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Lawmakers, groups, netizens react to QCPD’s plan to implement ‘Oplan Tokhang’ drop box

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Quezon City will implement the use of ‘Oplan Tokhang’ drop box this week to collect anonymous complaints or tips in the pursuit of the government’s war against drugs.

The boxes will be made of bright blue fiberglass boxes and will be distributed to the city’s 142 barangays by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

The idea behind the box is not entirely new since Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, QCPD director, said they started urging the barangays to put up drop boxes since July 2016 to gather more tips on illegal drugs and crimes from the residents themselves. However, the design of the boxes was only finalized this September.

At first, each barangay is left to its own devices to design the box, with earlier media reports saying the box was marked with this direct instruction to “drop here names of suspected illegal pushers/users.”

But now, the standard design is a 12-cubic-inch box formally described as the “Oplan Tokhang Suggestions and Complaints Drop Box.” It also carried the logos of the QCPD, the Quezon City government, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Eleazar explained that aside from tips about illegal drugs suspects, the boxes are also meant to gather complaints from the residents about any of the QCPD members, who will be investigated if they commit abuses.

The drop box idea was slammed by human rights groups in July over concerns that this crowd-sourcing type of activity may be used to come up with a “hit list” for questionable police operations or vigilante killings.

But the QCPD chief assured that the names they will still validate the information they get from the drop boxes. He emphasized that the boxes were only meant to encourage “community participation,” knowing that the residents themselves are more familiar with their neighborhood.

“The information gathered would only be for case buildup. If we don’t have evidence, we cannot make an arrest,” he said.

Eleazar said that the box is also meant to function like a hotline, but for tipsters who do not have access to cell phones.

Drop box memo

The use of drop boxes was part of DILG’s order for local governments under a program called “Masa Masid” or Mamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamayang Ayaw sa Droga. DILG issued a memo in August for the revised guidelines of the program, including putting up drop boxes to gather more information about illegal drugs, crime, corruption, and other threats to security and peace.

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The same memo also advised local government units on what to do when opening the drop boxes. It should be done in the presence of at least 6 members of a technical working committee at 4 pm every Thursday, reported Inquirer. Only the cop assigned as “focal person” in the barangay will unlock the box, as barangay officials and representatives of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse and Advisory Council (BADAC), faith-based groups, the Liga ng mga Barangay, and civil society groups look on. The same people should monitor, segregate, assess, and refer the information to the concerned government agencies.

Lawmakers, groups, netizens react

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia described the program as a “dangerous shortcut” in the war against drugs that may “divide and polarize” the residents due to suspicion and intrigue.

Olalia suggested for the police to continue with “good, old-fashioned police work that is scientific, systematic and credible.”

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin echoed the same thoughts.

“If [the] government really wants crimes solved and for it to address the so-called drug menace properly, there is no substitute for objective, science-based, consistent law enforcement and no-nonsense investigation work,” Villarin said.

“Such [a] move is highly questionable and opens up potential human rights violations,” he added.

Senator Risa Hontiveros hit the DILG for proposing the use of drop boxes.

“The individuals whose names are written on pieces of paper could also become vulnerable to threats from vigilante groups. What would stop extrajudicial killers and vigilante groups from breaking the drop boxes and getting the submitted names?” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She threatened to dissolve the Masa Masid program’s P500-million budget as a member of the Senate finance committee

“What we expect from the government is modern, rules-based, and human rights-centric drug law enforcement – not witch-hunting,” Hontiveros added.

Gabriela expressed worry the drop box may only serve to increase the number of victims of Tokhang.

“Dadami ang inosenteng biktima ng pasistang tokhang kung itutuloy ang drop box, bubukas sa abuso at benggatibong pambibintang,” the group tweeted.

CHR Central Visayas chief Leo Villarino raised concerns about the potential ways the drop box can be misused.

“Those who have enemies can use the drop box to antagonize them or tag them as drug personalities in whatever capacity. That’s the difficult thing,” Villarino said.

Former episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Cebu Msgr. Esteban Binghay cited the pros and cons of the use of the drop boxes.

“The advantage is those of goodwill can express their opinions. On the other hand, its disadvantage is it can be used for any other purpose,” he said.

“There are always limitations. People can use it for personal reasons,” he added.

Some netizens also took to social media to express their thoughts about the Oplan Tokhang drop boxes.

“The Tokhang drop box reminds me of Effie’s fish bowl for the tributes. Except walang ‘fight to the death’. Death na mismo,” one netizen wrote.

Let’s drop the name of the person behind the idea into the drop box, tweeted another.

Who said this idea is foolproof, a netizen asked.

Anyone can drop his or her enemies’ names into the box, said some netizens.

Here are other reactions:

Sources: ( philstar.com , inquirer.net , rappler.com )

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’

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President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks

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His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( rappler.comphilstar.com )

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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show

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Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.

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Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

Sources: ( tnt.abante.com.phphilstar.comrappler.com )

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal

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Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.

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In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( inquirer.netnews.abs-cbn.com , nnphilippines.com )

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