• The first 100 days of promised ‘change’

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    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    President Rodrigo Duterte promised change. And within 100 days he delivered. But it is change that tends to divide, rather than unite, the nation. In one fell swoop, he has changed the very concept and course of the presidency, the rule of law, the moral value of good and bad, of right and wrong, and the country’s foreign relations. Many who should have rejected the wrong things he said chose to applaud, embrace and glorify him instead. Scoffing at all moral, spiritual, and constitutional norms, they used the social media to silence or threaten DU30’s critics.

    The institutions charged with providing the necessary check-and-balance to the presidency have undergone not just a change of skin but also a change of purpose and character. Congress has ceased to be a co-equal and coordinate branch of government, and is now a mere appendage of the Presidency. The Church has chosen to be silent.

    What happened to Congress
    Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are led by untested politicians whose most outstanding qualification is that they are both from Mindanao, and members of PDP-Laban, DU30’s adopted party, which did not have more than five visible organic members before May, but which has since been swamped with political turncoats after DU30’s victory. With no will or mind of its own, this rubber stamp of a Congress will railroad anything DU30 wants.

    He wants the death penalty, so no one in Congress even asks if there is moral, scientific, constitutional or popular support for the draconian idea. He wants a federal system of government, and no one sees that our problems are rooted in our presidential form of government and have nothing to do with the unitary character of our Republic. Moreover, President DU30 has no assigned role to play in amending or revising the Constitution.

    But the leaders and members of Congress are eager to convene themselves as a constituent assembly in order to act on the desired shift. None of them seems to realize that they already lost all their credibility and legitimacy when they put themselves inside DU30’s pocket.

    In their effort to shield DU30 from the effects of the drug killings, the Senate “super majority” voted to remove Sen. Leila de Lima as chair of the committee on justice and human rights. This was the first time it happened in the 100-year-old Senate. De Lima was clearly singled out after her inquiry into extrajudicial killings started listening to witness Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed killer, who claimed to have participated in some Davao Death Squad killings during the time of Mayor DU30.

    This was not at all necessary. The majority could have prevented the airing of any testimony against DU30 because even if the alleged crime had been committed so many years ago, the alleged offender was now President and he may not be investigated by Congress or any of its committees, unless he has already been impeached by the House and was now being tried by the Senate. The Senate majority leader could have moved the motion, and that would have ended the Matobato show. But the majority chose to be bloody.

    More damning and deplorable than this is the House inquiry on De Lima’s alleged involvement in the drugs protection racket at the new Bilibid Prisons when she was still justice secretary. It, too, has not happened before, that members of one House had to investigate a member of the other House, not “in aid of legislation,” but to try to pin her down on a serious criminal activity. The sole intent appeared to be to shame De Lima and please DU30.

    What I could not understand was why Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd failed to file criminal charges in court against De Lima given the testimonies at the Senate inquiry. And how come that an overwhelming majority of the witnesses against De Lima belonged to a politically influential religious sect, whose wrath she had incurred when she was still secretary?

    What happened to the Church
    Another institution that seems to have changed is the Catholic Church, which has long carried the torch for human life, human rights and human dignity. In the face of DU30’s diminution of these values, which threatens the very soul of the nation, why is there an “epidemic of silence” in the hierarchy? Aside from Archbishop Socrates Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, former CBCP president; Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles; Auxiliary Archbishop of Manila Broderick Pabillo; and some priests like the Redemptorist Fr. Amado Picardal, who have given their individual statements, the Church has so far failed to speak with one voice, and with the same conviction and vigor as she did during Martial Law. Is the situation more benign than Martial Law?

    Last week, the four dioceses on Negros island, in a joint pastoral letter, said they were greatly disturbed by the government’s “inadequate action” to stop the drug killings and bring those responsible to justice. The letter was signed by Bishop Patricio Bauzon of Bacolod, Bishop Julito Cortez of Dumaguete, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, and the diocesan administrator of Kabankalan Father Rolando Nueva.

    “While we commend the government for its political will and determination in addressing the terrible drug menace that has long plagued our country, we strongly urge that this be done within the bounds of law and with full respect for human rights,” the joint pastoral letter said. It deplored DU30’s “incendiary statements,” which “tend to encourage the killing of drug suspects, now numbering 3,800, according to reports. But these are only four of close to a hundred dioceses.

    Silence in Manila and Davao
    The Archdiocese of Manila, which used to reverberate with the booming voice of the late Cardinal Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin during the Marcos years, has become far too serene under Cardinal Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, whom the Vatican reporter John Allen likes to describe as the next Pope. Pabillo, who heads the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, is seen being more active than Tagle in taking up the issue of drug killings.

