• After a year of DU30, the nation is gravely ill

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    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    IT is one year, to the day, since the nation came under the spell of President Rodrigo Duterte. He has changed the presidency and the nation as he had promised, except that only his corporate, political and media cronies, choir and echo chamber seem inclined to believe the change has been for the better.

    Is the DU30 we see and hear today the same DU30 whom 38 percent of our voters picked in May 2016 over his four other rivals?

    Are his supporters today the same guys who thought they had found a savior who would serve the truth, justice and the rule of law, and liberate the poor from poverty?

    Are the values DU30 is willing and ready to kill for the same as those which believers and non-believers alike are willing and ready to die for?

    Beyond drugs and Marawi
    These questions go beyond the drug war and the siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. But they are among the more fundamental questions we should ask in trying to determine, from the nation’s vantage point, whether DU30’s first year has been a success or a failure.

    I have more than a workaday personal interest in this particular discussion. For on the day DU30’s minions danced in the streets to celebrate his descent from the skies of Davao, I asked my friends at the National Transformation Council what could possibly happen if after all the hoopla, the much-reviled B.S. Aquino 3rd ultimately turned out to be a much lesser evil than his lustily cheered successor?

    This seemed absolutely unimaginable; no way, I thought, it could happen. PNoy, as everyone had learned to call him, outdistanced his own mother’s failures. But after my efforts to unmask a non-Filipino pretender to the presidency helped clear the way for the durian-eating gunslinger from Davao, I could not avoid one curiosity. Thus, I posed what sounded as an absurd and irreverent question.

    Prophet of doom
    Now, 12 months later, my friends who had laughed heartily at my irreverence think I could not have made a more prescient prediction. Where a famous economist friend of mine has been called a “Prophet of Boom,” for consistently predicting the country’s sound economic growth despite its serious political flaws, my friends now call me a “Prophet of Doom.” True to my fears, the past year brought us moral, political and legal aberrations beyond our wildest apprehensions.

    DU30 has repeatedly promised to be harsh. And with his offensive mouth and iron hand, he has proved to be much harsher, much more brutal, much more egocentric, much more power-driven—and his trolls and sycophants so much more unthinking and fanatical—than anyone could ever have imagined. Killing has become his first and often only solution to his problems, whether it was the drug suspects or the Mautes in the current Marawi siege.

    “He has a hammer and everything is a nail,” says former Defense Assistant Secretary Ruben Carranza, of the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice, in a recent CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour.

    I would retouch this particularly arresting imagery a bit to say “he sees himself as a hammer and everything else as a nail.” Both in the drug war and in the military campaign against the Islamic State-linked Mautes in Marawi, “kill, kill, kill” is the first order that comes from the Commander in Chief’s mouth even when there seems to be a clear opportunity of not having to kill.

    All those killings
    In the war on drugs which began on the day he took office, the killing is reported to have already claimed more than 8,000 lives, none of which appears to have been documented except the murder of Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte on December 6, 2016, inside his detention cell at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay, Leyte, by a team of policemen from Tacloban, the capital city, at 4 a.m.

    The team, led by Police Supt. Marvin Marcos, with 18 others, has been charged with murder, a non-bailable offense, but the Department of Justice has downgraded the charges and authorized bail for all, raising indignant protests from the public.

    A communication filed by lawyer Jude Sabio from Mindanao before the International Criminal Court at The Hague claims that DU30 was responsible for 9,400 killings by the Davao Death Squad since he was mayor of Davao City in 1988. The communication is supported by the Magdalo group led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th and Rep. Gary Alejano, who had earlier filed an impeachment complaint against DU30, which the President’s allies dismissed without a hearing at the House committee on justice. It is awaiting action from ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office.

    DU30 has remained unmoved despite the plea of many who support his war on drugs, but oppose the summary killing of suspects. He has lately begun saying that the drug lords, none of whom have been identified, arrested or killed, are funding the terrorists.

    Terrorism as a defense?
    Whether or not this has any basis, DU30 seems to be preparing his defense against the ICC complaint. By accusing the unnamed drug lords of funding the terrorists, he could try to justify killing the drug suspects, even though these were mostly barefoot pushers or users, rather than drug lords of Pablo Escobar’s type.

    In Marawi, where the fighting continues despite the long-elapsed self-imposed military deadlines, DU30 has ordered his troops not to hesitate killing, just because of the presence of civilians in the combat zone. This is consistent with his position not to negotiate for the peaceful surrender of any terrorist or a swap of prisoners involving any hostages by the Mautes and the parents of the Maute brothers who had been arrested by the authorities. DU30 appears determined to eliminate the enemy to the last man.

