Month: October 2017

Bam questions PNP: Why are scalawags still in service?

Sen. Bam Aquino urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to hasten the process of dismissing scalawag policemen from the service to stop the abuses and help regain the trust of Filipino people in the organization.

“Iyong mga pag-abuso ng mga pulis na nakikita natin hindi iyan mababawasan kung hindi mababawasan iyong mga delinkwenteng kapulisan na dapat tinatanggal sa hanay ng PNP,” said Sen. Bam during the interpellation for the 2018 budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

 “The sooner we’re able cleanse our ranks, the faster we will be able to stop these abuses na nangyayari,” added Sen. Bam.

 “Of our 181,000 policemen, ​PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa stated​ around two percent, while the president has mentioned five percent of the police force is involved in illegal drugs. This gives us a range of 3,620 to over 9,000 policemen involved in illegal drugs,” he added.

Currently, 447 policemen are under surveillance while 262 policemen have already been dismissed for various reasons and not necessarily for involvement in drugs.

 Sen. Bam is hoping the PNP will focus on these cases in the coming months to ensure that the organization is closer to getting rid of its ranks of scalawags.

 “Sana maaksuyanan muna ng PNP ang paglinis ng kanilang mga rangko bago sila magsagawa ng malawakang drug operation na posibleng magdulot ng pang-aabuso at pagkamatay ng mga inosenteng tao,” said Sen. Bam.

 Sen. Bam also wants ensure that the PNP has the necessary budget for its internal cleansing.

 “The PNP should pursue its internal cleansing just as ferociously as the country’s drug problem. With the war on drugs being the main thrust of the administration and with Filipinos feeling threatened by the violence tied to this war, we need to ensure that our policemen are trustworthy and upstanding,” emphasized Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam asks DILG, PNP: Why are drug infested barangays on the rise?

​Sen. Bam Aquino​ ​​questioned the rise in number of drug-infested barangays in the country despite the aggressive campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) against illegal drugs​.

 ​​”In just seven months, the number of moderately drug-affected barangays jumped from 4,303 to 9,207. Why is there such a large increase, more than double,” Sen. Bam Aquino asked ​d​​uring his interpellation on the budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)​.

 Moderately affected barangays are defined as areas where at least two percent of the population are involved in illegal drugs. Based on records from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), these barangays increased from 4,303 to 9,207 from January to July of this year.

 ​​On the other hand,​ ​Sen. Bam lauded the decrease in the number of seriously affected barangays – or communities with a reported presence of a drug laboratory or marijuana plantation — from 217 in January 2017 to just 44 identified in July of the same year.

“May progreso naman ang kampanya ng pamahalaan. Maybe we can expect this to drop to zero seriously affected barangays by the end of the year,” said Sen. Bam.

 ​Still, Sen. Bam asserted that the police force must work to win the trust of the Filipino people, especially with the issues hounding the government’s drug war.

“Marami nang Pilipino ang natatakot na maging collateral damage ng drug war,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the June 23 to 26, 2017 SWS survey where seven of 10 Filipinos expressed fear that they themselves or someone they know will become a victim of an extrajudicial killing (EJK).

  The senator noted that ​while the drop in the country’s crime rate is commendable, there are still regions with alarming numbers for homicide cases, such as ​​Central Luzon ​with 1,397 deaths, CALABARZON with 2,185, Davao Region with 1,141 deaths and NCR with 3,141 deaths.

 “Bakit may mga areas na bumaba ang crime rate na wala ga​a​nong homicide cases​ habang may mga regions na in the thousands ang mga namamatay?” Sen. Bam asked the DILG and PNP.

 “Dapat pag-aralan ang mga area gaya ng​ M​IMAROPA​​ ​​at CAR na mababa ang kaso ng pagpatay. Hindi ba ito ang dapat tularan, na sa ​ pagbaba ng​​ ​crime rate, mababa rin ang bilang ng namamatay,” ​​​stated Sen. Bam, to which the PNP agreed.

 Region 4-B or MIMAROPA reported 273 deaths while CAR reported 175 deaths.

Sen. Bam also encouraged the DILG to hasten the process of dismissing scalawag policemen from the service to stop the abuses and ​the killings. As of latest data, the PNP said around two percent or 3,620 of the 181,000 policemen in the country are involved in illegal drugs.

Sen. Bam on SC decision on Sen. De Lima’s petition

While we respect the decision of the Supreme Court, we are saddened and disappointed that the release of Senator Leila De Lima was not granted.

 Still, we remain hopeful that the High Court will allow Sen. Leila to fulfill her duties as a duly elected senator, even under detention.

 The minority will continue to throw our support behind Sen. Leila as she exhausts all legal remedies by appealing the Supreme Court’s decision.

 Umaasa tayo na sa huli, makakamtan din ni Senator De Lima ang patas na pagkakataon at hustisya.

