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Thread: COPS and ROBBERS: The Law Enforcement and Crime Thread

  1. #271
    Why return to Mamasapano?

    By: John Nery


    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:07 AM January 26th, 2016

    I share the view that the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano tragedy is politically motivated, but not the view that this turn of events was unexpected.

    Mamasapano, not “Yolanda,” is the Achilles heel of a still-popular President. A dispassionate reading of President Aquino’s political fortunes will show that the great controversy over the fate of Tacloban City in November 2013 did not in fact seriously affect his approval or satisfaction ratings.

    His handling of the Mamasapano crisis, however, had an almost immediate impact on his popularity.

    This is how I understand the Social Weather Stations survey data. In December 2013, Mr. Aquino had an overall satisfaction rating of plus-49 percent, with plus-50 percent or more in Luzon outside Metro Manila, in Mindanao, and in the Visayas which was still reeling from the supertyphoon. (Metro Manila, traditionally unforgiving of incumbents, came in at 22 percent.)

    If we consider lag time as a factor, then the next SWS survey would have brought bad news. But in March 2014, the President was still at plus-45, with Visayas holding statistically steady at plus-49. (The bad news, survey-wise, came in in the next survey.)

    But the impact of Mamasapano (the encounter happened on Jan. 25 a year ago, and the news trickled out the following day and then turned into a flood by the time the President decided to attend a factory inauguration rather than meet the coffins of the slain Special Action Force troopers) was clear and obvious in the same quarter. The March 2015 survey gave the President his lowest satisfaction rating ever, of plus-11—with Luzon outside Metro Manila at an astounding negative-3.

    Mr. Aquino has since recovered, as far as survey ratings are concerned, but Mamasapano remains his point of greatest vulnerability.

    In “What is Aquino accountable for?,” published about a week after the incident, I argued that the President was accountable for three failures:

    First: “As more information emerges, it is becoming clearer that Oplan Wolverine [as the operation was then labeled, even by the President] was not designed to succeed. It is this failure that President Aquino and his subordinates who planned and approved the operation should be held accountable for …”

    Second: “For this decision not to coordinate with the MILF (and, until it was too late, with the Philippine Army), and therefore raising the risks of the entire operation, President Aquino and his subordinates who planned and approved the operation should also be held accountable.”

    And third: “it is his failure to ensure that the necessary exercise of violence that he had approved or encouraged or welcomed came with the equally necessary support.”

    The following week, in “Patterns of sin in Aquino admin,” I tried to read the President’s third nationwide address on the Mamasapano tragedy, the one where he announced that he had accepted the resignation of suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, as a series of clues into his administration’s “systematic shortcomings.” I wrote then: “One reading: a deadly combination of legal-staff sloth and self-justifying pride.”

    I do not think these shortcomings rise to the level of an impeachable offense. There are no guarantees in war—except perhaps that people end up dead. The decision itself to commit considerable force to pursue the Malaysian terrorist known as Marwan cannot be faulted; I cannot imagine any court, even a quasi-court like an impeachment Senate, holding that the decision to pursue a known terrorist should not have been made.

    But it is likely that the failures we and others have already identified will be the crux of the hearings tomorrow. There should be no underestimating Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; he will come to tomorrow’s hearings well-prepared, and even if he cannot prove that the President committed an impeachable offense, he can do immense damage to the President’s reputation—and by extension to the President’s election clout.

    The old question from the US Senate hearings on Watergate, the one asked by Howard Baker, will be the recurring question tomorrow: What did the President know, and when did he know it?

    On the issue of a plan designed to fail (something that the brave officers in the PNP’s Board of Inquiry suggested in their report), the President (through his Cabinet secretaries) will likely be asked repeatedly about his decision to place Purisima in charge, even though his old friend had already been ordered suspended, and on the role of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

    On the issue of the deliberate decision not to coordinate with either the MILF, in contravention of existing agreements, or the Philippine Army, the President’s role will likely be probed. Whose decision was it to keep the Army in the dark? Did the President know, or did he in fact make the call?

    On the issue of inadequate support (which, of course, is related to the lack of coordination with the Army), the President’s decision-making will be scrutinized. What happened, or did not happen, in Zamboanga City?

    It will be a long day in Malacañang tomorrow.

  2. #272
    From the New York Times online - - -

    President Duterte Is Repeating My Mistakes


    FEBRUARY 7, 2017

    BOGOT?, Colombia ? Illegal drugs are a matter of national security, but the war against them cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone. Throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse. Locking up nonviolent offenders and drug users almost always backfires, instead strengthening organized crime.