    Some Mindanao observers point out that this approach could work with the Tausugs of Sulu, who belong to the warrior class and are normally prepared to fight to the very end. But the Maranaws of Lanao del Sur are normally a trading class and prone to negotiations as a way of settling conflict. DU30’s decision to reject all negotiations could radicalize their community, instead of encouraging them to work with government in rebuilding Marawi.

    DU30 has to be reminded, these observers point out, that Marawi could not be rebuilt simply by pouring money (P10 billion or P20 billion) into the city, to which China has already contributed P15 million aside from some firearms and ammo with which to fight the Mautes, but by strengthening the roots of the community.

    How Marawi will rise again
    The new Marami will rise not on any new infrastructure but on the new sense of solidarity among the Maranaws, the observers insist. And this will be done not by radicals, but by moderates.

    There appears to be a growing anxiety that DU30 does not fully understand this.

    In the Carranza-Amanpour interview, the CNN anchor asked, “Where is the Philippines going under this President?” This is a question for all Filipinos.

    Carranza, who has a master’s degree in global public service law from New York University, and works with victims’ communities and reparations policymakers not only in the Philippines but also in Nepal, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Palestine, Liberia, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, as well as with some war crimes tribunals like the ICC and the Extraordinary Chambers in the courts of Cambodia, expressed concern about DU30’s rising authoritarianism, the growing violence, the silencing of the opposition, and the vulnerability of elective officials to arbitrary replacement.

    To this critic, DU30’s governing style has created an atmosphere of instability which has fed more violence. Despite his attempt to take absolute control of government, DU30 has failed not only to decisively take over Marawi, but also to provide the necessary national leadership.

    Failure to lead
    “There is a vacuum of leadership when leadership is needed the most,” he said. “DU30 has a lot to answer for.”

    I don’t have the time nor the space now to discuss the serious foreign policy questions, involving our complex relations with the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, the European Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which DU30 has tried to fiddle with to gain some international attention. This requires a particular focus, which cannot be done in a few soundbites. This will therefore have to wait.

    But we cannot judge DU30’s first year without passing upon the moral question. This is the all-important question. Everything else flows from this.

    There was a deliberate effort on the part of this President to shut down what is right and good and lawful, beginning with plain good manners, in favor of what is outrageous, illegal and wrong, beginning with fake news, sexual license, and killing.

    Under DU30’s spell, many of our people learned to applaud what they used to abhor and to despise what they once held sacred and inviolable. They lost their vision of the good they must live and fight for, and replaced it with what the powers of darkness have placed in the hands of this President.

    Never has there been a time in our history when three of the four highest officials of the executive and the legislative departments led openly amoral, if not immoral, lives. And they expect to be allowed to continue to lead?

    DU30 came upon a sick society when he became President on June 30, 2016. He made it sicker still after a year. Whatever problems he may have about his own health, which he wants to keep to himself, our problems with him, and the nation’s health are infinitely graver. What kind of courage will it take for anyone of us to say we can afford to remain this sick for the next five years?

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    33 Comments

    1. If instead of incessantly criticizing, creating roadblocks and attacking every government initiatives, the opposition would have tried to help in rebuilding the nation, the picture would have certainly looked brighter. Yet despite the opposition’s concerted efforts to destabilize and destroy the current administration so they could once more take over, never has a nation had a better hope today for a brighter future except through this administration led by a provinciano, the elitists and the oligarchs despised and hated.

    2. Niel Villarazo on

      sir sayang one of my experience was meeting you personally in cebu together with mayor binay and sen, honasan anyare why try very hard para sumikat as opinion writer sayang naging public servant ka ano nagawa mong sobrang ganda at masabi mong gravely ill, abogado ka okay i understand however don’t limit on being too politically correct as per the the standard you set or the objectivity you wanted to see for a president try also subjectivity and narrative of the people the president mandated to serve it is not bad after all to listen to us as well we could be voices that care before you become to alienated with us the common people for in your lifetime you were once a public servant

    3. Being a Bicolano has nothing to do with Tatad’s critical commentaries on Duterte’s first year in office. They are in fact insightful and worth pondering about. And to think that Tatad barely scratched the surface of Duterte’s first year’s “accomplishments” in office. What has become of Build, Build, Build? What has become of “independent” in Duterte’s independent foreign policy? Selling out the Philippine right over the South China Sea , after having been affirmed by the UN Tribunal , is not the way to go in asserting our country’s claim. Duterte may go down in Philippine history as the President responsible for selling out , for a measly sum of FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS , Philippine claim over SCS!

    4. The National Transformation Council, that was formed to take over when you got Aquino ousted, is an outright bust. It certainly is not in the Constitution and therefore illegal. So quit trying to oust President to try a takeover. You have no public backing.

