Mayor Duterte is a Pragmatist, not a Leftist

One of the issues being hurled against Mayor Duterte in this 2016 presidential election is the claim that he is a leftist. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book of Philippine politics and a tool used by rich politicians. In the past this strategy worked because the personalities accused were true leftists as shown by their overt acts and affiliation with leftists groups. But Mayor Duterte is not a member of any of the present leftist organizations, well not a card- bearing member at least. He is accused of being a leftist mainly because there seems to be good relations between him and the communist guerillas in his region.

That he was often asked to assist in negotiations whenever conflict between NPA and the military in his region arises strengthens the belief of some that the Mayor is a communist. This is not to mention that he also allowed the burial parade of one of the communist guerilla leader in his city.

The mayor’s friendship with communist founder Jose Maria Sison is also one of the issues hurled against him by the government of President Aquino. Add to this his pronouncements in some occasions that once he becomes president, one foot of the NPA will be in the palace and that Jose Ma. Sison can finally come home as a free man.

So is Mayor Duterte a communist or a leftist sympathizer at least?

Mayor Duterte is not a communist or a leftist. He is a pragmatist.

As Davao city politician for more than 20 years, one who we can literally say built his city from the ground up, the good Mayor is calculating, cunning, and a pragmatic leader.  He knows there can never be progress in his city if peace is not included in his agenda.

Just like other provinces and cities outside Metro Manila, the mayor knows that he cannot take a hard-line stance against communist guerillas. The NPA is well entrenched in Davao well before he became a mayor and to fight them head-on is futile.

What Mayor Duterte did was to strike peace with the NPA for the good of his city. He took the pragmatic approach. Instead of seeing his city become a battleground and a nesting site for insurgency, he chose to sleep with the enemy so to speak. With the NPA at bay, he was able to focus on other pressing concerns like criminality, drugs, and the economic growth of his city.

This same approach he applied with Muslims. He must avoid a conflict between Christians and Muslims in his city so he built a foundation for peaceful co-existence between the two. With his co-equal posturing, he was able to strike friendship with Muslim leaders such as Nur Misuari.

In the end, Mayor Duterte was able to do his job as chief executive of his city. This resulted in people getting a relatively peaceful city worthy of recognition as the 9th safest city in the world.

So is he a leftist? Definitely not. He is a pragmatist willing to cut deals with different interests just so that he can see his grand plans through. Duterte took the logical approach to solving the problems of Davao. His actions bear the hallmarks of being a pragmatist. He is not beholden to any particular ideology. His only focus is to make sure that his plans are carried out for the good of his constituents.

This pragmatism translated to a better Davao city, far from its old tag as the “killing fields” and as a result made a charismatic leader out of Mayor Duterte.


Why Mayor Duterte may not win the Presidency

Let me enumerate and explain a little why Mayor Duterte will not win the 2016 Presidential elections

1. Political – Hardcore traditional politicians are deeply entrenched in our political system. Majority of these “elite politicians” are silent on the possibility of Mayor Duterte running for president yes, but they are just waiting for the official announcement.

Once an official announcement is made that Mayor Duterte will run for president, they will come out in full force and attack his credibility from all directions.

The mudslinging will come not only from opponents but from the entire political spectrum. They will close ranks to prevent the man from taking the presidency so as to protect their political interests.

2. Oligarchs will not allow it – The super-rich in our society will see Duterte as a threat to their interests. The Mayor has strong inclination to favor the poor based on his own pronouncements and this is a warning sign to oligarchs.

We know that a presidential candidate needs billions to wage a nationwide campaign and the money normally comes from big businesses. It is not an understatement to say that behind every successful presidential candidate is a group of businessmen waiting to recover their investment.

If Mayor Duterte were to become president, expect oligarchs to give away some of their vested interests. This they know for a fact that’s why the super-rich are expected to carry a candidate whose interests are aligned with them

3. Electorates don’t care – While social media is getting stronger and exercises some sway on voters preference, this phenomenon is still at an early stage and may not yet be a contolling factor in the result of the 2016 national elections.

Majority of the poor electorates still look at elections as an opportunity for them to make some money no matter how small. They believe that whoever becomes president is not important because they will still be poor. There is this feeling of resignation that those in power will always make money and the poor will stay poor.

