Does DU30 need a constitutional dictatorship?

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FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

Only because he has a big job to do for President Rodrigo Duterte, which I used to do for President Ferdinand Marcos from 1969 to 1980, (when I was 29 until I was 40), I have a wealth of sympathy for the Secretary of Communications Martin Andanar, with whom I spoke recently on his 42nd birthday. I continue to pray for his success, next to that of PDU30. But I could never understand why he persists in announcing, almost with alacrity, that there is an active plot to kill or oust DU30. No other government has done anything like it. In a class act of conceding nothing to the enemy, Saddam Hussein’s information minister refused to admit that the anti-Saddam forces were already about to sack his master’s palace and ready to inflict the coup de grace.

“What are they trying to do? It just doesn’t quite add up,” said a young businessman in Zamboanga City, with whom I spoke at the funeral rites for the late Archbishop Emeritus Carmelo Morelos at the Zamboanga cathedral on Wednesday. “Are they trying to build a strawman, which they would eventually put to the torch?
Isn’t this a dangerous game to play?” According to every known manual on governance, you never advertise a threat to the throne if it exists, and the more you never, never do, if no such threat exists.

It’s now the economy, stupid

DU30’s political standing has apparently begun to wobble after his ungoverned tongue created the current messy diplomatic situation with US President Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the European Union, whose only mistake was to have expressed official concern about the summary killing of now 3,000 drug suspects in the “war” on drugs. But the killings could not possibly have exacerbated any existing risk of assassination or extra-constitutional ouster much more than they have created serious uncertainty and fear among foreign investors. Stock prices are down, investors are fleeing, the peso is falling, and abroad people laugh in apparent amusement whenever the name of the Philippines or PDU30 is mentioned.

Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings, while affirming the country’s strong external position, has warned against “downside risks” arising from global factors and political uncertainties created by the DU30 administration. The S&P statement is important because of the strong support it lent to the economy during the Aquino administration. In 2013, the economy won investment-grade status from the three international credit rating agencies—first Fitch, then S&P, then Moody’s—because of its “strong external profile, low inflation and shrinking budget deficit,” but it was S&P that raised the credit rating in May 2014 to two notches above investment grade.

Now S&P is sounding the alarm on a possible downturn. The firm is not talking of the prospects of a downgrade—all it’s saying is that no upgrade is foreseeable in the next two years; but so many others are expressing fears about it. Some are even warning about the possibility of economic sanctions, if the “war” on drugs is extended, and extrajudicial killings continue to pile up across the nation. DU30 has given himself another six months to wrap up his “war:” but it could go on much longer, without any clear success.

The longest war

A book by the author Charles R. Miller talks of America’s 40-year war on drugs as “the Longest War” —longer than the famous Thirty Years War in Europe that ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648—but it describes that war as a “failed war,” which ended with the drug cartels evolving into international crime empires destabilizing nations through violence and corruption, and finally linking up with international terrorism. In the present campaign, no illegal drug producer, manufacturer, financier, or mega distributor has been touched, no large drug laboratories have been destroyed; only 3,000 small pushers have been killed and 600,000 users have turned themselves in for fear of getting killed by the police and vigilantes. The summary killings have elicited international criticism, but it is DU30’s foul-mouthed response to the criticism that has created a situation the country has never seen before.

It is not the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but our own PDU30, who has sent “political correctness” cascading to the bottom of the sewer. And this is what appears to have caused Andanar to announce of a plot to assassinate the President and a plot to oust him by extra-constitutional means. Unfortunately, such announcements only provoke disbelief.

What are they cooking now?

As my Zamboanga interlocutor put it, “They must be cooking something. They want to create a casus belli for state counter-action. And it’s got to be something more draconian than Martial Law. Let’s just hope it doesn’t qualify as state terrorism.”

The remark seemed to jibe with what DU30 said yesterday, as reported by the Philippine Star’s banner headline. “I don’t want martial law,” DU30 declared, and with good reason. The 1987 Constitution has completely emasculated the concept of martial law, and we have a new generation of Filipinos whose understanding of Marcos’ proclamation in 1972 seems limited to the claims of the so-called “Martial Law victims,” without any reference to the communists’ violent attempt to take over the government as the most compelling reason for the constitutional proclamation.

On Wednesday, the 44th anniversary of the 1972 proclamation, street protesters and media commentators hardly mentioned the communist insurgency that triggered the declaration. They focused solely on the alleged violations of human rights suffered by innocent victims and the armed partisans who had failed to bring down Marcos. A number of TV stations remembered that, as Secretary of Information, I read the lengthy Proclamation 1081 to the nation, and had wanted me to share some commemorative thoughts on the occasion.

Frustrating partisanship

I was in Zamboanga and could not honor any of the invitations. Moreover, I find it so frustrating that pure partisanship seems to have completely smothered and suppressed any seed of scholarship on this issue. Far too many of those who want to discuss the issue seem to believe that the Filipino communists in Utrecht won the Cold War when the Soviet Union lost it in 1991, and that they are still winning the war in the Philippines. Thus, the armed communists whom Marcos had failed to bury in the ‘70s now would like to prevent his long delayed burial at the Libingan.

