In November 2016, which is less than a month away, the government's drug rehab center in Nueva Ecija which can accommodate 10,000 patients will be operational.
The Duterte administration is less than four (4) months old. So, some find it incredible that this project is its brainchild alone. Its paternity or maternity must be shared with another administration because the project--from planning to construction - could not be completed in less than four months. The obvious picture they want painted is that the project was planned by the previous administration and implemented by the fledgling Duterte dispensation. This was pointed out by one netizen who said he is very familiar with construction and who currently audits much bigger construction projects in another country.
If it is important to attribute credit, then we give it where it is due. And it belongs to the Duterte government. All along, while we were getting a regular dose of the President's verbal diarrhea against drugs, his government was quietly constructing the facility.
How did it happen in less than four months, the incredulous ask? It cannot be. The project must have been planned by the previous administration, they say.
I watched Duterte's interview with Al Jazeera where he said some things that made me squirm regarding the drug issue but also revealed how determined he is to create a generation of Filipinos unafflicted by drug addiction. In the same interview, he stressed that the 2016 budget prepared by the Aquino dispensation does not include funds for a drug rehabilitation facility. This is easy to explain. The Aquino government did not see a drug menace lurking in Philippine society. It knew that the country had, as of 2014, some 3M drug addicts as reported to it by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. But it did not consider the problem serious, otherwise why the apathy? In fact, more than apathy to the evils from the menace, it even created a favorable political climate to make the National Penitentiary the principal office of the drug trade in the country. This was through Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Aquino's alter ego, who gave hardened criminals privileges just so they could become big-time drug lords to raise money for her.
Without government money for a drug rehabilitation center, Pres. Duterte harnessed the generosity of one Chinese philanthropist who was very willing to provide the much-needed money: Huang Rulun. Mr Huang, before he made it big, did business in the Philippines and made some fortune here. He was just so happy for the opportunity to pay back. (And this got me thinking: Why can't the likes of Henry Sy do something as altruistic as this? Or are they more interested in putting mom-and-pop entrepreneurs out of business?)
So things are clear: The Duterte government made that facility happen.
How? I do not know. I only realize now more than ever that political will is the mother of inguenity. Things can happen and happen fast, if the will is there. It is a cause for celebration, not questions. Addicts should be rehabilitated, not killed for no reason other than they are addicts. Now, we know the government has a solution to the drug menace other than the crackdown on pushers claiming innocent lives as vigilantes take advantage of it. Although not often reported, Duterte called on his Cabinet to come up with a plan to help "drug users and pushers who have surrendered to rehabilitate themselves and return to the fold of society as productive members.” As announced by Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, head of DSWD which is one of the lead agencies in the rehabilitation, transformation, and reintegration into society of drug addicts, such plan was already crafted in the form of the National Drug Rehabilitation Program (NDRP).
But maybe, indeed, the completion of the drug rehab center should invite question: How was it done that quickly? I want to know because it can give us lessons on responsive government. We have been so used to a slow or apathetic bureaucracy that a speedy action from it renders us skeptical.


Senator Leila de Lima used her powers as Secretary of Justice to accomplish the very things she was supposed to stop, all for her personal ambition. She made the already entrenched drug trade proliferate further. She created and empowered drug lords in the National Penitentiary which became the main office of the country's illegal drugs industry. She created more drug addicts by letting loose more drugs in the market. The welfare of the nation was far from her mind. She had an affair with a much-younger married man - her driver over whom she exercised moral ascendancy- and made him her tool to raise money from drugs for herself. She aggravated corruption in the National Penitentiary.
I have to agree now with the President: De Lima was screwing her driver while screwing the whole nation. The two are related. Before, I ranted twice on Facebook that her private life was not an issue. I was wrong. It was an issue. It is.
This war on drugs became necessary because of her. The blood of the innocent casualties are on her hands, too.
As a woman, I am incensed that she keeps using the picture of the oppressed woman as a trump card. She was an oppressor. She continues to be one. No, de Lima, I am not you. My sisters are not you. My mother is not you. My aunts are not you. My daughters are not you. My nieces are not you.
You are not every woman. You are this country's biggest narco-politician who happens to be biologically a woman.
You are sui generis, a class all of your own. Don't make us into your image.


Last night, we paid tribute to a fine young man who has gone to the West: Atty. Kissack Batong Gabaen. He was known for his staunch defense of human rights especially of indigenous peoples. People came from as far as Palawan to express admiration for this great man. Yes, he had personal flaws, but no one can question his track record as an activist and his dedication to stand up for the marginalized and oppressed and to fight for justice.

