The ploy to destroy Duterte’s external legitimacy

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SASS ROGANDO SASOT

ANYONE who seriously studied international relations wouldn’t buy what Senator Leila de Lima said in relation to the complaint filed by Jude Sabio, the lawyer of Edgar Matobato, against Duterte and other government officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC). De Lima said in a statement that the complaint is “not…a political ploy to oust the President.” Who is she fooling?

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This highly-publicized filing of a complaint at the ICC is just another element in the ploy to destroy Duterte’s external legitimacy, which started during the 2016 elections.

National leaders have two sources of legitimacy: internal and external. To remain effective, he must build and sustain both types of legitimacy and become aware of how they affect each other. Certainly, a dwindling internal legitimacy destroys external legitimacy. Though often ignored, the reverse is also true: a deteriorating external legitimacy can also diminish internal legitimacy.

Internal legitimacy depends on the confidence citizens have in their leader; external legitimacy comes from the recognition from other heads of states, multilateral organizations, and global public opinion. For now, Duterte’s internal legitimacy is quite solid as he enjoys a very high trust rating from Filipinos. His external legitimacy is extremely weak.

The precarious state of Duterte’s external legitimacy didn’t just suddenly emerge. Anti-Duterte forces have been destroying it since the 2016 campaign period.

Among all the propaganda, two stand out as their moments of brilliance: the May 2016 John Oliver comedy takedown of Duterte, and the August 2016 New York Times feature of the “Pieta-like” photo. We may laugh at the ridiculousness of John Oliver’s skit, but it was a very effective way of shaping an anti-Duterte global public opinion. The New York Times Pieta feature was an emotional appeal. Its intention was to break the heart of the global public.

Expect more heart-wrenching moments like this. What inevitably accompanies the breaking heart of the global public is an international outcry against the person who they thought broke their heart: Duterte. To keep on rending the heart of the global public, media will feed them tragic stories and implicate Duterte in each of them.

Mexico has a far worse war on drugs than the Philippines. But the ICC didn’t interfere. In November 2011, Mexican human rights lawyer Netzai Sandoval filed a complaint at the ICC against Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who deployed the military to fight the war against drugs, which, at that time, had already claimed at least 40,000 lives, including more than 1,000 children and young people. Backed by at least 23,000 signatures from Mexican citizens, the complaint alleged that Calderon was behind the widespread and systematic killing, kidnapping, and torture of civilians by Mexico’s security forces. However, in December 2011, former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo decided not to proceed with the complaint because it concerned “political decisions or political responsibility” (Latin American Herald Tribune, December 2011).

There’s a way for the current ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to be nudged to do what her predecessor didn’t. A sustained, pervasive, and systematic international pressure, which weren’t present in the case of Calderon. The international press, with the aid of international human rights organizations could mount it. Philippine civil society groups allied with the Liberal Party have an extensive international human rights network, which can mobilize global public opinion against Duterte. They’ve been doing it already by conducting forums abroad.

Given the horrifying international PR Duterte has been getting since the 2016 elections, it would not be too farfetched that an international campaign akin to Kony 2012 might be launched against him soon. Kony 2012 was a documentary produced by Invisible Children to support the indictment at the ICC of Joseph Kony, the leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army. International celebrities were recruited to popularize the video, which has been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube.

Getting Duterte indicted at the ICC is the ideal goal of anti-Duterte forces. Like what happened to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, in order for Duterte to appear in court he would need to leave the Philippines and hand over powers to the Vice President, until the trial ends. It would make Leni Robredo President even temporarily. However, the complaint would probably be rendered inadmissible due to the principle of complementarity, which emphasizes the primacy of national mechanisms and solutions over ICC processes.

So, what’s the next best thing to indicting Duterte?

In general, the ICC prosecutor follows four steps after it receives a complaint: conduct a preliminary examination of the situation; get authorization to investigate; launch a formal investigation; and apply for a warrant of arrest or summons to appear against the accused. If anti-Duterte forces could get the ICC prosecutor to do even the first step, that would already aid them in their agenda. As Nesam McMillan and David Mickler wrote in “From Sudan to Syria: Locating ‘regime change’ in R2P and the ICC,” activating ICC processes “may function to delegitimize political actors, thereby potentially facilitating their exit from the national political scene in a less direct manner.”

You can’t fool everyone, Senator de Lima. Destabilizing a government by way of international pressure is a reliable political tool. And your camp has been utilizing it by shaping the global public opinion and mobilizing the world’s sentiments against our president. You want him ousted.

