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AFP-PNP group calls for Duterte’s ouster

A group claiming to be officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) called for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte for “betrayal of public trust.”

In a statement issued Monday, the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM) said they condemn and hold Duterte accountable for alleged gross crimes that violate national sovereignty and democratic rights of the people.

“We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration,” the group’s spokesperson Antonio Bonifacio said.

PADEM said Duterte and his administration committed the following crimes:

  1. Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers;
  2. Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects;
  3. Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords (including Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte) and protectors (at the level of governors and generals);
  4. Emboldening /Inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction;
  5. Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates;
  6. Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philipine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on he Law of the Sea;
  7. Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscrinately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar;
  8. Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China;
  9. Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and
  10. Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters of national security with an even more lopsided relationship with China and Russia.

“Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” Bonifacio said.

PADEM is the first group of disgruntled AFP and PNP personnel to form and call for Duterte’s ouster.

Unfounded and uncalled for

The AFP quickly downplayed the group and declared its full support to Duterte.

“The AFP categorically denies the recent statement issued by a group that pretends to be representative of the men and women of the AFP and the PNP that calls itself the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” AFP spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla Jr., said.

“Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to,” he said.

Padilla warned the military will act against forces that undermine the Duterte government, especially through unconstitutional means.

“Current developments and issues that this group wishes to take advantage of is now being addressed by the Department of Justice and parties to a possible crime are now under detention. Let us respect these processes and not allow ourselves to be used by individuals or groups with vested interests,” he said.

“The AFP appeals to the public and the various political groups to respect the apolitical stance of the AFP and help bring unity and healing instead of fomenting divisiveness and collapse,” he added.

The AFP and the Philippine Constabulary-PNP, however, has contributed to the ouster of Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada by their withdrawal of support in 1986 and 2001, respectively.

Corrupt and cruel regime

PADEM, however, immediately earned the support of a former officer and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) professor.

“Fellow PMAers, let us join the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” Professor Dante Simbulan said on his Facebook account.

A member of PMA Class of 1952, Simbulan returned to his alma mater in 1965 after active field duty in the AFP.

But Simbulan left the PMA in 1967 due to “more disillusionment,” saying the PMA only produces soldiers for the status quo.

He was credited for influencing Lts. Crispin Tagamolila and Victor Corpuz who both defected to the New People’s Army and inviting Jose Maria Sison to lecture at the academy.

Strongman Ferdinand Marcos detained Simbulan for three years from 1974 without charges. In 2016, he published the book “Whose Side Are We On?”

“It is time to put an end to this (Duterte’s) corrupt and cruel regime!” Simbulan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Cagayan execs urge new Ceza chief: probe Port Irene ‘skeletons’

Report and photo by Melvin Gascon

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Local leaders in Cagayan recently called on the newly-installed administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) to launch an “honest-to-goodness” investigation of supposed irregularities in the operations of its freeport in Santa Ana town.

Gov.  Manuel Mamba urged lawyer Raul Lambino, who took his oath as new Ceza administrator last July 24, to immediately order a probe “to stop all illegal activities and corruption perpetuated by the past administration.”

The governor said the new Ceza chief should reassess the viability of Port Irene as an international port, the operations of which, he said, have been marred by allegations of corruption.

“Billions of public funds have been poured into Port Irene, for which only a pittance was derived by government in the last 23 years of its existence, and for which transparency and accountability in its operation is seriously demanded,” Mamba said. 

Bloated

Port Irene is the main port of the CSEZFP in Casambalangan village in Santa Ana, which for several years became the hub of two of Ceza’s controversial industries: used car importation and export of magnetite sand.

It is also the location of the P5-billion breakwater project, for which the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago raised red flags in a Senate expose for alleged overpricing, having been constructed by a firm linked to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. 

Enrile was the main author of Republic Act 7922, the law which created CEZA and declared inclusion of the entire Santa Ana town and two island territories of Aparri town within the economic zone. 

Enrile’s daughter, Katrina, sits as a Ceza board director.

In 2013, the sale of second-hand vehicles at the Cagayan freeport was stopped after the Bureau of Customs clamped down on the trade by refusing to process their release and registration papers, citing a Supreme Court ruling earlier nullifying an executive order Ceza used as basis for the importations.

The shutdown led to the eventual wastage of about 900 second-hand vehicles imported from Japan and Korea, which until today are left rotting in a five-hectare car depot in Casambalangan.

The shipping of magnetite sand, meanwhile, was halted in 2014 following the departure of several Chinese firms earlier given what critics described as “dubious” permits to extract black sand (magnetite) from the coastal and riverbank communities of northern Cagayan.

Wasted

According to government records, Chinese firms shipped out more than 2.4 million tons of magnetite from Cagayan to China through Port Irene for a period of five years, from 2009 to 2014.

Two of its biggest licensees for its gambling operations, Eastern Hawaii Gaming and Leisure and Meridien Vista Gaming Corp., have been dragged in suits and investigations over alleged money laundering and illegal gambling operations.

Ceza-issued working visas were also cited at a Senate investigation last year for their involvement in alleged human trafficking, economic sabotage and bribery charges against Chinese gambling operator Jack Lam.

“(The previous use of Port Irene) has been a waste of opportunity and government funds in its 23 years of existence. We have to look for a new alternative port that is more secure, and can allow the entry of bigger ships with international routes,” Mamba said.

Santa Ana Mayor Darwin Tobias, for his part, also said Lambino should first clean up the mess that was left behind by his predecessor, to “start with a clean slate.”

“He should be wary whom he trusts (within Ceza) because there are some people there who are behind all the anomalies that hounded the agency for many years,” he said.

Tobias, who sits as a member of the Ceza board, expressed hope, however, of having “better” working relations with Lambino. 

Ceza and the Santa Ana government have perennially been at odds over conflicts of policies between officials, mainly between Tobias and Jose Mari Ponce, the former Ceza administrator and Lambino’s predecessor.

Things came to a head in 2013 when Ponce’s son lost to Tobias in a hotly-contested mayoralty race.

Upon taking up his post, Lambino, in a press statement, announced his plans of repairing Port Irene, the dredging of its “heavily silted” seabed, and the construction of additional wharves “to expand its capacity.”

“As the President’s personal choice, I will lead by example and turn the (CSEZFP) into his vision of a vibrant economic growth center that is efficient and clean and free of corruption,” said Lambino, described as “a stalwart” of President Duterte’s party”, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban).

He vowed to transform CSEZFP “into a bustling economic growth center and tourist destination and a major trans-shipment and logistics hub in Northern Luzon.” #

Groups insist on government accountability for Yolanda Victims

On the third anniversary of Supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-National Capital Region held a symbolic candle-lighting ceremony for the victims and survivors of the disaster last November 8 in Quiapo, Manila.

Bayan-NCR chairperson Raymond Palatino said the Benigno Aquino administration should still be held accountable for what they say was its inefficient and unjust response to the disaster.

Officials of the current Rodrigo Duterte government have reported that while many of the victims and survivors have still to receive material and monetary aid, only P30 million of the Yolanda rehabilitation funds remain from hundreds of billions.

The protesters are also calling for continuing rehabilitation of areas and citizens in the affected areas. Read more