“I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy?
I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for…..” –Ninoy Aquino
August 21, 1983: Ninoy’s Homecoming and Death
He didn’t know exactly what awaited him in the Philippines once he gets home.
There was the possibility of his plane getting ordered to turn around. Or house/hospital arrest. Or imprisonment. Or even death. Yet, fully aware of the potential danger that his decision entailed, and against the advice of relatives, friends, and well-meaning political colleagues, he still returned to the Philippines — the only country he considered home. He used to tell his wife, Cory, that he had “always wanted to die for our country,” so if the government would have him killed, “that’s the best thing that would happen to me.”
Ferdinand Marcos was seriously ill, the economy was in shambles, insurgency was becoming a major problem, and the cronies were fighting among themselves like ravenous vultures. Moreover, the opposition was fragmented. Ninoy Aquino, the Wonder Boy of Philippine politics, felt the urgent need to go back home after three years of self-exile in the US. Fearing that a military takeover or armed conflict would ensue should the strongman die or rendered incapacitated by his illness, Ninoy wanted to talk to Marcos, believing that he could somehow convince the latter to restore democracy in the country. (Marcos already ended Martial Law two years prior, but according to Ninoy, ”Without dismantling the apparatus of dictatorship, the lifting of martial law is [just] a cruel deception.”)
Ninoy was warned countless times — by government emissaries, by Gen. Fabian Ver, and by Imelda Marcos herself — that there were intelligence reports of assassination plots against him. Thinking that it was just a desperate ploy to dissuade him from returning to his beloved homeland, he went on with his plan.
“I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis,” he was quoted as saying. He added, “I will never be able to forgive myself if I have to live with the knowledge that I could have done something and I did not do anything.”
Fraternity brothers, Ninoy and Marcos were longtime political opponents, archrivals, bitter foes. Ninoy was the bane of Marcos’ existence, the thorn in his side, his political nemesis, and the greatest threat to his insatiable greed for power. Fearlessly outspoken, Ninoy was known for his legendary charisma, the gifts of gab and eloquence, his brilliance, and his indomitable spirit. Since he became Senator in 1967, he would grab every available opportunity to speak out against Marcos’ authoritarian rule. He was relentless in exposing the Marcoses’ plunder of government coffers, their lavish lifestyle, and their numerous excesses and abuses. He was the most dauntless, staunchest, and most vocal critic of the Marcoses and their cronies.
When Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, in an apparent effort to suppress the growing opposition and to legitimize his extended rule, Ninoy was among the first personalities that he ordered arrested and jailed. He was sentenced to death by the military tribunal based on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms, murder, and subversion. In 1980, after 7 years and 7 months of imprisonment, he was allowed to fly to the US to undergo triple-bypass heart surgery. After a successful operation, he proceeded on attacking the Marcos administration, delivering speeches across the country, and serving as one of the most prominent overseas front fighters for Philippine democracy.
When he landed on Philippine soil on that fateful day of August 21, 1983, Ninoy was assassinated.
His death, which triggered a series of civil disobedience campaigns that eventually culminated in the 1986 revolution, proved that a dead Ninoy could be a more formidable opponent to the Marcoses than the fearless, fast-talking, hard-hitting political leader that the latter was when he was still alive. Ninoy’s death inspired and empowered the masses to go out to the streets and shout, “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!” It resulted to public outrage that eventually put an end to Marcos’ 21-year oppressive rule.
It changed our country’s history.
August 21, 2018: 35 Years After Ninoy’s Death
Anyone in his right mind would have thought that, considering everything that we, as a nation, had to suffer, had to sacrifice, and had to fight for even with our very lives just to win back our freedom, we would have already learned our lesson. We would have thought that from then on, we, Filipinos, will do everything and anything just to ensure that history will never repeat itself. We would have thought that we now have all the more reason to prove to everyone that we are, indeed, worth dying for.
But look around you.
Holding the highest office in the land is an incompetent, quick-tempered, vindictive, treasonous, misogynistic, narcissistic, tyrannical, foul-mouthed, bigoted psychopath.
More than 25,000 Filipinos, mostly poor and innocent, and all without the benefit of due process, have already been killed in the name of this administration’s War on Drugs. And the war is “far from over,” according to the butcher in Malacañang. “It will be as relentless and chilling as on the day it began.”
In a blatant disregard of the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines-China dispute over the West Philippine Sea, our islands are now generously given to China – and on a silver platter, no less. The ass-licker in Malacañang continues to kowtow to China despite the bully-nation being the source of tons of illegal drugs, smuggled goods, illegal Chinese workers, blacklisted contractors, and casinos that are granted easy access into the country, and of “friendly” loans that are potentially part of China’s debt-trap diplomacy.
Ferdinand Marcos, the late dictator who made our countrymen’s lives a living hell during his dictatorial reign, and whose economic sabotage left us with an external debt that we are all still paying for until the year 2025, is now buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani – no thanks to the dictator-wanna-be in Malacañang who thinks that Marcos is the best president our country has ever had.
Marawi, once a thriving city, was transformed into a virtual ghost town when it became the battleground between IS militants and government troops, where countless soldiers and civilians perished. This happened after a loose cannon in Malacañang dared the Maute Group to attack Marawi. The firefight prompted Duterte to declare Martial Law, not just in Marawi but in the entire Mindanao, and despite the conflict eventually being resolved in October of last year, ML has been extended twice. It will take effect until the end of this year.
This administration continues to aggressively campaign for federalism through constitutional amendment amid its apparent unpopularity, the citizens’ disapproval, and the warning of their own economic managers that the shift could have “dire consequences” and could “wreak havoc on the economy.” In an effort to get Filipinos talk about federalism, Asec. Mocha came up with a jingle video popularly known as Pepedederalismo. She got the Filipinos talking, all right.
Sen. Leila de Lima is languishing in solitary pre-trial detention for exactly 544 days now. For fearlessly launching a Senate inquiry into the spate of killings happening under the guise of a drug war, the Fentanyl-addict in Malacañang vilified and demonized her in an attempt to break and silence the unbreakable Senator.
For the adversarial positions she held against the various policies of this administration, Maria Lourdes Sereno was ousted as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Her colleagues at the SC acted on the quo warranto petition filed by SolGen Jose Calida – a petition that was not only baseless but, more so, unconstitutional. The entire proceeding was believed to be part of an effort to undermine the independence of the judiciary.
Instead of improving tax collection measures (In 2015, only 25 of the top 50 richest Filipinos are on the list of top 500 taxpayers.), the TRAIN Law was passed and implemented regardless of its debilitating impact on the poorest of the poor – our most vulnerable socio-economic class. The poor are “made to pay for the government’s failure to collect from the wealthy.” That’s the TRAIN Law, in a nutshell, according to former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
Oligarchs, in cahoots with political dynasts, continue to control and run the country despite Duterte’s promise that he would “destroy oligarchs embedded in government.” Our current DPWH Secretary and Duterte appointee, Mark Villar, is a perfect example of an oligarch, while members of political dynasties include the likes of Cayetanos, Arroyos, Marcoses, Estradas, and, yes, Dutertes.
The government appointees of “the best president in the solar system” are “only the best and the brightest.” Take, for instance, Mocha and Andanar of PCOO, Cesar Montano and Wanda Teo of DOT, Bong Go (the national photo bomber), Vit Aguirre (Jack Lam extorsion and his plan to make Janet Lim Napoles a state witness), Nicanor Faeldon formerly of Bureau of Customs, and so on. This should be expected when people are appointed out of “utang na loob” instead of their merit. “Even a whiff, or a whisper, of corruption and you’re out,” Duterte warned. Government officials sacked due to corruption should not worry, though. Under this administration, terminated appointees can still be recycled.
