“…there is nothing more to take in hand, more perilous
to conduct, or more uncertain to its success than go
and take a lead in the introduction of the new order
of things. Because the innovator has enemies all
those who have done well under the old conditions,
lukewarm defenders in those who may do well
under the new…”
-From chapter VI of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
PDU30 has declared a state of lawlessness in the country. What is the reason for this state of lawlessness? It is difficult to imagine that the bombing in Davao City could trigger this state of lawlessness. Long before this bombing, a state of lawlessness has been prevailing in the country. The lawlessness is attributable to government’s failure to enforce the law long before the existence of Duterte as a national force or as President. Duterte, fortunately for him, has recognized this state of lawlessness and it’s about time we should examine the root causes.
Legally, it has no significance. It is not Martial Law; it is not a declaration of a revolutionary government. It does not give government any added right. It does not suppress civil liberties. It does not legitimize the questionable methods of government in killing persons in its intensified and brutal campaign against the illegal drug trade. It is just plain notice to citizens that a state of lawlessness exists in the country — if they do not know it yet. A state of lawlessness does not depend on any declaration of PDU30. Whether Duterte says it, a state of lawlessness in the country exists.
It is nothing but propaganda tool for headline purposes and for effect. It does not give PDU30 any additional right or privilege. It is just to befuddle citizens and media to wonder and find out what it means. It really means nothing but highlighting the bombing of Davao City and as a propaganda counter-coup against the bombers.
Let’s begin with the Cory Aquino administration
It started with chaos and lawlessness; chaos because of the dispute over the conduct of the elections and the popular belief that Cory Aquino defeated Ferdinand E. Marcos (FM) in the snap elections of 1986. It culminated in lawlessness in EDSA I when the people of Metro Manila orchestrated by an intransigent national Opposition, with the help of National Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Constabulary Chief Fidel V. Ramos and Jaime Cardinal Sin, overthrew Marcos, sending him to exile in Hawaii, courtesy of the American government.
Lawlessness can be defined as non-observance of existing law. FM was proclaimed by the Batasang Pambansa as the duly elected President but the national Opposition refused to honor the proclamation; that is lawlessness. As a result of the Opposition stance, the people of Metro Manila assaulted the Marcos government; that is lawlessness.
The lawlessness continued without let-up. The terms of local officials that had not yet expired were not honored. Most of them were removed simply because of their association with the Marcos government. They were replaced by individuals from out of nowhere because they were old or new associates of the Cory government. These officers in charge were known as OIC or officers-in-charge.
The Cory government betrayed the people’s hopes and expectations. Graft and corruption continued in all levels of government and in the favored family and private sectors. Insurgency continued in the countryside despite amnesty to the communists. There was no peace in Mindanao. There was dispute in the Cabinet. Cory could not control and manage her computerized senators. Jovito Salonga as President of the Cory Senate shamed Cory before the Filipino people and her American patrons. This is the same Salonga who created the notorious Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which paved the way for stolen money of the previous regime to be stolen by the new power grabbers.
The first elections after the installation of the Cory government resulted in the election of computerized senators of the Cory government. In a well-documented report on the conduct of the elections of 1987, it was established that the elections resulted in the first massive dagdag- bawas (add-subtract) approach to national elections. Among the winners were fourteen candidates belonging to the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD), composed of some of the most known personalities of the Opposition like MP Wilson Gamboa, former Vice Chairman of the MNLF, Senator and Governor Rene Espina and leading elements of the defunct Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL) like Senator and MP Arturo Tolentino, Labor Minister Blas Ople, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Governor Isidro Rodriguez, then Mayor Erap Estrada and MP Edith Nakpil Rabat.
It was established later that President Cory Aquino, before the elections, met with the commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with instructions to give her a majority in the Senate, with specific order not to allow Rene Espina and this writer to win the elections. The Comelec did an overkill. It proclaimed twenty-two computerized senators of Cory as against two senators of GAD– ENRILE and ERAP. If this is not lawlessness, the dictionary must have committed a mistake in defining the term.
