Democracy , from its pristine ideals to its pragmatic application , should have a tent that is vast enough for opposing views and voices. Dissent , checks-and-balance and oversight are the other ingrained components of democracy. Holding a special, primary role is, of course, voice of the majority. That is why we have Mr. Duterte, with a more than six million vote lead over the 2nd in the May presidential elections , as our president. Right now is he a president with broad, popular support.
More, Dutertismo, the sum of his policies , has popular acceptance .
From democracy’s early days till now, the dominant narrative is that the popular voice and the voice of dissent and oversight can co-exist peacefully without impairing the workings of the democratic institutions.
Even Mao, the public face of undisputed, undemocratic rule in the 20th century, once argued to let a “ hundred flowers bloom and hundreds of schools of thought contend .”
A functioning democracy should never, never curtail and demonize dissent and opposing views. Once it exercises intolerance and rejects diversity, that democracy loses its core values . We see that playing before our own eyes now, right there in the most powerful home of democracy , the country’s closest ally — the US.
For the November presidential elections , we see the two major parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, go separate ways on the issues of diversity and tolerance. Mr. Trump’s appeal is largely anchored on his provocative statements against non-whites, his core support group. He wants to curtail immigration, ban Muslims from entering the US on flimsy national security reasons and wants to build a wall to keep off immigrants from Mexico. He has called Mexicans “ rapists “ and “ criminals .”
He has been called a “ demagogue “ and a “ Nazi” by leaders of his own political party.
Hillary Clinton , the candidate of the Democrats, is expanding the “ ascendant coalition “ that elected Mr. Obama twice. This is a coalition of whites, African-Americans , Asian-Americans , Hispanics , the LGBT groups and various American subgroups of all races, beliefs and creeds.
US political tradition tells us that this election cycle is a tortured path for Democrats given the limited window given to candidates from a party that just occupied the White House for two terms. Yes, the “vast tent” of Mrs. Clinton leads in the polls.
It is this context that makes it hard for ordinary people to understand why Senator Leila de Lima is being crucified for proposing a senate inquiry into extra-judicial killings that reportedly have soiled Mr. Duterte’s good intention to rid the country of drug pushers and drug users.
She is doing her job. It is her mandate as a member of the Senate. She proposes an inquiry not an inquisition. She is not destroying the Republic. What is wrong with that?
Dutertismo’s vast tent should include the likes of Senator de Lima. And her dissenting views. If you look at the radical pronouncements of the president, he is for building an inclusionary society, not only in words but in deed.
The efforts of Mr. Duterte to bring back the Left into the political mainstream are so far the boldest and most ambitious undertaken by any administration in recent history. Mrs. Aquino tried that too but the conservative, right-wing forces within her government — plus the military officers that plotted the coup against Mr. Marcos — had too much sway and in the end frustrated the efforts to mainstream the Revolutionary Left.
Mr. Duterte and his confidence-building efforts have the support of his cabinet and the lukewarm support of the police and the military. The realities now, with the Philippine communist insurgency almost a global outlier, are also different. This gives him a wide berth, the leeway to pursue the boldest inclusionary program in our history.
Not done with his efforts to get the Left back into the parliamentary, legal fold, Mr. Duterte has reached out to both the secular MNLF and the fundamentalist but essentially rational MILF again in the search of peace. He is in a better position to do so because of his deep awareness of the centuries-old grievances of Muslim Mindanao. He had wisely isolated the ISIS-like groups as these groups have neither remorse nor redemption.
If his tent is vast enough to accommodate these rebels , why can’t there be space for a senator of the realm who is merely doing what are parts of her job description ?
Ms. De Lima’s senate inquiry will enhance, not harm, Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. The leaks and the holes in the resolute war on drugs will be plugged by Ms. De Lima’s findings . Reforms will be put in place.
After the wrongs are righted , the war on drugs can proceed with support from all around and the international uproar over the killings will probably cease.
This is my advice to the cheering squads of Mr. Duterte. Cheer for Ms. De Lima. She means no harm. She is exercising the senate’s oversight and inquiry functions. What she will do will be good for Dutertismo and democracy.