    In Davao, DU30’s home city, the church has also yet to be heard on the same issue. The last church statement on the issue in Davao was issued by Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, co-convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in Mindanao, when he was still the archbishop and DU30 the mayor. On Sept. 19, Capalla hosted an anniversary celebration of the Bishops-Ulama conference, which DU30 had earlier agreed to grace as guest of honor. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came for breakfast with the bishops and ulama before flying out of the country that same day, but DU30 failed to send word that he was not coming at all.

    In a statement yesterday Capalla urged DU30 to “listen to the people.” “Wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it, and right is right even if nobody is doing it,” the Archbishop said. “Our sense of morality, our moral values, our sense of right and wrong is no longer as strict as it ought to be. Our conscience has become callous. But still the end does not justify the means.”

    More frightening than DU30
    What people hear from DU30 is often frightening enough, but what we hear from his blind followers is far more so. Although he recently apologized to the Jews for thoughtlessly comparing the 6 milion victims of the Holocaust to the victims of his drug killings—as did his ambassador-designate to the United Nations, Teddy Locsin Jr.— DU30 tends to suggest he is a Third World remake of Adolf Hitler. And the adulation he gets from his rabid followers seems to replicate the adulation that the naive Germans paid to the rising Nazi leader before the world pronounced him as a danger to humanity.

    This is where the real danger lies. There is more to fear from our own naivete than from the excesses of a morally and constitutionally challenged president, said a completely apolitical pastor last Sunday.

    The presidency is the first thing DU30 has changed. Although he is not the first President to exhibit authoritarian or narcissistic tendencies, he is the first who promised to kill and did kill and was wildly praised for delivering on his promise — mostly by fanatics who welcomed the killings so long as their friends or loved ones were spared. Unfortunately, international opinion has been less tolerant, and he has sailed into a storm that put him in direct confrontation with US President Barack Obama, UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the European Union, and the world of civilized opinion.

    This has affected the value of the peso, stock market prices, the volume of foreign investments, and the esteem we enjoy in the international community. DU30 is the first President to use foul and unprintable language to deliver his key messages to foreign leaders. As a consequence of his personal resentment against 0bama, Ban Ki-moon, the EU and the purveyors of Western opinion, DU30 has announced an “independent” foreign policy, removed from our fabled “special relations” with the United States, and pivoting toward China and Russia, the country’s principal Cold War ideological adversaries.

    The details of this diplomatic shift have yet to be announced. But already the DU30 government has decided to acquire military helicopters from Russia, at the same time terminate the holding of joint naval patrol of the South China Sea with the US, and any further joint military exercises under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement. Together with the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, these constitute the foundation of the security alliance between the two countries. Each of these agreements may be terminated by either party upon one year’s notice.

    They do not prevent the Philippines from reaching out to Japan, Australia, China and Russia, but instead of simply broadening alliances with the US, Japan, Austrlia, China and Russia, DU30 with his zero experience in international relations, assisted by Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, with his own zero experience in diplomacy, would like to remove all the eggs inside the US security basket and put them inside the Chinese and Russian baskets. Where this will take us, no one knows. Since foreign policy is primarily a mirror reflection of domestic policy, will our alliance with the lone remaining communist giant require a communist government under DU30?

    What happened in Turkey
    Some DU30 supporters are worried that what happened recently to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could happen to DU30. Turkey, a strong US NATO ally, made a sudden about-face in favor of Russia. After that, a rogue faction of the military attacked the presidential palace and Parliament. The coup failed, but 238 were killed, 2,200 injured, and 18,000 detained. Erdogan, a former city mayor of Istanbul, has since named a US-based Islamic preacher (Fetulah Gulen) as the man behind the failed coup.

    With close to 3 million Filipinos in North America who are more pro-American than the Jews, is a Filipino Fetulah Gulen a remote possibility?

    The rule of law
    The other thing that has changed almost beyond recognition is the rule of law. DU30 has become a law unto himself, and even the Supreme Court has been infected by this lack of regard for the rule of law. Lawyer Manuelito Luna points this out in his Motion for Reconsideration on the High Court’s ruling on Rizalito David’s case against the Senate Electoral Tribunal on Sen. Grace Poe’s eligibility to sit in the Senate. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s ponencia nixes the Constitution in favor of his personal advocacy on behalf of foundlings who are not citizens under the Constitution, but whom Leonen declares as “natural-born Filipinos.” More later.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    19 Comments

    1. It is always the right way that leads to victorious journey. Most of the time, nobody likes to walk on that way. Right way is hard because wrong way or short cut is easy. Drug war is easy, just kill alleged addicts and problem solved, as every body now accepts. But… what if it the dead were not addict? innocent? what if it is your son? your love ones killed without police even asking? Even taking NBI clearance has you duplicate names, what if drug watch list is wrong?
      Yes, it easy but there will be days of reckoning

    2. Well done Mr Tatad. Congratulations in joining the Du30 dissenters’ club. Regarding Leonen’s ponencia favoring the foundlings, imho, that was a judicious way of addressing the inadequacy in our constitution. Same could be applied by the US SC in clearing out the ambiguity of the American’s ‘right to bear arms’.

