Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.

 

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Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda and trust rating

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

Every time a Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey on the satisfaction and trust ratings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte comes out people always wonder why the president has been able to maintain a high mark of approval despite the brouhaha raised by some group of people and organizations, both local and international, about his controversial war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, etc.

It must be confusing and frustrating to Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk in the senate and in our society, in general, why even as they hurl a fuselage of personal accusations against the president and his family, still it does not make a remarkable dent on his popularity and approval ratings.

But for the people who were inspired by Duterte’s candidacy and continue to support his presidency there has been a noticeable change in the kind of leadership the country needed which could have never happened had the Roxases, the Binays and the Poes won.

Duterte’s war on drugs, criminality and corruption are in itself big changes toward better future for country and people which can only be fought and sustained by somebody with political will to carry it out.

Events have shown that Duterte is no rubber stamp or a stooge of anybody, either here or abroad, and to the consternation of many that wants to meddle in his governance.

Duterte’s declaration of independent foreign policy had silently earned the ire of some friendly nations at first but is being accepted now as he saw the realities of the times where China has become the major regional power in Asia and the importance of improving relations with non-traditional including Russia, Japan and India.

This is a paradigm shift in our geopolitical relations that perhaps only Duterte could have thought of and it is earning him the respect of the whole world.

Duterte should be credited for where we are now as a nation, especially in having discovered earlier, rather than later, that narco-politics have engulf the country already. He is doing everything possible that this country will not go to the dogs.

What should make everybody hopeful, however, is that Duterte, while relentless in his war against drugs, corruption and criminality, is also making sure that his 10-point socioeconomic agenda listed below will continue to be followed through. This program in his presidency being implemented now is what is helping Duterte also earn his high satisfaction and trust ratings.

  1. Continuing and maintaining current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
  2. Instituting progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection while indexing taxes to inflation;
  3. Increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business, drawing upon successful models used to attract business to local cities such as Davao, as well as pursuing the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except with regards to land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investments;
  4. Accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of the gross domestic product, with public-private partnerships playing a key role;
  5. Promoting rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism;
  6. Ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies;
  7. Investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, as well as matching skills and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector;
  8. Promoting science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development;
  9. Improving social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program, in order to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and
  10. Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.

 

Church protection for EJK witnesses

 

We had been hearing and reading in the news lately that the Catholic Church is offering protection to policemen and other characters that are willing to testify on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) they have witnessed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Actually it was Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas who first offered the sanctuary of the church to the policemen whom he described as “conscience-stricken” because of their participation in the war of drugs. Now this move is being supported by other ranking officials of the church.

Why these policemen are “conscience-stricken” and fearful of their lives is something that we still have to fathom and I don’t think the church is the right place for us to be able to understand and extract the truth about what their real involvement is.

I understand that the church is a universal refuge for the oppressed and the maltreated, but for a scourge of epidemic proportion that the government is relentlessly fighting to eradicate to save the country and its citizens from perdition, what could the church do to competently determine whether or not the church officials are just being used for the ‘refugees’ hidden agenda?

What I am just saying here is that the fight being waged by government against drugs, corruption and criminality are all state functions and the policemen are members of the civil authority tasked to run after the criminals. The police organization has its own parameters to follow in law enforcement and the church just has to respect it.

In other words the church officials have the responsibility to tell and enlighten the policemen and others seeking refuge that they could not accept them for the simple reason that their problem and concerns are matters of government and not of the church.

In the first place the church officials have already a stand on the government’s war against drugs and for them to embrace the ‘refugees’ to their fold without any questions only shows their prejudice against what the government is doing, and this to me is tantamount to interference or meddling which could only worsen the situation in the country.

What the church officials must understand is that it is the government and not the church that has all the tools and resources to generate intelligence reports about who the people are linked to drugs, corruption and criminality, one way or the other, and if they are running away towards the church sanctuaries it is because they know that the church officials are against EJKs, but more than anything else, these witnesses also know that the church officials do not have an iota of information who the people are seeking protection/sanctuary from them.

