his predecessors for not calling the family members of US soldiers killed in combat, Mr Trump is on the defensive over allegations he mishandled a call with a grieving widow.
The accuser is a partisan Democratic congresswoman and the president, not surprisingly, is pushing back hard. This controversy is spiralling towards the gutter.
Mr Trump made this bed, however. He was quick to cite the slain son of chief of staff John Kelly to justify his contention that Barack Obama didn't always make phone calls. Then there were the disparaging comments candidate Mr Trump made last summer about the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq.
The more this story drags on - and it will drag on - the more damage it could do to a president who wraps himself in the symbols of patriotism and the military, but is in danger of being viewed by the public as lacking empathy when it counts most.
An important presidential role is consoler-in-chief during times of tragedy. Successful politicians learn early that they need a human touch.
It's a job Mr Trump, the anti-politician, has little experience doing - and it shows.
How did this row begin?
Mr Trump has been on the defensive over the deaths in Niger since a reporter asked him at the White House on Monday why he had still not called the families.
He provoked fury by falsely claiming that his predecessor, Barack Obama, and other former US presidents had not called the relatives of dead service members.
Mr Trump also said he had written letters to the families of the four servicemen killed in Niger and planned to call them soon. The White House later said the president had spoken to the families but it did not say when.
President Rodrigo Duterte and VP Leni Robredo are seen in file photo at the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the PICC. (Photo from Pool/Russell Palma) MANILA, Philippines — The country’s two highest leaders don’t just belong to warring political parties. They, too, are on the opposite sides of the fence when it comes to issues concerning the European Union.
Successively, Vice Leni Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte issued statements about the EU — one valuing the Philippines’ friendship with the union, the other assailing its alleged lack of respect for the country’s sovereignty.
Robredo on Tuesday, Oct. 17, during the EU-Philippines Business Summit held in Parañaque City, said the union’s friendship with the Philippines was important because “(it) goes beyond economics, trade, and aid.”
“We are grateful for your support and guidance in many aspects of our lives,” the Vice President said, adding that she was hoping that human rights, which is “currently a contentious issue” in the Philippines “will not extensively strain relations between my country and the European Union.”
EU’s deep concern over HR situation in PH
The EU earlier expressed its deep concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the the killings under Duterte’s pet war on drugs campaign.
At the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, the EU stressed “the importance of carrying out the fight against illegal drugs in full compliance with due process, national law and international human rights law.”
It added that it is “important” for the Philippines “to promptly and effectively” investigate “all cases of death” in the drug war “in an impartial and transparent manner, which ensures appropriate prosecution of those responsible.”
Duterte: EU doesn’t know how to respect sovereignty
But on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Duterte again hit the EU, saying the union was the one causing problems because it allegedly didn’t know how to respect Philippine sovereignty.
“Kaya ko ‘yan sila minumura kasi [The reason why I’m curing them is because] they do not know how to respect sovereignty,” the President said during his speech at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
The chief executive complained against the union in relation to the aid it extends to the country, which Duterte said were allegedly fraught with conditions beneficial to the EU but detrimental to the Philippines.
“‘Yon bang gaya niyan, magbigay ka ng in the form of assistance or grant, the Philippines is given this amount but at the same time, i-specify nila na para ito sa Bureau of Fire kasi magbigay sila ng truck. Pero, gusto nila bilihin mo ‘yong truck sa kanila,” the President said.
“Eh kung magbigay ka ng grant at gusto mo ito bilihin mo ‘yong truck ko, kukuha ka rin ng spare parts sa akin, nagmukha pa akong philanthropist, nag-mukhang gago ang Pilipino, kikita ka pa sa akin balang araw kasi ‘yong truck na ‘yan, may masira talaga diyan,” he added.
Duterte said the EU was about to offer another aid but when Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez asked him about it, he told him he would reject the assistance.
“They are about to make an offer. Nagtanong si Secretary Dominguez, sabi ko, ‘No, I will not accept it..’ Hindi na bale mag-hirap tayo. Sabi ko, sabihin ko sa mga tao, eh magtiis tayo. Eh pobre tayo eh,” the President said.
“That’s very stupid of some public officials to talk of aid as if it is a matter of survival of our country if we do not accept it,” he added.
But for Robredo, it is important for the Philippines and the EU “to tear down walls and find ways to collaborate better” as cooperation would help make the country and the union’s business agenda “serve those who have been left behind by progress as well as enhance economic growth.”
Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte MANILA, Philippines — What’s the difference between rich and poor drug users and why is it that those who often get arrested or killed in the government’s war on drugs are impoverished Filipinos?
According to President Rodrigo Duterte, while it isn’t his administration’s intention to kill the poor being linked to shabu, the main market for crystal meth, which he says is “a deadly mix of chemicals that melts and shrinks the brain,” are impoverished Filipinos, who resist arrest and fight authorities.
He said the situation among rich drug users is different because they consume the less deadly cocaine and don’t fight with the police.
“Tapos sabihin nila si Duterte, ang pinapatay ang mahirap. Hindi nila alam na ang market ng shabu, alam ninyo, ang pobre [Then they would say Duterte is killing the poor. What they don’t know, but you know, is that the poor is the market for shabu ,” said Duterte in a speech during her visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Wednesday.
