By Raïssa Robles
This was a very difficult piece to write.
Not only because of the topic but also because of the viciousness of online supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, especially the bots and the trolls.
The middle ground for debate on the President’s most controversial policies is rapidly shrinking. Soon, merely questioning the President’s actions could be branded cyberterrorism. And so, before this happens, I decided to write two pieces.
The first piece – excerpted below – discusses Duterte’s moves that eerily echo those of his political role model, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The second piece – which I will wait for South China Morning Post to upload – is an interview with a retired general and a military historian on Martial Law. The general who is a Duterte supporter told me why he is against imposing Martial Law nationwide. The historian explained to me how Martial Law is a tool that can be used legitimately.
Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from my main piece published by South China Morning Post (HK):
QUESTIONS ON HEALTH OF DUTERTE – AND OF PHILIPPINE DEMOCRACY
President’s brief absence from public view reinforces fears over nationwide martial law
BY RAISSA ROBLES
18 JUN 2017
As fierce fighting in Marawi City between government troops and Islamist militants enters its fourth week, President Rodrigo Duterte mysteriously dropped out of public view for a few days, adding fuel to the speculation long swirling in the Philippines about the possibility of nationwide martial law.
Duterte failed to show up to Monday’s Independence Day celebrations and the traditional vin d’honneur at the Malacañang Palace was abruptly cancelled. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said he was “not feeling well” but was “in excellent health”. On Wednesday, with the president still a no-show, Abella told reporters, “There is nothing to worry about in terms of sickness, major sickness.” Duterte just needed time “to rejuvenate” from a “brutal” 23 days of war.
Duterte finally resurfaced on Saturday after five days, and joked he had a “circumcision”.
He has in the past admitted to having Buerger’s disease, or narrowing of the arteries due to excessive drinking, a spine injury, acid reflux and daily migraine. So fears about the health of the 72-year-old president will not go away in a hurry, neither will concern about the health of the country’s democracy, which Duterte has long been suspected of subverting for an eventual autocratic takeover.
he speed with which the Supreme Court is moving on the vice-presidential electoral protest of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr, for example, has alarmed many. Without naming Duterte, Vice-President Leni Robredo – whom Bongbong accuses of cheating in the election and who belongs to a rival party – sounded the alarm on Monday at the “Defend Democracy Summit”. She warned: “We are already seeing our institutions being eroded. They are already weakening. We must move swiftly…to ensure they are strong enough for our children and our children’s children.”
Robredo is the constitutional successor to Duterte but he has treated her like a political pariah. During his state visit to China last October, Duterte said Bongbong could be the next vice-president – if he wins the electoral lawsuit. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted Bongbong’s request to appoint a three-man body to accept evidence and testimonies from witnesses. No election dispute for the top two posts of the land has ever moved this fast.
To add fuel to the fire, Duterte said this month that he would happily hand over the presidency to Bongbong or his defeated running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano. Duterte is unable to do that under the 1987 constitution and plans to scrap the charter. A team appointed by him has been drafting a new one that would put in place a parliamentary-federal system, effectively abolishing Robredo’s post and likely removing all the present safeguards on the president’s martial law powers.
The present constitution limits such powers. The Supreme Court began a review last week into whether Duterte was justified in imposing martial law in all of Mindanao after Marawi City descended into chaos due to a failed operation by security forces to capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Islamist militant group, Abu Sayyaf. Marawi is the second most populous Muslim city in the Philippines, yet it would be easy now to mistake Marawi for a town in war-torn Syria. Over 200 people have been killed in the clashes there so far.
Cynics suggest Duterte’s raising of the Islamic State (IS) bogeyman is merely a pretext for taking a tighter grip on power. Their fear is not that the country is about to be overrun by black-flag-waving IS militants, but that Duterte is taking the country back to the past – harking back to a style of rule last employed by former president Ferdinand Marcos, from whose playbook Duterte has increasingly appeared to be borrowing.
The president’s chief government lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, said as some magistrates expressed fears of human rights abuses: “[Duterte’s] order of martial law is markedly different from that issued by President Marcos.”
