Analysis by Raïssa Robles
Having immersed myself all of last year and the better half of this year on the late Dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ “Proclamations” and other issuance, I feel I have some working knowledge on the topic of emergency laws.
On the face of it, President Rodrigo Duterte appears to confine Proclamation No. 55 to the Abu Sayyaf problem.
As Commander-in-Chief, it is his prerogative to decide how best to meet the problem.
Having said that, I can’t think of any other Philippine president who met this problem with a “State of National Emergency” that applies to the entire country.
True, the Abu Sayyaf or elements sympathetic to it did plant a bomb on board a Super Ferry in March 2004. But President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not proclaim a “State of National Emergency” then.
You can read my piece on the Super Ferry bombing by clicking on the link below.
Nor did Arroyo declare a “State of National Emergency” when the bombing reached Manila, where a bus was bombed along EDSA in Makati City on Valentine’s Day. Here is my piece on that.
Now there’s a certain Section in Duterte’s Proclamation No. 55 which caught my eye.
“WHEREAS, based on government intelligence reports, there exist credible threats of further terror attacks and other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas.”
This section states that there are “credible threats” not only of “further terror attacks” but also by “other similar acts of violence by lawless elements in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas.”
This Section is no longer just talking about the Abu Sayyaf but has included a catch-all phrase – “lawless elements” and these are elements “in other parts of the country, including the metropolitan areas” – which would include the entire Metro Manila.
Whereas we know that the Abu Sayyaf is a specific group based in the south, we are not told who these “lawless elements” are — scattered across the nation include Metro Manila.
Recall what Peter Tiu Lavina, who started out as Mayor Duterte’s executive assistant and has been with Duterte for years, said after the bombing. Lavina said the likely bombing suspects included “an alliance of all anti-Duterte forces” that in turn includes the “Drug Lords” and “the political opposition providing the brains and the hecklers”.
Hardly reassuring is the second to the last paragraph of Duterte’s Proc 50 that states that all measures to be taken by the military and police would give “due regard to the fundamental civil and political rights of our citizens”.
Even with the Constitution fully operational at this time, too many questionable deaths have taken place as a result of Duterte’s aggressive “drug war”. In addition, we know how Duterte really feels about human rights.
Duterte’s Proclamation No. 55 also has no time limit.
Expect another proclamation soon that will elaborate on his fight against these “lawless elements”.
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I have been the recipient of many messages telling me to “move on”, “matanda ka na”, don’t be bitter”, etc.
They don’t try to understand what I’m getting at.
I am all for battling the drug menace, but I believe the problem is greatly exaggerated into a national crisis. The fact that there are too many people ending up killed by unknown elements show that the police is hardly in control of what’s going on in the streets. The police operations are also vulnerable to extortion by rogue cops.
The previous administration had “tanim bala”. How sure is the police force that “tanim shabu” is not going on among its ranks? It is for this very reason that previous administrations controlled anti-drug operations because of the big possibility of abuse and extortion.
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By the way, there is NO conspiracy or collusion among the foreign media to place President Duterte in a bad light.
BUT, there is a media FEEDING FRENZY now over Duterte and his “war on drugs”. Duterte just makes irresistible copy. Alan has been asked several times by BBC and RTHK to report on Duterte. Al Jazeera tried to get him for some interviews. A Dutch journalist also asked me about it.
Last week, one of the editors of South China Morning Post (HK) phoned me to ask me to do a “Newsmaker profile” on Duterte.
I did not ask for the assignment. My editor simply wanted a piece on a man who has been making headlines around the world.
My original title for my Newsmaker piece was “Duterte’s death-driven development”.
SCMP placed a different title but kept my text intact.
Here is an excerpt below:
The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte: saviour or madman?
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2016, 12:34pm
By Raissa Robles
When Rodrigo Duterte warned people, “don’t vote for me because it will be bloody”, he won the Philippine presidency by a landslide with 16.6 million votes. He had tapped into public anger, fear and helplessness against rising crime.
After two months in office, Duterte’s drug war has resulted in 1,900 deaths – 750 of them caused by policemen who said they acted in “self-defence” during “buy and bust” operations. The rest of the dead, murdered by unidentified men, are considered “deaths under investigation”, Police Director General Ronald de la Rosa told a Senate probe this week. Government critics say “DUIs” are extrajudicial or vigilante killings.
These unexplained killings have been laid at Duterte’s doorstep, since he has repeatedly encouraged killings as a way to solve nagging problems. Two years ago, while mayor of Davao City, he told rice smugglers to stop or “I will really kill you, I’m not joking.”
