Protesters held placards showing images of Maguindanao Massacre victims during a protest near Malacanang Palace in Manila on November 23, 2015, condemning the slow-paced trial of those accused in the massacre, to mark the 6th anniversary of the worst political massacre of the country. Now, on its 8th year, justice is still elusive for the families of the 58 victims. (AFP) EIGHT years after the gruesome 2009 Maguindanao massacre, the government made a pledge to resolve the case in another four years to attain justice for the families of the 58 victims. Undersecretary Joel Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said Wednesday that the Duterte government would keep an eye on the developments concerning the ghastly deaths of the 58 individuals, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao. Egco said they received assurance from the Department of Justice, particularly from Justice Assistant Secretary Juvy Manwong, that justice will be served under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte because the proceedings against the accused are “moving.” “The PTFoMS will keep a close watch and strictly monitor the progress of the judicial process regarding the Maguindanao massacre,” he said. “Manwong estimated that at the rate the trial is moving, the case may be resolved in four years, or well within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, based on the assumption that the defense will present an equal number of witnesses as that of the prosecution,” Egco added. The country on Thursday, November 23, commemorated the Maguindanao massacre, which claimed the lives of 32 media practitioners, the wife of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, and 25 others. The victims were in a convoy towards Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao, where Mangudadatu was to file his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections. Nearly 200 people, including 15 surnamed Ampatuan, were implicated in the massacre. Of the total, 115 individuals have been arrested while 81 are still at large. Of the 115, three became state witnesses making the actual number of the accused, arrested and arraigned, 112. Four have since died in prison while two are out on bail. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who joined Egoc at the press conference, said the executive department was optimistic that the judiciary would live up to its vow to work for a speedy resolution. “We’re hoping that earlier than the four years mentioned by the Undersecretary (Egco), there could be at least one or two accused who will have the promulgation of judgment,” Roque, who served as the lawyer of relatives of the slain journalists, said. “The President remains committed to accord justice to the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and to all victims of illegal drugs in our country,” he added. Lawyer Nena Santos, who represents relatives of the victims, earlier said they were looking at partial conviction next year. Egco said the PTFoMS has requested Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa and National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran to intensify manhunt operations against those still at large. Egco said they have been seeking “an end to impunity, speedier trial, partial judgment, and intensified manhunt for those suspects still at large.” “The good news is after a long and tedious search for justice, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. That long period of uncertainties is finally over. Hoping against hope, we expect justice to be completely served for the victims and families of this most gruesome crime,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)
A tutt’oggi rimane irrisolto il conflitto in Marawi. Il generale Gen. Danilo Pamonag, comandante della Task Force Joint Special Operations Trident, ha tuttavia dichiarato che il rafforzamento del morale dei soldati ha permesso grossi progressi e successi contro i terroristi e che la tenuta dei ribelli Maute in Marawi City diminuisce giorno dopo giorno. “È solo una questione di tempo e la crisi finirà”. In quasi quattro mesi di schermaglie sono morti 145 soldati e 650 militanti islamici.
Nei combattimenti almeno 45 civili hanno perso la vita e più di 400.000 persone sono state costrette a lasciare la città.
Lo scorso 11 settembre il presidente Duterte ha fatto la sua quarta visita aile forze armate che combattono i militanti simpatizzanti dell’Isis. Nel suo discorso ha menzionato ancora la sua nonna, maranao, nativa della provincia in cui sorge Marawi e, rivolgendosi ai soldati, ha promesso loro che alla fine della guerra li manderà a Hong Kong in vacanza (Kayo, pagkatapos nito, maawa ang Allah, Hong Kong kayo lahat. [applause]). Si è poi recato alla grande moschea islamica, che i soldati hanno liberato dalla presenza del gruppo Maute il 24 agosto. Non è mancata una visita finale al ponte Baloi, in Barangay Mapandi, la zona liberata, ma luogo delle più dure e recenti sanguinose battaglie, per foto di gruppo con i soldati là di guardia.
Philippine police kill 32 in bloodiest night of Duterte’s war on drugs
THE GUARDIAN – Oliver Holmes South-east Asia correspondent
Police in the Philippines have killed more than 30 people in a series of raids near Manila, in the bloodiest night yet of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Supt Romeo Caramat said 67 police operations in various parts of Bulacan, a province north of the capital, had left 32 “drug personalities” dead and more than 100 others arrested.
Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that Duterte, nicknamed “the Punisher” by his supporters for his approach to policing, may be overseeing crimes against humanity in his brutal anti-drugs campaign, which has left thousands dead. Duterte was elected president last year on a quick-fix, populist platform of wiping out crime and pledging to put drug pushers in funeral parlours, not prisons. He has said he is “happy to slaughter” millions of of drug users and dismissed the deaths of children as “collateral damage”. The former prosecutor said he used to personally kill criminals when he was mayor of the southern city Davao and once threw a suspect out of a helicopter. Since Duterte became president last July, government figures show police have killed 3,451 “drug personalities”. More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data. Duterte has vowed, however, to protect officers who kill drug suspects under suspicious circumstances. In February, after thousands of alleged drug users and suspected dealers had were killed, the president ordered a temporary halt in all operations, raising hopes that the bloodshed would end.
The raids between Monday to Tuesday resulted in the single largest death toll in one night since officers killed 16 people, including a city mayor, in an attack on a southern city on 30 July.
Police records said officers seized 21 firearms and about 100g (3.5 ounces) of “shabu”, a form methamphetamine.
The 72-year-old leader, who remains popular domestically, has lashed out at any international criticism of the killings.
He has warned the EU not to “fuck with us” after the European parliament passed a resolution expressing “grave concern over credible reports” that Philippine police were engaged in extrajudicial killings, a claim officers vehemently deny. Duterte also called the former US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore”. Britain has taken a less vocal stance over the killings, sending international trade secretary, Liam Fox, to meet Duterte in April, part of a global tour to seek post-Brexit deals with countries outside the European Union. President Donald Trump has also sought to ties with Duterte, praising him for an “unbelievable job” in his anti-narcotics campaign.
After the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, met Duterte last week, the Philippine president said Washington had “considerably toned down” criticism of human rights abuses.
Dopo tre mesi non si sa ancora quanti siano (ma sembra dai 20 ai 40) i terroristi asserragliati nella città di Marawi. Sta diminuendo la loro capacità di infliggere danni, ma hanno ancora molte munizioni e continuano ad avere ostaggi nelle loro mani. Le operazioni militari sono ora concentrate nei due quartieri di 1 kmq di area ad est di Marawi, controllati ancora dai terroristi.
Dall’inizio del conflitto sino al 13 agosto, sono stati uccisi 562 terroristi Maute, 128 soldati governativi e 45 civili. Gli ostaggi fuggiti dalla custodia dei fondamentalisti islamici, hanno riferito che i rimanenti prigionieri, tra cui padre Teresito Suganob, sono costretti a preparare bombe poi utilizzate per combattere i soldati governativi. Rimane in atto l’imposizione della legge marziale perché lo Stato Islamico ha ancora estensioni in diverse provincie dell’isola di Mindanao come Lanao, Maguindanao e l’arcipelago di Sulu.
Il Segretario alla Difesa Lorenzana ha denunciato come “fake news” (un termine oramai di moda e spesso usato dal presidente Trump) il piano del governo degli Stati Uniti di condurre un attacco aereo su Marawi City. Nel frattempo la Cina ha donato alle truppe impegnate nella battaglia di Marawi armi e munizione del valore di 7.35 milioni di dollari ( la preoccupazione di molti è che poi vengano vendute illegalmente ai trafficanti di armi che a sua volta potrebbero offrirle ai ribelli musulmani Abusayyaf e Maute ). Infine la battaglia per la liberazione di Marawi potrebbe costare al governo filippino 3 miliardi di pesos, circa 60 milioni di dollari.