SHADES OF MARCOS
For those with long memories, a threat of nationwide martial law should not be surprising. In last year’s presidential campaign Duterte had said: “I have no interest in running for president…I will only agree if people allow me to declare martial law.” He also promised a revolutionary government because “I have to stop criminality, corruption, and I have to fix government.” Things would “be bloody” only for the criminals and corrupt, he had assured.
But to those with even longer memories, parallels between today’s situation and that of Marcos’ reign are likely to prove discomforting.
The southern island of Mindanao, home to about 21 million mainly Christian people, is the site of two long simmering conflicts featuring both Muslim rebels (thought to number about 13,000) and communist dissidents (thought to number several hundred) who have been locked in on-off fighting with state forces for decades. It was to stamp out both groups that Marcos first declared martial law in 1972.
In the following four years, the war with Muslim rebels resulted in an estimated 50,000 casualties. These came on top of the wider toll from Marcos’ dictatorship, estimated to have resulted in more than 3,200 people being murdered, over 35,000 tortured and more than 70,000 being illegally detained. The regime also left a colossal debt of US$26 billion (the Marcoses were accused of stashing away US$10 billion) while over half the citizenry slid into extreme poverty.
So perhaps it’s understandable that when Duterte warned, “those of you [who] have experienced martial law … it will not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’ll be harsh”, it shocked the victims of Marcos’ 14-year dictatorship.
It did not help that Duterte also signalled his intent to resurrect one of the most notorious features of Marcos’ tyranny: the Arrest, Search and Seizure Orders (Assos). Duterte, a prosecutor under Marcos, insisted the post-Marcos 1986 constitution empowered him to issue Assos. “As to Assos, I don’t know if they are illegal or not, but it is the practice. Martial law includes arrest without warrant, search without warrant,” said Duterte, who described martial law under Marcos as “very good” and the late strongman as “the best” and “brightest” Philippine president ever.
THE MARCOS PLAYBOOK
To read the rest, pls. click on this link.
Martial Law in the entire Archipelago!
General Bautista tried to capture Hapilon in Marawi, but he underestimated Hapilon’s capability to defend his hideout.
While in Moscow, Duterte saw an opening and declared Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao, citing rebellion. To the surprise of the Military who themselves believed that rebellion is non-existent since they are only dealing with bandits and if to exaggerate their status to that of a terrorist. Note that terrorism is present in the US, European countries and in the Middle East, but they never declared Martial Law in order to fight terrorism. Also, according to our 1987 constitution:
Not even one of the three elements is present in Marawi on the failed capture of Hapilon. There is no rebellion, period.
Still, Duterte declared Martial Law! As expected, his lapdogs in the House of Representathieves readily supported Duterte’s declaration and with shameless show of brownnosing, they even added that they support Duterte to extend Martial Law until 2022. Lagman balked and reminded his colleagues in the House that it is their duty to convene and review the President’s declaration and discuss the merits of upholding or scrapping Martial Law, but Alvarez and his canine relatives in the kennel called Senate opined that there is no need to convene to prevent scrutinizing their master’s flawed declaration of Martial Law. Lagman had no choice but to go to SC to question the legality of the Duterte’s declaration and hoping that the SC Justices are not domesticated animals in contrast to the Representathieves. In the Philippines where TRO’s are traded like commodities, the majority of our SC Justices abdicated their duties for providing checks to the abuses of the Executive branch and subjugated themselves to their master Duterte out of loyalty or out of fear that they might catch cold and perish together with their families, courtesy of DDS.
While waiting for the SC’s decision on regarding Martial Law, Duterte ordered DOJ Sec Aguirre to downgrade the charges of murder to manslaughter the cases against the killers of Mayor Espinosa. This paves the way for having the killers to post bail.
With the SC’s decision favorable to Duterte, it led to Duterte be emboldened to order the reinstatement of the killers of Mayor Espinosa and to the dismay of the Senators, who made to look like fools and gave credence to Trillanes’ accusation that the Pro-Duterte Senators are lapdogs, Duterte ignored their recommendations of charging the killers of murder, instead he blatantly insulted them and taunted the whole country with his dictatorial actions.
