Even for Duterte idolaters, this week’s Presidential theatrics may have been difficult to masticate, swallow and digest. Could this most recent display of the President’s performance, temper and demeanor possibly coax a game changer in the vaunted esteem of his blinded, unquestioning and protectively boisterous fanatics?
The instance we speak of has certainly hit a sore spot in the vast majority who did not vote for him (60.09%) but until lately were still quite prepared to render unto him elbow room, respect and critical collaboration.
PDuts’ slip was indeed showing and the potential humility-inducing slide in his popularity and trust may now have become discernible. As posited many weeks ago in this space, is Mr. Duterte out to prove that he is indeed his worst enemy? The people will wait as answers unfold.
The flavor of the week is of course none other than his list of drug suspects and the undue umbrage at being gently reminded that there are limits to Presidential powers. Let me get to that in a bit.
'THE ROAD TO HELL IS FULL OF GOOD INTENTIONS'
The President’s personal war against illegal drugs and all entities related and/or affected by it is unquestionably commendable. It is for the good of society! That is as motherhood as motherhood statements can go. On the other hand, his methods and manners are breaking hearts and turning heads. They are not nodding in approval but shaking, and quaking at the unabated blood lust and blood bath!
Both the Supreme Court (SC) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have repeatedly expressed support and oneness with his objectives but with cautionary concerns for prudence and respect for due process and the rule of law, after all a judicious reiteration of their respective constitutionally mandated roles in society. Neither dissent nor opposition, the President stays deaf and regards the SC and CHR as hindrances to his imagined omnipotence.
Instead, the President is rankled at paranoid perceptions of meddling and interference instead of responding with a perfunctory polite thankful recognition of proffered cooperation. As good manners and right conduct (GMRC) would normally require. But going off the handle? Does his hair-trigger irritability quotient require psychiatric evaluation? I do not have the answer.
I sense a still prevailing prudence on the part of national media. However, the President’s periodic fits may just be stoking to unleash duly warranted commentary upon the Presidential persona and performance that will be far from gentle and respectful. Suspenseful! Right? I also sense that the “honeymoon” will be over. Soon. There are still veteran journalists who remember the fun and may be itching to relive the days of the Manila Chronicle’s colorful Ernie Granada’s encounters with President Marcos, touted as a contributor to eventually muzzling press freedom.
President Duterte’s expressed distaste and an apparent disregard for the “rule of law,” “due process,” “presumption of innocence” and considerations of human rights were well reported by media. As eloquently extemporized in his characteristic “in your face” style, he defends his questionable methods of implementing his war against illegal drugs, unmindful of the reality that such methods have been documented failures for the past 40 years in other countries were the same were attempted.
Respectfully reminded by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno of the desirable “sense of constitutional order,” and the need for “appropriate preventive measures without the complications of a premature public announcement,” that ”it is the High Court that possesses the authority to discipline members of the judiciary,” and that government functions upon the collective strength of three coequal branches, the President loses his cool!
In now signature tirade, Duterte threatened to declare Martial Law if the Supreme Court would dare hinder his war against illegal drugs!
His rant at the Chief Justice was harsh, rude, condescending and utterly bullying. Simply uncalled for. Unpresidential. Ms. Sereno chose not to prolong the argument. She has made her point. Her silence now resounds! You want sobriety? They serve it with grace at the Supreme Court.
'IGNORANCE OF THE LAW EXCUSES NO ONE'
“Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith.”
That is a quotation from the Philippine Civil Code which every Law School froshie commits to memory and there to remain through life!
This President’s brash and bluster prove inadequate to mask the truth that he is not too bright! A classroom dunce, is he? It is indeed very possible that he may not have read thoroughly, much less understood the letter and spirit of the Constitution under which he was elected! (And yet he has the unabashed gumption to maneuver a constitutional change!)
There is absolutely no social situation nor political condition currently existing anywhere in the country that allows the President to call upon any imagined power to declare martial law under the 1987 Constitution. In fact, let us humor the man and ask him: What provision of the Constitution does he think empowers him to lock up Congress, as he has so often bragged? (Unless he is intent on manufacturing what he may miscalculate as justification, a la Marcos. Remember?) Was that Martial Law threat, then, a “Freudian Slip?”
His Palace apologists, sensitive to the progressing damage were quick to suppress it. They were evidently aware and conscious of the impact of their boss’ behavior upon the thinking citizenry. They issued statements to the effect that the President recognizes the separation of powers among the three branches of government and that the President was merely engaging in rhetoric.
Furthermore, they stated as an afterthought that the Supreme Court misunderstood the President. These defensive apologetic remarks belie the hurtful import of the President’s spoken and recorded words. They have been spoken and they will be remembered. But not to be outdone, a Palace legal imbecile jumps in and opines that the drug menace confronting Philippine society today is such a menace that it can justify a declaration of martial law! Realizing the pickle he was in, he concludes: “But the President will not do it.”
It is obvious to this naughty observer that the President was either ignorant of the law, has not quite understood that the President under the 1987 Constitution does not have the same powers as those available under the 1935 Constitution (and thus ignorant of his official limitations) or that he is simply unable to brush off the dust of the Davao Death Squads upon his managerial psyche and style.
There is one certitude in all this. It is that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is rude, boneheaded and a dunce! Let me put it in picturesque Sampaloc sidewalk patois: Bastos, Barumbado at Bobo pa!
While some senators tend to regard him as a joke, the effective antidote is to always take him seriously. With Duterte at the helm, the country cannot afford to take him for granted. He is volatile and himself a potential menace. Not to oppose any hint of misrule is the beginning of the nation’s ruination. Vigilance is the price of Freedom!
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.