• It all began with Aquino, will DU30 now finish it?

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    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    EVEN before the drug killings abate, assuming they would ever do before President Rodrigo Duterte leaves office, we need to agree that we have not installed a president for six years just to have a vulgar and murderous fellow impose himself on us, and get his propaganda fraudsters and pornographers to claim that we support mayhem, murder and sick speech. We have to seriously consider what has become of us as a people under his deranged leadership.

    Aside from the cold-blooded murder of the 17-year-old Grade 12 student Kian Loyd de los Santos, who has become the symbol of brutality under DU30, we have to seriously consider how many thousands have been killed without documentation or due process, and how these murders have permanently impacted the psyche of this and the next generations. We have to start asking ourselves whether or not we have become, as suggested by some, a failed state.

    Signs of a failing state
    DU30 has already proclaimed us a narco-state. His murderous war on drugs has made us a killer-state as well. But the gun-packing DU30 may have convinced himself he has built a state other states should fear. That would be a costly and ruinous mistake. Political theorists tell us when a state has failed or begun to fail. The signs appear to correspond to what’s happening to the Philippines. These include:

    *Inability to defend the national territory;

    *Loss of the monopoly of the use of coercive physical force within the national territory;

    *Lack of capability to provide the citizenry with access to basic goods and services;

    *Doubtful legitimacy of its leaders;

    *Poor understanding of the meaning of society and the common good.

    Defense of the national territory. Under President Ferdinand Marcos, we tried to assert our sovereign claim over Sabah (North Borneo), which was ceded to the Philippine government by its original owner, the Sultan of Sulu, but which was incorporated into the Federation of Malaysia despite our territorial claim. We have not formally renounced this legal claim, but the government after Marcos has failed to exert any effort in pursuit of it. When loyal supporters of the Sultan of Sulu gathered in Lahad Datu in Sabah in February 2013 to assert the Sultan’s and the Philippines’ rights to the territory, then President B. S. Aquino 3rd openly took the side of Malaysia. The Sultan’s men from Sulu were either killed or rounded up by the Malaysian authorities, and threatened with criminal charges by the Philippine government.

    Losing a winning hand
    But the more serious test came under DU30. Before Aquino ended his term, he authorized the filing of an arbitration claim before the Permanent Arbitration Court at The Hague on the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China in the Spratlys. On July 12, 2017—12 days into the DU30 presidency—the court ruled in favor of the Philippines, upholding its sovereign rights over the maritime features inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and dismissing China’s reputed “rights” under the so-called nine-dash line. China refused to recognize the ruling, as it had earlier refused to recognize the arbitration process itself.

    In his first major foreign policy decision involving the country’s territorial claim in the West Philippine/South China Sea, DU30 decided not to invoke the ruling but rather decided to engage with China strictly on a bilateral basis, without any reference to the dispute, or to Beijing’s continued fortification of the disputed features, for eventual military use. The US and other countries have expressed concern about China’s continued island-building, and its apparent militarization of the area, but not the DU30 government. Whenever he spoke on the issue, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano tended to speak more like a spokesman of the Chinese government.

    Ground for ouster?
    A statement attributed to unnamed officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the so-called Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM), and reportedly circulated among Filipinos in the United States, the Middle East and Europe, has accused DU30 of failing to defend the national territory from China’s overreach, and asked for his ouster because of this, among other reasons.

    Loss of monopoly of the use of armed force. As a fundamental political and constitutional principle, the state alone, whether democratic, totalitarian or autocratic, has the right and duty to maintain and use an armed force for lawful purposes. However, this principle has been wantonly violated even before DU30 became president. Political warlords own and control private armies, and various dissident groups have fought and continue to fight the government with their own armies. As mayor of Davao for 22 years, DU30 had been accused of maintaining a “Davao Death Squad” to eliminate criminals and suspects.

    The more dangerous threat to national security, however, involves the funding, arming and training of dissident forces by foreign (communist and fascist) parties to bring down our constitutional government. For PADEM, DU30’s most serious offense in this regard is his having allegedly turned the AFP and the PNP into his “private” security agencies. Thus, he talks of “my soldiers” and “my police” and uses them for personal purposes.

    Lack of capability to provide access to basic goods and services. The economy does not produce enough goods and services to benefit all members of the society, especially the poorest. Lack of employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor has forced at least 10 million Filipinos to seek and find employment abroad, causing family breakdowns and other social problems at home, and making the sweat of these migrant workers the second biggest source of national income, after the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, to help fuel not only the marginal development but also the massive corruption in government and the society.

