Who’s winning, big business or the Left?

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte made history last Thursday by delivering the shortest inaugural speech of any Filipino President in 14 minutes, without uttering a single cuss word, which until then had punctuated all his public utterances. This leads many to ask, can he not fight corruption, criminality, dangerous drugs, and the breakdown of law and order without resorting to extra-judicial killing or the death sentence?

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The speech, in English, did not contain everything we needed to hear. But it was nonetheless a class act—a tour de force, if you like. It was well written and well delivered, stamped with his personal conviction and style, with no doublespeak on any issue. He said what he wanted to say in exactly the way he wanted to say it, no unnecessary verbiage.

The Archbishop of Davao and vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Most Reverend Romulo Valles, prayed that God bless and protect the President “with the wisdom from Heaven,” so that he could speak for those who cannot speak, and protect the rights of the poor. Keep harm away from him, he implored.

Earlier, on the front page of The Manila Times, Most Reverend Fernando Capalla, Archbishop Emeritus of Davao, prayed for national healing so that the Filipinos could finally move forward in truth, justice and peace.

Faithful to the Constitution
Vice President Maria Leonor (Leni) Robredo took her oath in a separate venue, three hours before the VP’s office fell vacant. In contrast, DU30 took his oath at exactly 12 high noon of June 30, in strict obedience to the Constitution.

This small detail served to reassure many that DU30 would be faithful to the rule of law, despite their earlier fears to the contrary.

His effort to reduce the inaugural into a casual affair seemed to go well with the crowd, even though some European diplomats seemed to react in the same way their predecessors had reacted when they saw Mahatma Gandhi in his loincloth meeting with the royally garbed King George V.

With the President junking the Malacañang dress code, everyone else had a reason to feel slightly overdressed. Will the diplomatic corps now be advised to avoid formal or business attire in favor of jeans and shirtsleeves in any future meeting with the President?

What DU30 said
This was a curious point. But in the end, what DU30 said and how the nation reacted was the only thing that counted.

Duterte’s first words were to thank former President Fidel V. Ramos for “making him President” while also greeting former President (now Manila Mayor) Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the leaders of the two Houses of Congress and the judiciary, the Papal Nuncio as dean of the diplomatic corps. He also acknowledged the Supreme Court Chief Justice, even though he had asked his fraternity brother from San Beda Law College, Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, to swear him into office.

In 2010, when President B.S. Aquino 3rd was sworn into office by Associate Justice (now Ombudsman) Conchita Carpio-Morales, he refused to recognize then-Chief Justice Renato Corona’s mere presence among the guests. Later, Aquino bribed the members of Congress to have Corona impeached and removed. He passed away on April 29, 2016.

Mere symptoms
In his speech, DU30 described four problems that needed to be addressed urgently, namely, corruption, criminality, rampant sale of illegal drugs, and breakdown of law and order. But these were “mere symptoms of a virulent social disease that cuts into the moral fiber of Philippine society,” he said. “I sense a problem deeper and more serious than any of those mentioned or all of them put together. But, of course, it is not to say that we will ignore them because they have to be stopped by all means that the law allows,” he added.

“Erosion of faith and trust in government—that is the real problem that confronts us. Resulting therefrom, I see the erosion of the people’s trust in our country’s leaders; the erosion of faith in our judicial system; the erosion of confidence in the capacity of public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier.”

There is nothing here anyone can quarrel with. The ills we see are indeed “mere symptoms of a virulent social disease…” We must, therefore, address not just the symptoms, but the disease itself. Erosion of faith in government is but a manifestation of the disease; it is not the disease itself. Why is there such an erosion of faith? The correct answer to that question will identify the real disease.

Incomplete analysis
The President should not have stopped in the middle of his analysis. He should have pursued it to its very end. That alone will allow him to define the disease and effectively deal with it. It is not unknowable nor is it any great secret. Volumes have been written about it; the teachings of the Christian faith have long expanded on it; in our modest capacity, we have written extensively and delivered extended lectures on it.

On Aug. 27, 2014, the Lipa Declaration issued by the National Transformation Council said our real crisis is that “we have lost our sense of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, which has put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own ends.” This has been repeated in various assemblies in various parts of the country through 2016.

Indeed, we have lost allegiance to nearly everything higher than our self-interests; replaced the rightness or wrongness of human acts (and especially of political and economic acts) with “what works for me, and what I can get away with.” We have lost the sense of sin and the sense of God.

That is our real crisis.

Effects, not causes
Corrupt and criminal government and the people’s loss of trust and confidence in their elected and appointed leaders are not causes but effects. Thus, corruption, crime, dangerous drugs, and other evils will never be vanquished unless their causes are removed. The most draconian measures against offenders will not do it; they will only worsen it. For the elimination of corruption, criminality, dangerous drugs and other evils presupposes the humanization of society, yet the mechanical killing even of the guilty will only brutalize it.