All’inizio del Ramadan e dopo 10 giorni continua lo scontro armato tra le truppe del governo filippino e circa 500 militanti islamici AbuSayyaf, Maute (uno dei tanti gruppi che si definiscono affiliati all’Isis) tra questi si suppone anche stranieri da Indonesia e Malesia, da martedì nella città meridionale di Marawi nell’isola di Mindanao. l’Agenzia Isis Amaq, aveva dichiarato martedì che “combattenti dello Stato islamico hanno lanciato un’offensiva su larga scala alle posizioni delle truppe filippine nella città di Marawi”. Lo scoppio della violenza ha spinto il presidente Duterte a dichiarare la legge marziale per 60 giorni in tutta la città di Marawi e in Mindanao, di cui Marawi è parte. Marawi è una città di circa 200.000 abitanti situata nella parte nord dell’isola di Mindanao. I militanti hanno attaccato diversi edifici governativi in città e messo a fuoco altri, tra cui una chiesa, una scuola e la prigione cittadina. Attacchi simili erano già avvenuti negli ultimi anni nella città di Ipil (1994) e in quella di Zamboanga City (2013) con centinaia di vittime. Non si comprende come mai i militanti abbiano attaccato una città a stragrande maggioranza musulmana e senza presenze sciite. Molto probabilmente una dimostrazione di forza o un atto disperato tenendo conto che da diversi anni i soldati governativi si scontrano con questo gruppo di militanti, distruggendo i loro campi di addestramento. Sembra poi che una escursione militare nel nascondiglio di un predicatore islamico arabo sia la vera causa di questi scontri scoppiati in Marawi. Hapilon, predicatore islamico, comandante del gruppo militante di Abu Sayyaf ha promesso fedeltà al gruppo di stato islamico nel 2014. Comanda inoltre un’alleanza di almeno dieci gruppi militanti minori, tra cui il Maute. Washington ha offerto un premio di 5 milioni di dollari per informazioni che portano alla cattura di Hapilon.
A parte Marawi le altre città abitate in maggioranza da musulmani, (circa i 20% dell’intera popolazione di 20 milioni di abitanti dell’isola), si trovano nella parte occidentale di Mindanao. Sono cinque ostaggi nelle mani dei militanti di cui non si conosce ancora la sorte: padre Chito Suganob parroco della chiesa di S. Maria, la professoressa Maria Luisa Colina e altri tre identificati solo come Sam, Wendell e Wilbert. Per ora le vittime sono 89 militanti e 31 soldati governativi. Quelle civili sarebbero 19. Molti i cittadini di Marawi che hanno lasciato la città. La notizia riguardante un capo di polizia decapitato dai ribelli si è poi rivelata infondata.
A Mindanao ci sono 5 Arcidiocesi, 14 Diocesi, un Vicariato e una Prelatura e i vescovi hanno condannato gli atti terroristici che hanno causato la perdita di vite innocenti, la distruzione di case e edifici pubblici, tra cui un dormitorio protestante e una chiesacattolica a Marawi City. Hanno altresì condannato il rapimento degli insegnanti e del personale della chiesa, tra cui p. Teresito Suganob che in un video ha chiesto di fermare l’intervento dell’esercito. Invitano a pregare per la loro sicurezza e liberazione.
Deadly clashes erupted between Filipino government troops and Islamist militants Tuesday at about 2 pm in the southern city of Marawi. ISIS’ media wing, Amaq Agency, put out a statement announcing that “fighters of the Islamic State launch a wide-scale offensive on positions of Philippine troops in the city of Marawi.” The outbreak of violence has prompted Duterte to declare martial law throughout both the city of Marawi and the wider island of Mindanao, of which Marawi is a part. Clashes between government forces and the Maute group, happened in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people. The militants had taken over several government buildings in the city, and had torched others, including a church, a school and the city jail. It was not clear from his statement how damaged the buildings were by the arson. Similar attacks happened in recent years in the town of Ipil (1994) and in the city of Zamboanga City (2013) with hundreds of victims.
A separate report from the ARMM Heart (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) disclosed that there are five hostages in the hands of the militants: Fr. Chito Suganob of St. Mary’s Church, Prof. Maria Luisa Colina and three others identified only as Sam, Wendell and Wilbert.
Statement of the CBCP President on the Fifth Round of Peace Talks between the Philippine Government and the CPP/NPA/NDF
It is not without reason that many of our fellow Filipinos do not have high hopes about the peace talks that are entering the 5th Round — after all, we have been through this way before.
But we are in the Easter Season, and the Risen Lord greets us all: “Peace be with you”. Peace is the gift of the Resurrection. Peace calmed the troubled hearts of his despondent apostles. Peace gave them the courage to burst forth from the Upper Room to proclaim the Good News. Peace ignited that charity in their hearts that made them share everything in common. Peace built the community. Peace can still rebuild our nation!
We, your bishops, therefore commend the next round of the Peace Negotiations to the Prince of Peace — since He calms all storms, silences the shrieking of demons and emboldens those who are discouraged and afraid. Indeed, one of the most common exhortations in all of Scripture was one beloved to Saint John Paul II: “Be not afraid”. This is what we ask of the negotiators on both sides of the table. Do not be afraid to take the bold steps that alone can bring peace. Intransigence is not strength. Humility is. That one has stood one’s ground is not necessarily the best that can be said of anyone. That he has sown the seeds of peace is to say of a person that he is blessed!