    That is the message I would like to send to the world and, especially, to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

    We Colombians know a thing or two about fighting drugs. Our country has long been one of the world?s primary suppliers of cocaine. With support from North American and Western European governments, we have poured billions of dollars into a relentless campaign to eradicate drugs and destroy cartels. I was personally involved in taking down the planet?s most notorious drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, in 1993. While we managed to make Colombia a bit safer, it came at a tremendous price.

    My government and every administration since threw everything at the problem ? from fumigating crops to jailing every drug pusher in sight. Not only did we fail to eradicate drug production, trafficking and consumption in Colombia, but we also pushed drugs and crime into neighboring countries. And we created new problems. Tens of thousands of people were slaughtered in our antidrug crusade. Many of our brightest politicians, judges, police officers and journalists were assassinated. At the same time, the vast funds earned by drug cartels were spent to corrupt our executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.

    This heavy-handed approach to drugs did little to diminish the drug supply and demand in Colombia, much less in markets like Western Europe and the United States. In fact, drugs such as cocaine and heroin are as accessible as ever from Bogot? to New York to Manila.

    The war on drugs is essentially a war on people. But old habits die hard. Many countries are still addicted to waging this war. As Colombia?s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, said, ?We are still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years.? Fortunately, more and more governments also concede that a new approach is needed, one that strips out the profits that accompany drug sales while ensuring the basic human rights and public health of all citizens.

    If we are going to get drugs under control, we need to have an honest conversation. The Global Commission on Drug Policy ? of which I am a founding member ? has supported an open, evidence-based debate on drugs since 2011. We strongly support reducing drug supply and demand, but differ fundamentally with hard-liners about how this should be achieved. We are not soft on drugs. Far from it.

    What do we propose? Well, for one, we do not believe that military hardware, repressive policing and bigger prisons are the answer. Real reductions in drug supply and demand will come through improving public health and safety, strengthening anticorruption measures ? especially those that combat money laundering ? and investing in sustainable development. We also believe that the smartest pathway to tackling drugs is decriminalizing consumption and ensuring that governments regulate certain drugs, including for medical and recreational purposes.

    While the Filipino government has a duty to provide for the security of its people, there is a real risk that a heavy-handed approach will do more harm than good. There is no doubt that tough penalties are necessary to deter organized crime. But extrajudicial killings and vigilantism are the wrong ways to go. After the killing of a South Korean businessman, Mr. Duterte seemed as if he might be closer to realizing this. But bringing the army in to fight the drug war, as he now suggests, would also be disastrous. The fight against drugs has to be balanced so that it does not infringe on the rights and well-being of citizens.

    Winning the fight against drugs requires addressing not just crime, but also public health, human rights and economic development. No matter what Mr. Duterte believes, there will always be drugs and drug users in the Philippines. But it is important to put the problem in perspective: The Philippines already has a low number of regular drug users. The application of severe penalties and extrajudicial violence against drug consumers makes it almost impossible for people with drug addiction problems to find treatment. Instead, they resort to dangerous habits and the criminal economy. Indeed, the criminalization of drug users runs counter to all available scientific evidence of what works.

    Taking a hard line against criminals is always popular for politicians. I was also seduced into taking a tough stance on drugs during my time as president. The polls suggest that Mr. Duterte?s war on drugs is equally popular. But he will find that it is unwinnable. I also discovered that the human costs were enormous. We could not win the war on drugs through killing petty criminals and addicts. We started making positive impacts only when we changed tack, designating drugs as a social problem and not a military one.

    A successful president makes decisions that strengthen the public good. This means investing in solutions that meet the basic standards of basic rights and minimize unnecessary pain and suffering. The fight against drugs is no exception. Strategies that target violent criminals and undermine money laundering are critical. So, too, are measures that decriminalize drug users, support alternative sentencing for low-level nonviolent offenders and provide a range of treatment options for drug abusers. This is a test that many of my Colombian compatriots have failed. I hope Mr. Duterte does not fall into the same trap.

    C?sar Gaviria was president of Colombia from 1990 to 1994 and the secretary general of the Organization of American States from 1994 to 2004.

  3. #273
    From Esquire online - - -

    Lessons from Another President on Fighting a War Against Drugs

    Trust the man who oversaw the capture of Pablo Escobar.

