The Mindanao martial law brouhaha – Part II

 

Senators Drilon, Pangilinan, Hontiveros and Aquino.

I need to have a sequel of the subject as it continues to boggle my mind why the idea of extending martial law for another year in Mindanao bothers some senators, the likes of Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV.

Though I did not mention their names as critics when I wrote Part I, for the simple reason that nothing much was said yet, I find it necessary to name them in Part II as I find their argument against the extension shallow, if not melodramatic.

Practically all of them were justifying their objection based on the legalistic side of the issue, like there must be and actual rebellion and not just a mere threat to overthrow the government, before effecting a longer extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Above all there was this collective fear that because the CPP-NPA has been declared by President Duterte as terrorist group, that martial law could expand beyond Mindanao and swamp over the whole country since the rebels are all over.

“If we were to believe that the government is intent on ending the war against the NPA, which operates not only in Mindanao but all over the country, then it is entirely possible that their operations would have to be extended beyond Mindanao to meet that objective,” Drilon said.

What I find equally exaggerated is the statement coming from a group of human rights lawyers, saying, that “extending martial law in Mindanao for another year seems to be part of a grand design or intent to eventually place the entire country under virtual military rule and completely transform the nation into a police state.”

In the same manner that, in the first part, I called baloney the CHR and the political critics of President Duterte who said that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule”, I am also calling the same the opinion of the human rights lawyers.

What I am just saying here is that after what we saw happened to Marawi City, do we still have to doubt the motives behind the Islamic extremists causing havoc in the country and trying to occupy a territory to be called their own, especially if foreign funds are being funneled for them?

Can we not just be realistic and pragmatic, like the approach taken by the Duterte administration, that what happened in Marawi could happen again because killing leaders does not necessarily mean that the hard-core organization they are espousing will cease operating.

Why should they be allowed to grow roots and influence others to join them and become larger and formidable before going against them?

The spirit of martial law is to fight lawlessness before wide conflagration of terror could exist and because President Duterte, a no-nonsense leader, knows what he wants for the country, I don’t think the rule of martial law will be abused either by the military or the police, the way it was abused during the regime of the dictator Marcos.

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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.

 

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.

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not

 

I have written a couple of blogs in the past about the predominantly Muslim ethnic group called the Rohingyas, in majority-Buddhist Myanmar (formerly Burma), and about human-rights icon and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which you can read at the following links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/myanmars-suu-kyi-fails-on-the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

As I am writing about Suu Kyi now I didn’t realize that, incidentally, I am simply and truly answering the question I posed in the last paragraph of my 2014 blog that, indeed, the lady that is always seen to have fresh flower tacked on her hair is far from being a laureate.

I need not write anymore who the Rohingyas are as I think I have adequately described them already in my 2009 blog. Suffice to say that since I wrote about them in 2009 until today their hellish plight has not gotten any better.

Many, including myself, thought that the Rohingyas predicament would change for the better, especially now that Suu Kyi has become the de facto (in reality/in effect) leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, but unfortunately the more they continue to be persecuted and dehumanized because of Suu Kyi’s utter silence and indifference.

Even Pakistani human-rights activist Malala Yousafzai said “the world is waiting” for Suu Kyi to speak out.

The hapless Rohingyas are at present facing a crisis as people which the United Nations human rights head called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Just to give you a better, but somber, perspective of the life of the Rohingyas now and the absolute insensitivity of Suu Kyi, I recommend that you get hold of the October 2, 2017 issue of Time magazine where a report written by Ms. Elizabeth Dias about them is simply unconscionable, as it is uncivilized.

Or you can just open this link and read more about the heart-breaking story that continues to plague the Rohingya people: https://thediplomat.com/2017/09/the-shame-of-myanmar/.

 

 

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.

 

Duterte and martial law

 

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

For those of us, peaceful and law abiding citizens, who have experienced the dark days of martial law under the dictator Marcos, we say, never again.

And for a good reason, because we did not only see the abuses, disappearances and killings committed by the zealots and blind adherents of the Marcoses, but we also saw the plunder committed and how the country retrogressed that until now we are still recovering from the misfortune.

When we hear, therefore, some sectors of society, and especially the staunch critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, mentioning and fearing that the latter have plans of declaring martial law in the entire country, we can’t help but liken it to a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and how perilous it would be for the people and the country if that strand of hair breaks and the sword drops and pierces once more the very core of our mental faculties and sensibilities as human beings.

But, would Duterte really have the gumption to do it? Think about it.

The reason why to this day Duterte continues to have the support of the people is because many believe that his out of the box leadership is what is needed in this country.

Marcos had his unique brand of leadership, but never had he promised, as Duterte did, that he would die for the country in his fight against drug, corruption and criminality, if it means improving the lives of its citizens.

Both Marcos and Duterte are decisive leaders and both have known that the only way for the country to go forward is when its people are disciplined.

Wasn’t this Marcos’ mantra “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan” (For the country to progress, discipline is needed.)?

Duterte is doing the same thing now, instilling discipline, and where Marcos has failed, Duterte is succeeding for the simple reason that latter does not have the ravenous Imelda for a conjugal partner.

The Marcoses tried all their power to tighten the rein of discipline on their people while loosening with impunity the same regimen on themselves which made them the corrupt and evil persons that they were.

At least with the Dutertes we don’t see raging abuses going on.

Other than the fact that Duterte is well secured in his presidency and does not need to impose martial law to bring about positive and qualitative changes in the lives of the Filipinos, which he promised he would do, most importantly he would want to see that history will speak highly of him in continuance to what he has done in making Davao City a peaceful and preferred city in the country to live while still the mayor and, hopefully, until his presidential term is over.

 

 

The Duterte-Trillanes feud

 

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes

The bad blood between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes has not only been going on for so long but it is also going nasty at worst that people are already wondering how this personal hatred for one another will end up.

Perhaps Duterte is right that Trillanes started harboring ill-feelings towards him when he gave the ambitious senator the cold-shoulder after he shamelessly offered himself to be Duterte’s running mate should the latter run for president in the 2016 election.

Trillanes probably thought that his own brand of toughness, if you can call his aggressiveness and arrogance that, would further compliment Duterte’s much acknowledged strength of character that has made him a legend in Davao City.

Little did Trillanes knew that like many of the Filipinos who abhor his persona, pompousness and pretentiousness, not to mention the kind of an officer and soldier he was during his stint in the military, Duterte had already a negative impression of him too.

There is no doubt that this unspoken turndown is what made Trillanes put Duterte at the crosshair of his personal verbal tirade that has now included even Duterte’s immediate family.

The sad thing about it though is that every time Trillanes spews out barbs against Duterte and his family it makes him all the more look the scoundrel that he has been portrayed all these times because of his own exaggerated self-opinion.

Thus, it was reported that in Duterte’s mind, Trillanes is out to damage his reputation because he took his rejection as vice presidential running mate personally.

Salbahe talaga ‘to. He takes it personal, kasi bilib masyado sa sarili (He has an attitude. He takes it personal because he believes too much in himself.),” said Duterte.

He also called the opposition senator “wily,” “ambitious,” and “dangerous” and warned Filipinos not to trust him.

Indeed, an apt description!

If Trillanes won as vice president, Duterte joked he would have likely been assassinated, just like Ninoy Aquino.

It may be a joke, but coming from Duterte who is known to possess good gut-feel and read of people, it is not.

Not being picked by Duterte as running mate and not having won as an independent vice presidential candidate in the 2016 elections has made Trillanes frustrated and bitter for he could never be what Duterte has become – not ever in his lifetime and that is good for the country.