A LEFTIST group issued a first-100-days challenge to the presumptive president, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, to prosecute “big-time criminals” led by his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III and his top officials for crimes committed against the people.
“We believe in Mayor Duterte’s call for a healing process in the name of unity, but such unity will remain futile and hollow if social justice is not served,” said Salvador France, vice chairman of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas).
The group said among the crimes that Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon must be held accountable for are the misuse of public funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, Priority Development Assistance Fund, and donations given to the victims of Typhoon “Yolanda.”
Aquino must also be made to answer for the bloody dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan, which led to two deaths, the group said.
Describing Aquino, Abad and Drilon as “big criminals,” they asked Duterte to prosecute them during his first 100 days in office.
France said that both DAP and PDAF were declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and that DAP was the brainchild of the President, Abad and Drilon.
France said the new president should also investigate the “theft of billions” in rehabilitation funds, including international donations, set aside for victims of “Yolanda.”
France said Aquino’s six years were checkered with “corruption and plunder, human rights violations, sheer incompetence, criminal negligence and complete disregard for the people’s just demands.”
“We challenge President Duterte that if he is really sincere in providing social justice to the Filipino people who gravely suffered from ‘daang matuwid,’ he should heed the people’s sentiments on the urgent and unconditional prosecution of the Aquino and his ilk, sparing no one,” France said.
The Gabriela Women’s party-list group also called on Duterte to “hold Benigno Aquino III, and his cohorts, accountable to the corruption, violence and criminal neglect that caused the sufferings and loss of lives.”
“It is of utmost importance that we call on the highest elected official, the incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to address the immediate demands of women: Create regular jobs in rural and urban areas; suspend all ongoing privatization of public services and utilities; promote the rights of marginalized women, children, LGBT and PWDs; end US military intervention via Edca [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement] and other military agreements; release all political prisoners and immediately start the peace negotiations.
“These are the minimum set of challenges that the GWP is presenting to the incoming administration. We will remain vigilant and pro-active in advancing the cause of women in all levels of society,” said Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus.
De Jesus said the unprecedented victory of Duterte reflects the decision of the majority of the voters to reject the lies, corruption, use of taxpayers’ money for buying influence and votes, the injustice and puppetry to foreign interests of the Aquino Administration.
“Our party, obtaining second highest number of party-list votes, is set to begin work inside and outside of Congress to push for the programs that reflect the interest of the marginalized women and children,” De Jesus said.
“We will once again strive to push for bills on decent and affordable housing, health and education, to address the unequal status of women and LGBTs, end labor contractualization and to scrap unequal economic and military treaties,” De Jesus added.
The human rights group Karapatan urged Duterte to release all political prisoners and to resume peace talks with the communist rebels.
“We challenge the Duterte presidency to build on the people’s votes that was mostly repudiation of everything that is the ‘tuwid na daan’. He can start by junking Oplan Bayanihan and similar counterinsurgency programs and take the road to genuine peace by addressing the roots of...the ongoing civil war through the negotiating table,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Karapatan said farmers and indigenous people, especially from Mindanao, have been calling for the immediate pullout of military troops from their communities. Operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have resulted in 318 killings and forcible evacuation of thousands under the Aquino administration, Palabay added.
“There are still more than 2,700 evacuees at the Tandag Sports Complex in Surigao del Sur and at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Haran in Davao City. The pullout of military troops in their communities and the disbandment of paramilitary groups can enable them to go home,” she said.
Palabay also urged the incoming Duterte administration to release all political prisoners, 543 of them as of March 2016, who are detained on false criminal charges. Of the 543, 18 are National Democratic Front peace consultants, whose protection under the agreement on safety and immunity guarantees have been violated.
“He should likewise address the justice system—tailored to favor the moneyed and those with powerful friends and connections—as a means to curb impunity,” Palabay said.
She said there are 88 ailing and 48 elderly among the political prisoners, mostly poor peasants fighting for their land rights.
Palabay slammed the The Aquino government for wasting six years and the opportunity to address the long-standing causes of the armed conflict in the country.
“We would like to see how the incoming Duterte administration can put his money where his mouth is,” she said.
On Friday, the Duterte transition team said it would work to select the best and brightest men and women—not necessarily from Mindanao-- to serve in his Cabinet, focusing on six clusters--social development, peace and security, economic development, justice, infrastructure and government-owned and –controlled corporations.
Outgoing Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., Duterte’s national campaign manager, will head the social development cluster, while Christopher Go, executive assistant, will take charge of the peace and security cluster.
Carlos Dominguez III, owner of the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City and former Cabinet secretary under the administration of Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria Arroyo and Duterte’s campaign finance manager, will handle the economic development cluster.
Lawyer Salvador Medialdea is tasked to look into the selection process for various positions in the portfolio of the judiciary, lawyer Loreto Ata for GOCCs, and Laviña for infrastructure development.
Laviña said the selection of Cabinet members is anchored on shared vision, integrity, competence and ability, and willingness to sacrifice.
He said the composition of Duterte’s Cabinet members will be patterned after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s young and ethnically diverse Cabinet of men and women.
Just like Trudeau, Duterte wants a balanced Cabinet, he added. With Rio N. Araja
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