Friday, March 17, 2017

Duterte's 1st Impeachment: Allowing China to conduct research at Benham Rise a flagrant violation of Charter

Just what I feared---an impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. This will kickstart a campaign against the first trash-talking yet well-meaning Chief Executive this country had the privilege of electing into office.

Many people are just brushing this off as a propaganda stunt (Presidential Legal counsel Sal Panelo), an idiotic move (Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez) and a plane being piloted by "witless pilots" (Solicitor General Calida). Unlike Presidential spokesperson Abella who seemed worried yesterday that he literally found it quite difficult to describe what's happening, most of Duterte's men spewed a ton full of toxic descriptions of what Magdalo partylist representative Gary Alejano did when he publicly presented the first impeachment complaint against their 72-year old idol, who they often worship like a demi-god.

Several media observers including my friend Dax Lucas, found the timing rather "premature." Duterte has'nt warmed his seat for a year and those who blame him for the 8,000 deaths and counting already found him at fault, and in violation of the Constitution and even, describing the former Davao mayor, as a ruthless serial killer. Alejano found Duterte committing flagrant violations of his oath as Chief Executive for "inspiring" cops to kill innocent civilians, committing serious graft when he reportedly amassed billions deposited in several banks and allowing Chinese ships to conduct "marine research" at Benham rise.

Among the litany of accusations against Duterte, I think the most that stuck and really affected most Filipinos is that of the Benham rise issue. Duterte admitted that he knew the incursions and allowed it, without even consulting his "trusted" Defense secretary and his Foreign Affairs secretary, who both publicly admitted innocence on this. I pity veteran diplomat OIC DFA secretary Manalo who was thrust in this early on and the same feeling I felt when I listened to the voice of the SND. You can sense the pain Lorenzana, a former general felt when his Commander in Chief admitted before the public that he was not consulted and for what reason, he simply does not know even up to now.

This is dangerous because we, the Public and even I think several members of the Cabinet do not know how many more "secret dealings" this President entered into with his Chinese and Russian counterparts. If these dealings are of security matters, this is really serious because it places the entire Republic into a very dangerous and precarious situation.

How many of these dealings are "state secrets"? Duterte during his presidential campaign vowed transparency and even reportedly signed an Executive Order about the Freedom on Information. Yet, we now know that this vow of transparency has now shifted to a vow of secrecy, which is a serious threat to our democracy.

Everyone knows that even before another country's ships can enter our territory and conduct "research", it must first undergo a series of consultations and processes and eventually, be covered by an Executive Order. Let's ask our Executive secretary Medialdea if he knows this intrusion into our territory? Where is the Executive Order? And why is it that no Philippine agency was with the Chinese when they conducted "marine research."?

Clearly, our President broke the law when he allowed these Chinese ships to enter Philippine territory. Yet, seriously, I understand where Mr. Duterte is coming from.

Mr. Duterte still thinks that he can conduct state affairs like how he did with Davao for the past 22 years. Duterte admitted that much in his last speech, when he revealed that his role is just a braggart (payabang) and a local town executive. There is a reason why Mr. Duterte refuses to be called "President", even urging people to just refer to him as "mayor." Do you want to know why? Probably, Mr. Duterte sees himself only as mayor of a Chinese province. Inspite of all his pseudo-patriotic bravura, Mr. Duterte is simply, a Chinese by heart.

That explains why Mr. Duterte even allowed that photo showing him having supper with 15 other senators, as if the Republic of the Philippines is just a Republic of Davao, with its mayor spending time with the city's councilmen.

That photo means a great deal. It shows how our president really sees his role---that of a small town mayor handling serious state affairs. Worse, those senators whom Mr. Duterte invited compromised themselves and their integrity when they allowed themselves to have a photo with the President.

Why? Because if this impeachment complaint progresses, and unfortunately, goes to the Senate,  Mr. Duterte and his political allies will just use this photo showing 15 senator lackeys and declaring them all unfit to vote for Mr. Duterte's ouster as President. A simple photo with very serious state implications. And our dear beloved senators simply failed to grasp the dangerous implications of that dinner to our fate as a Nation.

Nevermind. As they say, impeachment is a numbers' game. It is likewise political, not a court proceeding. Mr. Duterte's allies are very confident that Congress will side with the 72 year old Chief Executive.

Sixteen years ago, I remember this very same scenario. Flashback, and we see President Joseph Estrada enjoying 44 % approval ratings and Congress firmly whipped under his party. Estrada was extremely confident, what with his buddy, Manny Villar at the helm as Speaker and at the Senate, an ally by the name of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Leftist groups were with Estrada, convinced by a charismatic tactician and former Marxist Horacio Morales. What Estrada does not have in his side was former president Fidel V. Ramos and most of the so-called "Yellowtards" or the Liberals, who was also mocked back then as a discredited and moribund political party.

In just two years, anti-Estrada rhetoric snowballed and thousands of people jampacked a portion of EDSA calling for the president's ouster. It was surgical. It was shift. Estrada left the palace and made San Juan his stronghold. However, weeks later, we saw Estrada being escorted out of his house and unto the CIDG where cops took his photo along with his son, Jinggoy. Eventually, the courts found him guilty and sentenced him to a prison term and the once tough talking Chief Executive spent his days inside a heavily guarded military camp, silenced, and his political stock dwindled to a minimum. 

His allies once bragged that it was next to impossible to oust Estrada, what with his 19 million voter base. When EDSA dos broke out, not one soul of those 19 million was ever seen.

Now, it's 2017, and we see the son of Aquilino as Senate president and a former DOTC executive who was previously linked with a scandalous airport deal is Speaker of the House. Like the Estrada administration, this very same administration is filled with sycophants and arse-lickers the likes of Sandra Cam and those Immigration Officers who act like they are demi-gods themselves and above everyone else. 

I really am very sad for Mr. Duterte. The guy is honest. His problem really is his ego. He does not listen. He thinks he knows everything and he can do the mighty work of nation-building on his own. 

He alienates rather than act as a unifier. He lies (Duterte was the one who said that only 2 out of 5 things he publicly says are true). 

Compared with Estrada, there is still some time for Mr. Duterte to redeem himself.  He can probably do that after his arrest by the INTERPOL. 

Those who bragged and those who thought that they own this country and its people, there is a time for reckoning, a season for everything.

Humble yourselves and maybe, just maybe, God will find a sufficient reason to keep all of you in your sinecures.