DAVAO CITY: Mindanao’s premier metropolis is celebrating its 80th cityhood charter anniversary with the Araw ng Dabaw Festival over a four-day long weekend.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said this is “an occasion for us to salute the people, history, icons, industries and milestones of the past eight decades that have made Davao City a modern, multi-cultural melting pot of harmony and unity in diversity.”
I chanced upon Mindanao Journal publisher and Sun Star Davao columnist Jun Ledesma, who was recently in the news after President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned him as someone who has knowledge about a Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Ledesma said the much-ballyhooed DDS was actually a phantom force conceptualized by Philippine Constabulary regional commander Dionisio Tan-Gatue Jr. in 1983 as part of a psychological warfare to counteract the “Sparrow unit” liquidation squads of the communist New People’s Army.
People here are also talking about the ouster of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as House of Representatives deputy speaker for Central Luzon on the pretext of her vote against the return of the death penalty.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and members of the supermajority coalition in the bigger legislative chamber also removed 11 anti-death penalty representatives as committee chairs, including Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto and members of the Makabayan coalition of left-leaning legislators.
A source said the real reason for the purge is the speakership issue. It was earlier reported that Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Tony Boy Floirendo was backing Arroyo for the highly coveted post of House Speaker, and she was, therefore, considered a threat.
Floirendo was the biggest campaign donor of Duterte, based on the latter’s statement submitted to the Commission on Elections. He is known to have pushed Alvarez to run as Davao del Norte’s 1st District Representative last year when Floirendo’s cousin and incumbent congressman then, Anthony Del Rosario, decided to go for the governorship of their province. After all three of them won in the May 2016 elections, Alvarez’s speakership bid was backed by Floirendo.
Alvarez has lately been making pronouncements that have befuddled even his colleagues and supporters. When the Department of Finance first presented the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program to Congress, he was allegedly heard saying it wouldn’t be passed, although he had not yet read the proposed bill.
On the mining issue, the Speaker announced last month that we was supporting Environment and Natural Resources Secretary-designate Gina Lopez’s decision to close 23 mines and suspend the operations of five others.
He said: “Lopez did the right thing, notwithstanding the economic impact of the closures,” much to the chagrin of his affected constituents in the Davao Region. “Talagang anti-mining ako at alam mo naman yung kalikasan ay kinakailangan natin talagang pangalagaan iyan. For me, okay lang sa akin. Tama yung ginagawa ni Sec. Lopez,” (I’m really anti-mining, and you know, we really need to take care of our natural resources. So, that’s OK. Sec. Lopez is doing what’s right,) Alvarez told DZMM, a Lopez family-owned radio station.
Earlier this year, Alvarez called for the resignation of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Ronald Dela Rosa following revelations that PNP officers were involved in the kidnapping of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.
But that same weekend, I saw him at the birthday celebration of the PNP chief in Camp Crame, seated at the presidential table right beside Dela Rosa. The next day, Alvarez had a change of heart and backtracked by saying “Bato deserves a second chance.”
Such impulsive moves by the fourth highest official of the land have been compared by a local observer to the actuations of “a teenage boy showing off to his girlfriend.”
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FINEX. The author is chief financial officer (CFO) of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and serves as co-chairman of the FINEX Media Affairs Committee.