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Giving Duterte a bad name

WHEN I read that Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told members of the Malacañang Press reporters that they should believe only two out of the five statements of President Duterte­—most of his statements were just foolishness, they said—I was shocked.

These alter egos of the President are telling us that our leader is fooling us most of the time!

Any president would just fire these officials for trivializing his words and making him look like a fool.

I myself get amused when Mr. Duterte rants and uses foul language. In my over six decades as a journalist, I have never encountered a chief executive so interesting and novel.

The President is no fool. My gulay, what comes out of the mouth of a President is always policy!

Abella and Andanar are in fact giving their boss a bad name.

* * *

I like former President Fidel V. Ramos when he makes blunt criticism about the way President Duterte does things. If it were somebody else making those criticism, the President would have called them idiots.

But Ramos is the President’s mentor. He was the one who urged him to run for president when he was just mayor of Davao City. Duterte should listen to Ramos; he can give him good counsel.

For example, Duterte promised P2 billion to the survivors of the Surigao City earthquake without consulting Cabinet members where the money would come from.

And now Budget and Management Secretary Ben Diokno is at a loss where the money would come from.

Ramos is now saying that the brutal war on drugs is leading to a culture of impunity.Those who carry out this war would be immune from blame and punishment.

I have said repeatedly in my earlier columns that the war against illegal drugs is becoming the new normal. It creates a culture of violence and impunity.

Listen to unsolicited advice, Mister President. Do not just reject them. Listen to President Ramos, and listen to former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria.

* * *

There’s something that the public should know, especially House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who has been telling members of Congress to vote for the restoration of the death penalty—or resign

There’s an existing international agreement, ratified by the Senate and signed by the President under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the 2nd Optional Protocol that forms part of Philippine laws, which can only be abrogated by the Senate.

Obviously, Alvarez and his yes-sir cohorts in the House do not realize but, any move by Congress to restore death penalty could mean an automatic review by the Supreme Court. The restoration of the death penalty is a violation of the Constitution.

A resolution of 14 senators, the majority of 24, has already been filed seeking to abrogate the law to end the treaty which the country is committed, pending the issuance an opinion by the secretary of justice on whether the move would contravene an existing treaty.

I don’t know how Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre can justify the restoration of death penalty when a duly-ratified treaty forms part of the law of land, no matter how President Duterte and his lackeys in Congress want to pass the measure.

I know for sure that the restoration of death penalty will pass through a wringer at the House with Alvarez threatening members of the so-called “Super Majority” to support it, or leave their posts.

In the Senate, the restoration the death penalty will surely not pass. And that’s for sure.

* * *

International businessman Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin cannot seem to stop having been hit by a bolt of lightning after President called him an oligarch who must be destroyed.

Bobby was my student at the Ateneo in the 1950s.

While Ongpin effectively lost some P22 billion when Philweb, an e-Games online gaming firm, when the Philippine Games and Amusement Corp. did not renew its license, Bobby had to sell his shares—more than 53 percent—to Greggy Araneta.

Bobby continues to pursue high-end property developments in the Philippines. At 80 years, he can’t seem to stop.

To make his signature project, the Balesin Island Club, more accessible to its club members and their guests, Ongpin has acquired a 711-hectare property in Patnanugan Island, which has been christened Balesin Island Gateway. It is only 22 nautical miles from Balesin Island. This land is almost 1 and ½ times the size of Balesin and while the beaches are not as good as Balesin beaches, the land acquired by RVO has significant major advantage. It has fresh ground water and there’s no need for an elaborate water collection system as Balesin.

On that island, Bobby plans to build a 2.5-km runway and obtain an international airport designation so that it can accept all flight (even 747s) directly from major capitals like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok. To facilitate members or guests from Balesin Gateway to Balesin Island itself, RVO is acquiring a jetfoil ferry like that used in Hong Kong to other island for people from Patnanugan to Balesin itself.

And take note of this: Ongpin plans to build an 18-hole golf course and a 300-room hotel on the island. It is our intention to build as many as 500-beachfront and golf course homesites. It will not be a membership club like Balesin and the individual homesites can directly be owned by individuals and companies that would like to acquire their own beach house, Ongpin said.

Ongpin admitted the whole project would be an enormous undertaking and would take some three to four years to complete. But we intend to start it this year, he added.

Other projects Ongpin is pursuing is his magnum opus, the Baguio Mountain Lodges, which I had the opportunity to see at its raw stage.

Would you believe, RVO also has a plan to put up a state-of-the-art drug rehabilitation center in Atimonan, Quezon?

When I asked why he’s building a rehab center, Bobby said smiling: “I also believe in President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, and there’s no need for more rehab centers.”

Topics: Emil Jurado , Giving Duterte a bad name , Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella , Communications Secretary Martin Andanar , President Rodrigo Duterte , President Fidel V. Ramos , Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin
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