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16 Comments

  1. OK, with all this brouhaha about the ploy to oust Duterte tremendously aided by the misguided, biased and ill-informed international media, my simple question is, what is the presidential press handling all internal and external communications about Duterte’s administration, is doing about it? This complacent, smug and over confident behaviour of Duterte’s PR people has excerbated the situation. This wouldn’t have happened during Pnoy’s adminstration or under all his predecessors. The scalawags are given a free reign of sowing all these destablilization moves, primarily because of the smugness and complacency of the presidential press if not its utter ineptness in handling the situation. Does the presidentlal press abdicate its responsibility and hand it over to the DDS supporters in the social media? This smells like a sabotage.

  2. They’ve bring the fight in international​ arena because Pres.Du30 still had a overwhelmed trust rating and they cannot get Filipino citizen to support so they’re now playing their last card.

  3. Leopoldo Mayo on

    By the time this shameless chapter in Philippine political affairs is over, four disreputable Bicolanos will no doubt be recorded as the most treasonous and shameless Filipinos in Philippine history: (1) Sen. Leila de Lima, currently under detention after her criminal indictment for connivance with drug lords to raise funds for her senatorial bid in 2016; (2) Sen. Antonio Trillanes, disgraced Philippine navy lieutenant and vicious rabble-rouser, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for sedition and rebellion but pardoned by a former President in exchange for serving as his highly paid attack dog against his political enemies; (3) Vice President Leni Robredo, for alleged massive cheating to win the vice presidency and for gleefully badmouthing the Philippines in that infamous videotaped of hers that she played at a United Nations anti-drug conference in Europe a few weeks ago; and (4) the ultra-rich U.S.-based Filipino-American widow Loida Nicolas, who has been openly supporting and funding the current massive and highly vicious destabilization drive to drive President Duterte out of power so the Liberal Party can install the friendly and malleable Leni Robredo in his place. These are the Malevolent Four, the main conspirators that all Filipinos should condemn to high heavens for creating so much trouble and bringing so much shame and humiliation to the Philippines in the international community.

  4. Claro Moreno on

    CIA is the Grand Puppeter. Noynoy is the puppet then. But now, Duterte who is supposed to be the puppet is not cooperating by pivoting to China and Russia which resulted into the weakening of their military position against China. USA can not tolerate it. CIA is out to oust Duterte badly, so CIA can put in their own subservient Philippine president I mean puppet. It is simple as that. Period.

  5. Ugh. This is getting old. Leila De Lima and Trillanes is obviously two among many who are behind this ploy… but they too are puppets. They don’t need to succeed. They don’t care what ICC finds. It’s a propaganda in order to add to their rhetoric against President Duterte, the words “who has a complaint filed at ICC as a MASS MURDERER”. The troubling part is the US Govt is involved – this is too obvious, CIA owns NY Times and is now “urging” ICC to stop Duterte. I say fight fire with fire, hire WikiLeaks to attack these sons of.. propaganda.

  6. What do we Filipinos want? Any new president who is pro- Filipino is always a victim of bias media and oligarchs. For me it better makes sense to let us wage a civil war between these forces and let the survivor reign. All my life(now retired) I have seen presidents but to me Magsaysay,Marcos, Erap and Duterte are more Filipino than the rest. Can we not just unite and improve our lot? Nationalism is no longer in our hearts. Let us not allow external forces dictate our destiny.

  7. His external legitimacy is not weak at all. The support of international community is overwhelming. (Russia, China, Japan, ASEAN and Middle East Nations. Even the president of the US supports DU30).

  8. “killing spree”.. that ruined everything you said. we have tried the “humanitarian” methods other than DU30’s by purportedly “decent” kind hearted, religious, and what not, yet here we are only now able to grasp the enormity of the drug problem. i’m willing to let have a stab at it. maybe he can make dent, as opposed to eradicating it.. just being realistic here.

  9. Hi Miss Sass.
    I tend to disagree on the your statement that “His (Duterte’s) external legitimacy is extremely weak.” Fake news published by paid and bias media were not actually believed by the international community at large. Only by those whose interest were threatened.Yes, people can say that “that’s what they read or heard” on these paid and bias media but that’s not necessarily a ‘buy-in” for them.
    And like what you are doing, we Pinoys outside of of the Philippines has to our fair share to counter and spread the real news. We have faith and trust, Digong Duterte will make the Philippines a better place for future generation.
    More Power to you

    • remember the alleged plot written by goldberg?? it was news during the early days of du30’s reign. it looks like it is happening despite denials by the us embassy/state dept.. don’t you agree??

  10. Ever since Nixon instigated his “war on drugs” with Mexico it has had little to do with drugs. Such is the reality, and hypocricy of politics, everywhere.

