By Raïssa Robles
President Rodrigo Duterte has been making jokes about military coups being launched against him in successive days.
What he and his aides never ever mention is that Duterte is a proud member of a military-civilian group that once staged a series of bloody coup attempts against the late President Corazon Aquino in order to reinstate the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Recently, I got this curious query from my editor in South China Morning Post, who noticed that Duterte had a tiny tattoo on his hand. It was unusual for a head of state to have a tattoo, he said, explaining why he wanted to know more about its origin.
And so I asked Duterte’s former schoolmate, presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza.
And it turned out, Dureza has the same tattoo.
Here below is my story which the SCMP print edition carried with the title – a Marked man: Duterte’s tiny hand tattoo explained.
Thanks to the research I had done on the book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, I was able to give Duterte’s tattoo a historical context. Neither Duterte nor Dureza’s name came up as among the participants in the failed coup attempts against Mrs. Aquino.
But the fact that they are both prominent members would indicate that they do know how coup d’etats work or don’t work, as the failed coups show.
Duterte’s membership in the Guardians also gives more meaning to his recent jokes and statements on coups to active duty soldiers. On August 2, 2016, Duterte told the hastily assembled staff and patients at the army hospital, V. Luna Medical Center, after announcing he was going to build them a state-of-the-art hospital and speed up death benefits:
Sana naman ‘wag kayong magalit kung tama ‘yung ginagawa natin. Eh baka mag-kudeta kayo tapos nawalan ako ng trabaho. ‘Wag na mag-kudeta, tawagan mo lang ako sa Malacañang: “Hoy, Duterte, umalis ka diyan. Mag-take over kami.” “O, sige. ‘Di, halika kayo dito, announce ko: Mga kababayan ito ‘yung bagong mag-ano sa ating bayan, siya ang chairman, ito ang magpapadala ng gobyerno. Hala, sige. Ba-bye. Kayo na ‘yan. Uwi na ako.”
Pero kung… Kailangan tulungan tayo dito. Malinis na gobyerno. At, anong nasa inyo, aabot sa inyo ‘yan.
Since Duterte is a come-from-behind president in the recent elections, not as much digging was done on his life compared to, say, that of former Vice-President Jejomar Binay or former Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas. It is therefore in the spirit of knowing more about Duterte that the piece below was written.
Revealed: the secret meaning behind the tiny tattoo on the president’s hand
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte sports a tattoo of a soldiers’ group that once staged coups to reinstate dictator Ferdinand Marcos
PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 6:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 8:07am
Verbally, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is a “Leftist” and a “Socialist”.
Etched, however, on his right hand is a small tattoo marking him out as a ranking member of Guardians Brotherhood, a soldiers’ group that once tried to topple then-president Corazon Aquino because she had leftists in her cabinet and to reinstate the ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte’s presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza confirmed to South China Morning Post that the tattoo on Duterte’s right hand just below the fold of the thumb and index finger stands for the “Magic Group” of the Guardians Brotherhood. He is the first ever Philippine head of state to sport a tattoo.
“It’s a secret cult,” Dureza jokingly said.
Turning serious, Dureza – a former schoolmate of Duterte – said he too was a member of the same Magic Group and he showed the Post the same tattoo.
“We are members of Guardians Brotherhood. It’s a fraternal group of people. It started as a military fraternal group. Then they got also civilians as members,” Dureza explained.
According to its website, the Guardians Brotherhood started out in 1976 during Marcos’ Martial Law as an informal soldiers’ group known as the “Diablo (Devil) Squad”.
This was ordered disbanded by Marcos’ spy chief General Fabian Ver and former members formally registered it with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a self-help group to improve soldiers’ welfare. A civilian component of mainly lawyers was added.
It started as a military fraternal group. Then they got also civilians as members, Dureza explained.
At one point, seven out of every 10 active soldiers and officers were Guardian members, according to the “Davide Commission”, a fact-finding body led by the former chief justice Hilario Davide that investigated the series of failed military coups against the late president Corazon Aquino from 1986 to 1989.
To read the rest, pls. click on this link.
Below is a video that accompanies my story:
P.S. Don’t forget to read the Comments on my story in SCMP. It shows just how pathetic Philippine history has been taught to Filipinos. Fidel Ramos was Marcos’ Vice-President?????
Marcos had NO VICE-PRESIDENT. He was allergic to vice-presidents.
Which is why I am very suspicious of Duterte’s moves to change the 1987 Constitution. It will abolish the post of the Vice-President, in effect removing Vice-President Leni Robredo from office. A constitutional coup against the VP.