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I propose Atty. Paul Oaminal to head the DDB

It was indeed a big surprise to read the news report that Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Chairman Dionisio Santiago was asked by Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte to resign from a post that he was given only a few months ago. This incident sent the media scrambling to ferret out what happened to Santiago and why he got the presidential boot.

While watching CNN Philippines, they came up with a video footage of Pres. Duterte who personally confirmed that he ordered Dionisio Santiago to resign as DDB chairman, saying he was offended by Santiago’s comment that the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija was “impractical” and a “mistake” but informing the media first instead of the president. Hence Pres. Duterte read it as a news item, which triggered him to fire Santiago.

We really don’t know what the two talked about when the president first appointed Santiago to the DDB, perhaps Santiago just didn’t know that the president was not really keen with mainstream media that didn’t support him in the last elections. Hence, he didn’t want the media to know the problems in the DDB before Malacañang did. Of course, people suggested, although quite belatedly, that the two should have talked with each other before drastic measures like getting fired should have been on the agenda. But lately, the president has been getting intense pressure on the issues he needs to talk about in the up and coming APEC and ASEAN Summit. Issues like illegal drugs are very sensitive to the president.

So the biggest problem that Pres. Duterte has to face is who will replace Dionisio Santiago in the DDB? Frankly speaking, there are very few people who are capable of handling the DDB and may I nominate to Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino Atty. Paul Oaminal, former Undersecretary of the DDB, who authored the textbook on The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and current adviser and presiding office of Cebu City’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

If we have to fight illegal drugs, we must give it to a man who has spent a good 15 years of his life fighting this cancer of society. One of the issues that Dionisio revealed to the media was that the mega drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, was “impractical and a mistake” and having smaller barangay-based rehab centers was more appropriate. I can agree with this because rehab inmates need a support group closer to their homes. I’m sure that Oaminal knows this too well and I hope that the Cebuano community joins my call for Oaminal to replace Dionisio Santiago.

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Did I read the news the other day that former president Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III was indicted before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the Mamasapano tragedy in 2015 that left over 60 people dead, including 44 members of the police Special Action Force? I should be elated by this news coming from the Office of the Ombudsman because I have always believed that the former president was directly responsible for the Mamasapano operation and the tragedy that ensued.

It is for this very reason why PNoy didn’t go to Villamor Air Base to meet the bodies of the fallen 44 SAF when they were sent to Manila. Call it guilty conscience if you wish, but certainly, that event was far more important than the blessing of a newly transferred car assembly facility in Laguna. This was the commander-in-chief who didn’t care to meet with the fallen men whom he sent to their untimely deaths.

In a press briefing held at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before he left for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, Pres. Duterte was asked to comment on this case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman and he said, “The president can always intervene, modify, amend or change altogether your ideas. And if he decides to do the police work himself, he is the commander-in-chief. He is the head of government insofar as the police is concerned because it is civilian in character.”  So the big question remaining is, didn’t the Ombudsman not clear then Pres. PNoy a month after the Mamasapano incident happened? Abangan!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com. or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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