“I know,” said President DU30, “that there are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality, the sale of drugs and corruption. They say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal. In response let me say this:

“I have seen how corruption bled the government of funds, which are allocated for the use in uplifting the poor from the mire they are in.

“I have seen how illegal drugs destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships.

“I have seen how criminality, by means all foul, snatched from the innocent and the unsuspecting, the years and years of accumulated savings. Years of toil, and then suddenly, they are back to where they started.

“Look at this from that perspective, and tell me that I am wrong.”

Has the law ever been tried?

Indeed, these premises cannot leave you untouched. But they are precisely why the law exists. Have we ever tried using the law the way it was meant to be used? Or, have we concluded the law doesn’t work because we have decided to take a shortcut?

DU30’s inauguration is a fresh start for our democratic and republican State. With Aquino gone, we need to end his totalitarian captivity of the two other coequal branches of government. Nothing could end such captivity more quickly than a firm recognition of the limits of power in a democratic state. The Constitution defines those limits; but prior to the Constitution, there are things that are always wrong and things that are always right; things that precede any majority vote.

One such thing involves the sanctity of human life. No one has the right to kill the innocent. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that where someone’s guilt of a grave crime has been fully determined, the death penalty may be imposed, if it is the only possible way of effectively defending the innocent from such transgressor. If, however, sufficient non-lethal means exist to defend and protect the innocent from the aggressor, then such means should be used.

The totalitarian descent
Given the President’s enormous popularity, it will not be easy to disagree with anything he says. Many will routinely agree with him not because they are convinced he is right but because they do not want any trouble from his cheering squad. But we could easily descend into a totalitarianism, which repudiates reason, justice, and all transcendental values, and allows no appeal from our idol’s caprice. The authority of the state must yield to a higher authority—the authority of God; otherwise it can declare anything it likes to be law, and only its actual power to give force to its will could limit its arbitrariness, the Swiss theologian Emil Brunner writes.

Not a few people were a little disturbed when the President said, “You mind your work, and I will mind mine.” It sounded like an imperial diktat against checks and balances.

We need to make it clear that the President can expect our full cooperation and support whenever he is right, but it will be our solemn duty to say No, and a thousand times No, whenever he is wrong. Richard Nixon told David Frost in an interview that “when the President does it, that means it isn’t illegal.” But Nixon was dead wrong.

The need for an opposition
For this reason, we need a genuine opposition to the new government. This must emerge. Given the massive migration of political opportunists from everywhere to the President’s PDP-Laban camp, this role may have to be performed by a citizen statesman rather than a sitting, or also-ran, politician.

Despite earlier fears about DU30’s policy directions being heavily influenced, if not controlled, by the CPP/NPA/NDF, the President surprised DU30 watchers with the three quotes he used during his speech. They must have been music to the ears of the Right, and particularly the US.

The Right ascendant
The first quote was attributed to the National Artist F. Sionil Jose. Many have said that “we have become our worst enemy,” but DU30 copyrighted the statement to our old friend Frankie, whose politics is the exact opposite of the Left’s.

The second quote is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “The test of government is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have little.”

The third is from Lincoln: “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the poor by discouraging the rest; you cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer; you cannot further the brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men.”

Lincoln and FDR are two of the greatest American Presidents, who have nothing to do with the Left. But DU30 said, “my economic and financial, political policies are contained in those quotations, though couched in general terms.”

So, who is winning? The Right or the Left? Or is DU30 playing both ends against the middle?

Against the Left’s three major Cabinet members, FVR alone has three fellow Protestant churchmen in the Cabinet, outside of the Defense Secretary, the National Security Adviser and the National Intelligence Chief who are all his “boys.” Big business has also its own people, appointed to head agencies that regulate the businesses they used to run. The regulated have now become the regulators. How then is the public interest to be protected and served?

This is what the President should tell us next.

fstatad@gmail.com

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12 Comments

  1. Rudi Miranda on

    Thank you! But, look who’s talking? A Marcos creature! Keep Catholicism to yourself for it just muddles political issues, btw, the Catholics came earlier, ain’t it? What did it bring to the Filipinos by finding ourselves in the present socio-political situation. Catholic dogma is unnecessary!

  2. Kit.. the problems we have in our country are so desperate and they require desperate solutions. DU30 has indeed mutated or what he described as metamorphosized into a good communicator and leader. He has good mentors like FVR whom he appreciated to have spent time (3 hours) with him in Davao. This indicate that he listens to people who are subject matter experts or even elders. He did mentioned and admitted his lack of knowledge in areas of business for instance and he left these subjects for SME. Therefore there is no way that DU30 will bend the rule of law both domestic and international. He is 71 years old and he will not break his head to fix all the problems. The Filipinos understood the rhetoric and what we are all interested is to reduce the crimes and drugs. What’s amazing to see is the voluntary surrendering of drug addicts and pushers before he took his oath. Let’s take this story one step at a time and more importantly for Filipinos to talk more of the positive things happening on our country.