So every opportunity to make money during election period is grabbed whether as a paid campaigner or hakot, election watcher, or whatever opportunity that any candidate can offer. whoever gives them the opportunity to make some money, they are expected to vote for that candidate. It is the result of affiliation.
4. Federalism is not Possible as Yet – Federalism Philippine-style is still in the drawing board and no thorough study has been conducted just as yet. Whether it is really good for the country is still a question that can only be answered once it is applied.

Given that philippines has its own unique and diverse culture, geopolitical setting, and greedy vested interests of politicians, federalism might only result in strengthening regionalism that can divide the nation further. It can result in weakening of the national government.

5. Hokus-PCOS – Finally, there is this issue with PCOS machines being manipulated to favor a desired candidate. Mayor Duterte has announced on several occasions that he does not have the money to run a nationwide campaign. His problem is not just about spending for a nationwide campaign but also how to make sure that he will not be cheated in the elections.

The 2010 elections revealed that PCOS machines result can be manipulated to favor a particular candidate. Although the revelation of an unnamed operator was not further investigated, it is still a possibility that it might happen in the 2016 elections.

Mayor Duterte has the charm, the performance to show, the will to overhaul the system and the vision to build a better Philippines even from the ground up. Many look up to him as the Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Jose Mujica of Uruguay all combined.

A Mayor Duterte becoming president of the Philippines is a once in a life time opportunity for Filipinos to see real change. If his accomplishments as Davao Mayor are to be replicated in the entire country, then it serves as a window for a future developed and peaceful Philippines.

I would like to see Mayor Duterte become president of the country because he is the only one who knows the problem and willing to tackle it head on. While other candidates are giving just the same rhetorics, Duterte has the record to show. He mean what he says and he is passionate about what he believes must be done.  But the obstacles are huge and persistent.


Due Process of Law versus a Shoot to Kill Order

English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee
English: Eric Holder, Attorney General Nominee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Constitution explicitly states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” This is the essence of due process and a basic principle embodied in most constitutions of democratic countries such as the US and the Philippines among many nations. In the Philippines, the due process clause is followed by the equal protection clause that states: “Nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws.” Together, both due process and equal protection clauses ensure that any citizen accused of a crime whether in the nature of a minor or grave felony must be given a day in court to defend him\herself.

Presumption of innocence

The due process of law clause in the constitution is further strengthened by the provision on presumption of innocence given to the accused. The accused, even with a mountain of accusations hurled against him must be given a day in court to defend himself and must be presumed innocent until proven guilty after following the dictates of both substantive and procedural due process. Summary execution has no place in the modern free world because the life of a convicted felon can be taken only after satisfying the requirements of due process. The burden of proving the guilt of the accused also lies with the prosecution so the accused is given wide latitude to prove his innocence.

Shoot to kill order

When a shoot to kill order is given, it implies that the authorities need not arrest the suspects and just have to execute them on sight. It then becomes plain and simple summary execution especially in the eyes of human rights groups and some constitutional law experts. Such an order is regarded as barbaric and therefore has no place in a modern society where even the life of the unborn is valued. It is legally an affront to the essence of the due process of law and therefore considered as violation of the pertinent provisions of the fundamental law of the land.

When is shoot-to-kill order presumed valid?

A shoot to kill order is not legally binding and can be ignored by the officer on the field. But a shoot to kill order technically speaking is not always illegal. Such an order can be given or resorted to in the following circumstances:

  • At any time when an officer of the law is in danger of getting hurt or worse killed in the process of apprehending the accused or fugitive. The act of self-preservation is applicable to all citizens whether they are persons in authority or ordinary civilians.
  • In the act of self-defense when only deadly force can be applied to neutralize the threat. Shoot to maim as a principle is applicable only when the officer of the law can do it without being exposed to mortal danger.
  • In extra-ordinary circumstances warranting swift and decisive police or military force such as in times of war or perils to national security.

While it is given individuals have liberties that must be respected such as the right to life, the State through its government also has the right to defend itself from those who are sworn enemies of the State. This could be the basis when Attorney General Eric Holder said that the government through its military can kill US citizens in American soil when warranted by the situation. By this pronouncement alone, the US government through the Attorney General made it clear that it will not allow itself to be limited by legalities in protecting its welfare.