While we have a legacy to uphold as a God-fearing, God-loving nation with precious freedoms assured us by human reason and enshrined in international covenants and in the fundamental law of the land, we must, with the same steadfast determination, stand for social justice and for the renewal of an order that has left too many to wither away in the peripheries.
Peace be with you…but for Christ’s peace to pervade over our land, we need men and women of peace. We trust that our negotiators — on both sides — will be anointed by God’s Spirit so that His sons and daughters in this land that has already been drenched by so much blood may at last walk the ways of peace.
From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, May 24, 2017, Mary Help of Christians
(SGD)+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, CBCP
NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 19 March) — Faced with the unchecked criminality in southern Philippine islands, particularly the beheading of a German national by the Abu Sayyaf Group and by the unprovoked, murderous attacks and killing of soldiers by NPA guerillas, the beleaguered Pres. Duterte started to float the idea of declaring Martial Law in Mindanao .
The President believed that under military rule with unlimited power to haul and contain perceived enemies of the State through warrantless arrest, terroristic rampages and all other forms of criminality would be curtailed if not effectively halted.
Doesn’t the President realize that his all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is already an open declaration of a warrantless search-and-destroy operation against the enemies? If for that, what is the need for declaring Martial Law in Mindanao?
Martial law will not improve in any way the undesirable peace and order situation in Mindanao or throughout the land. What it will certainly do is disturb, if not alter, the lives of law-abiding citizens through a lawlessness that this time will be sponsored by the ruling regime.
Under Martial law, the law-abiding citizens will not be protected from criminality but will instead be reduced by their supposed protectors to a precarious life of uncertainty and fear.
In the past, executioners and agents of Martial law employed warrantless search and arrest to harass and persecute personal enemies; extort business establishments and silence and cow critics to submission to the regime. The many bloodcurdling narratives of the traumatic years under the Marcos Martial law years should be reason enough to oppose and condemn the imposition of Martial law whether in Mindanao or the entire archipelago.
When a regime is overly concerned over its very own security and survival, it becomes paranoid and treats everybody as a threat and potential enemy. Such paranoia makes life difficult to citizens.
For instance, I learned from reliable sources — from some friends in the military and civilian authorities, that I was in the Order of Battle (OB) of the military, along with all other honor graduates of Mindanao State University (MSU), campus writers and student leaders during the early years of Martial law.
In those dangerous years, one who is in the OB is a blinkin’ goner if cornered and apprehended. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Order of Battle is a checklist of personalities declared as enemies of the State without an iota of investigation or due process. Fortunately at that time there was no computer yet where a database of State enemies can be accessed on line. Thus the OB – enemy checklist — was localized at the provincial level at most, kept by military personnel in airports and some checkpoints and was referred to in clarifying at random the identity of travelers or suspicious-looking individuals in public places. After a while, the mimeographed list would get worn out by use, become difficult to read and be discarded.
I eluded arrest simply because I had changed residence and moved from Marawi back to Butuan thence to MSU Bongao campus as a member of the faculty and thus was untraceable, or perhaps the first page of the list where my name was likely to appear was already worn-out and unreadable. But many of my friends who were still at MSU Marawi were rounded and detained within a month of the declaration of Martial law at Camp Amai Pakpak. They were still detained in the military camp when the Moro rebels assaulted it during the Marawi uprising in the third week of October 1972. They survived the ordeal though, and in fact used their knowledge in ROTC in providing assistance to the highly outnumbered soldiers in repelling the advancing rebels. Apparently for that circumstantial heroism, the military released them unconditionally once the tension of the uprising in the area had abated.
But my teach-in companions during those street activism days in my then home place, Butuan City, were not as fortunate; they had disappeared without trace. I suppose I lost them all.
Come to think of it, how many young and budding Filipinos throughout the country were declared enemies of the State and lost their lives for the only crime that they were brilliant, critical in thought and were creative and articulate in that dark period of our history?
To repeat such history is a quantum jump back to the middle ages eon of years away from the universal goal of an enlightened and humane society.
Promising that the next chapter of the government’s war on drugs would not be the same dog with a new collar, the chief of the Philippine National Police said police would exert efforts to make the campaign less bloody. Body cameras, priests and a different composition of operating teams would be among the key features of what PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa called as “Oplan Tokhang Part 2” which he said is being unfairly criticized as a bloodthirsty campaign.
