Of all adjectives, ‘non-boring’ is Ping Lacson’s choice for Duterte government

April 25, 2018 - 4:35 PM
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Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was also an administration lawmaker during the time of president Noynoy Aquino, supports many of President Duterte's policies. (Photos from Lacson's office/Released)

Sen. Ping Lacson made a peculiar choice of words in describing the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte so far.

For Lacson, anyone who might succeed the incumbent leader would be considered “boring.” His tweet, arguably in praise of the administration, cites some of Duterte’s hard-line decisions.

Lacson’s list: Between the lines

In September 2017, Duterte went after Philippine Airlines tycoon Lucio Tan for incurring around P7.3 billion debt for PAL’s unpaid navigational fees and other government liabilities.

In July 2017, the president accused the Rufino and Prieto families—who have run the Inquirer group of publications—of owing the government P8 billion worth of taxes over the Mile Long property. It was originally owned by the government. Duterte has also publicly denounced the coverage of the Inquirer.

In March 2017, Duterte ordered Mighty Corp to pay P3 billion for producing cigarettes with fake stamps to avoid paying taxes. In the end, the company paid P25 billion.

In April 2018, Duterte ordered Boracay Island to be closed for six months to undergo a rehabilitation following environmental concerns despite the apparent absence of a master plan and related issuances.

In the same month, he appointed retired AFP chief of staff Gen. Rey Guerrero to be the head of the Maritime Industrial Authority, adding to the growing number of former military top guns heading executive agencies.

The other side of a ‘non-boring’ government

While Lacson’s tweet was generally well-received, some who saw it took the chance to remind the senator of extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s term.

The president has been constantly accused of encouraging killings in his bloody war on drugs, arising from a campaign promise that observers say was a huge factor in his election victory.

As of 2017, Human Rights Watch reported that more than 12,000 drug users and dealers have lost their lives without benefit of a trial. An additional estimate of 4,000 people have also died from police operations and attacks of “unidentified gunmen.”

Over these unexplained killings, Duterte and his top officials are facing possible proceedings for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.

Despite Lacson’s praises on Duterte’s governance, numerous issues like EJK, human rights violation and Philippines’ sovereignty continue to hound the latter’s term. (PPD file photo)

While Duterte has had an assertive stance on issues Lacson listed, many see his friendly policy toward China as a contrast, having refused to have diplomatic confrontations over the Asian giant’s island-building in Philippine-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

“Duterte has seemingly upended the situation in the South China Sea with his rhetorical bluster and about-face on policy toward Beijing,” said analyst Gregory Poling, director of think tank project Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.