P6.4B worth of drugs actually smuggled in Oct. 2017 and another P6.8B “speculatively” smuggled this month. On both occasions, what were most conspicuous and interesting are the President’s deafening silence and utter lack of interest. When will his “relentless and chilling” War on Drugs come in?
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is now out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and, miraculously, out of her neck brace and wheelchair, too! She is now the Speaker of the House of Representatives after she overthrew Bebot Alvarez as a result of the most brilliant and totally unexpected political machinations. She could also be our next Prime Minister under the Federal form of government. By the same token, Jinggoy Estrada is out of detention and will “most probably run in next year’s mid-term elections to reclaim his Senate seat.”
Sr. Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Australian missionary who has been staying in the country for 27 years now, was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration to leave the country. Davao’s most-feared thug in Malacañang claimed that Sr. Patricia is an undesirable alien and that her presence “poses a risk to public interest.”
The bully in Malacañang has been attacking and threatening the media because of their critical reporting on the relentless killings that his brutal war on drugs both entail and incite. He also tried to curtail press freedom by advising them to tone down their reporting.
According to the Commission on Human Rights, the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples such as the Lumads are considered sacred. However, the real estate agent in Malacañang said that, to help the Lumads generate wealth, he would personally invite investors to develop the ancestral domain areas in Mindanao. Under this administration, 30 Lumads had already been killed and at least 30,000 were forcibly evacuated “due to aerial bombings to pave way for the entry of foreign corporations and big local businesses.”
The CPP rejected the guidelines of the peace talks proposed by the government. Duterte, the habitual promise-breaker in Malacañang, “has been responsible for repeatedly terminating peace negotiations,” according to CPP founder and NDFP political adviser, Joma Sison. “We can no longer negotiate with an administration headed by Duterte,” he added.
The favorite punching bag these days of the blasphemous tenant in Malacañang is the Roman Catholic Church, along with its leaders, its Bible, and its God. The worst attack he has made, so far, was when he called our God “stupid.”
Duterte is notorious for making sexist, chauvinistic, misogynistic and even racist remarks and insults, and for acting vindictively against his female critics. Among the most notable victims of the filthy-mouthed wimp in Malacañang are Sen. De Lima, CJ Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, VP Leni, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Fil-Am philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, and Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Pia Ranada.
Under this administration, we are now experiencing a rising inflation, rising unemployment, rising debt, rising power rate, rising prices of basic commodities, rising fuel costs, and rising interest rates. And all these are not mere fake news being fabricated by the babbling liar in Malacañang.
Our democratic institutions are being demolished. “Congress is a rubberstamp, the Senate is a circus, our legislators carry on with their political plays as if the EJKs are not a thick red line that takes everything off the table. Both the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman are embattled, and the CHR’s existence is jeopardized by the specter of a new constitution.”
Finally, look at what Duterte has spawned in this country: historical revisionism and/or historical amnesia, widespread apathy, aggressive ignorance, unspeakable cruelty, smug complacency, misplaced nationalism, pervasive hopelessness, crippling fear, wretched ungratefulness, and pure, unadulterated stupidity.
All these could not have happened if we did not put someone like Duterte in Malacanang.
So, if Ninoy were alive today, do you think he would still consider the Filipino worth dying for?
With your tough-talking macho image, overplayed bravado and exaggerated tales of virility, you wanted to impress us. To intimidate us. To scare us.
But, Digongmylabs, we can see through you. We know that, behind that veneer, you’re nothing but a coward who is terrified of China. You can’t even bring Sen. Trillanes down, for crying out loud! All you can manage to pick on are those that you either perceive to be weaker than you are or too decent to fight you at your own game — the poor, the people of faith, the diplomats, the media, and the women.
Even before you were elected President, we already knew that you had this deep-seated hate for women. Yes, you would often say that you love women so much that you are seldom monogamous. You brag that you have two wives and other “spare tires,” even claiming that to be the norm for lawyers and politicians. But, you see, womanizing is one of the most fundamental signs that you have virtually no respect for women.
During the campaign, you gleefully claimed that when you were younger, you used to molest your housemaid in her sleep. You boasted that you did not give in to your girlfriend’s request for a car since you would only enjoy a “short time” with her. To defend womanizing, you said that it simply couldn’t be helped as “there are so many women and so short a time in this world.” You’ve also repeatedly displayed how you would make some of your female supporters sit on your lap and kiss them on the lips for everyone to see. (Just recently, you kissed a female OFW onstage during a meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea. On the lips!) Your most tasteless, most insensitive and cruelest joke came, however, when you said that the death of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill was such a waste because she was so beautiful, you should have been first in the line of those who gang-raped her. That “joke” made you an international sensation, albeit infamously.
Your supporters are always too eager and too quick to defend you, though. According to them, they elected a president — neither a priest nor a saint. You’re really one lucky devil, Digongmylabs, as far as the blind loyalty of your minions is concerned.
During a press conference shortly after your inauguration, you catcalled Mariz Umali, a local female reporter. Immediately after that, your apologists came up with an unacceptable explanation that catcalling is actually a compliment and is part of one’s freedom of expression. That was why, during your next press conference, another fearless female reporter, Pia Ranada-Robles, felt the need to cite “Section 8 of the Women Development Code of Davao City which states that ““cursing, whistling or calling a woman in public with words having dirty connotations or implications which tend to ridicule, humiliate or embarrass the woman” is a form of sexual harassment.” That city ordinance was enacted by none other than you, Digongmylabs, in 1997 when you were still the Mayor of Davao.
During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, you admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during your cabinet meetings. That wasn’t the only time that you made her the butt of your sexually charged jokes as you believed that making those jokes during speeches were necessary to make your audience laugh. Speaking of Typhoon Yolanda, do you remember what you said? You said that you wished only the ugly had died during that calamity and that the beautiful ones were spared.
Digongmylabs, that one right there came dangerously close to your Australian missionary rape joke as far as callousness was concerned.
The first victim of political persecution under your administration is Sen. De Lima. On national TV, before you had her thrown in jail due to trumped-up charges, you would relentlessly slut-shame her, even referring to her as an X-rated actress a number of times. You gossiped about a sex video that you alleged she had with her ex-lover, threatened to have that shown in public, and used that to ridicule her interminably. You even joked that you would show that video to Pope Francis when you heard that he sent Sen. De Lima a rosary in prison. You already got yourself into trouble once for previous rude remarks about the Pope and, yet, you were at it again. You just never learn, do you, Digongmylabs?
DIGONGMYLABS’ VINDICTIVE TENDENCIES
You’ve been notorious for making sexist, chauvinistic, misogynistic and even racist remarks and insults, and for acting vindictively against your female critics.
You called Agnes Callamard, a UN special rapporteur on human rights, “malnourished” and “skinny,” and referred to Fatou Bensouda, an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, as “that black woman.”
When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its World Economic Outlook, you lashed out at Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, by saying that one could easily change the latter’s gloomy outlook on the Philippines by pulling her into a corner and kissing her.
Without presenting any substantiated evidence, you publicly accused Fil-Am philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis of having a hand in the preliminary examination conducted by the ICC into your war on drugs. You added that she is capable of conspiring with the ICC to indict you for crimes against humanity because “she’s rich.” (The Davao City Council declared Lewis a “persona non grata” in Davao City based on that allegation alone.)
In a televised address, you publicly denounced Sr. Patricia Fox, the 71-year-old Australian missionary who caught your attention when she came to the Martial Law-placed Mindanao as part of a fact-finding mission. You had her arrested and ordered deported.
