Duterte must update his list
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - August 10, 2016 - 12:00am

The shame campaign of President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte has now crossed to the Judiciary, another branch of the government, when he came up with the list of judges who were tagged as protectors or supportive of the illegal drug trade. That report elicited a comment from Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno who wrote the President a four-page letter saying that the President's public announcement mentioning the names of judges allegedly linked to illegal drugs was premature. In short, the Chief Justice insists that warrants of arrest be made before those judges can surrender.

I am sure that Duterte is not going to step on the toes of the Judiciary. But the war against drugs had to include those so-called "Rogues in Robes." Whether we believe it or not, judges who are on the take are part of this grand problem of Narco Politics… and if you ask me… the few that Duterte named may not even be the actual number. It is also a fact that some of the names that Duterte mentioned have already died and some already retired from service. Thus his notorious list is not exactly up to date.

In fairness to one and all, Duterte should come up with an updated list even if it includes judges. In the meantime, we can accept that Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno is concerned that the President has named judges. But rather than telling the President about search warrants, it would be much appreciated if the Chief Justice came up with their own investigative body to look into whether the judges named by the President should be tried or not? If they believe that a certain judge can be cleared, then so be it, the Judiciary should clear their name. But if there is some truth to the allegations found in the Duterte list, then by all means, the Judiciary must be decisive and act accordingly.

Let's face it. The war against illegal drugs must be fought not just by the Executive Branch in the Philippine government, but this should include the Judiciary and the Legislative Branch if laws are needed. And yes by the Filipino people who have suffered from years of parco-politicians gone wild. I have to salute Duterte for his courage in bringing those names to the public knowledge because no President before him had the guts to spill this out to the public. Of course, we expect denials from those people whose names appeared in the Duterte list, which is why there must be a thorough and complete investigation in order to clear the innocent and indict those who should be sent to trial.

The 159 names in Duterte's list is also a warning to all government officials - elected or otherwise - that public servants should never use or abuse their governmental powers.

Just imagine Franz Sabalones, a known druglord in Central Visayas and his brother San Fernando Vice Mayor Fraiz "BB" Sabalones earlier surrendered in Camp Crame. If Duterte did not name them, we would have never known that they were into the illegal drug trade.

As for former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, I guess 2016 is not his year. Aside from being suspended during the remainder of his term, he ended up losing his mayoralty bid. As I said, it is easy to vouch for Mayor Rama's integrity but we can't just clear his name in absence of any evidence that Duterte may have kept in his list. But what we do know as public knowledge is that Cebu City's number one drug lord, the late Jeffrey "Jaguar" Diaz was a known supporter of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan and not Team Rama. So the next best thing for former Rama is to go to Camp Crame and clear his name.

Again, I'd like to reiterate what I wrote yesterday that it is quite possible that the list of Duterte is old and needs updating. Come now, it is easy enough to clear the 159 names on that last if someone only sat down to do so. For credibility's sake, the President should come up with an updated list and weed out those names who retired or died years ago. 

***

Preparations are underway for the eventual burial of the late strongman, the late president Ferdinand Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. As expected, a debate has ensued on whether Marcos is entitled to be buried with the heroes. Perhaps the problem lies upon the fact that this cemetery for Filipino soldiers has been called Heroes Cemetery.

But I for one do not believe that every single corpse buried in the Libingan was a hero. I am sure that there were cowards who are also buried in that cemetery. Perhaps a long lasting solution is simply to change the name of the Libingan ng mga Bayani to Libingan ng mga Sundalo. Or Soldier's Cemetery. Renaming the Libingan would certainly end this senseless debate whether Marcos is entitled to be buried there or not. As for me, let's get this thing over with and move forward already!

vsbobita@mozcom.com.

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