Extra-ordinary situations require extra-constitutional means

The landscape of fighting criminality has changed drastically over the decades. Criminals and especially enemies of the State both from local and foreign soil have adopted lethal means to pursue their intentions. The determination of the enemies of the State must be matched with equal force that can be summoned by the State to ensure that they are neutralized. If there is no other way to safely capture an enemy of the State, then lethal force should be applied the soonest time possible to prevent possible irreversible damage to lives and properties of innocent civilians.

It is part and parcel of the President’s Powers

Executive Police power is one of the inherent powers of the president. It is the least limitable of all the powers granted to the Chief Executive and therefore can be applied without restrictions based on the changing times and demands of the situation. But the exercise of this power must always be within the parameters set by the constitution as argued by some experts on the subject.

The US government war on terror has given police power a new complexion however. The terror threats posed by extremists demand that the government take a pro-active stance to protect the country’s internal security as well as its inhabitants and consequently reached a level where even American lives can be taken without due process. Pre-emptive strike is a relatively new terminology that became a welcome part of the government’s vocabulary. While it is contentious and has no set basis as a legal anchor to say the least, the validity of this concept has not been challenged and to this day still remains an essential part of the strategy in the war against terror.

Due Process of Law is all about protecting innocent lives

The World Trade Center incident and the Boston bombing are just two of the attacks carried out by enemies of the State that will stay in the memory of many US citizens because the crime was committed in the mainland. But there are hosts of other attacks that were carried out by enemies damaging properties and killing American citizens in foreign soil. The government must do what it can to protect innocent lives and properties. If it means threading the extra-constitutional path, then it must do so for the sake of its people until the fundamental law of the land is amended to become more responsive to the signs of the times.

Philippines Image and Diplomatic Predicament

Philippines Image and Diplomatic PredicamantAccording to government officials and numbers coming from economic indicators, the Philippines is well on its way to becoming a Tiger nation. All the signs are looking up and the economy has been improving since the government of President Benigno Noynoy Aquino started in 2010. The country even escaped from the clutches of the WB and now one of the creditors when it contributed to the coffers of World Bank to help other struggling countries such as Greece. It is a welcome respite for a country of 90 million known in the world as the source of manual labor, domestic helpers, and mail- order bride.

Things are indeed starting to look up but as they say in every party, “there is always a killjoy” and the Philippines more than ever is experiencing some of the worst killjoys ever. Most of these so-called killjoys to the Philippines’ ride to escape damning poverty sad to say came from within and also from no other than its neighboring countries.

The Sabah Crisis

The Sabah incursion of the security forces of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III exposed the weak diplomatic muscle of the Philippines. The government readily supported Malaysia and condemned the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu for leading the incursion. It showed that with just a stern face from Malaysia, the Philippine government kowtowed immediately and even helped Malaysia by preventing other supporters of the Sultan from joining their comrades in Sabah.

China’s Bullying

China declared the nine dash line in the South China Sea and it covered parts of the Philippines’ rich fishing grounds. The Philippine government could not force China militarily because it has no force that can equal the might of China. The issue was elevated to the branch of United Nations for a determination of the rights of both parties over the disputed territories but China still ignored this diplomatic move.

Taiwan’s Demands

The Philippines had a diplomatic row with the province of China which is Taiwan over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman who intruded in Philippine waters. Taiwan “ordered” the Philippine government to give in to their demands and the Philippines again kowtowed.

The above recent diplomatic crises that the Philippines encountered showed how negligible is the country in the eyes of other nations. We have a mendicant diplomatic policy. We give in to the demands of other countries because it is the best thing to do under the circumstances. We have no diplomatic muscle to speak of. This is because our armed forces are poorly equipped. The Philippine Navy has no fleet to defend the part of the South China Sea that belongs to the country as per declaration embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). It is expected that the country is going to have its first battleship named BRP Alcaraz and it is a de-commissioned ship from the US government that needed more than $600 million to be refurbished and made to float again.

