December 2017

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Sereno-impeachmentFor the third time in Philippine history, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been besieged with impeachment complaints. The first one, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. faced impeachment complaints two times. In June 2003, former president Joseph Estrada filed the first complaint, but the House of Representatives dismissed it on October 22, 2003. The following day, a group of congressmen filed a second complaint against Davide for his alleged misuse of P4 billion in Judicial Development Funds. It was endorsed by at least 1/3 of the House members; however, the Supreme Court ruled that the second complaint was unconstitutional, saying that the Constitution states: “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

In 2011, an impeachment complaint was filed against the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. On December 12, 2011, the House of Representatives impeached him. The Senate, which convened as an impeachment court began the trial on January 16, 2012. Many believed that the Senate trial was tainted due to the pork barrel scam operated by Janet Napoles, the “pork barrel queen,” of which 17 Senators received pork barrel funds brokered through Napoles. On May 29, 2012, Corona was found guilty for his failure to disclose his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN). Twenty senators voted “guilty” against Corona, which included the 17senators who received pork barrel funds and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, which the Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional.

The third Chief Justice who is facing impeachment charges is the current Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. In November 2017, Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon, a hitherto obscure lawyer and a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, with links to the Marcos clan, accused Chief Justice Sereno of “corruption, violating the Constitution, committing high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.”

Lawyer Larry Gadon.

Lawyer Larry Gadon.

Who is Larry Gadon? First, he is a loyalist supporter of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Secondly, he is a rabid critic of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., who was the nemesis of Marcos.

In recent years, Gadon started a petition to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) back it is original name, Manila International Airport (MIA). He said that NAIA earned the reputation as the world’s “worst airport.” He claimed that it was no coincidence that this bad performance occurred during the administration of Ninoy’s namesake and son, former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, which makes one wonder: Would NAIA had performed differently if it retained the name Manila International Airport? Clearly, Gadon is peddling a cockeyed view of NAIA.

Gadon is also leading a petition to change the name of Ninoy Aquino Sports Stadium to Rizal Memorial Coliseum. “Who is Ninoy compared to Rizal?” he asked. He said he will also lead a petition for the to demonetization of the P500 Peso bill. “Why should it bear the image of Ninoy when he did not become president of the country and he was not officially declared a national hero?” he wondered.

But Gadon has nobody else to blame for Ninoy’s elevation to a “national hero” but his own hero, the dictator Marcos. It must be remembered that the people recognized Ninoy as a martyr after he was assassinated at the tarmac of the MIA upon his return from exile on August 21, 1983. It was for this brutal murder that MIA was renamed NAIA in Ninoy’s honor.

Gadon was also involved in the legal defense of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the plunder and other cases filed against her. In 2016, Gadon left the Arroyo defense team to run for senator under the Kilusang Bagong Lupunan (KBL), which was the party founded by the late dictator Marcos. He lost in the election.

Impeaching Sereno

Larry Gadon and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes, Sereno.

Larry Gadon and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes, Sereno.

And this bring us back to Gadon’s impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Sereno, which makes one wonder: What were his reasons for wanting to impeach Sereno? An analyst, Institute for Political and Electoral Reform Executive Director Ramon Casiple said Gadon had publicly admitted that the move to unseat Sereno was an attempt to “avenge” former president Macapagal-Arroyo and the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. Casiple cited three reasons, to wit:

1) Gadon wants to get back regarding what happened to his friend Gloria.

2) Gadon wants to make sure that the vice-presidency would go to former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. It’s noteworthy to mention that Bongbong has a pending electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo before the Supreme Court acting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is chaired by Sereno.

3) Gadon wants revenge for what happened to Corona, whom he believed was unjustly prosecuted and wants the ones who benefited from it to be made accountable, including Sereno.

It’s interesting to note that Casiple had said that Gadon was “not citing anything about accountability or autocracy.” He said that Gadon had “candidly conceded” that the allegations in his complaint did not constitute “impeachable offenses.” And this was apparent during the course of the committee on justice hearing. Incidentally, the committee on justice had previously ruled – by a lopsided 25-2 vote — that there was “sufficient ground” to impeach Sereno, even without discussing point-by-point the allegations of Gadon.

