Who’s afraid of Martial Law?

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Not me. Even if it was declared all over the country, not just in Mindanao.

I am not a dissident. I am not a criminal. I am not a terrorist. I am not an extremist, much less a jihadist. I am not a renegade soldier. I am not a ninja cop. I am not a drug lord. I am not a drug pusher. I am not a plunderer. Most of all, I am not a corrupt government functionary.

I do not advocate extremism and terrorism. I do not believe in communism. I do not condone foreign intervention. I do not support subversion, rebellion, invasion and secession. I do not engage in destabilization plots, much more actively promote the overthrow of duly constituted authorities.

I express myself freely but responsibly. I exercise my religion but I am tolerant of other faiths. I do not harbor or coddle persons wanted by the law. I am a law-abiding citizen of the Republic of the Philippines. So, why should I be afraid of Martial Law?

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Should I allow myself to be afraid because the ghost of Ferdinand Marcos still casts a heavy pall among the victims of military rule who want the rest of the Filipino people to remember what they went through and carry their pain in our consciousness as well? Not to disrespect their suffering, but the same respect should also be accorded to those who ‘survived’ the era without a scratch, as it were. Without a dent in their physical and psychological makeup because they chose to follow the path of least resistance. Does that make them any less patriotic?

I was very young but old enough to remember the choices I had to make straight out of puberty into early adulthood. The so-called First Quarter Storm was a nebulous nomenclature to chew on while playing jack-stones with my cousins back home in the boondocks. And Martial Law was a sort of bogeyman used to keep youngsters like us from roaming the streets after midnight.

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But the parish priests were real. There were two of them in our town who turned out to be rebels recruiting young people – children, essentially – to attend teach-in’s being held in some dark corners of the kumbento. Those priests were indoctrinating us not about the Word of God but of the teachings of Mao. Not about the Bible and Christianity but of the Little Red Book and Communism.

In short, I did the sensible thing and stopped after attending a couple of sessions. The priests were some kind of folk heroes to vulnerable minds and not a few were attracted to their swashbuckling ways and followed them up in the mountains. The president of my school’s student council famously disappeared into the forests, never to be seen again.

The point being, it was their choice. To go underground. To be called subversives. To practice an ideology contrary to what was, and is, enshrined in the law of the land. Whether they were in too deep or were just germinating didn’t matter. Red became the color of their existence. And they were the reason for Martial Law.

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There were abuses, of course, which are well-documented. But there were also benign cases. Those caught jaywalking – yes, jaywalking – were brought to Camp Crame and made to cut grass. And some women detainees I knew said their months-long stay at the stockades were uneventful.

Be that as it may, the Marcos era Martial Law was a decidedly different animal than the one that is written in the Cory Constitution – with enough safeguards put in place, the framers say, to prevent the advent of another dictatorship.  Besides, the Armed Forces of the Philippines today is different from the Armed Forces of Ramos and Ver. They are now mostly professional soldiers, whose sole purpose is to defend and protect the Republic from enemies both within and outside.

Thus, why all the ruckus about human rights violations, cruelties and violence that MIGHT happen? Is President Duterte’s Martial Law not acceptable because the Americans are not behind it? That no American senator speaking in behalf of the American president will tell their much-hated non-puppet that “The time has come, you should cut and cut cleanly”?

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Unlike the 70’s when it was literally ‘dark’ as far as the reporting of atrocities and abuses by the military are concerned, today the same will be told in ‘real time’ and living color by the vociferous social media – fake news or alternative facts notwithstanding. Isn’t this the era of (too much) information? When even the most innocuous things like “makeup transformations” go “viral” in the Internet and people with lots of spare time in their hands announce to the world wide web what they are eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Terrorism is the scourge of modern times. It has inched slowly to our shores whether we accept the fact or not. They are the enemy, and they wear black. Evil, ominous, menacing, without mercy. You don’t know when it will stare you in the face. And if it does, would the oligarchs and elitists and their minions who have been living off the fat of our land and the blood of our people as much as offer an arm to defend you?

