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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, February 10, 2018
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Did they shout ‘Heil Digong'?

Ninfa Leonardia “INT'L COURT SETS REVIEW ON DUTERTE DRUG WAR” – headline.

Look out for a one-sided cuss words war.

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The International Criminal Court, or ICC, is about to begin preliminary investigation of the killings recorded during the early days of Duterte Administration. In other words, the Court will investigate the records on the so-called EJKs, or extra-judicial killings who where thousands of drug suspects, whether users, peddlers, traffickers with former Davao Police Chief, named national police chief by the Duterte government leading it.

***

Anyway, Malacañang does not seem bothered by such reports. In fact, it reportedly welcomes it. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the claims of those who asked the ICC to probe the president are without merit. But is it true that 19,000 “homicide” cases were recorded by the police since 2016 when President Duterte assumed office? Roque is certainly proving his mettle as the presidential spokesman. Note how he claims that the allegations against the President are “part of a concerted public relations initiative by domestic enemies of the state”. Is anybody looking in the direction of Senator Antonio Trillanes?

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Meanwhile, the President himself was quoted by the Philippine Star as admitting that he is a dictator! What are we expected to say after the admission? He reportedly said this before the former NPA members he had invited to Malacañang, of course not to see its wonders and opulence, but what they missed by hiding in the hills. I am sure the ex-rebels were impressed, even with his admission of being a dictator for the good of the people. What did they shout after his speech? HEIL DIGONG?

***

Then it was also reported that heavily armed New People's Army members in Compostela Valley scared residents into fleeing from their homes Tuesday. The fleeing residents are now being sheltered in a covered court in the town of Maragusan. Was it an invasion? The military has vowed to return to normalcy in the area, and “mitigate the misery of the community” Is that all?

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But wasn't it also in Compostela Valley where 142 terrorist fighters led by a vice commander of the New People's Army had surrendered to local officials recently? The military said the surrenderees even brought their families along with them and the mayor of Sumilao town in Bukidnon even administered the oath of allegiance to the government to them. It is interesting to note the process that the surrenderees are supposed to undergo, as described by the military officers there.

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They said the ex-rebels will undergo a program that starts with the re-radicalization, psycho-social counseling, skills training under TESDA, and a livelihood assistance programs. I didn't see any mention of housing in the report, but surely that is a given? Now, will the surenderees expect also to be invited to dinner at Malacañang? For all we know the news that their former comrades had been entertained by the President himself could have been a factor in their decision to
“go and do likewise”.

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A proposal has been announced from some groups, probably foreigners, to set up what they call “offshore casinos” in the Philippines. I think these will be like the former “floating casinos” that operated in Manila Bay in the 60's or 70's where one has to board a vessel to get into the gaming areas where a lot of foreigners, majority of them Chinese, were playing. I had one-time experience getting into one when my friends and “compadres”, a couple known for their very successful shoe factory in Marikina, treated to dinner and a visit to it.

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The experience was made memorable even if I did not play with them, as I wandered around, watching curiously the gamblers with their serious faces and stacks of bills before them, I noticed a woman who looked very familiar. Unsure if she was the classmate at LCC who had married a Chinese millionaire and whom I had not seen their betrothal rites held in Bacolod, I sidled up to her and whispered her name. She turned around and gasped when she recognized me and we hugged each other, while the others waited, some looking amuse, others irked. It was a wonderful reunion, but ended with her exacting a promise from me not to tell our other friends back home I had seen her there. Ah, it is interesting to go to casinos, even if you are not a gambler.*

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