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A concerted effort against him

Passion of Christ-Bearing of the Crossis what Duterte calls the ICC preliminary investigation (link). Isn’t that a bit like a counterflowing driver in Manila who sees everybody driving the wrong way around? Funny though that in Manila, those who insist on their right of way against such jerks can be seen as obstructive. So it might well be that Duterte might get sympathy for effectively showing contempt of court, painting himself as a victim of oppressive foreign forces – even if he is seen as a coward by many already. That might just be my “yellow” (Westernized, educated) bubble though, just like those who sympathize with Chief Justice Sereno. Who knows what the typical man on the street or the OFW in Saudi Arabia thinks of CJ Sereno, does he see her as an arrogant bitch who refuses to leave even if “many people” (link) don’t like her as a boss anymore? Or didn’t people ask Maggie Dela Riva once “how it feels to be responsible for the death of four men”? (link) Her answer was: “I’m not responsible for the death of four men. They did it to themselves. They had the power of choice. They chose to be evil. They had to meet the consequences of their action.” They had raped her, a famous actress, back in 1967.

Facing the Consequences

Dela Riva’s idea of people having to face the consequences of their actions seems downright quaint if one looks at the sad state of the Philippines today. The President himself, quintessential Filipino everyman, shirks the consequences of his actions. Leaves the ICC, tries to impeach a Chief Justice who admonished him due to drug lists that included judges, puts a Senator who tried to investigate extrajudicial killings in jail based on testimonies of alleged drug lords who now have been released by his own Secretary of Justice, gives the mastermind of the pork barrel scheme Witness Protection and will most probably use her testimony against political rivals – while many of those originally accused are free. Or isn’t there a Vice-Presidential Candidate over 60 who still acts like a petulant, spoiled dictator’s teenage son who refuses to acknowledge obvious defeat in the last elections? He may well be still able to rig things, much like Admiral General Aladeen of Wadiya in “The Dictator” (link) who has servile minions rig a sprint for him while shooting down those who get too near. Counterflowing drivers, wang-wang politicians, children of dynastic politicians – similar attitudes.

Even in middle-class families it can be bad enough. One woman who dared take her philandering husband to court for bigamy in the late 1960s was vilified by her husband’s folks – he got pity. Spanish colonial accounts of Filipinos in court mentioned that each side tried to show up in as large as possible numbers to make it look as if their own side was right. For me, one of the biggest culture shocks when coming to Germany was reading that courts really give smaller sentences when a culprit shows a sense of regret. Filipino courts might see it as drama and give a greater sentence. Friends might tell the culprit what kind of fool are you to admit, stupid enough if you get caught! There is no true presumption of innocence in the culture. And indeed – corruption, extortion and dishonesty prevail. Mila Aguilar said in a Facebook post that the Juan Pusong (link) or trickster attitude is quite common among Filipinos and that Duterte is a prime example of that Visayan folk hero. And there is a certain disbelief among many that the Daang Matuwid government of former President Aquino could ever have been that honest. Some examples of possible bias are mentioned.

Them or Us

There are pressures to be biased. There was even once a Filipino overseas association where the clique of its President tried to pressure him to rig a raffle so they could win the main prize. There can be enormous petulance and even a sense of being treated unfairly if one is not favored. The massive incompetence of most Duterte appointees is an extreme manifestation of this attitude. At least most appointees of the previous President were competent, even if there always will be some favoritism in this world, even in the corporate world with its harsher, more competitive winds.

And though there may have been some rigging the game in the previous administration, the present administration is downright antisocial in its ways, just barely even minding the legality of matters. The pre-Marcos elites were monopolistic and exploitative for sure, but a certain sense of decency and at least keeping appearances kept things polite. Even the Marcos era tried to maintain a certain veneer of legality and propriety. Nowadays one has a sense of piranhas in the water, biting away. And a constituency that mostly does not seem to mind if poor people die – for their peace of mind.

Do Others Matter?

Possibly not much different from their President in showing (link“gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness”. One only needs to look at the dirt in most Philippine urban waters – notable exceptions like Iloilo City prove the rule. Or also a “grandiose sense of self-entitlement” – or what do barangay councilors have who build their houses on allotted green spaces as I recently read? Or wang-wang convoys, or counterflowing drivers. My way or the highway. Sing My Way the wrong way and you might even get killed. When is the point reached where society barely exists and most people act in an antisocial way? Rule of law becomes a farce the moment everybody cheats, from top to bottom. Where the call for violent solutions is sheer desperation. That all did not happen overnight. A society where people become ruthless, ready to “violate the rights and feelings of others” (also in Duterte’s psychological report) may already have started to develop in times when people laughed at a child made to dance ridiculously at Wowowee. It may have been there when people took smiling pictures of themselves in front of the bus where Hongkong tourists were killed.

