October 23, 2017, 3:48 pm
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Anti-Corruption Commission

A group of human rights advocates whose members remain unnamed wants the Philippines ousted from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
A tall order. 
To begin with, I doubt if this group will be able to harness the support of the majority of UNHRC members which presumably will recommend to the UN General Assembly the suspension, not ouster, of the Philippines whose second term ends next year. 
In fact, only 8 of the 39 UN member states that called on the Philippines to allow a biased UN Special Rapporteur to visit the country without preconditions are in the 47-member UNHRC.
That leaves 154 of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly that are not likely to vote for the suspension of the Philippines from UNHRC. 
Any member of the Council may be suspended only through a two-thirds (128) majority vote in the General Assembly.
Besides, the rights and privileges of any Council member may be suspended only if it has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership.  We are certainly not guilty of that.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella had this to say about the group’s call:
 “Self-styled watchdogs of the Philippines’ human rights performance need to balance their call with legitimate organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council, which recognizes the work the Philippines does, given and despite its challenges. Having said that, the Philippines, as an active member of the UNHRC, respects this body’s integrity and will call out attempts to use it seemingly to advance certain interests and political agenda.”
Referring to the rejection by the Philippines of certain recommendations of the UNHRC, Abella stressed that that was in line with our independent foreign policy.
 “We will always be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends.  But we will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes,” he said.

ANTI-CORRUPTION
COMMISSION

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong created through Executive Order No. 43 the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). 
The Commission is intended to be “solely dedicated to providing assistance to the President in the investigation and hearing of administrative cases and complaints, and in the conduct of lifestyle checks and/or fact-finding inquiries concerning presidential appointees and other public officers allegedly involved in graft and corrupt practices”.
Malacañang clarified that the Commission will cover only officials and employees belonging to the executive branch.
I have qualms about how effective such a body will be.  It will most probably end up as just another costly and ineffective layer in the bureaucracy.
Similar bodies have been created in the past.  They all failed because of the principle of due process which entails frustrating delays in investigation and hearings of administrative cases and complaints that bedevil our justice system. 
There is also the real danger of the members of the commission and its staff falling prey to the overtures of those being investigated. 
According to Digong, he has just fired two officials in Malacañang for influence peddling. 
I have no idea how he found out what they were doing wrong.  But the point is he found out and  must have confronted them with irrefutable proof.
And lest we forget, that was also how he got rid of two cabinet members, the head of the National Irrigation Agency and recently, a GSIS Board member – without a fuss.  How he found out their “sins” is perhaps something he should resort to instead of creating another costly layer in the bureaucracy.

My two centavos’ worth, Mr. President.

COMELEC CHAIRMAN BAUTISTA

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista has been let off the hook by our honorable congressmen who dismissed the impeachment case filed against him.
Our honorable congressmen gave more importance to form over substance.  They didn’t even bother to go through the substance of the case filed against Bautista, principally the huge deposits in his numerous bank accounts, the passbooks for which were provided by his estranged wife.  The total deposits reportedly amounted to over P1 billion which he failed to include in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN).    
Bautista also allegedly took commissions from a law firm retained by Smartmatic, the provider for the allegedly “faulty” automated election system.
What is noteworthy is that there was no palpable “violent” reaction from Malacanang, the Senate or the general public to the dismissal by Congress of the impeachment case against Bautista.
That puzzles me.  If it is true that last year’s mechanized voting system was rigged in favor of certain candidates, Bautista should be held accountable for it, as it strikes at the very heart of our democratic system.  It thwarted the will of the people.

PEACE TALKS WITH CPP-NPA-NDFP

For the nth time, Digong said he will no longer talk peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
 “At this stage, I am not ready to talk to them because it is not good for the country… the way that it is now, ayaw ko (I don’t like) and maybe it would take some time to, maybe another president, to do it,” Duterte said last week.
Sounds like he means it this time.  Or does he?
 “The President is just expressing his great frustration that his initial bold and unprecedented efforts to finally end insurgency and rebellion in the country did not get a reciprocal gesture/action from those across the peace table.  But knowing his deep passion to attain just and sustainable peace in the land, all these present problems and gaps may be breached when the so-called enabling environment conducive to a peaceful settlement’ is present. So let’s just wait and see for the moment,” Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said.
I don’t think Dureza would say that without clearance from Digong. 
In any case, let’s watch what happens.

CHINESE ARMS DONATION

China has turned over last week to the Armed Forces of the Philippines 3000 assault rifles, 3 million rounds of ammunition and 90 scopes for the sniper rifles that were part of the first batch of weapons donated by China last June.
 “We are lucky that the Chinese government provided the firearms,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who received the items from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
 “Lucky” indeed, especially after the delivery of 27,000 rifles that we ordered earlier was withheld by the US ostensibly due to allegations of human rights violations in the conduct of the government’s war against illegal drugs. 
***
Today is the 159th day of the eleventh year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper.
The family and friends of Jonas hope that the Duterte administration will exert serious efforts to find and haul the perpetrators of Jonas’ disappearance to justice.
***
From an internet friend:
A man and a woman were fast asleep in bed.  Suddenly, at 4 o’clock in the morning, a resounding noise came from outside. 
The woman, sort of bewildered, jumped up from the bed and yelled at the man. 
“Oh No! That must be my husband!” 
The man quickly got out of bed, panicked and naked.  He jumped out the window like a crazy man, smashed on the ground, picked himself up and went straight through a thorn bush, then he stood up and started to run as fast as he could to his car... 
A few minutes later the door opened and the man was standing at it, panting hard, with dirt and scratches all over him. 
He yelled: “I’m your husband, you mad cow!” 
And the woman answered:
“Oh, yeah? And why were you running, you bastard?!?” 
***
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