    3. This will be my first time to respond to an opinion article especially one of Secretary Fransisco Tatad. I remember listening to you during Martial Law times. I still remember seeing you on TV channel 4 explaining policies of the existing administration. I was young then but it is very memorable to me.
      I have read some of your articles about the previuos administration. From my opinion, it almost seems they have all similar gists except those during Marcos years.
      This article,you noted that present administration promise, as you said ,was delivered with the first 100 days(may be less). From my perspective, I think you approve with these premises but with concern. You are concern that the country is now divided and this administration has a hand to this. During Marcos years, the country was very divided. Masses of people goes out of the street to voice there different opinion. The difference people against the administration where put to jail or kill similar to what they accuse the present administration. I am not into killing but I believe in self defense. These heinuos incidents, I have not seen and cannot give opinion. Unlike during Marcos years, there was clear rub out or summary executions. Please let out wait for an investigation.
      According to your article, Senate and Congress are rubber stamp of the administration. You noted either they are partymates or belong to same region as the president just like during Marcos times. I have no qualm about that. This happen even in the most powerful country in the world. Winning party have largest microphone. Only difference, I have social media to refer what is happening in the P.I. I differ to your opinion that both chambers goes along with the administration. I have seen opposing party become chairman/woman of important committees, brings out witnesses against administration even though deemed as lying. These is alot different during Marcos times.
      You also noted, the religious are silent. I remember reading a slew of religiuos leaders in your article including large religious association. I remember listening to Radio Veritas, hearing Cardinal Sin calling people to go to EDSA. It is not true, the religious are voicing their outrage about the killings. Again I am not for killing but believe in self defense. I would not cast my opinion until an investigation is conducted.
      In conclusion, I agree with you that there is something GOOD is happening in MY BELOVED PHILIPPINES. I hope that we have found change we need to bring back the PEARL OF THE ORIENT. Thank you

    4. Herman P, Hondojare on

      Methamphetamine (shabu) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      imagine 3 millions filipinos brains affected by shabu as zombies to kill parents, family or anybody, rape even 2 years old child.

      In low doses, methamphetamine can elevate mood, increase alertness, concentration and energy in fatigued individuals, reduce appetite and promote (initial) weight loss. At higher doses, it can induce psychosis, breakdown of skeletal muscle, seizures and bleeding in the brain. Chronic high-dose use can precipitate unpredictable and rapid mood swings, prominent delusions and violent behavior. Recreationally, methamphetamine’s ability to increase energy has been reported to lift mood and increase sexual desire to such an extent that users are able to engage in sexual activity continuously for several days.[17] Methamphetamine is known to have a high addiction liability (i.e. compulsive methamphetamine use) and dependence liability (i.e. withdrawal symptoms occur when methamphetamine use ceases). Heavy recreational use of methamphetamine may lead to a post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, which can persist for months beyond the typical withdrawal period. Unlike amphetamine, methamphetamine is neurotoxic to human midbrain dopaminergic neurons.[18] It has also been shown to damage serotonin neurons in the CNS.[19][20] This damage includes adverse changes in brain structure and function, such as reductions in grey matter volume in several brain regions and adverse changes in markers of metabolic integrity.

    5. @TOTHEMAX, What is a more CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY than those who got killed by these drug addicts? After they did the crime they apologize and just say that they are under the influence of drugs. Can you bring the life of the innocent? Can you bring the life of those people who just want to have a better life, they work hard, study hard so that they can have a better future. You should be thankful that there is a person make a stand against these criminals. Ask yourself, do want the Philippines to be like some of the South American country that cuddles Drug Cartel?