    5. No matter the “mini novela” length of this article, most of it is nonsense and a waste of copy space. I admire Manila Times’ effort to provide a counter balance in presenting the Yellow point of view, but couldn’t you find a better and more worthy writer. Mr. Tatad’s articles are often filled with conjectures and rumors (gossip) that have not been verified, and especially this article, conveys an increasing, almost deranged bitterness towards his subject (Duterte). I hope he’s not headed for a meltdown like Trillanes.

    6. Vagoneto Rieles on

      The evil in the President is not so much in what he says or in what he does, ‘per se’. The real evil is in the example he gives both to his alter egos and subalterns, who he has empowered to do as they, (and he) please; and, in the ‘slow-but-sure’ transformation, and degeneration of the public’s values. Tragically, six years is a long-enough period to turn a culture on its head.

    7. pablo sanchez on

      Mr. Tatad, in case you dont remember, violence were most rampant during Aquino’s time. compare to this administration, most of the victims are those who are involve in drugs. which do you care most? the victims cause by drug addicts or the drug suspects that are being taken down? is it saving the innocent civilians is a crime or you are infavor of drug proliferation?

    8. Many Filipinos lived in fear during the Marcos years except of course their cronies and loyalists. Somebody said then “Wassisname” he feared not only the current despotic regime but also the succeeding regimes after him. True it was! Marcos has set a precedent of systematic plundering of the national coffer. Even in Saint Cory’s time there was the ‘kamag-anaks” and it was during those times Peoples Oraganizations took root and fully blossomed the ones used by Napoles et al. Name a prez after Marcos who is not corrupt to the core? Even Marcos dissidents before like Binay has copied the wicked template and used it effectively in Makati. PH they say is like a human body already refusing natural nutrients needing anti biotics and painful surgery till kingdom come. That is why one thing i like with Prez Digong is if he can at least minimize drugs, crime and corruption in government.

    9. Mr. Tatad, your National Transformation Council will never see the light of day, if that’s what you are still hoping for. It was an alternative alright, but that was before PDU30 came into the picture. And we are happy that it happened, otherwise, the Filipinos will never be free from the stranglehold of oligarchs in conspiracy with the church.

    10. Dear Mr. Tatad, I do recognize your experience and wisdom which you have earned overtime, i.e., since Marcos’ time. But isn’t giving an opinion or criticism be more appropriate if accompanied by a better and reasonable alternatives? Otherwise, you may be seen of no different to the person that is the subject of your opinion and criticisms. A pen is surely mightier than a sword if the writer would use it based on facts (not on fake news or hearsay) and is not biased or influenced by another party. Why not write something which is objective? This would surely get into people’s heart and would keep everyone’s mind open. Thank you.

    11. Amnata Pundit on

      If Duterte chose not to collide with the Church by calling the priests hypocrites, and he chose a Jesuit as his Father Confessor, contributed generously to Church coffers, appointed Church backed members to the cabinet and the Supreme Court, appointed Kit Tatad as his press secretary ( or Foreign secretary even better), he could do worse than what he is doing today and still be the best president in this author’s book of lists. This is really just about the pain of seeing an uncouth, crude maton enjoying more credibility than a priest who is wearing a halo over his head. The people have spoken, and as in Vox Populi Vox Dei, the maton is God’s choice, live with it. Let’s pray for Duterte, he is the country’s last chance.

    12. Francisco is obsessed with running this country. He proposed his “council” to take over for Aquino if he was thrown out. He tried his best to get Aquino out. Now he is trying to dethrone DU30 so he and his council can rule. Now it is time for him to follow my advise. The rule of law must prevail in the PH even if it has not in the past. If you want to run the country, then run for President. Of course you know you will not get even 5% of the vote. So your only option is to retire.

    13. Hahaha….Title at writer lang ng column na ito ang binasa ko kc parang alam ko na ang content..”the uncontented” .so nag jump ako sa comment part which I enjoyed reading more…

    14. Is the DU30 we see and hear today the same DU30 whom 38 percent of our voters picked in May 2016 over his four other rivals? YES!

      Are his supporters today the same guys who thought they had found a savior who would serve the truth, justice and the rule of law, and liberate the poor from poverty? YES!

      Are the values DU30 is willing and ready to kill for the same as those which believers and non-believers alike are willing and ready to die for? YES!

      I could only count on my fingers the number of people who will say NO to these questions no matter how glaring the truth is: they’re the likes of Leni, Leila, Trillanes, Risa, Drilon, Pangilinan, Bam and Kit Tatad. When it comes to DU30, they only know how to oppose. Makakontra lang. Mema lang. It must suck to be ignored and be equally irrelevant in society.

