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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, March 15, 2018
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How will the 9,000 be fired?

Ninfa Leonardia

The Kuwaitis must be missing their Filipino “slaves” a lot. Today, a delegation from that country is arriving for an agreement on how domestic workers from the Philippines are to be treated, and what rights they are entitled to while working there. But hadn’t there been similar agreements before, and were they effective? From what the returning workers from that country had reported, their lives were virtually like those of the slaves of olden days, who were treated like beasts of burden, maybe even worse.

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The returnees told of being deprived of proper meals and rest, of not being provided proper places to sleep in, of being “farmed out” to friends and relatives of their employers, of physical abuse, and even rape! No wonder there were reported cases of suicide, probably they involved those who could not stand their situation anymore. Now their government is trying to placate ours by sending an eight-member delegation to lay down terms to assure human treatment for our people! I hope our officials will opt to look for other countries to send our workers, rather than send them back to Kuwait.

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The incident recalls the saying about giants and pygmies, but in a roundabout way. This time we are applying it to the case of the three “giants” who had been held for their alleged – maybe we should not say “alleged” because they have reportedly confessed or admitted to having been involved in the illegal drug trade – role in the drug market in the country. While the pygmies, i.e. the small pushers, ushers and handlers, were being shot down in the streets and in their homes, the three “giants” were suddenly freed by the Department of Justice that dismissed the charges against them!

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No wonder the news has roused indignation, even from the top government officials themselves. The senators are steaming, practically all of them expressed outrage and shock at the effrontery of it. I am inclined to agree with Senator Trillanes when he said that what is going on is just a “fake drug war”, because “When it comes to the poor, no questions asked, they just kill. With drug lords and friends of Duterte, they accord due process and exonerate them from charges”. Of course that is typical Trillanes, but isn’t he making sense this time? By the way, what has Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre have to say? He will still review it, they say. Can he still reverse the DOJ decision, will it not amount to double jeopardy? I hope our legal minds explain this.

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So far, we haven’t reported yet on any so-called “dugo-dugo” ploy of swindlers in our city, but it looks as if its operators are at it again in Metro Manila. So our people here should be alert and instruct their household helpers and even members of their family to look out for such tricks. This involves a call to a household from an unidentified person who tells the one who answers that the head of the family, or the housewife, or any member had been in an accident and has been rushed to a hospital.

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Then the caller tells the one answering the phone to bring some money to the caller who further instructs the person to get it from the owner’s cabinet, or bring jewelry if there is no cash because money is needed immediately for the medicines and the treatment. Naturally, the one instructed is panicking and mindlessly obeys what he or she is told. Well, the conclusion is always that the house owner had no idea about what was happening, and comes home to find out that they had been robbed. Of course we hope this doesn’t happen here, but an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, as the old adage goes, so warn your family and your staff about this modus, to avoid being victimized. Better still, teach them how to set a trap, so the swindler can be apprehended.

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Meanwhile, if it is true as Malacañang claims that there are no less than 9,000 barangay officials involved in illegal drugs, then the more reason we have to insist on holding the election for them as soon as possible. Why should we allow the continued stay in power of officials who are lawbreakers and involved in the promotion of the scourge of this generation? The President is said to have the list, let us plead with him to release it even before the certificates of candidacy are filed. It is bad enough that there are residents involved in drugs in a community, it is worse when the leaders are the ones in it.

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What is puzzling, however, is whether or not the barangay elections will actually push through in May, because there are also talks about their being moved to October. And also whispers that they may not be held all this year. So how are we going to get rid of the so-called 9,000 barangay officials in the President’s Narco List? Will he just fire them all before any election takes place? I mean, firing from the job, not a la EJK.*

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