The biggest crook of them all

30
FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

STUCK between Equatorial Guinea and Laos in the latest listing of fragile states by the US think tank Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine, the Philippines may yet have a long way to go before joining the ranks of Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Chad, Congo, Afghanistan and Haiti, etc. as a failed state. But a resumption and escalation of the drug killings could speed up our descent. On my Sunday evening cable TV program with broadcaster Ariel Ayala, former President Fidel V. Ramos was pained to observe that the Philippines had slipped down to No. 115 (out of 190 states) in the latest UN Human Development Index, and risen to one of the top five state violators of human rights.

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I asked FVR to share his view of what to expect from the man he had supported, with high hopes, in the last elections. In light of the great divisions President Rodrigo Duterte has created since, I thought it would be a great learning experience to listen to Ramos, whom DU30 had publicly thanked for “making him President,” and whom many people regard as a great consensus builder. Elected in 1992 with 24 percent of the votes cast in a seven-way contest, Ramos managed, within weeks, to win over all his rivals but one, and to convert his minority position into a solid political base. The only Protestant to win the highest office in a mostly Catholic nation, he quickly earned the support of the nation’s Catholics, simply by being open to all. He governed for six years without any of the coup attempts that had traumatized the Cory Aquino administration.

By way of contrast, DU30, who won 38 percent of the votes in a five-way contest—a “landslide,” according to some—tried to create enemies where he had none. Launching a brutal war on drugs, which killed suspects, he instilled fear rather than hope or confidence. He verbally abused the past President of the United States, the previous secretary-general of the UN, the previous American ambassador to the Philippines, the Pope, the Roman Catholic Church, bishops and priests, and some columnists for no other reason than that they criticized killings, which he considered sacrosanct acts of a sovereign government.

Should a President be feared?
What is it in the presidency that makes one want to show he has all the power in the world? I tried to ask Ramos. I had to reframe the question—Is it necessary for a President to be feared? Machiavelli says if you cannot be both loved and feared, then it is better to be feared; but a prince must be careful not to make himself hated, even though he is feared. Ramos replied on his own: “Better to be loved,” he said. DU30 may have shared the same response, except that at this stage he may be more feared than loved, and probably hated by some. He has done what no other President has done, and he must reap the consequences.

The war on drugs has already killed over 7,000 suspects. Each one of these deserves a just accounting, but none of them have ever been properly investigated. They have just become cold numbers in DU30’s social cleansing where the poor are exterminated like vermin crawling out of the gutter. Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan says: “This is not a war on drugs but a war on the poor. Often on the flimsiest evidence, people accused of using or selling drugs are being killed for cash in an economy of murder…Under PDU30’s rule, the national police are breaking laws they are supposed to uphold while profiting from the murder of impoverished people the government was supposed to uplift. The same streets Duterte vowed to rid of crime are now filled with bodies illegally killed by his own police.”

Reason or propaganda?
But instead of listening to reason coming from concerned individuals and institutions, DU30 would rather listen to his own propaganda as voiced by his trolls in the social media and the lynch mob organized by the DILG and Kilusang Pagbabago at taxpayers’ expense at the Luneta and other places. “I am committed to stop drugs before I go out,” says DU30. “This means to say, Father, Monsignor, Bishop—marami pang patayan ito. Kasi lumalaban talaga iyan. (This means more killing, because they’re fighting us.) It will not end tomorrow.” On the Human Rights Watch Report saying the war on drugs is a war against humanity, he says, “ When you kill criminals, it is not a crime against humanity. The criminals have no humanity!…Human rights and due process cannot be used as an excuse to destroy the country.”

This denies everything we know about law and morality, about the human person being made in the image and likeness of God. DU30 has now made himself the source of law and morality. Because he wants to save the country from drugs, it must renounce human rights and due process and resist the need to be saved from DU30. PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa echoes his master by saying the people support the bloody war on drugs, so it must continue. But more and more experts are saying that if DU30 cannot be prosecuted under the country’s laws or judicial system, he could be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague under the Rome Statute for command responsibility.

The ICC option and the Lascañas hearing
Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert points out that foreign courts acting on the basis of universal jurisdiction of international criminal tribunals, including the ICC, are in no way bound by domestic grants of immunity, and may prosecute protected wrongdoers as well as officials implicated on grounds of superior responsibility. Policemen involved in the extra-judicial killings cannot expect to be protected from prosecution by DU30.

According to Wikipedia, there are at least 10 situations under investigation by the ICC—The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic I and II, Darfur, Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. Thirty-nine persons have been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, 30 ordered arrested, 9 summoned; seven are under detention; three have been convicted, one acquitted, charges against six dismissed, charges against two withdrawn, one case declared inadmissible. Four, including Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who died on October 20, 2011, have died before trial.

Today, the senators are expected to grill former SPO 3 Arthur Lascañas, the self-confessed hitman of the so-called Davao Death Squad, who has tried to implicate DU30 in several killings and bombings of mosques when he was still mayor of Davao City. This should give us an indication if there is any prospect of bringing any case against the President at The Hague. Lascanas is reported to have executed a 64-page affidavit, 12 pages of which have already been submitted to the Senate. Several “literary detectives” have tried to parse the document to determine whether Lascañas has the intellectual capability to author a grammatically readable document. People who claim to know Lascañas have told me the former policeman had gone to law school, and is capable of composing a tolerably readable piece. But the best way to find out is for the senators to grill him thoroughly on its contents.

