No news is bad news

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


I MAY be wrong but I am beginning to see a worrisome picture in the war on drugs in Pangasinan.  We are not getting updates on the progress of the province’s campaign from the Pangasinan police but we are getting daily doses of reports of drug seizures, raids, and arrests in other provinces in the country.

And we note that many of the arrested drug suspects were confirmed to be among those who surrendered early on.

Isn’t it possible that a number of the same drug personalities here that surrendered are also back on our streets but our police are not talking because they risk losing the status of the towns as drug-cleared?

Is it possible that our police are deliberately keeping the frontline quiet because they have already been coopted again by mayors to zip their mouths shut to avoid any embarrassment?

Note that when PNP Regional Director P/Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula reported last month that we have narco-politicos in Pangasinan who are in PNP-PDEA’s watch list, he did not elaborate who they are and where they operate.

Isn’t it possible that the same big time narco-politicos have already resumed their operations and the police are not telling?

In this regard, I fear that the declaration of a town/city as drug-cleared has already become counter-productive, providing a smokescreen for the resumption of drug trade in the province. Perhaps, the police can’t be seen as vigorously operating against the drug syndicates lest it gives the impression that our communities are no longer drug-cleared. I believe the syndicates are aware of this.

Could the police still be up on the campaign but political orders have been issued to keep it low? If so, it’s not good. Our communities need to be warned that the drug peddlers are still on the prey, that there’s a need for parents and schools to keep a close watch on their wards.  They should be lulled into complacency because of the unending declaration of drug- cleared status.

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TIME-BOUND DECLARATION. It’s time we change the mechanics for declaring a town/city drug-cleared. It cannot depend on PDEA’s validation, and instead must be time-bound. A declaration should only be good for two months, and should be validated by the provincial police and randomly verified by PDEA.

By making the declaration time-bound, our barangay officials and town/city officials are constantly on notice!  This way, our Pangasinan police will be accountable for the status of each town, and the police chiefs for their towns/cities.

It is just impossible to think that once a drug-affected barangay is declared drug-free, it remains so throughout. Not so.

Our country is up against smart and wily drug lords and will never ever think of yielding its hold on a barangay particularly if they had already invested on the protection from barangay officials.

I air this concern today because we have seen massive vote-buying in the last barangay elections and we have no doubt that the drug-syndicates played their cards with many of the candidates.  Knowing this, it can only mean one thing – there is and there will be payback!

The drug syndicates are back on their saddles with barangay officials in tow, securely harnessed. Paging P/Sr. Superintendent Ronald Lee! Your jurisdiction is no longer drug-cleared!

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THE SHIT THAT HIT THE FAN. No one had expected the far reaching consequences of the decision of President Duterte to do the unthinkable – to order the closure and rehabilitation of Boracay without much ado.

Little did anyone realize that the president’s unforeseen uncompromising stand to close the cesspool that is Boracay, opened a huge can of worms that long infected LGUs, DENR and its extension offices: PENRO and CENRO.

Suddenly, the abuses and corruption that DENR officials committed in the past came to light, they who made a mockery of our environmental laws under the very noses of the citizenry.

In Pangasinan, the findings that most structures built on our popular beachfronts in San Fabian, Bolinao and Alaminos City are violating our laws did not really come as a surprise. What came as a surprise was the sudden indignant view not only of our PENRO and CENRO officials but of our local officials that all the illegal structures must go forthwith.

Now, let’s see if our PENRO and CENRO can match President Duterte’ s political will to finally strictly enforce R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, R.A. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act? R.A. 9275 or Philippine Clean Water Act and other laws.

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TWO DIFFERENT, CORRECT VIEWS. The brouhaha over the presidential kiss shared with a married OFW lady in South Korea amuses me no end. Frankly, I was seeing a lot of play on hypocrisy on both sides – the critical and the cheering squads.

The critical had this to say: It’s unpresidential.  It’s unstatesmanlike. It’s sexist. Then came the question: Would you allow your wife to be kissed on the lips in public by the President?

The cheerers maintain: It was for fun. The crowd cheered. The woman was not forced.  Then came the question: What’s the big deal about a smack on the lips when you find nothing wrong with a senator bedding her security guard?

For instance, it certainly was not the first time Mr. Duterte kissed an admirer publicly, and nobody made a howl.  As can be gleaned from the video, and just as he had expected, the crowd cheered, and the pecked lady was all giggles.

Then, on the other hand, no one expected a president to act like he was on a campaign mode as mayor. No president has ever made a pass on a married woman publicly, not even to a consenting married woman.

To both contending groups, I say: Both correct but neither one can accept that the other side is correct as well.  Nobody wants to agree to disagree.

Both have differing standards applied correctly to different contexts. That they refuse to accept the other is certainly hypocritical.

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MANIPUD CASE. I am in receipt of an information from the family of the late Atty. Godofredo Manipud about the status of the case the family filed against one Fritzagerald Ruedas in connection with his death.

Daughter Jasmin raised questions that point to what she suspects a manipulation of legal procedures that ultimately will deny the family justice it seeks. She asked:

  1. Can the case change from the People of the Philippines as the plaintiff to now Godofredo Jr. as the complainant without much ado?
  2.  Why can’t the fiscal’s office provide the family a copy of the affidavit that her brother allegedly signed agreeing to be the complainant in the murder case?
  3. Why did Asst. City Prosecutor Shirley Nachor all of a sudden went out of the country and won’t be returning until June 25 yet when the scheduled hearing is on June 19?
  4. Can the accused file a P20K bail for a P30K bail set by the court?
  5. Can the accused already give his statement prior to the filing of the case? (Note: The accused gave his counter affidavit on April 5 but the case was not filed till April 30).

More on this next week.


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