Because of continuing lawlessness, the Cory government was subjected to a series of coups — the one at the gate of victory was the 1989 coup. Were it not for the conduct of Colonel Greg Honasan, now senator, the coup could have very well succeeded. It is one of those chapters of Philippine history that could have totally changed the whole country for the better had the coup succeeded.
And then Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
The Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) presidency is notorious for the following — massive graft and corruption, making a farce of the electoral process and a high degree of immorality reaching up to the highest levels; no different from the Cory administration except that GMA did not parade herself as a saint.
The graft and corruption of the GMA administration were defined by notorious deals like the ZTE, the North railway deal, the helicopter deal, the Sito Lorenzo fertilizer deal, the Moscow generals’ caper, PDAP, and many other questionable projects in conspiracy with many congressmen and local officials. To cap the total picture of the GMA administration is the charge of plunder against GMA resulting in her confinement at the Veterans’ Memorial Hospital.
Smuggling was on top of the wave; drugs flooded the country; gambling went unchecked; the streets in Metro Manila were in total chaos; insurgency continued to flourish; criminality disturbed the peace and security of the country. These notorious activities characterized the GMA administration. The national condition was a state of lawlessness. But the GMA administration never admitted the existence of the state of lawlessness.
On the electoral front, the GMA administration topped them all. The infamous Garci tape gained headlines week after week. The manipulation of presidential electoral results was so scandalous it almost precipitated a coup détat from the usual military forces. If funds were available, GMA would have been removed in the same manner she was installed as President. But the Libyan ambassador betrayed the plan to secure funding from Moammar Khaddafi, resulting in the failure of the planned coup. It was popular to assert, without fear of successful contradiction, Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) won the presidency in the 2006 elections. Death, however, intervened because if FPJ did not die then, it was almost certain FPJ would have won the presidential protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Graft and corruption is definitely immoral; so is electoral manipulation. The GMA administration had them all. Glaring immorality reached stratospheric level on a personal plane. Linda Montayre immortalized it in her book, A Nation Unbound. No less than GMA herself accented the salaciousness of presidential peregrinations in a television interview in Baguio City. When asked about her sex life, she replied she had plenty. She must have failed to notice the nuance of the word she used. It was more like a picture that tells a thousand words.
The Benigno Aquino 3rd administration
It was an election people expected to have dramatic changes in running a government. On top of this is the erroneous popular impression the Cory Aquino administration was the best the Filipinos could hope for. It was a calamity of sorts especially on graft and corruption as well as foreign policy, not to speak of incompetence and disunity at every turn.
Aquino 3rd started with the wrong foot forward. In total breach of protocol, he refused to address Chief Justice Renato Corona who was at the grandstand while he was delivering his inaugural address. Aquino 3rd showed his true colors. He is a very vindictive man; he could not forgive CJ Corona for the Supreme Court decision giving back Hacienda Luisita to the farmers at a price well below the expectations of the Aquino family.
The lawlessness in the country continued – PDAP, DAP, selective justice by prosecuting enemies of Aquino 3rd or his administration while allowing his boys and associates to be free from criminal prosecution of the same offenses attributed to his enemies, continuing insurgency in the countryside, selling the country to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that constitutes treason under our laws, failing to defend the country from China’s continuing incursions into our exclusive economic zones by allowing China to construct island facilities, which are considered by authorities as military bases or military staging grounds for total control of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), unabated graft and corruption in civilian and military sectors in government, proliferation of illegal drugs, illegal gambling and smuggling throughout the country, continuing chaos in the streets of Metro Manila, criminality in the country because of inability of the police and security forces from using effective methods of control.
Credit the continuing and unabated lawlessness to the incompetence of national leadership. During Cory Aquino’s time, it was a calamity, in the Aquino 3rd watch, it was a catastrophe.
