THE FAVORITE DISH of the political opposition, leftists and the pan-handling human rights watch organizations had always been extra-judicial-killing. And their principal suspect is then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte now President of the Republic of the Philippines. EJK is actually a political propaganda leveled by the adversaries of the unbeatable Mayor who, during his term as mayor, ran practically unopposed. Those who salivate for the position and dared to run were not only trounced but end up humiliated because the results of the elections have always been lopsided in favor of Digong.
The last attempt of his political rivals was to consort with the Commission on Human Rights which was then chaired by Leila de Lima. This was in 2009 a few months before elections in 2010. The local human rights organization and HRW New York connived with CHR to the death of what they claimed were 280 plus victims of EJK. As if this was not enough, they succeeded in bringing in Philip Alston, a Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, to lend drama to the much ballyhooed probe conducted by CHR Chair De Lima. HRW New York also published a book titled “You Can Die Anytime…”. For over five months of intensive and expansive investigation within which time Duterte took a leave of absence and gave up his supervisory over the police, to assure the probers a free hand, De Lima and her team never produced a piece of evidence.
CHR Chair De Lima even added spice to her task. All the members of her probe team were from Manila. The summons and warrants she all secured from the Regional Trial Courts in Metro Manila because according to her she cannot trust the judges in Davao because they are scared of the Davao Death Squads of Duterte.
Well, she became Secretary of Justice and then Senator. She continued haranguing Duterte with EJK issue. The sound bites had all become too familiar as it had become too boring. When she became Senator, she resurrected the EJK charges against Mayor Duterte, who had been catapulted to the highest position of the land by then. This time she had fellow Sen. Antonio Trillanes to revive her issue against Duterte. The duo produced two witnesses, Matobato and Lascañas who at the start of the senate drama contradicted each other but then later sang the same but discordant tune. Matobato had earlier confessed that by himself he killed over 200 on orders of Duterte.
Lascañas who refuted the claims of Matobato later turned 180 degrees and joined him for reasons that can be subjected to millions of speculations. This time the duo claimed they buried more than 2,200 EJK victims in an abandoned quarry which is just about three kilometers from city hall. It was the same (Laud) quarry where, in 2009, CHR Chair De Lima made several diggings to look for cadavers but found none. Oh well, they actually unearthed an incomplete skeletal remains of what looked like a Cro-Magnon man along with two pairs of a new license car plates. If you do not call that planted pieces of evidence I do not know what those are but the RTC Judge in Makati threw these out for the badly deteriorated skeletons and the license plates are inadmissible in court.
As DOJ Secretary and Senator one wonders why she never came back with pick and shovel this time with Matobato and Lascañas in tow. They could have easily pinpoint the graveyard since they alleged they buried their victims there. This time with more than 2,200 victims buried in that small quarry land, one can shoot an arrow in the air and it could fell anywhere on a burial ground and find their victims there. Instead, De Lima, Trillanes, Matobato and Lascañas opted to unearth their victims in the halls of the senate.
I must say though that they succeeded in their quest because they not only increased the numbers of alleged EJK from 300 to 2,200 in Davao City alone and then to 3,000 plus which became the adopted figure of Time Magazine, Rappler and the rest of anti-Duterte publications. The exaggeration did not end there for anywhere from 7,000 to over 13,000 is now what you see in their score board.
The amplification of EJK estimates also depend on events. Before the ASEAN summit in Manila, an organization even came out with a jarring figures alleging 30-million perished by EJK in the Philippines. Whatever are the concocted figures by whoever extrapolates or publishes it the fact remains that majority of the Filipinos supports President Duterte on his war on drugs. This is reflected by the results of surveys which complimented each other’s findings. The positive indicators however are always drowned by the noise and overestimations of the rabid critics of Duterte.
For whatever reasons moreover, recently the razzmatazz over EJK had died down as quickly as the numbers of the victims rise. I can only attribute this to the potential bombshell that the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine will create. Suddenly parents of children inoculated with the vaccine are confronted with a terrible and horrible prospect their kids might suffer the severe attack of dengue.
The attack dogs that had a pound of flesh of Duterte had their tails behind their legs and the rabid fangs clamped. It is time to think of how to parry the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Their lord and master and the lieutenants who carried out the contract with Sanofi Pasteur, makers of Dengvaxia, with such indecent haste are in the firing line of an angry, very angry public. The manner of negotiation and the gargantuan un-programmed budget of over P3.5-billion are suspects. It is also interesting to know what motivated then Pres. Benigno S. Aquino and Health Sec. Janette Garin to personally fly off to faraway Paris to talk terms with Sanofi over an experimental drug which has a potential health hazards to children that have not had dengue.
Too many questions to ask like: Where did Budget Sec. Florencio Abad get the P3.5-billion for Dengvaxia? The amount is so much bigger than all the immunization programs of the government combined. The answer will bring us back to the Disbursement Acceleration Program, a shell fund of the Aquino administration that was used to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona. DAP was a war chest intended to address problems like Corona who committed the mistake of awarding Hacienda Luisita to the long suffering tenants of that Aquino-Cojuangco estate.
For now only detained Sen. Leila de Lima and CHR Chair Chito Gascon are defending President Aquino from his alleged complicity in the Dengvaxia negotiation and vaccination program. Health is a Human Rights issue in capital letters and we hope and pray that children subjected to this experiment will not be victims of a potential strain of EJK. (Jun Ledesma)
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