Not in a million years. But I will sleep soundly at night knowing that the soldiers of our Republic will be out there in the war zone – in a heartbeat, because theirs is not to question why – putting their own lives on the line, in the service of God and country. Would anybody else do that for you in this horrifying time?

So, yes, Martial Law. Bring it on.

PHILIPPINES DUTERTE

 

Damn the torpedoes, Duterte all the way!

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Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not the same as you and me. He is as Filipino as can be – in words and deeds, not to mention looks – while you and I are an amalgam of assorted influences that have managed to dilute our Filipino-ness. I can draw a list of traits that are, today, no longer present in the Filipino’s ordinary scheme of things. But just ask your child how much he loves his country, if at all. His answer might confound you. Patriotism? What is that? Blame globalization.

Then along comes the erstwhile Mayor of Davao City who took the country by storm and launched a massive change in mindset among Filipinos who have been laboring under the governance of those foisted by the so-called ruling class and their ilk. For far too long, we have been subjected to the dictum that only one particular group of people are entitled to rule over us, indios and sacadas – not unlike the colonial-era Filipinos subjugated for centuries by their imperial masters.

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No other President of the Philippines in recent memory was able to arouse love of country among the great many who seemed to have fallen in deep slumber as far as nationalistic fervor is concerned than this one has. Rightfully, the country’s colors are back to red, white and blue –the despicable yellow ribbon has overstepped its welcome and has been relegated as one of history’s insufferable moments. (Pray tell, which proud Filipino ever wore that yellow crap on their chest except the Mother’s Son and his now-negligible minions?)

I will not dwell on why a miniscule number of Filipinos hate President Duterte with unmitigated venom in their hearts. Miniscule because they consist of the elite and the elite represents only 1% of the population, counting the so-called elitists (bless their pompous souls) and the displaced politicians (sanctify their insatiable tummies) who could not accept the loss of entitlement and power. Their negativity is not good for the crinkles, so I leave them to their own self-annihilation.

The Opposition? Legitimate dissent, though smattering in number, is essential in a democracy and they are not being stifled by the man they like to call a (budding?) dictator. The nation’s second highest official is free to broadcast her disdain in front of the international community (while noticeably smiling and beaming as she spoke about killings) – perhaps to her eternal damnation. The self-described “political prisoner” can dish out post-dated handwritten statements from her detention cell imploring the public to puh-lease not forget her. And former mutineers turned mercenaries are at liberty to rant and accuse the President of every crime in the book, file an impeachment complaint, and make the rounds of jaundiced media to peddle their alternate reality.

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No, they are not destabilizing the government. They are only exposing their dark facades, tainted by greed and tarnished by lust. Greed for riches amassed without breaking a sweat and lust for power that they can’t let go. So, let them have their cake and eat it stale. Stupid is as stupid does, too.

Rather, I will focus on the things that endeared PRRD to the millions of average Filipinos who have finally found their voice and elected one of them to the highest post in the land. The qualities that make him stand a world away from those pretending to serve the people but all the while just helping themselves.

Of course, PRRD has flaws. Plenty of them. And he owned up to many of those flaws during the campaign. But he won, in spite of. Overwhelmingly at that. And he still enjoys high approval ratings nine months into his term despite being pictured by the “silent majority-cum-silent no more” as the devil incarnate. Try harder, peeps. The man seems to be indestructible, beloved as he is by Filipinos here and abroad. Just watch the crowds roar and scream and jostle to get near him wherever he goes. Have you ever seen anything like that before?

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Because he is a man with a mission, right from the get-go. A mission to take on and take out the scourge of drugs that has enveloped our country like a plague. He dares to do battle where others simply succumbed to the temptation of unimaginable wealth at the expense of the young and the poor. Yes, the poor whom critics say are the sole victims of Duterte’s war against drugs. The same critics who apparently don’t have the nerve to condemn the drug lords and “ninja cops” who made addicts and pushers out of the vulnerable poor in the first place.