    “The Nixon ‘war on drugs’ campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal
    to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. The drug war was simply an excuse”
    John Ehrlichman , Nixon White House Domestic Affairs Advisor

    The ‘labelling strategy’ which Nixon adopted, and which Duterte is now mirroring, proved to be a disaster.

    Duterte needs the drugs war as much as an addict needs drugs. No drugs and he has no platform. It is his political weapon of fear and mass delusion – the unconstitutional and undemocratic proposal to appoint barangay officials is a case in point.

    Fortunately, the vast majority of filipinos (73%) do not support the drug killings/EJK’s. They prefer the police to act like policemen and not thugs with a badge.
    If the legal system is bad, improve it. duterte has had a lifetime to do that but chose not to, in congress, or in davao.

    And it is not just the US who are against the current killing spree, but also the UN, EU, and ASEAN. In politics if you do not listen then you suffer the consequences.

    Indonesian National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian commented in regards to Indonesia’s rejection of a similar policy to Duterte’s for Indonesia: “Shoot on sight policy leads to abuse of power. We have a different approach based upon prevention and rehabilitation”

    Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said “he respects the method undertaken by the Philippine government”, while stressing that “Malaysia will never follow such example as we have our own methods with one of those such as seizing assets used in drug trafficking with resultant funds to be channelled back towards rehabilitation, prevention and enforcement of laws against drugs”

    International politics is like playing 3D chess, but duterte has not yet even learnt how ‘the horsey thing’ moves. He could soon be in danger of being in ‘check’
    Small town thinking and 20th century attitudes need to be replaced with global understanding and universal values.

    (His international naivete is also evident in his handling of the ASEAN summit)

    Strident anti-US and anti-EU sentiment is not how you win friends and influence people or how you play the game of international politics, unless you want to end up a loser, and an isolationist.

    No man is an island, and no island can afford to be insular in thinking.

    Duterte is not only shooting drug users but also shooting himself in the foot.

    • killing spree… that ruined everything you said. DU30 is not Nixon or the CIA. i dont think du30 flooded the country with drugs to control certain ethnic groups or class of people then harrased them with oplan tokhang. that label might have to go to the yellows who go at great length to unseat a person who endangers their hold on power

    • James you don’t know a thing about Philippines Drug problems that is why you tend to compare Nixon fake Drug issue to counter black and anti war left…Go to the website of our Philippine National Police so you have the full details of the operation and the “TRUE FIGURES” and not just source from a manipulated mainstream media…US, EU, UN, Human Rights International are like the Pharisee and Scribes…Using the cloak of their Organization to undermine the legitimate Government…VOX POPULI, VOX DEI…

    • Certainly you do not know Duterte. He is not even a politician but a compassionate human beings who is trying to save the majority of the filipinos who are victims of drug related crimes. Philippines is being destabilized by an oppositions who refused to accept defeat. The fake news are everywhere in the international community to oust him but Duterte is being welcomed by an overwhelmed majority of the filipinos for a CHANGE. We are sick and tired for so many years with crimes and corruptions from those previous governments and with Duterte’s approach to present government is what filipinos need now. He has a different approach being from the South and not a kind of politician that we used to for so many years but that made him as part of a CHANGE that filipinos are waiting for.

    • Wow, were you at the ASEAN summit to speak with such authority? And from the way you talk it’s as if you were part of the Nixon war on drugs too. How amazing. Have you recently walked Manila when it was still teeming with druggies and the towns were held by drug lords by the neck? What about now, have you walked the dark narrow streets where people are already walking with confidence because there’s less crime than before? I didn’t realize that such an expert is among us Filipino natives that he dare call us liars when we say we are so thankful for having President DU30 as our leader now.

      Until you can prove to me that what info you have is something that you personally experienced and went through then you are just mirroring mainstream, which is akin to what you are saying about us. Here’s a suggestion: get yourself to the deeper recesses of Caloocan, Pasig and Rizal and then walk around and start asking us locals about how we feel about what’s happening in our country. Ask them how the public view the reduced criminality, the free education and hospitalization programs and the upcoming infrastructure projects. Most of all, ask us how we want to clear our government of corrupt officials that seek to keep drugs, drug addicts, drug sellers and drug lords on the street and at large. Ask us how we want to see corrupt politicians who suggest we legalize drug use instead of having drug addicts surrender to the government and then change for the better. Ask us how we see the killing as part of the drug lords’, politicians’ and other corrupt officials’ way of removing possible witnesses and former contacts that can point the finger at them and then blame it on President DU30.

      Ask us nice and proper instead of acting like a judgemental, moralistic and ignorant fool that you really are. And that goes for everyone else who think they’re better than we are when we say we want to keep our President, thank you very much.

      DU31 and change his here. And this time, it’s the RIGHT kind of change.