MANILA, Philippines – Six years ago, former Philippine leader Fidel V. Ramos supported Rodrigo Duterte for president. Now, his former officials are going the opposite way.
Former Cabinet members and officials under Ramos released a statement on Thursday, January 13, to support the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, the opposition leader seen as antithesis to Ramos’ pick in 2016.
In their statement of support, the 23 signatories said Robredo espouses the same leadership qualities as Ramos, who led the Philippines from 1992 to 1998.
Three of the signatories confirmed the statement to Rappler: former presidential assistant Benjamin de Leon, former finance undersecretary Milwida Guevara, and Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon, who was justice secretary under Ramos and is now vice chair of Robredo’s Liberal Party. Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez also verified the statement.
The Ramos officials first presented the statement to Robredo herself during a virtual meeting on Monday, January 10. It was primarily penned by former socioeconomic planning secretary Cielito Habito.
“We see the 2022 national elections as a critical crossroads for the country, especially as it emerges from the deep scars inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and society. The country needs to elect a leader who will lead us into the positive path to the unified, humane, just, progressive, economically vibrant, sustainable, and equitable society that is the dream of every Filipino,” said the Ramos officials.
“We believe that Vice President Leni Robredo is the only presidential candidate who possesses the above-described qualities, and who can credibly lead us Filipinos closer towards that dream,” they added.
The Ramos officials then urged Filipinos to also support Robredo’s presidential bid, pledging their “wholehearted commitment” to help campaign for her.
In February 2016, Ramos hadendorsedthe vice presidential bid of then-Camarines Sur 3rd District representative Robredo.
But a month later, the former president was also pictured raising the hands of both Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano, which some took as hisapparent endorsementof the Duterte-Cayetano tandem.
A vote for Robredo is often seen as a vote against Duterte, who plunged the Philippines in its worst economic, political, and human rights crises in decades. Robredo, a human rights lawyer known for her firm yet compassionate leadership, is regarded as Duterte’s opposite.
Even Ramos was eventually “disillusioned” with Duterte, said De Leon.
Before this, Ramos was among those who convinced Duterte to seek the presidency. In his inaugural speech, Duterte even directly addressed Ramos: “President Fidel Ramos, Sir, salamat po sa tulong mo (thank you for your help) making me President.”
“For me, FVR thought he was okay at first,” De Leon told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino. “For the first time, we will have a president from Mindanao. But in the first 100 days, he observed that he was going astray. He warned him. He became disillusioned through the rest of Duterte’s term.”
Milwida Guevara, who was finance undersecretary under Ramos, also believes her former boss may have regretted his initial support for Duterte. “That was very early on. Many of us disagreed with his endorsement of Duterte. Later on, he may have regretted it,” she told Rappler in a text message.
In the first months of the Duterte presidency, Ramos often gave unsolicited advice to the President. Duterte had said Ramos wasone of his sourcesfor his list of personalities allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade, but Ramos denied this. In July 2016, Ramos even accepted the President’s offer to be his envoy for China.
Ramos, however, had said the Philippines was already “losing badly” during Duterte’s first 100 days. In 2017, he later said there was an emerging culture of impunity in the country because of the spate of killings linked to Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. Duterte is now under a crimes against humanity probe by the International Criminal Court because of these killings.
The 93-year-old Ramos, who had to battle several ailments in the past, has not been active in public life since then.
A military man before entering politics, Ramos had earned praise for the economic boom and political stability during the first three years of his administration. But his presidency was also marred by controversies, such as the corruption scandal hounding the construction of the Clark Centennial Expo, and affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which saw the Philippine economy plummeting by the end of Ramos’ term.
A second cousin of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Ramos headed the Marcos-era Philippine Constabulary from 1972 to 1986, implementing martial law and having the dictator’s critics arrested. Ramos eventually defected and prompted the series of events that led to the EDSA People People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos in 1986.
The 23 Ramos officials supporting Robredo are the following:
- Angel Alcala, former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Tomas Africa, former administrator of the National Statistics Office
- Dante Canlas, former deputy director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
- Ma. Nieves Confesor, former secretary o thef Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
- Vicente Carlos, former secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT)
- Benjamin de Leon, former presidential assistant at the Office of the President
- Frank Drilon, former secretary of the Department of Justice
- Jose Brillantes, former DOLE secretary
- Ramon del Rosario Jr., former secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF)
- Ernesto Garilao, former secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform
- Jaime Galvez Tan, former secretary of the Department of Health (DOH)
- Milwida Guevera, former DOF undersecretary
- Cielito Habito, former NEDA director-general
- Lina Laigo, former secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development
- Delfin Lazaro, former secretary of the Department of Energy
- Ester Garcia, former chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education
- Patricia Licuanan, former chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women
- Narzalina Lim, former DOT secretary
- Ben Malayang III, former DENR undersecretary
- Edmundo Mir, former secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways
- Victor Ramos, former DENR secretary
- Carmencita Reodica, former DOH secretary
- Roberto Romulo, former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs
Robredo ‘honored, humbled’ by support
In a series of tweets, Robredo said she was “humbled” by their support. She said she looks up to Ramos, who had “one of the best pool of Cabinet secretaries” in recent years.
