“No man who knows society at the present day really but must agree that it is not worth preserving in its present basis.”
–From Life and Letters of Charles Eliot Norton
At the beginning, it was a state of national lawlessness. Realizing that the declaration did not mean anything, now it is a state of national emergency. What exactly does it mean to the Duterte administration? We have to ask this question because it seems this administration uses a different dictionary from what we ordinary mortals use. It is a dictionary based on Duterte’s perception, which everybody is supposed to adopt without question. Well, PDU30 is not God and the members of his Cabinet are not gods from Mount Olympus. They probably are gods based on Davao City standards but not beyond that.
And they probably think that they are gods because they are in control of the weapons of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and they can kill anyone with impunity. Once upon a time President Ferdinand E. Marcos was in control of those forces for 20 years, and look where he is now. This is a lesson this administration should learn. We have all feet of clay whether your name is Duterte, Aquino or Marcos – or in more endearing terms, whether your name is Rodrigo, Benigno or Ferdinand.
The world is not Davao City. It is beyond that. There is a world out there, which does not consider sacrosanct the benighted standard to kill for any desirable purpose. That kind of standard has been demolished centuries ago. In democratic countries, the Davao City standard to kill to exterminate the problem of illegal drugs without regard for human rights, due process, equal protection and the rule of law, is the standard for the denizens of the jungle – and for the information of the Duterte administration, the Philippines is not a jungle. It maybe to them, but whether they like it or not, it is not a jungle. It has undergone decades of education but which, unfortunately, has not registered with the leaders of this country – past or present.
The guidelines issued by Malacañang
I read and re-read the guidelines issued by the Palace for the military and police forces. It does not add anything to existing law or jurisprudence. Without declaring a state of national emergency, the President in his capacity as President of the Philippines under the Constitution can exercise the powers defined in the guidelines, with or without a declaration of a state of national emergency. But it is just as well that it was issued for the guidance of Malacañang, the armed forces and the police, as well as the citizens. Even a superfluity in a country with unconcerned citizens, unless you hit them where it hurts, the superfluity is welcome.
This country has been in a state of national emergency for several decades now – proliferation of illegal drugs, numbing poverty in the land, unrestrained smuggling and gambling, robbery of government coffers by public officials of all kinds, immorality in public and private lives and criminality in all levels.
So what is new except the Duterte government is making a statement of fact or to use salacious language – a statement of fuck which is now acceptable in a world of colorful presidential expletives and verbalisms?
A revolutionary government
A revolutionary government is a continuing temptation because of the repetitious words from the mouth that roars. During the campaign and the initial phase of this government, it claimed that it could solve the problem of illegal drugs in six months. I just heard PDU30 in television while delivering a speech before the Filipino community in Jakarta, Indonesia that he needs two years to solve the problem because he will only start building rehabilitation centers in 2017 for 3.6 million illegal drug users. My, oh, my! The rosy picture keeps on changing. This is becoming a classic modified case of atras-avante. It is a modification of the Mao formula of one step backward, two steps forward. It worked in China. It would probably work in the Philippines. But the modified adaptation is a problem because here it is two steps backward, one step forward. It does not improve the situation. Every time hope is made it develops into false hope.
At the rate this government is going, there is no hope for a final solution to the drug problem within the existing political system. If at all there is hope, it is the hope of the hopeless and that is not solving the problem.
I just made a trip to Cagayan de Oro City hoping to interview some people who may have some intelligent and immediate solution to the illegal drug problem. I did have such interview subject to the usual media and survey limitations that the interviewee must remain anonymous. I agreed to the limitation.
Her name is Inday, but no family name please, as a reporter of a daily paper or a survey agent of the Social Weather Station or Pulse Asia will say when asked about his source. The interview went this way:
“Me: Inday, are you willing to be interviewed on the Duterte administration approach to solving the illegal drug problem?
Inday: Of course, willingly.
Me: What do you think of this administration’s approach to the problem?
Inday: There’s no way it can work.
Inday: Look, Digong says there are three million six hundred thousand illegal drug users in the country, how do you expect to kill them in six years of his administration or rehabilitate them? Six years is too short. Let us start with the killing solution since this is the expertise of Digong as Mayor of Davao City. Look at Bato de la Rosa’s killing figures. For the past two months, they reportedly killed, including the so-called vigilante killings, three thousand drug pushers and users – that’s one thousand five hundred a month. At the rate they would only have an average of eighteen thousand kills a year. Multiply that by six years that would be a total of one hundred thousand eight kills. Subtract that from three million six hundred thousand there would still be three million four hundred ninety-four illegal drug users left after six years of Digong. This is even assuming that the number of users would not increase but would remain at three million six hundred thousand for the whole period minus the kills.
Me: Then, what should Digong do?
Inday: There is a simple way to do it.
Me: What do you mean? Adopt the gas chambers of Hitler or the guillotine of Robespierre?
Inday: Of course not. Both solutions are either bloody or primitive.
Me: What then is your solution?
Inday: Didn’t I tell you it is simple? Adopt the Ampatuan solution! After all, Digong is a friend of the Ampatuans and his legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, was one of the lawyers of the Ampatuans. By now, Panelo must have developed an expertise in the use of the backhoe, the favorite Ampatuan killing instrument. Combine the Digong penchant for killing and Panelo’s expertise in the use of the backhoe and you have the simple solution.
Me: You mean bury all the drug users in the holes in the ground produced by the Ampatuan backhoes?
Inday: Of course, what are backhoes for?
Me: This would produce major media uproar with Senator de Lima, CHR Gaston, Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno and a sprinkling of LP congressmen on its side?
Inday: Of course, you have to close all media outlets before starting the backhoe operations. Then include the media noisemakers, Senator de Lima, CHR Gaston in the burial. Without media, you can create a world of your own.
Me: Isn’t it inhuman and gruesome?
Inday: What’s so inhuman and gruesome about solving a problem? In a year, PDU30 would have finished the illegal drug problem. Not only that, he would be solving his other problems.
Me: Like what?
Inday: Like the Marcos burial problem. PDU30 should bury FM with media practitioners and political objectors. That would solve the FM burial problem. By doing all these, in one shot he has solved several problems – illegal drugs, media, political objectors, FM burial, Obama, Ban Ki Moon, Amnesty International.
Me: Why Obama, Ban Ki Moon and Amnesty International?
Inday: Don’t you get it? I thought you are brilliant? Without media reporting the burial of the illegal drug users, political objectors, human rights activists, what will Obama, Ban and Amnesty International complain about? Not only those, he will also make heroes out of the drug users and the others who will be buried with them.
Me: Why heroes?
Inday: They will fertilize the land and contribute to the solution of our population problem.
Me: I finally got it. Inday, you’re so brilliant by simplifying solutions to complex problems I will ask my friends to get you as top adviser of PDU30.
Inday: Are you crazy? I am leaving tonight for OSAKA via Cebu City then to the good old USA, the country of my dreams.
Me: Can I have a picture with you to validate this interview for my files?
Inday: Bye, I only gave this interview because I like what you did as Governor and Member of Parliament. See you in New York. I’ll enjoy the Broadway musicals and the museums and the books and the records. You people here have a lot of problems to solve. Goodluck!
Me: Bye, see you in New York. May I have your last name and your phone number?
Inday: Bye, give my regards to my idol – Digong!
Cagayan de Oro City is a city of wonders. But this interview can really take your breath away, as the song goes