‘Off with his head!’ β€” Marcos tightens control of Senate

OF course, I’m not insinuating anything, with that phrase uttered by Queen Margaret in Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” and by the Queen of Hearts in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

But Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri’s ouster comes just when the hearings of the Committee on Public Order on the so-called PDEA leaks were getting some traction, weeks after media and the committee’s other members ignored them.

The hearings had focused on the claim of a former agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Jonathan Morales, that he had signed a surveillance order in 2012 on then-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for alleged cocaine use, but which was ordered stopped by then-executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, who at the time was a partner in a law firm with Marcos’ wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos. Ochoa at the hearing last Monday denied the allegation, and it would seem that would have been the end of the hearings.

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Atin Ito ‘swarming’: A classic budol-budol

THE much-hyped swarming by fishermen into the China-controlled Bajo de Masinloc led by a dubious group calling itself “Atin Ito” is a classic case of budol-budol. That Hiligaynon slang has entered into popular usage throughout the country in recent times to refer initially to swindling schemes.

It has been used, though, to refer to how a particular political leader got Filipinos to vote for office.

The ex-priest, ex-communist Edicio de la Torre and the 37-year-old Rafaela David β€” president of the left-of-center Akbayan Party and a protΓ©gΓ© of Sen. Risa Hontiveros β€” claim to be the convenors of Atin Ito. That is impossible: the 81-year-old de la Torre can hardly walk without a cane, while David has never been engaged in mass work as an Akbayan leader to be able to organize fishermen. De la Torre couldn’t even join the swarm to Bajo de Masinloc (international name: Scarborough Shoal). David was interviewed 100 kilometers from Scarborough. Emman Hizon, another spokesman in the swarm-Scarborough swindle, has been Akbayan’s spokesman for over 10 years and concurrently its deputy secretary general.

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Height of immorality to use civilians as cannon fodder, sacrificial lambs

IT is the height of immorality for President Marcos Jr.’s Navy and Coast Guard to use civilians β€” in this case poor fishermen β€” as cannon fodder, even sacrificial lambs, in the maritime-area dispute with China in the South China Sea.

For planning and undertaking such a profoundly depraved scheme, those involved in it, and their bosses, especially Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela, who sources say planned it, should be fired and dishonorably discharged.

I am referring to the operation by a dubious group called “Atin Ito” launched the other day for a number of fishermen and activists, prodded, paid or fooled by former communist leader Edicio de la Torre and Akbayan head Rafael David’s outfits, to sail on their fishing boats to “swarm” Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

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Jinggoy all out for Marcos’ defense in PDEA case

SEN. Jinggoy Estrada β€” in the third hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order investigating allegations that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2012 was a cocaine user β€” demonstrated such disdain and contempt for the accuser, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales, that his shameless behavior can be explained by one and only one thing.

He has become so servile to Marcos that he has internalized the President’s seething rage against Morales, so obvious in a recent “ambush” interview” in which Marcos called Morales a “professional liar.” That’s the first time that a president of the Republic has stooped so low as to cuss in such a manner at a lowly citizen. Estrada has taken the President’s cue, and called Morales a “congenital liar.”

One can’t blame Estrada: he was convicted of bribery last January and sentenced to 12 years. His only real chance of evading a long jail term is for President Marcos to use all his influence for his conviction to be reversed by some court.

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Highly paid lawyer gathering dirt vs Duterte

WELL-KNOWN in leftist circles, lawyer Kristina Conti is unarguably among the highest-paid attorneys in the country, making at least P8 million yearly.

For doing what? Gathering evidence, I suspect even concocted testimonies and mere media reports, against former president Rodrigo Duterte and his two police chiefs, Ronald de la Rosa and Oscar Albayalde, for alleged murders committed in the former president’s war against drugs, from July 2016 to March 2019.

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What a president: He’s made us, again, the world’s laughingstock

WHAT a president.

It turns out that it was President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who authorized β€” or even ordered β€” the implementation of a “new model” proposed by China to de-escalate tensions in Ayungin Shoal that resulted, after the Philippines unilaterally abandoned the model, in the water-cannoning of Philippine Coast Guard vessels and hired civilian ships that tried to supply the BRP Sierra Madre stuck in the area.

This is according to the transcript released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of a purported conversation in November last year between an identified Chinese diplomat and Armed Forces Western Command (Wescom) head Alberto Carlos expounding on the “new model” which he said had been approved by Marcos, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Romeo Brawner, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and National Security Adviser Eduardo AΓ±o.

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Ex-PDEA agent stands firm on allegations about Marcos drug-use probe

FORMER Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent Jonathan Morales stood by his claim at Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing that he recommended the surveillance of then-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2012 for cocaine use, but his higher-ups ordered him to abort the operation.

Morales’ orders were in the form of a “pre-operation report” and “authority to operate,” dated March 11, 2012, against “Bongbong Marcos @ Bonget and some unidentified male and female cohorts.”

Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, chairman of the Committee on Public Order, said he would “bet his life” that the PDEA documents showing that Morales had recommended the Marcos investigation for cocaine use were “authentic,” based on his analysis of the facts, the testimonies made and the images of the documents.

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Duterte rectified Aquino 3rd’s colossal blunder

THE Chinese Embassy the other day confirmed that the People’s Republic of China and former president Rodrigo Duterte agreed on a “temporary special arrangement” to allow small-scale fishing around the disputed Spratly Islands, but restricted access for military, coast guard and other official planes and ships to the 12-nautical-mile limit of its occupied island’s territorial waters.

This agreement rectifies, at least to some extent, the past Benigno Aquino III regime’s loss of Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island to the Chinese) in 2012.

The agreement is also a template for peace in the disputed islands and reefs in the Spratlys archipelago. It shows how stupid and leading-nowhere is the incumbent administration’s belligerent “what-is-ours-is-ours” policy toward China. Vietnam informally has had a similar agreement for years.

The de facto agreement puts aside the issue of what country legitimately controls a particular feature in the Spratlys but allows fishermen from a claimant country to fish within the other claimant nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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Senate, mainstream media under Marcos Jr.’s thumb?

THE late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. would have been so proud of his son. Without imposing martial law, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appears to have the Senate as well as mainstream media under his thumb. The two are the pillars of our democracy: We are entering dangerous times.

In the April 30 hearing by the 11-man Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that lasted about three hours, only its chairman, Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, was in attendance, left alone to interrogate the resource persons. The two senators who owed their posts to former president Rodrigo Duterte’s support β€” Christopher (“Bong”) Go and Francis Tolentino β€” were absent at the hearing that would have belied or confirmed the former president’s claim, made this year and in 2021, that Marcos was a cocaine user.

He started it in 2021, repeats claim in 2024.

Whatever their reasons for boycotting the hearing, the senators’ absence indicates their servility and/or alliance with Marcos. I haven’t encountered in my years as a journalist a Senate committee hearing attended by only one senator, its chairman. De la Rosa had to call for a 10-minute break just to relieve himself.

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Filipino gas first

THE unprecedented heat wave now sweeping the Philippines has sounded the alarm about the sufficiency or insufficiency of the country’s power supply and the need to find solutions fast.

One solution, however, has been presented and needs only quick action by Congress to be deployed, as soon as possible, to the frontline of our current battle for energy stability: the continued production of indigenous natural gas from Malampaya and the unleashing of more natural gas potential from new wells.

Such continued production will be hugely assisted by a Senate bill that would make indigenous or local natural gas supply the priority in use for power generation. Natural gas is already there. Malampaya has already shown it can deliver in the most urgent of times.

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