“And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
— From Dover Beach
by Mathew Arnold
I THOUGHT he would still be in dark slacks but still with rolled up sleeves of his barong Tagalog. He was a picture of two conflicting worlds—the world of Digong Duterte (DD) and the world of the current system as PDU30. It is symbolic of the two worlds of DD and his constitutional world. He walked the floor of the Batasan sure of himself. He was certain of dominating the assembly and he was right. He looked very presidential and ready to talk to the people of the country, not just the Congress of the Philippines, the diplomatic corps and other guests, including former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos, Joseph “Erap” Estrada (now City Mayor of Manila), and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (now representative of one of the congressional districts of Pampanga).
Everyone of significance was present. Nobody was missed, though someone was missing, probably hiding, expecting to be pilloried due to his many crimes in the same manner that he devastated his immediate predecessor. But the absentee must have been disappointed because he was insignificant, without even his name being mentioned. This is the kind of treatment the absentee deserved.
Contrary to the representation by the chief communications man of the President from Surigao del Norte on the SONA of PDU30, the day before it was delivered there was nothing on the speech that was sentimental or maudlin that one could be brought to tears on hearing it. The guy must have been listening to the wrong speech the day before if he was brought to tears during the practice. Or he must have imagined the speech of the President. He also told the media that the President wrote the speech himself and it was revised 10 times.
Again this man from Surigao del Norte must have imagined the speech. When PDU30 was reading the prepared speech from the teleprompter, the poor President had a difficult time reading it. If he wrote the speech himself, he would not have had that much difficulty in reading the speech. By the gesture of PDU30 in the course of reading the speech he even complained about the length of the speech, showing its hard copy indicating that there were too many pages. He even told the man manning the teleprompter to stop because there were many lines he did not like to read and he was adlibbing as usual.
PDU30 is at his best when he extemporizes. This is the Duterte that the people love and worship. This is the natural Duterte—DD. It is when he reads his speeches in a halting fashion that the charisma is lost for the moment. His SONA and his inaugural speech demonstrate that. It is when he extemporizes and shows the natural DD that he gets the thunderous applauses of approval.
What does this show? As I mentioned in one of my earlier columns in this paper, Rodrigo Duterte lives in two conflicting worlds now that he is President—one is the world of DD, the natural Duterte, and the other is the world of PDU30, who owes allegiance to the Constitution and the rule of law. They run counter to each other. As an example, DD wants the drug pushers killed and those who kill them do the killing without due process, which is in violation of the Constitution and the rule of law. He publicly supports the killing by the police and publicly states that he will pardon the policemen who get convicted of killing drug pushers. This is a violation of due-process clause and his oath under the Constitution.
His policemen kill the poor but give different treatment to drug lords, smugglers of drugs, their protectors and manufacturers. This unequal treatment violates the equal-protection clause of the Constitution and shows that there is one law for the rich and powerful and another law for the poor and powerless. Where is the PDU30 claim that he is pro-poor when those who implement the order are obviously pro-rich and powerful with the way they discriminate in favor of the rich and powerful?
This bipolarity has to stop if he does not want to go into trouble with those who want to protect and defend the Constitution. If PDU30 continues with this stance, he will not unite the country as he claims he wants to. He will divide the country sooner than he thinks. In the first place, his admirers may worship him, but he is not God. DD, like all of us, has feet of clay. Besides, the country is not Davao City, which he has successfully ruled for two decades. This is the country, which can challenge him at every turn, his threats and his following notwithstanding, if he continues what he does within the system without observing constitutional rights and processes
Maybe to stop this bipolarity, PDU30 should start reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He may be compelled to make a choice by stopping this bipolarity in thinking and execution.
Good points in the PDU30 SONA
To maintain there was nothing good about the SONA is to be obviously partisan and would also be an abuse of human intelligence. There were good points. My son Erwin 3rd said, while having breakfast with me at our residence, there were pretty good points. However, they were not presidential; they were mayoral. PDU30 said the demolitions of residences of poor settlers should stop until relocation houses are ready for occupancy. There is already an existing law providing for this but the law enforcers violate the law, not to speak of judges who either do not know the law or those being paid by rich owners. It is about time the law is enforced. PDU30 should be congratulated for asking everyone to observe the law.