    By CHRISTOPHER PUHM | 23 hours ago

    A drug war is fought by a country against its own people and as such it can’t be contained within a physical battlefield. There’s no obvious enemy and no clear path towards victory. There are no victors, only victims, and in a drug war, it’s too easy to mistake the victim for the enemy. C?sar Gaviria, the former president of Colombia, has fought his own war on drugs. His country spent billions of dollars in its fight against the cartels and Pablo Escobar was captured and killed on his watch. Gaviria didn’t win but he emerged from the fog of war with a new perspective on what to do going forward.

    In a New York Times op-ed, the former president is brutally honest with how badly Colombia has fared in his self-described “heavy-handed approach to drugs.” It’s a message Mr. Gaviria would like to share with the world but especially with President Rodrigo Duterte, whose election promise seemed simple: to take out the drug dealers and users, by force if necessary or convenient, and restore order in a country longing for someone to finally do something, anything.

    Mr. Gaviria warns that the war “cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone. Throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse. Locking up nonviolent offenders and drug users almost always backfires, instead strengthening organized crime.”

    The former head of state, who spent his presidency trying to bring in Pablo Escobar, cannot be accused of being soft on drugs and crime, but admits to having been “seduced into taking a tough stance on drugs during my time as president.” Along the way Mr. Gaviria learned that popularity cannot be mistaken for actually winning the war on the ground.

    Our war on drugs is still in its infancy but fatigue is already starting to show, both in a nervous population and in the health of President Duterte, who in a rare moment with the press revealed to having experienced chest pains. The killing of a South Korean businessman by police officers may have been the reason for this brief health concern, but Mr. Gaviria’s hope that the killing would lead to a policy reversal in Duterte’s war on drugs proved to be short lived. He believes that “there is no doubt that tough penalties are necessary to deter organized crime. But extrajudicial killings and vigilantism are the wrong ways to go. [B]ringing the army in to fight the drug war… would also be disastrous.”

    Instead, his op-ed declares that his country started to make “positive impacts only when we changed tack, designating drugs as a social problem and not a military one.” He adds that “[w]inning the fight against drugs requires addressing not just crime, but also public health, human rights and economic development. No matter what Mr. Duterte believes, there will always be drugs and drug users in the Philippines. But it is important to put the problem in perspective: The Philippines already has a low number of regular drug users.”

    The former Colombian president and founding member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy says that scientific evidence leads him to believe that the criminalization of drug users is counterproductive and only leads to addicts being pushed further towards the fringes of society. What's really needed is “an open, evidence-based debate on drugs.” From a former president to a current president, Mr. Gaviria’s message is simply, “Trust me, I learned the hard way.” To which Mr. Duterte responded, "That idiot."

  4. #274
    Promotion on top of pardon

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:16 AM April 04, 2017

    Why does President Duterte insist that he would pardon the policemen involved in the brazen killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, on Nov. 5, 2016, and?his latest remark on the matter?that he would even promote them?

    How hard is it to be understood - or for his legal advisers in the Palace to impress on him - that doing so would be a devastating body blow to the rule of law? It would undermine the fundamental tenet of a republican society that no one is above the law, that no one should be able to get away with a crime, especially policemen who are sworn to uphold the law?and certainly even if the President absolves them of culpability and, worse, shields them from prosecution for their criminal actions.

    The Department of Justice itself has indicted Supt. Marvin Marcos and 18 other policemen on murder charges. The National Bureau of Investigation agrees; so does the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, which conducted three hearings on the Espinosa killing and uncovered more damning information to validate the initial findings that pointed to "premeditated murder."

    "After conducting an exhaustive investigation of the incidents surrounding the killing of Mayor Espinosa and [Raul] Yap, the NBI concluded that the testimonies of several witnesses had disputed the claim of an alleged shootout between the [police] operatives and inmates Mayor Espinosa and Raul Yap but [was] a 'rub out,'" said the NBI. "It was patently clear that the acts of the CIDG-8 operatives showed a community of purpose or an implied conspiracy."

    The NBI recommended the filing of murder and perjury charges against 24 police personnel. But the President is adamantly having none of it, saying he would rather believe the cops' version that it was a shootout?that Espinosa, in by-now-familiar police parlance, had it coming because "nanlaban," or he fought it out with the police. Incredibly, inside a jail cell?with witnesses testifying that Espinosa had no firearm with him, and that he was heard begging for his life before he was shot.

