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Sasot finally gets interviewed by internat’l media but netizens noted she got burned in the process

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Duterte supporter and Manila Times columnist Sass Rogando Sasot became a part of a panel in an interview on a Turkey-based news channel talking about the Philippines’ and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, but the netizens noted that she got burned by the host and other panel members.

Sasot’s interview on the Turkish channel TRT World came after her controversial confrontation of BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head on November 13, 2017 during the ASEAN Summit. Sasot questioned Head about why the BBC gave a “minor blogger” like Duterte critic Jover Laurio an interview, while she wasn’t when she had a previous interaction with Head on Facebook and her engagement on the social media site is “way, way higher” than Laurio’s.

In the TRT World panel discussion on the program Roundtable hosted by David Foster, Sasot, via Skype, joined former ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel (TFC) reporter Gene Alcantara and International Drug Policy Unit executive director John Collins.

The host Foster asked Sasot why she has written in her column that what “mass murderer” Duterte was doing was not only right but was necessary.

Sasot started off explaining how the US State Department has reports as far back as 2009 or 2010 that showed that foreign drug cartels have reached the Philippines, but Foster interrupted her, saying there were surely other measures to stop drugs other than “shooting” the suspected drug personalities.

Collins noted that the Filipino citizens are the ones getting murdered, not the foreign drug traffickers cited by Sasot.

During the discussion, Sasot clarified that Duterte did not order to just “arbitrarily kill anyone” but ordered law enforcers to “only shoot if their life is in danger.”

Sasot then cited statistics – over 1 million people surrendered alive; 121,087 people were arrested alive; and 4,021 died during operations.  She underscored that drug pushers are armed, hence the cops’ need to defend themselves.

Foster butted in, saying that kids were also killed in the drug war, but Sasot cited how 618 minors were “rescued” from the illegal drug trade, a number that was not being cited by international media. She prompted, “Why is that?”

Collins told Sasot he did not know what she meant by “rescued” when pertaining to the minors, but what he knew, based on “lots and lots of evidence,” was that there were kids who could barely buy Snickers but were caught with a Glock pistol. He hit the fact that the same line of defense, the “nanlaban” defense, has been used by the cops over and over again.

“There is clearly a lot of impropriety happening around these extrajudicial killings,” Collins said.

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When Alcantara joined the discussion, he accused Sasot of leading the attack against him for condemning the killings in the Philippines, which she denied. She, in turn, accused him of threatening to deport Filipinos in the UK for supporting Duterte, which Alcantara denied.

Foster directed the discussion back to the Philippines’ war against drugs and how Collins is not in favor of Duterte’s drug war because he thought it won’t work.

Collins enumerated these reasons from the point of view of an academic who has been studying international drug policy for over a decade:

  •         Duterte’s drug war method has been proven to be ineffective as seen in the US with its incarceration of drug users and Thailand with its open killings in the early 2000s.
  •         It’s not about drugs. He said that as an external observer, he thinks Duterte’s drug war was about power play, his way of “solidifying his place at home” and his pursuit of “strongman politics.” He said that in the process, Duterte’s model of fighting the drug problem was about targeting “the most vulnerable” group that is also “the most loathed” group in society.

Sasot admitted that Duterte’s kind of drug war has been tried before, but in the case of the Philippines, it has led to over 1 million people surrendering to get rehabilitated.

Collins retorted, “It is not voluntary when the government is threatening to murder you if you don’t hand yourself in.”

Sasot tried to rebut that argument, saying Duterte did not threaten the drug addicts, but Foster also chimed in, saying he just recently watched an interview with Duterte where he said, “You destroy my country, I will kill you.”

Foster added, “That is threatening to murder somebody, isn’t it?”

Collins also cited how Duterte once said that Adolf Hitler murdered 3 million Jews and that he wanted to do the same, but Sasot explained it as Duterte’s way of playing along with the logic of the opposition who kept on comparing him to Hitler. The Philippine leader later apologized to the Jews for that remark.

Foster once again asked Sasot if Duterte was threatening to kill anyone, but she said it was Duterte’s way of expressing his intention to protect the country from anyone who would want to destroy it.

The host further pressed Sasot if Duterte’s recent remark can be interpreted as a threat to murder people, eventually prompting Sasot to ask, “But has he murdered anyone?”

