Freedom of information

generals2If President Duterte was fed wrong and “poison” information as the generals allege, would they provide him the “right” stuff in order to, as they say, clear their names? Would they incriminate other men in uniform or would they implicate their patrons – i.e. politicians?

But if indeed they are blameless and their records spotless as they declare, why was it convenient for them to look the other way while their fellow countrymen were being consumed at the innards by the drug trade? Why did they allow it to flourish when they have, in the first place, the responsibility to eradicate it? Doesn’t tolerating a crime make one an accessory to it especially if you are a law enforcer?

President Duterte, in one of his media interviews prior to assuming office (before media pissed him off, that is), related in detail how the ‘quota system’ (for lack of a better term) at the PNP hierarchy works – from the bottom up to the topmost and (probably) beyond.

But media failed to pick up such a significant piece of information which the public ought to know; perhaps because a) they were not listening b) they could not make out what the erstwhile mayor was saying due to his Visayan inflection c) it was not new to them as those things are just whispered about but not discussed in the open or d) their editors deleted it from their story. Donald Trump has a succinct description for the US version – ‘dishonest media’.


Did the President violate any laws for announcing the names of the five generals? He is a lawyer and former prosecutor, he should know. He has a phalanx of legal experts around him to provide advice, they should know. Would he be so rash as to make accusations without standing on solid evidence?

The Communications Secretary said the testimonial and documentary evidences are being kept at the moment, not for release to the media as yet, for obvious reasons. And the basis for the naming of names are intelligence reports that the President of the Republic has access to – validated many times over.

Someone being interviewed on radio said Digong has been gathering data and building up dossiers since a year ago, before he even decided to run as president. It might not be a far-fetched idea that the generals themselves were informed beforehand. They were asked to just leave the service quietly or avail of early retirement like a few others of star rank did, including the Chief PNP who retired without fuss a few months before reaching the compulsory age to give way to his successor. Kung sumabay sila, hindi sana nahalata.

Would it be a stretch to think that they thought this President, who is unlike his predecessor by any bounce of the imagination, will observe their code of silence and allow them to go on with their business as usual?


Public shaming is a violation of due process? See Tanauan, Batangas’ periodic parade of addicts, pushers and lawbreakers. Have any of them gone to court yet to sue the town mayor who, like Duterte, speaks softly but carries a big stick?

The President is exercising his strong political will at a scale never seen before in a long succession of leaders. If you are an honest and law-abiding government official, bureaucrat or functionary, being publicly humiliated should be the least of your concerns. But if you provide your families with a lifestyle not commensurate with your salary in government, then your happy days are over.

So, yes, cry your hearts out because your reputations have been smeared. But did you ever shed a tear for the millions of Filipinos who suffered the scourge of illegal drugs under your watch? You go through the motions of raiding drug dens and seizing contraband, but more often than not, the culprits were nowhere near the scene of the crime. Were they tipped off? How many “ninja cops” – those who recycle seized narcotics and put them back on the streets for sale to innocent kids – have you put behind bars?


The Big Brick Wall – i.e. General Bato – said that there are more names in Digong’s list but they are still being verified. The 35 or so local executives that the President has hinted as being on the drug trade as well should be on pins and needles now. DILG Secretary Sueno has just revealed on a morning TV show that the list has grown to 200, targeting mayors, governors and barangay captains. Again, they are being subjected to thorough verification but their names will be revealed sooner or later.

If in the end, he is proven to have erred on the side of discretion, then it would be interesting to see how the man called The Punisher will fess up to his mistake. What is apparent, though, is – not only are people (addicts and pushers) surrendering in large numbers on a daily basis in many parts of the country; many citizens are also volunteering morsels of information that they have known all along but were afraid to tell the authorities. If that is not change, then Mar Roxas is president.



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