Philippine Azkals Hong Kong Experience

In one football game held in Hong Kong, the Azkals was booed and maligned by locals along with the Filipino crowd. Degrading remarks such as “Slave Nation” was among the many shouted by Hong Kong locals. The Philippine contingent was booed when the Philippines’ national anthem was being played. Overall, it was a display of clear disrespect towards the Filipinos and the government.

In a survey of select Hong Kong nationals, it was asked what country and race they disliked the most. Out of several countries, it was revealed that they disliked Philippines the most and among the races, they also disliked Filipinos the most.

Some say that this is understandable because the memory of Luneta massacre of Hong Kong tourists is still fresh in their memory. But this is trivial because the reason is actually deeper. They do not like Filipinos because the latter compete with them in terms of labor in Hong Kong. Thousands of Filipinos work in Hong Kong and it is obvious that many locals in that city are affected by Filipinos’ labor invasion.

From the perennial tag as sick man of Asia, Philippines is slowly transforming but it is not yet out of the woods so to speak because as of now, it is the laughing stock of Asia.


Chief Justice Impeachment : The Verdict

In a vote of 20 to 3, the Senate impeachment court made a historic decision and ousted the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Each Senator-Judge explained their vote and laid the legal as well personal basis for coming to their decision. It was a convincing victory for the prosecution and a crippling defeat for the defense. Several reasons were cited why more than majority of the members of the Impeachment body
convicted the respondent Chief Justice and prominent of which are the following:

The Testimony of the Ombudsman
Several legal luminaries argued that the defense panel erred in taking the Ombudsman to the witness stand even if she is declared as a hostile witness right from the start. The Ombudsman’s credibility was not impeached and she even made solid claims against the Chief Justice through the AMLAC report.

The Testimony of the Chief Justice
Rather than deny the existence of the bank deposits, he admitted to having only a few with a much lesser amount compared to the AMLAC report. This sealed his fate in a way because the amounts he stated far exceeded the declared wealth in his SALN.

The Presentation of Congressman Rudy Farinas
Speaking in Filipino, the prosecutor made it very clear that the Chief Justice erred in not declaring his true net worth. He was able to sway not only some Senator-Judges who mentioned his presentation during their speech, but most importantly the public in general.

The Political leanings of the Senator-Judges
Politics indeed played a good part in the decision to convict the Chief Justice with allies of the President all voting to convict the accused.

Political Ambition of some Senator-Judges
This can be seen right on the speech given by some Senators where they claimed their decision is for the Filipino people. Quite early to campaign but they know to go against the wishes of the majority of the Filipino people would be disastrous to their political ambitions.

The inherent weakness of the defense of the Chief Justice
The Republic Acts in question are in the category of special laws and therefore intent is immaterial. The only question that needs to be asked is “Has the law been violated?” No matter how unintentional the violation was, a guilty verdict must be meted.

The Political and Legal nature of the Impeachment Trial
The defense continued to harp on the legal basis for the acquittal of the Chief Justice. They opted not to play on the emotional and political side of the case. Since it is partly political, the general viewing public had a stake in the entire proceedings and some Senator-Judges heeded the call of the majority of the Filipino people to convict the accused. Had the defense did not resort entirely to legal technicalities and used instead appealing to emotions as a major part of their defense, the verdict against them would not have been overwhelming. This is the strategy used by Congressman Farinas when he dispensed with the use of legal jargons and instead made a presentation in the language known by majority of the ordinary Filipino people.

It is not yet clear as of this writing if the Chief Justice will elevate the issue to the Supreme Court. But considering the constitutional provision that the Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases, it is no longer practical to pursue this remaining legal avenue although no one can really say what’s on the mind of the convicted Chief Justice. It is also not helping the cause of the Chief when the Senate President said that they will defy the SC if the latter will declare the proceedings invalid. In the words of the Senate President : “If they want a constitutional crisis, they will have one.”

Chief Justice Impeachment: Endgame

With all further proceedings finally terminated when the defense finally rested their presentation of evidence and witnesses, the Impeachment Body now just have to hear the oral arguments of both sides before finally deciding the case against the chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Judging by the tackled articles of impeachment, the Senator Judges after hearing both sides will focus on the main issue at hand and that is, whether or not the Chief Justice should be held guilty of not reporting in his SALn his bank deposits.

