Some truths and lies of our times

16
FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

MY proposal (in my February 15, 2017 column) that the Duterte government ask Malaysia now to agree to a World Court adjudication of our Sabah territorial dispute has drawn spontaneous support from readers here and abroad, beginning with a retired Filipino ambassador in Santiago, Chile, who has offered valuable advice on how to proceed.

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The only online objection I have read so far comes from a blogger, who says it would give President Rodrigo Duterte a chance to pretend to be a “statesman,, which, she says, “he is not.” This is precisely one reason I would like him to do it—to help him evolve into a statesman from what he has so far tried to be, a “killing President” and a “knave.”

We have yet to hear from Malacañang or the Foreign Office. Should DU30 decide to act on the proposal, it could become a key diplomatic project, which he could launch during this year of the Manila Asean summit. It would be quite an achievement if a Philippine-Malaysian agreement to refer the dispute to The Hague could find its way into the concluding statement of the summit.

A matter of political will
Of course, this entails a major test of leadership. A renowned bone surgeon, who takes these things seriously, wonders if the government has the necessary political will (seriousness or skill) to do it. DU30’s war on drugs has so far shown his political will in the wrong direction—it has already killed some 7,000 drug suspects, and he has reviled and calumniated those who have denounced the killings, Filipinos and foreigners, bishops, priests and laymen alike.

Is DU30 capable of showing political will in the right direction? This is precisely what I would like to see, even at the risk of making life boring for presidential critics. But this means DU30 will have to take himself less seriously and the presidency and the nation much more seriously. Is he willing to do it? Our surgeon is just one of those who are highly disturbed by DU30’s frame of mind, as reflected by the latest statement, echoed by his official spokesman, that only two out of every five statements of his carry a semblance of truth. The rest are meant for public entertainment.

Since no one knows which two statements are meant to make us cry, and which three are meant to make us laugh, our first problem is how to read the President. When do we take him for his word? And why should we take his word when he tells us he is finally telling the truth? Forget for a while any specific issues—Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s renewed accusation that DU30 has over P2 billion in unexplained wealth stashed in some big banks somewhere, and the self-confessed Davao Death Squad “killer” Edgar Matobato’s accusation that DU30 personally killed criminal suspects when he was Davao city mayor. Just listen to what he says about himself.

How can we expect him to conduct serious State business when he says three out of every five statements he makes should be ignored? And how is the rest of the world to respond to it? Where truth and lies have become interchangeable and seamless, can one still be held accountable for any falsehood? Can anyone still be expected to tell the truth? Falsehood becomes truth, and truth falsehood whenever the President says so. He does not even have to create a Ministry of Truth anymore, as in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; all he has to do is lie and proclaim the lie as the new absolute truth, and say he was only joking whenever he is found out. This has happened before, it is happening now, it will happen again. The war on drugs is exhibit number one.

The truth and lies about the drugs war
The drug problem is real, so the war on drugs is based on a truth. But there is no need to kill all alleged drug pushers and users, as Cesar Gaviria, the former President of Colombia, is telling DU30 in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. That the Philippines is not Colombia and that shabu is not cocaine, which DU30 and his apologists are trying to make massive mountains of, does not make the alleged need to kill every nonviolent offender a lesser lie. Nor is DU30 justified in inflating the number of drug pushers and users from the 1.8 million estimated by the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to 4 million without any credible documentation, and making that the target of the Philippine National Police’s proposed “neutralization” of all illegal drug personalities.

America has its own illegal drug problem, and Donald Trump’s decision to launch his own war on drugs, after being told that illegal drugs have a 75 to 80 percent impact on crime, has emboldened DU30’s defenders to claim that Trump is following DU30’s lead rather than the other way around. I don’t believe there’s any reason to believe Trump will authorize the extra-judicial killing of drug suspects, or that if he did, he could get away with it; an order from a federal judge was all that was needed to stop his ban on US-bound immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The difference between DU30’s and Trump’s wars
Trump’s war on drugs is expected to target the big banks that have been financing the illegal drugs trade, as suggested by an article in the Executive Intelligence Review by Mike Billington of the Lyndon La Rouche Society, which has been active in the anti-drug war ever since it got involved in the US anti-drug coalition in 1980. Without the money, there won’t be any significant illegal drugs traffic, as the book Dope, Inc. points out. Britain’s Opium War against China (in the beginning) and against the world (today) would not have been possible without the support of the big banks in London and Wall Street.