If he is single-minded in his mission, it is because the man is a visionary. He envisions a country safe from the horrors of drug addiction, and succeeding generations of Filipinos emancipated from its shackles. It might go down as a quixotic quest, who knows, but he can’t be faulted for not trying. Where others before him were simply apathetic to the people’s travails and concerns (hello, BS!), Duterte walks his coarse and curse-laden talk. He doesn’t care whether he loses the presidency, even his life, he says; but he will fulfill his promises, mark his words.

He speaks the truth about us as a people – inconvenient and beyond the pale though it may be. Who was it who said that in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act? President Duterte is waging a revolution that will forever change the Filipino psyche. He is taking us out of slavery. Slavery to the mentality that we cannot do things on our own – that we are permanently dependent on dole outs from Big Brother even if they be scraps and tokens and leftovers.

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Slavery to the reality that oligarchs have been presiding over our lives with impunity – paying us wages that will never lift us out of poverty while exploiting our country’s minerals until they run barren and dry, and buying off politicians to legalize their rapaciousness. He is taking us out of the slavery to terrorism brought by differences in ideology and religion, but really just as covert means to make money in exchange for lives.

And the slavery to corruption that has systematically gnawed at every fiber of our existence as a nation it has become the norm instead of the aberration.

Decades of indifference by our leaders have made us slaves to false prophets and fake icons – and these forces of greed and lust are now furiously at work spreading falsehoods and painting a grim picture of the Philippines using foreign media and transnational organizations. With the sole motive of unseating President Duterte by all means dirty and foul in order to get back the power they lost by popular election.

They are taking their crooked movement outside the country because the Filipino people won’t listen to them anymore. Quite a jolt it must be to these pretenders. Enemies of change whose time is past. They are not freedom-loving Filipinos who will die for the Homeland, nope. Just puny slave masters whose sense of supremacy has been smashed to the ground, demolished as myth by one man. And that’s what rankles them to the marrows of their blackened bones.
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Dear Senator Leila de Lima

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It is not a woman thing, Madame. Or a gender thing. Nor is it about misogyny, sexism or a battle of the sexes.

This is the 21st century – when man, woman and child are spoken in the same breath as having equal rights with lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, person with disability and person with special needs – up and down the whole spectrum of what is known as humanity.

Women have demolished so many glass ceilings since Biblical times when they were not even included in census-taking. We have fought many battles over the ages – acquiring our right to vote, competing successfully against men for the right to occupy the corner office, becoming heads of state of several countries, piloting airplanes, traveling to outer space, going to war as active combatants. Heck, we even burned our bras to signify our liberation from whatever it was that held us prisoners in the past.

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And now your supporters are invoking womanhood as your way out of the crisis you are currently facing? Are we going to flash the woman card whenever we feel we are being bullied by men? No, ma’am, your being a woman has nothing to do with it.

It is a character thing. Or what an ancient sage said about character being intertwined with one’s destiny. That fate is not preprogrammed, or determined by outside forces but by a person’s inner self, or their own hands.

You are in a tight spot today because of your own making, po. You chased the wind, to be Scriptural about it, right from the get go. Nobody thrust you into the limelight but yourself – with cameras following you while digging graves in Davao as chair of the Commission on Human Rights in 2008.

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Then, as the newly appointed Secretary of Justice, you headed the committee that investigated the hijacking of a tourist bus in Luneta on August 23, 2010 where 25 people, mostly Hong Kong tourists, were taken hostage by one gunman – a disgruntled police officer who felt unjustly dismissed from service and demanded a fair hearing.

To recall, the 11-hour standoff placed the Philippines on the spotlight of international ridicule as the whole episode was watched in real time around the world. The botched rescue operation resulted in the death of eight Chinese nationals and the straining of relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong (and consequently, China), with the latter blaming the deaths to “incompetent handling” by Philippine authorities.

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The investigating body submitted their findings in a report that was mostly ignored by the new president, B. S. Aquino III. You made noises about resigning if such report would be disregarded – which, in essence was, because none of the persons who were determined to have bungled the operation were ever charged criminally or administratively one year after the incident.