Sereno’s SALN

Gadon also alleged that Sereno was not truthful in her SALN. He accused her of tax misdeclarations and unauthorized expenses under the Supreme Court. Sereno has maintained that Gadon’s allegations were false, baseless, and without any supporting evidence.

But Gadon’s allegation of Sereno’s misdeclaration of her 2010 SALN could be the strongest issue because it was for the same reason that had put Corona on trial. However, Sereno’s lawyers argued that the full amount of P30 million in legal fees did not appear on Sereno’s SALN because she received them in tranches over a period of five years. Besides, Sereno had incurred expenses over the same period. Sereno’s lawyers emphasized that, in accordance with the law, “Sereno declared in her SALN her assets and liabilities at the time she was declaring it, or what was left of the money she had been paid.” It’s also important to note that she earned her legal fees for serving as government counsel in arbitration proceedings against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco), builder of the NAIA Terminal 3. Since her legal fees were earned in the private practice of law, is she required to file SALN?

Sereno’s lawyers also questioned Gadon’s accusation that Sereno did not pay the correct taxes when in fact Piatco already had withheld taxes. Sereno said that she had a tax credit because she paid more than what was due. So, what’s the problem?

Political circus

House of Representatives’ committee on justice hearing testimonies of witnesses.

House of Representatives’ committee on justice hearing testimonies of witnesses.

The impeachment hearing, which is now before the House of Representatives’ committee on justice, has turned into a political “circus” when it invited three current justices and one retired justice to give testimony on the charges against Sereno.

The justices – Teresita de Castro, Francis Jardeleza, and Noel Tijam – and retired justice Arturo Brion gave their testimonies that many legal experts believe did not constitute impeachable offenses. Most of them questioned Sereno’s leadership style, accusing her of dictatorial tendencies and manipulative acts, none of which is impeachable.

So, why is Sereno being impeached then?

It is common knowledge that Duterte had wanted to form a revolutionary government. But what’s preventing him from doing so is an “independent” Supreme Court, particularly one that is led by a strong-willed Chief Justice.

In my column, “Dutertesized Supreme Court” (Sept. 22, 2017), I wrote: “Duterte shouldn’t have any problem in getting the support of Congress, which is packed with die-hard Duteristas. The problem would be in the Supreme Court where the justices led by CJ Sereno would balk at giving him absolute and unmitigated authority that would allow him to stop the operation of the civil government. Removing Sereno would therefore result in a Dutertesized Supreme Court that swings like a pendulum whichever way the puppet master wants it to go.”

And this begs the question: Will impeaching Sereno succeed?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Huk Founder and Leader Luis Taruc (center, holding newspaper) with his rebels.

Huk Founder and Leader Luis Taruc (center, holding newspaper) with his rebels.

Ever since the Philippines gained her independence, the young country has been at war with various rebel groups. First, the Hukbalahap or Huks for short.

The Hukbalahap, which stands for Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon (The Nation’s Army Against the Japanese Soldiers), was a communist guerilla movement formed by the peasant farmers of Central Luzon. It was originally formed to fight the Japanese invaders. However, after World War II ended, the Huks continued their guerilla warfare against the Philippine government. Known as the Hukbalahap Rebellion, it was defeated through a series of agrarian reforms and military victories by then President Ramon Magsaysay. He created the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR), a resettlement program for landless peasants and Huk rebels who surrendered. It was a tactical victory for Magsaysay who used the Huks’ slogan “Land for the Landless” as his own, establishing homestead settlements in Mindanao for them. He gave each family a carabao and a plow in exchange for their weapons. It worked! It broke the back of the Huk movement and peace was achieved in Central Luzon where the Huks waged their rebellion.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos  talking with Bernabe Buscayno alias Commander Dante, Supreme Commander  of the Maoist New People's Army during his capture sometime in the 80's.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos talking with Bernabe Buscayno alias Commander Dante, Supreme Commander of the Maoist New People’s Army during his capture sometime in the 80’s.

