IN the tangled web of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, it is not easy to see when the former Davao city mayor is trying to promote war or peace. He has mightily succeeded of late, in confusing the public with his strong words on his desired ouster of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and on the “resumption” of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Referring directly to Sereno, whom he wants impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted and removed by the Senate, or ousted by her peers in a quo warranto proceeding before the Supreme Court, where she is on leave, DU30 declared in Davao on Monday that “I am now your enemy. You have to be out of the Supreme Court.” The Manila Times banner story quoted DU30 as saying Sereno is “bad for the Philippines” and should be kicked out of the high court.

This has elicited murmurs from some critics saying DU30 is “bad for the country and should get out of the Palace.”

All disguises off
DU30 vowed to use his influence upon the House to fast-track the impeachment complaint, which has already hurdled the House committee on justice but has yet to be voted upon in plenary session, for transmittal to the Senate. He tried to “micromanage” the proceedings by suggesting that Congress and the Supreme Court hear their respective cases at the same time.


The media quoted DU30’s unusual statement without noting that it constituted a naked violation of the principle of separation of powers, a culpable violation of the Constitution which renders DU30 impeachable. That’s how alert and independent our journalism has become. But no one will move to impeach DU30, not because he is immune from impeachment, but because no such complaint against him will ever prosper so long as he has the Congress “supermajority” inside his pocket. The first and last impeachment complaint filed against him by Magdalo party-list complainants was thrown out of the committee on justice without a hearing.

It is the first time a member of the high court, the Chief Justice at that, is being subjected to quo warranto proceedings. There are no precedents. The case arises from a motion filed by the Solicitor General, reportedly at the President’s behest, amid doubts that there are enough senators who would vote against Sereno should she ever be formally impeached by the House, and subjected to a Senate impeachment trial. Sereno has asked five of her 14 colleagues to recuse themselves from the case for various reasons. But the five have rejected the motion with vehemence.

What if DU30 fails?
No one knows how the Court and Congress will finally react to DU30’s statement, which sheds off all pretenses at democratic constitutional rule. And no one knows how the nation would take it if and when the Court and Congress succumb to DU30’s diktat, at the cost of the rule of law and everything else. But no one knows how DU30 would react if and when the Court and Congress decide to act on their own, and ignore his dictatorial imposition.


Even if the House should rush the poorly crafted impeachment complaint to the Senate, it looks like DU30 does not have the 16 votes needed to convict the respondent. As for the quo warranto proceeding, a recent opinion piece written by lawyer and law lecturer Frank Lobrigo points out the difficulty (if not indeed the folly) of trying to achieve through the said proceeding the desired result which Sereno’s opponents could not achieve through impeachment. “Quo warranto,” Lobrigo points out, “tests the qualification of an official based on a cause existing at the time of the issuance of the appointment, while impeachment exacts accountability for an act done by an official during tenure. The grounds for each remedy are therefore mutually exclusive. In other words, the grounds for quo warranto cannot be the subject of an impeachment, and vice versa.”

No clinical psychologist who talks of DU30’s serious and incurable narcissistic disorder has come forward to predict how he would react in case he does not get what he wants. But to say he could create serious mischief could be an understatement.

Resuming the peace talks
Now, on the peace talks.

On December 5, 2017, an angry Duterte proclaimed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorist organizations,” citing provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007. He had earlier scrapped peace talks with the Left, accusing them of bad faith. He said they were using the talks simply to deceive the government and conceal their real agenda, which is “people’s war.” He ordered the resumption of armed hostilities instead. Fighting between the military and the NPA quickly ensued, particularly in Mindanao, inflicting casualties on both sides.

He also ordered National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Benito Tiamson and his wife Wilma re-arrested, after he had set them free to join the peace talks in Oslo. They had, however, gone at large. On January 31, 2018, another NDF consultant —Rafael Baylosis—-was arrested for illegal possession of firearms.

The terrorist tag
Apparently Malacañang realized DU30 did not have the sufficient authority to declare the CPP/NPA as “terrorist organizations,” so on February 21, 2018, the Department of Justice asked the Manila Regional Trial Court to declare them as such. The DoJ also asked the RTC to cancel the bail posted by the detained communist leaders who had been freed to take part in the peace talks. The court denied this motion.

On April 4, DU30 had a change of heart, and announced at his Cabinet meeting the resumption of “peace talks” to give peace “another last chance.” He directed his peace negotiators, led by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, to finish the peace talks “within 60 days.” CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison welcomed the resumption of talks “without any preconditions,” but diplomatic observers quickly cast doubt on the propriety and efficacy of the DU30 government “negotiating with a terrorist organization.”

“The international community will be hard put to understand this,” said one Southeast Asian diplomat. “You do not negotiate with terrorists,” he said.

While some sources praised DU30 for his apparent “flexibility” in dealing with the communists, some serious military analysts and observers suggested “this has always been DU30’s real political agenda.”

They pointed out that he appointed CPP Central Committee members to his Cabinet without the benefit of a peace agreement; and although three initial communist nominees eventually failed to hurdle the Commission on Appointments confirmation process, his most powerful communist appointee remains in control of the Office of the President and some 18 government agencies without having to go through the confirmation process. They were referring to the communist ex-priest Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, who is concurrently vice chairman of the NDF.

The real agenda
So, while DU30 lashed out at Sison and his Sisonites, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines engaged the NPA in the battlefield, Evasco’s communist constituency continued to grow inside the government. DU30’s borrowed political party—PDP Laban—is now an ideological partner of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army, and DU30’s Build Build Build program has become the vehicle for an overflow of Chinese nationals, many of them PLA members, to enter the country, even without visas, under the guise of “construction workers.”

The North Koreans could follow soon, after Pyongyang establishes its embassy in Manila, sweetened perhaps with a state visit by Paramount Leader Kim Jong-un.

DU30 is now in Hainan in one of his hastily arranged trips to pay obeisance to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The more light-hearted observer believes he has gone to China for the usual medical reasons; the more conspiratorial mind thinks he’s gone there to cook up some unhealthy brew for the Filipinos with Xi Jinping. I’ve grown a little too tired of these unhealthy speculations, I would rather stay focused on the new peace talks which DU30 would like to see finished in 60 days.

Will “lasting peace” with the Left come after 60 days? Or will DU30 at least be able to announce a formal coalition with the CPP/NPA under China’s imperial protection after 60 days?

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BY FRANCISCO TATAD ON    OPINION ON PAGE ONE  /   All photographs, news, editorials, opinions, information, data, others have been taken from the Internet ..aseanews.net | [email protected] | For comments, Email to : D’Equalizer | [email protected] | Contributor.

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