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Rallies for what?

Here’s one for the books. Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas would like members of Congress to be exempted from minor traffic violations. He believes they are special people, while we ordinary mortals—who are paying for their salaries, by the way—are not.

I no longer wonder why many people believe we would be better off without Congress.

***

This Thursday is not a holiday but there will be no government work and no classes in public schools. According to President Duterte, it will be National Protest Day.

I don’t know if this was done to defang the rallies that people are planning to protest the possibility of the declaration of a nationwide martial law. I just have the feeling that this is contrived.

Yesterday I wrote about what former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told me. Enrile, a long-time minister during martial law, said President Duterte faces more problems now than what the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos did.

Mr. Duterte faces the seemingly endless problems of illegal drugs, criminality and corruption. He has the communist insurgency, the Muslim problem, and most of all terrorism. The IS is now allied with the Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Maute groups.

I do not intend to alarm people, but I think martial law now is likely. And can a revolutionary government be far behind?

***

I don’t know if human rights groups will accede to President Dterte’s offer to put up a satellite office in Manila so that United Nations officials can join raids on neighborhoods with drug suspects. It should be interesting to watch the circus.

The President said this after the people’s reaction to the House of Representatives’ move to slash the budget of the Commission on Human Rights to P1,000.

This is a smart move by the President. They can no longer say there is extrajudicial killing by the police if he invites observers to the raids.

The President just wants CHR chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon to resign because the commission has become politicized under him.

But since the CHR is constitutionally mandated to go after human rights violations, the institution must continue whether or not Gascon is there.

If the House does not back down, a re-enacted budget may be possible.

***

A new group called Tindig Pilipinas wants to stop the killings perpetrated by the police in the name of the so-called war against drugs.

The group is composed of many organizations —and knowing who the founders are, it is easy to see that their agenda is to destabilize the government and oust President Duterte.

If you ask Filipinos whether they trust the members of this group, I am sure the answer would be no. Anybody tied to the administration of President Noynoy Aquino would be unacceptable.

This is the biggest tragedy of our nation. We still do not have a credible opposition. Certainly it is not Vice President Leni Robredo.

***

I have been asked many times: Do I think print media would be overtaken by information technology? Will the Bible ever become passe? My answer is no.

The Philippine press will continue to be vibrant as it was decades ago. I am dismayed at the entry of some opinion writers who think they can write when they are just publicists of powerful people. This runs counter to what a newspaper is all about.

During my time, journalists had to earn their spurs before they were allowed to write in the opinion pages. Not anymore.

I am not against competition. I respect the opinion of everybody. But I still believe that media should not be a propaganda vehicle.

This is the reason I have not left Manila Standard despite many opportunities to do so. I will keep on writing here until I write “30.”

***

The Marawi siege is now on its fourth month, and the terrorists are still holding out within the 10-hectare perimeter of the city.

President Duterte and the Armed Forces should know that the Mautes and Abus have already occupied some parts of Cotabato and Maguindanao. This is why martial law will not be lifted anytime soon.

Topics: Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas , Congress members , Traffic violations , President Duterte , National Protest Day , Rallies for what?
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