Is a militant opposition about to be born?

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FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

AN apparently “well-rested” President Rodrigo Duterte received the visiting Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev, in Davao last Thursday, but thanks to the presidential spokesman’s rather clumsy statement, there is, yet again, some speculation about the President’s whereabouts during the last three days he was out of TV camera range. In keeping with the new standards of Philippine journalism, no major newspaper or TV network ever bothered to find out, on their own, exactly where the President was and exactly what he did; they merely quoted what the Palace spokesman said, without analyzing what was being said.

A short statement saying that the President took a few days’ rest should have been enough. But for all the stupid reasons in the world, Ernesto Abella tried to complicate it with so much unnecessary verbiage. “You have to understand that his schedules are really brutal and anybody would need to rest,” he said. “I am not saying that he took a health-related break. I said he is in Davao and if he’s resting there, then that’s also part of his—why he’s there. But it’s not a health-related break…The President has all the usual afflictions. But, however, you know he doesn’t have anything extraordinary. He’s in the pink of health considering his age.”

What’s wrong with this spokesman?

It is clearly “protesting too much,” if one may borrow from Hamlet. The only question here was about the President’s recent whereabouts. Instead of giving a short, simple answer, the spokesman talked gratuitously about DU30’s health, saying his “rest was not health-related.” This only succeeded in raising the very suspicions he was trying to avoid. Rest, by definition, is always health-related; we rest from work even when we are in the pink of health. What the spokesman obviously wanted to say was that DU30’s rest was not “disease-related,” but since no one had suggested it, there was no need to point it out. Now, people are talking about it.


This is the second time it happened in two months. After the New Year, when the President dropped out of sight for several days, Abella created a sensation when he said DU30 might have spent part of his holidays in Manila, contrary to Malacañang’s official line that he never left Davao. This yawning contradiction gave rise to reports that DU3O had, in fact, flown to Guangzhou to visit the world-famous Fuda Cancer Hospital. I raised this issue in my column, but instead of working on the story, on their own, the major media establishments either ignored it or simply quoted my column. I got bashed by an angry President for doing my duty, even after he finally confirmed that he had gone to the hospital, purportedly to have his childhood circumcision redone. Who will he be bashing this time, after Abella’s repeat performance?

Self-inflicted problems

Many of the President’s problems are clearly self-inflicted. The critics cannot be held to account for them. He alone can provide the solution by bringing in more competent men and women to perform the simplest chores for his government. The present crew clearly lack the proper formation and competence. Every Cabinet position is critical, but the spokesman is his first line of defense. Right now, he’s causing unnecessary trouble. Having held the job of press secretary, presidential spokesman and information minister for the longest time (10 years) for the most intellectually stimulating president the country ever had, I have been asked by pro-DU30 friends what I think should be done to help DU30 sort out this particular spokesmanship problem.

I have no expertise to offer and I do not presume to give advice. But it is quite obvious that the President and his appointees have a strange concept of government. They seem to believe that the government must be run solely by people from Davao or at least Mindanao, or from a particular sect, and that no extra qualifications are needed except that they get their daily inspiration and adrenalin from the President. If there was anything that distinguished the Marcos Cabinet from other Cabinets, I believe it was their shared deep understanding of and commitment to a common high vision of society and the State.

At 29, I was the youngest to be appointed. The President did not know me, and I did not know him either, but we agreed on what needed to be done, and on the day I took my oath of office, he said to me, “I will depend upon you,” and on the basis of that one sentence, I ran the information machinery of his government for the next 10 years. From all indications, it worked to the President’s satisfaction and the public interest, until I resigned my post on a matter of principle and my entire organization was abolished. That was probably a fluke, but I keep on looking for a similar working relationship and experience between the President and those who speak on his behalf. I am still hoping to see it. But there must first be a revamp. Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn had to go after only 23 days in office, on a question of fitness; DU30’s non-performing aides have been there for the past seven months. Long overdue, Mr. President.