“Walang mayaman dito sa taga-Makati, taga-Forbes, gumagamit ng shabu. Cocaine ‘yan [No rich from Makati or from Forbes use shabu. They use cocaine]. It comes from a plant called poppy and it does not really necessarily destroy the brain. Itong shabu, it’s a deadly mix of chemicals. ‘Yan. Natutunaw ‘yong utak, lumiliit [It melts and shrinks the brain],” he said.
Also, during his speech, the President reminded authorities that drug trade is an organized crime and thus everyone involved in it, including the poor, are blameworthy.
“You know, may I remind you, pulis man kayo. Drug o drugs is always an organized crime. The act of one in the organization is the act of all. Alam ninyo ‘yan mga pulis. The liability is the same for the…’yong mga cook, the lieutenants are responsible for the distribution, and the peddlers,” said Duterte.
“Once conspiracy is proved, ‘pag sinabi 30 years ‘yang isa, 30 years lang lahat pati ‘yong mahirap [Once conspiracy is proved and if the sentence is 30 years, it will be 30 years for all, including for those who are poor],” he added.
Duterte added that even those who are poor fight back with authorities but not the rich because if they do, they would bring high-grade firearms.
“Pati ‘yong mga mahirap, lumaban. Wala naman taga-Forbes. Alam mo, sigurado ‘yan. Kung taga-Forbes ‘yan, magdala ng M-60 ‘yan,” he said.
The Supreme Court in Manila. INTERAKSYON FILE PHOTO MANILA – Human rights group Center for International Law (CenterLaw) on Wednesday filed a petition for writ of amparo (court protection order) before the Supreme Court in behalf of the 39 family members and neighbors of persons killed in tokhang operations in San Andres Bukid district in Manila, and as a class suit in behalf of all its residents.
Respondents are the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police, represented by PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Manila Police District director PSSUPT. Joel Coronel, and other police officers.
The writ of amparo is a legal remedy for those who threaten or violate the right to life, liberty, and security. The petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary protection order for them.
According to the petition, Manila Police District Police Station 6 supposedly cordoned off the perimeters of the slum areas in San Andres Bukid, disabled closed circuit cameras, and stood guard and warned neighbors not to look while armed men broke down doors and gunned down victims inside their own homes.
The petition said that armed men entered these areas in the dead of night, barging into houses, shooting their victims, then leaving. Police supposedly appeared in the scene shortly after, carting off the victims’ bodies and directing that the bodies be brought to “the police’s authorized funeral parlors”.
According to Atty. Joel Butuyan, lead counsel, there is a pattern to the police’s actions, including the guns used in the killings.
The petitioners seek that the police be barred from getting within a one-kilometer radius distance from the residents and the victims’ families, or near the houses, schools, or workplaces of the residents and the victims’ families.
They also want the police to be forbidden from harassing or talking to the families, as well as to stop them from seeking lists of drug pushers, users, and troublemakers from barangay officials.
The petitioners also want the Supreme Court to order the PNP to transfer the chief and members of Manila Police District Police Station 6 outside of Metro Manila.
They ask as well that the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development be made to visit the petitioners who are in jail, and the spouses of the victims twice a month.
The petitioners also want the Supreme Court to task the Office of the Ombudsman or the city prosecutor to investigate the 35 deaths that occurred in the area.
They want anti-drug and anti-criminality operations to be conducted only with coordination with the PDEA and the media.
The petition said that innocent wives, partners, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives, and even neighbors of the victims were arrested and even “falsely” charged with illegal possession of drugs or conspiracy with the persons killed.
The petition noted that there were no cases filed against the perpetrators of these killings, and that in many instances, no crime scene investigation was conducted. Nor were there reports submitted.
The petitioners are suing because their rights to life, liberty, and security are threatened by unlawful acts or negligence of the respondent law enforcers.
“By banding together, petitioners, though fearful still, have found their courage and are now asking this government to recognize and respect the dignity of their persons as human beings,” the petition said.
It continued, “Petitioners hope that the killings of their loved ones will not become a template for their own violent deaths.”
The petition stated that many of the petitioners voted for then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte in hopes that they would be served and protected.
“Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that their lives, liberty, and security, as well as the lives of their loved ones, will be sacrificed literally on the altar of peace and order in what is packaged to be a fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs,” the petition said.
This is the second petition filed by CenterLaw against the PNP and the government’s anti-drug war. The first was filed in January for the protection of families of tokhang victims in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City.
The court granted the petitioners a permanent protection order.
PhilStar file photo shows Horacio II and Carmina Castillo, parents of slain UST law freshman Horacio III, showing a flyer of the Aegis Juris fraternity. MANILA – Are we producing lawyers like these? An anxious Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri wondered aloud on Wednesday, after senators heard a long exchange, from an apparently leaked Facebook chat among Aegis Juris fraternity members and alumni, just after freshman law student Horacio Castillo III was killed Sept. 17 during initiation rites.
Some of the those who joined the conversation badgered the older members to provide guidance to the younger members, worried about the future of aspiring lawyers who may be detained while the case is prosecuted.
The most brazen attempt at concealment came from someone who said the frat library – where the hazing was apparently done – should be cleaned up quick before a search warrant is obtained by Castillo’s parents. And the paddles – where Manila cops later lifted blood samples confirmed to be the victim’s – must be removed, this fratman reminded the group.
In all, senators at the hearing called by Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s Public Order committee were dismayed by the apparent, single-minded goal of the chat group: everything about damage control, and nothing about concern or empathy for the victim’s family.
The senators promised to give the prosecutor general’s office a copy of the leaked exchanges presented by the MPD.