Duterte likened to Trump

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

Vancouver, Canada – Some North America-based Filipinos are noticing a lot of similarities between President Duterte and US President Donald Trump that go beyond the temperament and leadership styles of both leaders. Filipino-Americans in Washington DC for instance comment that just like Trump, Duterte seems to be “endorsing criminal acts” – with Duterte “allowing people to just take over unoccupied houses,” while Trump gave Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly – who has been accused of sexual harassment – “a seal of approval.”

The popular news anchor – who has been dubbed the “King of Cable News” – was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint by a regular guest who claims she was offered a job as network contributor in 2013 – but this did not push through after she refused an invitation to go up to the hotel suite of O’Reilly. Reports say the fiery anchor has been the subject of sexual harassment complaints by other women and that Fox had paid some $13 million in settlement since 2004.

Critics said Trump’s defense of O’Reilly was ironic (though not surprising) considering that it came on the heels of the US president’s declaration of April as “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.” The Fox News anchor denied any wrongdoing, describing the complaints as without merit and saying in a statement that “just like many other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.” O’Reilly said he decided to settle in order to spare his children from the pain of “messy public ordeals.”

Following the complaint, companies started pulling out advertisements from “The O’Reilly Factor,” among them big names like Mercedes-Benz. Interestingly, O’Reilly’s ratings improved following the allegations. A loyal base of followers seem to be solidly behind the beleaguered anchor with a record 3.8 million viewers tuning on to his show days after a report of the sexual harassment allegations came out.

In any case, Filipinos based abroad were obviously reacting to news reports regarding urban poor group Kadamay (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) that forcibly occupied some 5,000 vacant housing units located in several areas in Bulacan. The units, which are part of the National Housing Authority’s housing program for soldiers and Philippine National Police personnel, have lain idle for several years mainly because they lack water and electricity.

The President had asked the intended beneficiaries to just “let go” of the housing units illegally occupied by the group because they are “poor people,” saying he did not want any violent confrontation to happen. Instead, the President promised to build newer and better houses with access to water and electricity for the policemen and soldiers. Nevertheless, he accused the Kadamay members of being “used by the left” and engaging in “anarchical activities.”

Duterte’s decision to “just give” the houses to Kadamay – whose members are refusing to pay the P200 monthly amortization saying they could not afford it – does not sit well with many Filipinos, including Senators JV Ejercito and Dick Gordon. While he understands the President’s “heart for the poor and homeless,” JV says “we have to do things right” and not allow anyone’s need for shelter as a justification for the government’s housing project (or any program for that matter) to be held hostage.

Dick Gordon, for his part, warned that the President’s decision allowing Kadamay to take over the houses is a bad signal that could become a “ticket to anarchy.” Nobody should be allowed to take the law into their own hands, Gordon said, adding that the members of Kadamay are not above the law.

A lot of readers also emailed us saying they do not approve of the President’s condonation of the urban poor group’s actions. One said “…it is very wrong to reward Kadamay’s illegal actions. My family was also poor but my parents worked hard to put us all through school. Never once did they think that they have a right to forcibly take over somebody else’s property because they are poor or that the government and the rich ‘owe’ them,” the email sender wrote.

Kadamay is reportedly organizing a nationwide protest to urge government to “freely distribute” all idle housing units – numbering more than 53,000 according to the group – to the poor, the homeless and those who have been evicted. Much earlier, members of Kadamay were arrested for re-occupying a Quezon City housing area that was demolished last year, arguing that there had been no development on the site since the demolition nine months ago.

Commendable NAIA security

My departure for Vancouver was delayed by two-and-a-half hours because airport security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 spotted one luggage that did not go through the scanners – and so they stopped the aircraft just as it was pulling out of the tarmac.

Passengers were taken to a remote area of NAIA where security personnel were bringing out several containers. Fortunately, they were able to pinpoint which of the containers had to be checked and located the said luggage in about two hours – which was not so bad because the process could take as long as five or six hours, according to an airport employee.

I congratulate the NAIA security and the Philippine Airlines ground crew for doing a good job and being on the alert for any potential security issue – even for a seemingly “minor” thing. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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Spy Bits will be taking a short break and will be back after the Holy Week. Happy Easter to everyone!

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Email: spybits08@gmail.com



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