Enraged by the relentless and critical reporting done by the mainstream media on the killings that your brutal war on drugs both entailed and incited, you targeted, first, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, then ABS-CBN and, finally, Rappler. PDI owners eventually sold their controlling stocks to Ramon Ang, a close friend of yours and a campaign financier, while ABS-CBN continues to toe the line in the face of your threat to block the renewal of their franchise which is set to expire in 2020. Maria Ressa and the Rappler team, meanwhile, continued with their fearless reporting amid all government efforts to quell and silence them — you claimed (again, without any verifiable evidence) that Rappler is “fully owned” by Americans; you declared that it is a fake news outlet; its incorporation papers were revoked; its Malacanang Palace correspondent, Pia Ranada, was barred from the palace premises; and it is being investigated for tax evasion.
DIGONGMYLABS, A COWERING WIMP IN DISGUISE
Recently, you said that you could not count on women at all times; that they could not stand threats and intimidation; that they should be prim and proper; that the next Ombudsman and Chief Justice should not be a woman. With such a mentality, it is not hard to assume that you are terrified of women in power.
In the Philippines, there are five women whose power, independence and strength you either despise or fear. And since you don’t know how to handle or deal with them, much less to subjugate them, you resort to insult and threat. You want to control them. You want to silence them. You want to break them.
But you are learning, much to your chagrin and frustration, that you can never put a good woman down.
Even from detention, Sen. De Lima continues to painstakingly perform her duties as a member of the Senate and of the opposition bloc. She doesn’t pull any punches — her criticisms of your administration remain scathing — and her spirit is still indomitable.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, despite the administration’s attempt to put her in jail supposedly through the machination and connivance of VACC and the DOJ, remains relentless in her fearless fight for her various advocacies, among which are her courageous battles against any form of human rights violations, the declaration of Martial Law, and corruption in government.
VP Leni Robredo, even after you virtually forced her to resign from your cabinet after you issued an instruction (via text!) for her to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings, continues to fulfill her duties and responsibilities as our duly-elected Vice President. She has been vocal in condemning many of your pronouncements that she deems inimical to our country’s interests. As a consequence, she is now facing an imminent loss to Bongbong Marcos in the Vice-Presidential recount because “your” Supreme Court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal denied her plea to follow the threshold set by the Comelec for shading of ballots, the very same shading threshold used for the 2016 national elections.
You said that you will file an impeachment case against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for “selective justice” and conspiracy to oust you —this, after the Office of the Ombudsman had conducted investigations into your family’s alleged unexplained wealth which supposedly amounts to billions. At one point, you also challenged her to resign. Morales, however, remained unfazed as she reiterated that she won’t abandon her constitutional duties.
There are many instances that you and CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno have had public clashes, compelling you and your sycophants to do everything that you could to rid of her. You threatened her, you demanded her resignation, you had the House Justice committee hear the impeachment complaint filed against her by a pro-Duterte, pro-Marcos lawyer, you had your chief attorney, Solgen Calida, file a quo warranto petition to nullify the CJ’s appointment, and you had “your” Supreme Court act favorably on that petition.
These five strong, independent and powerful women are the faces and voices of all the Filipinas who, despite harassment, coercion and threats, continue to fight everything that you stand for — tyranny, fakery, murder, plunder, treason, incompetence, vindictiveness, indecency and misogyny. They will be the proverbial thorn in your side as long as you keep promoting words and actions that are crippling to the gender equality movement, damaging to women’s dignity, and threatening to the safety of women all over the world. They will serve as the constant reminder that you, Digongmylabs, are nothing but a big, spineless, pathetic, filthy-mouthed wimp.
If you think that animals are only found in the wild, in the zoo or in our homes, you are terribly mistaken. The hallowed halls of our government offices are actually teeming with them!
Opportunistic Vultures – are unscrupulous birds of prey. Though they primarily scavenge for dead animals that they can eat, vultures also feed on defenseless animals like newborns and the wounded. They habitually gorge themselves, sometimes to the point of having difficulty flying immediately after a meal.
Vulture-like people are always on the lookout for opportunities to make money. They hate to work, preferring to shadow other aggressive characters until opportunities arise. They circle these situations with infinite patience and have an uncanny ability to determine when the moment is ripe. Only when assured of a reward will they swoop in and take control. They can be extremely possessive with their prize and will defend it against all intruders. However, vultures won’t risk injury, and they take flight when the situation becomes volatile. They have a reputation as creatures that swoop in, take what they need, and disappear. Their loyalty is only binding for as long as their partner is actively contributing to their wellbeing.
Businesspeople who get into politics to enrich themselves more are the vultures in government.
Greedy Crocs – the ultimate predators, crocodiles have powerful appetites. They attack without subtlety or intelligence, using any weapon at their disposal. They think nothing of using dirty tricks to gain an advantage and have little sense of honor. Their mating style is cold-blooded and mechanical, for crocs prefer to devour their conquests whole.
Known for their ruthlessness, crocs have little conscience, compassion, or guiding philosophy save that of survival and self-interest. They are tough, street-smart and conceited. Beware the crocodile’s tears, because although they may run freely, they do not run deep.
DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre, particularly during the height of the P50-million BI bribery/extortion scandal and the house probe against Sen. De Lima, is the perfect example of a croc in government.
Wolves in sheeps’ clothing – cunning, duplicitous, ferocious and intimidating, cruelty is the wolves’ most defining characteristic. Often, they simply kill as much prey as is possible, regardless of hunger and appetite. Although savage and bloodthirsty, wolves are among some of the world’s smartest and most perceptive mammals.
A wolf in a sheep’s clothing is a person with a pleasant and friendly enough appearance that hides the fact that he is basically evil. He is intensely ambitious, aggressive, bloodthirsty and vicious, is notoriously loyal to his pack, works within a social environment, and is a highly territorial predator.
PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, especially when he turns on the waterworks during senate hearings, reminds me of a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
Male Chauvinist Pigs – men, especially men with some power, who think that women are inferior or lesser than they are, and who express that opinion freely in both word and action. However, contrary to popular belief, one of the distinct characteristics of pigs is their cleanliness. It is, therefore, an insult to these social and intelligent farm animals to be used to refer to lowly chauvinists.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who unabashedly flaunts his mistresses and slut-shamed Sen. De Lima during the House probe on the latter’s alleged involvement in the drug trade in Bilibid, is the epitome of what a male chauvinist pig is. There are many others in government who are just like Alvarez, though. In fact, the President could give him a run for his money.
Crafty Chameleons – are best known for their distinct abilities to change colors easily and to look in two directions at once. A person who often changes his beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed is referred to as a chameleon. In the government, political chameleons abound. They are the people who habitually conform to avoid discomfort. Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero could be considered political chameleons.
Political Butterflies – are politicians who flit and float from one political party to the other, “driven by the politics of convenience and personal interest.”
Sen. Manny Pacquiao holds the record of being a world boxing champion in eight (8) weight divisions, while as a politician, he has changed political parties for seven (7) times already since he entered politics in 2007 —from Liberal Party to KAMPI to People’s Champ Movement to Nacionalista Party to PDP-Laban to UNA and, now, to PDP-Laban again. Whew!
Rats abandoning a sinking ship – are people who desert something or someone that is failing or about to fail. They do it with great haste and having only personal well-being in mind. In the recent history of the Philippine politics, these unfaithful, selfish and disloyal “public servants” are best exemplified by the honorable men and women who quit their allegiance to the Liberal Party when its presidential standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, lost to Duterte in 2016. Those rats are now affiliated with PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party.