When reason is perverted
The perversion of reason in defense of the killings does not stop with DU30. It is so contagious that even ranking legislators with otherwise distinguished bar exam records have managed to sound completely idiotic in their defense of the indefensible. To the statement of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) that “extra-judicial action, purportedly taken in pursuit of drug control objectives, is fundamentally contrary to the provisions and objectives of international drug conventions,” and to that of the International Commission of Jurists that the country would be committing a blatant breach of its treaty obligations if it reinstates the death penalty, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III (a bar topnotcher) says that putting a stop to drug trafficking and other heinous crimes is more urgent than worrying about the country’s reputation before the international community. “We can justify that we can never surrender our sovereignty (for international treaties). A treaty cannot tie our hands so that we’d be helpless in our country even when we have a strategy to fight crime.”

Not only is this statement scandalous, it betrays so much ignorance on the part of someone who has lost the right to talk like a peasant. DU30 is not being opposed for wanting to stop drug trafficking or any other heinous crime; he is being opposed for committing a serious crime in his vaunted effort to stop a lesser crime. What is involved here is not just our country’s reputation, but also our adherence to the law of humanity and the law of nations. Something as crass as this should not be coming from the Senate, which concurs in the ratification of treaties. Since the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which commits us to the abolition of the capital sentence within our borders, were concurred in by the Senate, Pimentel cannot just treat them like scraps of paper, without promoting his own delegitimization as Senate President, and our own delegitimization as a sovereign state. Should the boxer Pacquiao now replace him as Senate President? And should we now replace Somalia in the roster of failed states?

The majority as a mob
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas is no better. Justifying the railroading of the death penalty bill in the House of Representatives, Fariñas said: “The House exists to represent the people. The people want the death penalty reimposed as expressed through their representatives in our caucuses and shown by them in our sessions. But a minority group against it has been bullying the majority from expressing its will.” Excuse me, Sir. The right reason of the majority, not its mere numbers, gives them the right to rule. In theory, the House represents the people. In reality, it dances to the President’s tune. Given our rotten justice system, only DU30 and his lackeys seem ready and willing to entrust the death sentence in the hands of such a system.

But the railroading of the death penalty bill requires no philosophical discussion. The chair called for a viva voce voting on second reading.. The Nays were as loud as the Ayes, but the chair ruled, “the Ayes have it.” A member rose to ask for a nominal voting to determine which side had the actual numbers. Under the rules of any Congress, the motion should have been granted. But the chair dismissed the motion. The vote remains highly questionable.

The biggest crook of them all
The absence of reason is now DU30’s defining quality even in his treatment of corruption. Peter Laviña was sacked from the National Irrigation Administration for an alleged overprice in the bidding of an irrigation project by a group which offers to facilitate projects at the NFA, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agriculture and Sugar Regulatory Administration, etc. at a 15 percent commission. When Laviña learned of the deal, he decided to expose it to the President at 8:30 that morning. But the head of the group, who is infinitely closer to DU30, got wind of it and reported Laviña as the real culprit at 6 a.m.

Now Laviña is disgraced, and Martin Andanar has been shut down for putting his foot in his mouth too often. But the biggest crook of them all, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., remains untouched, despite the uncontested revelation that he had been an American citizen until two days before his appointment. In the March 1 issue of Philippine Star, former Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo exposes Yasay’s many sins as an American masquerading as a Filipino citizen. But is DU30 on pain-killers?

fstatad@gmail.com

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30 Comments

  1. Leland Sacro on

    If you want DU30 to listen to you, arrange for a meeting with him like what Enrile did.

    Communicating with him through your column or having a press conference will not be effective.

  2. MARIANO PATALINJUG on

    Yonkers, New York
    06 March 2017

    I will celebrate here with my whole family and close relatives the day blood-thirsty Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte is arrested on orders of the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT for all those he has murdered lawlessly in his brutal War on Drugs under the REIGN OF TERROR which he has inflicted on the Filipino people right after he took his Oath of Office as President on June 30th last year..

    I will celebrate a second time after the ICC finds him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and then sentenced to RECLUSION PERPETUA.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

    • yes that will surely happen…the problem is you can no longer attend such celebration for you’re already RIP then…anyway you can celebrate in hell while du30 is not yet the new SATAN…

  3. I hope I am wrong in thinking that the reason the Death Penalty Law is being pushed at all costs by who I believe to be a stinking crook, House Speaker Alvarez, is that they plan to have De Lima first in line in the Death Row.

  4. FVR was unwilling to modernize the military when he should have and could have given the billions from sales of military camps.

    He blew the opportunity to purchase helicopters and navy equipment that could have helped the operations against the NPA, MILF, MNLF and ABU Sayyaf as well as alleviate the hardships of the Pilipino during the many calamities encountered.

    He reminds me of Popeye the Sailor Man laughing UkUkUkUkUk.