In an interview with radio station dzBB, Dela Rosa said policemen would be given body cameras that would record antidrug operations in communities. Operations, he said, would be led by municipal chiefs of police and village chairs in areas targeted for drug raids.
In carrying out tokhang (knock and plead), Dela Rosa said only local policemen in uniform would be allowed to knock on the doors of suspects’ homes. No policeman from the Philippine National Police headquarters or regional police office would take part in the operation. In Metro Manila, Dela Rosa said police commanders are to lead antidrug operations for Oplan Tokhang Part 2.
“Tokhang Part 2 aims to rehabilitate the suspected users of illegal drugs,” Dela Rosa said.
He said local government units have been prepared for the resumption of PNP involvement in the war on drugs. The drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija is now ready to accept patients from across the country. But he said drug users would not be forced to enter rehabilitation centers.
“There will be no coercion because that is against the law and we will need a court order to do just that,” Dela Rosa said.“So we will just convince them to undergo rehabilitation,” he said.
Police involvement in the war on drugs was suspended by President Duterte following the killing allegedly by policemen of a South Korean businessman right inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame. Dela Rosa had said the campaign against drugs would resume only after a cleansing of the police ranks.
“This we could guarantee,” Dela Rosa said. “This would never be abused because, as I said, police would never be indiscriminate,” he added. Operations, he added, “have to be led by the chief of police of the municipality and the barangay captain and barangay officials.”
The PNP chief said police would also provide priests copies of the government’s list of drug suspects to allow the religious leaders a chance to convince users or pushers to reform.
“The Church would be a big help to make this campaign less bloody or bloodless,” Dela Rosa said.
“People often say this campaign would be bloody but in Tokhang Part 2, what we would do is just to knock and plead,” Dela Rosa said.
Speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce in the southern city of Davao Saturday, Rodrigo Duterte said if the war on drugs descends into something “really, very virulent,” then he would declare martial law.
“No one would be able to stop me,” he said.
He said the aim of such a move would be “to preserve the Filipino people and the youth of this land.”
The controversial president has pledged to wipe out illegal drugs. In the first six months of his drug crackdown, nearly 6,000 people have been killed by police and vigilante squads, drawing criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations and U.S. President Barack Obama. Duterte has vowed to ignore the criticism and continue with the crackdown, and has dared his opponents to remove him from office.
The Philippines endured martial law during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Also Saturday, Duterte said he has ordered his military to “blast” extremists who flee with their kidnapped captives.
“They say, ‘What about the hostage?’ Sorry, collateral damage,” the president said. His advice to potential victims? “So, really, don’t allow yourselves to be kidnapped.”
Date Weekday Holiday Name Holiday Type Where It is Observed
Jan 1 Sunday New Year’s Day Regular Holiday
Jan 28 Saturday Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day Special Non-working Holiday
Feb 25 Saturday People Power Anniversary Observance
Mar 20 Monday March equinox Season
Apr 9 Sunday The Day of Valor Regular Holiday
Apr 13 Thursday Maundy Thursday Regular Holiday
Apr 14 Friday Good Friday Regular Holiday
Apr 16 Sunday Easter Sunday Observance
Apr 24 Monday Lailatul Isra Wal Mi Raj Common Local holidays
May 1 Monday Labor Day Regular Holiday
Jun 12 Monday Independence Day Regular Holiday
Jun 21 Wednesday June Solstice Season
Jun 27 Tuesday Eidul-Fitar Common Local holidays
Aug 21 Monday Ninoy Aquino Day Special Non-working Holiday
Aug 28 Monday National Heroes Day holiday Regular Holiday
Sep 2 Saturday Id-ul-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) Common Local holidays
Sep 3 Sunday Id-ul-Adha Day 2 Common Local holidays
Sep 22 Friday September equinox Season
Sep 22 Friday Amun Jadid Muslim, Common Local holidays
Oct 31 Tuesday Special non-working Day National holiday
Nov 1 Wednesday All Saints’ Day Special Non-working Holiday
Nov 2 Thursday All Souls’ Day Observance
Nov 30 Thursday Bonifacio Day Regular Holiday
Dec 1 Friday Maulid un-Nabi Common Local holidays
Dec 21 Thursday December Solstice Season
Dec 24 Sunday Christmas Eve Observance
Dec 25 Monday Christmas Day Regular Holiday
Dec 30 Saturday Rizal Day Regular Holiday
Dec 31 Sunday New Year’s Eve Special Non-working Holiday
In the first half hour of last Monday’s State of the Nation Address, President Duterte’s voice was nowhere to be found. The man at the podium was struggling not just to read the text on the teleprompter, but also to own it.
