duterte and history

in gina apostol’s President Duterte and our revolutionary history and sylvia mayuga’s The politics of memory, the thinking, basically, is that the president’s anti-imperialist rants are not worthy of attention, much less of celebration, not because he has his facts wrong but because his “indiscriminate” and “chilling” war on drugs makes him as bad, even, as morally bankrupt, as the powerful ones that massacred our people in the filipino-american war, and as the recently powerful ones that have taken over our territories in the west ph sea and killed our coral beds, among other depredations.

i get it naman, the outrage over the lack of due process for victims, guilty and innocent, especially the innocents caught in the crossfire of the president’s war on drugs.  but the prez also speaks the truth about the enormity of the shabu problem.  as my brother, a balikbayan doctor who has been living in the boondocks of tiaong quezon for some 20 years, and who has seen it up close, wrote 10 years ago:

… the illicit drug market has successfully gained inroads into subcultures of users, into collegiate life, and deep into the bowels of Philippine rural life, burgeoning into a raging epidemic of drug addiction…

and recently, in Duterte and the War on Shabu:

…the scourge swelled and raged on
brought stories of despair, violence and deaths
ho-hum stories of day-to-day life.
thousands of sons and daughters
trapped in the quagmire of addiction
countless petty crimes to buy the high.
drugs paid for by sex favors.
the violent turf wars
the salvaging of drug pushers.
there was frustration among the tanods,
the police and local folk who cared.
di pa tapos ang barangay report,
naka-piyansa na.

… as the drug cancer continued to spread
the powers that be turned a blind eye
government wore blinders
as drug syndicates came to our shores,
from nearby and faraway,
setting up shop in our gated communities
and countless small towns across the land
under the guise of legal commerce,
cooking shabu to feed the addicts of the world
while they fed the greed and filled the coffers
of the corrupt and the powerful
who provided protection
who for the price of a million or ten or fifty
would turn a blind eye
would provide sanctuary and deliverance.
make evidence disappear.
provide passage on the next boat to china.
the masa watched helpless
as the drug commerce prospered.
emboldened by decades
of government apathy
impotence and corruptibility
the masa resigned in collective sadness
at the ruination of their communities.
it was a sad commentary, often heard
kay marcos, di mangyayari iyan…

and then came duterte, and like my brother i grieve the wrongful deaths, but what’s the alternative?

… shabu is a gold mine of immeasurable riches
to fuel the needs of power and greed.
shabu will merely recede into the shadows
selling clandestine highs
while kingpins and drug lords
figure out their next moves
patiently waiting and reassured
at their chosen sanctuaries
that duterte will not win his war
or that he will not last the war
or that six years is an easy wait
for them to reclaim the land.
unless we see kingpins
dangling on a noose
or strapped on a chair
unless we hear
the cracking of firing squads.

… we stand conflicted at this crucial crossroad
but we have seen an alternative to apathy
and the possibility of change.
i pray, hope duterte survives the bounty on his head,
and i dream, wish for his victory on his war on drugs.

and i get it, the outrage over the marcos burial, the cursing and the jolog ways, the many extemporaneous speech boo-boos that he has had to back out on, at kung ano-ano pang utterances and behavior deemed unpresidential and uncivilized and unacceptable by his critics.  maybe prof. antonio contreras is right:

President Duterte is postmodern in the sense that he escapes any attempt to be named and labeled. He is unpredictable. He is an iconoclast in that he challenges conventions in almost everything. His identity rests on fluidity rather than on certainty. He forces people to pay attention to the nuances of language if only to make sense of what he says.

He interrupts the usual, subverts the conventional, and challenges the traditional, and deploys a kind of unpredictability that becomes his own weapon. This is why the elites and those who lived comfortably in the certainty of the “daang matuwid” and black and white politics hate him.

He is the master of simulations, in the sense that one could no longer distinguish his image from his reality. Unlike his predecessor who lived on contrived imaging courtesy of staged narratives by media spinners, Duterte’s obliteration of the divide between joke and hyperbole on one hand, and serious policy statement on the other is so organically rooted that it acquires enormous political power, to the consternation of media and the elites so used to predictability and plasticity of messages.

but also, too much is going on behind the scenes that we are in the dark about.  where is the promised transparency.  i pray that the duterte admin gets its act together, inspires some confidence that the changes the prez promises are indeed doable.  i have yet to get a sense, for instance, of how the president plans to lift the masses from poverty and to make OFWs and the diaspora things-of-the-past.

most disturbing is the charter change move via con-ass towards a shift to federalism, something our elected representatives are themselves ill-informed about and ill-prepared for and which threatens to fracture further our divided nation.  there has to be a smarter way of giving our moro brothers and sisters the self-rule they deserve.

just as sinister is the plan to change the economic provisions of the constitution.  read bobi tiglao’s The big lie: ‘Charter’s restrictions have limited foreign capital inflow’.

The move to lift the Constitutional restrictions on foreign investment in public utilities and media is based on false arguments repeated over and over again in the Hitlerian fashion of the “Big Lie.”

… Sadly, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez seemed to have believed this Big Lie, based on his statements in a forum with Japan’s big businessmen in Tokyo recently. I don’t think President Duterte, with his strong sense of nationalism, would follow the cue of Dominguez, who is after all, the sole big capitalist in his Cabinet….

Dominguez should first clear such policy announcements with the more nationalistic Duterte. It is he who was elected to office, not Dominguez.”

as for the pivot-to-china at the expense of our “special relations” with the US, my question always has been, why did america stand by and watch as china took over the west philippine sea?  and did china dream up that nine-dash line as a response to the return of US troops and bases to the philippines?  anyway, it’s really more like a pivot to asia.  read malou tiquia’s The Duterte Initiative.

