50 days after, the frontline is changing


On August 18, 2016, PRRD will report to the nation what he has accomplished in his first 50 days in office. Again, this is a rare move since most Presidents will do a report on its first 100 days and a more detailed one a year after his inaugural. What stands out in the first 50 days? A lot, and indeed, change is here, whether we like it or not.

Prior to his inaugural, he has put together a Cabinet of mixed persuasions. Some are saying the real Cabinet will come a year after May 16, where those defeated will be commissioned to take over certain positions. He, likewise, released to the public his 8-point agenda, which after a few days became a 10-point platform of governance. His economic team met with the business sector prior to his inaugural to assuage fears typically occurring with a new government. This is so because Duterte was never vetted by the economic or political elites of this country.

What is alarming in said agenda is the fact that it will “continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies.” PRRD has been quoted as saying, “why fix the economy when it ain’t broke?” Well, it is broke Mr. President, because the poor are poorer and the rich, richer, in the past six years and if that is not plain and simple, I do not know if you will be able to chart a path of inclusive growth because the way you see it is that there is no economic problem at all.

As someone plainly pointed out, “criminality, corruption and armed conflict are conditions for poverty and underdevelopment.” PRRD’s focus in the past days have been on criminality, corruption and armed conflicts, right? Surely, the macroeconomic policies need to be tweaked, if not revised, to put forth an economy that ensures no one is left behind.

In 30 days, PRRD has caused the telco duopoly to work together and put in place public service lines for assistance and complaints via the 8888 and 911 platforms. It has moved to extend the validity of licenses to five years and passports to 10 years to streamline the frontline processes. It will soon launch a physical one-stop shop for OFWs so they don’t have to go across government agencies to secure needed government clearances. DOLE has launched a stop to endo call as a first strategy before another name-shaming is pursued.

PRRD is also focusing on oligarchs (with Roberto V. Ongpin as a first salvo, hitting his PhilWeb company by not extending its PAGCOR franchise) as well as taxpayers who have not been paying their correct dues.

The name-shaming campaign on illegal drugs has been so effective that the so-called owners of fish pens in Laguna Lake are now voluntarily dismantling the pens. This has never happened in the past 30 years. Another unprecedented move by PRRD is visiting the military frontlines and talking to the foot soldiers. No President has visited as many military camps in less than 50 days. The Army has 10-12 division camps and PRRD has so far hit about 8 camps.

The peace process is likewise being pushed, both with the CPP-NPA-NDF and the MNLF-MILF factions. A unilateral ceasefire declaration was met with the shooting of CAFGUs, and PRRD cancelled it. The call for the release of political prisoners was made by the Joma group and the response was not to the group’s liking. Mind you, three Cabinet positions were given to the left even before any peace talks commenced.

Some quarters have strategically made an international media offensive on PRRD using the EJK as top of mind positioning. The framing is such that the battle against illegal drugs has resulted in setting aside human rights. What seems to be the problem in this offensive is that the Duterte administration does not want to present the real story of the illegal drug menace. The number of villages (barangay) infiltrated and/or influenced by illegal druAgs has to be told. The statistics on heinous crimes perpetrated by individuals under the influence of these illegal drugs need to be told, too. The other side of the proverbial coin needs to be articulated so people can see through the angling of the EJK as defining the campaign against illegal drugs.

One should also take note that the then concept of Order of Battle of the PNP in the ‘80s, ‘90s as well as early 2000s has been changed to Persons of Interest. The formula for computing the crime index was also redefined. The reasons given were not clear. These changes happened under then DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.

Hence, the comparative crime statistics culled by the Research and Analysis Division of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management recorded a “Total Crime Volume of 509,924 in January to June of 2015” (an average of 84,987 a month) “as against the Total Crime Volume of 602,449 posted during the same six-month period in 2014” (an average of 100,408 a month). The Total Crime Volume recorded for both periods translate to a 15.36 percent decline. Was the drop due to a change in the computation?

The summation of all crime incidents was collated from three main sources: police blotter, barangay blotter and reports from other law enforcement agencies (OLEA). Citing the DIDM Crime Situation Report covering January to June 2015, there were 509,924 crime incidents collated from the PNP, barangay and OLEA blotters nationwide, of this figure, Metro Manila registered the highest crime incidents, with 116,347. ARMM registered the least, with 2,096 crime incidents.

Come now PRRD and the PNP chief, Director General Ronald M Dela Rosa, and a report of an observed decline in index crime incidents as a direct effect of aggressive anti-drug operations. PNP Director for Operations, Chief Superintendent Camilo Cascolan, cited that from a high of 52,950 registered in January 2016, the Total Crime Volume steadily fell by 13 percent through the 1st and 2nd Quarters of the year, down to only 46,060 crime incidents in June 2016.

The PNP has an ongoing two-pronged national anti-drug campaign under “Project Double Barrel” and Project “Tokhang.” “Over the last 21 days since Project Double Barrel was implemented in July 1, 2016, the PNP has recorded a national total of 3,213 arrested drug personalities during separate police operations by local and national PNP Units. As of 6:00 a.m. of July 22, a total of 239 drug suspects were slain in police operations. Under Project “Tokhang” or house visitations on residences of suspected drug personalities, a total of 120,038 voluntarily yielded to authorities, among them, 112,902 drug users and 7,107 pushers.”

The frontline is changing. And the biggest change is that of the federalism offensive coming in early in the Duterte administration, burning further its political capital. Another one being tested is the symbolical burial of a long dead and long buried President. Mind you, not a hero. Are we now getting the Marcos loot for the gesture? Sic transit gloria mundi.


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