OPINION: The solution

Teddy Locsin, Jr.

Posted at Jul 07 2016 12:18 AM

HAVING analyzed the historical problem in just one paragraph, Duterte now analyzes the proposed solution that won him the election. Is it the right one?

Well, nobody knows. Thaksin in Thailand proposed the same thing and killed 2,500 poor people, not half of them had even swallowed cough drops let alone snorted cocaine. The Bangkok cops just settled scores.

“I know that there are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality, the sale and use of illegal drugs, and corruption.”

Yes, in his view, crooks in government are on the same level as drug dealers and drug users; they too are addicted—but to stealing and in my view social climbing. They are those he vows to kill because they “hurt my people.” So expect Cabinet vacancies. I told you, there will be room for Leni after the question of Bongbong’s vanishing one million vote lead is answered.

Duterte goes on: “There are those who say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal. In response let me say this: I have seen how corruption bled the government of funds, which were allocated to uplift the poor from the mire they are in. I have seen how illegal drugs destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships.”

That’s actually what graft and corruption do: steal the lifeline of those miredg in poverty and that’s actually what illegal drugs do: destroy individuals and families. This is why the speech resonated so strongly. He was speaking about our own experiences of graft and drugs; about their impact on people around us and on our families.

“I have seen how criminality, by means all foul”—note the play on the expression “by fair means or foul.” Here there is not the smallest chance of fairness.      “I have seen how criminality by means all foul snatched from the innocent and the unsuspecting the years and years of accumulated savings, years of toil”—the word is from Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural—“and then, suddenly, they are back where they started.” With nothing.

“Look at this from that perspective, and tell me that I am wrong.”

Wow! He just opened our eyes to what we see and made us aware of our own experiences. And you wonder why the speech worked?

“In this fight, I ask Congress and the Commission on Human Rights, and all others similarly situated”—what a quaint way of putting it—“to allow us a level of governance consistent with our mandate… As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising.”      Then comes the killer statement, “You mind your work and I will mind mine.”

Is that right? It is wrong. Or so it seems. The work of Congress and the CHR, not to mention the Court, is to mind the President’s business, so he does not step out of the bounds of authority and law. But note what he said before that: he knows and has practiced law, as a prosecutor no less.

The Supreme Court itself ruled a while back, when the Ombudsman was filing cases left and right based solely on the notoriety of the accused as a Marcos crony, a prosecutor’s first duty is to ascertain if there is any evidence—and to weigh if it is sufficient to constitute probable cause with the same impartiality as a judge—before filing a case.

Duterte knows constitutional limitations, even as Congress, Commission, and Court know the law and their respective limitations. So respect his knowledge, he says, and he will respect theirs about the right way of going about things. That’s perfect constitutional law, fully consistent with separation of powers, which is not about one branch second-guessing another but each respecting the others’ discretion and sense of responsibility. It is only after discretion is exceeded or the sense of responsibility is abandoned, that the other branches will stop the president short: by congressional investigation or judicial review. But before then allow him, he says, a level of governance consistent with his mandate.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.