Then came the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It was founded by Bernabe Buscayno (“Commander Dante”) on March 29, 1969. Maoist-oriented in its strategy of “protracted people’s war,” the NPA was estimated to have 3,200 fighters by the end of 2015. However, the NPA leadership claims that they have more than 15,000 fighters.

In 1992, during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, the Anti-Subversion Act of 1957 was lifted; however, the NPA continued to operate. It collected “revolutionary tax” from businesses in the areas where they operated. They continue to do so today.

Peace Talks

Top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon (3rd and 2nd from left, respectively) lead other newly-freed NDF consultants in raising their fists at the NAIA 3 before they fly to Oslo for the historic resumption of the peace talks between communist rebels and the Philippine government. Photo courtesy of Reddie JS 8-20-16

Top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon (3rd and 2nd from left, respectively) lead other newly-freed NDF consultants in raising their fists at the NAIA 3 before they fly to Oslo for the historic resumption of the peace talks between communist rebels and the Philippine government. Photo courtesy of Reddie JS 8-20-16

In 2011, peace talks resumed between the government and the CPP, NPA, and the National Democratic Front (NDF). The talks have been going on and off since then.

Last December 5, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. He vowed to finish them off during the remainder of his term through 2022.

Incidentally, a “Christmas Truce,” which had been observed by both the NPA and Philippine Army since the 1970s is not going to be observed this year. This is a big setback to the peace process.

Muslim rebellion

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members, led by its founder, Nur Misuari, display the group’s flag in rites held in Indanan town, Sulu province.

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members, led by its founder, Nur Misuari, display the group’s flag in rites held in Indanan town, Sulu province.

In the southern Philippines, there is a different kind of war; various Muslim groups are waging a “war of liberation.” The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its rival the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are the two major Muslim rebel groups.

The MNLF was founded in 1972 as a political organization. It started as a splinter group of the Muslim Independence Movement. In 1996, the MNLF signed a landmark peace agreement with the Philippine government during the presidency of former president Fidel V. Ramos. The peace accord led to the creation of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Peace at last or was it?

The signing of the peace agreement between the MNLF and the Philippine government brought about a rift in MNLF leadership. In 1984, the splinter group MILF was established. Peace talks began between the MNLF and the government. But it collapsed in 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled against a preliminary accord that would have expanded the ARMM.

In 2011, the MILF withdrew its demands for independence and instead agreed to pursue “substate” status, similar to a U.S. state. On October 7, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III announced a peace deal with the MILF and declared, “This framework agreement paves the way for a final and enduring peace in Mindanao.”

Elusive peace

BIFF rebels (also known as BIFM).

BIFF rebels (also known as BIFM).

But the peace agreement between the government and the MILF did not achieve lasting peace in Mindanao. A smaller group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led by Ameril Umbra Kato, that broke away from the MILF in 2008, disagreed with the MILF’s acceptance of autonomy rather than full independence, which was what Kato wanted.

On April 14, 2015, Kato died from an illness. Ismael Abubakar took over leadership of the BIFF. BIFF suffered another split, when Ustadz Karialan left and formed another group after disagreement with other BIFF members regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ideology.

Last May, a new group emerged in Mindanao. Founded by the Maute brothers, Abdullah and Omar, the Maute group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, was a radical Islamist group composed of the Maute fighters and former MILF rebels. The group joined forces with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) and attacked Marawi City. The battle of Marawi lasted for five months. It ended with the deaths of the Maute brothers who were killed by government forces during a siege of Marawi. The leader of ASG, Isnilon Hapilon was also killed.

Bangsamoro

Bangsamoro rebels.

Bangsamoro rebels.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Congress has been trying to pass a bill known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which seeks to establish a proposed new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR). It would replace the current ARMM.

BBL is an organic act that would provide for the basic structure of government for the BAR. It would enact the agreements set forth in the peace agreement signed between the MILF and the government of former president Benign Aquino III in 2014.

If Congress passes BBL and is signed by President Duterte into law, it would legalize the existence of MILF, which would give it political preeminence among the other rebel groups in Mindanao including the MNLF, BIFF, ASG, and the newly organized Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM).

