Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, also former Martial law administrator and National Defense Chief under President Ferdinand Marcos, now fully retired, has seemingly found a new career taking the cudgels for Ferdinand Marcos against the anti-Marcos forces.
Hanggang ngayon, walang gustong humarap sa akin para talakayin ang mga bagay na iyan (isyu ng Martial law, human rights, atbp),… sapagka’t hindi nila masasagot ‘yung mga tatanungin ko. Ang mga naloloko nila, ‘yung mga hindi nakakaalam. Hindi ba sinabi ko sa nakaraang administrasyon ni Aquino, buuin mo lahat ‘yang mga kasama mo sa liderato ng Liberal, pati ikaw, harap-harapan tayo lahat sa harap ng bayan at magde-debate tayo kung totoo ang sinasabi ninyo o mali ang aking sinasabi… ayaw nila…takot sila… alam nila na alam ko ang katotohanan…
(Translation: Up to now, no one among them wants to face me to discuss these matters (Martial law issues, human rights, and others)… because they would not be able to answer my questions. The ones they could fool, only those who are not well informed. Have I not dared the last administration of Aquino, assemble all your allies in the Liberal Party, including you, let us have a face-off in front of the people and let us debate, if your assertions are true or mine are false… they don’t like it… they are scared… they know that I know the truth…)
“Takot sila!(They are scared!)” Now, that!
Indeed, the anti-Marcos forces seem (to me, at least) to find more courage lashing and pummeling on the corpse of Marcos than facing the people who are alive who could yet answer their issues and allegations. In my book, that’s plain cowardice. Or maybe, I am just misreading them?
Hey, anyone from the anti-Marcos camp stand up and accept JPE’s dare?
The balance sheet for Marcos is that he left a legacy that was significantly positive. Yet in the writing of history, it has been made to look very negative. Perhaps, it can be argued that that positive legacy was reduced by his mistakes and shortcomings. However, there was still a sizable economic legacy left.
Certainly, some of the blame must fall on those who implemented the post‐Marcos transition. Those who succeeded him failed to capitalize fully and effectively on what he had left behind. The larger blame for that failure to seize on his economic accomplishments was that of his immediate successors. Although she was genuinely sincere and well‐intentioned, Corazon Aquino by careless choice, lack of experience, or sheer lack of understanding failed to turn opportunity into missed chances. Through a policy of denial of Marcos’s accomplishments, vindictiveness and the magnification of his faults, the successor government made wrong decisions that have led to the crippling of the nation’s leap in the economic realm.
If Marcos had left via an orderly transition of power, most of his accomplishments would have helped move the country forward without the country having lost any momentum. In fact, his accomplishments could have become a foundation for that new momentum.
In the final accounting, the economic legacy from Marcos is very positive but it was lessened during the transition in leadership. The discontinuity of the transition led to many problems that were blamed conveniently on the shortcomings of the Marcos presidency, whereas in fact some of problems to certain decisions taken during the transition. To analyze many of these will be the task of future economists, social scientists and historians
If you did not know, drug lords actually love the Rule of Law.
And why not? Just take a look at who are actually doing the fighting for them now in the current war against drugs being instigated by the new government. Is it some influential lobby groups representing the interest of the drug lords? Or a party list group of drug users asserting their right of choice? No. On the forefront of the battle is no other than a senator of the realm, Senator Leila de Lima, former Secretary of Justice, and a few other colleagues in the chamber, backed by human rights advocates, lawyers, due process champions, pro-lifers, priests, academics, professionals, civic groups and the like. Now, from any angle, that’s a formidable force to reckon with, a force which, for completely disparate reasons and purposes, find themselves curiously, if unwittingly, on the same side with the drug syndicates. The drug lords need only lie low now, sit back and relax, and watch while the warring forces decimate each other. When the dust have settled down, it’s back to business. If a few of them were also bruised, it’s all part of it, it comes with the territory. In their own way, they will remember to pay tribute to them who cleared the road of obstacles and of unwanted disruption.
Due process. Who really could quarrel with the principles of due process? Our legal literature is brimming with discourses for its advocacy and defense. Any lawyer worth his salt should be able to stand up at any moment’s notice to orate on the topic: Due process, the foundation of our justice system. As it is, due process has now become the central issue because of this bloody war being waged against illegal drugs, a war which has so far waylaid hundreds of drug suspects and caused the mass surrender of thousands of drug addicts to authorities. It’s a violation of human rights, cry the critics. It’s murder, wails Senator de Lima. This is a desecration of the Rule of Law, bewails the civil society. And, to be sure, strictly speaking, they are correct.