    6. Hintayin nalang ang 6years.para bagong presidente nanaman.Bawat presidente may mga criticism.Itong mabunganga bagong presidente pangit any ugali na maingay may nagawa namn kahit may pagpuna ang tagalabas na bansa.Iba itong presidente na into ayaw maging puppet sa taga ibang bansa.Hinggil sa silence ng catholic church,ay napuna na nga ang cimbahan sa kanilang tinatago alam kasi ni Digong.Yung paghihiwalay as pilipinas sa america na isang ally at Malabo at katawatawa sa balita.Sa to too lang any america ang nagmamay ari sa pilipinas binili galing Spain.May malaking interest ang america sa bands kahit may away an pa sa goberno natin.Hindi iiwanan ng america ang pilipinas maliban lang kung communista panggoberno.At sa huli, amg pilipinas Hindi na it is more fun in Phil’s.it is safe in Philippines na.

    7. To the next President of the Philippines ; Your mission if you choose to accept is to eliminate 2. 9 million drug addicts for the next 6 years. These are addicts left behind by the last administration. This message will self destruct in 6 seconds. Mission Impossible.

    8. Mr. Tatad,
      This is a very well thought of and written article. Unfortunately, it is beyond many Filipinos’ comprehension. It pains me to see that Filipinos knows more of the teleserye, the noontime shows than what is going on in the government. It’s not a surprise to anyone why the Philippines is still in the pits today, 70 years after the independence. It is the great number of Filipino minds are inept. Sorry to say that but it is a fact.

    9. Do you really believe he will kill 3 million filipinos? Or you just want to say he will to sound righteous…You don’t see anything good just the bad.

    10. President Duterte, you will not reach 3 million dead addicts and pushers. Mathematically, it is around 3,500 dead in 3 months. For the whole year 3,500 times 4 equals 14,000 dead in 6 years , 14,000 times 6 equals 84,000 dead which is less than 3 million. What I am saying barring mass execution, .Mr President ,there will be 2 million 900 thousand addicts plus left to be killed by the next president.

    11. “With close to 3 million Filipinos in North America who are more pro-American than the Jews,”

      Why is that? Is it because the Jews know their history very well and think independently to advance the welfare of country? While on the other hand most Filipinos, until Duterte arrives on the scene, think about anything and everything with a mindset molded centuries ago.

    12. You asked what made a sudden change of heart in the Catholic Church?” Why is there an epidemic of silence in the hierarchy?” The answer is blowing in the wind… the likes of Archbishop Cruz etc lost credibility.

    13. There is really a big change. Is it good or bad for our country ? I do not know because it is just 100 days of Dutertes presidency. What is very clear is what ever he says, the Pilipinos follow. In my area, there is no more minors in the streets at night. No more karaoke after 10 PM and no more bar open after 12 Midnight. Is it good or bad ? Heck it is good. The only thing that is bad, really bad is how the message is delivered. The cussing, the s.o.b. , go to hell, the putang Ina’s. That is the what is wrong. Let us face it, the Pilipinos are scared with Duterte. That is a fact.

      • To say that Filipinos are afraid of Duterte, because of his “cussing, the s.o.b. , go to hell, the putang Ina’s” is just too low of a regard of Filipino intelligence. Filipinos are afraid of Duterte, because Duterte is a KILLER, self-confessed one.

      • “The Pilipinos are scared with Duterte”, where have you been? Did you just came out of your cave? Are you even a full blooded Filipino? Who do you want to lead my beloved country Philippines? YOU want it back to the Aquino’s, the Oligarhs, who always saving their own selves. They don’t care about us, why do you think illegal drugs grow exponentially in the Philippines? Because these so called morally righteous Oligarchs allow it, if fact some of them are the financier of these drug lords. Wake up my fellow filipino, and you think the cursing is bad then you ARE NOT Filipino.

    14. as long as he can keep with his promises such as cleaning up the government. and providing jobs to the people that they do no longer need to go abroad to work so they could raise their families. which could mean industrialization then Duterte will prevail regardless of the odds and diminishing alliance with the US. The US intervention against Duterte if ever they will start will not succeed if he maintains a high popular support. It will even look bad for the US if such plans are exposed to the world. So the US would be real careful about this. the best the US could do is court Duterte but this will take years or when he finished his term. On the otherhand the blue print of the Duterte administration may well be copied by the next administration to maintain popular support. Duterte will have nice place in history that really changed everything in the country better than Marcos although he also copied the Marcos blueprint or shall we call his guidance in governing with a mixture of the left. Still he is a maverick with unpredictability.

      • Duterte just keep quiet and do what is necessary. The momentum you are saying is going on as we speak. These guys need not be reminded every time you speak. They will kill and kill. Maybe by the end of your 6 years there will be 3 million drug addicts and pushers dead. Is that good ? In my opinion, there is sanctity of life which means we just cannot kill and kill. It is against morality. It is what they call Crime against Humanity.