In his lifetime, I was blessed to have him as a brother, friend, and comrade all rolled into one. We handled human rights cases together. We participated in the human rights education of communities together. He counted me as one of his mentors. During our two last speaking engagements as a team, one in the Benguet State University and another before a community in Ifugao, he publicly acknowledged me as his mentor. On both occasions, I thanked him for the honorable attribution which I found humbling. But actually, I am now his mentee. His life of service to the people is worth drawing inspiration from.

The last time we saw him conscious was on June 28. I told him jokingly, "Kissack, NUPL-National has a meeting today and I committed to be there (This was true.). But today, something was telling me this might be my last time to see you like this so I chose to be with you and asked Edre Olalia to excuse me." (As an aside, I also sent a message to Grace Saguinsin explaining my non-attendance. I told Grace my inner fear: That Kissack might give up the ghost). He laughed and said, "Aye, I will outlive you."

The next time I saw him on June 30, he was comatose in the ICU. I told him, "Wake up. Today, the man you vigorously campaigned for took his oath as President. Change is coming. Let us help Duterte. Wake up and pay your dues to your children. Watch them grow up. Wake up. There is still a lot we need to do." His partner, Shen, exclaimed weeping, "Look, his tears are rolling." I really hope he heard me.

I am physically alive. Kissack is now a cold, hard body which will be cremated at 9:30 AM tomorrow. But he is a memory, too. He is a beautiful, powerful memory that will indeed outlive me. The things we do for the weak and oppressed in the name of justice, the things we do for humanity will stay in the memory of the present and the future---bigger than us, more than us. They will inspire people, they will inspire movements. Today. Tomorrow. They will change the world.

Today, we say our final goodbyes to him.

Au revoir, Atty. Kissack Gabaen, President, National Union of Peoples Lawyers-Baguio. Long shall you live.


When I watched the video of PaDi Mayor Digong Duterte's press con where he whistled apparently at Ms Mariz Umali, I felt not only uncomfortable. I was incensed. I thought Ms Umali was a random media person PaDi did not know but whistled at. But I did notice that she seemed to  enjoy a banter with PaDi and did not at all appear repulsed. I googled about her and that incident.. I discovered she issued a statement  that said in so many words that she did not take offense. She merely found his catcalling "maybe improper." I thought, "This woman is internally oppressed. How could she dismiss catcalling by someone to whom she is a stranger inoffensive? Or is it because her offender is the incoming President?"

Whether Ms. Umali was offended or not, I felt that what PaDi did was very improper. I became Mariz Umali. I felt the victimization  she could not feel. I posted a call-out on Facebook.

Next, I read my newsfeed.

There was hatred, even bloodlust, for Duterte. I could gather this from the irrationality of people's strong statements. There were voices of people stuck on May 9 unable to move on from the defeat of Roxas. You could tell from the fact that they suddenly became advocates for women's rights. I did not hear them say anything about women's rights in the past. In fact, they never reacted to that tasteless virtual sex act onstage during a birthday party of a Liberal Party stalwart. This also angered me. The Yellow Kingdom was, to them, all sunshine and, despite situations needing voices, they kept quiet. I thought, "These people, noisy as they are now, are not really speaking for women; they are using a women's issue only to advance political vendetta or promote hatred of PaDi."

And then there were people drumbeating for vigilance; they never called for vigilance before. I thought, "They were simply apathetic - or apolitical might be the politically correct word. Now, they have become politically involved." This to me is a very positive development - that the foul mouth of a President unprecedented in our history is jolting people and getting them out of political apathy. Even PaDi Mayor must be happy.

Thankfully, I could find sincere rebuke as well.

The amusing thing is that when I said on FB that PaDi should not whistle at a woman in public even if she seems not to take offense, some reacted in a way I understood to mean they thought they discovered women's rights before I did or they cared more for women than I did. I sort of ...uhmmm... got annoyed. I became historical. "Hoy, you think only your hearts bleed for women? For decades, I have been fighting for women's rights and even devote free legal services to them. Blah, blah." Then it dawned on me that they did not expect the call-out from the Dutertard that I am. Well, not every political supporter is like many supporters of the Yellow Army who condemn injustice only when it is not attributable to yellow hands. The Dutertards I know do not pay blind obeisance.

Much later on, I saw this video of Ms Umali and PaDi interacting in a private atmosphere. He was humble, friendly, and patient despite the shallowness of her questions. In fact, I felt that she was assaulting his privacy and he was not really relishing  the intrusion. But who am I to arrogate unto myself the license to squirm in discomfort on behalf of the country's incoming President?

They were on their way to dinner - the supposed future sexual harassment victim and the supposed future sexual harassment offender.

After watching the entire video, I began to see the catcalling in a different light. I got convinced that when Ms Umali said she was not offended, she was not offended. She and PaDi Mayor had a "history" before that controversial press con and that was the reason why she   took  his whistling with a grain of salt.