Billington’s article quotes Antonio Maria Costa, former head of the UN office on drugs and crime, as saying that during the near-collapse of the Western banking system in 2008, money from drugs was the only liquidity investment capital for many banks. Interbank loans were funded by money that came from the drugs trade and other illegal activities. Some banks that were ready to fail were rescued by drugs money, he said. It also quotes Victor Ivanov, director of the Russian Federal Narcotics Service from 2008 to 2016, who says that “drug money and global drug trafficking are actually not just valuable elements of, but donors of scarce liquidity, a vital and indispensable segment of the whole monetary system.”

Curiously enough, no bank has ever figured in the DU30 campaign. By targeting the big complicit banks, Trump will be highlighting the distinction between the US campaign and DU3O’s, which has focused on the small fry in the slums, without touching any of the big producers, manufacturers, financiers and mega distributors. This will expose the DU30 campaign as one intended mainly to spread terror in the grassroots to keep political adversaries, the media, and even foreign governments and human rights organizations off-balance, rather than as one intended to really eliminate the drug problem.

Thus, after the reported surrender and detention of 800,000 or more drug users, and the killing of 7,000 or so drug pushers and users, the drug traffic remains as strong as ever. The drug cartels with roots in China, Mexico and Nigeria remain unthreatened by the police operations, which have now been suspended following the police kidnapping and murder of the South Korean national Jee Ick-joo inside the PNP central headquarters. DU30 and his chief anti-drug implementer, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, will have to own up to some of these lies.

The truth and lies about the Reds in govt
Without the nation’s prior consent, DU30 installed several Communist Party members in the Cabinet. This preceded peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF, which he has now cancelled after the NPA killed some Armed Forces troopers in violation of the truce. He has since branded the CPP/NPA/NDF as a “terrorist organization.” But instead of weeding out the members of this “terrorist organization” from the Cabinet, he has commended each of them for their dedication and service. There is no sign he will be booting out the “terrorist organization” from his government. To the contrary, he might end up swallowing his words against the “terrorist group” and resuming the “peace negotiations” between NDF-1 and NDF-2 to formalize the terms of surrender of the entire government.

In the meantime, the actual machinery of government is being consolidated by Cabinet Secretary and NDF vice chairman Leoncio Evasco Jr., who is running the Office of the President and 18 critical agencies directly linked to the grassroots, as well as the Kilusang Pagbabago (Movement for Change), an embryonic political party whose regional coordinators and other officials are all CPP or NDF members, and the barangay-based structure called MASA-MASID, which is run by CPP and NDF members also. Evasco functions effectively not only as DU30’s co-President, but to some observers as the “de facto President.”

In a recent TV interview with this writer, former Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales exposed the various inconsistencies of DU30’s policies vis-a-vis the communists. The government, in Gonzales’s view, has failed to prevent the CPP/NPA/NDF from continuing their illegal imposition of “revolutionary tax” on businesses; failed to prevent the shipment of arms from various sources to insurgents and allied Islamic extremists; and failed to formalize its description of the CPP/NPA/NDF as a “terrorist” organization. After hearing so many lies about the government’s view of the CPP/NPA/NDF, it is time for us to begin hearing some truths. Will DU30 and Evasco oblige?

The truth about DU30’s health
This last issue is almost unmentionable but must be mentioned. The President is most sensitive about any discussion of his health, and has in fact used a few choice words against this writer for raising the issue in this space. I can only repeat how sorry I am for any pain I may have caused by my provoking this issue. But the President’s health is our nation’s primary concern. Our people deserve to know that he is in the pink of health if he is, and to be told otherwise, if he is not. This is part of the truth that will keep us together as one.

fstatad@gmail.com

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16 Comments

  1. Jovelyn Rojas on

    Kit has always tried to be as constructive as possible in his criticisms against the administration, and we should commend him for that. PDu30 and his cabinet will immensely be benefited from his write-ups. Continue to educate us, Mr. Senator.

