If Duterte has been my preoccupation these past many columns, it is because I urgently want to get to the roots of his phenomenon.He has killed probably over 4,000 by now, and yet his popularity remains quite high. Some accounts put it at 64 percent trust and approval rating, others at 76 percent, and the latest at 84 percent. This development must speak of either of two things: Filipinos are stupid or Duterte is right.
Now, in logic, this is what you call a dilemma: whichever way you go, you’re done.
But the first proposition cannot be true, for here I am condemning, together with the rest of the world, the extrajudicial killings that Duterte set the Philippines a-blazing with early on in his administration.
The latest to contribute chastisement of the Philippine president is the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague which now advances the opinion that the Philippine government can be liable for mass murder. The ICC lady Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bansouda, has warned that “any person in the Philippines who engages in mass violence…within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution by the court.”
At least, there’s me, one Filipino, agreeing with the ICC.
On the second proposition, killing, save for mitigation by circumstances in penology, is, according to God, wrong. The Bible says it quite unequivocally: “Thou shall not kill.”
Nobody but nobody can ever be right in killing people, but here is Duterte going about his binge of murders having no qualms about it whatsoever, even appearing to take so much delight from it. During the election period, he promised to fill Manila Bay with dead bodies of drug addicts and drug pushers or otherwise create a boom in the funeral services industry. He has not quite done so yet, but his consistent record to date points to him being on track to doing just that.
Of late, I have been making the rounds of a cross-section of the people for the purpose of finding out for myself the true public sentiments on the issue. I have thought that if I could find enough support, I might just embark again on social protests I ventured into in my youth in the 70s. The results are appalling. While I am not strictly a believer of statistical probabilities, I shudder at my private investigation bearing out survey results.
A public school teacher, expectedly an advocate for moral uprightness, praises Duterte to high heavens, proclaiming that nowadays you need no longer worry about your jewelry or handbag being snatched. I go down the social ladder and discuss the matter with a tricycle driver, who lauds Duterte for, he said, setting the atmosphere for the sound social rearing of his children in the future.
So I go further down, onto what Marx and Lenin would call social scums, from which sector hail the mass of users of poor man’s cocaine, shabu. I get responses that are a mix of fatalism and utter submission.
That, I cannot explain. To get acquiescence of the Duterte killings from disinterested elements can be understood in a social set-up where Filipinos seem to be living each-to-his-own. At this late stage in my life, I have come to realize that people do seem to live by themselves alone: you wake up in the morning, get dressed for work, do your employment tasks, retire back to your home in the evening, sleep, to wake up again in the morning then do the routine on and on.
What do we need others for hardly comes to mind in such a daily grind. At certain weekends when your pocket can allow it, you take the family out for some leisure, but still leisure for yourself alone, albeit with the limited members of your family. And the heck with you if some dregs in the squatters’ area on the fringes of your subdivision abode get gunned down.
Each to his own, that’s exactly what Germany was in Hitler’s rise to power. When only the communists were getting hit, the other sectors were quiet. Same thing was true when Hitler began hitting the Jews. In all these, the Christians were unheard of. And then Hitler finally hit the Christians, who by then had no one else to look to for succor.
But in my private quest for mass deterrent to Duterte’s nascent atrocious reign, I would not give up. By simple deduction, I would conclude that looking for it among the business class would be a futility. Duterte could not have been elected president if he had not gotten much of his electoral logistics from such class. I would rather turn to their opposite in the social spectrum: the working class. After all, it is in this class that the great leaders of the proletarian class struggle – from Marx and Engels to Lenin – had pinned their hopes of social salvation.
To my dismay, responsible elements of the working class turned out to be in a position of “critical support” of Duterte and would not issue any sanction against his perpetration of extra judicial killings. In the case of those already openly in cahoots with the Duterte administration, their participation in the Duterte government must be construed as participation as well in Duterte’s killing rampage.
So from top to bottom of Philippine society all the way down to the gutter, nobody but nobody as far as whole sectors are concerned dares to stand up to Duterte’s mass manslaughter. If there have been people voicing if but a whimper of protest on the matter, they are individuals speaking in their private capacities, not as group voices. And quite curiously, they are on the distaff side who by their natural physical endowments cannot be expected to have balls to do the job.
For instance, Senator Leila de Lima has done it in the Senate and Agot Isidro, on the social media, where one single post in her Facebook account slamming Duterte earned for her the slut-shaming, as had been done on Senator de Lima, from Duterte trolls who exposed Agot as having dated two drug lords, that’s why.
This, of course, with all due respect to Senator Ping Lacson, who has been very vocal, too, on atrocities in Duterte’s drugs campaign.
The breakfast forum hosted by Columnist Wilson Lee Flores in his Kamuning Bakery days ago proved to be a revelation in this respect. With a panel of respected minds from the academe, media and the intellectual sphere, the forum was held to take up the issue of shift in foreign relations that is shaping up under the Duterte administration. The panel consisted of, in the order of their presentation, Professor Celso Cainglet, Atty. Gary Bonifacio, Antonio Butch Valdes, Professor Bobby Tuason, Eugenio Roy Daza, General Victor Corpus, Herman Laurel, and Professor Lucio Pitlo 3rd.
The views expressed by the panelists on the agenda were so varied and wide-ranging in terms of perspective that for their introductory speeches alone, more than an hour was consumed. It would take another article or two to encompass elaborations done on the agenda in the forum.
What became evidently clear was that none of the panelists took a dig, or even just did a teeny weeny bit of hit, at the Duterte extrajudicial killings. On the contrary, most of them, if not all – with Vic Corpus not being one of this “most” – sounded like strong defenders of Duterte, using the forum as venue for ventilating such defense.
On Duterte’s penchant for cuss words particularly, one panelist expounded something to the effect that Duterte is not to be faulted for his expletives, bringing the house down with the statement: “Putang ina is the national language of the Filipino people.”
I could almost hear Pope Francis ejaculating his supreme satire of Duterte: “I admire the honesty of the man.”
And that’s the whole point in this. Here is Duterte so honest that he owns up to all the killings in our midst, and yet here is the nation, staying unperturbed, nary doing anything about it.
Not the teacher. Not the tricycle driver. Neither the capitalist nor the worker. Not even the victims!
And here at the breakfast forum, et tu thinkers!
In every epoch of history, thinkers impel social change, meaning from bad to good, to better to best. Lenin, in a way of saying, must have conceived the Bolshevik Party as think machine for synthesizing the experience of the Russian proletariat and then send that synthesis crashing through the walls of factories by which thereby to crystallize in workers class consciousness necessary for them to assert their vanguard role in changing Russia.
Under a tyranny, thinkers have not been known to serve the establishment, for otherwise they feed its monstrosity. Are we not feeding such a monstrosity in playing apologists for Duterte? Small wonder then that Duterte gets 84 percent trust and approval rating. He’s got friends even among those who historically should be his nemesis.