Derisively called mad man by his critics, there is serious thinking in his “madness.” Visiting Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, China and Japan, PRRD has set the stage for a peaceful region, lights on for Asia and ASEAN and a face-to-face diplomacy that has never been seen from a David like the Philippines. There is rhyme and reason where he went and the key messages he called out in those visits. The Duterte Initiative has made the Philippines top of mind. Apart from Manny Pacquiao, foreigners meeting Filipinos have been asking about Duterte. Seriously, the “mad man” is a rockstar.

and if he’s serious about ending the visiting forces agreement and EDCA, a joint advocacy of senator miriam defensor-santiago and partylist rep walden bello in 2012 and 2014, he can easily do it.  read LEADER OR BLUFFER? | How the President can send the Americans packing as early as April 15, 2017. 

Article IX, titled “Duration and Termination,” of the Visiting Forces Agreement reads:

This agreement shall enter into force on the date on which the parties have notified each other in writing through the diplomatic channel that they have completed their constitutional requirements for entry into force. This agreement shall remain in force until the expiration of 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other party notice in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement.

Since VFA is an executive agreement, Duterte does not need Congress’ approval for his action. If the president wants the United States out of the Philippines by, say, April 15, 2017, he can simply give written notice to Washington by October 15.
As for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, the Supreme Court in its decision on the constitutionality of EDCA on January 12 of this year stated:

The admission and presence of US military and civilian personnel in Philippine territory are already allowed under the VFA, the treaty supposedly being implemented by EDCA. What EDCA has effectively done, in fact, is merely provide the mechanism to identify the locations in which US personnel may perform allowed activities pursuant to the VFA. As the implementing agreement, it regulates and limits the presence of US personnel in the country.

The Court’s words are crystal clear: since it is merely an implementing mechanism of the VFA, EDCA loses its character as a legal agreement once the VFA is terminated. With VFA terminated on April 15, 2017, EDCA will be null and void on that date.

…It is time the President proves to the nation and the world that he is really serious about asking the Americans to leave. The action required is simple; it is a notice from the Department of Foreign Affairs that does not even need his signature. Not following through will not only translate to a loss of his credibility among his constituents. It would lead to his being dismissed as a bluffer, a “tin pot” ruler, by Washington, which can easily adjust to living with his curses and his tantrums.

meanwhile, i have finally seen the sense in, and have stopped scoffing at, the president’s speeches, never mind that he repeats himself from one gig to another, almost ad nauseam.  he is, after all, addressing himself each time to a different group of filipinos, whether the soldiers, the police, the OFWs abroad, or the masses here at home, from one local event to another, and indeed it behooves him to explain again and again about his roots and worldview, about mindanao and the moro problem, about how and why we were colonized by america, and why we continue to have this relationship with the US that is special only in a lopsided sense.

except when he speaks (rarely) of marcos as the best president we’ve ever had who deserves burial in libingan ng mga bayani, which thankfully he leaves up to the supreme court, digong lifts my spirits with his lectures on philippine history, especially our history with america.  the elephant in the room whose continued intervention in our affairs past presidents have never dared question or criticize, much less speak about in public.  how spain, without consulting our lolos and lolas, simply sold us to america for 20 million dollars.  and after and beyond the massacres of our patriots and heroes, how they took over our educational and cultural institutions and turned us into caricatures of themselves, shaped us into little brown brothers who would rather be americans than filipinos, the better the easier to take advantage of us, to manipulate us into unquestioning submission down the century, past “independence”, all the way to the new millennium.

rare history lessons that no doubt the filipino masses are hearing, learning, for the first time.  this to me is priceless.

and so when gina apostol says filipinos are “gaslighted”, i.e., manipulated, deceived, by duterte when he invokes historical facts — an abuser condemning an earlier abuser of the nation in order to sanction his own abuse — i can only say, take a second hard look, please.  it is america, the master manipulator, that has been gaslighting our people for the last hundred years.


  1. Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

    true enough while Hollywood manufacture “Dream and Fantacy” entertainment. which castrated our copy cats culture in arts and media industry, the real greedy Americans have exploited, cornered our natural resources thru unilateral Congressional acts and promised Mutual defense treaty that is vague and non-automatic in case of war or military bullying, this historical injustices to the “little brown brothers” must now be corrected, not by diplomatic niceties but forceful and brave renunciation of American unfair treatment. And it takes a reAL BRAVE NATIONALIST TO ROCK THE BOAT AND SHAKE THESE OLIGARCHS WHO ARE SLEEPING and CONNIVING WITH THE WESTERN OLIGARCH FOREIGN GOVT AND CONTINUE TO ALIENATE THE people who because of their poverty AND CENTURY subjugation cannot dismantle much less over power the chains that them to political machination, corruption and ignorance. HAIL to Hail to Duterte. God bless our country. Lets open our eyes.

  2. john c. jacinto

    duterte uses exaggerated data on illegal drugs to justify his “drug war.” on the other hand, his anti-american diatribes do not reflect reality on the ground. filipinos will always love the americans more than the chinese and russians. inaano ba tayo ng mga kano? about 4M of our kababayans are living in the united states and sending oodles of dollars to their relatives here in the philippines. masama ba yun?

    • Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

      Conass or Concon doesnt matter. The issue will be is if it will be the wholesale change of a radical re-structuring of our political system with a concomtant economic trade-off on the exploitation and control of our natural and commercial resources.Will the bureaucracy be ready and flexible to absorb the shock and awe of federalism as against he cosmetic changes in ownership of strategic industries like mining, media, telecoms and our agricultural products like, sugar, coconut which US and EU have been in control since the time they have colonized us.