This Week in the Philippines!
Three things stood out from the Philippines CNN newsfeed this past week. Now, I know some of my subscribers (most actually) would prefer headlines from the Philippines FOX feed, but despite a great deal of searching, I couldn’t find it. As a consolation, I will do the Livecast tomorrow in a blonde wig and risqué cocktail dress and try to channel Megan Kelly (no relation).
Arrested Selfie Developements!
Philippines police chief Ronald“Bato” Dela Rosa issued a directive this past week urging his officers not to take selfies with arrested celebrities. (Quick Aside: Bato translates to “stone” in both Tagalog and Bisaya, so I just tend to refer to him as “The Rock). The stocky chief of the Philippines National Police took this action following the release of a photo of two female officers taken with the actor Mark Anthony Fernandez who was arrested this week for possession of a kilogram of marijuana. The photo quickly went viral on Facebook, prompting the chief to take quick action.
Bato made a public declaration stating “Though I don’t really see anything wrong with it, being their commanding officer. But I would look bad to other criminals – it would look like we have a double standard.” I take this as other non-celebrity criminals would be upset having to settle for simply a mug shot – not a full-on, potentially viral photograph of them with their arresting officers.
“The Rock” is very popular with the Philippines population and has had a starring role in the government hearings on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines – which as this time total over 3,100 killings in the streets of this gentle island nation seeking to deal with the moral decay of drug abuse.
Chief Dela Roso brought his popularity up by adding “I understand that some officers can get starstruck. A lot of people also get star struck with me.”
Two Chinese, One Russian and 130 Million Worth of Cocaine
Three foreign nationals were arrested this past week at the Ninoy Aquino Airport when inspectors discovered 28 kilograms of cocaine in their luggage worth an estimated 130,000,000 pesos. Two of the young suspects were Chinese nationals from Honk Kong and one was a dapperly dressed young man from Russia. The three suspects allegedly flew out of Brazil, took a connecting flight in Dubai and then landed in Manila. Customs officials perusing their luggage happened to come across the 28 kilograms of powdered cocaine and another two bottles of liquid cocaine. Oddly enough, local Filipino authorities are saying that the three foreign suspects were not traveling together but just happened to all be on the same flights. Following the discovery, the three suspects all claimed that they knew nothing of the drugs and that “friends” of theirs had asked them to carry luggage over to the Philippines for them.
Following drug testing, the three foreigners were detained pending an inquest and probable indictment. Drug trafficking is a non-bailable offence in the Philippines and results in lifetime incarceration.
Airport security at the NAIA has been having a banner week – a few days earlier they arrested a 22 year old Filipino who apparently tried to smuggle 5 kilograms of cocaine into the country.
When the Police Come A’Knocking
The war against drugs in the Philippines is a very real thing, affecting just about every community around the Philippines. Alleged bad-acting Filipinos are being arrested, shot and – in some cases as we noted above – having selfies taken with their arresting officers that quickly go viral. A recent tactic being taken by the national police force is having officers go door-to-door to pass out flyers and request home inspections. Police officials are calling this Operation Tokhang which is a contraction of Bisayan toktok (knock) and hangyo (plea, request; Tagalog pakiusap). Several high end locations in Makati were visited by officers seeking to gather information under Operation Tokhang and give out printed materials regarding drug abuse. In one area of the opulent neighborhood, 59 high-condominiums and 300 local establishments were approached by inquisitive inspectors – of these only two residents allowed their homes to be inspected. A local police superintendent was noted as saying that there was no drug issues there as that part of Makati is a “rich community.” Apparently, then, drug abuse is only affecting the poor. He went on to encourage residents of the well-off community to inform on their neighbors if any drug activity is noted – which can be done by filing a complaint with the barangay captain or local police.
An interesting addition to Operation Tokhang door-to-door approach is information being passed around on social media that there will be a “stickering” aspect to the plan in which households who submit to drug testing will be given a “Drug Free House” sticker by the authorities to place on their gate. If nothing else (and all Constitutional issues aside), this is good news for the thousands of sticker shops throughout the Philippines.
Tune in for the “This Week in the Philippines” Livecast tomorrow morning at 9 AM local time (Thursday night 9 PM Eastern Standard Time).
It’s more fun in the Philippines!!!