    In expletive-laden remarks, the President has defended the killing on the grounds that Espinosa, who allegedly ran the biggest drug network in the Visayas, simply deserved to die because "he destroyed half of the Visayas" and that he also supposedly had four policemen killed. If the policemen who killed Espinosa end up convicted, the President said, "Ay, walang problema" (no problem), because he would forthwith pardon them?plus a "reinstated order with the promotion one rank higher."

    As for Espinosa, the President wanted to know: "Why do you grieve for a son of a bitch?"

    But the grief is not so much for alleged drug lords as for the perverted process by which they are brought to justice. Prior to his death, Espinosa had submitted an affidavit naming 226 personalities allegedly involved in the drug trade?among them 19 politicians, 38 policemen, four from the judiciary, and sundry others. He had named names from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group?the same police outfit that barged into his prison cell, supposedly to serve him an arrest warrant at 4 a.m., and killed him and another inmate. With his affidavit, the mayor had become the biggest witness so far against a drug syndicate that appeared to reach to high places; his murder, from all indications, was an act designed to silence him.

    Why is the President seemingly uninterested in getting to the bottom of this case? Why is it that he would rather come off as flouting the law, risking the sense of justice and fairness that the public demands from such a flagrant case of official misconduct, to protect a cabal of apparently murderous policemen? What does he know that he is not telling us?
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 04-04-2017 at 10:21 AM.

  5. #275
    8 years after Maguindanao massacre, fear still lingers

    By: Julie Alipala - @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:10 AM November 23, 2017

    AMPATUAN, Maguindanao ? Decisions by a court to grant bail to 70 men accused of multiple murder in the Maguindanao massacre case have sown fear and anxiety among relatives of the victims of the worst election violence in the country.

    With 32 media workers among the 58 victims of the Nov. 23, 2009, carnage, it was also the worst attack on the press in the world.

    The group was traveling in a convoy with the wife and relatives of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu and heading to Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao province to file his certificate of candidacy for governor in the May 2010 polls when they were waylaid by armed followers of the Ampatuan clan, including police and militiamen. They were later gunned down on a hilltop.

    A total of 198 suspects were tagged in the massacre but only 115 had been arrested, including the alleged mastermind Andal Ampatuan Sr., a former Maguindanao governor who died in July 2015 while confined at National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City.

    The court decided in separate decisions since trial began in 2010 to grant bail to a total of 70 accused, including 16 police officers.

    Justice Now

    Emily Lopez, a cousin of slain Periodico Ini reporter Arturo Betia and president of Justice Now, a group representing the family of the slain media workers, expressed fears that if the accused were freed, witnesses might refuse to come out.

    "There is fear on our part because of those allowed to get out of jail," Lopez said.

    Since trial began in 2010, at least three witnesses have been killed and two potential witnesses have survived attacks and have refused to testify.

    Nena Santos, a lawyer for some of the victims' families, informed them during a briefing on the court case last week that the accused could walk out of jail anytime once they posted bail.

    Bail funds

    Santos said the only reason the accused were still in jail "is that they did not have enough money for bail."

    Only one accused, Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, the youngest son of Andal Sr., has been freed on bail. In March 2015, he was able to raise a total of P11.6 million for the P200,000 bail set by the court for each of the 58 counts of murder.

    Of the 115 in custody, two had turned state witness and three had been acquitted for lack of evidence, according to Santos.

    The remaining 42, who were refused bail, included the principal suspects ? former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., his brother, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, and Chief Insp. Sukarno Dicay, the chief of the 15th Regional Mobile Group that was conducting a checkpoint where the victims were stopped by the gunmen.

    "I fear for our lives. We have been vocal about the case and there is no assurance that they will not take revenge or commit a crime anew," said Jemark Duhay, who was only 10 years old when his father, Joy Duhay of Goldstar Daily, was killed along with 31 other media workers.

    Killing young dreams

    "They did not only kill my dad, they also killed my dreams, my youth. We had to work harder than before so I could go to school," Duhay said.

    He agreed with Lopez that the fear and trauma he experienced eight years ago were coming back after he learned about the possible freedom of 70 of the accused.

    Duhay said his father never missed taking him to school but on that day, he left home early for a news coverage.

    "We heard the news about the massacre when I was in class. I thought that my dad was covering that incident. It was late at night when I learned that my dad was among those killed," he said, recalling the unbearable pain his family suffered.

    Lopez said that while they were scared of what may come with the release of the accused, the victims' families also were thankful for the support they continued to receive.

    "We are grateful that there is still a lawyer like Santos sticking to the case. We are grateful that the NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) stayed on our side, but seeing the numbers of accused freeing themselves from charges, we have this mixed feeling, mostly feeling of fear," Lopez said.