But you did not resign and instead clung to your post as Secretary of Justice. That was your first test of character.

Fast forward to the spectacle at the airport on November 15, 2011 when you effectively prevented former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country to seek treatment abroad even as there were still no cases filed against her at the time and the Supreme Court issued a document allowing her to travel.

Your exact words then were: “My order is a denial of the request for an allow departure order,” sounding like you were above the highest court of the land and looking like too much power has taken over your head.

GMA was never allowed access to media to air her side. No laptops and cell phones throughout her “hospital arrest” even if she has not yet been found guilty of any crime. Contrast this with the blatant use of cell phones by convicted criminals inside the New Bilibid Prisons under your watch. And your propensity to call the media every time you feel the need to contradict President Duterte. (“May gusto ba kayo sa akin?” Ugh.)

The loud hysterics in full view of TV lights at the press conference you called a few minutes after the “riot” at Bilibid with a prepared statement had startled netizens suspicious of its haste and readiness. Your behavior was totally shocking, and unexpected. The strange thing was, no one has accused you of being complicit in the incident. Have we just seen the real Leila de Lima?

It might do well for you, madam senator, to ponder on these words by Charles De Gaulle: “Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.”

Do you honestly think that you have passed the test of character, dear Senator?

And no, it is not an Every Woman issue. Not every woman walks the corridors of power like you do. Not every woman has the intelligence that you obviously possess. Not every woman is fortunate to be endowed with a good education and a comfortable life such as you have.

Not every woman is accused of protecting the drug trade inside Bilibid. Not every woman is suspected of receiving drug money from notorious criminals. Not every woman has an alleged sex video. And not every woman is given the opportunity to occupy high office but allows her exalted position to be ruined by indiscretions.

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The issues that concern Every Woman are those that feed her stomach, nurture her mind, strengthen her body, uplift her spirits, and nourish her soul. Issues that will allow her to live a decent life by dint of hard work and self-sacrifice. Not the perorations of One Woman trying to portray herself as a helpless victim being oppressed by the full and mighty force of Government. You have been down that road before, ma’am, but you were conveniently on the other side.

And much as I want to sympathize with you on account of being a fellow woman, I cannot. I could not. I will not.

Because it is an individual thing, Senadora. Wala pong kinalaman ang lahat ng kababaihan sa tawag ng inyong pangangailangan.

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Image and statesmanship

 

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So, has the stock market crashed yet? Has the United States severed relations with the Philippines and withdrawn from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) thus far? Have we already been treated as pariah in the community of nations? Because of the President’s vulgar, uncouth, dirty, foul, coarse language? Because the Philippines does not have a “statesman” as President?

Read the dailies these days and much of what you will see are some politicians’ and media persons’ concern over the “image” that the country is projecting to the outside world. Like, have we become one huge killing field where thousands are murdered every day on orders of the Commander-in-Chief? Or a genocide is happening and we are blissfully unaware of it?

In the first place, why do we care so much what other nationalities think of us? Do we live and breathe for the Americans who largely refer to us as their “little brown brothers”, or the Europeans many of whom do not even know we exist, or the rest of the civilized biosphere who only recognize us for the throng of skilled and domestic workers that we export to their shores?

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So what if our President is not a “statesman”? Neither is he the embodiment of phony. How many phony characters have we elected as mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, presidents since elections in the Philippines became the norm by which we choose our leaders? And most of them have passed the standard of “statesman” in public comportment even as, all the while, their hands have been digging deep into the country’s coffers; but this President is an aberration because he says things that hit close to home?