Under the draft BBL, the BAR government shall have the primary responsibility over public order and safety, while the Central Government with its AFP and PNP would be responsible for safeguarding the BAR’s external security. That means that once MILF takes over control of the BAR government including its own police force, it would exercise police power over the other rebel groups. If that happens, it would surely shatter any prospect for peace. It would be back to the trenches for all of the rebel groups. And once again, the Central Government would be caught in the middle of fraternal warfare among the Muslim rebels.

Price of peace

In my column, “The price of peace in Mindanao” (August 19, 2011), I wrote: “The ideal thing to do is to expand the FPA [Final Peace Agreement signed between the government and MNLF in 1996] to include MILF. But this is easier said than done. However, if [President] Aquino is going to pursue a separate treaty with MILF without involving – or consulting – MNLF, the political dynamics in Mindanao could dramatically change.

“The President’s meeting with the MILF chairman was indeed a great leap forward. However, it remains to be seen what direction it would take? Will it lead to the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro “sub-state,” exclusive of MNLF and separate from ARMM? Or, will it unify MILF and MNLF under the aegis of ARMM… and bring peace to Mindanao?”

Same issues, different players

Map of proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Map of proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

It’s interesting to note that the issues faced by Aquino in 2011 mirror the issues faced by Duterte this year. While there are other issues that need to be worked out, none is more important than bringing the various rebel groups to the table and fashion an entity that would satisfy all the groups’ concerns. Failure to do so could crush any hope for achieving peace in Mindanao. The challenge is: How could Duterte bring all the rebel groups to the table and unify them under the umbrella of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region? It’s s tall order, but nothing short of it would achieve peace.

Peace is like a tree. You plant the seed on fertile ground and nurture it. You fertilize and water it. It may take years for the tree to bear fruit. But when it starts to bear fruit, you spray it with pesticide to protect it from harmful pests. And like a tree, give peace a chance to grow.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Drug-pusher-killed-and-wifeWhen President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, he vowed to rid the country of illegal drugs, crime, and corruption in three to six months. Six months went by and the drug problem was still around. He then extended the deadline by another six months. A year and a half later, the drug problem still exists. What happened?

During the final session of the oral arguments on the two petitions seeking to nullify the government’s war on drugs, two Supreme Court justices observed that the number of drug users have more than doubled and there had been almost 4,000 killings since Duterte assumed office last year.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio noted that drug users in 2015 was set at 1.5 million as cited under the Command Memorandum Circular No. 16-2016, which contains the provisions of Project Double Barrel, the anti-drug campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP). However, data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showed that by 2016, drug users had ballooned to 4.7 million. “So it actually increased during the term of President Duterte. Is that correct?” Carpio asked Solicitor General Jose Calida. Calida said the data “was not really accurate and was understated.” [Source: Inquirer, Dec. 5, 2017]

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen also noted that there had been almost 4,000 people killed since last year. “There are thousands upon thousands of people who are killed either in police operations or found on the side of the road,” Leonen said. “Would you say we are now suffering a crime wave consisting of a lot of murders?” he asked Calida, who responded: “I am not an expert on that your honor.” “But with the 4,000 murders for a period of one year, don’t you think that this is something we should worry about, regardless of who these people are?” Leonen said. Leonen also noted that the number of deaths went up after July 2016 when Duterte took office. [Ibid]

During the hearing, it was revealed that Command Memorandum Circular No. 16-2016 had explicitly stated that there are three transnational drug organizations operating in the Philippines. The memorandum stated, “Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug syndicates dominate the drug market in the country.” It also stated that these Chinese syndicates “facilitate production, manufacturing and bulk smuggling of dangerous drugs in the country.” [Ibid]

Calida said that based on statistics, there were 418 Chinese who were arrested. However, he stressed that they were “not killed, but arrested.” Calida added that they could not determine what exact role of those arrested by the police was — whether they were users, peddlers or manufacturers. [Ibid]

Chinese drug lords

Alleged drug lord Peter Lim.

Alleged drug lord Peter Lim.

