Friday, July 14, 2017

When a state uses terror to impose itself upon its citizenry, what now?

What right do you have if a particular government or state does not necessarily pursue the national will as expressed in the laws and the Constitution? Do citizens have a remedy when a government of a state uses coercive power just to impose its legitimacy over its constituents?

Many are criticizing Mr. Duterte over his morals. Many, especially that segment of our society who consider themselves as "morally upright" always take umbrage over social media when Duterte starts cursing again. This segment I call the "urbanidados," those who are accustomed to see a state exercising Victorian like behavior.

In the real world, having or even exercising a moral code does not work anymore. The world is harsh. It is peopled with groups of influentials with their own interests. These groups use money and political influence in pursuit of both their fiduciary goals and power trips. When the social order is dictated not by laws, but of men, being moral is not anymore the proper response to such violenvce  of the times. Machiavelli is even more emphatic---one should be above the others to maintain power and political legitimacy.

Duterte's behavior was a cause of concern during his first half of the year rule. As expected however, people are now beyond his curses and are now focusing rather closely on his policies. Which policies support the national will as expressed in the Constitution and which policies do not? Which campaign promises were effectively met and which were not?

Really now, if we are to judge Mr. Duterte on behavior alone as a basis of support or non support, I am sure the president already received a bad score and probably had been languishing in jail now. Mr. Duterte should be assessed based on his adherence and competence in governance.

What if his public pronouncements are treated as policies? Then, we have a problem, a problem so serious that it took an Ombudsman, Conchita Morales, to point this out to us.

Today, Morales took the floor and says that it is extremely dangerous for Mr. Duterte to issue statements of support with the likes of Superintendent Marcos who was one among many cops accused of murdering or assassinating an elected official suspected of drug dealing. Morales sees Mr. Duterte's statements as encouragements for bad behavior.

During Marcos' time, the Philippine Constabulary which served as the police force, came under extreme fire from the population for their legendary abuses in human rights and their militarist approach to public order and security.

For over 30 years, we struggled to transform the PC into what is now our Philippine National Police (PNP) with an obvious intent to make it act more like a civilian organisation rather than militarist. Thousands of hours were spent researching, experimenting and training PNP personnel on the proper ways of securing order in society without breaching the Bill of Rights. After many years, the relationship of the PNP with the general population took a positive turn mainly on the basis of effective leadership and stewardship of leaders such as now Senator Panfilo Lacson, Roberto Lastimoso and Edgardo Aglipay. These leaders held the organisation together and effected discipline among the ranks and got the public's approbation.

Yes, there were several instances of abuses committed even during these leaders' time yet not as monumentally brutish compared with what is happening now.

Extra-judicial killings are on the rise, a tacit violation of the social contract of the Duterte administration with those of the Filipino people. We simply don't know how many of those 8,000 people killed during this second phase of anti-drugs campaign were innocent victims or really guilty. What we try to gloss over is the fact that whether a person killed during these times is innocent or entirely evil is irrelevant. The fact is, we have laws and a Bill of Rights to follow. Justice is blind. It does not distinguish. It gives value to forensic evidence, acts consciously undertaken which violates agreed norms of behavior. It does not speculate. It avoids metaphysical assertions.

We condemn the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group for their Kangaroo courts and how they dispense justice in their respective territories but we simply ignore the wanton disregard for life, liberty and property of some of our police forces over the lives of ignorant, poor and destitute folks living in depressed communities.

When states act like brutes and behave like how terrorists do, what now? On whose laws do we derive legitimacy?

Some theorists say it is perfectly legitimate for states to use coercive force against its people for self-preservation. I agree. Such a statement is acceptable when the state is besieged by its political enemies, or at war with other states, or simply incapable of asserting control over its territory.

Do we experience such a state now? Do we have general disorder? Is our bureaucracy functioning well below our expectations? Are we so poorly governed and is there disobedience and widespread anarchy that justifies the use of coercive force upon us, citizens of this Republic?

When the very leader of a state encourages its security forces to behave like terrorists, then, what now? Are we going to sit and watch these ghastly and bloody events past by without any of us even lifting a finger?

We need to go beyond the issue of political legitimacy and question the avowed policies of the present dispensation and try to compare these with the stated policies as expressed in our Constitution.

The fact is, the Constitutionalist amongs us, those persons who believe in the supremacy of the Basic Charter, should take the bull by the horns and lead in the charge.

We agree that we live in a country peopled by different tribes, of differing values and sets of traditions. This Constitution simply holds us together. It expresses our collectivity.

Our collectivity and unity as a people is not abstract or theoretical--it is Constitutional. When masses of people who deemed themselves "Filipinos" voted en mass for the implementation of the 1987 Constitution, they did so on the basis of their conformity with the expressed provisions contained therein. These Filipinos gave their individual freedoms to the state on the presumption that the state is the means to realize the will as expressed in that basic charter.

That is the social contract.

When the very state itself promotes the breach of this Constitution, when the state itself promotes violence upon its citizenry and when the state uses coercive force just to prove its political legitimacy, then, this contract just simply, fades away, as if no contract ever existed.

There is simply no recourse but to take action simply on the basis of insulating not just this present generation from the genocidal atrophy and the moral paralysis afflicting our society right now.

When we allow such sacrileges against our collective values, we are rewriting our very Constitution unwittingly or wittingly and allowing men with viscous behavior dictate themselves upon us without our legitimate agreement.

When these things happen, what then prevent us from revolting against this assault of our values? Nothing! We must exercise our Constitutional right to conservative revolution when our leaders try to change our system and allowing their own concepts to rule over us sans our expressed support. David Williams (1994) said so himself in his article, " The Constitutional Right to Conservative Revolution"--that peoples have the constitutional right to revolution to preserve the very Charter that promotes order.

Meaning, we revolt based on a just cause--a cause to preserve the collective values expressed in this Constitution which is being assaulted by people who derived their power from the very charter they are now consciously setting aside and are in effect, trying to destroy.

Thus, revolution now becomes a civic duty of all citizens who believe in the supremacy of the Constitution and the law.