October 2017

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Duterte visits Marawi

Duterte visits Marawi

Recently, political debate was sparked on whether the 1987 Constitution would allow President Rodrigo Duterte to form a revolutionary government in lieu of declaring martial law. Supporters of Duterte say that by forming a revolutionary government, he doesn’t have to make a report to Congress, which is a proviso of the 1987 Constitution when martial law is declared.

The framers of the Constitution believed that by requiring the President to report to Congress when the President declares martial law, it would prevent a repeat of the Marcos-era martial rule where Congress was transformed into rubber-stamp legislative body. It supplanted the rule of law with the rule of man.

But President Duterte figures that by forming a revolutionary government, he can still avail of the military’s support, which is stacked up with loyalist Dutertistas, who would keep him – and themselves — in power. And they’ll be part of a power structure that will protect their personal and business interests. It’s a philosophy that keeps the few elite in power.

Dutertism

Drug-pusher-killed-and-wifeDuterte’s campaign against criminality and illegal drugs has so far claimed the lives of at least 10,000 alleged drug users. However the “war on drugs” has failed to put the powerful drug lords out of action. Duterte himself has admitted to the existence of Chinese triads in the country. Tons of the illegal drug “shabu” continue to proliferate the country due to conniving customs officials, powerful smugglers, and corrupt influence peddlers.

But what is interesting to know is that with all these anti-crime, anti-drug, anti-corruption, and anti-poverty campaign the government is pursuing, the country is still sick just as it was once when it was called the “Sick Man of Asia.” The government hasn’t eradicated poverty as it claims it to be. The peso is falling and the cost of food is going up.

Stop-EJKWith each passing day, the country’s gloomy situation has evoked fears of martial law. And as criticism against Duterte’s “war on drugs” and extrajudicial killings intensifies, Duterte warned that he’d declare a revolutionary government if his critics’ attempt to ”destabilize” the government escalates and causes trouble. He accused the “Reds” (communists) and the “Yellows” (Liberal Party and supporters of former President Benigno Aquino III) of conspiring against him. He said that he’d arrest all of the destabilizers once he declares a revolutionary government, just like what Marcos did when he declared martial law. He jailed almost all of the Liberal Party leaders including Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. (Cory’s husband).

He likens his move to what former President Cory Aquino did. He said that Cory was about to declare martial law and then changed her mind and instead declared a revolutionary government.

However, lawyer Romulo Macalintal disagreed. In a media interview, Macalintal said that as a lawyer, Duterte should know that “revolutionary government is the result of a revolution where the existing legitimate government is completely overthrown by a new group of leaders that establishes its own government.”

He cited the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 that ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed Cory Aquino as its “titular head,” and later as the chief executive, under the Freedom Constitution (also known as the Cory Constitution).

If Duterte insists on pursuing a revolutionary government, then it goes without saying that he is doing it to circumvent the Constitution; thus, it is illegal and unconstitutional. It is also presumed that Congress would cease to exist, as we know it. How can it continue to function as a legislative body under a revolutionary government where Duterte would rule by decree? He might allow Congress to exist only to rubber-stamp his own legislative agenda. Wasn’t that what had happened during Marcos’ martial law era?

The Supreme Court under a revolutionary government could likewise be under the indirect control of Duterte. In my column, “Dutertesized Supreme Court” (September 22, 2017), I wrote: “If Duterte succeeds in removing [Chief Justice Maria Lourdes] Sereno and appoints someone whom he knows would be loyal to him, it would create a 13-justice super bloc that could easily provide him with a minimum eight-vote majority.”

Fascism

The Fascists: Spain’s Francisco Franco, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini.

The Fascists: Spain’s Francisco Franco, Germany’s Adolf Hitler, and Italy’s Benito Mussolini.

If Duterte succeeds in appointing majority of the Supreme Court Justices led by a Chief Justice of his own picking, then Duterte’s revolutionary government would become a one-man dictatorship in the mold of the late Benito Mussolini, the founder of Fascism, a form of radical authoritarian nationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce. Fascism flourished in Europe from the 1920s to the end of World War II. The three major fascist states were Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco.

Mussolini believed that the government is “supreme and the country is all-encompassing, and all within it must conform to the ruling body, often a dictator.” Mussolini also believed that “any type of questioning the government is not to be tolerated. If you do not see things our way, you are wrong. If you do not agree with the government, you cannot be allowed to live and taint the minds of the rest of the good citizens.”

Dutertism is clearly fascistic in its philosophical outlook. Its strong emphasis on nationalism coupled with a hazy “independent” foreign policy is nothing more than a camouflage for what Dutertism hopes to achieve, which is total subjugation of the people under a fascistic regime.

President Rodrigo Duterte and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

President Rodrigo Duterte and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Duterte’s idea of a revolutionary government can be traced to Marcos’ martial law regime. Indeed, Duterte is taking a page from Marcos’ playbook. It is “revolutionary” in name only. It is martial law disguised as revolutionary government. What Duterte is doing is revolutionizing martial law. It’s one and the same with one exception: Congress is left out of the power equation. Indeed, it’s coup d’état against the democratic government he was elected to serve.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Trump-moron.2It’s not everyday that someone would call the most powerful leader in the world a “moron” or anything close to that. But that’s what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did. And for those who don’t know what it means, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “moron” as a “very stupid person” or “a person affected with mild mental retardation,” which then begs the question: Is Donald J. Trump a moron?