On August 18, he told citizens who were being made to go back and forth by government officials for processing their papers, “shoot them. I’ll take care of you, really”.
Now he seems to be turning the gun on China. A week later, giving his strongest statement yet against the country, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea, he warned that an invasion by China would “be bloody and we will not give it to them easily”.
Before this, he had called China’s Xi Jinping (習近平) “a great president”.
Murder and death are two themes that run through Duterte’s administration.
To employers who continue to practice “contractualisation”, or firing workers after five months to avoid making them permanent staff, Duterte said: “You choose: Stop contractualisation or I will kill you. I am the president.” Duterte’s office means he is immune from any legal suit.
Apparently seeing the shock register on the faces of the audience, Duterte added: “Ah, that’s just hyperbole.”
Taking a cue from the president, his new customs commissioner, ex-marine officer Nicanor Faeldon, told the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry last month what he would do with corrupt customs personnel who were costing the bureau 300 million pesos in taxes daily. “If I cannot touch them legally,” he said, “I will have to start shooting them one by one.”
Duterte was the first local politician to make killings a key campaign platform.
During his campaign sorties, the 71-year-old veteran politician repeatedly promised, to ecstatic standing-room-only crowds, that the fish in Manila Bay would grow fat from feeding on criminal corpses.
Although he told his former law school classmates after getting elected that he didn’t mind retiring with “the reputation of Idi Amin” – who was accused of murdering up to half a million people in Uganda – Duterte bristled when an international human rights group warned his “drug war” could turn into genocide. “Genocide is when you kill people for no reason at all,” he fumed.
He became furious when Agnes Callamard, UN rapporteur on summary executions, criticised last week Duterte’s bounty offer for “dead or alive” drug dealers and his shoot-to-kill order against politicians involved.
“My order is shoot to kill,” Duterte said. “I don’t care about human rights. Believe me. I don’t give a s**t about what they will say.”
Callamard said: “Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”
Apparently Duterte did care about what the UN thought.
Two days later, during a 3am press conference, he blasted the UN and threatened to pull the country from it and form a new group that might include China. Anyway, he said, the UN was useless. It had not ended wars and “had not done any good for the Philippines”.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay had to give an assurance that the pull-out would not happen. Yasay excused the president’s outburst saying: “The president was tired, disappointed, hungry when he made the statement.” Duterte then contradicted Yasay by saying he was just joking.
Duterte reserved his special venom for Senator Leila de Lima who had insisted on conducting a probe into extrajudicial killings this week and who had linked him to “Davao Death Squads” in 2009.
Duterte branded De Lima “immoral” for having an affair with her driver-bodyguard, whom he claimed was her conduit for pay-offs from jailed drug traffickers while she was still secretary of justice. On August 24, Duterte gleefully told reporters that De Lima – a legally separated woman – had found a new lover. Duterte named him even though he said this man was not involved in drug dealing.
De Lima admitted that she and her former driver-bodyguard were once close but strongly denied any drug links.
There is a case for believing the administration has been intent all along on death as a policy. The government has made no provision for accommodating the flood of drug addicts who, terrified by Duterte’s threats, have turned themselves in. Some sources say as many as half a million have already surrendered. Rather than be put in rehabilitation centres the addicts who surrendered were ordered to go back home, after their names and addresses were noted.
The murderers seem to have been using these names and addresses as a death list. Many of the victims so far had earlier surrendered.
Duterte, his aides and supporters look at the growing body count and don’t see a massacre. They see progress. DUIs are simply collateral damage in the attainment of a good thing, which is to eradicate crime, give every Filipino a comfortable and safe life and bring economic progress to the nation.
This week, as a Senate probe on “extrajudicial killings” got underway and the police finally gave official statistics on the kill rate, Duterte said: “We are 104 million [population], you [care] about – how many? – 1,600 being killed. You’re not even sure how many died in police encounters, how many committed suicide, how many were killed out of anger by others?”
His rage was understandable. He had promised to transform the nation into a booming Davao City, a pocket of peace in the country’s troubled south, where foreign investors flocked. Few residents there questioned Duterte’s extreme approach while he was mayor for more than 21 years.
Ernesto Pernia, former lead economist at the Asian Development Bank and now Duterte’s economic planning secretary, called the killings “a necessary evil” on the path to development.
Pernia blamed the media for giving foreign investors a biased, negative view of the administration’s war on drugs.
To read the rest, please click on this link.
Thanks to Doris Bigornia for posting on Twitter a copy of Proc 55.