  2. Time comes when President Duterte will finally confess—he is just playing mind games with the enemies. It will be revealed soon that he never murdered anyone for he is not a murderer as he has been maliciously portrayed. He is playing his mind games to the hilt.

    He is a feigned murderer , just simulating murder to bring forth the real murderers of the world—those who are quick to shed blood , those who jump on the gun very quickly , blood-thirsty men who do make condemnation hastily. These are the damned people who profess to be righteous yet are cold-blooded murderers!

    Just like Cain who has been maligned by the whole world for ages never realizing that the man is “acquired” from The Lord. Therefore , he is the chosen one of The Lord as his name implies.

    Time is soon coming that Cain too shall be vindicated and so with Duterte.
    For Duterte , the enemies are the real murderers. And for Cain , the whole world is the real culprit.

  3. The decision of any international court, not unless disputing parties to a territorial dispute agree to abide by the decision of such international court, is going to solve a territorial dispute between two nations. And even if there is an agreement between two disputing nations on a territorial dispute, the people involved in such territorial dispute, have to agree to abide by the decision of an international court. The reunification of East and West Germany came about because the people and the leaders in either place wanted the reunification.

    Our claim to Sabah is a very complicated matter. In the first place, Malaysia and Sabah enjoy a very high standard of living. The people of Sabah will not be happy to be under the Sultanate of Sulu when there is a great disparity of wealth between the two territories. The reason why Singapore seceded from Malaysia was because of the great disparity of wealth between the two countries.

    This does not mean that the Filipinos do not have a right to pursue Sabah. The claim of the Philippines on Sabah is just an invitation from the Filipino people to the inhabitants of Sabah to become part of the Philippines. In order for the people of Sabah to agree to become part of the Philippines, our country must demonstrate superior leadership that is better than what the leaders of Sabah can give to their people. The people of Sabah cannot be coerced to join the Sultanate of Sulu against their will.

    In this respect, Malaysia has already conceded that she is willing to give up her sovereignty over Sabah if the people there wanted to be part of the Philippines. The Philippines’ claim over Sabah is just an invitation to the people of Sabah to become a part of the Philippines and not a right of the Philippine government to determine the fate of the people of Sabah without their consent.

    Since the Sultanate of Sulu has not given up her claim of sovereignty over Sabah, the Philippines must claim that it can do justice to the Sultanate of Sulu if she can persuade Malaysia to hand over Sabah to this Sultanate. Then Filipino Muslims will be convinced that the greater progress of Filipino Muslims lies in being part of the Philippines rather than seeking independence from us. The Sultanate of Sulu believes that the Philippine government is capable of persuading Malaysia to cede back Sabah to her Sultanate; the problem is that our officials in government does not believe in our innate capability to solve the Sabah dispute in favor of the Sultanate of Sulu.

    The return of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu will determine whether Muslims would like to be part of the Philippines or whether they should secede and try to solve her problems all by herself. Therefore, our Sabah dispute will demonstrate to our Muslim brethren that the greater progress of the Bangsa Moro people lies in continuing to be part of the Philippines and not be independent of it.

    I believe that the Philippines is capable of persuading Malaysia to cede back the sovereignty of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu just as the Sultan of Sulu believes.

  4. As usual, Mr. Tatad, you have written another well thought out and well reasoned article. And as usual your critics (and likely Duterte supporters), as evidenced by the letters in this column, have trotted out the same lies and insults to condemn your writings. Not once have I read a well written and well reasoned article refuting the arguments that you have raised.

    So keep writing, Mr. Tatad, and keep reminding the public of the truth. The country needs you. Keep well and keep safe.