Parasitic Leeches – are boneless worms with two suckers (each on both ends of their bodies) that suck the blood out of their unsuspecting victims. They have huge appetites. They can ingest amount of blood that is five times bigger than their own weight. Leeches will detach from their victim only once they are full.
Most, if not all, politicians are leeches. They refuse to leave “public service” as long as there is still money in the public coffers that they can pocket. Their ultimate goal is to bleed their constituents dry through kickbacks and other personal moneymaking schemes. They consider their government positions as their cash cows.
Politicians who build political dynasties are parasitic leeches. Among them are the Ejercito-Estradas in San Juan, the Binays in Makati, the Cojuangcos in Tarlac, the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte, the Revillas in Cavite, the Singsons in Ilocos Sur, the Dutertes in Davao City, and the Ampatuans in Maguindanao.
Ass-licking Dogs – are persons who flatter and serve obsequiously to gain favor from somebody in authority. They will stop at nothing to impress that somebody, even if they end up looking like a fool.
Since Duterte is notorious for appointing his campaign supporters to various government posts regardless of a lack of necessary credentials and experience, his minions are now scrambling and elbowing their way to get to the good side of the President. The vicious and fake news-propagating DDS bloggers (and yes, Sen. Dick Gordon, too!) immediately come to mind when talking about ass-licking dogs.
Brainless Jellyfish – are distinct creatures because they are also bloodless, spineless, heartless, and their body has no left and right side. They are made up of 95%-98% water, and are extremely venomous. If you dare touch it, you can be in big trouble.
Sen. Tito Sotto can be considered a brainless jellyfish. Who could ever forget his brilliant answer when he was confronted about his privilege speech that was copied from at least five online sources? “There is nothing wrong with copying. Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists.” The brainlessness of our honorable House Speaker, Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez, was likewise brought to our attention when he was aptly called an “imbecile” by the chief of staff of former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Duplicitous Snakes – the symbol of Satan or the devil. Remember the serpent in the Bible, and the significant role it played in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man?
A snake is a creature with a dubious, sneaky and treacherous nature that shows particular cunning in its deception. Although basically shy and insecure, it has the ability to deceive with its poisonous wit and quick tongue. A cold-blooded animal with no sense of loyalty, it is not the most respected in the animal kingdom. When it comes to relationships, if a snake senses more warmth in a new partner, it slithers off without looking back even when it is in a committed relationship.
I cannot think of a more fitting example of a snake in government than the present occupant of Malacanang, Rody Duterte.
Psychopath – (noun) a person with antisocial personality disorder manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse, in extreme egocentricity, in failure to learn from experience, etc. Psychopaths tend to lack normal human emotions such as guilt. They also lack the ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships. They are often highly intelligent and skilled at manipulating others.
Sycophant – (noun) a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage; a servile self-seeking flatterer.
Power could be such a potent motivation that people are willing to go to great lengths to possess it — or even to get close to it. It is no wonder, therefore, that when Duterte won the presidency, opportunists of all colors and sizes huddled up close to and swarmed Malacanang.
Just like flies would to manure.
Many members of the opposition readily deserted their respective sinking ships and jumped into that of the PDP-Laban, which was fast getting jam-packed with the other political chameleons.
New alliances and coalitions between other political parties and the president’s party were formed.
People who supported and worked for Duterte’s campaign saw it as the perfect opportunity to collect and reap the benefits of being a loyal boot and ass licker.
Those closest to him, meanwhile, elbowed their way through the burgeoning crowd to secure the meatiest positions available.
Needless to say, their efforts paid off.
Despite Duterte’s initial pronouncement that he will get only the best and the brightest people because “the Filipinos deserved nothing less,” he went on an appointing spree (with their contribution to his campaign as the main qualification for the selection of those appointees) weeks before he was proclaimed the election winner.
The following are some of the President’s political appointees. Together, let us know them a little better and see if, indeed, their connection to the Palace was not their only credential to their current positions. We will also take a peek at what they have managed to bring to the table thus far.
DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II. He was the legal counsel of Hubert Webb in the celebrated Vizconde massacre case; the former lawyer of Sen. Lacson and Ramon Tulfo; the deputy counsel who conducted the direct examinations of now Sen. Trillanes and the other Magdalo members during the investigation of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny; Duterte’s fraternity brother in San Beda and his lawyer when he was linked to the Davao Death Squad by then CHR Commissioner Leila De Lima; the defense lawyer of retired SP04 Bienvenido Laud (the owner of the quarry in Davao believed to have been the burial ground of the DDS victims); the founder and president of the Brotherhood for Duterte Movement; and the controversial target of the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s ire during the Corona impeachment trial. (Yes, Aguirre and the Hear-No-Evil lawyer are one and the same.)
When Aguirre was appointed by then presumptive Pres. Duterte to head the DOJ, the latter’s orders were quite specific: “Focus on illegal drugs, graft and corruption and heinous crimes, and file appropriate charges no matter who gets hurt.”
After only a year at the helm of the Justice department, Aguirre has already figured in a plethora of controversies.
The government’s drug war has already killed thousands, many of which were perpetrated by unidentified masked men, yet no single killer has been held legally accountable. Amid the international community, the Catholic Church and the human rights advocates’ resounding call for accountability and end to the killings, the Dep’t. of Justice has remained deafeningly silent.
Aguirre used 12 convicted felons (all of whom were granted immunity and witness protection, while 5 of whom have had pending applications for pardon or clemency) to testify against Sen. De Lima during a congressional probe on the Senator’s alleged involvement in the drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison. (Said felons were reportedly granted certain perks and privileges in exchange for their testimonies.) At the same public hearing, he threatened to present sex videos allegedly of De Lima and Dayan “to establish their relationship.” He also released fake BDO deposit slips to further implicate De Lima. During presscons and interviews even before a single case against De Lima was filed before a court of law, he found great joy in destroying the Senator’s reputation by accusing her of being the country’s biggest drug lord — an action that utterly ran counter to what a judicious Justice Secretary should be.
To date, Peter Lim is still as free as a bird despite PDEA and Kerwin Espinosa’s separate testimonies that the presidential friend is a bigtime drug lord. (Lim has been, in fact, named by no less than the President himself in his drug matrix as among the top-tier drug lords operating in the country.) Just recently, DOJ downgraded the murder charge against the 19 policemen involved in the rubout of Mayor Rolando Espinosa. (Ex-CIDG Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos, the team leader, has long been involved in illegal drugs, according to PNP Chief Dela Rosa.) Both of these despite the administration’s controversial War on Drugs.
It is also on his watch when the bloody raid (eyewitnesses assert that it was a massacre, not a raid) against the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City took place. Amid claims of irregularities in the execution of the operation, and a clamor to look deeper into the incident that resulted to the death of 15 people, the DOJ thru its constituent agency, the National Bureau of Investigation, has been conspicuously quiet. Yet again.
Aguirre has the uncanny habit of parroting Duterte’s statements. According to him, the killings of thousands of drug suspects and criminals may not be considered crimes against humanity because those drug suspects and criminals are not humans. Duterte has been repeatedly heard making the same statement.
The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul Jack Lam had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. The DOJ Sec. was even quoted telling an ex-BI official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte’s frat brothers and appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.
