Carpio-jpg 070737according to Duterte (link). If one goes by “aksiyon” in street talk, maybe. He did not jetski. He did not swear. He did not even invite the Chinese to debate in Manila (link). Of course the winner of a public debate a la Duterte is defined by the crowd who “bilib” in the one who postures. By emotional affinity with the one talking – and the chance to taunt someone who represents something defined as the common enemy. Somewhat like the kind of taunts one has at the football field over here in Europe, the most tribal place we still have over here.


Of course someone with a warlord mindset says he will ignore the Supreme Court and the Constitution (link) on Martial Law.  And his Secretary of Justice will say that the Supreme Court is powerless against a Martial Law OKed by Congress (link). To hell with the laws one has sworn to obey that say otherwise. Almost the same attitude to laws as China which ignores the UNCLOS filing which was indeed pushed by Justice Carpio (link) – they seem to prefer Mao’s “power comes from the barrel of a gun”.

Power is a great aphrodisiac, which Kissinger allegedly once said to Mao, might be something Duterte and Bill Clinton could agree upon. What their daughters think of their fathers in this respect is as yet undocumented. Yet there is a difference of several shades of grey between putting a cigar somewhere, grabbing women by the pussy or joking about soldiers raping women in a war zone. Yeah, he is just joking I hear people say. He isn’t like some Yugoslavian warlords whose men really did such things.


So sure? Someone who invites non-army troops to join the fray against the Maute group (link) sounds crazy enough. Sounds more like a real warlord for whom every man with a gun is just a hired gun for the powerful, not legitimate troops to defend a Republic and its people. And his man in Congress, Speaker Alvarez, says Congress should listen to the President on Martial Law (link) – which runs completely counter to the separation of powers – executive, legislative, judiciary – the Philippines has in theory.

Of course it does not run counter to the many a Filipinos idea of authority. There is NO equality there, in fact I once heard a Filipino say there has to be a hierarchy of ordering and following, otherwise chaos will ensue. No idea of everyone being under rules that are higher than everyone. No sense of abstraction whatsoever. In that world, someone who “only” files a case before the UN is a useless paper-pusher. Trump and Xi Jinping are respected with their respective gunboats. The UN and EU are not.


Respect by Duterte for someone like Nur Misuari (link) who laid siege to Zamboanga in 2013 basically to “get some respect” – in the same sense as gang leaders in bad neighborhoods – is part of the same logic that only power constantly demonstrated is real power. A logic that only respects those that are willing to go to extremes. Discontent with Filipino institutions, perceived as elitist and ineffective, has been around for a while. But Martial Law, or even worse, Jungle Law are not the answers.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 1st of June 2017