PRRD, in his less than 100 days in office, has made clear and direct offensives on two fronts: the war against illegal drugs and peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF and MNLF-MILF. Both fronts are not easy to tackle since the President needs to juggle other things in the process. A big leap is making change in our political structure (call for federalism), front and center in his first year in office. All political capital is being used to put Philippine Inc. in order on the first year.
War and peace are two contradictory, but related, terms. Not to go to war is peace. To pursue peace is not to go to war. The dividends are tremendous for a nation that has not come to terms with the past and has expended much of its resources to quell rebellion and bring parties to the negotiation table again and again. Both the CPP-NPA-NDF and the MNLF-MILF date back to all Philippine Presidents after Marcos. In every administration, effort is exerted to claim peace and yet in all administrations we always find ourselves going back to step one.
In a joint statement issued on August 26, GRPh and NDFP agreed to resume formal talks stalled for almost half a decade. On hand were the Reciprocal Working Committees and Groups. Both parties agreed on seven points: reaffirmation of previous agreements; reconstitution of the safety and immunity guarantees list; acceleration of peace negotiations; releases of prisoners; amnesty proclamations; ceasefire and schedule of the next meeting in October 2016. As to the MNLF-MILF, modalities have been explored and discussed and the sense of putting both on a face-to-face meeting is being worked out to make a comprehensive solution more inclusive.
Hardheaded and bull-strong, PRRD is resolute in declaring a drug-free Philippines. In the process, he will get burned because he is up against an enemy that has seeped in the national fabric. The war does not end with the drug lords but covers smugglers and corrupt uniformed and civilian personnel of government. Even the elected are not spared.
In his address during the National Hero’s Day celebration yesterday, PRRD cited former Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos when he was executed in Malabang, Lanao on May 7, 1942. He paraphrased the exchange between Abad Santos and his son. Quoting from an online source, “before he was shot to death, he was able to talk to his son Pepito. His last parting words to his son were, “Do not cry, Pepito, show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for one’s country. Not everybody has that chance.” Abad Santos was executed under a tall coconut tree near a riverbank. He refused to be blind-folded and [declined]the last cigarette offered to him.” If such is the invocation of PRRD, this is a leader on a mission and he will do what it takes to achieve the mission.
The suicide bomber mentality is dangerous but they will lead us hopefully to a place that remains merely an ideal for most Filipinos. And there are several individuals in his Cabinet who demonstrate such behavior. Others are emboldened to pursue what has not been done before because of Duterte and his brand of leadership. How can one quiver? When the ideal becomes real, the “puede pala” exhortations today, expressed in total bewilderment, would just be a thing of the past.
And PRRD’s timeline is getting shorter by the day, given his statement that if his vision of federalism for the country is to be a reality, “I cannot be a leader of an office I created, so I will retire” even before the end of his term. And it is the hope of most people that should a constituent assembly be the mode used to revise the Constitution, the incumbent legislators should be barred from running for office immediately after its ratification; a whole new set of leaders, but the same cannot be sustained if Congress is unable to pass the needed political reforms.
Duterte has set in motion the change and direction of this country never before seen from any leader. And yet the irony of it, as he stated, “I am not a national figure, I am a mayor from Mindanao… I still do not know how I made it…”
Duterte is very similar to General Kutuzov, one of the main characters of Tolstoy’s War & Peace. “General Kutuzov emerges as a great leader not because he develops a logical plan and then demands that everyone follow it, but rather because he is willing to adapt to the flow of events and think on his feet. He revises his plan as each stage turns out to be vastly different from what was expected.” Although a large portion of War and Peace “focuses on war, which is associated in our minds with clear-headed strategy and sensible reasoning, Tolstoy constantly emphasizes the irrational motives for human behavior in both peace and war. Wisdom is linked not to reason but to an acceptance of how mysterious actions can be.”
Tolstoy’s philosophy of history “justifies his cynicism towards leaders, for, in his view, history is not a creation of great men, but is rather the result of millions of individual chains of cause and effect too small to be analyzed independently. Even emperors, though they may imagine they rule the world, are caught in these chains of circumstance.” Duterte’s chains of cause and effect are latent but there are enough publics who are willing to stay the course knowing we have not seen such type rise from atypical background. As a superlative wordsmith puts it, “our one last chance.”
Indeed, “the strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”