Sen. Bam: Drop in ratings ‘wake-up call’ for Duterte, PNP to stop killings

The drop in President Duterte’s approval and trust ratings should serve as wake-up call for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to rethink its strategy for the drug war and address the killings in our communities, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

“Magsilbi na sana itong wake-up call sa PNP na repormahin ang giyera kontra ilegal na droga upang matigil na ang patayan sa ating mga komunidad,” said Sen. Bam.

According to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from September 23 to 27 via face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adult respondents, President Duterte’s net satisfaction rating dropped 18 percent from a “very good” 66 percent in June to a “good” 48 percent.

The survey also showed that President Duterte’s trust rating suffered a 15-percent dip from an “excellent” +75 in June to a “very good” + 60.

While the SWS did not give any explanation for the drop, Sen. Bam believes that investigations that looked into the killings, especially of teenagers Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, affected the Chief Executive’s survey ratings.

“Marami nang Pilipino ang natatakot na maging collateral damage ng drug war,” said Sen. Bam, referring to the June 23 to 26, 2017 SWS survey where seven of 10 Filipinos expressed fear that they themselves or someone they know will become a victim of an extrajudicial killing (EJK).

“The President should not take this for granted. Panahon na upang makinig ang Malacanang sa pangamba ng taumbayan ukol sa patayan sa ating mga komunidad,” said Sen. Bam.

In a previous interview, Sen. Bam said the minority senators will move for the slashing of the P900-million Tokhang budget during the amendment period for the 2018 national budget.

“Mas mainam na pondohan ang mga mas epektibong solusyon sa droga tulad ng community rehabilitation programs, education programs sa mga eskuwelahan at mga anti-poverty programs sa komunidad,” said Sen. Bam

“Bakit natin popondohan ang isang programa na nagdudulot ng pang-aabuso na nangyayari,” Sen. Bam added.

Sen. Bam: Heavier penalty for government officials acting as source of fake news

Sen. Bam Aquino believes that government officials acting as source or spreading fake news should be meted with a heavier penalty, saying they should be more responsible for their statements as public servants.

“Panahon na para gumawa ng batas para sa fake news at panagutin ang mga nagkakalat nito, lalo na kung sila ay tauhan ng pamahalaan. Dapat lang na mas mabigat ang parusa sa mga lingkod bayan na nagkakalat ng pekeng balita,” said Sen. Bam.

“Public servants should be held to a higher standard,” he added.

During the Senate hearing on fake news, Sen. Bam said both majority and minority senators agreed to fight fake news through legislation. Sen. Joel Villanueva recently filed a measure aimed at punishing persons spreading fake news, including government officials 

“Freedoms have limits  May hangganan ang kalayaan. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit mayroon tayong batas kontra libel at laban sa anumang pagbabanta ng ibang tao,” explained Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam also called as “premature” the pronouncement of President Duterte that no law against fake news will passed during his term.

“Premature pa iyan. Kasi kaka-hearing pa lang natin, at sa totoo rin lang, marami pang mag-e-engage dito sa batas para mas mapayaman ito. So tingnan natin kung saan ito pupunta,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam also stressed that it’s high-time that platform and netizens behind the spread of fake news, misinformation and black propaganda online should be punished.

 “Panahon na rin sa ating bansa na magkaroon ng ganyang rules dito,” said Sen. Bam, adding that this legislation could help create clear rules of engagement for social media.

Sen. Bam to netizens: Make a stand, be vocal

Stressing that the Philippines is a democracy, Sen. Bam Aquino encouraged netizens, whether pro- or anti-government, to speak up on crucial issues hounding the country, such as the extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

“It’s time to speak up, whether it’s for or against the administration, the opposition, the EJKs, etc. It goes for all sides,” said Sen. Bam during the Senate hearing on fake news on social media.

“Now, more than ever, kailangan tayong tumayo at manindigan. Laban kung laban. Tagisan ng talino, tagisan ng kuro-kuro but we have to do it through civilized means,” Sen. Bam asserted.

Sen. Bam called on pro- and anti-government bloggers and netizens to be more circumspect in expressing their views, to condemn hate speech, and to stop the spread of fake news.

Sen. Bam then submitted a list of fake news sites to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to unmask those behind the propagation of misinformation online. Many of the websites used the name of the president.

 “Hindi ba nakakasama sa administrasyon kapag ginagamit and pangalan ng pangulo para magkalat ng fake news?” Sen. Bam posited.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) conceded there are websites bearing the President’s name that do create fake news and that they should take actions against it.

Sen. Bam added that the Senate is ready to step in and legislate a measure to provide rules of engagement for social media to avoid the situation from getting worse. 

“It will intensify, from both sides. And if we need rules of engagement, then we will legislate,” said Sen. Bam.