    Continuing the fight

    Lawyer Jocelyn Clemente, acting chair of the NUJP, said she was hoping that despite the bad news, the families of the slain media workers would continue to fight for justice.

    "The network and communication lines have been strengthened and I hope they will not bog down. We are also looking forward to positive outcome in the court?s upcoming decision," Clemente added.

    Santos said the relatives of the victims expected conviction and the marathon hearings were almost finished. Only the presentation of the last five or 10 accused remained, she said.

    "Then there will be a wrap-up, and the judge can resolve the case for everybody, for all accused," Santos said. - With a report from Edwin Fernandez

  6. #276
    P64-B ?SHABU? CASE

    DOJ clearing of Faeldon irks Senators

    By: Christine O. Avenda?o - @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:04 AM November 24, 2017

    How did 600 kilos of "shabu" (crystal meth) from China get past the Bureau of Customs if the importers did not collude with BOC insiders?

    This was the question of senators who were one in their disbelief that the entry into the country in May of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China did not involve BOC officials.

    The senators expressed disgust on Thursday over the dismissal by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the drug charges against several BOC officials led by former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

    "It is unimaginable if not impossible that the drug shipment would reach its destination in Valenzuela without the participation and complicity of the BOC [officials] involved," said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who actively participated in the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry into the shabu smuggling.

    Lacson said simple logic ?will tell us that at the very least those [on] whose watch the drug shipment should be held criminally liable as well.?

    Automatic review

    He said he hoped Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre would make an automatic review of the case decided upon by a DOJ panel on Wednesday.

    Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he would ask Aguirre to explain to the Senate the DOJ panel's decision, as he noted that those charged by the DOJ were all private individuals.

    "How could that happen when that was 600 kilos (of shabu). It's hard to believe that there was no cooperation from the inside," Pimentel told reporters.

    Pimentel, who is a lawyer, said that in criminal cases, prosecutors usually have a theory on what happened in an incident and they would back this up with evidence in court.

    "So we will ask them what is their theory that the 600 kilos of shabu was able to slip past the BOC without the involvement of anyone from Customs?" said the Senate President.


    Sen. Bam Aquino said it was clear during the Senate hearings that the shabu shipment would have not slipped past the BOC in May without the help of someone inside the BOC.

    "It takes two to tango," Aquino said in a statement.

    Both Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan said the DOJ decision clearly showed that allies of the administration were being exonerated, citing the case of Supt. Marvin Marcos whom the DOJ cleared for the 2016 murder of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

    "The question now is, who is responsible for the entry of the P6-billion shabu, the security guard at Customs? Mr. Duterte, you are fooling people," Trillanes said in a text statement.

    Pangilinan said the BOC should be held accountable for the smuggling of the illegal drug. But he said, "If you are an ally, you are spared."

    PDEA appeal

    Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should appeal the case so that Customs officials behind the shipment would be punished.

    "The PDEA should be relentless in pursuing this case because this is clearly destroying the justice system in the country," Drilon said in a statement.

    Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said he only partly agreed with the DOJ exonerating the BOC officials, noting that Milo Maestrecampo, former director of the Import Assessment Service, should be investigated further.


    Gordon told reporters that Maestrecampo was involved in the entry of the shabu shipment because he allowed shipments to be in the green lane, where no BOC inspection was needed.

    "Based on the hearings conducted by the Senate, the evidence shows that Maestrecampo provided aid in allowing the shipment of drugs enter in the country?s front door smoothly through the green lane," Gordon also said in a statement.

    Mark Taguba

    The senator said there was evidence showing Maestrecampo?s involvement with customs fixer Mark Taguba.

    "What about Neil Estrella? He was the one who botched the seizure operations?facts [showed the failure was deliberate]," Gordon said.

    Taguba facilitated the shabu shipment while Estrella was director of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services.

    Gordon said his committee report had recommended criminal charges to be filed against Faeldon and three of his officials for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the customs and tariff administration law.

    He urged the Ombudsman to "take cognizance" of his committee's findings and recommendations.

    Pimentel told reporters that senators would soon discuss the possibility of releasing Faeldon from Senate detention for humanitarian reasons because of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

    Cited for contempt

    Faeldon has been detained in the Senate since Sept. 12 after the chamber cited him for contempt for refusing to appear at its hearings.

    Pimentel said the Senate would discuss the possible release of Faeldon after it shall have passed the proposed 2018 national budget and the comprehensive tax reform bill.