And so two hours ago, I said on someone's wall that in sexual harassment cases, while the nature of the act is important, so is context. Catcalling may be an act by which sexual harassment is committed, but in what context is it done? Also, sexual harassment is a subjective offense. It is not the offender's intent but the victim's feeling that is relevant. Ms Umali was not offended. Please let us not insist she was. Your feelings do not define the crime, OK? Neither does your political frustration or hatred, OK? Let us not reduce  Ms Umali into an object and take her place as the subject.

I still think Duterte should not whistle as he did. It is unpresidential. It is. Unpresidential. I do not look forward to it.

But I look forward to the presidential things he promised to do, a few of which are:

1. Bring the Lumad home;
2. Create a committee to investigate killings of journalists;
3. End PDAF and DAP;
4. Enforce simplicity among government officials;
5. Review K to 12;
6. Cleanse NLRC;
7. End contractualization;
8. Legalize medical marijuana;
9. End the drug trade;
10. Resume peace talks;
11. Appoint pro-people officials to deliver social services; and
12. Make justice accessible.

I am happy the unpresidential President has less than a month to vacate the palace and the more presidential one will take over.


Image result for duterte middle finger

What is in a moniker or monicker? A lot. Remember how Sen. Gordon's supporters would say, "Ipasok si Dick sa Senado! (Let Dick penetrate the Senate!)" Mar Roxas as Mr. Palengke became very popular that he topped the senatorial race not a long time ago.

Recent history tells us that a presidential moniker helps build the image of the President to the public. It can make or unmake this image.

Tita Cory made Pres. Corazon Aquino appear warm, motherly, and reliable. To her detractors, Tita Cory symbolized a person who could do humanity a favor just by being everyone's favorite aunt but, puleez, get out of Malacanang already and let someone with the mettle run the government.

Erap made Pres. Joseph Estrada appear accessible or approachable as though he was everyone's buddy. To his detractors, Erap was just the perfect nickname for a gangster, a lackadaisical (non)leader who would stay awake until the wee hours drinking booze and playing poker in Malacanang. It was Fernando Poe, Sen. Grace's father, who gave him the nickname.

PNoy made Pres. Benigno Aquino appear like he was every Filipino who understood every Filipino. Because he was PNoy, people forgave him for the Luneta hostage-taking fiasco. They forgave him for the ineptitude of his dispensation during the Yolanda tragedy and flagellated Mar Roxas instead. When he strayed from Daang Matuwid by protecting his buddies committing shenanigans and by being callous to the abject conditions of the poor "every Filipino," PNoy began to stand for someone with the compassion of an egg or whose IQ is measured as an egg. When we get zero in exams, we normally say, "Itlog ang nakuha ko (I got an egg)." Penoy is duck egg.

Now, the political discourse includes the question of what monicker Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte should use. There are several suggestions, two of which are PDut (for President Duterte) and PDig (for President Digong).

If you understand Iloko, PDut does not sound good. A kleptomaniac is called "agpidut." My friend Bayan Muna Congressman Karlos Ysagani Kaloi Zarate does not like it either. He did not tell me his reason. He does not like PDig. He also did not tell me why. Maybe, it is because PDig is close to Pig.

This early, Kaloi is calling the incoming President PaDi for Pangulong Digong. He is quick to point out that PaDi means Tatay, the Filipino word for 'dad.'

PaDi does sound good, perfect in fact.

PaDi will soften the reputation of Mr Duterte as Mr Tough Guy. As I keep saying, people who know him really up close and personal like Kaloi swear by his soft and compassionate heart. When Kaloi asked me how PaDi sounds, I told him that in the Cordilleras, we use Apo Padi (Reverend Father) to address people of the cloth with reverence. There is a play called Padi Igorot about an Episcopalian priest named Clifford Nobes who lived among Igorots in the mid-20th century. Rev. Father Nobes was known as a dedicated and respectful missionary among the Igorots. Apo Padi is a man of compassion and service. And Padi Rex is not just a priest. He is a people's priest who lived and, despite health issues, continues to live a religious life dedicated to uplifting the condition of the oppressed. Like Apo Padi, every good father will do everything to protect his children from harm.

Like the proverbial/traditional father, though, PaDi captures Mr Duterte's strict side. No smoking except in the few designated areas. Be home early, young man. If you drink, don't drive. No jaywalking. No littering. No peeing against the wall. No petting and necking in the corridors. 
Cong. Karlos Ysagani Zarate just coined the perfect monicker for the incoming President!

Here is looking forward to 6 years of PaDi's presidency. I am hoping it will be a sheltering presidency as it will be an empowering one.