PROBABLY because of his obsession to be known as more than just the husband of entertainment and cinema star Sharon Cuneta, Sen. and Liberal Party president Francis Pangilinan has been just trying so hard to be heard, that he has instead become known for making ridiculous criticisms against the Duterte administration that are so absurd that it borders on the hilarious.
His latest gaffe, circulated widely in Facebook, was on Duterte’s making sure that peace and order is maintained in implementing his earth-shaking move to close down Boracay to save it from environmental disaster.
“It is a shame that the administration is deploying the military, police and the coast guard in Boracay while China has been blatantly trespassing in our territory and disrespecting our sovereignty,” Pangilinan said, totally unaware of the ridiculousness of his criticism.
What? Is he suggesting that the Philippine Navy encircle Scarborough Shoal, which his idol former President Aquino lost in his ineptness,* or for our Marines to invade the Chinese structures on reefs, the ownership of which most international scholars claim is very debatable?
But Pangilinan’s recent gaffe would be even more hilarious, if not for the fact that it deals with the very serious issue of the Liberal Party practically admitting that it is painting black the country’s image in the world, by alleging that it has become a killing field of thousands of innocent Filipinos.
I am referring to Pangilinan’s letter, on behalf of the LP, denying that its chair, Vice President Leonor Robredo, and her Yellow companions lobbied for the passage of the European Parliament’s April 18 resolution that condemned the alleged widespread extrajudicial killings (EJKs) as a result of Duterte’s war against the illegal drug scourge. Among other falsehoods, the resolution also condemned the “illegal detention” of another Liberal Party stalwart, Sen. Leila de Lima.
In his now trademark mental clumsiness, Pangilinan wrote in his letter: “The administration’s bloody drug war already left 13,000 drug suspects people [sic]dead without charges or facing trial.”
That was almost exactly the EP’s words, although Pangilinan, in his bungling attempt for his statement not to appear as that of the European body, added another 1,000 to the body count: “Since 1 July 2016, around 12,000 people, including women and children, have reportedly been killed in the Philippines during an ongoing campaign against drugs, internationally proclaimed as President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ that Parliament’s April 18 resolution pointed out. “
I had written last week that the European body most likely got its 12,000 figure – which is three times that of the official police data – from the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which in turn came from an Australian columnist in an opinion column ranting against his government, in which he didn’t bother to report where he got the 12,000 figure.
Party of fake news
But with Pangilinan’s letter, that bloated figure of alleged extrajudicial killings could have come only from the Liberal Party. With Pangilinan’s letter, the Liberal Party is now on record—the only party to do so—as claiming that Duterte’s war against illegal drugs “resulted in the killing of at least 13,000 drug suspects people dead without charges or facing trial.” The Aquinos’ Liberal Party is now officially a purveyor of fake news.
This Yellow group even outdid biased local and foreign reporters who have mostly used the adjective “allegedly” in reporting their own number of EJKs.
I dare Pangilinan to prove where he got this 13,000 figure that paints the country as a land where ruthless death squads roam, and that journalists like me and civil society are so cowed or complicit not to protest such mass murder.
I promise to publish in my column Pangilinan’s explanation about where he got that 13,000 figure, and if accurate, that will be my last column ever.
I had three major reasons to believe the report of my source that the Liberal Party actively lobbied for the EP resolution against the Philippines, which activity was also done during the recent trip of the Liberal Party chair and a few of her colleagues to Germany.
First, the Liberal Party has had a longtime relationship with the German-based Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom that has funded several of its projects. It organized and funded the trip to Germany of Robredo and several other Yellow politicians the two weeks before the EP resolution was issued. This foundation in turn is close to several German political parties, including the Free Democratic Party that has seats in the EP.
The Liberal Party is a member of the Liberal International, whose members include a number of parties that have been winning seats in the European Parliament. German parties constitute the biggest group of parliamentarians in the EP.
If it didn’t directly talk to the EP members, the Liberal Party’s allegation – which Pangilinan even claimed is an indisputable fact – would in all likelihood have been relayed by Friedrich Naumann and the Liberal International to the European body, for action in the form of a resolution.
In contrast, if I were told that it was Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that lobbied for the EP resolution, I would find that unbelievable as no European political group or foundation would want to have any association with this failed putschist.
Second, it was just too coincidental that the Robredo party was in Germany the week before the EP issued—despite all the myriad other problems of Europe and the world—a resolution (the third time it has done so) on a country many of them most probably don’t know exists, condemning its alleged widespread extrajudicial executions. Were they asked to go to Germany so they could in person appeal to EP members or their representatives to issue the April 18 resolution on the Philippines?
In her tweet also denying my report, Robredo claimed that her party met with “German academics, members of civil society, and (German government) officials.” Given the lady’s limited knowledge of Germany and Europe, can we be sure that none of these people were members of the EP or were connected to that body, as staff or consultants of EP members?
And third, this would not be the first time that the Liberal Party chairman strived to badmouth her own country to the world. Last year, she sent a video message on the occasion of the 60th meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs—posted even in her website and Facebook page—where she said: “We are now looking at some very grim statistics: since July last year, more than 7,000 people have been killed in summary execution.”**
That was an utter falsehood that originated from a fake news item contrived by the web-only news site Rappler. If she could do it before, it’s nothing for her to do it a second time, and again in the future.
With a chairman and president who aren’t even intelligent enough to argue the party’s stance, and so unpatriotic as to badmouth their own country in the world, this Liberal Party will be dead in a few years.
What kind of country have we become that a major party, one of its oldest, is a purveyor of fake news that blacken its image?