    No social justice
    The anti-poverty programs for which billions are appropriated to help poor families yearly have not been spared of corruption. The government has failed to protect workers from the most outrageous form of contractualization by employers, including those who land regularly in the Forbes magazine annual listing of the world’s billionaires. It has failed to prescribe the standards of social justice, which would prevent workers from being treated like commodities to be bought and sold as dictated by the market forces.

    Doubtful legitimacy of political leaders. Because of our highly tainted automated elections in 2010, 2013 and 2016, the legitimacy of our “elected” leaders has remained in question. The first of these was B. S. Aquino 3rd, who became president in 2010 allegedly because of public sympathy over the pre-election death from natural causes of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, but in reality most likely because of the massive manipulation of the automated electoral process, which used the Venezuela-supplied “Smartmatic” precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine, without any of the safety and accuracy features mandated by law but illegally scrapped by the Commission on Elections.

    In the 2013 senatorial elections, Malacañang took control of the Smartmatic operations, still without the safety and accuracy features, and dictated the electoral results of 60-30-10. This meant 60 percent of all the votes for B. S. Aquino’s senatorial candidates, 30 percent for a few “approved” non-administration candidates, and 10 percent for the losing independents. The public had a general sense of the cheating, but even the losers could not protest; the Smartmatic process was one such process where aside from the Comelec’s final word, there was no paper proof that a loser had lost, and a winner had won.

    In 2016, Smartmatic retained control, despite a determined effort of a community of independent Filipino scientists, engineers and computer experts to keep the foreigner out in favor of an all-Filipino automated system. Every presidential player expected massive cheating, but instead of working individually or collectively against cheating, each one tried to make sure they would be its beneficiaries. The voters’ list was inflated, there was still no review of the source code, no digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors appeared on the returns, etc. The National Transformation Council doubted that any of the losers would easily concede to the declared “winner” and chaos could ensue.

    A bogus landslide
    This proved to be a miscalculation. Through DU30’s highly creative use of social media, where he employed a huge army of trolls, the former mayor of Davao managed to create more noise than all the competition, and quickly claimed a “landslide victory” after posting 38 percent of all the votes counted. In any election, a landslide is at least 50 percent plus one of all the votes; 38 percent is certainly far from it, but nobody questioned the claim, and DU30’s propaganda fraudsters swiftly rushed in with the claim that he had gained the approval of 94 to 96 percent of all the voters in the Philippines.

    No one has accused DU30 of manipulating the process. The manipulation clearly showed in the senatorial race, where Aquino’s so-so candidates, some of whom were generally regarded as sure losers, suddenly shot up to lead the winning slate. But questions that were never asked at the time are beginning to be asked now, after Patricia Paz Bautista, the estranged wife of Comelec chairman Juan Andres Bautista, revealed to the National Bureau of Investigation that her husband had amassed more than P1 billion from unnamed sources during that election, and had hidden the same in 35 separate accounts in the Luzon Development Bank, an obscure rural (thrift) bank.

    Did he or didn’t he?
    This revelation tends to confirm suspicions behind the unexplained victory of some of Aquino’s non-electable senators. But did DU30, by any chance, have any secret dealings with the Comelec chair? This is one question that is being asked now in the grapevine. It could be asked in a Senate impeachment trial, should the impeachment complaint against Bautista prosper. But I cannot imagine any member of the House prosecution panel or the Senate impeachment court raising this question.

    The question of legitimacy of our political leaders springs not only from public doubts about the validity of their elections. It also springs from their evident lack of fitness for the positions they occupy. Many would not have been there if they weren’t DU30’s men. Shameless turncoatism allowed them to cross over to the minuscule ruling party and tug at DU30’s shirt-tails; so they now strut and threaten anyone they fancy with their unaccountable power. They have completely forgotten their enormous limitations. They openly brag about their fornications and adulteries as though these were qualifications for godhood, in addition to having an IQ below room temperature.

    A company of the worst people
    Indeed, this qualifies them to a kakistocracy, defined as a government run by the worst people, but not to anything better.

    Poor understanding of society and the common good. This leads to a perversion of the rights and duties of the individual, the family and the state. This is precisely why we are having all the extra-judicial killings which DU30 and PNP chief Bato de la Rosa would like to justify as a necessary consequence of their effort to save the country and its young people from drugs and crime. Instead of drilling inside their heads the principle that “the end does not justify the means,” the only thing they want to drill into our heads is that, “we are in power and you are not.”

    To be fair, the Philippine state began to fail under B. S. Aquino 3rd. But unless DU30 wakes up and reverses himself, he will have the distinction of completing the process under his watch.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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