He earned the title “The King of Fake News” after exposing to the media that some opposition lawmakers, in connivance with some Moro clans, were behind the Marawi clashes. He even used a photo (which turned out to be an old one) to support his claim. Before that, he also accused former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, along with a Laguna solon, of allegedly trying to bribe the inmates who testified against De Lima to recant their testimonies. He once accused Sen. Trillanes, moreover, of having benefited from the PDAF scam with Napoles. All claims were eventually proven to be baseless, malicious and outright lies. Sen. Grace Poe lambasted Aguirre for “propagating fake news like a troll,” while the NUJP called him a “mean-spirited coward” for blaming the media for his blunders following Aguirre’s yet another claim that he was just being misquoted by the media.
He is also among the 11 government officials tagged in the criminal complaint filed against Duterte at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.
For the succeeding parts of this article, we shall get better acquainted with these other notable Duterte sycophants:
POLITICAL APPOINTEES (continuation)
PNP Chief Director Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Budget Sec. Benajamin Diokno
Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III
Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo
Communications Sec. Martin Andanar
PCOO Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson
Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
DSWD Assistant Sec. Lorraine Badoy
Ambassador to the UN Teddy Boy Locsin Jr.
Tourism Promotions Board COO Cesar Montano
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
Senate Pres. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard “Dick”Gordon
Senate Ethics Committee Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
Indeed, time flies so fast. Isang taon na pala ang lumipas since Duterte took his oath last June 30, 2016 as our country’s 16th president.
Ayon sa kanyang inaugural speech, “Malasakit. Tunay na Pagbabago. Tinud-anay nga Kausaban (Compassion. Real change.) – these are words which catapulted me to the presidency. [But] these slogans were conceptualized not for the sole purpose of securing the votes of the electorate. Far from that. These were battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change.”
‘Yan ang pangako n’ya when he was still campaigning.
‘Yan ang ikinondisyon n’ya sa utak nating lahat na kailangan ng bansa.
‘Yan ang pinaniwalaan ng 16,601,997 Pilipino na bumoto sa kanya.
‘Yan ang inasahan at patuloy na inaasahan natin mula sa kanya at sa kanyang administrasyon.
After 365 days in Malacanang, masasabi ba natin that the President was able to deliver on his promised change? Or have we all been taken for a ride?
C’mon, let’s find out by looking back at his first year in Malacanang!
Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation
Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, thousands are killed in just a span of one year. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.
Pork Barrel has made a comeback
Under the 2017 National Budget, a Congressman gets an annual allocation of P80 million while a Senator gets P200 million. The SC ruling specifically prohibited the post-enactment intervention of members of Congress in the national budget. To effectively go around that ruling, Congressmen were asked to submit a list of projects before Malacanang had to present the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress. Under PNoy’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), members of the Congress were making postenactment identification of projects, while under Duterte’s PDAF, everything is done preenactment or during the budget preparation. Budget preparation should be the domain of the executive branch. When the legislature is asked to participate in it, the whole exercise could easily open doors to patronage and corruption. Meanwhile, the House leadership claimed that “they are just exercising their power of the purse.”
An identified drug lord is set free
According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace, unscathed, and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.
Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman
The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.
According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace and wheel chair–, representing Pampanga’s second district at the House of Representatives.
Rampant Human Rights violations
Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”
The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate, and the downgrading of charges against the perps
According to the result of the NBI’s investigation and of the probe of the Senate Committee on Public Order, the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Supt. Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the President himself a few days before the rubout. Despite the glaring evidence against the team, though, DOJ recently downgraded the charges against the perps from murder to homicide. Marcos and his men are now out on bail.
Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero
The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.
The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president
Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.
The Vit Aguirre-Jack Lam rendezvous
The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. Aguirre was even quoted telling an ex-Bureau of Immigration official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte and Aguirre’s frat brothers and presidential appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.
Slashed budget for calamity funds
Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.
Camp Crame is now Camp Crime
Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.
The death of Project NOAH
The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.
The near-collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels
Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners. The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.
The ongoing election protest of Bongbong Marcos
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is moving forward with the case after ruling that Marcos’ election protest is sufficient in both form and substance. As service fees for the contested precincts, Marcos has been ordered to pay P66.2 million while Robredo P15.7 million. Historically, it takes around 4 years for the PET to resolve electoral protests.
Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail
Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the bigtime drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of a handful of Bilibid convicts and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.
Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts
With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.
The country is considered a major money-laundering hub
According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”
Higher monthly pension for SSS pensioners and Higher monthly premiums for all SSS members
To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.
The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury
During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.
The Commission on Appointment’s rejection of Gina Lopez
Gina Lopez is one of Duterte’s appointees that could have effected real change in the country with her unwavering advocacy for the protection of the environment. Her appointment, however, was rejected by the powerful bicameral CA. Duterte attributed CA’s decision to the power of lobby money.
The reimposition of death penalty
Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes were removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under the new law, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!
The Lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old
Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.
Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea
Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the seabed for possible mineral deposits.
The inclusion of archrivals Duterte and De Lima in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
Duterte’s supporters rejoiced when the popular President topped the readers’ poll for this annual list. Their joy was short-lived, though, when they learned that the name of Sen. Leila De Lima somehow found its way to the prestigious list. Duterte was listed under the Leaders category, while De Lima under the Icons. The write-up on Duterte was assigned to and written by Cesar Gaviria, the former Colombian president that Duterte called stupid for criticizing his war on drugs. The write-up on De Lima, on the other hand, was penned by Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former US Ambassador to the UN.
Mocha is now a legit source of information
With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when Philippine Star gave her her own column, when DZRH gave her a tv show, and when the president gave her a government position. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead? No one, but her boss PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar came up with a brilliant piece of advice: Uson should hire page managers for her blog. Hopefully, we won’t shoulder that extra expense. Uson’s monthly salary of more than P106,000 (plus allowances and bonuses) is already hard to accept, as it is.
SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction
Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it is possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she is found to be the least guilty among those involved in the controversial Pork Barrel scam.
Lower personal income taxes but Higher excise taxes
As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning P250,000 and below will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that measure would entail, higher excise taxes on petroleum products, automobiles and sugar-sweetened beverages, and VAT on lease of residential units, sale of real property and in electric cooperatives will be implemented. Note that the net effect of all these additional taxes (increase in the prices of basic commodities, meds, fares, housing, etc.) would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes.
Duterte’s foreign trips that cost thrice more than his predecessors’
The government spent at least P386.2 million of taxpayers’ money on the President’s 21 foreign trips during his first year in power. (Said figure does not include the cost of his last 4 trips – to Cambodia, Hong Kong, China and Russia). Former Pres. Fidel Ramos called Duterte’s Russian trip a junket because of the countless free riders. Aside from the 16 (out of 23) cabinet secretaries and around 300 businessmen, also spotted in the trip were Gen. Bato Dela Rosa and his wife, the Commanding Generals of all three major service commands (the army, navy and air force), former MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, actors Robin and Rommel Padilla, Phillip Salvador, Cesar Montano, Sandra Cam, concert producer Bernard Cloma, Mocha Uson and his manager Byron Cristobal, and presidential son Baste.
The declaration of Martial Law over the entire Mindanao
Despite the AFP and the Presidential Spokesperson’s repeated initial statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control, Duterte declared Martial Law for the whole Mindanao. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.”
The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension
With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.
The revision of history
Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)
The desensitization of the Filipino people
We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.
The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials
When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.
The dismissal of the impeachment complaint filed against Duterte
The members of the House Justice Committee unanimously voted that the impeachment case filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against Pres. Duterte was sufficient in form but insufficient in substance. Impeachment is considered both a political exercise and a numbers game, and since Duterte maintains a stronghold at the Lower House, with at least 267 out of the 293 lawmakers as his allies, no impeachment complaint against him is expected to prosper.