From the protest groups, a potent force

The absence of a political opposition has been a boon to the President while being a grave injury to the nation. It has allowed him to savage everyone who criticizes him with his bad mouth, and to wage a policy of kill, kill, kill without being held directly and immediately accountable to the nation under the Constitution or to the international community under the law of nations. The recent filing of criminal charges by the Department of Justice against former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima and the presidential demonization of anti-DU30 Senator Antonio Trillanes IV as a “brigand” seem to remove the strongest possibilities of the Senate developing strong independent voices within it, and the bicameral Congress becoming less of the rubber stamp it has become of the DU3O administration.

But a mass-based Catholic-oriented opposition may be emerging from the nationwide protest movement against the extra-judicial drug killings. We saw the first signs of this last Saturday during the “Walk for Life” organized by the Catholic laity at Manila’s Rizal Park. Thousands from all walks of life trooped to the park in the first organized public manifestation since the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for an end to the killings in their pastoral letter of February 5, 2017.

Pro-DU30 defenders and trolls tried to portray the peaceful assembly as a “destabilization” effort of the Catholic Church, which has not escaped DU30’s foul invectives without any provocation. But organizers of the event tried to purge it of anything remotely hostile or antagonistic to the government. They called it “Walk for Life,” instead of “March for Life” which connotes political action, as in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Paris, Warsaw, Ottawa, among others. These are spirited political campaigns against abortion, which has killed more unborn babies in their mothers’ wombs than all the fatalities in all the wars combined.

Walk for Life, not a march

For instance, the Washington March for Life, now on its 44th year, began after the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973, and has since drawn thousands of pro-life marchers year after year. This year, Vice President Mike Spence addressed the marchers at the National Mall on behalf of President Donald Trump whose first official act included restoring Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Mexico City policy, which bans the use of US funds to support abortion in foreign countries. In previous years, Reagan and George W. Bush had addressed the marchers. I get regularly invited to these marches and have attended a couple of them; they are all spirited, joyous and celebratory, but never “destabilizing.”

At the Rizal Park, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and CBCP President Socrates Villegas, speaking in Filipino, called on the assembly to renounce their fear of those who were trying to sow terror in their midst through the killings. The sun is rising, he said, there is hope, light will soon overcome the darkness. We need not be afraid, because God is with us and our trust in God should be stronger than our fear of the enemies of life.

Preaching non-violence to the victims

For his part, Manila’s Cardinal Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle called on the assembly to show strength of faith and character, while rejecting violence. “Lakas, hindi dahas” (strength, not violence), he said. Some marchers thought that since the peaceful assembly was not advocating any violence, the cardinal should have spoken more strongly against the state-sponsored violence that has already killed 7,000 or so suspected drug users and pushers in the last seven months. Non-violence should be preached to its perpetrators, not to its victims, one marcher observed.

Around the country the various religious communities, including Buddhists and Hindus, have all spoken against the killings. From Davao City, Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., the president of Ateneo de Davao and known to be DU30’s longtime leading religious supporter in his home city, earlier sent out the following message: “If I must choose between going to hell with President Duterte in pursuit of the war on drugs in the Philippines or going to heaven with Archbishop Soc Villegas because neither he nor any of the Catholic bishops of the Philippines ‘find pleasure in the death of anyone who dies’ (cf. Ezekiel 18:32), I choose going to heaven with the CBCP, even if their company and their language is neither as colorful nor as entertaining as that of the President.”

In Metro Manila, the most impressive signs have sprung up around universities and religious institutions and the city walls, highlighting the Fifth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” But at the Ateneo University in Quezon City and in other places, the signage has taken a much more urgent call: “Stop the killings! No to the Death Penalty!” From all these, I could sense a potent opposition about to be born among militant Christian patriots; after the city graffiti, the warm bodies and feet of marchers could follow soon.

fstatad@gmail.com

 

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19 Comments

  1. MARIANO PATALINJUG on

    Yonkers, New York
    20 Feb. 2017

    Well, well!

    Now, finally, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines obviously have awakened, found their voices and their mettle, to register their opposition to the REIGN OF TERROR which Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte has inflicted on their flock, via an innocent-sounding “WALK OF LIFE.”