  3. what did you do, tatad as marcos errand boy during marcos tyrant regime.

    you know marcos manipulated the election during his tyrant rule. the members of the comelec while counting the votes walk away or walk out because marcos wants to tamper the votes of the people in favor of your big boss, the big looters.

    what your say Mr. tatad.

  4. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    04 July 2016

    There is that sage saying which goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

    All past Presidents in the last sixty years or so invariably made big PROMISES in their inaugural addresses–and, invariably, the people took those promises “hook, line and sinker!”

    Sadly, however, not one of them was able to fully deliver on their ambitious promises–and that is to put it generously.

    Now comes President Rodrigo Duterte who has likewise made his own promises to the Filipino people–and this time, his promises are, shall we say, exceedingly ambitious because at bottom he promises to reform the whole of Philippine Society.
    That is a very tall order, and he happens to have only six years to do it.

    Where his predecessors have been such smashing failures, let us hope that President Rodrigo Duterte could prove to be the exception and be at least a partial SUCCESS. Hoping for him to be a “smashing success” would be, to borrow the feilicitous rhetoric or Shakespeare, “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjug@mar.com

  5. our real crisis is that “we are watching movies in the televisions that should not be shown. We see right in wrong, good in bad, just in the unjust, legal in the illegal, which has put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of the movies we see for their own profits.”
    Indeed, we have lost to nearly everything higher than our self-interests; replaced the rightness or wrongness of human acts (and especially of social acts) with “what works for me, and what I can get away with.” We have lost the sense of sin and the sense of God.
    Our real crisis… are caused by the movies we watch….

  6. Amnata Pundit on

    Every time God is included in a discussion about politics and government things just get complicated if not muddled outright. So allow me to leave God out for a while and simplify: the fundamental reason is the fact that we are not a real democracy if we define one as a government of the people , by the people and for the people. What we have is the opposite: one of, for and by the elite. With this more correct statement of the problem, the solution is to snatch the power the elite currently enjoys and give it to the people permanently. The day when we see that those in control of the power structure are the more overwhelmingly numerous people from the other side of the tracks instead of those who live in gated villages is the only time we can say that we have achieved real democracy.

  7. The President was just sworn in, a few days ago, i would rather give him a chance and
    see before judging him. As of the present, i find hope & light on his speech, wishing and praying that some of the urban places will see the change even though the winning leaders are still the same people who corrupted the place specially during last election. Praying for his safety and best wishes for good governance!

  8. What does duterte want taxation with rubber stamp legislation? Will the genuine opposition stand up in the August chamber?

  9. I believed that a people guided by its religion’s teachings are the best of them all! In fairness to all religions in this world, they teach for the best of humanity and its environment.

    The problems, WE, THE PEOPLE, disobey the religions’ principles! They say, I am a Christian but are not following the teachings of Jesus; so with Muslims, like ASG are in contradictory to Islam’s tenets.

    Because if WE, THE PEOPLE, follow are own religion, then a PEACEFUL EARTH shall exist. NO MURDER, NO RAPE, NO CORRUPTION, NO ROBBERY/STEALING. ALL EXISTENCE ARE POSITIVE: Helping one another!

    As Islam said, as well as Christianity, SAVING A MAN’S LIFE IS AF IF YOU SAVE THE WHOLE HUMANITY; KILLING A MAN IS IF YOU KILL THE WHOLE HUMANITY! It means to say, WE, THE PEOPLE, especially our LEADERS shall be GOD-FEARING MEN.

    In POLITICS, as well as the society we lived in are composed of two-party; THE GOOD & THE BAD! We should be guided by this PRINCIPLE: Whatever good for the people the Opposition should support; whatever bad to the society the Ruling party should discourage and abhor from them! In other words, EVERYONE shall work for the best of the society.

    GOD bless the PHILIPPINES!

  10. Now that we have a constitutionally elected president, duly sworn and accepted by millions of our countrymen, may we know now from you Senator Kit Tatad the plans of the National Transformation Council? I believe one of your main advocacy was clean and honest elections and with the questionable win of the Vice President, would the council now join and help in fighting for the “cleansing” of the electoral system? The SOCE, VP results, even most of the LP winning candidates in the senate results are unbelievable. Mar Roxas, cellar dweller, coming in second and overtaking the front runner Grace Poe is really a work of “black magic”. I sincerely hope that you join all concerned citizens in this fight to restore the right of the people to vote without manipulations of the powers that be.

  11. “One such thing involves the sanctity of human life. No one has the right to kill the innocent”.

    Since the transformation of the islands into Christianity, how many innocent lives have been killed though: 1) the construction of so many icons of dominance – the buildings of worship, 2) the accumulation of the natural resources by the powerful few which have gotten worse to this day, creating a massive poverty and hunger in our midst?

  12. Totalitarian or Dictator if he becomes, do not matter much nowadays. Political correctness, democracy and freedom are worthless to a man who have lost love ones that fell victims to people with criminal minds.

    As long as this new gov’t can sustain destroying ‘certified’ criminals, we have hope that one day our communities will be free and safe to live in.