OP ED COLUMN: OPINION ON PAGE ONE – Who wants to oust DU30?



THIS is not a survey. I ask this question only because I have to — for my own sanity and safety.

Some people will probably argue till they’re blue in the face that because of his many misdeeds President Rodrigo Duterte has lost the right to remain in office; that he should go.

But this would be in the realm of academic discussion, presumably in a college debate, within university walls.

Outside of that, we are not likely to see anyone openly advocating a shortened term for DU30.

Whatever misdeeds he may have committed, not enough people are prepared to say, DU30 must go.

There are many reasons for this.

What the majority says
First of all, no matter how exasperated some people may be with DU30, they cannot be sure this feeling is shared by the majority.

Assuming they do, they cannot see how to carry out the will of the majority.

In theory, the impeachment process is the easiest way of removing a president who has violated the Constitution, committed treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayed the public trust.

But Congress alone has the power to initiate and decide all impeachment cases. And this process is now on hold because of DU30’s current stranglehold on Congress.

A restive population and a mutinous armed forces could force the President to vacate, as Marcos did in 1986 and Estrada did in 2001. But it is not easy to find a successor who has all the virtues of his predecessor and none of his defects. Whatever happens, the succession, whether constitutional or not, should create no more problems than it is trying to solve.

Risking life and limb
Despite the outrage which the drug killings and the blasphemous attacks on God have produced, and the vigorous reactions of priests and patriots, I do not see and cannot see any group risking life and limb, under the banner of a discredited political party, to replace an elected government, no matter how flawed.

But it appears there are people around DU30 who seem determined to convince him there is an “Oust Duterte Movement,” if only to make DU30 dependent on them for protection and support. They have therefore fed him with all sorts of stories about this laughable enterprise.

It is a piece of fiction, which lacks the first requirement of any elementary work of fiction, namely “plausibility,” which means “the quality of being reasonable or believable.”

A secret document
Yesterday I received a copy of a one-page document, marked “Secret,” which purports to name those allegedly involved in the so-called “Oust Duterte Movement.”

It lists civil society groups, Catholic Church organizations, leftist groups, government officials-“Yellow Group,” “United Opposition led by VP Leni Robredo,” rightists, media, and former senior government officials, including one Supreme Court justice, one senator, and members of the infamous Hyatt 10.

The civil society groups occupy the first column and lists “Movement Against Tyranny, Tindig Pilipinas,” organized to speak for former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno during her quo warranto proceedings, and the “Makabayan bloc” of left-leaning congressmen. The last two organizations, according to observers familiar with them, do not usually speak to each other.

In the same column is a Catholic organization, which the author/s of the document obviously knew nothing about, and which they list, incredibly, as either the source of funds for, or the recipient of funds from, one Imelda Nicolas, some 24 large corporations, and “millennial students studying at Jesuits-run schools.”

On top of the bishops?
The second column lists me, Francisco “Kit” Tatad, a Catholic layman and newspaper columnist, who had served in the Cabinet for 10 years and in the Batasan and the Senate for 15, on top of nine Catholic bishops, including the current and former bishops of Caloocan, which has become the center of unsolved killings, and the late bishop emeritus Julio Xavier Labayen of Infanta, Quezon, who died at the age of 90 on April 27, 2016, two months before DU30 became president. Nothing could be more unreal than this.

They could have listed at least half of the country’s priests and bishops and far worthier laymen if they had intended to portray the Church as being involved in an effort to oust the President.

Two other laymen are listed at the end of the column: “Don Ramon Pedrosa and his wife (sic) Carmen, PAGCOR director.” This is an unforgivable error.

Defenders unappreciated
Carmen “Chit” Pedrosa is not Ramon’s wife, but rather the widow of his late brother Alberto, who used to be the Philippine ambassador to London. She is also a columnist on the Philippine Star, who passionately and tirelessly defends DU30 in all her columns. Some of her friends see her PAGCOR directorship as a reward for her services to Digong. It is more than a mistake to suspect her of being part of an anti-DU30 movement.