    Faeldon's lawyer Jose Dino, in a phone-patched interview with reporters, said he had not asked the Senate to release his client.

  7. #277
    Why him? Wife of slain Korean trader Jee Ick-Joo still asks

    By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - Reporter / @T2TupasINQ / 07:22 AM November 27, 2017

    A year after her husband, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, was killed by police in President Duterte's war on drugs, Choi Kyung-jin's question remains unanswered: "Why my husband?"

    "I?m requesting the Philippine government to tell me why my husband and who did this to him," Choi told through an interpreter on Tuesday.

    Choi said life for her had become "really hard" as she pressed for justice against the police officers accused of killing her husband.

    "Right after the incident, I sent my daughter back to Korea. She is currently a senior high [school student] and is preparing for college," Choi said, adding she was sad that she couldn't be there for her as she prepared for graduation.

    Tears rolling down her face, Choi declared that she still found it hard to believe that her husband was already dead.

    Abducted and killed

    Jee and the family maid were taken by police from their home in Pampanga last year in the guise of a drug raid.

    The maid was released later but Jee was taken to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where he was strangled inside his own vehicle.

    The policemen had his body cremated and the ashes flushed down a toilet at a funeral home in Caloocan City.

    Choi complained, angering President Duterte, who dismantled the police force battling narcotics and handed the job to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

    The President gave the job back to the PNP later, after an alleged resurgence of the illegal drugs trade.

    Alleged killers charged

    Kidnapping for ransom and homicide charges for the abduction and killing of Jee have been brought against Supt. Rafael Dumlao III, former chief of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group; Jerry Omlang, a National Bureau of Investigation errand boy who surrendered and confessed to participation in the crime; SPO2 Ricky Sta. Isabel; and SPO4 Roy Villegas. Gerardo Santiago, owner of Gream Funeral Homes, has been charged as an accessory to the crime.

    During the hearing at the Pampanga Regional Trial Court on Tuesday, Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors asked the court to discharge Villegas from the case, as he had agreed to serve as state witness.

    The prosecutors told the court that Villegas' testimony was necessary to prove the participation of Dumlao in the crime. Dumlao had asked the court to allow him bail.

    Villegas, the prosecutors said, is a witness to the abduction, killing and taking of Jee's body to the funeral home in Caloocan.

    They said Villegas had submitted an affidavit detailing how Jee was abducted and killed and Dumlao?s participation.

    Choi said South Korean President Moon Jae-in was aware of her husband's death and that Seoul was monitoring the progress of the case in court.

    She said she met Moon at his meeting with the South Korean community after the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila.

    Moon also met with the DOJ prosecutors for a discussion of the case, Choi said.

    "He is monitoring the progress of the case," she added.

    Staying to the end

    Choi said it had become difficult for her to live in the Philippines without her family but she had decided to stay until the conclusion of the case.

    "Despite all those troubles and worries, I am here waiting for justice to be served," she said.

    "Seeing the faces of the cops and the criminals is really a painful and distressing thing for me, but thinking of my husband, I am just enduring it all. I consistently go to the hearings so that they can see that I am really determined and for the judge to make a final decision and ruling," she said.

  8. #278
    Against impunity?

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:12 AM January 28, 2018

    The ordered arrest and detention of two policemen believed to have tortured, killed and framed two teenagers last August are welcome developments to a public languishing in a climate of impunity that has served to protect those who blatantly break the laws they are sworn to enforce.

    Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 122 recommended no bail for PO1 Ricky Arquilita and PO1 Jeffrey Perez for the murder of Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo "Kulot" de Guzman.

    These developments provide a boost to the rebooted "Oplan Tokhang," the administration's war on drugs, that has been marked by the killing of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers, mostly impoverished.

    Of course, how the case against the two rookie cops will turn out is subject for public vigilance. The release and reinstatement of the police officers charged with killing Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, in November 2016 are too shocking to be forgotten.

    Arnaiz, 19, a former University of the Philippines student, was killed only days after the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, who was shot thrice in a raid that identified him as a drug runner and had police claiming that he had fired on them.

    Police said Arnaiz had robbed a taxi driver and exchanged gunfire with officers. But in an autopsy by the forensic laboratory service of the Public Attorney’s Office, Arnaiz’s body was found with deep abrasions and marks showing that he was cuffed, dragged and severely beaten before being killed.

    The discovery of Arnaiz's body in a morgue by his parents was accompanied by a frenzied search for the last person seen with him, 14-year-old De Guzman.