Similar to Duterte’s failure to deliver his promise of getting rid of the drug menace within six months, the capture of the Mautes within three weeks has failed and Duterte realized that a protracted battle in Marawi gave him an excuse to ask an extension of Martial Law from the subservient lapdogs in Congress.
With the majority of Representathieves and Sinators under his beck and call, and with the majority of SC Justices in his pocket, Duterte is now ready to unleash his terror on the entire country, with the PNP and the Military as his enforcers!
With the faulty justification by the majority of SC Justices on expanding the area under Martial Law outside the area of battle Duterte now is prepared to declare Martial Law on the entire country.
Maybe we really need to go through the terror under Duterte in order for the Filipinos to go through an uprising and fight the number one terrorist in our country.
It seems Civil War is looming and inevitable that blood will flood our country.
Sorry for the delay in rescuing this from spam.
Just winding up some things.
martial law ni digong affects only civilians, with road blocks and less and less food reaching the bakwits in marawi city. people in neighboring sityos once they heard of food convoy, ambush the convoy and steals the food, nag-stock pile ng kahit ano-anong pagkain dahil pangmatagalan na ang martial law. looting and stealing is getting to be the norm . those areas cleared by the army ay dinagsa uli; looted, and to hide crime, sinunog ang mga gusali. wala kunong human rights abuses ang military, aba, hindi lang kasi reported ang mga iyon, baka pabagsakan na naman ng bombs ang lugar.
terrorists have no respect for martial law and not affected by it. sigi ang gyera, ganon din ang npa at abu sayyaf, business as usual sila.
and if you visit pawnshops, business is booming and you might just be able to find looted goods, furniture, jewels, at iba pang kagamitan. though some stolen goods are not pawned and now enhancing the homes of would you believe it – the military! their wives wearing stolen jewels, he, he he.
bangsamoro, peace and kapayapaan in mindanaw is much like digong’s jet ski: it’s all in the mind and nothing else.
mindanaw will not have peace so long as misuari’s name is banded about. misuari’s idea of peace is when he is obeyed and he gets his way, everytime and all the time, else there is only gulo of his own making. misuari is a terrorist and negotiating with him is foolish. digong must be blinded by his friendship with misuari.
if mindanawans want peace and kapayapaan badly enough, they’ll have it, bangsamoro or not.
You said it all Parekoy. . . Evil War is already here. Fresh and dried blood already looms our country. he he he
It’s in the bible that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.
It will be bloody indeed.
apparently, digong is full of guilt for having sent soldiers to their deaths, and terribly overcompensated by throwing billions of money at the military, giving them gifts like cell phones, relojs, etc. methink, guilt clouded digong’s judgement, the full equation he cannot see. the military will get 39billions kuno while marawi city will only get 9billions worth of rebuildings. like the sufferings of the maranaws are nothing compared to the sufferings of the soldiers.
to be effective, digong ought to keep his guilt under control, not let it control him. and should really be throwing billions of money at the military and give them pay rises, gifts and bonuses only after the completion of a job well done, and not before. else, why would the military work hardest, catch all the terrorists, and stop the war now when they’re into good money? maybe, if the war drags on for another year, they might receive 100 billions! he, he, he.
already the military is receiving very good severance pay on top of their normal pay. and at the moment, the most productivity the military can show for the billions of money they are about to receive is the ruins of marawi, the terrorists still not routed.
guys, digong is going to wear marawi inspired barong tagalog kuno for his 2nd sona on 24 of july. sana, may punit at butas butas yang barong gaya ng mga gusali sa marawi na halos durog durog, o kaya, may patak ng dugo yong barong, symbolizing the dead of marawi city at saka those that died sa friendly fires.
dapat the barong is smeared with the tears of those bakwits na halos nasawian ng buhay habang nasa evac centers, tabingi to honor those maranaws that are suffering mental problems. preferably, the material the barong is made of is from malong, the malong that people in evac centers use. at kung talagang gusto ni digong na maki-isa sa mga taga marawi, he should let a bakwit from marawi city read his sona address, or part of it.