In the third column, “Leftist (RA & RJ-Akbayan 3rd Bloc),” three retired generals are listed, including the improbable retired Gen. Victor Corpus, a staunch defender of DU30’s pivot to China and of China’s fortification of the contested maritime features in the West Philippine Sea. It is unacceptable that the police intel, if they are the source of the document, have not even heard of Vic Corpus’ contribution to DU30’s shift to Xi Jinping.

Under the same column appears “United Opposition led by VP Leni Robredo.” This is pure fantasy. There is no “united Opposition,” not even a “disunited” one. So instead of individuals being named, “meeting venues” are listed: Maryhill School of Theology in New Manila, QC; Club Filipino; Alfredo’s Restaurant; Anabelle’s Restaurant; UP Hotel; Sulu Hotel; Pandesalan; Rembrandt Hotel. These are all within a small patch of Quezon City; they have yet to discover Ortigas Center.

FVR and the Socdems
In the fourth column, under “Government Officials-Yellow Group,” my name reappears as an alleged part of the so-called “Socdems,” which include former President Fidel Valdes Ramos, whom DU30 had singled out for special thanks during his inaugural for “making me President;” former Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has not said one critical word about the administration; GMA’s former National Security Adviser Norberto B. Gonzales, who has kept a very low profile all along; Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, who has been talking about the West Philippine Sea; and “Jim, ‘Ducky’ Paredes,” (in a confused rendering of Jim or Ducky Paredes, who happen to be brothers).

I am not sure I could call myself a “social democrat.” I am a Christian Democrat at heart; this was how I was introduced to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Bavarian Minister Franz Josef Srauss in Nuremberg, and at a meeting of Christian Democrats in Bonn where I wondered why we weren’t hearing from the Christians as much as we were hearing from the Democrats on the issue of human life.

In the next column, under “Rightists: Magdalo,” Sen. Antonio Trilllanes and Rep. Gary Alejano are listed, without any others.

In the sixth column, under Media: ABS, PDI, Rappler, we read Maria Ressa, Ellen Tordesillas, Ed Lingao.

In the last column, under “FSGOs, Hyatt 10,” we read former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former PNP Chief Allan Purisima, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, former presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Ding Deles, former acting chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration Rene Villa, Imelda Nicolas and sister Loida Nicolas Lewis, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former Trade Secretary Juan Santos, former Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, former commissioner of Customs and internal revenue Guillermo Parayno, (detained) Sen. Leila de Lima, former political affairs secretary Ronald Llamas, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

I do not know how Leonen ended in this listing, but I have been hearing about Ochoa and Lina crossing over to the DU30 camp.

A personal testament
I am a writer and thinker, not a political activist or adventurer. My field of engagement is the intellect, the human mind. Assuming the alleged movement exists, I am not part of it, and have nothing to contribute to it. I have written a lot on the drug killings, on DU30’s attacks on God and the Church, and on his attempt to ram through a stupid federalist constitution, which has apparently succeeded in paralyzing the minds of several so-called legal luminaries.

I am prepared to defend everything I have written in any forum: it does not serve the government any purpose to portray my writing as incendiary or destabilizing. All the government has to do is to shoot down anything and everything I have written. But I will not be accused of having become part of an alleged movement that has no relevance to what I hold about our country and people.

From 2010 to June 30, 2016, I had to contend with Noynoy Aquino’s de facto presidency, after we were all swindled by Smartmatic in the 2010 elections. Yet none of Aquino’s most vicious functionaries ever tried to accuse me of having become part of a plot to bring down the administration. I expect the same civility and sense of honor and fairness from the DU30 administration.

I cannot see the DU30 government being destabilized by anything coming from the President’s critics, but it needs to protect itself from major errors and injuries of its own making. The center of gravity could shift and the government could ultimately fall, not because one determined columnist had managed to become unbearable, but because the world as we knew it had come tumbling down.

Inflation, now hitting 5.8 percent in Metro Manila and 12 percent in my own (Bicol) region, has topped the record in 15 years. Jobs are disappearing, the value of the peso is falling, and the TRAIN law which was meant to help the salaried workers meet their daily needs has brought so much suffering to all, but DU30 threatens to pass another TRAIN law on top of a crazy and costly federal constitution which no one wants to bear.

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