Sen. Bam: No destabilization plot; stop silencing dissenters

Sen. Bam Aquino maintained that the liberal party is not involved in any destabilization or ouster plot against President Duterte even as he criticized efforts to silence dissenters and critics of the government.

“Hindi kami involved sa anumang ouster plot. Ang mga paratang na yan ay gawa-gawa lamang,” said Sen. Bam in a media interview.

 Instead of exerting efforts to persecute or silence dissenters, Sen. Bam said the government should allow people to hold a separate stand on issues and air their criticisms without fear of retribution.

 “Nakikita ho natin sa ating bansa na kapag may taong tumututol, sila agad-agad ay inaatake. Sa isang demokrasya, hindi dapat ginigipit ang mga may ibang panig,” Sen. Bam stressed.

 “This is no longer healthy for our democracy. Sa isang demokrasya, dapat may kakayahan tayong magsabi ng ating saloobin. Dapat pinapayagan na mayroong dissent at oposisyon. Nakikita naman natin na tumututol na rin ang maraming Pilipino sa mga polisiya ng gobyernong ito,” he added.

Sen. Bam also criticized Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for branding “yellowtards” as one of the enemies of the state during the launching of a group that intends to protect President Duterte’s administration.

  “Hindi lang secretaries pati ang pinakamataas na opisyal ng bansa, nagbibigay ng paratang na ganyan na wala namang basehan,” added Sen. Bam.

 “This is political persecution. Lantaran na ito,” said Sen. Bam.

 Sen. Bam emphasized that the minority will continue to work on important matters crucial to the country, like the 2018 national budget and the tax reform.

 “We just continue to do our job. Ngayong dinidnig ang budget season at ang tax reform program, mapapansin niyo na tuluy-tuloy ang pagtutok ng minority rito,” Sen. Bam stressed.

Sen. Bam: Do not allow price increase until expanded cash transfer system works

Sen. Bam Aquino stressed that an effective mechanism for the transfer of money to 10 million poor Filipino households under a cash transfer program should be in place before any price increase under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

 During the interpellation period of the tax reform measure, Sen. Bam underscored the importance of the cash transfer program to help poor Filipinos bear the brunt of the price increases that may result in the TRAIN implementation once it is passed into law.

The current 4.4 million households under the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4 Ps and an additional 5.6 million households are targeted for the cash assistance program of the government.

“The cash transfer is crucial for poor families to cope with the price increase. Without this, the tax reform will be an additional burden to Filipinos in need,” said Sen. Bam.

Under the Senate version, poor households will be given P300 a month for three years to help them deal with any increase in prices brought about by the tax measure. The government estimates that P2.5 billion annually will be used for the cash transfer program.

 “Ang mahihirap na Pilipino ang matatamaan ng pagtaas ng presyo dahil sa tax reform,” Sen. Bam asserted.

“We must not have an increase in prices without ensuring that we have an effective cash transfer system in place for poor families,” Sen. Bam said during his interpellation of the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Sonny Angara.

Sen. Bam suggested that implementing government agencies, led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), must certify that they have an efficient, effective and transparent system in place.

Sen. Bam urges Church to provide witnesses, policemen with stories about drug war

Sen. Bam Aquino called on the Catholic Church to encourage their witnesses to share direct information about the involvement of policemen in extra-judicial killings (EJKs) in connection with the government’s drug war.

During the hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the deaths of Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman, Fr. Robert Reyes and Fr. Bong Sarabia revealed that they were approached by families of young victims with knowledge of involvement of policemen in EJK.

According to the priests, they were also approached by policemen who have first-hand knowledge about EJKs. However, the priests said these witnesses have refused to reveal what they know because of fear for their lives and reprisal from people who might be affected by their disclosure.

“Ang pinakamainam na paraan ay mailantad ang mga kuwentong ito. With the help of the committee, puwede naman silang kunan ng salaysay and there are ways na hindi malalaman ang kanilang pagkakakilanlan. “Mas maganda kung makuha natin ang kanilang salaysay upang maimbestigahan nang maayos,” said Sen. Bam.

“Let’s cooperate and find a way na mailabas ang mga kuwentong ito para sabay-sabay nating bantayan na magkaroon ng hustisya ang mga namatayan,” added Sen. Bam, who also commended the Catholic Church for providing sanctuary for witnesses with knowledge about the EJKs in the country.

Sen. Bam also called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to involve different sectors of society, including the Catholic Church, to ensure that no rights are violated in their anti-drug operations.

“It will be better if the PNP will cooperate and involve different sectors of society, especially the Catholic Church to join its anti-drug operations to guarantee that the rights of suspects are respected,” said Sen. Bam.

“Hopefully, we can come to a situation where the PNP will be more transparent with groups and sectors that have raised serious concerns with the war on drugs. Nanawagan na rin ang simbahan na itigil na ang extra-judicial killings sa ating bansa,” added Sen. Bam.

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