• Will DU30 now ask the US for the bells of Samar?

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    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    THE heads of state and government at the Asean summit in Vientiane last week were most likely awed when they read of how President Rodrigo Duterte had reportedly referred to US President Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his press conferences at home.

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    They were most likely even more shocked when DU30 dusted up the records of the US colonization of the Philippines and showed them proof of the “forgotten massacre” of the Tausugs by American soldiers in Sulu in March 1906. The shock could not have been less if DU30 had recycled pictures of comfort women in the employ of the Japanese imperial army, or men, women and children hanging on trees after having been bayoneted by the Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the Philippines.

    The Asean heads could not have been more shocked if, for any particular reason, the South Vietnamese President, rather than DU30, had recycled an old photo of Maj. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, the police chief of Saigon, executing a handcuffed Vietcong on Feb. 1, 1968. Likewise, if it had been a photo of the My Lai massacre on March 16, 1968, in which 347 to 504 unarmed civilians in the hamlet of My Lai in the northern part of South Vietnam were killed by soldiers of the Charlie company, a unit of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd Infantry Division of the US Army, on a search and destroy operation against the 48th battalion of the “Vietcong.”

    The right thing at the wrong forum

    These are photos that should never be expunged from our own “holocaust museums” where we proclaim “nie wieder!” (never again!) not only in stone, metal or paper, but in the living memory, which we transmit from one generation to another. DU30 is historically correct, as far as the facts are concerned, but whether raising the issue at the summit and for the reason he was raising it is the question. The question is not whether we should forget any of these past atrocities, but whether any government should be free to violate the rights of its own people, and bar others from denouncing its violations just because it is independent and sovereign, and what it does to its own people is its own sovereign affair, while those who object have committed the same, if not worse, crimes against their own as well as other peoples.

    This is not just a matter of the moral law, it is also a matter of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights provides that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” If the charge, therefore, is that the war on drugs, which is a legitimate action of the State, has killed and continues to kill mere drug suspects without due process, in violation of the rule of law and human rights, this should be answered frontally and shown to be without basis and utterly false. DU30 should be able to show that “no one has ever been denied the protection of the rule of law and human rights.”
    The answer cannot be, “Look, who’s talking, this is a President whose government had slaughtered Indians, African slaves, and Filipinos, atom-bombed the Japanese, napalmed the Vietnamese, waterboarded al Qaeda detainees, used drones to kill Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, etc. What right has he got to say anything to us about due process and human rights? And what right has this fellow at the UN to be lecturing us on human rights when he cannot even fix the problems in the Middle East?”

    The bigger human question

    But this is what DU30 has said in relation to the interest expressed by Obama and Ban Ki-Moon. “I am the President of the Philippines, and I answer to the Filipino people alone. Anything and everything I do in my country is the exclusive and internal business of the State and does not concern anybody else.” Indeed, this statement is correct, but only up to a certain extent. We are not just Filipinos, we belong to one international community, one human race. Under its Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”

    This means that although the State cannot be held accountable in any external forum for anything it does to its citizens within the framework of law and the Constitution, it must answer to the rest of humanity for anything it does to its citizens, which affects their dignity not merely as citizens, but as human beings. There are crimes against humanity, for which the offending individual or State must answer, as the offenders during the Third Reich answered, to the whole of mankind.

    God-given, the State cannot take

    Human rights are universal, inviolable, inalienable and indivisible. The ultimate source of human rights, as Catholic social doctrine tells us, “is not found in the mere will of the human being, in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his creator.” Human rights are simply given by God; they are not to be taken by the State or by any human being without giving offense to God, says this doctrine.

    In the purely secular language of Vaclav Havel, the great dramatist who became the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic, human rights have to do with our being rooted in the earth and in the cosmos. Awareness of these rights endows us with the capacity for self-transcendence. Genuine universal respect for human rights must emanate from our respect for the miracle of Being, the miracle of the universe, the miracle of nature, the miracle of our own existence as men and women. Only someone who submits to the authority of the universal order and creation, who values the right to be part of it and a participant in it, can genuinely value himself and his neighbors and thus, honor their rights as well, Havel said.

    This, too, is what is involved when someone, not necessarily an Obama or a Ban, points out that the human rights of individuals are wantonly violated when mere drug suspects are killed by the police or vigilantes, without due process, just because they are suspects. Everyone has a duty to make sure the rule of law and the law of humanity are not mercilessly savaged. DU30’s war on drugs has drawn criticisms from all over the world because of these killings, now placed at 3,000 since July 1, according to the latest reports. This deserves to be discussed at the most important forums, but this was not placed on the agenda of the Asean summit.

    Obama and Ban had expressed a desire to raise some questions about it in proposed meetings with DU30 on the sidelines of the summit. But Obama scrapped the proposed meeting following reports that DU30 had called him the “son of a whore” and DU30 had turned down Ban’s request for a meeting allegedly for lack of time. Now, instead of following the summit agenda, DU30 discarded his prepared text and spoke instead of the US atrocities against the Filipinos during the colonization of the Philippines.