And now Rodrigo Roa Duterte
You must give PDU30 credit for recognizing the state of lawlessness in the country. Duterte in so short a period of time has contributed a lot to containing lawlessness in the country–with his continuing mouth that roars, he has terrorized those involved in the illegal drug trade; he has equally terrorized those involved in graft and corruption; he has reduced the rate of criminality in the country; he has evolved a system in delivery of public service; he has speeded the delivery of lands to claimants under the agrarian reform law in Palawan; and he has given enough warning to citizens to observe the law. The world community has finally noticed that the Philippines is the mouth that roars. These are welcome developments.
PDU30, despite his declaration and pursuit of noble objectives, however, has also introduced some pronouncements and courses of action that could cause lawlessness in the country – the undisciplined and unrestricted enforcement of the anti-illegal drug trade methods of the police, their associates and agents like vigilantes revealed by a very shocking coverage of BBC. His penchant to make impulsive remarks like the one at the police anniversary where he said that if he were a father of a victim of the drug menace, he would take the law into his own hands. This is not a good example for anyone, especially coming from the President. It is an invitation to lawlessness of the worst kind.
His oft-repeated remarks before policemen or media that he will support his police forces to the hilt in the unbridled killings of those involved in the illegal drug trade–support every policeman involved in cases of all illegal drug killings; pardon them if convicted. This is pure and simple invitation to impunity; and impunity means lawless violence.
The intended revival of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is another occasion for lawlessness. The BBL is a constitutional pariah. Why in heaven’s name should the BBL be revived despite the determined effort of Duterte to establish a federal parliamentary government escapes rationality. The only plausible explanation is Duterte’s claim that he is part Muslim.
Another possible contribution of PDU30 to lawlessness is his unflinching commitment to bury President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. This focus of Duterte to bury FM in the Libingan has already divided the country. It is like a clash of the immovable object and the indestructible force. Such conflict will not only engage the country in unending debate but it will trigger lawless violence throughout the country.
The only possible explanation for Duterte’s determination to bury FM in the Libingan is that he was an appointee of FM as assistant fiscal of Davao; his father, Governor Vicente Duterte of Davao, was devoted leader and follower of FM; and Duterte is a friend of Bongbong Marcos and the family of FM. But why sacrifice the national interests for gratitude and friendship? It does not ring a bell for effective and result-oriented national governance.
PDU30 loves to fight and wants to kill just to prove a point. This is shown in his waging wars, among others, against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with the threat that he may instruct the whole force of the executive – officials and employees -not to respect and obey the Supreme Court and the judiciary. This will trigger lawlessness, which could erupt in massive violence.
And then the verbal wars against the United Nations and President Barack Obama. They are possible sources of lawlessness and violence. It could give China unnecessary leverage in the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, resulting in emerging lawlessness not only in the area but possibly throughout the country.
Opportunity for learning
The presidency, like life, is an opportunity for learning. Nothing is humiliating to learn lessons from reading, listening or actual experience. This is the law of life. I am writing this, for the nth time, PDU30 should think and think a number of times before making unrestrained statements through his mouth that keeps on roaring. All his errors could have been easily avoided by doing just that–thinking deeply before leaping into the world of insults.
I agree with his intensified wars against illegal drugs but I totally disagree with his methods. Why does he not consult one of his avid supporters who even claim distant relationship with him – Congressman Douglas Hagedorn? Douglas, as councilor of Puerto Princesa, waged a successful war against illegal drug traders and users in his city and province without a single life wasted.
It is correct to tell world leaders to leave us alone to solve our problems because this is our country, not theirs. In delivering that message, however, it is not an imposition to use proper language, without neglecting veiled and courageous insult in the process. Duterte should remember what the late Vice President Emmanuel N. Pelaez, the Mindanaoan from Misamis Oriental who was the man most deserving to be the President of the Philippines in his time, used to tell me, “Lo cortes no quita lo valiente.” (Civility does not make you any less valiant.)
In the rarefied air of world diplomacy, PDU30 could learn a lot from President Fidel V. Ramos, by just consulting him or reading many of his books. By doing that, he could produce the same results, without resorting to needless wars that make the work more difficult than necessary.
These faults could be avoided by PDU30 by just striving hard to learn lessons that are good for him, and even better for the country and the people.