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte won the election overwhelmingly on the strength of his genuineness and authenticity in contrast to the other candidates’ phoniness, to put it plainly. All they offered were images of themselves as so-called champions of the poor and vanquishers of the corrupt. On the other hand, Candidate Duterte spoke to the people eye-to-eye, in ordinary man’s terms, offering his life to flag and country – and Filipinos, in huge numbers, believed him. He only had to be himself – including the “abominable” cursing and cussing – not an image of himself, nor an image of the usual. The usual being that of the traditional politician who has been populating the Philippine political landscape for generations. Pray tell, what have those long succession of office-bearers and their respective dynasties done for the betterment of a Philippines led by “statesmen”?

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Before Duterte came along, the whole archipelago – for all of the Filipinos’ fondness for things Western and, yep, colonial – had no working national emergency number like the US’ famous 911, let alone a citizens’ hotline where they can report on and complain about things that bedevil them. Barely a month in office and 911 and 8888 were instituted – which, according to those who have tried each, are functioning and effective.

More importantly, hardly a few days into the new administration and the drug scourge was exposed for what it has been since God knows when – a huge conspiracy among rouge policemen, insatiable police generals, greedy local government officials, corrupt trial court judges and other men and women in power (“statesmen”, indeed) – all of them protecting drug lords and criminals, in the process fostering the drug trade that has been eating at the country’s youth since methamphetamine hydrochloride was invented. Shabu could be the new plague but everyone preferred to look the other way – out of fear, maybe? Or just plain indifference, which is worse.

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In the course of fulfilling his campaign promise, President Duterte ordered a “relentless and sustained” war on drugs – a bloody one at that, as he declared it would be at the outset. Before long, loud cries of “human rights” and “extrajudicial killings” rang out in unison like the sound of an orchestra being steered by an unseen conductor, painting the grim picture of a country wilting under the control of a madman, with cherry-picked information being fed to foreign media and human rights organizations making out the country as a new Darfur, Aleppo or Kabul.

Did President Duterte ever threaten, much less issue an order, to kill law abiding citizens? Right from his inaugural speech, he said: “As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine.”

If that was not clear enough, in his visits at police and military camps all over the country, he kept repeating the same message: “Go after the drug addicts, pushers and dealers, the rapists, kidnappers, murderers and other criminals. Hunt them down and arrest them. But if they offer violent resistance, if you feel that your life is in danger, then shoot them.”

So, what to do with this leader whose “ugly mouth” and “boorish behavior” rankles the remnants of “civil society” who cannot seem to accept the fact that he is not one of their own, who cannot be “controlled” into bowing to them like he bows to the masses, and whose popularity baffles the mind in spite of his flaws and mistakes?

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A leader who is not afraid to own up to his shortcomings and ask for forgiveness (“I take full responsibility”, “Wala akong pride chicken,” “Fair is fair”), whose loyalty is to the flag, not to a political party (“I am willing to give up my life, my honor and the presidency”), and who does not care what “image” is attributed to his person every time he opens his mouth (“I have many mistakes and faults in life. I am not perfect. But I will not change my character”).

This is also the same leader who has the political will to include the Left in national governance for the first time in the communist rebellion’s 47-year existence, impose an indefinite unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA and release political prisoners who are ranking members of the NDF to enable them to participate in the ongoing peace talks. Not to mention the similar peace talks with both MNLF and MILF. Which “statesman” has done that in recent memory?

If the media in general worries that much about the country’s image abroad, aren’t there enough accomplishments of the Duterte Administration to spread the word around, even as it has still to mark its 100th day? To improve the country’s “image”? Then again, good news does not sell. “Man bites dog” is more soundbites-worthy, while “Dog bites man” stories are panakip-butas lang. There goes the rub.

So. If push comes to shove, I’ll take the ramblings of a trash-talking septuagenarian – anytime, all the time – whose message is clear to me in spite of and/or due to constant repetitions, than the posturing of a so-called statesman who stares down at typhoon victims and tells them to their face: “Buhay ka pa naman, ‘di ba?”

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The silence of the beasts

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When was the last time that we saw hundreds – thousands in some places – of self-confessed drug addicts and pushers surrendering to authorities to have themselves counted and put on record – profiled, as it were – made to sign an oath, and ‘monitored’ for the rest of their waking days? Never.