But whatever you might think about it, the real reason Tillerson called Trump a moron is actually “terrifying” as the Daily Beast reported the incident on October 4, 2017. It reported that the insult came one day after “a meeting about Afghanistan in which Trump compared the process of reviewing strategy in the country to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant.” It then said that NBC News reported that “Tillerson called Trump a ‘moron’ after a meeting concerning the US’ nuclear arsenal in which Trump asked for 10 times more nuclear weapons.”

According to NBC News, the meeting was in July and Trump’s “insane request” was apparently in response to information Trump was given about the US’ steady decrease in nuclear weapons since the late 60’s. The officials at the meeting were said to be surprised by his request, and had to explain to Trump “the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup.”

The NBC News reported further that Trump said several times that he also wanted more troops and military equipment. But officials told NBC News that no increase in the nuclear arsenal is planned. Soon after the meeting ended, the officials who stayed behind overheard Tillerson say that Trump was a “moron.” When a reporter asked Tillerson to confirm if he called Trump a “moron,” he didn’t dispute it.

But what might sound “petty” is a serious problem… a very serious problem, considering that the person referred to as a “moron” is the most powerful man on earth who has at his disposal more than 5,000 nuclear warheads. And he wanted to increase that number tenfold? This man is not only a “moron,” he is the “Moron-in-Chief.” And he must be crazy, too!

Dr. Strangelove

Dr-Strangelove-TrumpWhich reminds me of the 1964 movie, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” It is a political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Although the Cold War is now over, the specter of a nuclear war is still very real. With North Korea threatening to attack the U.S. with a barrage of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, it has driven Trump closer to the brink of madness and self-destruction. The sad part of it is that the whole humankind would suffer, nay perish.

In less than a year in the presidency, Trump has reduced the world’s only superpower to an impotent eunuch denigrated by rogue states like North Korea and Iran.

When Trump addressed the U.N. General Assembly with a threat to “totally destroy North Korea” if the U.S. is forced to defend itself or its allies, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un responded: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Kim’s personal response marked an escalation of the word war between Trump and Kim. North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA then released the following statement: “The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.”

So, where is all this hyperbole leading? With North Korea conducting 19 missile tests and one nuclear test in 2017, North Korea is getting closer to its goal of developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile that could target the U.S. North Korea is now believed to possess 60 nuclear weapons.

Trump’s miscalculations

TPP-MAP.6But North Korea’s nuclear blackmail is only the tip of the iceberg. While the threat can be neutralized at a very high cost in lives and resources, there are a number of Trump miscalculations that could change the world order.

In my column, “Trump’s geopolitical miscalculations,” (May 12, 2017), I wrote: “But the worst in Trump’s miscalculations in Asia was his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a security and economic agreement between 12 countries led by the U.S. Seven of the member-countries hail from the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam, of which four are ASEAN members (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam). Collectively, the TPP member-countries account for 40% of world trade. Ironically, it was the U.S. under the presidency of Obama who started the negotiations among the 12 countries. Unfortunately, while 11 countries ratified TPP in 2016, the U.S. Congress under Republican control failed – or refused – to ratify it in the last few months of Obama’s presidency. When Trump took over, withdrawal from TPP was one of his first acts – victims of his vindictive assault on policies and programs that Obama implemented.”

China fills the void

Trump-TPP-withdrawal-cartoonWith the U.S. out of the “big picture,” it is anticipated that China would step in to take the place of the U.S. in the TPP. It’s ironic that TPP, which the U.S. was instrumental in forming as a counterbalance China’s dominance in world trade, would end up circling in China’s orbit.

But while the TPP might hurt the U.S.’s trade relations, there is nothing more destructive than Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement last June. The agreement was adopted by consensus by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of UNFCCC in Paris on December 12, 2015. To date, 195 members have signed the agreement, 168 of which have ratified it. By Trump’s withdrawal, the U.S. will join two other U.N. member countries – Syria and Nicaragua — that haven’t signed on.

On October12, 2017, Trump brought his war to the home front, launching an assault on Obamacare. He issued an executive order that stopped payments worth billions of dollars to health insurers to subsidize low-income Americans. It was a move health insurers have warned will cause chaos in insurance markets and a spike in premiums.

The following day, Trump did what he’d been threatening to do and that is: pull out of a deal freezing and reversing Iran’s nuclear program if Congress and U.S. allies do not agree to strengthen it. In trying to justify his decision, Trump said: “As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Sad to say, what Obama put together in the eight years he was president, Trump dismantled them in eight months. And it would probably take another eight years –maybe more — to put them back together. As someone once said, “Rome wasn’t built in one day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” In the case of the U.S., Trump is burning it, day after day. And he fiddled while doing it.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)