The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 27 February 2017

by TRG Alerts Admin on March 6, 2017

The Rendon Group


Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at or +1-202-745-4900.

Philippines: Government arrests senator as opposition to Duterte grows

PhilippinesProtesters marked the 31st anniversary of the revolt that toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos by gathering at the People Power Monument in Metro Manila on Feb. 25. (Bullit Marquez/AP)

Since his election to the presidency of the Philippines on 30JUN16, former Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte has aggressively waged a “war on drugs” that has been marked by the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug addicts and criminals. As part of a Senate investigation into human rights, former Davao policeman Arturo Lascanas alleged that then-mayor Duterte operated a “death squad” in the city, paying cash for the murder of drug dealers and other criminals.  Senator Leila de Lima cited the allegation as evidence that President Duerte was “unfit to rule.” Duerte’s allies struck back at the investigation by arresting Senator de Lima, accusing her of complicity in the drug trade. Her arrest energized the opposition, who used the 31st anniversary of the “People Power” revolt that overthrew the Marcos administration to protest for her freedom. At another rally a few miles away, pro-Duterte supporters listened to Christian songs and the testimonies of former drug addicts.

News summary of events during the week of 20FEB17 – 27FEB17

  • 20FEB: Former Davao policeman Arturo Lascanas said President Rodrigo Duterte operated a “death squad” while mayor of Davao city, giving cash and orders for police and assassins to murder criminals. (Reuters)
  • 21FEB: New York-based Human Rights Watch slammed President Duterte’s administration, calling drug charges against Senator de Lima politically motivated. (BBC)
  • 21FEB: Senator Leila de Lima urged the Cabinet to declare the president unfit to rule, describing him as a “sociopathic serial killer” because of his war on drugs and allegations he once ran a hit squad. (Reuters)
  • 22FEB: Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella rejected Amnesty International’s labeling of its president as among world leaders with a “toxic agenda”, and accused the general secretary of the human rights group of arrogant lecturing. (Reuters)
  • 22FEB: Senators allied with President Rodrigo Duterte sought to block a retired policeman from testifying that Duterte had once operated a “death squad”, dismissing the former policeman as a liar. (Reuters)
  • 23FEB: Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said he would tell a United Nations rights body that the killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs were not state-sponsored. (Reuters)
  • 23FEB: A Manila court ordered the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima, President Duterte’s leading critic (DPA/AP)
  • 23FEB: An arrest warrant was issued for Senator de Lima, but she dodged police and sought refuge in the Senate. (AFP)
  • 24FEB: Senator de Lima was arrested on charges of having abetted the illegal drug trade. (CNN)
  • 25FEB: Hundreds of left-wing and pro-democracy activists marked the anniversary of the 1986 revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos to warn about what they say are the incumbent president’s dictatorial tendencies and condemn his decision to allow Marcos to be buried in a heroes’ cemetery. (AP)
  • 27FEB: Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said they are prepared to resume the President’s anti-drug campaign that was put on hold over graft allegations against the security forces. (IANS)
  • 27FEB: Four legislators who supported Senator Leila de Lima lost important positions in the Senate, drawing political lines in the upper house in a tightening of the president’s grip on power. (Reuters)
  • 27FEB: Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told the UN rights council that Manila would “destroy criminals” in a defiant defence of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war. (AFP)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about Duterte’s crackdown on opposition

  • @GaurivanGulikGauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director, Amnesty International
  • @GregPolingGreg Poling, Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (DC)
  • @janelledumalaonJanelle Dumalaon, Journalist, Deutsche Welle (Berlin, Manila)
  • @MichaelpeeljournoMichael Peel, Bangkok correspondent, Financial Times
  • @PhelimKinePhelim Kine, Deputy Director, Asian Division, Human Rights Watch
  • @RawyaRagehRawya Rageh, Senior Crisis Advisor, Amnesty International

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding Duterte’s crackdown on opposition

Aries Arugay, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman

“Senator de Lima has been taunting the Duterte administration to arrest her for months. She boldly says she is its fiercest critic … What is happening right now is she is really using this as her platform for her own politics”

  • “Senator Leila de Lima arrested in Philippines,” Aljazeera, 24FEB17

Walden Bello, Professor of Sociology and Public Administration, University of the Philippines

“The impending arrest of Senator de Lima is dangerous for Duterte. He runs the risk of making her a martyr and a lightning rod that could broaden the opposition.”

