Sunday, September 4, 2016

Duterte fell into a trap when he declared state of lawlessness

Is the declaration of a "state of lawlessness" another joke? Are we becoming a government of endless knee-jerk reactions? Is governance now such a trifling matter that a mere bombing of a city necessitates a declaration of putting the entire Philippines under a "state of lawlessness" without our dear president ever looking his legal dictionary first what it means?

Wittingly or unwittingly, Duterte made the ASG famous again when he immediately declared that the Philippines is in a "state of lawlessness." What madness! Even without studying its implications, this president immediately grabbed the latest opportunity for him to amass more power. This is dangerous.

Malacanan should have studied first what the President meant by "a state of lawlessness" because yes, it is in Section 2 of Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution where the President is given the power of "calling out the Armed forces" to "suppress lawless violence, etc."Yet, it does not give him the power to just allow state security forces to violate due process by allowing warrantless arrests and the sorts. Many of Dutertistas think that this declaration already allows their president to do things outside the law. Wrong.

This declaration harms instead of benefit the government and the people. First, it portrays the Philippines as in the state of disarray and chaos following a terror attack. This plays in the hands of the terrorists who actually want that to happen. Second, this will surely affect normal business operations on Monday and onwards. And third, the president hopes that, with this declaration, it would shield the actions of his forces involved in the anti-drugs campaign. Wrong again.

Sincerely, this declaration harms us more as a nation rather than we benefit from it. It will just put into motion, a cycle of confusion, chaos, war, and lawlessness instead of stopping it in its tracks. The more violence this government promotes, the more violence and attacks happen especially on the ground.

There is still about a month before his 100th day in office, yet newly installed president Rodrigo Duterte faces his most daunting challenge to date. And if you think of it, the blame lies squarely on him for believing that the strategies he successfully implemented in Davao would actually work throughout the Philippines.

As what former vice president Teofisto Guingona once said, " you can fool some people some of the time, but you cannot fool the people all the time." Duterte knows that any successful anti-criminality campaign depends on the width and breadth of the territory. Being a contiguous area, Davao can be highly managed by such a man like Duterte who exhibits extraordinary courage and political will. However, apply the very same framework in such an archipelagic country such as ours requires a re-examination.

For one, there are existing complexities in the Philippine state brought about by a myriad of relationships and of interconnecting interests of different personalities and parsonages. The Oligarchs have perfected the Art of Domination, that it would take a force bigger than Duterte for these people to finally succumb and admit defeat.

The Philippine state is complex. There are many strongmen as there are weaker ones. These strongmen have their own turfs which they have maintained for decades, and taunting them, drawing them to fights would surely not work. These maleficent forces have survived the test of time, and no populist leader such as Duterte would ever succeed against them without really creating his own stronger force, a force which involves at least two or more institutions.

The thing is, Duterte believes that he has so much political capital that these are enough to support his desire for change. His close associates also feel invincible, and they are doing their thing, allowing corruption within their designated turfs and even playing the "commissions game" with these old timers. While we are being kept busy reacting against indiscriminate killings in the name of fighting drug syndicates and their tentacles, Duterte's men keep themselves busy getting their fair share of the loot in government operations.

Let's call a spade a spade---this overly ambitious anti-drugs campaign has the markings of a PR stunt meant to hide from plain sight the true nature of the Duterte administration--an administration composed of former Arroyo operatives, some FVR men, a few Estrada associates and Aquino associates left out by the Liberals. If this administration thinks that it can hide its true face for six years, they better examine their brains. Eventually, people would awaken from this political fantasy and militate against rising repression and suppression of their rights as a people.

I am with Duterte when it comes to his desire for change. I am not with him when he appointed some of his associates with previous graft charges against them, and political allies with ulterior motives occupying sensitive posts in the bureaucracy.

Duterte has achieved what no other president had---a fairly strong persona widely accepted by the people. Yet, he stands to lose all of these because he is being mishandled by his very own associates.

For example, this declaration of a state of lawlessness. Apparently, this is a knee jerk reaction from someone who is simply a local government official pretending to be president. I'm sure this declaration was not thoroughly studied by Duterte or his associates. Because, quite honestly, it was a wrong move.

Duterte played into the hands of the terrorists and his political opponents when he immediately placed the entire country under this condition, which fueled even more speculations as to his weakness as a leader and an astute stateman.

This was exactly what Duterte's enemies wanted--for him to worsen his relations with state institutions by showing his dictatorial tendencies. Anti-dictatorship and pro-democratic forces are very strong as institutions in the Philippines and this declaration would just lead to a consolidation of these forces together.

Worse, Duterte's declaration also showed how weak this administration really is. As a lawyer, Duterte knows that there is nothing to be gained in that declaration but he went for it, not knowing that it was a trap perfectly laid for him and the intended result is really see him fail.

Duterte must have forgotten his history lessons--- when you expend state resources for war, you put to risk everything. And when you undertake a war, a war that is not exactly planned but just to prove your bravado as a "strong man", be prepared to lose.

When Duterte threatened the ASG with war, he actually placed himself and his administration in peril. The AFP has been campaigning against the ASG for years, and they know that military tactics alone cannot defeat this scumbags. Duterte played the game of the hawks and he has to prepare himself for the consequences.

Duterte is blinded by his own propaganda of invincibility. He thinks that he is strong enough to fight institutions of the state and that of his enemies.

Duterte is probably thinking that opposition to him is weak, and these forces are not sufficient to make him fail through a coup or a revolution. He is definitely mistaken.

With a machinery that is so amateurish particularly in terms of handling his communication, Duterte is placing himself in a very risky situation that could result in his early ouster as a leader. The signs of failure are there, and his political enemies are just waiting for the right time for them to strike. They smell blood.

People say, Duterte is expected to go the way of Erap. They are wrong. Erap resisted for nearly 3 years. This one could be earlier than expected.

Duterte can avoid going down as a leader if he stops thinking that he is the man. He must use his wits now, and entangle himself from this trap. There is still time for him to do exactly that. Yet, he needs veteran propagandists to make it happen, otherwise, Duterte may become the very first president who did not survive two years.