BY ROGER M. BALANZA
President Benigno Aquino has apparently emerged as a campaigner for rivals of Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential derby.
In his speech in Rome, Aquino further alienated Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) from Roxas, the standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party who is already facing a potential ` boycott by Pinoy migrant workers.
Instead of tackling the plight of the overseas workers, Aquino, in the December 4 speech before about 500 OFWs at the Ergife Palace Hotel, campaigned for Roxas and skewered rivals of his former Interior secretary.
The campaign pitch did not sit well with the crowd that expected Aquino to speak on government policies on overseas workers, and drew varied reactions foremost of which is against Aquino’s apparent preference for politicking than the plight of the OFWs.
The Aquino stunt could further seal the political doom of Roxas, who had earlier been crucified by OFWs over the “Laglag-Bala” scandal in Philippine airports which also victimized overseas workers.
The militant group Migrante which is espousing rights of OFWs, had scored the Aquino government for the extortion by airport personnel who drop bullets into baggage of airplane passengers.
Roxas, also a former secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) which has over-all control of Philippine airports, defended the Aquino administration by saying that government should not be faulted if OFWs are caught with bullets in their luggage.
Migrante reacted strongly to the Roxas statement with a threat It would mobilize OFWs against Roxas’ presidential bid.
Roxas was unfazed by the threat saying he does not need the OFW vote to win the election. Of the 54 million voters registered for the 2016 national elections, about 2.4 million are OFWs who are allowed to participate in the election.
Simple logic tells us that if the OFWs are not for Roxas they could go to Duterte, Binay, Poe or Santiago.
By now, the Aquino campaign speech in Rome that shoved concerns of the OFWs to the sideline, could have already reverberated in the 180,000-strong Dilipino community in Italy and the millions of Pinoy overseas workers spread in many countries around the world and their relatives in the Philippines.
If Roxas earned a tsunami of condemnation from OFWs worldwide for saying he does not need their votes, we expect another crucifixion for the Aquino candidate, with OFWs reacting stronger this time coupling their anger with burial hymns for the Roxas presidential bid.
The over-all frustration at the Aquino speech was vocalized by Liza Bueno, among the OFWs who attended the event, a side event during Aquino’s state visit to the Vatican.
“I did not hear any agenda related to OFWs. I am not yet convinced that I should vote for Roxas,” she said in a report in Philippine Star.
As a leader, he should be fair, said Bueno referring to Aquino’s endorsement of Roxas and his verbal assaults against the rivals of his pet candidate.
In his speech, Aquino made a shallow attempt to hide his politicking by not naming Roxas or presidential candidates Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), independent candidate Senator Grace Poe and Senator Miriam Santiago.
“We dreamed and now our dreams came true. Are we going to hold back? We already have a companion who joined us and worked with us to transform our country, said Aquino clearly referring to Roxas.
“Why would we rely on those who only deliver promises? Aquino asked before dishing out verbal missiles at Roxas’ rivals.
No context, no plan, just criticism and half-baked promises, said Aquino of Poe. Poe has been leading in pre-poll surveys for presidential preference but his candidacy is imperiled by a disqualification case before the Commission on Election (Comelec) involving her questionable residency and citizenship.
He would kill many people if elected President, he blasted Duterte who is campaigning on an iron-fist anti-crime platform.
Aquino also said a candidate is accused of stealing people’s money alluding to Binay, who is facing corruption charges before the Ombudsman.
He also twitted Santiago who has been getting strong support in social media. “She is not aware that you cannot build roads or feed the hungry using only Facebook,” Aquino said.
Aquino’s caper that has drawn a critical chasm between the 2.4 million-strong OFWs and the Roxas presidential bid is the latest fumbling act that could further strengthen Roxas’ franchise over the bottom of poll surveys.
Roxas has consistenly dominated the cellar of all surveys by Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has abandoned his threat to force members of the laglag-bala (bullet-planting) syndicate to swallow live bullets.
This time, Duterte wants communist rebel hitmen and death squads to finish off the syndicate.
He also called on President Benigno Aquino to take “drastic action and not lip service” against the syndicate.
The syndicate, allegedly involving aviation, police and civilian personnel at the aiports, victimizes airplane passengers going abroad, nostly Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), through extortion after secretly planting bullets in their luggage. The victims are fleeced of large sums and allowed to board their flight. Bringing bullets into aiports is a violation of the country’s firearms and ammunition law.
The bad press over the shakedown of passengers at Philippine airports has gone international that even the United Nationas (UN) warned its personnel travelling to the Philippines against the racket.
The government has ordered an investigation following public outcry over slow action against the syndicate by President Benigno Aquino. The laglag-bala racket is said to have been operating for years without airport authorities moving to stop it.
With the 2016 national election coming in May, the brouhaha over the laglag-bala has become a hot political issue against the administration.
Lately, Mar Roxas, the presidential bet of Aquino’s ruling Liberal party, reaped a flood of criticism after saying that government should not be faulted if passengers bring bullets into the airport. Roxas is Aquino’s former Interior Secretary.
Migrante, the militant group espousing and defending rights of the OFWs, said the millions-strong Filipino overseas workers would not vote for Roxas.
In his latest pronouncement, Duterte gave the syndicate members caught at the Davao International Airport the choice of getting a bullet shot to the head from the “Sparrow or the DDS.”
The Sparrows, coined after Special Partisan Unit (Sparu), is the liquidation squad of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The deadly hitmen were blamed for the killing of hundreds of police and military personnel and civilians during the height of rebel occupancy in the 80s of Davao City then widely known as the Philippines’ “Killing Field.” The urban guerillas moved up to the city’s farflung mountain districts after Duterte, known for his close ties with rebel ground commanders, won his first mayoral term in 1988. Peace has since reigned in Davao City, considered today as one of Asia’s most peaceful cities. Duterte is on his way to three decades as mayor of the premier city of Mindanao.
Even as Davao City has shed off its image of the 70s and 80s as the NPA “laboratory of urban guerilla warfare,” the Sparrow unit is said to be behind some of today’s liquidation of targets in downtown Davao.
The DDS is the motorcycle-riding 45.cal.-armed Davao Death Squad tagged as behind more than a thousand summary executions of suspected criminals, nostly involved in the drug trade. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has investigated Duterte for human rights violations for his alleged links to the death squad, which surfaced as an anti-crime vigilante group during the first mayoral term of Duterte in 1988.
You choose, the Sparrow or the DDS, said Duterte as an alleged victim of the laglag-bala racket carried luggage snapped by X-Ray at the Davao airport with two 9mm bullets.
The victim, a 62-year old male hydrologist was on his flight out for Manila after attending a business meeting in Davao City. The victim, the first recorded at the Davao airport after the laglag-bala controversy exploded in Manila, has been charged with illegal possession of ammunition but fred on bail. He denied owning the bullets and told police he could not know why the bullets were in his luggage.
Duterte earlier said that he would force to swallow live bullets syndicate members caught at the Davao airport.
He also said he would himself finish them off at the hospital if they go for operation to have the bullets removed.
Duterte said the syndicate has “jeopardized” the Filipino people and called on President Aquino to take “not lip service but drastic action” against the syndicate.
Duterte has emerged as a strong contender to the presidency but is not running despite his high ranking in pre-poll surveys and strong public clamor for him to join the 2016 race to Malacanang.
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