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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, December 7, 2018
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OPINIONS

And then the Death Squads

Ninfa Leonardia

Alas. There will be no holiday truce this year as declared by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Let us hope more peace-loving officials will be able to prevail on him to keep up with the tradition of having a Christmas season free of conflicts and possibly deaths. Otherwise, what happened to the heavenly message of Christmas being a time of “Peace and goodwill to all mankind”?

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For one, Mindanao, that is still under Martial Law, is not going to have a respite because there are no signs that that state will be lifted before Christmas Day. Another development before the holidays is that 1,200 companies investing in the Philippines, foreign and local, may pull out if the second edition of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, or TRAIN 2, pushes through. This, according to Senator Franklin Drilon is bound to happen because incentives for investors will be removed under this law. Now, this is a very good example of shooting ourselves in the foot.

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Aha! What is this that Senator Ping Lacson has unearthed? Yesterday’s Big News was that the former PNP General had disclosed that despite the protestations from members of Congress that the despicable largesse known as the “pork barrel” that we all believed had already been cancelled, the amount of no less than P2.4 Billion’ has been allocated for projects in the district of former president and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo! Well, who is surprised that she knows how to get the best for her own people? She had all the experience and knowhow, having been president of the country. As for the alleged favoring of her district and province, remember the Ilonggo saying “He who holds the ladle can take out as much as he wants”. The Ilonggo version is more colorful, though.

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Well, thanks to the Senate, the still questionable bill that would convert our system of government into a federal one has not been acted upon, until now, and may not be ready until sessions end. The House of Representatives, known for its compliant attitude, had rushed up their proposed charter, but the Senate is not acting on it for lack of time. Indeed, this is a very important step, one that needs a lot of study and discussions, so I hope the Senate will not allow itself to be stampeded into rushing matters up into a midnight decision.

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So the airport in Pampanga has been renamed. From the original one of Clark (that used to be an air base) it will now be called the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. Well, Macapagal was the most distinguished son of Pampanga, so he deserves the honor. Sorry na lang for Major Harold Clark, after whom it was originally named. We do not know what Clark had done to be so honored, was he a hero whose feat had saved lives or had rescued people during the war? The news about the renaming said nothing about him, except that he was a pilot. Rather appropriate, no?

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Listen to this, girls. Anything in your handbag can save you from being victimized if you are quick-witted. A 28-year-old woman in a taxi was driven to a dark portion of a road in Novaliches where the driver stopped the cab and held her up, taking her cellphone, and even hit her with a pipe. But she managed to get her toothbrush from her bag and thrust it into his eye. A passing tricycle driver took her to a hospital where she reported the incident to the police. Finding the driver was easy, they only had to check the hospitals where a man whose eye had encountered a toothbrush had gone for treatment, where they arrested him.

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Maybe the policemen are balking at being called upon to do the dirty job, so the President is now looking at the military to pursue his plan to set up the so-called “death squads” to deal with lawbreakers. And who can blame the policemen? After several months of seeming impunity while they performed EJKs left and right, their deeds are catching up with them, like the case of 17-year-old Kian de los Santos whose killers were charged, and meted life imprisonment. And families of other EJK victims, encouraged by the Kian case, are now moving to also charge the killers of their children and relatives. Their deeds caught up with them and if soldiers ask what they can do if they are called to join the death squad, tell them to think a thousand times, and pray!

***

Good luck to the members of Congress who are working to scrap the hikes in fuel taxes that will confront us by the start of the new year, unless something is done to stop it. Some congressmen have cited what happened in France when its citizens, angered by the rise in fuel taxes, took to the streets and staged riots that caused a lot of damage and injuries. But will our peace-loving people dare to be as drastic as the French? What about the Death Squads that could be harnessed anytime? Careful, careful!*

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