Yet, they too would readily agree that use of illegal drugs has grown to gargantuan proportions and it’s a problem. Ironically, for all their cries, it is the President’s draconian tactic that exposed the extent of the problem, to the embarrassment of the previous government. You have to ask, just how did the problem grow? Was it not under the auspices of so-called due process or rule of law of previous regimes that it grew? At the Senate hearing, de Lima was at pains to explain that the previous government to which she belonged did everything it could and that it should not be blamed for negligence. She went on to cite various initiatives from agencies under her watch as Secretary of the Department of Justice in the previous administration. De Lima should be asked then, what the results were because, obviously, if measured by the results, the initiatives failed grandly. Why these failed, she should honestly seek why. Because if she did, she will come to the sad realization that due process is the problem.
Indeed, the tough question to ask: can you fight illegal drugs in a regime of due process? No one will tell you this, but the answer is NO, no you can’t! It is either you sacrifice due process and fight illegal drugs in an extrajudicial manner. Or uphold due process and just give up the fight. Tough choice to make, but that is the reality on the ground.
In the real world, and I mean, in the real, unembellished world of real, imperfect people, due process is just a beautiful concept, easy to undermine and manipulate if you understand how it works and where the nuts and bolts are. See, when you are awash with money to buy anybody, have weapons of war to employ against those you cannot buy, and you have an amoral/criminal mind free of any moral/ethical restraint, due process is just that, an ideal for the idealists to idealize! Everybody has a price. Cynical though that statement is, it is true. Some are just more expensive than the others. And for the very few highly principled men and women who cannot be bought, just how much violence could they really endure when instruments of brute force is turned on them?
Because the Rule of Law does not differentiate the guilty from the innocent, the guilty drug elements could easily take refuge in the same law that protects the innocent. And because due process requires evidence and witnesses to prove a case in court, all that is needed is to take care of the witnesses and evidence. Also because you need a fiscal to prosecute a case and a judge to decide on it, then the fiscal and the judge must be dealt with too. By this, you can already identify the personalities who need to be bought, threatened, silenced or killed. As it helps too to have a wider sphere of influence, why not include influential personalities too as recipients of goodwill? No wonder why there is no one of consequence in the matrix of drug personalities being sent to the gallows despite harsher laws.
How many law enforcers could really refuse the temptation of riches? How many witnesses could? How many fiscals and judges could really forgo the offer of millions? To the idealist on the outside looking in, he could only see the corruption of the system and rail to the heavens against it, but he understands human nature the least. Luxury and riches in real life have their own lure that not many really could resist. And for the few who could, how many of them could brave the daily threats of violence on their own lives and their loved ones?
Over a few bottles of beer one night in a friend’s place, as our conversations wandered into Duterte’s war on drugs, I posed this situation to my friend: Imagine you are a cop, the good, idealistic kind; you are offered a million pesos to let go of a drug case, plus a few thousands more weekly after that; they say it’s the last offer as there were previous offers before which you adamantly turned down; they say if still you refuse, your children and your wife will be kidnapped one by one and killed like a dog… will you accept or not accept the offer? He stared up thinking deep for a long moment. Just then, his youngest child came rushing out of their house and sat on his lap. Our beer talk quickly drifted into other more innocuous topics…
The morning after, I was awakened by the blaring radio of a neighbor. The news was about a teenager who was gunned down at dawn, the mother swears his son never did drugs at all.
Reacting to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has recently released its study entitled Why Ferdinand E. Marcos Should Not Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The Executive Summary, as follows:
President Rodrigo R. Duterte proposes to bury Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) because he “was a Filipino soldier, period.” The NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES (NHCP) objects to the burial of Mr. Marcos at the LNMB based on his record as a soldier. The NHCP study demonstrates that:
- Mr. Marcos lied about receiving U.S. medals: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Order of the Purple Heart, which he claimed as early as about 1945.
- His guerrilla unit, the Ang Mga Maharlika, was never officially recognized and neither was his leadership of it.
- U.S. officials did not recognize Mr. Marcos’s rank promotion from Major in 1944 to Lt. Col. By 1947.
- Some of Mr. Marcos’s actions as a soldier were officially called into question by upper echelons of the U.S. military, such as his command over the Allas Intelligence Unit (described as “usurpation”), his commissioning of officers (without authority), his abandonment of USAFIP-NL presumably to build an airfield for Gen. Roxas, his collection of money for the airfield (described as “illegal”), and his listing of his name on the roster of different units (called a “malicious criminal act”).