The Resorts World Manila attack that left in its wake 38 casualties and at least 54 injured
The attack, perpetrated by a lone gunman, showed Gen. Bato Dela Rosa’s thirst for media exposure. It was a developing situation at the time yet he was providing updates –which turned out to be unverified reports—to the media. According to him, the gunman was Caucasian (Jessie Carlos was Filipino who used to work in the Dep’t. of Finance), was killed by government troops (he was wounded in a firefight with the casino’s in-house security before he burned and shot himself), that no one got hurt except for those who suffered minor injuries due to the stampede (37 died due to suffocation), and that a member of the casino’s security accidentally shot himself in panic (a Resorts World official denied such incident). He later urged the public to stop spreading unverified information. Bato is such a clown.
The filing of a criminal case against Duterte before the ICC
Atty. Jude Sabio, Edgar Matobato’s lawyer, went to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands where he accused Duterte of being a mass murderer. “The lawyer claimed that Duterte has been waging mass murders constituting crime against humanity from his term as mayor of Davao City under his Davao Death Squad to the present after assuming the presidency through his bloody drug war.” Also included in the complaint are 11 of Duterte’s senior administration officials.
Just a month after, Sen. Trillanes and Congressman Alejano also flew to The Hague to file a supplemental communication against Duterte. They cited the unabated and systematic killings in the country and Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as compelling reasons for the ICC Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation on the situation in the Phils.
Senate Pres. Pimentel and eight other senators flew to France to repair the PH-EU ties
Amid Duterte’s repeated verbal attacks against the EU, his rejection of its $278.7-million grant, and his arrogant statement that we can survive without EU’s assistance, nine of our honorable senators decided to use taxpayers’ money to fix the relationship between the powerful union and the Philippines. Said effort and expenses could have easily been avoided if only the President learned how to control his dirty mouth.
Positive economic momentum, Volatility of the stock market, and Peso depreciation
In 2016, the economy grew by 6.8% — a stellar performance that economists attribute to the stable and fast-growing economy that the previous administration turned over to Duterte. According to them, the positive momentum will carry us through 2017, but beyond that, certain factors – the success or failure of the implementation of Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, the country’s political stability, Trump’s America First policy, etc. — will ultimately dictate our fate.
Last year, the Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at the former POTUS Obama in connection with the latter’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.
Meanwhile, our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.51 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is now at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,” has a domino effect.
The President admitted, albeit grudgingly, to going to Guangzhou, China during the New Year holidays for a medical visit. He, again, went into some sort of unexplained hibernation –4 days in February, June 12-16, and June 20-27. Because of these absences, people are calling for the full disclosure of Duterte’s medical records.
An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system
Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.
President Duterte is expected to stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!
Rodrigo Duterte’s entry into the national political arena, and his eventual ascension to the presidency, opened the floodgates to numerous powerful assertions that changed, and are still changing, the way most Filipinos view and accept things. His repeated public pronouncements on various issues have managed to condition our minds to abandon some deeply entrenched values and beliefs to accommodate his largely unconventional and radical ideas and views. The questions thus currently burning a hole in our minds are these: “When his term ends, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be? Or would we even want that to happen?”
The following are Duterte’s claims and proclamations that many of his supporters are gobbling up—greedily, naively, insatiably.
The country seriously needs change, and it can only be acquired through Duterte.
An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.
Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the most marginalized members of our society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed, for the longest time, by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians whose only interests were to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope – our Messiah – to that ever-elusive change.
As much as I don’t want to come off as the previous administration’s mouthpiece, much less its apologist, but history would tell us that President Aquino is largely credited for stabilizing our economy when most in the region was stumbling or falling apart. (President Duterte himself admitted that there was no need to fix the country’s economy left by PNoy because it was doing well.) PNoy even enjoyed a 57% satisfaction rating days before he vacated Malacañang – the highest among the ratings of all the post-Martial Law presidents.
Even the die-hard LP supporters have to admit though that, like the other presidents before him, PNoy had his shortcomings and lapses in judgment, some with graver consequences than others. But I would like to believe that the man served his country the best way he knew how. He just needed a few more years to allow the people to fully enjoy the proverbial fruits of his labor, thus, his appeal for continuity.
But, no, we couldn’t give him that.
How could we when we were already conditioned to clamor for change? We were made to believe that waiting did not have to be an option when someone else could very well make our lives better in an instant. Yes, we, the most gullible of the lot, fell for all those promises of quick results – hook, line and sinker. It didn’t matter one iota that most of those promises were ludicrous, outrageous, unrealistic, or ill-thought-out, as proven by the developments and changes that have already taken place under Duterte’s administration. (Read Change Has Truly Come Sa Bayan Ni Juan.)
The country is plunging into narco-statehood.
I am sick and tired of hearing President Duterte’s repeated assertions that the Philippines is on the verge of becoming a narco state. He used that claim during the campaign, and won the presidency primarily because of his bold promise to eradicate drugs, along with corruption and criminality, in just 3-6 months after he assumes office. Now, already on his 12th month and with more than 12,000 drug-related casualties, he continues to feed us with the same statement during his public tirades and rants…as if he also needs to constantly convince himself of its veracity.
But, how serious, really, is the drug problem in the country?
Based on the 2015 nationwide survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippine, as commissioned by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), drug use incidence from Jan 1, 2015 – Feb 5, 2016 is at an estimated 1.8 million, or 1.8% of that year’s total population.
I am not, in any way, trying to discount or even downplay this number or its possible social and criminal repercussions, but this figure is hardly tantamount to an epidemic – especially considering the facts that it was significantly lower than the recorded 6.7 million users in the country in 2004 (the year with the highest recorded number of drug users) and the 5.2% global average of drug use in 2014.
So where did the President get his figure of 4 million “drug addicts,” you ask?
According to the same survey, the lifetime drug use prevalence in the country is at around 6.1%. Simply translated, this means that the number of Filipinos who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives is 4.8 million. President Duterte might have drawn his 4 million figure from this datum. Or it may be, as the President constantly claims, from ex-PDEA Chief Dionisio Santiago’s old estimate of 3 million —which the former raised to 4 million using a highly complex process called logical deduction that only he was privy to. (Note that the PDEA Chief was one of the 17 members of DDB, hence, his sole source of official data and figures should be the DDB itself.)
Either way, the President’s basis for his 4 million figure is clearly erroneous. Intentional or otherwise, President Duterte based the “bloody” all-out war that the government continues to wage against illegal drugs on an incorrect premise.
The country will be better off if we ally ourselves with China (and if we keep our distance from our long-time partners like the US and the EU).
The President has also been conditioning us to believe that China is our country’s ally – a benevolent, reliable and generous one. He wants us to conveniently ignore China’s blatant disregard of the UN arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines on our maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Questioning China’s bullying, territorial-grabbing and subjugating efforts would, for him, reduce us to nothing more than a bunch of ingrates. So, the next time China builds another artificial island on the WPS, undertakes an exploration of Benham Rise, threatens our fishermen anew, questions our DND Secretary’s visit to one of the islands in the WPS, or worse, sends drones and surveillance cameras and targets us with their precision weapons and missiles should we decide to drill oil there, we should just try to look the other way and remind ourselves of all of China’s pledges – a ready market for our exported bananas, an influx of Chinese tourists, a dole-out of investments and loans, and an unlimited supply of illegal drugs. (Read this.)
The Catholic Church will soon be passé.