Carpio asked Calida: “How many Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug lords have been neutralized by the PNP since July 1, 2016?” [“Neutralized” is a euphemism for “killed.”]

Carpio further asked Calida: “Can you explain why PNP, in this circular, is concentrating on street-level operations and is practically ignoring the big time drug lords? How come the flagship project of the president is concentrated in going after small-time peddlers? Why not big-time drug lords?” Carpio lamented how the anti-drug campaign had focused on street level pushers and users when Chinese and Filipino-Chinese drug lords dominated the drug trade. Calida said Duterte’s instruction was to go after all drug users, sellers and manufacturers. “The big-time Chinese drug lords are outside our jurisdiction. They are in China,” he said. [Ibid]

With the Chinese drug lords operating in China, where they’re “untouchable” and protected by corrupt Chinese officials, the Philippine authorities couldn’t do anything to bring them to the country to be prosecuted.

Shabu labs

Police raid shabu lab in Mt. Arayat.

Police raid shabu lab in Mt. Arayat.

It is a known fact that the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine — known as “shabu” in the Philippines – is mainly produced in China. China has unrestricted availability of precursor chemicals, which is the main ingredient in the production of shabu. The shabu laboratories are believed to be located in the region around Guangdong and Hong Kong, and along China’s eastern and southeastern coastal areas. Many of the shabu traffickers are from organized crime groups based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.

The shabu trade is controlled by small, tight-knit groups of Chinese who oversee the entire process: from the procurement of precursor chemicals in China to the production of the drug in the Philippines to its distribution by local gangs. Philippine authorities say many of those running the shabu trade are Triads, the ruthless criminal syndicates that have long been involved in drug trafficking.

Due to China’s abundance of precursor chemicals and its unregulated chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the country has become the world’s major exporter of precursor chemicals.

Smuggled drugs

Meth-flows-mapPhilippine officials say that shabu is smuggled from China by passing it from large ships to smaller vessels, mainly off the coast of Luzon. Packages are sometimes dropped into the sea along the country’s long coastlines and picked up by fishermen. They then pass the shabu into the hands of local drug traffickers. [Source: Reuters: Meth gangs of China play star role in Philippines drug crisis, Dec. 16, 2016]

It is not uncommon that large amounts of shabu are smuggled through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and other ports in the country.

Police capture Chinese “chemist” and “cook” at the meth lab in Mt. Arayat.

Police capture Chinese “chemist” and “cook” at the meth lab in Mt. Arayat.

Another method of production is the use of shabu labs set up all around the country. The drug syndicates flew the production experts into the Philippines from China to work at the labs. They come in on separate flights posing as tourists or businessmen. They include a “chemist” to oversee the operation and a “cook” to actually make the synthetic drug. One such lab – a former piggery farm — was located at Mt. Arayat in Pampanga. The police raided it after a local resident notified the police of the presence of Chinese nationals lurking around the farm.

It is interesting to note the ease of which shabu is smuggled into the country. Surmise it to say, this could only happen with the collusion of corrupt customs officials and local politicians who protect the drug lords and their shabu labs.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, but one thing is certain: the government is losing the war on drugs.

Last December 5, Duterte issued a directive that allows the PNP to participate again in the war against illegal drugs. However, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) remains as the overall lead agency in the campaign against illegal drugs. But bringing back the PNP into the bloody campaign isn’t going to eradicate the drug menace. Simply put, killing drug users is not going to win the war on drugs. For as long as the country is proliferated with illegal drugs, the peril of drug addiction continues.

The challenge is: how can the government stop shabu smuggling and shut down the shabu labs? Evidently, corruption drives the government’s inability to fight the drug traffickers. Is it then fair to say, “Stop corruption and you can win the war on drugs”? It’s worth a try.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Duterte-and-Sison-NDFIn a country where groups and organizations are identified by colors, two groups – the “reds” and the “yellows” – have taken center stage in the political arena. On the side of the reds are the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and National Democratic Front (NDF). On the yellow side are the Liberal Party (LP) and the “Yellow Army,” supporters of former president Benigno Aquino III.