    15. The Great Defiant on

      o’ ayan ang dami mong fans / commenters.
      kung ikaw ang president ng pinas (kahit sa imagination lang)
      hindi aabuting ng isang lingo…
      adik na ang buong pilipinas….

    16. Excellent analysis Mr. Tatad.

      The Philippines is ruled by the uneducated and corrupt and will remain so for decades if not centuries.
      Wasting your breath on the blind, deft and dumb supporters of Duterte and company.

    17. 1. Drugs & crime
      “End drugs in 6 months” a murder spree of the poor – FAIL
      2. Poverty
      “reduce poverty level by 1.5% per annum” – FAIL
      3. Traffic
      “Sort out traffic in 6 months” – FAIL
      4. OFW’s
      “Come home to quality jobs” – FAIL
      5. Employment
      “no less than 12 million new jobs over the next 5 years” – 2.5 million new jobs per annum – FAIL
      6. Infrastructure – just talk, and a looming debt trap – FAIL
      7. Peace – A disaster on all fronts – FAIL
      8. International relations – now co-dependent on imperial china – FAIL
      9. Corruption – political corruption worse than ever – FAIL
      10. BPO – drop in BPO investment of 35% – FAIL

      With tourism, share prices, FDI, and peso down people need to wake up or accept the consequences.

      • That was just some Duterte pillow talk to get elected, he didn’t really mean those things he promised.

    18. yes, one year for our true leader, and youre still alive Kit, remember that ‘baka mauna ka pa sa kanya’ and you know it can be true.

    19. Tatad should be prosecuted and jailed like the blogger in Vietnam for crimes against the government. He is peddling fake news and information about our president and tarnishing the country’s image that foreign investors might be bullish in investing in the country. Persons maligning our president and country should be in prison.

      • castro charles on

        Mr. Tatad you may be a good politician but you’ve done a lot of ill to the Country compared to Mr. Duterte. Im no Duterte fan, but at least he has done good in Davao and now, he’s tryin his best sans his cursing, to the nation. Have you ever thought how grave ill you have brought to the Country? Martial Law in the 1970’s is not Mr. Marcos alone… it left a bad name because of you sycophants!

    20. May god save our nation from further harm and havoc, save our people! Save Marawi! Save more innocent lives from state sponsored abuses and killings! Enlighten the minds of our leaders! The minds of the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE and SENATE PRESIDENT, DOJ Sec and some other people who are blinds and dumb followers of the very sicked and evil president who does not value the sanctity of live and no economic plans and visions except to slaughter and slaughter people in the guised against war on drugs and terrorism! He is worst than adolf hitler and Iddi Amin! Again may God save our dying country!

      • theng castro on

        Wow! Jz bcoz we remain supporting d pres it automatically made us blind? Is it even d pres fault y there’s massive drug users & peddlers? Is it evn his fault y there’s war in mindanao? Bat d mo din isisi sa kanya ang pagkamatay ni jose rizal? Isisi mo na din sa kanya bakit namatay c ninoy.. my goodness! B4 u comment make sure to realize that u won’t be overstepping others ppl’s choice.. u do not any say on our choices bcz it is our freedom. Mas pinipili ko personally to support d pres rather than criticizing e wala nmn maitutulong yan.. God allowed him to seat as d pres & wala kang control dun kungdi igalang un.. matuto kayong rumespeto sa pinili ng tao. D lng ang gusto mo ang dapat mong tingnan kungdi ang kagustuhan din ng iba.. palagay mo ba madaling linisin at ayusin ang problema ng illegal drugs? Yang marawi terror is a by product of illegal drugs kc hinadlangan na ng gobyerno ngayon ang negosyo nila ng pgbebenta ng ilegal na droga. Kng ikaw kaya ang sabihan ko na bulag, matutuwa kba? Next time be tactful in what u would say..

      • Elpidio Salavador on

        Eventually all these people who adulate duterte will be weeping their hearts out when they find out that their president is evil personified. This truth will come out soon and I agree with Tatad fully.

    21. I wonder where this writer writing from. Planet Jupiter? Like Sen. Trililing, he is “out of tune” to the realities on the ground. (I think his “assets” are playing games with him by feeding wrong info at “makuryente” like DU30 went to China for ‘medical’ last time and lately as already in a ‘coma’)

    22. What did noynoy accomplish during his 6 years term? Nothing but letting his friends relatives and his Liberal Party stole billions and billions of pesos from public treasury. I wish Duterte will establish revolutionary government and throw all corrupt politicians and government officials to jail or to the ocean.