The Philippines is home to the largest Catholic population in Asia, holding the record for being the third largest Catholic country in the world. Under the present administration though, the Church has been the subject of constant attacks, tirades, and condemnation from no less than the President himself. When clergymen and church figures criticize Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the President readily retaliates by lambasting the church and its leaders, claiming that the Church has no moral ascendancy and is a hypocritical institution that will soon be irrelevant and passé. Once, he even urged Catholics to stop listening to the priests and, instead, join the Iglesia ni Duterte – a religion he would establish that, he claimed, would not be as restrictive as the Catholic Church. In his Iglesia, he added, men can have as many as five wives.
The media is the epitome of bias and corruption.
When the President’s controversial and, oftentimes, contradicting statements and pronouncements stir discord, draw flak, or are picked up by the international press, the local media usually bear the brunt of Malacañang’s censure and wrath. The Chief Executive and his henchmen allege the journalists of unfair reporting and of deliberately misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misquoting, twisting, or sensationalizing Duterte’s words. Critics claim that this knee-jerk reaction and behavior could be considered an attempt to discredit or undermine the media. In the face of the most recent expletive-laden attacks and allegations of the President against the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility proclaimed that that form of harassment and intimidation “has brought the highest office to a historic low.” It could be recalled that Communications Secretary Andanar, a media practitioner himself, once accused the Senate media of receiving $1,000 each for covering the press conference of self-confessed DDS member, retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas. Mocha Uson, an ardent supporter of Duterte and, now, a presidential appointee, makes a habit of calling the media outfits that are critical of the president, “presstitutes.” She also makes a habitual call to her millions of online supporters to boycott the country’s traditional, mainstream media. Additionally, when Duterte won the online poll for the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, his supporters rejoiced. Malacañang said that it was indicative of the fact that Duterte is “so admired” by Filipinos and international leaders because of his national agenda. However, when his approach against drugs was heavily criticized by a former Colombian President, who was tasked by Time Magazine to pen the write-up on Duterte (while Duterte’s archnemesis, Sen. Leila De Lima, received a glowing write-up from a former US Ambassador), Malacañang was quick to point out that the said magazine has not been fair by choosing to focus on the negative, unsubstantiated news about the President, while failing to mention the reason behind De Lima’s incarceration.
Spreading fake news is fine, even for government agencies and entities.
Both the Philippine News Agency and Mocha Uson, as the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media, are under the competent stewardship of Andanar’s PCOO. Uson has been the source of numerous fake news that Duterte supporters gleefully spread. Apparently, her new government position does not deter her from continuing with her old ways as she recently shared a wrong photo of the Philippine Army on Facebook. PCOO, on its part, was responsible for an animated video promoting Martial Law, while PNA has had its fair share of blunders like its report that 95 nations, in their UN Human Rights Council meeting, were convinced that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The opposition is constantly working to destabilize the government.
Under this administration, opposition is not regarded as a necessary partner in legitimizing our democratic right to dissent, or even in hearing out the voices coming from the proverbial other side of the fence. Instead of directly addressing the issues hurled at them, Duterte and his minions of apologists and defenders are known to malign, intimidate, mock, verbally abuse, humiliate, threaten, persecute and, in Sen. De Lima’s case, jail anyone who holds contrary views and adversarial positions. The United Nations, the European Union, leaders of other nations, human rights advocates, the faith-based groups, and the international and local media – they are all nothing but an unruly bunch working closely with the “dilawan” in hounding and attacking the government, with the sole intent of overthrowing it. Early this year, all the remaining opposition senators were stripped of leadership posts and committee chairmanships while, in the House of Representatives, the solons who voted against the death penalty bill were ousted from their key posts. If this tyrannical condition persists, all the political dissenters under this administration will eventually find themselves cowering in the corner, voiceless and powerless, behind bars or, worse, rotting away six feet under.
Slut shaming, catcalling, disrespecting or objectifying women is acceptable.
President Duterte’s sexist, chauvinistic and, to an extent, misogynistic reputation remains intact months after he assumed presidency. More than 16 million voters chose to ignore the offensive “jokes” Duterte constantly delivered during his campaign sorties – jokes about his multiple girlfriends (of which one of them he claims is for his “short-time” use only), their housemaid that he used to molest in her sleep, the Australian missionary raped and brutally killed by a gang of inmates that he thought was a waste because the missionary was so beautiful that he should have been first among those who lined up to rape her, and of Duterte actually giving a couple of his female supporters a liplock. During a press conference shortly after his inauguration, he catcalled a female reporter. (Catcalling, for him, is a compliment if we are to believe his apologist in Malacañang.) During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, he admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during their cabinet meetings. He also used the rumor of a sex tape to slut-shame Senator De Lima on national TV. In his apparent effort to defend House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the issue of womanizing, Duterte said that it simply couldn’t be helped; “There are so many women and so short a time in this world.” Just recently, he made another rape joke in front of our troops fighting in Marawi City. His supporters, meanwhile, believe that Duterte’s behavior towards women is a non-issue. After all, they voted for a president, neither for a priest nor a saint.
Government resources can be used freely to pay for personal debts of gratitude.
When the President won, he promised to hire only the “best and the brightest.” The Filipino people deserve only the best, he quipped – “walang palakasan o anumang utang na loob.” Naturally, his supporters gloated. Today, we, the taxpayers, are paying the likes of RJ Jacinto, Arnell Ignacio, Kat De Castro, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Dino, Cesar Montano, and Mocha Uson – not because of their admirable academic backgrounds, competencies, personal attributes, or experience in public service, but because these celebrities happened to support Duterte during his campaign. Duterte himself admitted that those appointments are his way of paying his debt of gratitude to his loyal supporters. His foreign trips are also highly criticized due to countless tag-alongs and free riders (Ex-President Ramos called Duterte’s Russia trip a junket.). With no less than the president openly advocating and practicing patronage in government, worse cases of corruption will inevitably be more prevalent under this administration.
Killing/Waging war is the panacea for our country’s many ills.
When the most powerful man in the land promises to kill every drug dealer and user, and promotes killing as the most effective and fastest approach to winning his war on drugs, and when his officials believe that drug addicts are not humans and are thus not entitled to the most basic of human rights, we better be prepared for the inevitable deadly outcomes. Laws and due processes are blatantly disregarded. Human rights are abused and trampled on. The death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate. Bills such as the Death Penalty and the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability are feared to be used for the government’s bloody campaign against drugs. Critics of the war on drugs are cursed, threatened, or persecuted. Law enforcers are emboldened to take the law into their own hands. The root causes of the problems are not duly addressed. Even the issue of China’s illegal and baseless claim on the WPS was reduced by Duterte to an unsavory pick between two choices only: the relinquishment of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed waters OR an all-out war against China. Filing a diplomatic protest before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is not an option for this administration.
Duterte can get away with almost anything because he is a popular President.
Filipinos are known to be a forgiving race, but where the present Commander-in-Chief is concerned, many of us could go as far as being unquestioning and complicit. He curses virtually everyone as much as he wants during presscons and public speeches, and we hardly bat an eyelash. He threatens to kill somebody, and we shrug our shoulders. He slut shames a woman, and we laugh uproariously. He gives the WPS to China on a silver platter, because it is, after all, “theirs historically”, and we feign indifference. He puts people’s reputation and lives in jeopardy by publicly disclosing unverified lists and making unsupported claims, and we rejoice unabashedly. He travels with his friends and supporters using our hard-earned taxes, and we endure with calm acceptance. He rubs elbows with big-time plunderers and oligarchs, and we react with fierce protectiveness. All of these make me wonder: How low a level should the President stoop to before we finally wake from this deep apathy?
It’s just a matter of time before the entire Philippines is placed under Martial Law.