There are two kinds of deposits at issue here. One is his dollar deposit, and the other is his peso accounts. Both totaling around P180 million pesos as against his SALn declaration that his worth is only P22 million. Absolute confidentiality of FCDUs is his main defense and lack of jurisprudence against this claim is going in favor of the Chief Justice. It is worthy to note that only the Supreme court is the final interpreter of the law and since no interpretation of the FCDU law concerning this particular case has previously been made by the Supreme court, it is doubtful if the Senate will sail on this unchartered waters so to speak. Finally deciding a case and making that decision as part of the law of the land in the form of jurisprudence is properly within the province of the Supreme Court and not the Senate even if it is acting as an Impeachment Court. Since no less than the Chief Magistrate interpreted the FCDU law as absolute, it is hard for the Senator-Judges to decide otherwise because if ever their decision against this opinion is raised to the highest tribunal, it would be insulting to say the least if their decision is reversed and this they will surely try to avoid. The best way then for the Senator-Judges is to not touch the issue of FCDU and make the necessary legislation later on to correct its seeming inconsistency with the SALn law. But this of course would mean clearing the Chief Justice from this issue.

About the peso deposits of the Chief Justice amounting to almost P90 million, the main defense offered is that the excess amount from his actual worth in terms of deposits represent the “co-mingled funds” between him, his wife, his children, the Basa-Guidote funds, and those of his mother’s money which he is administering. This is where the main discussion among Senator-Judges will become more difficult. Though the Chief Justice has submitted a waiver for the court to check the veracity of the claims made in his breakdown of peso deposit accounts, the court however deemed it no longer necessary to call the banks concerned and took the word of the Chief Justice for it. With the closure of further proceedings and the remaining agenda pertains only to the closing arguments, then the court will just rely on the final evidence given by the defense which is the testimony and documents submitted by the Chief Justice. It is perplexing to say the least that the prosecution no longer bothered to cross examine the Chief Justice and just allowed the testimony of the Accused without being opposed.

If the Senator-Judges will just rely on the testimony given by the Chief Justice, which effectively rebutted all the accusations against him by way of his own testimony that was never questioned by the prosecution, then we can see the Chief Justice eventually being cleared of the charges because of the failure of the prosecution to muster the 16 votes needed to convict the accused. 16 votes is already hard to muster even if the evidence against the Chief justice are clear and convincing. What more if the evidence becomes shady? Remember that the defense has continuously harped on the issue of “proof beyond reasonable doubt”. Since there seems to be no more proof beyond reasonable doubt, the accused must be acquitted of all charges in this case.

On the other hand, if by some miraculous wisdom the Senate will decide to convict the Chief Justice on any of the remaining articles of impeachment, expect the issue to be elevated to the Supreme Court by the defense. With majority of the Justices seen as inclined to close ranks and protect their Chief, they can easily come up with reasons to use that vaunted Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

What could save the day for the prosecution? A newly discovered evidence could be the only thing remaining but seeing how they look tired and seemingly already compromising, this could be far-fetched.

Chief Justice Impeachment : Facing the Music

In an act of magnanimity, the embattled Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court left the confines of his hospital suite and attended the Senate Impeachment court’s hearing to testify once more and shed light on the issues surrounding the case against him. In a sudden turn-around, he declared that he is no longer attaching any conditions to his waiver of bank deposits and openly answered questions about his peso and dollar accounts in Philippine banks.

It is noteworthy that the Chief Justice used Filipno or Tagalog in explaining his side of the story making it understandable especially to ordinary Filipinos who have crucified him by way of opinions these past few months. By explaining point by point the issues hurled against him, the Chief Magistrate made himself clear particularly on how he amassed $2.4 million in bank deposits and also how he managed to have almost 90 million in peso deposits. By his latest action, Chief Corona recovered from the debacle that his defense suffered a few days before his last court appearance. It also restored the respect not only to the impeachment court but more importantly to a lot of Filipino people who felt betrayed when he tried to leave the Impeachment Court without being excused.

Now that the theory of the defense has been heard, the next order of the day is for the closing arguments of both sides. How both the prosecution and defense panels will finally argue their case will be seen on Monday, May 28, 2012 and the Filipino people will be at the front seat to see which of the two side can better argue their case.