The present Constitution has reduced the concept of Martial Law into a shell of its former self. Under Section 10 (2), Article VII of the 1935 Constitution, which was the basis of the 1972 proclamation, “The President shall be commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent threat thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

In the 1987 Constitution, written by Cory Aquino’s appointive constitutional commission, the so-called Commander-in-Chief provision was subjected to severe limitations, which put Congress on top of the President and Commander-in-Chief. Thus, Martial Law may be declared only in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, for a period of six months—no longer when there is an imminent threat of invasion, insurrection or rebellion, and for as long as the actual or imminent danger lasts. What happens if the invasion or rebellion and the threats to public safety last longer than six months? Silly, don’t you think?

Now, within 48 hours from the proclamation of Martial Law, the President must submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress, which, voting jointly, may revoke the proclamation by a majority vote of all its members, and which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. In case of a raging rebellion or invasion, how on earth could you expect the Congress to meet and the President to be going there to make a report, when he should be running the military response to the rebellion or invasion? Absurd, if not stupid, don’t you think?

Martial Law now useless

So DU30 is right in rejecting Martial Law as a possible option. It is no longer a sufficient vehicle for what he may want to do. His daily visits to the military camps, where he promises increased benefits to the troops and delivers “inspirational talks,” during which he gives “the middle finger” to foreign interlopers, (as happened recently), suggest that he may be considering something not written in the Constitution. Some military analysts believe he is preparing to retool the entire Armed Forces, based on new terms of engagement with the CPP/NPA/NDF. He is doing his best to galvanize his personal ties with the troops so that he would meet no resistance when he finally asks them to support the coalition government with the CPP/NPA/NDF.

This sounds like a conspiracy theory, but analysts insist it is not. A coalition government is almost in place. Without the benefit of formal negotiations, and without going through the canonical stage of strategic stalemate, seasoned communists have entered the Cabinet, and been given the most powerful positions with access to virtually unlimited funds and facilities to broaden their mass base. What to call the next step or the resulting extra-constitutional arrangement is not really a problem. A skunkweed by any other name will smell as a skunkweed.

Constitutional dictatorship or revolutionary govt

Salvador Panelo, who has been removed as presidential spokesman and made presidential legal counsel purposely to protect DU30 from any nuisible verbiage, has managed to sneak in the phrase “constitutional dictatorship” to describe what seems to be in the cards, without any attribution to Clinton Rossiter, who first gave us the phrase. Some observers suspect that at the prompting of the Left, DU30 may have decided to finally declare a revolutionary government, exactly as he had promised he would do when he was still a candidate.

As such, a move is not likely to be supported by the nation’s longtime democratic allies, DU30 has apparently decided to “unfriend” the US, the European Union and other allies in advance, using their critical comments on the summary drug killings as the convenient excuse. We are no longer a vassal state, says DU30; we are no longer America’s “Little Brown Brothers,” croons Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr.; nobody lectures us on human rights, even when the government wantonly violates human rights. Not even a dog owner is free to inflict cruelty on his own dog, but as an independent and sovereign state, the government claims the right to treat its people as it pleases, without holding itself answerable to any universal authority or values.

As a finishing touch, the alleged plot to kill the President or oust him from office, as reportedly uncovered and repeatedly announced by the communications secretary, could be used to provide the factual and legal justification—assuming such a justification is still needed—for declaring a revolutionary government. But is this what DU30 really need? I don’t believe so. Strictly by following the Constitution and the rule of law, and all the international norms and conventions on justice and human rights, and by learning to speak a little of the language of statesmen and diplomats, he could still become one of the most successful Presidents the country ever had.

fstatad@gmail.com

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15 Comments

  1. Wow at least there’s one person in Sen Tatad that would say something about this STUPID president Du-dirty. Looks like everybody is scared of this EVIL president. Wait for the SILENT majority and this STUPID president will have a dose of his own medicine. I hope and pray that Du-dirty wont last that long.

  2. I think Duterte is doing just fine| except of course with killings. But the mass murders are for Duterte’ s spiritual relations with the Jesus Christ that our PH President should think of| the rest of Digong’ s policies and rulings are within my likings.

    I get to have better service at the local government offices such as at Manila City Hall and Caloocan City Halls. I get to see improvements on Garbage Collection within my area {G. Tuazon Streets and nearby roads} + there are more proposed laws which are pro poor such as in taxes and legal government documentations.

    Bottomline| I haven’ t seen any killings yet in my Territory: I guess the Country is not as at a bad condition as what the international news reporters are saying.

    I don’ t mind Digong’ s childish acts| I get to bash him too anyways through internet and its okay with him :P I think he even absorbs the good things that is being said towards him :)

    I prefer Duterte than to have Robledo sitting at the Presidential Chair| WheelChair na lang ang ibigay natin kay Leni Haha!! Crippled Lady, ain’ t nothing to show in her months in office: Work Girl!!-we are paying you BITCH :P

  3. so you admitted that you are marcos errand boy, ha!!

    how much did you get as share from the big LOOT??