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not – Part II

Aung San Suu Kyi with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I am not over yet with the appalling Aung San Suu Kyi, the much talked about democracy activist who earned a global reputation as a symbol of defiance and strength in the face of a brutal military junta in her country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Suu Kyi’s stoicism and her refusal to leave her country, even though it meant forgoing a life with her sons husband, who lived overseas, became, likewise, a symbol of sacrifice, inspiration, hope and freedom for all the peoples in Myanmar.

For leading a non-violent resistance movement, even while under house arrest, Suu Kyi was aptly compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Evidently and subsequently she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but received it in person only in 2012, after her release in 2010. Her party swept elections a landslide victory in 2015, making her the de facto civilian leader of her country.

Now her reputation is rapidly disintegrating because of her refusal to speak out about — or take meaningful steps to prevent — the military crackdown targeting the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. An estimated 400,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed across the border to Bangladesh running from what appears to be a crackdown on their villages by the military that still controls crucial aspects of Myanmar’s government, including the state security apparatus.

Because of her silence, insensitivity and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas, dismal things are happening to her and I am citing two here for your information – one is a copy of a letter from Archbishop and former Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the other is a reprint of an article published in the BBC News, dated 3 October 2017, titled Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’:

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

God bless you.

Love

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa

Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’

An honour granting Aung San Suu Kyi the Freedom of Oxford has been withdrawn by the city’s council because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

The de facto leader of Myanmar was granted the honour in 1997 for her “long struggle for democracy”.

But a motion to Oxford City Council said it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following recent violence.

The trouble erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts, triggering a military crackdown.

Ms Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest in Rangoon as a campaigner for democracy while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was ruled by a military dictatorship.

She became a worldwide figurehead for freedom before leading her National League for Democracy party to victory in open elections in November 2015.

‘Absolutely appalled’

But her failure to denounce the military or address allegations of ethnic cleansing has been criticised by world leaders and groups like Amnesty International.

Other organisations are now reconsidering honours given to Ms Suu Kyi, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson said.

“I think it is perfectly natural to look around for ways of saying we disapprove utterly of what you are doing,” he told BBC Radio Oxford.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price supported the motion to remove her honour and confirmed it was an “unprecedented step” for the local authority.

People are “absolutely appalled” by the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding it was “extraordinary” she had not spoken out about reported atrocities in the country.

Last week it emerged St Hugh’s College, Oxford, had removed a portrait of Ms Suu Kyi from display.

 

 

Duterte is wrong in going easy on Imee, Bongbong

 

The dictator addressing his supporters from a balcony in Malacañang before his ouster.

This is about two of the despot’s children, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos whom Pres. Rodrigo Duterte have always shielded from the clamor to  “prosecute” and/or “punish” them for the atrocious sins committed by the father.

“What’s their fault?” Duterte asks, claiming they were still young during the dictatorial regime and that the only adults were their parents, Ferdinand and Imelda.

Well, it really depends on what year and which photo is one looking at.

As a reminder let me just point out the following salient events:

Ferdinand Marcos became President in 1965.

Imee Marcos was born in 1955, while Bongbong was born in 1957.

In 1972, when their father declared martial law, Imee turned 17 and Bongbong 15.

Marcos lifted martial law in 1981 and he ruled until February 1986, when he was ousted in a popular revolt after a rule marked with human rights abuses and plunder of the country’s coffers.

At that time, Imee was 30 going on 31, and Bongbong 28 turning 29.

And when one looks at the iconic picture taken in 1986 when the dictator was emphatically addressing his supporters from a balcony in Malacañang, whom do you see flanking him but his wife and grown-up children Imee, Irene and Bongbong – he with his contemptible fatigues seemingly showing approval of the despot’s military minions protecting their family.

And now Duterte is telling the people that Bongbong and Imee were innocent of what was going on at that time?

I am an avid supporter of Duterte, but this is an instance where I totally disagree with him, especially in going easy on both Imee and Bongbong for the simple reason that his father was a member of the Marcos Cabinet.

