“For yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow a vision, But today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day such is the salutation to the dawn.”
— from Kalidasa, a universal poet writing in Sanskrit
YESTERDAY is the politics of the campaign; the politics of promises and expansive boasts. Tomorrow is the politics of dreams, of hopes, and of vision. Today is the politics of action, of performance and the conversion of promises and boasts into realities. So everyday is a fight between dream and performance, promise and reality. The new administration will be measured whether its promises and boasts are being converted to achievable realities.
The first few days
It is still words, words and more words. This is understandable—the new President and his team are still trying to measure their steps. They are like a child trying out the first few steps into the space that is not exactly known.
At this point he has some interesting and astonishing pronouncement. He said he will not tolerate abuses in the ranks of the PNP. True to his words, he unmasked several generals who are involved in protecting the lords of prohibited drugs. He asked them to report to PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa. True to most people who have something to hide, three of the generals claimed that the President is misinformed. Well, who do you think the President is? He is no patsy, especially in detecting and unmasking criminals. While I have been a critic of the President during the campaign—and will continue to be so when he commits serious mistakes—in this particular case, I believe the President is telling the truth and the publicly charged generals are hanging by their feet naked.
Denial is the weakest defense in a criminal case. You don’t have to graduate from UP Law to know that. Any fool of a law student knows that. The charged generals were probably misled by the constant and continuing denials of VP Jojo Binay when he was blasted for violation of the anti-graft law. Where is Binay now? He is in the kangkong farm as a result of his devastation in the presidential elections. Something like that is likely to happen to these generals. So instead of engaging the President in a media war, they better engage the services of topnotch lawyers and pay them millions for their legal services. In a media war, the generals are the losers. With the incumbent President mesmerizing the people, the generals have no China man’s chance before the people. It is either the President or the generals. No fool in this country will believe that the President did not examine the evidence before making the public accusation.
For anyone to say that the President committed a mistake in unmasking the generals is to claim that the President is irresponsible or if not, that he does not know his law and does not know how to evaluate the correctness of the information. For the President or any of his boys to admit that he was misled or misinformed is a possibility that could never be entertained. To admit misinformation or having been misled would have tragic and cataclysmic effect on Duterte and his administration. No fool will do that.
The only viable option for the generals is to get the best lawyers in town and keep their mouth shut. This is the best stance in a criminal case. Let their lawyers speak and invoke the sacramental words in law practice in this jurisdiction: “Prove it!” If the generals could engage the best lawyers in town, they might yet go scot-free and their reputation restored like it was before the presidential revelation. It might interest these generals to know though that the best way to lose a case is to have a discontented lawyer. And this advice I am giving for free
I understand these generals graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). I am not surprised at all. In the past, I was told some PMA generals were also involved in illegal drugs and, to a greater degree, even in graft and corruption. As a matter of fact, many generals are facing cases of graft and corruption in the Sandigang Bayan. The best and uncorrupted days of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were when it was headed by generals who came from University of the Philippines Reserve Officer Training Corps (UP ROTC) like Gen. Rigoberto Atienza. Those were really the best years of the AFP. But that was a long, long time ago—way back when.
Maybe it may not be farfetched to suggest to Duterte that he orders the overhaul of the PMA curriculum with stress on the correct values and love of country, and emphasis on telling the cadets that career and money should be their least preoccupation to become a good soldier.
The Duterte and Bato dilemma
Considering PNP Chief Ronald Bato has been mouthing the continuing threat of Duterte to get rid of drug lords, drug pushers and drug users with the killing formula, Bato maybe faced with a serious dilemma—how does he treat the five generals? Not one of them surrendered or resigned within his 48-hour deadline. Should he arrest them or shoot them? Either way, Bato will be in serious trouble with the law, the lawyers of the generals or the courts. If he gives them soft gloves treatment, the administration will be in big trouble, with the accusation that the Duterte justice is just like that of PNoy’s—selective, thus violating the equal protection of the law provision of the Constitution. That would stink and smell trapo—just like the old PNoy days. That is not change. It is change not coming—just like Lefty of Clifford Odet’s play where Odet never came. So we will be back to square one. That would be backsliding too soon. That is a lot of Bato in the mouth.
Any hearing by any body connected with the PNP would be a lot of hogwash. Very likely, the generals will be acquitted. The hearing should be with the Ombudsman with the caveat that the said Office should expedite the investigation and filing of the appropriate cases with the Sandigang Bayan. It is as simple as that. Then Duterte and Bato, in that case, will pass the credibility test with flying colors.
Duterte lives in two conflicting worlds
The problem of the generals is Duterte and Bato’s creation—Duterte by mentioning their names and Bato by giving the generals a deadline to surrender and resign or fight till death. The active ones did not surrender. They did not resign either. Instead, they went to town by making denials, which really should have been told to the American marines, not to media. So Bato is in a fix. How to get out of it unscathed is his terrifying problem.
Ronald threw bato and he might just get granada in return. Where does that leave him?
Duterte is a man living in two different worlds. The natural Duterte does not believe in due process and human rights. The Duterte who took his oath as President of the Philippines lives within the ambit of the Constitution, which means the rule of law, due process and human rights. Which is which and what is what? This is the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When he reads a prepared speech that is Duterte who says he believes in the rule of law, due process and human rights. When he disregards the script, like what happened in Clark Air Base with the men and women of the Philippine Air Force, that is the natural Duterte.
The natural Duterte is not a man of the Constitution. To be a man of the Constitution he has to follow the script; otherwise, if he departs from the script, the natural Duterte emerges and that is when the rule of law, due process and human rights go down the drain or fly out of the window.
The President cannot live in both worlds for long. These are worlds in conflict with each other and one day, something has got to give between the classic immovable object and the irresistible force. Something has got to give or something has got to break. This is the choice the President has to make—sooner than later as he cannot go to bed with one and walk the day with the other. So, Mr. President, the ball is in your court not for a jump ball but a choice to shoot or not to shoot. This is a historic choice. Your choice will do you or undo you. You better make the choice soon or you will further be involved in untangled inconsistencies.
Your spokesman, Ernesto Abella, who merited a headline in one of the local dailies—“DRUG KILLINGS ALARM PALACE”—was quoted as saying: “President Duterte was aware of the spate of drug killings involving police and of what appeared to be summary executions of drug suspects.” But Mr. President, you are the principal by inducement in these summary killings. During the campaign, you told the police and even private citizens to kill drug lords and anyone involved in illegal drugs. You are so persuasive that you induced the spate of summary killings, even before you assumed the office as President. You have not retreated from your commitment to the police killers that the killings are your responsibility and have your support.
When you disregarded your speech before the PAF in Clark Air Base, in an off-the-cuff comment, you again repeated these commitments. Mr. President, as a lawyer and former public prosecutor, you should know that inducing these summary killings makes you principal by inducement to several cases of murder and verily subject to impeachment, as this is in violation of your oath as President under Section 5, Article VII of the Constitution, and later after the end of your term, prosecution for numberless cases of murder. This is just a reminder as a concerned citizen and Mindanaoan.
Why should the Palace be alarmed when you caused them all? You also said that you will not tolerate abuses by the men and women of the PNP? How can you prosecute these killers in summary executions when they have your support? These inconsistencies are mind-boggling. I think your advisers have work to do. But if Jess Dureza is right when I had a chance encounter with him at the Laguindingan Airport, in Misamis Oriental, that nobody can tell you what to do—I am afraid that you have to do a lot of thinking to make heads or tails out of this glaring inconsistencies.
If you want to succeed in bettering the lives of Filipinos, you better start thinking now and unwind these inconsistencies before it is too late.