The roots of it may even go as far back to people reelecting known rapists like Mayor Sanchez and Governor Jalosjos. There is not necessarily ruthlessness there, but indifference that tolerates evil. Or that accepts evil as good if it is for one’s own convenience, like for example “clearing the streets”.

Such a system eats itself up at some point. Rules become merely tools for winning instead of being there to guide the fundamental consideration for others that should be at the heart of any society. Yes, others. Even those – whose heads one hunted before. Culture and civilization are about that.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 17 March 2018

2 comments to A concerted effort against him

  • https://www.facebook.com/alma.anonas.carpio/posts/10215748826855945

    Okay, people surrounding the President, FYI, here are the things that make him look like a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings.”

    1. Mr. Duterte’s OWN statements that he will kill people, that killing people in drug raids is “maganda,” that he will kill more people than the number of people who died in the Holocaust. They’re on YouTube, documented by the news, and I am very sure NOBODY held a gun to his head to make him say that. I have absolutely no input on whether there are voices in his head telling him to say these things, so that’s not on the table.

    2. The frequency of killings on mere suspicion and hearsay that the murdered were involved in any way with illegal drugs. These killings have been reported by media, complete with photographs, interviews, data obtained from the PNP and with all the documentation these journalists can obtain and properly vet.

    3. Mr. Duterte’s OWN statements to the effect that he does not hold human rights in high regard, nor does he respect any agencies, local or international, that uphold human rights. Again, these are on YouTube, in the reports of news media, and, even, repeated by members of the PCOO.
    It is no wonder he comes across as #KatayDigong. And that isn’t even the tip of the #DU30 iceberg of bad public image.

    Kindly inform the President that these are what are giving him that infamy he decries now. Buntot niya, higlatin niya, kamo. Kthxbai.

  • https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/rule-law/daimons-wisdom (excerpt)

    ..Scala demands to know: But are we right, after all, to venerate written laws? Why shouldn’t we follow the example of the Spartans? They avoided endless lawsuits by simply doing whatever the wealthiest citizens decided. Another well-known substitute for laws, he points out, is the judgment of a prince or his proxies. The Turkish sultan delegates full judicial powers to pashas, who decide criminal cases without written laws.. Surely we should trust a few good men to grasp natural laws more truly than the low-life tribe of lawyers?..

    ..If we could find one or a few trustworthy men to make and apply our laws, Bernardo agrees with Scala, that would save the rest of us a lot of trouble. But even the wisest people disagree about what is just or unjust by nature. We have no choice but to make laws by common agreement, and to take whatever pains we must to try cases as fairly as we can..

    ..Bernardo echoes Plato, this time the philosopher’s dialogue the Laws, fountainhead of most later ancient and early modern thinking about the rule of law. The worst form of ignorance, Plato tells us, is conceit of one’s own wisdom, which takes the most extreme forms in the very powerful and rich. Any man who thinks “he can play the leader to others” without laws to guide him, Plato’s main speaker says, “has been deserted by God.” Though “many people think he cuts a fine figure,” before long he “brings himself, his home, and his state to rack and ruin.”..

    ..Without laws, he has Bernardo Machiavelli say, “cities and states” are “nothing but bands of robbers” where the cunning and violent harass the rest. Good laws are our mightiest arms. By setting bounds to self-love, they help win us friendships, which in turn help bring victories to our troops and triumphs at home. And as Plato said, if anyone should claim to be an expert whose political knowledge is superior to the laws, “such a person must be called a tyrant.”..

    ..Florentines had a talent for sprouting factions, and in the first flush of freedom they went straight for the throat: suspected Medici henchmen versus the exiled family’s enemies, defenders of popular government versus patricians who preferred oligarchy, friends of the city’s military commander versus those who called him a turncoat. Leaders of all these factions had few qualms about rejecting due process to save friends and hurt foes. Several high-profile men were executed on trumped-up charges without a fair trial, or with no trial at all. The most damaging case involved a forced confession from a Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola, who had urged his followers to capture the republic’s laws for God and legislate an ascetic morality. Savonarola’s death by fire in Florence’s lovely central piazza ended his crusade. But the prosecutors’ methods made Florentines lose faith in the claim that the republic’s laws were transparent, unselfish, and dispassionate..

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