President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, a self-styled socialist, believes that the reds and yellows are conspiring to topple his administration with the backing of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It did not then come as a surprise when he made a bold move to rein them in, particularly the reds, which he recently tagged as “terrorists.” But terrorists or not, the reds pose a grave threat to the nation’s security, which has been the case for the last four decades.

Until now, the reds were treated as “rebels,” which gave them a semblance of legitimacy. Not anymore. They’re dangerous terrorists! But aren’t rebels dangerous too?

Duterte-and-communist-flag.3It’s strange that Duterte who was once associated with the NPA when he was mayor of Davao City is now against them. He was even quoted in a news article back in 2014, as saying he would forge a coalition government with leftists and Muslim separatists if elected president. While it made the “progressives” happy, it made a lot of people nervous.

When Duterte was elected president, he had several “reds” appointed to key positions in his administration including four Cabinet positions. Duterte’s decision to bring leftists into the inner circle of his government was praised by CPP Chairman and Founder Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison, who said: “It’s the first time ‘progressives’ will have a president as ally.”

Duterte also earned praise from Luis Jalandoni, Chairman of the National Democratic Front (NDF). Jalandoni said that he welcomed Duterte’s gesture aimed at reviving peace talks with the communist rebels. Jalandoni also confirmed that Duterte would grant general amnesty to 543 “political prisoners.” There were even talks of forming a coalition government with the NDF-CPP-NPA. That was then.

NPA rebels.

NPA rebels.

Last November 23, Duterte terminated the peace talks with the “reds,” citing the “rebels’ supposed failure to display sincerity to the peace process.” “While we agreed to resume peace talks with the aforementioned group and exerted our best efforts to accelerate the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement, the NDF-CPP-NPA has engaged in acts of violence and hostilities,” he said.

Duterte vs. Sison

Sison reacted with a strongly worded statement, describing Duterte as a “consistent political swindler and demagogue who depends heavily on lying.”  “Duterte does not mind being proven a big liar on the question of coalition government. He thinks that he can move on from success to success at political swindling, Sison said. “Now, he is being carried away by his obsession to establish a fascist dictatorship through charter change under the pretext of adopting a pseudo-federal system under his overcentralized despotism and terrorism,” he added. “As a president in a rush to become a fascist dictator, he (Duterte) expects to have limitless opportunities for bureaucratic corruption like his idol Marcos, especially in overpriced infrastructure projects, government purchases and cheap sale of raw materials,” the CPP founder also said. [Source: The Philippine Star]

In another news report, Duterte vowed to order the arrest of the “dying” Sison if he returns to the Philippines. “And if Joma Sison comes here, I will arrest him or if I were him, ‘wag na siyang bumalik dito (never come back here),” Duterte said in a speech before the San Beda College of Law annual alumni homecoming. “Better still, I will not allow him to enter his native land and that is a very painful experience especially if you’re dying and you think na you should be buried in your own cemetery, in your own town,” he added.

But it was only last April when Duterte advised Sison to come home because he was “very sick.” He promised Sison he won’t be arrested if he came home. But last November 24, a day after terminating the peace talks, Duterte once again vowed to arrest Sison if he returns home. Why the sudden change of heart?

Revolutionary government

Duterte-in-military-uniformSurmise it to say, Duterte would most likely proclaim a revolutionary government soon, which he had wanted to do for sometime now. The only explanation why he hasn’t done it yet is because of the strong resistance from the military. But by pitting the military against its longtime nemesis, the communists, Duterte could then convince the military to support a revolutionary government that excludes the ”reds.”

In my column, “Revolutionizing martial law” (October 27, 2017), I wrote: “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.

“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.”

Duterte-and-Ferdinand-Marcos.2If I remember it right, Marcos used “communist threat” as the main reason why he declared martial law. He even had his Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile stage a fake ambush to justify the declaration of martial law. And it worked!

Today, Duterte is once again using “communist threat” to rally the military behind him. And if he includes the “yellows” he could eliminate the political opposition just like Marcos did in 1972 when he imprisoned Ninoy Aquino and other Liberal Party leaders. It’s déjà vu all over again.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)