    Spectacular yes, but rock star, not quite

    No doubt it was a spectacular performance. Nothing like it has been seen in all of Asean’s 49 years. But I doubt that any Asean head, including his Indonesian host after the summit, was prepared to proclaim DU30, as the “rock star” of the summit, as his propagandists would have us believe. Apparently encouraged by his perceived “success” in Laos, DU30 repeated the same message in Jakarta in his meeting with Filipinos. Now that the President is back home, we would encourage him to make a formal report to the nation on what he believes has been achieved by his first international engagement.

    The tougher task, however, appears to belong to Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., who is scheduled to speak to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Thursday this week. Yasay used to practice immigration law in New York, and because of this is believed to have acquired some knowledge of the US establishment, despite his utter lack of diplomatic experience. But although some former US ambassadors to the Philippines, who will presumably be attending this forum, are reportedly doing some work for the DU30 government, more Obama supporters than DU30 consultants will probably be in the audience.

    The Balangiga bells 

    Will Yasay have the courage and strength to support DU30’s thrust and perhaps press for some things that are due us from the US? Since DU30 has started talking about the 1899-1902 Philippine-American war, Yasay could probably press for the return of the three church bells taken by the US Army from the town church of Balangiga, Eastern Samar during the war. After the Sept. 28, 1901 Balangiga massacre, in which 48 American soldiers were killed and 22 others wounded by Filipinos while having breakfast, Gen. Jacob Smith ordered that Samar be turned into a “howling wilderness” and that every male older than ten be killed. They burned the church and took down its three bells, one of which had tolled the signal for the natives to attack the camp.
    One bell is said to be with the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud in Korea, while the two other bells are said to be on the former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 2002, Sen. Koko Pimentel, now Senate president, introduced a resolution calling for a more intense effort to recover the bells. The US government has refused to return the property, saying they are American booties of war, which cannot be transferred to the Philippines except through an act of Congress.
    Several attempts by friendly US senators and congressmen to legislate the transfer have failed until now. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has pointed out that it is inappropriate to treat the bells as trophies of war. Will DU30 now assert our claim on these bells as an expression of our continuing effort to right the injustices of colonization?

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    15 Comments

    1. Catholic social doctrine tells us, “is not found in the mere will of the human being, in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his creator.” Human rights are simply given by God; they are not to be taken by the State or by any human being without giving offense to God, says this doctrine.

      There is something wrong with this catholic social doctrine, if it it is really given by God and if such rights are inherent to us we should have been the bastion of righteousness and lived in an Utopian society free of social ills. But it is not, we know that God abhors any form of transgression, and therefore human rights of a criminal and that of a victim are not the same.

    2. The biggest problem is we voted for Duterte as president. Being a democratic country, we are required to follow the majority. I am embarrassed by Dutertes actions. I am a Pilipino but I am not a Duterte fan. He might be directing us to a sanitarium. 6 years is a very long time. I hope we can survive the humiliation.

    3. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      12 September 2016

      A Der Fuhrer Rodrigo Duterte, who is now drowning in criticism for his megalomanic hegemonic EXTRAJUDICIAL killing of all those SUSPECTED in engaging in the illegal drug problem in the country, is trying desperately to grasp at straws to save himself from “drowning” by resurrecting the supposed “atrocities” committed by US soldiers in the Philippines circa 1896-1898.

      Those supposed “atrocirties” were committed a long, long time ago–and they had better be forgotten than resurrected by a President who is proving himself to be a TYRANT who is prone to committing atrocities himself through his warrantless EXTRAJUDICIAL killing of those suspected of engaging in the illegal drug problem, a lawless drive that is reported to have netted some 3,000 victims so far.

      MARIANO PATALINJUG
      patalinjugmare@gmail.com

    4. magandang basahin ang nakasaad sa saligang batas, pero ito ang ginagamit ngayun ng mga taong salot sa ating mamamayan. marahil wala pa tayo doon sa ganun antas kung saan ang pagkilala sa karapatan pangtao ay kanlungan ng karaniwang tao na gustong mamuhay ng tahimik at maayos.
      time has proven that your too legalistic, moralistic and theologistic (what the words – from different planet maybe) point of view did not work on ph setting. it became the protector of people who cannot even qualified to be called human except their physical look. so kapag nirape ka at binuhay pa ng lango sa droga ay tatakbo ka sa bakery at kukuha este bibili ng tinapay at ibato sa rapist mo at tabla na kayo….
      realtalk tayo dito. that notion that one is innocent until proven guilty is right but an innocent one has to pove his innocence too. if a guy have drugs and gun in his position ready to fight out, the result could be either he kills or be killed. may mga alagad ng batas ang namatay dito. if all those heartbreaking tales are true on the fight against drugs, the death toll could be around 700k, not 2k. the fact that those who did not resist arrest still alive and will be given time to defend themselves, guilty or not in the court of law. pakakainin pa sila ng gobyerno at gagamutin ng libre….more than a million crimes committed per year is not acceptable in any norm, something has to be! done!