  5. Dear Sir,

    how can you say that war against drugs in not in a right direction? if the president did not fight drugs what do you think will happen to our children after several years will they be a victim drug addiction or a victim by drug addicts?

    second, if the president will fire the likes of sec. taguiwalo that do you think will happen to DSWD? she is far more capable in the job instead of the past parrot secretary who is like leni that is more of a model and always on a photoshoot.

    third, the presidents health is not our nations primary concern, we are more concern on eradicating drug proliferation and corruption by the past admins.

  6. You are so concern of the killings of illigal drug people but you have no mention about the people that had been rape, killed by these druggies. Have you had any symphaty of the demise of the innocent citizens had suffered? Your political view against the President had blurred your vision about the true need of our country.

  7. Am not se keen about Du30 tackling the Sabah claim issue with Malaysia for the simple reason that, in regard to our sovereignty over West Philippine Sea shoals, his administration has practically done away with the Hague decision and given China the extra large space to grab what this voracious neighbor want. I’d be patiently awaiting the next president who, hopefully as a statesman, will fight for what is legally and historically ours.

  8. JACINTO BAYBAY on

    Duterte should be impeached already. Wish there is a recall elections for the Presidency. Six years is too long .

    • are you out of your mind? what recall election are you talking about? for sure he will still win by a large margin, your recall electionj is good only for vp position.

    • which politician would have the courage to call for du30 impeachment. His hounds would attack him with everything. Look how they went after di lima because of what she said about him. Its so easy in the philippines to get people to testify against others. This president takes every action against any allegation or accusation against him. It will take a very brave person to confront him

  9. You seem to be writing to put forth all of your ideas on what the President should be doing. Didn’t the “council” you supported to replace Aquino disband? Or is it still active and committed to now trying to replace BU30?

  10. The federal judge has no business stopping the travel ban initiated by Pres. Trump because the order was a public policy for the good of the majority of American People. The Judge or judges are more after their own ego(s) thinking that their intellects are superior than what the letters of the US Constitutions mandate- to protect those who are within the Country , Citizens and Lawful Immigrants alike against terrorism . Those who would come here in the US, if not US Citizens and Lawful Immigrants, have no constitutional rights in the US. It is clear those US Federal Judges played out politics in this. They gave more credence or weights on the people who wish to come here than those already here who are strongly against what the past US President had done to be compassionate on those illegals and refugees than those American citizens and Lawful immigrants/residents who need more or better assistance from their Government, like those homeless, those who lost their means of livelihood because of illness or because of government regulations, those US veterans who lost their arms, legs, eyes in a war where they were sent to defend democracy of other countries, etc. Those Federal Judges have misplaced their priorities in life. They create a law instead of following the wisdom of the US Constitution.

  11. Bato-Bato sa Langit on

    Du30 is the most idiot president we ever have had in the Philippine; he is not a statesman for the better future of the Filipinos: he is a killer machine. With what is happening in his leadership, which is sickly to having constantly heard and watched it with a lot of killings. I don’t’ think DU30 can do think beyond his nose about Philippine’s claim on Sabah. Du30 is a weak leader; his vision to the nation is only for his own term. I feel sad he is our president, a six year to endure and to loose a lot for the fellow Filipinos future including our claim in Sabah. Can you Mr. Tatatd volunteer as a foreign secretary to help Du30 in the Philippine international affairs? Yasay is also inexperienced and very much a baby in the foreign affairs work.

    • PinPin de Saraoin on

      In addition to this opinion on DU30’s administration and without political direction and vision both from within the nation and its international foreign relation, in which the designated foreign affairs officer is also inexperienced in foreign affairs works, Du30 should start changing his concentration from all-out war on drug to something developmental of his people from personhood, family and towards the nation building, not killing. He should start accepting advises from the expert. I would be glad if Mr. Tatad can be placed as foreign affair secretary. Mr. Du30 should take the opportunity of Malaysia openness to settle Sabah issue in the international court.

    • if he is not for the better future of the filipinos maybe he should let the drug problem make its own course. we are now happy that millions of addicts surrendered and some of them change for good. maybe you are not aware what is really happening and you are just getting your opinion based on what you read from bias medias. you should try to take a walk in a squatters area and see the big difference.