Donald Trump’s triumph, Espinosa’s murder: a tale of two political tsunamis



First read
THE column that I was writing on the murder of Mayor RolandoEspinosa while in police custody, was overtaken by the political tsunami that occurred in America yesterday– the surprise electoral victory of Republican Donald Trump in the US presidential election.

This development is so seismic and far-reaching in impact, I had to quickly redesign my column into a split-level structure:

1. One level discussing the shocking murder of Mayor Rolando Espinosa inside his jail cell in Baybay, Leyte; and

2. A second level discussing the significance of Trump’s ascent to the presidency of the most powerful nation and biggest economy in the planet.

These two developments, in their respective ways, will impact deeply and profoundly the presidency of President Duterte–his domestic and foreign policies, and the way he governs this nation.

They force a review of policies that were adopted without thorough study and review, during the first four months of Duterte rule.

If DU30 is thoughtful and receptive of expert analysis and counsel, he will view these events not only as challenges to the wisdom of his policy decisions, but as opportunities to review and, if necessary, alter course.

Drug war not worth one more life
The war on illegal drugs that PresidentDuterte launched immediately after taking his oath, has already claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 victims. If the Filipino nation is true to its values and its Constitution, Espinosa’s extra-judicial killing should be the last. The people must call for an end to the drug war.

Filipinos should look up expert reports and analyses of the entire history on record of the War on Drugs, which was initiated by Richard Nixon in 1971.

“The War on Drugs” is an American term commonly applied to a campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade.

This initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the United Nations have made illegal.

Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.

In May 2009, the Obama administration declared that it would not use the term “War on Drugs”, because the term is “counter-productive,” and “drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated…”

In June 2011, a self-appointed Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

These developments in the global war on drugs suggest that President Duterteshould review from top to bottom his ongoing war on drugs.

The basic premise and stated aim of the drug war is to eliminate down to the last drug dealer or suspect the illegal drug trade in the country.

This policy evolved from a picture or belief of the president that illegal drugs is the biggest problem in the Philippines, the root, if you wish, of all evils and all problems.

Like George Bush who could not find Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)” to justify his war on Iraq, Duterte is hard put to find credible justification for his drug war, and the thousands of killings that it has caused.

If he means to continue the drug war, President Duterte should address the nation and report frankly and boldly how the government has fared in the drug war.

He should acknowledge the many tragedies and humiliations inflicted on the nation by the drug war—and apologize for them.

The drug war has cost our people many lives. It is time for our people to tell their government that this war is not worth one more life. If Espinosa proves to be the last casualty ofthe drug war, his death would at least gain some meaning.

The meaning of Trump’s victory
Donald Trump has wrought “fear and change” into the fabric of American life, in a parody of Barack Obama’s message of hope and change. He is riding the crest of the tidal wave he unleashed with his promise to make America great again.

Trump is the change agent in a realignment of American political forces.

With his election, America joins the global populist movement that has swept into power political leaders who speak for and working people.

Perhaps the finest analysis of Trump‘s significance was that of Patrick Buchanan, which was published a day before the election.

Buchanan wrote: “Whatever happens Tuesday, Trump has made history and has forever changed American politics.

“Though a novice in politics, he captured the party of Lincoln with the largest turnout of primary voters ever, and he has inflicted wounds on the nation’s ruling class from which it may not soon recover….

“Not only did he rout the Republican elites, he ash-canned their agenda and repudiated the wars into which they plunged the country.

“Trump did not create the forces that propelled his candidacy, but he recognized them, tapped into them and unleashed a gusher of nationalism and populism that will not soon dissipate.

Do mainstream Republicans think that should Trump lose, a Bush Restoration lies ahead? The dynasty is as dead as the Romanovs.

The media, whose reputation has sunk to congressional depths, has also suffered a blow to their credibility….

But it is the national establishment that has suffered most.

The Trump candidacy exposed what seems an unbridgeable gulf between this political class and the nation in whose name it purports to speak….

“Middle America believes the establishment is not looking out for the nation but for retention of its power….

“Trump’s followers believe Trump alone will secure the borders and rid them of a trade regime that has led to the loss of 70,000 factories and 5 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA. They believe Trump is the best hope for keeping us out of the wars the Beltway think tanks are already planning for the sons of the “deplorables” to fight.”

Duterte and Trump
Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte are products of the same populist revolt sweeping the world today, the same wave that produced Brexit in the United Kingdom.

Duterte should recognize a kindred spirit in the new US president. He should think twice about testing his expletives on Trump when they finally meet.

He should wait and see how Trump and the Republicans will deal with China and Russia. Then will be the time for Duterte to speak about separation, divorce, or perhaps reconciliation.


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  1. I agree so much on the war on drugs – its old views. Learn from other countries – death is not the answer.

    About Trump, he might be a blessing in disquise. There is need for other policy even with some rough edges. Maybe it’s not so rough in the end. For Philippines – and especially the crazy attitude of DU30 – its a blessing already in the making.

  2. Benzirach Cruz on

    Populist and mob democracy will usher an age of fascist state and dictatorial regimes capitalizing on rising nationalist and protectionist sentiments all over the globe. History just keep on repeating itself.