“I look up to the leadership FVR espoused, which I believe was affirmed by the brilliant people who served alongside him – matitino at mahuhusay (good and competent),” she said.
“Honored by the faith you have placed upon me, Sirs and Ma’ams. Makakaasa po kayo na lagi kong sisikapin (You can be sure that I will always try) to be worthy of the trust you and our fellow Filipinos have given me,” Robredo added.
According to De Leon, there are other Ramos officials supporting Robredo, but they could not sign the statement because of the policies of their current offices to be nonpartisan.
Still, De Leon said Robredo was “very happy” to gain the support of their group, whose “doors are open” for any policy consultations with the opposition presidential bet.
“Statement of support was read for her information and [she] was very happy and expressed her appreciation. I might add there are others who expressed their total support [for Robredo] but can’t sign the statement because of the policy of their offices to be nonpartisan,” said De Leon.
Robredo has improved her voter preference rating in theDecember 2021 Pulse Asia survey, rising to 20% from her 6% to 8% rating in mid-2021. But she is in far second place to her rival, the late dictator son’s Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.,who has outpaced all other presidential bets with 53%.
This isn’t the first time several officials under Ramos met with a 2022 presidential bet, however.
In November 2021, some officials who served under Ramos, and former presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to discuss his agricultural and economic platform.
But no statement of support for Moreno was released after this meeting. –Rappler.com
In apparent recognition of his responsibility in inflicting the Duterte administration on the country, Ramos has made it his business to call it to task for what he sees as its many failings.. What Ramos has so far focused on are Duterte’s declarations on foreign policy and the country’s relations with the United States.. Conspicuously missing from the Ramos repertoire of criticism are his views on the spate of killings in the course of the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs,” its oft repeated threat to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and its allowing — and the military’s collaborating in — the furtive burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (literally, Heroes’ Cemetery).. Ramos correctly pointed out in his column in one of the Manila broadsheets that implementing the “independent foreign policy” to which Duterte claims to be committed does not mean isolation from the community of nations, or cutting ties with the United States and ignoring the international agreements to which the Philippines is a signatory.. Ramos did mention the anti-illegal drug campaign killings in the same op-ed, but only as unnecessarily diverting government from its more important tasks of developing the country and earning the respect of the international community.. Internationally, the Philippines, as a consequence of the killings, is rapidly being perceived as a country with only a paper commitment to respect for human rights and due process, thus undermining its standing as a member of the global community of nations.. Of even more relevance is the fact that the United States as well as European countries — regardless of how it is often used as an excuse to further each country’s interests — premise both political support as well as international aid on compliance with human rights protocols.. Of equally serious concern is how Duterte, despite his spokespersons’ downplaying it by claiming that he was merely “floating” the idea, seems obsessed with the option of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus supposedly to make the campaign against illegal drugs successful.. However, the Constitution allows the suspension of the privilege only in cases of rebellion and invasion, which raises the question of whether the coterie of lawyers in the Duterte administration know their law — or if the administration is planning to characterize such law and order problems as the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute gang as rebel groups, which they certainly are not — or, in case the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) fail, to declare a state of rebellion to justify a wave of arrests of NDFP personalities as well as other dissenters and oppositionists.. Fears that the frequent “floating” (Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s word) of the possible suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus could lead to its actually being suspended, and worse, are not as paranoid as Andanar and company would have us believe: the Marcos administration after all suspended the privilege of the writ nationwide in 1971 and arrested and detained hundreds of individuals without charges as a prelude to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.. Despite these legitimate concerns, Ramos has not said so much as a word of caution against the administration’s irresponsible fear-mongering and the enhanced opportunities for the further abuse of human rights the suspension of the privilege would create for state security forces, whether in connection with the “war on drugs” or any other excuse.. Duterte’s support for the furtive burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has similarly escaped Ramos’s critical attention.. And yet both issues should be of special relevance to Ramos, who has many times declared that his main concern is to make the Philippines an ideal place to invest in and to visit in the collective minds of the countries of the globe as a necessary condition for the country’s development.. When after much media prodding Ramos coyly admitted supporting Duterte as the campaign for the May 2016 elections began, his decision then struck many as premised on his perception that Duterte would run the country as he would had he been elected to the second term that in the latter part of his presidency he seemed to have wanted.