    Their opposition, coming several months after Rodrigo Duterte decided to be a Little Tyrant, comes rather late in the day–which is after his lawless warrantless genocidal extrajudicial drive has netted for him some 7,000 hapless victims.

    But as that sage saying goes,”BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!”

    I can only hope that this budding opposition to Duterte will not prove to be ephemeral–and that it continues to gather momentum and strength leading eventually to the dismissal of this Tyrant one way or the other–via IMPEACHMENT, or PEOPLE POWER, or a MILITARY PUTSCH. Assassination should not be ruled out completely as a last desperate measure of SELF-DEFENSE by the people.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  2. “Miitant” understood in context of today’s religio-social environment, not in ways the Reds coin it to refer to FIGHTING the perceived opponent, the govt. Militant Christian oppose, first within self, any urge to violence, in obedience to God’s commandment, “Thou halt not kill,” and Christ’s Gospel command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Then, towards others the militant Christian practices creative tolerance and compassion. He teaches what is morally right and prevents (others) from doing wrong thru good example, persuasion, and organization. Mr. Tatad, good you write on this. Expect diverse reactions, but you sound clear to me Kudos!

  3. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

    The sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” which servants of the church are extremely vulnerable. The church must preach and enlighten its followers of their moral obligations and values rather than deal on political matters. God bless the Philippines. God bless the church.

  4. A strong opposition must exist in a dynamic democracy. Without opposition, a state withers away. Recent developments in the Duterte administration seem to indicate Duterte is bent to do just that, to demolish the opposition and the legitimate media. With a corrupted and subservient congress and supreme court, a decimated opposition cannot fulfill it’s role somebody needs to step in to fill that void.

    Duterte now seem to believe he owns the republic he had sworn to serve and protect. The power of the presidency have totally blinded him he now rules instead of serve.

    .

  5. Anybody who is familiar with Philippine history knows that the Catholic priests have always been enemies of the people since they first stumbled on these islands 500 years ago. If you guys are really bent on starting a civil/religious war, you are very much welcome. That will give us true Filipinos the chance to finish the revolution that Jose Rizal, and Andres Bonifacio started. Mabuhay si Duterte!

  6. I sincerely believe that the National Transformation Council or NTC can provide the militant and political opposition to the Duterte Administration alongside other sectors. The time for an opposition to the Duterte Administration has now come.

  7. another rubbish story. i like manila times, good thing they put this person’s article under Opinion section. lots of not so intelligent people will think of tatad’s story as news/facts.

  8. Mr. Tatad FYI not all who go there in so called Walk for Life understands the true meaning of that gathering …. yes they are there only for 1) to join the gathering because of their capricious character that they are included in what they perceived was a noble cause as a member 2) they are there because they were forced by their church organization to be there 3) they are there because mostly (if not admitting) they have nothing to do in their house because no other activities suits them because of their old age and naturally religious gathering is one magnet to them 4) they are there because they want to know clearly what the church must do to help the populace in addressing these so called EJK for them to speak out the solutions to the problem/s in this country and in this gathering this CBCP and other religious groups want to know if they have this “POLITICAL CLOUT” so that they can make a Political stand which will force the government to bend to their wishes. Look at the history of other countries regarding religious tolerance … there is NONE in the area of POLITICS … yes only in the Philippines….

  9. This is all but a storm in a tea cup.. This a desperate move by the OLIGARCHS AND THE WILLING PAID MEDIA to foment an atmosphere of dissent.. The reality is Pres Du30 enjoys a huge support from the common tao… and no amount of CBCP or church led insinuations in partnership of the OLiGARCHS and their Paid henchmen disguised as media practioners will fool the Filipinos to participate to any extra constitutional menas to remove Duterte.

    In few days time they will be celebrating the fake revolution and the power grab they made jointly with the CIA and Uncle Sam and no amount of press release and rabid reporting will dampen that joint will of the common Tao and once and for put the yellows to their rightful place… THAY HAVE TO BE MILITANT their fake VP’s days are numbered.

    Robredo will be soon booted out of office by the PET and once Marcos assumes the VP post then thats the end of all scheming being made and planned against Pres. Duterte since they dont dare to install Marcos as the successor to Pres Duterte if a coup succeeds.