  3. MR Macabenta why you favouring to stop drug war? Are you insane? Those previous governance had already launch a drug war. But so sad, only killing those poor addict & small fly-drug pusher, which never go for statistic to determine like what you are barking now for thousands of life has gone. And during that early time no one in the government cares. (Killing, rape, extortion, robbing, masacres & so on)

    Mr Macabenta do you write somthing related to drug killings during the past administration? (I dont think you did)

    So why you say so to stop? Do you have any body related to you to be protected? This campaign is bloody but for law abiding filipinos will benefit at the end of this drug war. Todays’ not only drug addict dies, but also drug lords dies… “also killing” SO THE PAST & PRESENT DRUG WAR CAMPAIGN ARE NO DIFFERENCE.

  4. For sure the American people elected Trump not for a mistake, but for a real change from the maladies of the administration of Obama and series of misdeeds of Hilary as secretary of state, not to mention the accusations by the Americans the alleged corruptions of Hilary through the Clinton Foundations, etc. Obama buried America in trillions of debts following the overspending in trillions likewise by DUBYA. While Hilary’s campaign funds are from the billionaires with ulterior motives, such as lobbying after Hilary became president, Donald spent his own $100 millions. Trump prefer to ask donation from the average American in the average of only $65 per donor. Finally, after winning the presidency, the Republican elitism has been transformed into populace Republican Party. The other countries of this earth must know that the policy of the President-elect TRUMP will be centered on “America First.” He doesn’t give a Sh…t to other countries, even to China, if Trump could not get a fair deal for the welfare of the American people. I have read all his books, and my favorites are “The Art of the Deal,” The Art of the Comeback.” I suggest to any president of any country to first read these books, before they make deal with Donald, if you know him personally, he is fair and passionate guy, well mannered and not a plastic, unlike his presidential opponent. PERO SA DEAL HINDI MO SIYA MAIISAHAN! The American people can read the difference between Donald and Hilary — that is the main reason why the Americans made Trump the President. GOD bless Donald, GOD bless America!

  5. How can you succeed in war if you are such a spineless mollusk and surrender to all that moaning and crying by a mass media with such mercenary reputation in just four months from the start of offensive. I say baloney to that. And with a Trump presidency I say to Digong so he will know what to do also to those Liberal nitwits of the 5th Column ” KILL THEM ALL LET GOD SORT THEM OUT.

  6. Ignacio Balbutin on

    Trumps triumph may signal the restoration of the damaged relations between the two countries. Trump and Duterte has many things in common and I believe they can agree with each other in many things. I think the shock and awe of the war on drugs has accomplished its purpose already. The administration should now focus on more important things especially our economy. Our economy is improving and as the President said it not yet flying so let if fly and let us be one of the economic giant in Asia again as during the time of FM where we were the most powerful economically and militarily in the whole of asia second only to Japan

  7. Populist movement? Maybe, it will just breed a new bunch of oligrchs who will take advantage of the trend as they might already have. We have to be very careful of this wave, it might just swamp us,

  8. Your call to stop the war on drugs is in the worst interest of the PH and its people. Why would you prescribe to stop the operation to remove the drugs that has invaded 4% of our population and let it spread to the entire population? We know this is a war and it will be difficult to win. We know the drug syndicate: Has a lot of money. Is powerful. Has many paid protectors in government and the media. Your call should be for the people to stand strong behind this war no matter how many people the drug syndicate kills. Push to have the good win this war.

    Du30 and Trump are similar in many way: They are smart. They have formed opinions and are strong minded. They do not take insults without responding. They always look for common ground to make a deal. They are not corrupt. With so many common traits they will understand each other easily and you will see a strong friendship develop.

    • How many people, nay children does your stupid lack of driving skills kill? Of course you don’t keep records but I suggest there are more deaths attributed to traffic accidents in this country than drugs!

  9. The problem with Du30”s war on drugs lies in his obsession with “killing.” True wars are won not in the battle fields but in the decision tables. I suspect this war had more on bullets but less on brains. Leni Robredo has a better approach. How about Du30 taking some time to sit down with his VP to talk about that integrated approach to the problem of drugs?

  10. The war on drugs failed because the governments of the world failed to stop the flow of illegal drugs. Control or stop the supply , you win. Why is it hard to cut the supply ? Because of the shear amount of money” it is not millions but billions of peso generated by the sale of drugs. I know a military colonel earning 48 K a month in the military that has 3 wives, multi million peso home , 4 million Nissan Patrol ‘ 10 Condominiums. His main job is to protect drag Lords from the police and military. Imagine, how can anybody stop him from doing drugs with that huge volume of money ?

  11. VERY good article and so well written and thought out. The conclusion paragraphs are sport on… du30 should be all means mind his manors with Trump and bid his time. du30 and Trump are very similar in their reactionary moves and holding of grudges. This is not a fire to be fanned. Pray for calm and peace and allow these two forces to come together in a pleasant way.

    • It is impossible because both of them are revolutionary in nature. I will surmise that there will be a big fight between Duterte and Trump. They are both arrogant and egoistic. Trump is not like Obama , cool and a diplomat. Trump is very hard to deal with. He will implode. Good Bye USA. Good Bye China and Good Bye Brexit. Voters can a mistake. They do not count the implication in voting. Voting is a right but you cannot expect people to do the right choice in a consistent manner.