BUSAN — President Rodrigo Duterte took offense at the “taunt” of Vice President Leni Robredo challenging him to just fire her if he didn’t want her on the government’s counternarcotics body, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters here late Sunday.. We already issued a statement on that and the SEA Games organizer had apologized already,” Panelo said.. Vice President Robredo won,” Hontiveros said in a statement.. “The appointment and the eventual firing of [the Vice President] .. . . proved what we have been saying all along: Both the war on drugs and the appointment of the Vice President as [cochair of the interagency committee on drugs] are bluff and bluster,” Pangilinan said in a separate statement.. Against the advice of her allies in the political opposition, Robredo accepted Duterte’s offer six days later and started to work by meeting with members of the committee, requesting access to the list of the government’s high-value targets in the illegal drug trade.. TAGS: drug czar , Drug war , ICAD , Illegal drugs , Lent Robredo , Local news , Nation , national news , News , Philippine news updates , Politics , Rodrigo Duterte
Manila, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima still remembers meeting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the first time in 2009 when he was the mayor of Davao city in the southern island of Mindanao.. Human Rights Watch also blamed Duterte’s “words and actions” for the killings of suspected criminals.. Almost immediately, the two clashed and De Lima became the most outspoken critic of the president’s controversial crackdown on drugs.. Other lawmakers who are facing or have faced “trumped-up charges” are the former Representatives Ariel Casilao and Antonio Tinio, the APHR report said.. One opposition member who remains in office is Senator Risa Hontiveros, another vocal critic of the war on drugs, which according to human rights advocates has already claimed the lives of as many as 27,000 people since June 2016.. We will continue to strive for an independent Senate,” she said.. “The Senate is the people’s last line of defence within the government against continuing attempts to undermine our democracy and attack our human rights.
Carpio’s audience was also receptive to his argument that the populist president of the Philippines, now a bit more than halfway through his six-year term, has essentially declined to press his own country’s claims on what international law has affirmed to be its maritime territory.. Polls show that 87 percent of Filipinos favor a stronger defense of Philippine maritime territory.. “People don’t like his drug killings.. This political power was on full display in legislative elections last year when every one of the 12 candidates Duterte endorsed for the country’s 24-seat senate was elected.. Last summer, a few days after a Chinese trawler rammed and sank a Philippine boat operating in traditional Philippine fishing grounds, Duterte echoed China’s statements, calling it “a little maritime incident.” When this sparked calls for his impeachment, he reacted with typical scorn.. The move seems likely to be unpopular with many Filipinos, if for no other reason than that it removes yet another obstacle to China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea.. Like other regional strongmen, he appreciates that Beijing, unlike Washington (even under Trump), doesn’t criticize him for human rights violations such as the drug-war killings.. Yet a deeper reason for Duterte’s popularity is simply the force of his personality.. As the sociologist and author Walden Bello, a prominent Duterte critic, put it to me, “The charismatic figure can get away with anything, even murder.” Bello was speaking of the thousands of drug-war dead, about which Duterte has been spectacularly unrepentant.. “People are very aware of the killings, but at the same time, they feel that Duterte’s eliminated the criminals,” Bello says, speaking specifically of a poor, teeming Manila neighborhood near where he lives, a place that has seen many extrajudicial killings.. “It’s no surprise,” he continued, “in that sense, that so many Filipinos seem willing to squander the spirit of 1986, curse human rights and democracy as useless, and turn instead to a strongman to change things.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said former President Barack Obama can “go to hell,” called President Donald Trump a "bigot" and talked about personally executing people — yet he boasts a nearly 80 percent approval rating in his country, according to a recent poll.. Who is Duterte and where does he come from?. During his 20 years as mayor, Duterte earned the nickname "the death squad mayor" because of the teams of hit men he allegedly sent to target suspected drug dealers — and addicts.. "Duterte, who was somewhat like a dictator in Davao, was very successful in the eyes of many people — not only in Davao but around the country," Richard Javad Heydarian, a Philippine author and political scientist, told NBC News.. As recently as December, Duterte said he would go around "looking for a confrontation so I could kill" while he was mayor.. As president, HRW and other groups say Duterte's "war on drugs" and crime has led to the deaths of an estimated 7,000 people.. So how did Duterte become president?. "He was not somebody you would have expected to end up as president of the Philippines," Ott said.. Still, Ott and Heydarian said that despite his talk, Duterte needs the U.S. as an ally, whether the president is Obama, Trump or anyone else.. What does Duterte think of Trump?