The prepared speech had some finely crafted phrases that elicited earnest applause. But as he tried to keep pace with the moving text, the President could not hide his discomfort. He sensed that he was not connecting with the audience.
So, there were two speeches that day. The first was a recitation of what appeared to be a hastily assembled action agenda for the first 100 days of the new administration. The second, the one that sparkled, was that of the President speaking to his prepared speech, unburdening himself of the mixed emotions that had come to him after his unexpected rise to the presidency.
Where he seemed distant, awkward, and mechanical in the first, he was intimate, spontaneous, and fully engaged in the second. Where he was the stiff and tentative government official at the start, Mr. Duterte turned into a raconteur brimming with humor and self-confidence in the rest of his first Sona.
The unrehearsed portions were easily the most applauded, signifying a public appreciation for candor, straight talk, and a manifest disdain for the rituals of public power. The entire performance must have kept the members of the Duterte Cabinet at the edge of their seats. No one could tell at what point a reckless aside would undermine a carefully formulated policy.
I doubt if this risky habit can be tempered by merely changing the President’s speech writers. His close circle of advisers must know by now that much of the Duterte charisma stems basically from the man’s penchant to tell stories in order to contextualize his no-nonsense approach to governance. His tough, raw, and often vulgar language is what precisely endears him to a public that has grown skeptical and weary of the formal platitudes and politically correct vocabulary of government officials. From this perspective, formality could be just another mask for ineptitude. He rolls up his sleeves to signify he’s ready to work; he can’t wait to go past the ceremonies.
We should not be surprised at the scant attention given to coherence and substance. It was this persona that got Rodrigo Duterte elected, not his program of government—whatever that might be. None of the issues he espoused during the campaign were urgent or priority issues at that time, if one goes by the surveys.
Federalism, the drug problem, peace talks with the communist movement, restoration of the death penalty, etc.—none of these were considered urgent national tasks before
Mr. Duterte started talking about them. These issues became priority topics because he made them so. Indeed, he spoke so freely and irreverently about everything during the campaign that one would think the last thing he desired was to win the presidency.
Therefore, if one wants to know who the real Rodrigo Duterte is and where he might take the country in the next six years, I guess the scripted Sona should be the last place to look. But, the unscripted part offers an excellent glimpse of the man’s leadership style, as well as of the things he is passionate about.
He appears to have behind him a very small circle of friends and associates he implicitly trusts. These are people who had worked with him in various capacities when he was mayor of Davao, and keep to the background. It is to them he turns for suggestions as well as to put some order to his day. Then there are the classmates and acquaintances, many of them fellow Davaoeños who mobilized support for him during the campaign. Their company constitutes his comfort zone. In this, President Duterte is not very different from his predecessors.
With regard to things he knows little about, he seems ready to trust in the wisdom and knowledge of people who have worked in a given area and are equally passionate about their advocacies. He likes fighters, mavericks who are not afraid to go against the grain. I don’t believe he is a socialist in any ideological sense, but one might call him a leftist for his strong anti-Establishment and anti-elitist inclinations. I also think that his advocacy of a federal form of government springs more from a revulsion to the perceived colonization of the country by Manila than by a staunch belief in federalism as a concept.
He has gut sympathies for the plight of the poor and the oppressed, except when they themselves routinely break the law. At one point in his extemporaneous Sona remarks, he said: “We have to adjust to the needs of our people … mitigate the hardships of these people.” He talks about the victims of squatter demolitions who are thrown into the streets and have nowhere to go. He gets emotional about indigenous communities whose lands are ripped apart by irresponsible mining. But he offers no words of comfort to the poor who have found themselves at the receiving end of his ongoing bloody antidrug campaign. Clearly, he does not consider drug dependence as among the hidden injuries of the poor.
Mr. Duterte is, by instinct, a peace and order person, ready to wage war against anyone or any group that “makes a mockery of our laws,” but eager to reconcile with any group that fights out of principle. The one thing he hates most, I think, is being talked down to, or sanctimoniously admonished by moral gatekeepers.
If change is coming, it will not be because this president is offering the nation a new vision. Rather, it will be because someone, at last, has decided to hitch commonsense to single-mindedness to solve the country’s problems.