Collins was quick to say, “By his own acknowledgment, yes.”

Foster also piped in, “Well, he says while he was mayor, he shot people.”

Alcantara also brought up how two witnesses, referring to Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, admitted to being members of the Davao Death Squad and confessed to Duterte’s involvement in the group.

Foster brought up another point of discussion in Sasot’s column about how some Filipinos are “disgusted” by Duterte’s method in dealing with the drug problem.

Prompted by Foster, Sasot said she understood the disgust, but that what Duterte is doing should be understood within the context of the circumstances in the Philippines.

Addressing Collins, she asked him if he speaks Filipino (no, he doesn’t); if he understands the Filipino culture (he has visited the Philippines, but won’t claim to say he has an expertise on the country); how many times he has visited the country (once); and if he has studied Philippine history, but Foster interrupted Sasot’s questioning.

As for the 1 million surrenderees, Foster said Duterte himself admitted that the Philippines cannot afford to build rehabilitation facilities. So, what is going to happen to the surrenderees, he asked.

Sasot said the surrenderees are going to “wait” to be rehabilitated and that this is when the international community should help the Philippines instead of condemning it.

Foster shot back, saying, “So you are saying that the international community must pay to follow through a policy, with which it disagrees, which is being brought upon by a President who is quite okay with killing people?”

Sasot then described the presence of the 1 million drug addicts in the Philippines as an “international humanitarian crisis.”

Collins addressed Sasot, saying that she “basically negated the idea” that he shouldn’t have any opinion on the drug war in the Philippines because he is not a Philippine expert. He went on to discuss about how drug treatment should be voluntary and community-based, something that the community should work on to manage their drug dependency.

He called the idea of rounding up a million surrenderees and asking the international community to help solve it as “ludicrous,” especially since people surrendered because they were scared of being murdered.

Alcantara joined in the discussion, accusing Duterte of not looking into the drug lords, citing how the P6.4 billion worth of drugs smuggled into the Philippines was even linked to Duterte’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte. He also talked about Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s allegation of Duterte hiding P2 billion in his bank account, something that the President denied.

Foster asked whether there is a possibility that the drug problem would resurface after Duterte’s term would end.

Sasot cited Duterte has a comprehensive policy to fight drug addiction and uplift the lives of ordinary Filipinos with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Health.

But Collins posed a question to Sasot, asking her how the Philippines would become an economically and politically stable country without following the rule of law, citing violations such as the police’s lack of oversight, the rise of vigilantism because it seems to be encouraged, the murder on the streets, and the people being rounded up.

Sasot went back to her argument about how Duterte did not order cops to kill people, but only to protect themselves against criminals. She also clarified that vigilantism can be linked to the drug cartels, not to Duterte.

Foster ended the program noting the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s preliminary investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Duterte in his war against drugs, but without any recent word on whether or not it has jurisdiction over the communication or whether it has started interviewing people for the investigation.

Netizens react

Facebook page PRISM noted how Sasot “finally got the interview she has always wanted” but that “it did not go the way she wanted it to.”

Other netizens noted how Sasot initially told Collins his opinion on the drug war in the Philippines does not matter because he is not Filipino, but later said the international community should step in to help the 1 million drug surrenderees.

This is also something that Collins pointed out in the discussion.

 

Some hit Sasot’s logic in questioning Collins.

“By Sasot’s and DDS logic, we can’t condemn nor should form an opinion on Hitler and Germany since we can’t speak German nor an expert in German culture,” a Twitter user said. “Extending it farther, they curtail empathy for presumption of knowledge. Theirs is a very dangerous reasoning.”

Award-winning author Miguel Syjuco also slammed Sasot’s “shallow answers” during the Roundtable discussion to justify the killings in the country.

One thing he pointed out was this:

“If she spent any time in the streets, she’d know that many of the so-called 1-million surrenderees were motivated by fear as well as ignorance (many thought they’d be given handouts, and didn’t consider themselves addicts); she’d also know that drug rehab programs came from the Catholic Church, NGOs, and local communities because the national government hardly did anything beyond enforcing a law-and-order solution to a public health problem. (For example, the nation’s largest drug rehab program, in Bicutan, can still only service capacity of 600 patients.) How do I know? I went and witnessed.”

Sources: ( interaksyon.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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