    When De Guzman did not turn up for days, people feared the worst. Those fears turned too real on Sept. 5, when his body was fished out of a creek in Nueva Ecija.

    The National Bureau of Investigation’s forensic examination showed that De Guzman had been stabbed 26 times, with some of the thrusts piercing his lungs and heart.

    Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the examination results also showed that De Guzman was repeatedly stabbed even when he was already dead.

    These deaths weighed heavily on the public consciousness not only because of Arnaiz and De Guzman's - and even Delos Santos' - youth, but also because of the brutality of their killing.

    In the end, Arquilita and Perez were tagged as the culprits - both rookies, new to the police force yet so quick to be implicated in crime.

    Because the Philippine National Police is tasked with enforcing President Duterte's war on drugs, it has also become the face of Oplan Tokhang's excesses.

    It bears noting that the public breathed a sigh of relief when the antidrug operations were shifted to the jurisdiction of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency last year.

    But with the relaunch of Oplan Tokhang, which PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa has described as "bloodless" - in contrast, one supposes, to the blood spilled almost nightly in the dark alleys of the metropolis in the course of antidrug operations - the public is offered hope of change in police behavior.

    The Caloocan court's order for the arrest and detention without bail of Arquilita and Perez is a rare blow against impunity, but there is so much more to be done.

    And there is no forgetting the case of Mayor Espinosa, a suspected big-time drug pusher, who was brazenly shot dead in his prison cell in the dead of night along with an unfortunate fellow inmate.

    As many as 19 officers led by Supt. Marvin Marcos were implicated in and charged with the killing of Espinosa. But the charge was quickly downgraded to homicide, allowing the police officers to post bail and be released. By midyear last year, Marcos and his men had been reinstated to their posts on the President's orders.

    To think - lest it be forgotten - that the NBI itself declared the killing of Espinosa an outright "rubout." To think that Sen. Panfilo Lacson, himself a former PNP chief, tagged it an "extrajudicial killing."

    On Marcos' reinstatement, Lacson warned of "deeper implications," adding: "Police scalawags may now invoke his case as precedent and demand to be given field assignments."

    Those hopeful of the ordered arrest and detention of Arquilita and Perez may recall Lacson's words, and shudder.

  9. #279
    Rights groups slam PNP subpoena power

    By: Aie Balagtas See, Nikko Dizon - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:25 AM March 13, 2018

    Human rights groups on Monday condemned the restoration of the subpoena power of the Philippine National Police amid the Duterte administration’s brutal war on drugs.

    “At a time when the PNP has been committing widespread rights violations without accountability in the war on drugs, granting the police further powers to act without judicial authorization is a recipe for disaster,” Carlos Conde, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

    The local group Karapatan said it considered the new law part of the Duterte administration’s growing “arsenal of repressive legislation.”

    PNP chief, CIDG directors

    “We have seen rights violations knowingly committed by the police, emboldened by the protection granted to them by this government. Now we have another law that will give them more power to abuse,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

    President Rodrigo Duterte signed the new law last week, granting the PNP chief, the director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the CIDG deputy director subpoena powers.

    Human rights groups and opposition lawmakers expressed fears that the new law would lead to more police killings in Mr. Duterte’s take-no-prisoners crackdown on narcotics.

    More than 4,000 mostly poor and small-time drug users and pushers have been killed by police since the launch of the campaign in June 2016.

    Thousands more have been killed in vigilante-style attacks.

    The government “should be finding ways to restrain a police force that has been out of control, not giving them a green light for further abuses,” Conde said.

    With a national ID system being worked out in Congress and now the PNP subpoena power, the Duterte administration is legislating an “arsenal of repressive laws,” Palabay warned.

    To be used sparingly

    Malacañang, however, said that the PNP would use its subpoena power sparingly.

    Speaking to reporters, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted that the law limited the subpoena powers only to three police officials.

    Any request for a subpoena would have to go up the chain of command, Roque said.

    “I suppose, because of the fact that there are limited signatories to the subpoenas, that it will be reserved for the extreme circumstance where individuals have absolutely refused to cooperate in an ongoing investigation,” Roque said.

    PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said on Monnday that he would not use his subpoena power, unless the CIDG director and deputy director were both unavailable.

    “I will not use this power while the CIDG is there. I will not use this power. You might say I will use this against the political enemies of the Duterte administration … Rest assured, I will never use this while the CIDG is functioning,” Dela Rosa said in a press conference.

    Republic Act No. 10973 was authored by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, amending the Local Government Code.