The Marcos siblings are not really unsullied, uncensurable and likable for that matter, as they want the Filipino to believe they are, but their continuing admission and affirmation that their despot father did nothing wrong and is in fact considered a hero make them just as guilty as the man who sired them.

 

The oddity of Sen. Trillanes

 

Senator Antonio Trillanes

You will notice that the word oddity here is describing the person Antonio Trillanes in his capacity as senator of the realm and not as an individual.

As an individual there are many who are like him – arrogant, pompous, swollen-headed, and feeling high and mighty all the time.

You will never miss this kind of persona because it exudes in their appearance and stance and in the way they talk.

But then you will probably ask me, why, aren’t all the senators like Trillanes?

Well, I could not agree with you more, to tell you the truth.

There is just something in the elective position that makes one a different person after a while – an adverse person, to be more specific.

Perhaps you can blame it to the fame, power and wealth that one possesses now.

There is only one person I know who has not changed at all despite all the trappings he has in his position and that is President Rodrigo Duterte.

But this is not about Duterte. Rather it is about Duterte’s arch-enemy, Trillanes.

So there is no disagreement that the rest of the senators are like Trillanes and Trillanes is just like all the senators when they metamorphose from being ordinary citizens to becoming elected official, although for Trillanes, he made it more glaring.

Lamentably, this is not the oddity I am talking about when referring to Trillanes as senator.

The oddity I am talking about is Trillanes’ penchant of making enemies out of his colleagues in the Senate.

I had been around long enough and saw and heard senators of old making speeches, debating one another on important topics and doing Senate hearings, yet none has come even close to what and how absurdly Trillanes performs in the Senate floor.

His lack of prudence, wisdom, maturity, and the like, almost always does him in. It is his arrogance and intimidating stance that make him repulsive, antipathetic and ineffective.

In the not too recent and recent past, Trillanes had altercations with former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is now the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Presently, Trillanes’ pet peeve is Sen. Richard Gordon whom he wants replaced as chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee.

Not contented with having Gordon replaced, Trillanes also is setting his sights at no less than Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to have him toppled.

How more presumptuous can Trillanes get?

Duterte wants feisty daughter Sara to succeed him

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte

We have not even reach half way yet in President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential term of office and he is already suggesting his feisty daughter Sara to succeed him.

Is this being rational that this early Duterte is trying to show dynastic tendency in perpetuating themselves in power?

Whether this pronouncement by Duterte sits well on the Filipino people or not, it is vintage Duterte who is always steps ahead in political thoughts and ideas as to what is good for the country and its citizens.

I had been always against political dynasties (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/elitist-political-families/) especially those identified already as traditional politicians (trapo).

But one cannot say this of President Duterte who definitely is not a ‘trapo’, but an out-of-the-box politician and it is for this reason that he was elected overwhelmingly as president because the people wanted change in the leadership from one who works in government mostly for their own vested interests to one who cares to serve the people and who has the political will to wage war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.

If this early Duterte is seen and perceived to be conditioning the minds of the Filipino people that he wants her daughter Sara to succeed him, it is for no other reason than to make all and sundry feel and understand that the enormity of the problems tearing apart the social fabric of this country is so overwhelming that one term of the presidency could not just wrap it up and declare the problems solved.

What this simply means is that Duterte has come to realize that whatever inroads he has done against his war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality and whatever successes he has attained in making reforms in government, he did not want these gains compromised, but rather he wants them sustained.

By being compromised I surmise to say that Duterte did not want somebody who might be a ‘trapo’ to succeed him and who might only have to promote his or her own selfish agenda. This will only get us back to the hell-hole we came from.

In the same manner that by being sustained, Duterte can be assured that the only way his mission and vision for the country and its people can continue, the way he is charting its course now, is to have somebody who has the same mentality or mindset in running a government, be it local or national, and the same selfless attitude as him, and to his mind there could not be any other person he could trust and have full confidence but her own daughter, Sara, a well-liked and  respected politician herself.

“I couldn’t find any other better candidate than Sara to become the next president,” Duterte reportedly said, and added further that his daughter is a strong woman, who is also a lawyer and knows the law very well.

Talking about silver lining at the horizon for the country.