  10. aladin g. villacorte on

    The war against the drug menace has been bloody indeed; the PNP’s own data confirm this. But is it making the Philippines safer? Arrested, killed two-bit street pushers and drug dealers are just being replaced by willing new players. If we want to make a dent on the proliferation of illegal drugs the govt should go after the big fish, the source. I see no evidence of that. The govt is more concerned with pinning down de Lima more than the Chinese drug-lords and their Filipino alter-egos.

    I agree with the Clergy that an even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many Filipinos (meaning the Catholics who comprise the majority) to this kind of wrong. Auxiliary Bishop Pabillo of Manila likened the Laity to a sleeping giant, who needs to be roused from its slumber. Where are the 80 million plus Filipino Catholics? There’s nothing more tragic than a Church divided by indifference.

    • How can you think we Catholics are indifferent and ‘slumbering?’ Can you not comprehend that majority of Catholics support our President?…You ask where are the 80m Filipino Catholics?…we are right Here! In front of you! Can you not see us? Are you blind? We are for the future of our country.

  11. There should have been a more focused objective for the Walk for Life. Aside from the EJK, Bishop Pabillo included the proposal to lower the age of criminal intent from 18 to 10 as unwarranted and merciless and unjustified. Did he ever talk to any of the victims of criminality of minors? Seems like he is protecting the criminal aged below 18 . Kids between 18 to 14 had been known to kill, rape, run drugs for a pusher, sell drugs to children in schools. When the Catholic Church supports these kid criminals, they are supporting the drug syndicates and pushers who peddle their wares to the public. Of course the syndicates can be very generous. Church authorities must be careful.

  12. Vinsensius Gutawa on

    With due respect, the essay discusses the role of “militant Christians” to raise their voices against any plans of the government to kill the offenders in order to have a “clean” society the President and everyone want for our country. You as I know a Duterte supporter AND critic of the Church, how can you contribute to the combat against crime, corruption, and illegal drugs? Simple. To exercise self-discipline within ourselves and if you still have faith in God, not the god who is in Malacanang, then seek for His guidance. Thank you.

  13. The Great Defiant on

    Datdat time change but you don’t.
    after all these years you’re still in the mind conditioning business.
    militant opposition in the 80’s prospered because of the biased, twisting, manipulating, distorting the truth by the mainstream media.

    where were you when drugs, crimes, corruption proliferate on the country, there’s no denying on it.
    What Delima did as DOJ, do a mock raid on Bilibid?
    what Mar did as DILG, kahit saan may shabu?
    what CBCP did? silent as a stone?
    what CHR did? cold as ice?
    what DSWD Dinky donkey did? buried the rice while tens of thousands go hungry in Tacloban?
    what PNP did? when Dragon, Jaguar, Herbert, Sebastian is partying inside the Bilibid? dancing with them.

    Joblessness, hopelessness, darkness is gripping and holding the country in despair what did you do?

    you get stuck in the 80’s with your rusted brain that renders you useless, inutile, idiots, stupid and spitting cowshit…a lot of cowshit!!!

  14. Dear. Mr. Tatad, now I am reading your second essay concerning “militant christians”. What does it mean? Do you want a civil war or a clash between the state and the church? Can you name a militant christian group in the Phillipines?
    The church leaders His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle and His Eminence Cardinal Socrates Villegas have said very cleary that they don’t want any type of violence and I have heard that they both condemn violence.
    They are wishing to stay in contact with the government to work with all good people there who are willing to change the conditions of the life of the poor, so that millions of them don’t need to flee in drugs-taking.

    • FYI, there are three categories of churches in a Christian life, the militant church which is us here living in the world to do Gods work, the second one is the Suffering church which is the souls in purgatory and lastly the church Triumphant the souls that are in heaven right now. I hope this clarify the church militant that Mr. Tatad is talking about, its not political, but to live a life of a true Christian. Hope this helps and may God bless us all.

    • Yes, I agree. The Church is not perfect but to put a label of “militant Christian” on them is certainly not accurate.