Thursday, August 26, 2021

Go-Duterte tandem, Run Sara Run!

PRESIDENT RODRIGO Duterte who accepted the endorsement of his own political party, the PDP-Laban, for him to run as Vice President in next year’s polls, has chosen his former longtime aide-turned-politician Senator Bong Go to run for President.

President Rodrigo Duterte poses with his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Carpio and Senator Bong Go in this file photo taken in Japan. (King Rodriguez)

Duterte’s decision shocked many of his political allies since his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Carpio, is also being urged by her supporters, including mayors and governors, to run for President and even launched a massive campaign called “Run Sara Run.”

But the ageing Duterte has favored and picked Go instead of his daughter.

And on August 25, Duterte’s daughter released a public statement saying that her father has confirmed to her in private that he chose Go to run for President and him as Vice President. And that if she decides to run for President, she should pick Go as her running mate.

This is Carpio’s statement: “The President, very recently, personally confirmed to me that he will run for Vice President and Senator Go as President. It was not a pleasant event. I was left with two letters endorsed to me by the President for consideration – one note explained why I should endorse the Go-Duterte tandem and the other suggested that I take in Senator Go as my Vice President.”

“I strongly suggest to the President and Senator Go to own up publicly their decision to run as a tandem. If they can confirm it privately, then I do not see the reason why they cannot be candid about it to the public. They should simply present to the people what they can offer to our country and how they can help our fellow Filipinos. I respectfully advise them to stop talking about me and make me the reason for them running or not running.”

She also called on Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Ronwald Munsayac, of the PDP-Laban or the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, to stop blaming her for the sad state of their political party which has now two factions – the other is supporting Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao’s presidential bid.

Senator Pimentel and Mr. Ronwald Munsayac should stop blaming me for the sad state of their political party. It is not my fault that no one among you is a leader worthy of the respect of the majority. Do not blame me for the sitcom that your party has been reduced to. I am not a “Last Two Minutes” person. I think, I organize, and I implement accordingly. In the meantime, I refuse to be a political punching bag for a party in complete disarray,” Carpio said.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who belongs to the other faction of the PDP-Laban, said Carpio, who founded the regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, is “more PDP” than Pacquiao - who was ousted as party president following reports that he is gunning for the Presidency.


Duterte previously said that his vice presidential bid is to protect him from being held legally accountable for wrongdoing, adding the position gives him immunity from suit.

Before her term ended in June, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has sought authorisation from The Hague tribunal to open a full investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs that killed thousands of people, including innocent children.

“Sabi ng batas, kung bise presidente ka, may immunity ka. Eh ‘di tatakbo na lang ako ng bise presidente. After that, tatakbo ako ng bise presidente,” he said during a PDP-Laban assembly in July.

ICC judges have 120 days to issue a decision on Bensouda’s request. New ICC prosecutor Karim Khan now oversees the Philippine files. Khan has previously visited the Philippines to look into the deadly war on drugs.

Bensouda said a preliminary probe that began in February 2018 determined “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, which was when Duterte ordered that the Philippines withdraw from the court.

The suspected crimes happened “in the context of the government of Philippines ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” Bensouda said in a statement announcing that she was seeking judicial authorisation to proceed with a full investigation.

“Information obtained by the Prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations,” she said.

Duterte launched his deadly campaign against narcotics shortly after his victory in the May 2016 presidential elections. He ran on a single issue of fighting crimes in the Philippines, and during his campaign and later as president, Duterte repeatedly urged police to “kill” drug suspects.

The latest government data shows that as of the end of April 2021, police and security forces have killed at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers during operations, although earlier government figures showed at least 8,600 deaths. A police report in 2017, however, referred to 16,355 “homicide cases under investigations” as accomplishments in the drugs war.

Human rights groups said the number of deaths could be at least 27,000, and accuse the authorities of carrying out summary executions that killed innocent suspects including children. Countless people were also killed by “unknown” gunmen.

Police say the suspects were killed when they resisted arrest and became violent, but there have been documented cases of suspects being executed, or survivors saying police shot unarmed civilians.

The drug war killings have also continued even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, as Duterte vowed that there is no stopping in pursuing suspects.

Bensouda said prosecutors also reviewed allegations of “torture and other inhumane acts, and related events” dating back to November 1, 2011, “all of which we believe require investigation,” adding Duterte’s drug war, she said, shows “a State policy to attack civilians.”

Those allegations center in the city of Davao, where Duterte served as mayor for about two decades. In 2017, a retired police officer had linked Duterte and his men to nearly 200 killings in Davao.

In his regular press briefing, Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, dismissed the decision as “legally erroneous and politically motivated.” He said: “The President will never cooperate until the end of his term on Jun 30, 2022.”

He also said that the ICC “has no jurisdiction” of the alleged crimes, adding that the police officers have “the right to defend” themselves using “reasonable force” during drug operations, “and therefore, justified by the principle of necessity and proportionality.”

In an address recorded a week before the news of Bensouda’s request broke, Duterte called on human rights organisations to take a closer look into his war on drugs. “You would notice that there are really persons who die almost daily because they fought back,” he said, warning drug dealers: “Do not destroy the country. I will kill you.”

Duterte had previously called Bensouda “that black woman,” while calling another international human rights investigator, Agnes Callamard, as “skinny” and “malnourished.”

Callamard is now the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The “war on drugs” has been a cornerstone of Duterte’s presidency since he came to power promising to crush crime, despite criticism from opponents and human rights groups of widespread abuses.

Amnesty International welcomed what it described as a landmark step noting that the killings continued unabated. “This announcement is a moment of hope for thousands of families in the Philippines who are grieving those lost to the government’s so-called ‘war on drugs’,” Callamard said in a statement. “This is a much-awaited step in putting murderous incitement by President Duterte and his administration to an end.” (Mindanao Examiner)

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