“It’s very clear our graft is here to stay Not for a year but ever and a day, In time the Rockies may crumble Gibraltar may tumble, But graft and corruption is here to stay.”
—An edited version of the song “Our Love is Here to Stay,” as sung by Gene Kelly in the film “An American in Paris,” which I have re-titled as “Our Graft and Corruption is Here to Stay.”
I WAS amused listening to Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte during the election campaign promising our people that he would eliminate the problems of prohibited drugs and graft and corruption within six months from his assumption of office as President of the Philippines. I was amused and incredulous listening to his grandiose boasts because any intelligent person knows it cannot be done; most especially, if he intended to do it within the parameters of the system.
It can be done, not within the system
The amusement was really borne out of the fact that to do that the leader must think outside the box. When Mayor Duterte promised during the campaign that he would declare a revolutionary government if elected President, I thought there was hope for this country. But hope faded away little by little with every passing day in view of his changing and retreating statements. Coupled with these was the choice of Cabinet members, a number of whom have questionable past. Maybe they have reformed since then and now they have turned out to be reformed and rehabilitated individuals. I really don’t know for certain; only time will tell, and it is too early to render conclusive judgments.
The redeeming feature of his Cabinet choices and some positions close to the rank of Cabinet members are his team from Davao City—Christopher “Bong” Go, Mayor Leoncio Evasco, Jr. and Jesus “Jess” Dureza—and the left-oriented members of the Cabinet like Benjamin E. Diokno, Leonor “Liling” Briones, Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, Judy Taguiwalo and some other personalities like former South Cotabato Gov. Ismael “Mike” Sueno and former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol. I hardly know anyone of them personally except Liling Briones, Jess Dureza and Mike Sueno. However, I have heard of them in a pretty good light and they lend color to the President Duterte Cabinet.
Elements of a revolutionary govt
There are five basic elements to have a successful revolutionary government: a leader with brains in his balls and balls in his brains with the proper vision, values, integrity and discipline and unwavering commitment to God and country; an effective and competent apparatus; the necessary means or logistics; the methods used in effecting it; and the correct philosophical and constitutional underpinnings to prop up the revolutionary government.
At this stage in time, my un-humble opinion is that the elements are not there to pull off a successful revolutionary government. On the leader, I cannot be certain because I don’t know the man personally. My knowledge of the man is only through the words that come out of his mouth and his body language. It does not say much of brains but speaks a lot of balls with the words he uses to destroy his enemies and his perceived enemies of the State and, most of all, to mesmerize the people. You have to give it to him. I have not seen that kind of public approval and adulation that accompany Duterte wherever he goes and whenever he speaks. There is no comparison to any leader in this country in the past, not even to charismatic President Ramon Magsaysay.
The speeches of Duterte do not have the substance and profundity of a Cicero. He does not have the oratorical skills and adroitness of a President Manuel Acuña Roxas or of Mayor Pedro Adaza, Jr., of Catarman, in Camiguin, Northern Mindanao.
His talks beguile the people and ignite the hopes of the people to stratospheric heights, just like magic. But whether he has the magical combination of brains and balls and the qualities that go with it has yet to unfold within the next few months of his “metamorphosis.” Whether Duterte has an effective and competent apparatus to implement the goals of the revolutionary government remains to be seen. It is still invisible up to this point. Whether he has the means and logistics to do it? He has got it because he has the money of the government for use to achieve his goals. About the methods to achieve it, Duterte does not have them yet. He and his boys need further study.
The most difficult of the elements is to evolve the philosophical and constitutional underpinnings to support successfully the revolutionary government. With this essential element absent, the effort to establish a revolutionary government is dead on its tracks. This is absolutely necessary for total national and international acceptance.
So the establishment of a successful revolutionary government is not that easy. The ideological confederates of the President, the CPP-NPA and NDF, found to their eternal disappointment that 50 years is not sufficient to put these five elements together. But with these elements present and in place, one year is enough to attain the noble objectives for the country and the people.
Unrestricted killings producing opposition temblors
The temblors are not that threatening yet. But it is slowly mounting from the Commission on Human Rights, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the decent intelligent sector of the citizenry. The gruesome pictures in television do not inspire confidence on Duterte, who in his inaugural speech committed himself uncompromisingly to the rule of law, due process and human rights. The sight of persons, even ordinary criminals, wrapped and bound by packing tapes and thrown at EDSA for people to see is not inspiring or encouraging.
Commissioner Chito Gascon and the Human Rights Commission’s warnings about vigilantism and extrajudicial killings should be heard by the people. The media should widely publicize these warnings. It is their duty; it is their obligation to God and country.
The plan of Sen. Leila de Lima to investigate in a Senate hearing these extrajudicial killings should be supported by the people and the media. The efforts of Senators Pimentel and Lacson to throw monkey wrench to this noble attempt to investigate and unmask the criminals who are doing the extrajudicial killings and those encouraging them should be condemned. Pimentel is trying to curry favor with the President, so as not to derail his bid for the Senate presidency. Lacson should be the last person to preside as chairman in the committee investigation because of his clouded record in the perceived Kuratong Baleleng rubout when he was the PNP chief and the denunciation of Rosebud about his alleged illegal drug connections
All those suspected participants in the extrajudicial killings should be held accountable to the people, since under Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution, sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. Any investigation conducted by PNP and other appointed officials will not be credible. The only bodies that could have some credibility to investigate the extrajudicial killings will be the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Human Rights Commission.
The silence of the IBP and the PHILCONSA
As men of the law, lawyers should be the first to denounce extrajudicial killings and vigilantism. Where are the so-called protectors of the Constitution and the rule of law? Where is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the law organization that is supposed to protect not only lawyers but also the people? Are they also involved in the illegal drug trade and protecting the drug lords who have loads of money to pay unscrupulous lawyers—and there are hordes of them. Many of these lawyers are in very lucrative law practice, in the judiciary and in the prosecution arm of the government. They, too, are part of the network of drug syndicates throughout the country. Does this explain their silence? The silence is ominous but not surprising.
The IBP should investigate the lawyers, judges and prosecutors who are suspected of protecting drug lords and those involved in the illegal drug trade. It’s about time the IBP did something laudable for the country to redeem the reputation of lawyers as some of the biggest problems of the country in terms of their participation in the drug trade, in political shenanigans and various forms of criminality.
What about the Philippine Constitutional Association (PHILCONSA), whose members proclaim that their organization is the protector of the Constitution? Where are they? Why are they silent when the Constitution is under siege from the government, which is killing people with impunity—without the rule of law and due process and the obvious and scandalous disregard of human rights? Are their members also protectors of drug lords or are they involved in the illegal drug trade?
These are questions that the IBP and PHILCONSA should answer to the people of this country. Or are they so afraid of the President, Gen. Bato de la Rosa, the killer policemen and the vigilantes? If they are that afraid, they better resign from their respective organizations and hide in the shadows of their isolated bedrooms. That is what they all deserve.
Without their active rational resistance, the Constitution will be in tatters soon, and due process, rule of law and human rights will go down the drain—sooner than expected.