Never before have we seen a spectacle worthy of an epic movie – of men and women, menor de edad and nakatatanda, lolo and apo, even lola, for crying out loud – trooping to basketball courts and barangay plazas; meek as lambs but admittedly in fear – courageous nevertheless for coming out in the open and identifying themselves as “adik” or “tulak”. When did they accept the reality – because addicts are mostly in a constant state of denial – that they are users of illegal substances and peddlers of death, and that they needed redemption? Only now.

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Only now are we seeing and believing that, my God, ang dami pala nila. So many of our countrymen have been living in the darkness wrought by drug addiction, some of them doing the malevolent act of luring innocents towards the same hell hole for a few hundred or thousand bucks. How, when and why have we as a nation come down to this? Where have our leaders led us to?

To a state of utter indifference. Cold and biting. The leaders we have elected in the past – from barangay halls to the corridors of Malacanang – knew but they chose the path of least resistance. Like monkeys that see no evil and hear no evil, they probably thought that by doing nothing, they are doing no evil. Which is a greater crime than greasing their palms with dirty money. Blood is dripping from their hands but they just shake it off and look the other way, unmindful of the stench pervading their protectorate.

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The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has reported that around 20.51 percent or 8,629 out of the 42,065 barangays nationwide have drug-related cases, with Metro Manila registering the highest incidence at 92.10 percent, followed by Region 4A (Southern Tagalog) at 38.78 percent. According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are an estimated 1.3 million drug users in the country. Additionally, a UN Report in 2012 showed that the Philippines has the highest abuse rate for methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, in East Asia.

Were those numbers not high enough for a country’s president – yes, the President because every single buck stops at his desk – to take a good hard look, grasp the imminent enormity and fire off directions to the agencies concerned? Those startling statistics could have gone up in succeeding years as even the remotest barrios have already been invaded by this menace. In the past, people in the provinces have been complacent with the thought that drug abuse was confined only at urban centers mostly due to the wide divide in lifestyles. Only the well-to-do could afford to buy illegal drugs – cocaine, LSD, marijuana, etc. Today, both rich and poor have become narcotics users, with only the type of substance distinguishing economic classes – shabu being the poor man’s ‘means of escape’ while the rich wallow in their own ‘ecstasy’ and can easily move on to more ‘sophisticated’ harbingers of doom.

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Poverty as an excuse to get into drugs is an insult to the hardworking lot who earn their living the honorable way – like police officers themselves who house their families in modest dwellings at villages built for servicemen. The ‘haves’ get away with their debauchery because they can. Money has become the primary purpose of most everyone’s existence – the poor for subsistence, the rich for self-indulgence. And those who were sworn to serve and protect both rich and poor have taken it upon their lack of conscience to succumb to greed and avarice.

Now some sectors – those whose hearts are bleeding for criminals who, they say, are being summarily killed – are hueing and crying over alleged human rights violations, lack of due process, resorting to extrajudicial means and, shudder, shudder, turning the country into a huge killing field. They focus on the few who fell by the wayside but ignore the thousands who have turned themselves in and are given the choice to go on rehab, do community service, or apply at Tesda, among other things.

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Would those bleeding hearts rather that the so-called dregs of society proliferate their trade and extinguish the Filipino Family with the plague that is slowly gnawing at the fibers of their young? Should we just close our eyes to the heinous crimes that they commit without scruple? The rape and murder of children? The guns for hire who ride in tandem? The thieves who massacre mothers and toddlers right inside their living rooms? The mothers who maltreat their three-year-olds? The not-s0-petty felons who hold up passengers of buses and jeepneys, taxi drivers who rape and rob female passengers, mobsters who steal cars, even bicycles in broad daylight? The big crooks in government who help themselves without compunction on the people’s money?

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How many families have one pusher ruined by enticing one innocent member into their way of life? Ten, twenty, a hundred per pusher? Not to mention the drain in the already limited financial resources of these families because their addict children resort to selling property and even stealing just to keep up with their “cravings”?