  5. Tatad is more concern what other countries or an organization (UN, AI, & HR) might say to the Philippines rather facing the bitter truth and act on it. Tatad is an example of blah blah faded politician who keeps complaining but no actions will be taken. Oh by the way, who would believe with the UN nowadays? Bunch of hypocrites who did nothing in Somalia, Sudan, Afganistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Congo, and esp Syria.. Keep dreaming tatad

  6. A commentaries full of hatred with DU30’s administration. Another person of interest who want to bring down this government.

  7. Nigel of Makati on

    Better run for presidency on the next election Mr. Tatad. Let’s see what you can do for the Philippines.

    • Since he is also a Bicolano like De Lima, Leni Robredo, Loid Nicolas Lewis, at si kanin-sundalo Trillanes! its about time for this aging ex-politician to write about his kababayan na puro palpak ang achievements.

  8. Kit Tatad…the modern version of the New Testament Pharisee…why don’t you help our government instead of pointing out the wrongs….are you perfect? you had the opportunity long time ago to serve our country…what did you do? you yourself was and is a failure…why do you picture others as failure especially some of our government officials?

  9. Pienso de Manila on

    Oh, this is a beautiful write-up by you Sir Tatad. DU30 is a sick man; he does think he is superior to anyone, that is why he does what he thinks he needs to do; he can not be controlled, he is too hyper, like a child who climbs and jumps whenever he thinks he needs it. DU30 is a sick man. I hope that senate and congress will do something good for the nation before the Philippines will become again a sick nation in Asia because of Du30.

  10. Amnata Pundit on

    You are indeed an operator, not just of the Vatican but everybody else who is ranged against Duterte. How come you never wrote fiction? You can give Ludlum and Clancy a run for their money..

  11. In the Old Testament, it was said that when Yahweh wanted to “punish” His chosen people for disobeying His laws (i.e. breaking the Covenant He sent “bad” rulers (e.g. SAul, Herod) to govern them. The Babylonian captivity was also interpreted under this light. As a result, the people returned to Yahweh, albeit greatly reduced in number, but steadfast in faith, as exemplified by the Macabees. Any parallelism between the Old Testament experience and today’s Philippine predicament? Let’s pray during this Lenten Season that PDuterte be the “cleansing” leader sent to us….

  12. Thank You Sir for being fearless on your opinion. Democracy is still beating, though slow but still alive!!! Mabuhay po kayo!!!

  13. How can we help the President? Destabilizing the government under President DU30 will fail and the silent majority
    are just watching….Suggest solutions that may ease us the pain of drugs, corruption, criminality and poverty as a whole the President might listen.
    Get rid of all those yellow dogs who put us in this mess in the first place, I think the President will be open to any suggestion on how the country can go about to make it a little better.

  14. In this season of Lent, lets all do some soul searching why God let loose Duterte on this country,

  15. Let us not give too much credit to FVR, Mr. Tatad, firstly, there could not be a coup against him because he is a former Chief of Staff of the AFP and Chief of the Constabulary. Just like Senators and Congressmen, they protect their own.. A soldier/officer cannot expect the same blood as his to organize a mutiny. Second, FVR does have that much of an accomplishment during his term unless one will include his friendship with the Cojjuangco-Aquino family because of the professional relationship but it was only the former which he enjoyed rapport but not with Erap and Miriam Santiago. Hence he is not exactly an expert in Diplomacy or whatever.

    • Sir, I am a retired military service officer but I am not a fan of FVR.

      To the AFP’s and PC or PC/ INP credit, I believe FVR lost in the camps in that ’92 general elections. Hence, we can surmised that FVR/ he could also be under threat with coups.

      But, lo and behold, … indeed he should be credited for his efforts to work with / consolidate the different political groups for a lesser stress free governance.

      Meanwhile, the AFP modernization as envisioned and promised, then eventually effected by their supposed brother in arms/ FVR, …suffered and never actually benefitted from the sale of the pricy camps!

      Only the officer supporters of FVR did not feel the anguish and pain of a pay back to the organization ( the kind of modernization he engineered for the AFP after the successful bases conversation) he, … up to this time is claiming to have served faithfully?!

  16. Guillermo Hernandez on

    Senator Tatad,

    Sir, you are not only a national treasure but also a national hero !

    We are going to be guard your back from that crazy oaf from Davao City.

    Thank you for keeping democracy alive in our country.

  17. I am not going into Filipinos internal issues, but this nonsense of human right that is always spread out with lies from the US and Europe, isn’t fooling anyone some of these days. Can anyone remember Guantanamo, renditions, droning of Arabs, Pakistanis or Afghans without due process and invasion of other countries without authorization from the UN.

    What does the writer of this opinion in on about? Well, here in South Sudan. We don’t give a damn about what the US or Europeans think about their damn human rights. Let the criminals first of all go and remove the logs on their own eyes before they export their damn human rights to other countries that they don’t adhere to in their own countries.

  18. To Kit, keep the INNER FIRE BURNING. Once again you hit the nail right on the head so to speak. BEAUTIFUL and SCHOLARLY writeup with CLINICAL PRECISION.