  • “Duterte foe relishes battle with ‘oppressive’ Philippine regime,” FT, 22FEB17

Jesus Falcis, Human Rights Lawyer

“The marcoses–through Duterte–are erasing the Filipino people’s memory and moral standards by burying the former dictator [Ferdinand Marco]. Duterte himself is waging a war on democracy–not just on the poor and drugs–with his creeping authoritarianism.”

  • “Philippine protesters condemn drug war on anniversary of uprising,” CNN, 25FEB17

Richard Heydarian, Assistant Professor of Political Science, De La Salle University (Philippines)

“The showing last weekend was huge and has taken many by surprise, including government supporters who are seeking to delegitimize it.”

  • “As Critic of Philippines’ Duterte Is Jailed, Her Allies See a Move Against Dissent,” WSJ, 24FEB17

Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch

“Not only Congress, but other pillars of Philippine democracy from the press to the judiciary, should be worried about the future. The arrest of Senator de Lima suggests that Duterte is willing to debase Philippine governance to the level of personal vendetta.”

  • “Duterte Accused of Silencing Critics After Senator’s Drug Arrest,” Bloomberg, 23FEB17

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to Duterte’s crackdown on opposition

  1. Philippine court orders arrest of president’s leading critic

Media: Associated Press

Byline: Jim Gomez

Date: 23 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine court issued an arrest warrant on drug charges Thursday for an opposition senator and former top human rights official who is one of the most vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly anti-drug crackdown.

The Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa city in the Manila metropolis issued the warrant for the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima and other officials who have been charged by Department of Justice prosecutors with receiving bribes from detained drug lords.

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  1. Leila de Lima, Critic of Duterte, Is Arrested in the Philippines

Media: New York Times


Date: 23 February 2017

MANILA — A Philippine senator who had been the leading domestic critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody antidrug campaign was arrested Friday on charges that she took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.

The senator, Leila de Lima, has denied the charges, describing them as political persecution. A Philippine court ordered her arrest on Thursday, and she went home Thursday night to say goodbye to her family.

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  1. Childhood Hunting Buddy Turns Financier for Duterte Drug War

Media: Bloomberg

Byline: Clarissa Batino and Siegfrid Alegado

Date: 23 February 2017

Before his childhood friend Rodrigo Duterte decided to run for president of the Philippines, Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez used to spend his days hunting a white-tailed deer in Idaho and watching episodes of “Narcos” on Netflix.

Now, instead of following the escapades of narcotics kingpin Pablo Escobar on TV, he has a drug war at home to pay for. As Duterte’s finance minister since last year, it’s Dominguez’s job to ensure his old companion can afford to implement election promises to wipe out drug dealers and boost police pay, while cutting income tax and finding billions for infrastructure projects.

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  1. Opponent of Duterte’s drugs war arrested in Philippines on drug charges

Media: Reuters

Byline: Karen Lema

Date: 24 February 2017

A Philippine senator and staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs was in police custody on Friday following her high-profile arrest for drugs offences that she described as a vendetta that would fail to silence her.

Leila de Lima, who last year led a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, said the arrest was payback for taking on a president who had acted like a dictator.

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  1. Leading critic of Philippine leader arrested on drug charges

Media: Associated Press

Byline: Jim Gomez

Date: 24 February 2017

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine senator and leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs said she won’t be intimidated by a leader she called a “serial killer” after police arrested her on drug charges.

Leila de Lima said the accusations against her were part of an attempt by Duterte to muzzle critics of the clampdown that has left more than 7,000 suspected dealers and small-time users dead. She questioned why the court suddenly issued the arrest order when it was scheduled Friday to hear her petition to throw out the charges of receiving bribes from detained drug lords.

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