Was anybody listening when President Duterte warned that it is going to be bloody? In the same breath he said that abuses if committed will not be tolerated. Better that than “business as usual”.

“Business as usual” being that Filipinos are resigned to the certainty of perpetuating the drug menace and watching families being besieged by it. There is no lesser evil here, and while killing should not be condoned, what if criminals ask for it? So sue the police for not doing their job. The Solicitor General says the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty will apply in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

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To the indignant members of civil and upright society, ask yourselves these questions: Would you feel safe to live in a neighborhood infested by drug addicts and drug pushers? Would you know what to do when faced with a drug-crazed individual intent on doing you harm?

Of course we can do better than just keeping silent until God knows when. Silence is the rule of the beasts who brought the Filipino people to this sorry state. Many of us don’t want to be silent anymore.

Freedom of information

generals2If President Duterte was fed wrong and “poison” information as the generals allege, would they provide him the “right” stuff in order to, as they say, clear their names? Would they incriminate other men in uniform or would they implicate their patrons – i.e. politicians?

But if indeed they are blameless and their records spotless as they declare, why was it convenient for them to look the other way while their fellow countrymen were being consumed at the innards by the drug trade? Why did they allow it to flourish when they have, in the first place, the responsibility to eradicate it? Doesn’t tolerating a crime make one an accessory to it especially if you are a law enforcer?

President Duterte, in one of his media interviews prior to assuming office (before media pissed him off, that is), related in detail how the ‘quota system’ (for lack of a better term) at the PNP hierarchy works – from the bottom up to the topmost and (probably) beyond.

But media failed to pick up such a significant piece of information which the public ought to know; perhaps because a) they were not listening b) they could not make out what the erstwhile mayor was saying due to his Visayan inflection c) it was not new to them as those things are just whispered about but not discussed in the open or d) their editors deleted it from their story. Donald Trump has a succinct description for the US version – ‘dishonest media’.

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Did the President violate any laws for announcing the names of the five generals? He is a lawyer and former prosecutor, he should know. He has a phalanx of legal experts around him to provide advice, they should know. Would he be so rash as to make accusations without standing on solid evidence?

The Communications Secretary said the testimonial and documentary evidences are being kept at the moment, not for release to the media as yet, for obvious reasons. And the basis for the naming of names are intelligence reports that the President of the Republic has access to – validated many times over.

Someone being interviewed on radio said Digong has been gathering data and building up dossiers since a year ago, before he even decided to run as president. It might not be a far-fetched idea that the generals themselves were informed beforehand. They were asked to just leave the service quietly or avail of early retirement like a few others of star rank did, including the Chief PNP who retired without fuss a few months before reaching the compulsory age to give way to his successor. Kung sumabay sila, hindi sana nahalata.

Would it be a stretch to think that they thought this President, who is unlike his predecessor by any bounce of the imagination, will observe their code of silence and allow them to go on with their business as usual?

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Public shaming is a violation of due process? See Tanauan, Batangas’ periodic parade of addicts, pushers and lawbreakers. Have any of them gone to court yet to sue the town mayor who, like Duterte, speaks softly but carries a big stick?

The President is exercising his strong political will at a scale never seen before in a long succession of leaders. If you are an honest and law-abiding government official, bureaucrat or functionary, being publicly humiliated should be the least of your concerns. But if you provide your families with a lifestyle not commensurate with your salary in government, then your happy days are over.

So, yes, cry your hearts out because your reputations have been smeared. But did you ever shed a tear for the millions of Filipinos who suffered the scourge of illegal drugs under your watch? You go through the motions of raiding drug dens and seizing contraband, but more often than not, the culprits were nowhere near the scene of the crime. Were they tipped off? How many “ninja cops” – those who recycle seized narcotics and put them back on the streets for sale to innocent kids – have you put behind bars?