    Juan dela Cruz knew that marcos is a family of THIEVES, CHEATERS AND LOOTERS.

  4. Mr. Tadski.. since elekxon im reading comentry in Manila times., by da way 4 today gud observation, but 4 me mr. Tadski political game is always a game we dnt care dat! Cuz we the son and daughter of dis country we dnt ned successful president! We ned successful country! Gets?.. and only duterte have dat ideology.. not the cult!

  5. when something is going well…people have to spoil it by proposing conspiracy theories about what our government is allegedly planning to do…our country has finally found and elected a POTP who can really do something about the criminality we were all born into….finally there is light at the end of the tunnel….then comes along the dark forces who tries to convince us that DU30 is planning something evil…. a revolutionary government of all things…just because he is talking to the military and the pnp….could it possibly be just a smart move to have them on your side because you are going to prosecute their generals for coddling the drug lords and getting drug money in return?…it goes the same for the pnp…most of their generals are actually protectors of the drug syndicate…some even became drug lords themselves….if ever that DU30 decides to become a dictator….then thank God it’s DU30…he knows what became of marcos after martial law…he won’t make the same mistake….he is fearless but more prudent and a lot smarter…street smart that is….DU30 has good intentions and he hates criminals….if ever he does become a dictator…. maybe it is what this country needs…our countrymen has lost their patriotism, loyalty and belief in themselves…. we have become undisciplined and up to our own devises to make life bearable in our present state…. we need DU30 to instill in us the old delicadeza ways….the old family values…and the respect we once afforded public officials….he wants to erase everything that stood for repression and corruption….things that we have grown up with and accepted as normal things…maybe he just really wants the best for us all….a major change that will interest the people and believe again in progress and success…maybe DU30 has found the right solution to our problems…just maybe…let him have his 6 years and then we can crucify or glorify him…he is after all in his seventies…he has one foot in the grave and becoming a rascal now does not become him…to all those who only has themselves to worry about… we the majority like the way DU30 is running the country with an iron hand with trusted people around him who also wants the same things he does…they are after all probinsyanos….not corrupted manila boys…their mentality are more down to earth and realistic….more believable…and result oriented…..

  6. If there is anybody today who can think out of the box to solve our complex problems , its Duterte, and out of the box includes a revolutionary government (Thailand is under one today, in case you have forgotten). Why is there a need for an out- of- the- box solution? Because the system itself is the problem ! Can you, in all honesty, say with certainty that this system is capable of reforming itself? The people want changes now, and as dangerous as a revolution might be, serious investors and quantum physicists will tell you, no risk, no gain.

  7. It is my impression that the frequent visit, address & dialogue of Mr. Duterte to the military & policemen in their respective camps/headquarters is to assure them of his full support especially increased salary & allowances. In return, he expects unqualified loyalty & support in case he declares a “constitutional dictatorship” soon. In the meantime, let’s be vigilant with our Constitution – the rule of law & its due process.

  8. I believe that Duterte is planning massive changes. As we severe our ties with US, US cannot influence our country weather it is martial law or revolutionary government. I believe it will not be martial law but a revolutionary government. No more Senate , Congress and no Supreme Court can touch Duterte. It is called Total Complete Dictatorship where all powers is generated by one person Duterte. Watch the changes. These are planned changes affecting our nation. Who can stop this ? Per Duterte. Nobody but Nobody.

  9. The DU30 government is up to something. They are sending the feelers now thru casual talks and pronouncements that some kind of martial rule is in the cooking. This is all coming from the mouth of Duterte and his spokesperson Andanar. I remember before McCoy (Marcos) declared martial law that the government staged bombings and other criminal activities throughout the country in order for Marcos to justify the proclamation of martial law. With only less than six months in office, it’s hard for one to discern where the country is heading under the Duterte leadership.What is clear is the Philippines is slowly alienating itself from its most trusted allies like the US, Australia. etc. Duterte said he would be more friendly with China so he can negotiate with the Chinese to allow our fishermen to fish in our own waters but he never mentioned about taking a hard stand to tell China to go away because they’re encroaching within our territory. Filipinos do not want just the fish. They want something more important – their sovereignty. Duterte’s battlecry cannot just be all about drugs and criminality. It’s encompassing for a president to focus on the bigger aspect of his presidency. He is the president of the republic and not the chief of police or a mayor or something.

    • Don’t underestimate the CIA. The most trusted ally is not the most trustworthy. America has it’s own security (economic) problems and while we want to be at least a knight or bishop, America thinks of us as mere expendable pawns. The US, who treats as as mere lackeys, will NEVER bow to our own aspirations.
      Of course, neither will China. if we want to set our own course, we should unshackle ourselves from the
      colonial bindings that permeates our psyche. WE SHOULD BE AS DUPLICITOUS AS THE BIG POWERS

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