THERE are a couple of profoundly sensational things President Rodrigo Duterte threatens to do, and he’s got us on tenterhooks waiting to see what he will finally do. Given his well-known track record, no one knows if he really means what he says, and what truly motivates him. Where crime specialists increasingly find the motive for certain crimes more elusive, we find ourselves at sea trying to divine why DU30 does the things he does and says the things he says while supposedly trying to convert an alleged negative2 percent trust rating to a full 80 percent.


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First, he has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Europe and give the European diplomats in the country 24 hours to pack up and leave. This was a real bolt out of the blue. Our contacts and familiar ties with Europe antedate our contacts and familiar ties with the new world. Europe was the intellectual and cultural homeland of our first patriots; it was there where Jose Rizal wrote the Noli and Fili; where Graciano Lopez Jaena and Marcelo H. del Pilar authored their most trenchant La Solidaridad pieces; where Juan Luna won the gold medal and international recognition for the Spoliarium; where Spain and the United States drew up (in the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris) the territorial boundaries of the new Philippine Republic.

Is Europe the enemy?
Just when and how did Europe become our enemy? As a Filipino, I would like to know; I am sure the Europeans, who must have thought they had a stable working relationship with the Philippines all these years, would also like to know. If Europe had become our enemy, shouldn’t DU30 order his diplomats and all Filipinos living and working there to come home, and his minions in Congress to declare war? Wouldn’t this be a wonderful way of putting to use the firearms shipment we have just received and will probably be receiving still from China?

Second, DU30 has threatened to install a revolutionary government if he sees the “Yellows,” the “Reds,” or any other group “destabilizing” his dysfunctional government. “Destabilization” does not have a universally agreed definition: DU30 tends to regard mere “dissent” as “dissidence” and therefore “destabilizing.” His attack dogs tend to denounce honest and constructive criticism as “detraction,” which, correctly understood, means exposing somebody’s private fault for no legitimate and sufficient public motive.

Shredding the Constitution first
Since a revolutionary government overthrows an existing constitutional order, this means DU30 intends to destroy the Constitution before any other party has the chance to destroy it. Since when has the total destruction of the Constitution become a sitting government’s legitimate response to any party seeking to overthrow that same government? This seems the most novel and absurd of all political theories, but it’s there.

In both instances, something seems terribly amiss. There is no sign that either pronouncement is the product of any deep, coherent or rigorous intellectual exercise. Both appear to be conclusions without any valid premises. In fact, if we have not heard DU30 personally making the threats himself, we could not possibly imagine the President of any fairly literate and civilized country or any President for that matter making such threats without choking in mid-sentence.

But DU30 has made them with the same apparent resolve with which he had threatened to destroy his drug-related targets, which had been quickly destroyed; it would seem foolish for us to ignore them or take any chances. So back to the first question: when and how did Europe become the enemy? Who put DU30 up to it?

European protesters
It would seem DU30 was reacting to a group of Westerners, including some European parliamentarians, that demanded that he “stop the killings” and “stop silencing dissent,” after visiting the Philippines under the sponsorship of Progressive Alliance, a private group critical of the killings. Short of proposing economic sanctions, the group suggested that the European Union tighten its terms of trade with the Philippines for human rights reasons.

At the same time, a director of Human Rights Watch suggested that the Philippines be removed from the UN Human Rights Council based in Geneva, which has condemned DU30’s record, and insisted that DU30 allow Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, to investigate the drug killings, without any preconditions or limitations.

DU30 may have been further incensed by one erroneous report, given prominent play in one newspaper, which claimed that a USAID assistant administrator for Europe and Asia was part of the European group. It appears that the individual concerned used to occupy that said position from 2016 to 2017 under the Obama administration, but had since become a private citizen. President Donald Trump has since named one Margot Ellis to the position. If DU30 had read the report without being able to fact-check what he was reading, he would have found reason to be beside himself.

Last year, an EU resolution expressed concern over the “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations” and urged DU30 “to put an end to the current wave of extra-judicial executions and killings.” But relations between the Philippines and Europe operate normally, according to an EU diplomat; in fact, the Philippines is negotiating a trade agreement with the EU, which allows 6,200 products to enter the Eurozone duty-free. How then do we react to this unexpected threat to cut off ties with the EU?

Pls don’t take us seriously
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella has explained that DU30’s outburst should not be taken seriously; it was the result of misleading information the President had received about the European protesters. He did not know that no European government was involved at all. Reassuring, or frightening? It means we have a President who can be provoked to extremes by simple newspaper reports. Anything short of saccharine praise is bound to make him hit the ceiling; if you want to please him you attack those who criticize him, even if you cannot find anything in him worth praising.

This wasn’t the first time DU30 raged against the EU. In an earlier outburst, he said he was rejecting all loans and grants from the EU because of alleged conditionalities, an allegation denied by European officials. Then as now, the real provocation was the criticism of the drug killings.

According to Abella, there is no plan to expel any European diplomat from the Philippines. No plan to ask overseas Filipino workers in Europe to come home either. Former Senator Ed Angara, DU30’s special envoy to the EU, can now invite all the EU ambassadors to his beach resort in Baler, Aurora, and reassure them it was all a tantrum. All should be well until the next tantrum. President Trump and other world leaders should be able to enjoy the warmest Filipino hospitality during the Asean summit in November without any anxieties about DU30’s mercurial temper.

The RG threat
What about the threat to establish a revolutionary government?

It isn’t a president’s most responsible statement. DU30 won 38 percent of all the votes in the last election and is now in charge of our constitutional government. The crooked opinion pollsters have tried and are still trying to make the people believe that DU30 remains popular despite the fear of the majority that they might get killed in his murderous drug war, which has already killed thousands. But for those who see that right is right and wrong is wrong, no amount of fraudulent polling could make DU30 appear acceptable, least of all popular.

So, if the government is failing, it is not because the Constitution, which guarantees the sanctity of human life, the inviolability of the family and marriage, the supremacy of the rule of law and due process, is failing, but because DU30 rejects these human and constitutional values and regards them as antithetical to his desired political, economic and social order. The government is failing not because the Constitution is failing, but because DU30 is failing.

Against the Constitution and the State
If DU30 believes the solution to his problems is to abolish the Constitution, then he must be prepared to contend against the people, who are the real authors of the Constitution; against the Church which confirms the moral and spiritual as well as the temporal and eternal values of the people; and against the Armed Forces of the Philippines, whose goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory, as constitutional protector of the people and the State.

DU30 must be prepared to be declared in rebellion against the Constitution he has sworn to preserve and defend, and for the God-fearing and law-abiding Filipino people and their loyal armed forces to overthrow his rebellion. This is fraught with unimaginable dangers. It could lead to civil war, a bloody civil war, such as we have not known before, where brother will slay his own brother for nothing. Its first inevitable result would be the collapse of the State, which DU30 would like to control.

And the most horrifying and damnable thing about this begins not when one’s brother’s blood begins to flow in the streets, but when the highest authority of the land decides to foist its prospect upon the people with complete nonchalance and devil-may-care spirit, as though it were a mere parlor game played by drunks at the dockside or some dark alleys.

Mr. President, this is what you are doing to our people right now, in case you haven’t realized it.

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Courtesy: The Manila Times |


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