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The Big Brick Wall – i.e. General Bato – said that there are more names in Digong’s list but they are still being verified. The 35 or so local executives that the President has hinted as being on the drug trade as well should be on pins and needles now. DILG Secretary Sueno has just revealed on a morning TV show that the list has grown to 200, targeting mayors, governors and barangay captains. Again, they are being subjected to thorough verification but their names will be revealed sooner or later.

If in the end, he is proven to have erred on the side of discretion, then it would be interesting to see how the man called The Punisher will fess up to his mistake. What is apparent, though, is – not only are people (addicts and pushers) surrendering in large numbers on a daily basis in many parts of the country; many citizens are also volunteering morsels of information that they have known all along but were afraid to tell the authorities. If that is not change, then Mar Roxas is president.

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Mocha

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Some members of mainstream media have been frothing in the mouth at this lady for scoring an exclusive interview with the Incoming President. What, a “sexy entertainer” out scooping ‘legitimate journalists’ for a full, albeit edited, 15-minute audience with The Digong? A ‘TH’-blogger with 20 million hits outsmarting the big names in news and broadcast media? I say, eat your hearts out.

What you sow, so shall you reap. If you planted ill will, do you expect to gather good seed? Nope, it is not retribution (vis-à-vis Duterte’s ‘justification’ as to death penalty for heinous crimes) or vengefulness (the favorite word to use against the Outgoing President). It is about putting people in their right places. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Media has become too powerful even for their own good, the kaakibat (paboritong bigkasin ng mga TV news reader these days) responsibility is now just an afterthought.

So, Mocha Uson (yes, the lady has a full name) delivered to the Incoming President a list of concerns aired by some of her 3.7 million followers on Facebook (who among you, media high horses and casual critics have at least 1,000 ‘likers’, fans, or whatchamacallit on your numerous accounts in social network sites?) and the latter gave more than a perfunctory look at the papers given to him – he granted Mocha an impromptu exclusive interview. What more can a much-maligned, routinely looked down upon (because of her livelihood? Or lack of high society DNA?) “sexy entertainer” dressed in decent clothes and speaking respectfully to a person in authority ask for?

A legitimate SCOOP. Because the new President. Does not want to speak directly. To mainstream media anymore. For reasons. Everybody now knows. And which unbelievers. Continue to twist and turn. To suit their own purposes. Who cares? But their own kind. And the rest of us. Who voted for change. Don’t give a hoot.

The ‘scoop’? President Duterte said the owner of ABS CBN (he actually mentioned the Lopez scion’s name) attempted to bribe him to grant Sky Cable a permit to operate in Davao City, saying that they were apprehensive because the existing cable operator was a friend of the mayor. Pissed off, the mayor asked for a blank application form, signed it and waved them off. He told the interviewer to put it on record that Lopez said Davao was the only place in the country where they did not have to do a payoff.

(Not that we have not known long before where local executives get their ‘extra’ income, but now that President Duterte has confirmed it, should we look at our mayors, governors, congressmen and senators – even barangay captains – in a whole new different light or do we say, what else is new?)

Going back to Mocha Uson. Those who have been judging her based on an intermittent and cursory browsing of her blog entries presumably don’t know her back story and why she supported the erstwhile Davao City mayor during the past campaign, volunteering her and her group’s services in sorties all over the country. It might not be worth anything to people comfortably ensconced in their ivory towers but where she’s coming from, many in the peripheries can relate.

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Her father was assassinated by four men riding in tandem. A brave and makabayan (Mocha’s own words) regional trial court judge who took a case no one would touch by a ten-foot pole because it involved a notorious gang backed up by politicians in their province. The gang leader was sent to jail and in the ‘normal’ course of things in this unfortunate republic of ours, good men die when evil men decide that good must not triumph over evil.

So, yes, Mocha Uson saw her father in Mayor Duterte. But malicious minds imply something more degenerate. That is their lookout, though. Harboring resentment towards a stranger is not good for the wrinkles.

And by the way, the Incoming President addressed her as “Ma’am”.

(For more insights on Mocha Uson, go to -http://www.philstar.com/supreme/2016/06/11/1591614/night-mocha-uson)