In the wake of Ferdinand Marcos’ dreadful years of dictatorship, Filipinos have avoided the possibility of another Martial Law like the plague. A mere mention of it could cause some of us to shiver with fear. But due to Duterte’s constant and seemingly casual reference to it – as a response to CJ Sereno’s alleged interference with his job, to the “sheer magnitude of the drug problem in the country,” to lawless violence after the Davao blast, to a need to “preserve his country,” to the crisis in Mindanao –, many of us have gradually grown desensitized to the idea. Now that he has already declared ML over the entire Mindanao, we should brace ourselves to Duterte’s imminent declaration of expanding it to cover the whole country and, possibly, beyond the constitutionally mandated 60-day period. Especially after announcing that he would ignore the Supreme Court and Congress if they try to meddle with his decision.
The erosion of our moral values is no cause for alarm or even concern.
Throwing our all-out support behind a particular leader could actually be commendable, but doing so at the expense of some values, beliefs and principles that are deeply embedded in our culture and psyche is alarming. Go to a link to a Rappler or ABS-CBN’s article about Sen. De Lima or VP Robredo and it would be impossible not to notice how Filipinos today could be indifferent or complacent on one hand, and ruthless, harsh and violent on the other. Bigotry is now at its peak. Comments and remarks laced with malice and virulence are flying around. Vindictiveness has become the name of the game. Integrity, benevolence, diplomacy, and basic respect for others have flown out the window when Duterte and his minions occupied the Malacañang Palace almost a year ago.
With six years’ worth of mental conditioning under the present administration, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be when his term eventually ends? Would we even want that to happen?
So you think I’m ranting? You can bet your last cent, I am! And I am ranting because I am now beyond being sad, alarmed, indignant and angry.
I. Am. Livid!
Why? Let me share with you all the idiotic posts I have been reading on my FB feed lately, and the reasons why I consider them such.
1. Declaring ML is a presidential prerogative.
True, it is a presidential prerogative. There is no argument about that. The issue here is whether the recent developments and the present situation in Marawi warrant the declaration of ML over the entire group of islands in Mindanao. What could be Duterte’s compelling reason to declare ML when the AFP and the Pres’l Spokesperson have been repeatedly issuing statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control. They have also been giving out constant assurance that there is no ISIS presence in the country.
Duterte, on the other hand, has been singing an entirely different tune. During his meeting with Pres. Putin, for instance, he said that he needed the latter’s help in fighting ISIS elements that “have occupied a part of a Philippine town.” Where did he get that intel if not from the AFP? And in case he would later claim that he has another source, why did he not share that extremely sensitive info with the AFP?
2. Martial Law has been declared in Mindanao, yet the people ranting against it are from Luzon and Visayas.
The last time I checked, there remain three main islands that comprise the Philippines –Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao— so, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. Moreover, the latest developments in Mindanao inevitably affect the whole country as the declaration of ML opens deep, painful and festering wounds from the past. Also, ML in Mindanao is and should be everyone’s concern –Mindanaoan or not—especially since Duterte is already contemplating the idea of extending it beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of 60 days and expanding it to cover the entire country. So, yes, every Filipino should speak up now. While we still can.
3. If you can’t be of help, shut the fuck up! You are reeking of the stench of a yellow cult/Dilawan/oligarch/elitist/!
Before you go on with your name-calling, let me remind you that the role of opposition is crucial to a country’s democracy, and the government should accept that role, however small or inconvenient it may prove to be.
It is the opposition’s role to challenge government policies and provide alternatives where appropriate. It is the opposition’s role to question the government and hold it accountable to the public. It is the opposition’s role to ensure that all voices will be heard. In return, the government should respect and listen to the opposition. They should not be made to feel threatened, maligned, intimidated, mocked, abused, humiliated, persecuted or eternally silenced by the government or its supporters.
As a good Filipino citizen, there are at least three things that I do to help my country — I pay my taxes right, I abide by the laws of our land, and I take my role as an opposition to heart. Oh, and there’s one more. I try to empower as many of my kababayan as I can by informing and educating them through social media. I write articles and share information acquired only from reliable, credible and verifiable sources. I never spread fake news or the revisionist’s version of our history.
4. The President, the AFP and the other authorities know what they are doing. Let them do their job.
If the authorities really know what they are doing, Duterte as the Commander-in-Chief should not have left the country with all his security and defense officials in tow. But, as it is, he went to Russia –supposedly for an entire week– with PNP Chief Dela Rosa, AFP Chief Año, DND Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon, Exec. Sec. Medialdea, ARMM Police Director Sindac, and the commanding generals of all three major service commands – the army, navy and air force. They left the government defense forces virtually without leaders amidst the numerous police and military operations that they are conducting all over the country.
Additionally, according to our lawmakers, failure of intelligence and coordination among our security forces led to the bloody clashes in Marawi City. With PhP2.5 billion intel funds at their disposal, the government should have been sufficiently informed and fully prepared before sending our troops to any operation especially in Mindanao.
If we are, however, to believe DND Sec. Lorenzana and the PNP’s words that there was no failure of intelligence and that the police, in fact, knew of the Maute Group’s plan to attack Marawi as early as May 17, they must have realized the enormity of the trouble our troops would likely be heading to. Why then did all these have to happen? Why did our officials decide to proceed with their Moscow trip? Was it the government’s intent to have the Marawi situation blow out of proportion so that there would be a compelling reason for the eventual declaration of Martial Law? After all, the casualties could easily be considered part of the firefight’s collateral damage. Let us hope not.
5. Martial Law is necessary to address the problems in Mindanao.
No. Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is a disproportionate response to a “localized and contained” situation. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.” The Phil. Muslim Society, a group of Muslim lawyers, is planning to challenge Duterte’s hasty declaration before the Supreme Court. According to them, “declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, more young people to join the rebels.”
History tells us that ML could easily lead to abuses and dictatorship.
Bigger and more ferocious insurgents, rebel forces, terrorist groups and religious extremists (CPP/NPA/NDF, MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, Khalifa Islamiyah, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc) have been wreaking havoc and mayhem in the country for many years now. Clashes between the government and the anti-government forces have resulted to bloodier and more hostile encounters before. Yet, no post-Marcos administration dared to declare Martial Law (aside from Gloria Arroyo who, in the wake of the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, declared ML in the province of Maguindanao for 8 days—a decision which caused her 7 lawsuits). Until now. So what makes the Maute Group special? Is it because they are the ones responsible for the bombing in the night market in Davao, the President’s beloved city?
Duterte, in his effort to assuage our fears about his ML declaration, said that there is no need to worry if you are a law-abiding citizen. He also claimed that no abuses will happen under his Martial Law.
Why do these statements sound all too familiar?
Because with his War on Drugs, he said the exact same things.
A few months after, however, when even law-abiding citizens would turn up dead, and cases upon cases of police scalawags’ involvement in despicable crimes were exposed, he and his bunch of apologists started singing different songs. The one was entitled Collateral damage, while the other, Internal cleansing of the PNP.
Duterte supporters, in trying to defend their Tatay Digong’s latest controversial action, claim that the Constitution provides safety measures against Martial Law abuses. We need not fear, they say. Sure, we won’t.
We won’t if only Duterte doesn’t maintain a stranglehold on the “super majority” of our lawmakers. We won’t if only most of the Supreme Court justices are not formulating their decisions based on either their fear of Duterte or how sufficiently their palms have been oiled. We won’t if only he is not trying to buy the police and military’s loyalty with many promises (“I will go to jail for you!”) and meaty government positions. We won’t if only somebody like Cardinal Sin is currently leading the church and its flock in fighting the many clowns in government.
I hope, there won’t come a time when I would have to say, “I told you so.”