It is good for PDU30 to state that he hated to see long lines in government offices with people sometimes sleeping on sidewalks waiting for the issuance of passports and government permits and licenses. He stated a timeline of three days for action of government offices on matters that could be done immediately. PNoy, the incompetent President, stated something to that effect but his bureaucracy and PNoy never delivered on his promises, as he did not do them also in a number of other promises.
The 10-point economic program is good as it is similar to that of FM. Marcos delivered on many of his promises. Of particular importance this time is the development of a railway system in Mindanao and those in Cebu and Iloilo as well as Luzon. Also of similar importance is the development of Sangley Point as an alternate international airport to decongest the NAIA airport or Clark if a railway system is already in place from Manila to Clark. Equally important is the improvement of LRT by providing additional coaches and improving the system such as, among others, the sale of tickets in malls and other stalls in business establishments.
Most important for the poorest of the poor is to provide one sack of rice per month to every poor family until its economic conditions improve. Of similar importance is the re-channeling of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) funds to gainful activities that will teach the poor the value of work and abandon dependence on government dole-outs.
These are good mayoral points consistent with the world of the natural DD.
The really excellent presidential point is the determined installation of a parliamentary and federal system. This has been my dream since I was a kid at the University of the Philippines. I also organized the first political party, MINDANAO ALLIANCE, which put in its constitution the program of a federal and parliamentary system as early as 1977, when I organized the said political party. This is a Mindanao dream and if it is not implemented within a certain time frame, it is almost inevitable that Mindanao will gun for Mindanao Independence.
PDU30 made conclusions that are not based on facts or historical facts. It is not correct to say that the cause of the illegal drug problem is illegal drugs. The cause of the drug problem is the poverty of our people. The cause of the poverty of our people is graft and corruption. The cause of graft and corruption is the greed of our politicians. The greed of our politicians is dictated by the oligarchy and the age-old flaws of government and private institutions. These factors are where the problem lies.
Can these be changed by the current system under which PDU30 operates? Most certainly not! It is the task of his so-called “the best and the brightest” to provide the correct formula and appropriate solution to the problem.
It is also historically wrong for PDU30 to say that Mindanao belongs to the Moros. The Moro Islamists are as much invaders to Mindanao as the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. The Moros came to Mindanao from outside and they brought Islam onto the island. They do not historically or actually own Mindanao; they are colonizers. Mindanao belongs to the natives—the Higaonons, the Bagobos, the Manobos, the Tala-indigs, the Bukidnons, the T’bolis, and other lumad groups. These are the blue-blooded Mindanaoans. So please don’t tell me that the Moros historically own Mindanao—they don’t.
It is also wrong for PDU30 to state that he will grant BBL to the Moros minus the constitutional infirmities. Compliance with constitutional provisions means there cannot be any BBL. Ask any lawyer who has studied the Constitution and his constitutional law, and he will tell anyone no such BBL is possible under the present Constitution. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is correct when he said before the SONA that BBL is no longer necessary if the federal system is in place. So the key to Mindanao development is not BBL; it is the federal system.
He does not need emergency powers from Congress to streamline the traffic system in Metro Manila. It can be done within the context of the Constitution without having to pay obeisance to a crooked and flawed Congress. When Oscar Orbos was Executive Secretary to President Cory Aquino, he streamlined the traffic system in Manila. He did not have to be President to do it. Tell your lawyers, Mr. President, to do their work. You don’t need emergency powers from Congress to do it.
If you want real change, you tell “your best and brightest” to find that single option. They can if they try hard!
The duty of a citizen
The duty of a citizen in a democracy is to support the government when it is right, and to criticize the government if it is wrong; to fight the government if it insists to be wrong; to change the government if it abuses the citizen and refuses to do right because under the Constitution, “government authority resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” This is based on the American Declaration of Independence, which states in part:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
This came from the pen of one of the most brilliant American Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, whom another American President, John F. Kennedy, described before a gathering of geniuses in America as something to this effect: “This is the greatest gathering of geniuses in this Hall except when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”