    5. Double standard crap! The Americans are free to choose any forum from which they can bully other countries with lectures on human rights, democracy, rule of law etc – actually just plain shibboleths that they invented to be used as instruments of subversion against target countries – but you want to limit Duterte’s choice of forums? He chose the perfect one because it is at the ASEAN Summit that his voice would ring the loudest for the entire world to hear. May nasabi ba ang mga Kano? For the first time, pina-tameme sila and no less than by a Philippine president. Besides, why should anybody be concerned with the human rights of drug traffickers? Isn’t this like saying that the rights of vampires should be shielded from vampire killers? Mabuhay si Duterte ! Mabuhay ang Bagong Pilipino !

    6. adriano solomon on

      Philosophyzing and being smart-alecky will not solve any problem. What is clear is that Peter Lim, the drug lord he talked with in the palace has escaped. Almost all big-time Chinese are not being killed but given all kinds of due processes. What happened to the four Chinese whom Bato caught in the act of manufacturing shabu in a ship? Many well-known illegal drug addicts are very close to him, some of them are said to be pushers and drug lords even! Double-standard of justice was the reason we fought the last regime. Now there seems to still be this double-standard of justice. This is why some folks in Facebook have already started popularizing the term “brown lives matter” because it seems that when Chinese or Chinese-blooded drug lords and pushers and addicts are involved, they are not killed but given all rights and privileges but when poor mere suspects are “caught”, they are immediately murdered. We do not know if the fact that he is a rich half-Chinese has something to do with this double-standard of justice with strong bias against poor brown-skinned Filipinos

    7. Is it true that many people close to him are drug addicts and drug lords themselves and that some people involved in the peace talks are addicts/lords?

    8. Philosophyzing and being smart-alecky will not solve any problem. What is clear is that Peter Lim, the drug lord he talked with in the palace has escaped. Almost all big-time Chinese are not being killed but given all kinds of due processes. What happened to the four Chinese whom Bato caught in the act of manufacturing shabu in a ship? Many well-known illegal drug addicts are very close to him, some of them are said to be pushers and drug lords even! Double-standard of justice was the reason we fought the last regime. Now there seems to still be this double-standard of justice. This is why some folks in Facebook have already started popularizing the term “brown lives matter” because it seems that when Chinese or Chinese-blooded drug lords and pushers and addicts are involved, they are not killed but given all rights and privileges but when poor mere suspects are “caught”, they are immediately murdered. We do not know if the fact that he is a rich half-Chinese has something to do with this double-standard of justice with strong bias against poor brown-skinned Filipinos

    9. you mentioned in your article about the massacre of the the bud jao village people more than a hundred years ago by the US army soldiers.

      but how about the 30 yrs. ago regarding the tortures and killings of the MARCOS family of THIEVES, CHEATERS AND LOOTERS??

      We need further details regarding these issues.

    10. Thank you for your exposition of the bill of rights of the people under or over the power of the state, I think this power to run the nation should be very clear to Mr. President DU30 that he has only inherited that power entrusted to him by virtue of a democratic election. This power is not for him to use it to abuse the basic human rights to life and to live. I have not read ever since Philippine constitution, but I know our basic human right to life is a right of everyone regardless the state of life a person has lived, because this right to life emanates not from the state, nor from anyone but from his creator, and the state has no power to cut it off from one person. I could always sense the fear and pain from my own human senses of connection to people who are extrajudicially killed. And my knees tremble whenever a thought of Mr. President DU30’s crime to humanity touched down into my senses. I can’t dissociate Mr. President DU30’s extrajudicial killing program and his all-out war to drug peddlers without passing through the due process of law apart from a crime to humanity. 3,000 plus people get killed already for just a few months that Mr. President DU30 runs the nation. Everyone should already be alarmed by it. Is there any way we can do together on our nation’s problem of extrajudicial killing before the Philippines’s population turns into an ocean of dead?

    11. Christopher M, Coleman on

      Duterte accomplished nothing in Laos. He just embarrassed himself and the Phiippines. He should get the jet ski out and protect Scarborough shoal.

    12. There seems to be a positive precedent .

      In Bauang, La Union bells were delivered this year from a military camp in the US.
      The bells were also ” war booty” !

      Hope the bells in Korea can be brought back initially !!

    13. The primary aim when he or someone declares war against a state or something is to WIN. In sense there is NO clear cut policy how to do the war.

      Now, if we talk about human rights, where are the human rights of the victims of war. The Hiroshima and Nagazaki
      bombing, the atrocities committed by the Japanese, the Vietnam war and so on and on

    14. With all due respect, you miss Pres. Duterte’s point entirely. The massacre he has pointedly referred is precisely and timely relevant in the forum he raised them. The UN and US mouth blanket accusations like a broken record and must be reminded to simply butt out!

    15. you served the late dictator Ferdinand marcos faithfully in the waning years of the martial law era … marcos ruthlessly ruled for 22 years, so why did you and your master NOT ask the balangiga bells if they really meant that much to you?