    The law restored the power that was granted to the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), the forerunner of the PNP.

    Don’t be afraid

    Dela Rosa sought to ease the rights groups’ fears by raising his right hand, as if taking an oath, at the press conference.

    He directed the CIDG director, Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, to do the same.

    Then he intoned: “I swear before God, the people and [the] media that I will never, never abuse this power.”

    For good measure, Dela Rosa sang a line from the 1990s song “I Swear.”

    The police officials gave the assurance that the new law was neither against the poor nor a tool for the war on drugs.

    Dela Rosa said the subpoena power could be used in investigations of high value targets, which was the other approach to fighting illegal drugs.

    Obusan said the CIDG handled mostly high-profile and sensational cases, which often involved the “wealthy and the well-learned.”

    He said he hoped the subpoena power would help the CIDG in reopening cold cases.

    Dela Rosa said the PNP had numerous cases that had gone cold because of the lack of cooperation from witnesses and other agencies.

    “With this power, these cold cases can be revived because we can issues subpoenas and, hopefully, bring clarity to these cases,” he added. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND JAYMEE T. GAMIL

  10. #280
    DOJ clears suspected drug lord

    By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Marlon Ramos - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:24 AM March 13, 2018

    Cebu businessman Peter Lim has evaded facing criminal charges for his involvement in the illegal drug trade — an allegation made by no less than his “kumpadre” (wedding cosponsor), President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Lim, a suspected drug triad boss, and several other high-profile drug suspects have been exonerated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a drug trafficking case filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last year, the Inquirer learned on Monday.

    The resolution, approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., was issued by a panel of DOJ prosecutors on Dec. 20, 2017, but was apparently kept from the media.

    Shortly after launching his brutal drug war in 2016, Mr. Duterte named Lim as one of the country’s biggest drug lords. The President also threatened to kill him on sight.

    He, however, eventually went soft on Lim, who reportedly used the alias Jaguar.

    The President even granted Lim’s request for a meeting at Malacañang’s satellite office in Davao City, an opportunity not accorded to thousands of drug suspects killed in the government’s war on drugs.

    Weak evidence

    In throwing out the complaint, the DOJ panel of prosecutors said the weak evidence presented by the CIDG and the “inconsistencies” in the testimony of its lone witness, Marcelo Adorco, prompted them to absolve Lim and his fellow respondents.

    Besides Lim, cleared of violation of Section 26(b) of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, were confessed drug kingpin Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito and several others known only by their aliases.

    Adorco, Espinosa’s alleged henchman-turned-state witness, was also exonerated by the DOJ panel, composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes.

    In Cebu City, one of Lim’s lawyers, Pedro Leslie Salva, was happy with the DOJ decision. “At least, his name was cleared and truth came out,” he said.

    Salva said Lim’s family was badly affected by the accusations hurled against the businessman.

    Grateful to President

    “We’re grateful to President Duterte for giving him (Lim) the chance to explain and tell the truth. We strongly support the government’s campaign against illegal drugs because these prohibited substances are really not good for the country,” he said.

    Asked if Lim’s camp had foreseen the outcome of the DOJ case, Salva said, “Yes, I did.”

    “Because, for the many years I’ve been representing him (Lim) as one of his lawyers, I never observed him engaged in any illegal activity, including drugs,” he added.

    Kerwin’s supplier

    In his testimony, Adorco claimed Lim supplied narcotics in “staggering amounts” to suspected drug lord Espinosa for more than two years.

    He said one transaction involved the delivery of 50 kilos of “shabu” (crystal meth), which Lim personally handed over to Espinosa on the parking lot of Cash & Carry supermarket in Makati City on June 7, 2015.

    The DOJ prosecutors, however, said the witness’ allegations were “unworthy of consideration” and that his testimony was “rife with inconsistencies and contradictions.”

    Moreover, Humarang and Reyes said Adorco’s claims were contrary to the “standards of human experience and the logical course of reality.”

    “Indeed, for an evidence to be believed, it must proceed not only from the mouth of a credible witness, but must be credible in itself as to hurdle the test of conformity with the knowledgeable and common experience of mankind,” the DOJ prosecutors ruled.

    “We are mindful of the zealous intention of the complainant to eliminate the illegal drug menace prevalent in our country today, and it is public knowledge that this fight has taken numerous lives,” the prosecutors said.

    “However, … ‘judges, prosecutors and law enforcers are reminded that in the performance of their duties, they should act with circumspection,’” they added.

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