Punchline

Why oh why, VP Leni?

 

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

WELL, well, it looks like Veep Leni Robredo has again agreed to lend her voice to efforts to cut down President Duterte to size, particularly on the issue of drug peddlers being killed in legitimate police entrapment operations.

Ms. Robredo and her ilk are barking up the wrong tree again. Instead of quickly labeling the deaths of drug pushers as human rights issue, she should warn drug lords and members of their networks to stay away because the law enforcement agencies are determined to fight them off.

If Ms. Robredo sincerely wants to prevent more deaths in the war on drugs, she should lend her voice to appeals to barangay officials to help clear their communities of drug users while persuading users to opt for rehabilitation and telling off known peddlers in the communities to stop their illegal activities.

If Ms. Robredo cares about immediate rehabilitation of self-confessed drug users and pushers, she should take an active role in inviting philanthropists to support rehab activities in the country.

If she can’t do any of these, she’s better off keeping her mouth shut, watching from the sidelines or be known as a weak pushover of human rights activists who won’t lift a finger to protect human rights of members of families victimized by drug lords.

So, why oh why Veep Robredo, must you grandstand for the menaces of our communities?

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NO TO ‘PORK BARREL’ ALLOCATIONS. I join the millions who were disheartened and disappointed by the rejection of the nomination of Ms. Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of DSWD.

She was already succeeding in her efforts in delivering government’s social welfare funds directly to those who truly need them. In fact, what I believe earned the ire of the congressmen that led to her rejection was her efforts to clean the list of beneficiaries of 4Ps across the country. 

It is public knowledge that incumbent mayors and congressmen have padded lists of 4Ps beneficiaries with their political supporters who are not qualified.

She stood her ground and refused to accommodate requests of the congressmen (and mayors) to add or keep names to the list.  She was incredulous that the congressmen were making incessant requests like it was their right to “pork barrel” allocations.

Let’s pray that her successor can also stand up to the demanded “pork barrel“ allocations of our lawmakers.

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AGREE AND DISAGREE. I agree with SINAG chairman Rosendo So’s call to Pangasinenses to help restore confidence in dressed chicken being sold in our markets today. Continue to buy chicken in our markets and continue to eat your favorite chicken meal.

I just did!

But I beg to disagree with his view that DA Sec. Manny Piñol “overreacted”.  Mr. Piñol was right to alert the country of the infection that affected chicken-growers in Pampanga. Thousands are delivered daily by growers to different retail outlets and processing plants, and if local governments were not alerted early enough, there’s no telling that the quarantine imposed on Pampanga worked.

Mercifully, Pangasinan’s quarantine measures were in place in time, and that’s enough guarantee that our households are fully protected.  Our news item about four persons being arrested in Mangatarem for selling undocumented live and dressed chicken is proof that are well protected.

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INFORMAL SURVEY. Wherever I find myself in my travels around Luzon, I make it a point to ask locals how their communities are faring as a result of DU30’s war on drugs.  The common response: “Tahimik na po!“Nagtago na ang mga pusher at adik sa amin.”   Others would add: “Sana wala sa mga namamatay ang damay lang o mistaken identity.” 

If one extrapolates the responses, it’s easy to accept the report of the police that, indeed, the crime index has dropped considerably.

When I asked residents in far flung barangays the same question, almost always, they refer to the noted absence of usual “istambay” in small neighborhood sari-sari stores till midnight as proof that things have quieted down.

I suggest to our readers to make it a habit of asking the same question innocently to strike a conversation with strangers. You’ll be happy to know that the faceless targets of criminal syndicates are reacting.

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MANDATORY DRUG TESTS FOR TEACHERS. This early and even before DepEd implements its random drug-testing of students in public schools, I hasten to suggest that all teachers, however, should be subjected to mandatory drug-testing.

Perhaps there are less than 1% who will likely be found positive of drug-use but their number is enough to destroy hundreds of families and students.

Why mandatory? The teacher is the most influential elder in a student’s life, and in most cases, are even more influential and persuasive than their parents.

Our past issues have reported the arrest of some schoolteachers for drug-use and peddling. The reports may have been far and between but the reports serve to confirm that some schoolteachers have been seduced to join the drug world for the income that they could not possibly earn in a decade with their salaries and monthly debts to pay.

They are in the schools with their own student clientele, and they must be exposed.

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WAR ON FAKE NEWS. Here’s a welcome news in the war on fake news.

Some 320 students, teachers, and media practitioners from South Cotabato, Cotabato City, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City (SOCCSKSARGEN) participated in the discussion of “Let’s Get Real on Fake News” organized by the Philippine Press Institute supported by Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) in collaboration with Mindanao Media Services (MMS) under the institute’s scholastic press program.

At the end of one-day affair, the participants made the thumbs-down hand gesture and signed the covenant to stand up to fake news wherever these may surface. Last week, the discussion was moved to Dipolog City.

If there are groups keen on having the same thing in Pangasinan, I’s be happy to make representation with PPI and NAC for the co-hosting of the one-day event in Pangasinan. Email me at punch.sunday@gmail.com.

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OFW ADVOCATE. The provincial government’s OFW Help Desk will be happy to know that they have a partner, a pro-OFW advocate in the person of DFA Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano.

In all his years in the senate, he filed bills to protect and benefit OFWs. In his last year, he strongly advocated the abolition of policies that burden OFWs. He also filed a bill asking for the creation of a department that will focus on all aspects in the lives of OFWs, from hiring, documentation, travel, repatriation, legal defense, training, etc.

At the DFA, the Undersectary for OUMWA is Atty. Sarah Arriola, Sec. Cayetano’s former chief of staff who spent a lot of engaging OFW groups here and overseas.