Mr. Marcos’s military record is fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies. The rule in history is that when a claim is disproven—such as Mr. Marcos’s claims about his medals, rank, and guerrilla unit—it is simply dismissed. When, moreover, a historical matter is under question or grave doubt, as expressed in the military records about Mr. Marcos’s actions and character as a soldier, the matter may not be established or taken as fact. A doubtful record also does not serve as sound, unassailable basis of historical recognition of any sort, let alone burial in a site intended, as its name suggests, for heroes.
For these reasons, the NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES opposes the plan to bury Mr. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
I suppose that if a study should concern itself on the qualification laid down by the President, which is, “because he was a Filipino soldier, period”, all that needs to be shown in answer to “why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan”, is that Marcos is neither a Filipino nor a soldier. But, apparently, the research has another purpose.
In any case, I took time to read it, three times in all. I thought the study was haphazardly done, biased in favor of materials adverse to the former President.
My quick personal comments on the summary:
- That Marcos lied about his medals, the study did not present conclusive proof . All that could be gathered is that, at best, the medals are doubtful for lack of corroboration and Marcos’ supposed heroic exploits were too Rambo-like to be true. If anything, more exhaustive research is warranted. For instance, if the medals were fake, how and on what basis did he acquire them? I suppose that as these are meant to recognize exemplary acts of courage and heroism these medals are rare products of special craftsmanship and were not given away by the US Armed Forces like candy. Or, did he have his medals forged by a forger-craftsman somewhere in Recto? Yet if NHCP is so convinced his medals are fake, why, it should consider petitioning the US government to disown these.
- His supposed guerrilla unit, Ang Mga Maharlika, was not officially recognized by the Americans, true, but the study omits that subsequent appeals for recognition bore the endorsement of prominent Filipinos of the resistance movement. This should also be taken in the context of the fact that the US government actually gave recognition to only less than 5,000(?) Filipinos as legitimate guerrilla fighters when in reality more than 200,000 Filipinos fought in the war. The Rescission Act of 1946 should provide more context. To be sure, even American officials concede to the difficulties of validating claims on account of the chaos of the war.
- It had always been Major Marcos, as far as I know. But what’s the point as an issue against his burial at the Libingan?
- What is Marcos’ side of the story? As a rule, there are always two sides to a controversy. There seems to be a predisposition to take the accounts and assertions of the Americans unquestioningly. Military organizations are often occasioned by rivalry, intrigues, misunderstanding, disputes, internal bickering, and confusion within and among the ranks. In this war, the intermix of race and nationality of Filipino and American soldiers must have added color and complications. If anything, one could glean that Marcos indeed was too independent-minded and bullheaded for the Americans, and probably had serious problem following orders from his American superiors. Bad blood seemed to exist.
It is one thing to be doubtful; it is another to summarily allege fraud and accord malice on the basis of that doubt. As it is, the line of argument goes this way: it is uncorroborated/lacking in evidence therefore doubtful, doubtful therefore fraudulent. Worse, that doubt seems to be taken automatically against Marcos.
Studies of this nature should strive to be more objective and in-depth if it is to be taken more seriously. The slant of the research is so palpable that even the attempt to make it appear objective only magnify the bias. It is not scholarly, it is not comprehensive, it is not compelling. It was only meant to stop the burial, if it could. You’d think this one would impress Duterte?
Marcos, a hero or heel? That is better left to future historians. His haters of course think the jury is out: he is evil, period.
By the way, did the NHCP also ever conduct a study entitled “Why President Cory Aquino’s Dog Should Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani”?
(NOTE: Several revisions have been made since this post was first uploaded.)
All you need is a look at the map to see the imperiousness and brazenness by which the red line was drawn across the blue space to mark the claimed territory. Pushing out as far as possible away from its own shores, it proceeds to graze right through its own neighbors’. Imagine this happening in your own locale, one of the neighbors, Mr. Big Shot, suddenly howling out to all that the entire lake where everyone in the community fishes and takes a swim, is all his, then proceeds building a fence cutting across everyone else’s front yard. Of course, you and the other neighbors would bristle and protest, because you know that you own part of the lake too. But then as he is the most powerful man in the block, you oppose him only at your own peril.
Anyway one sees it, it is not a pretty sight. It is a scandalously inconsiderate and arrogant. It is nothing but a brazen display of Might, where Might makes Right because anyone who would dare pose any challenge would be crushed helplessly. That is not an act of a good neighbor.
Now, that is just me with my layman’s rather simplistic view of the world. In the world of global relations and diplomacy, there are possibly other elements that my analogy could not capture. Like China’s competition with the world’s superpowers for world domination, for instance. Still and all, the principles and elements that build a good neighborhood are all and the same at every level. In an increasingly interconnected world, we are a community of nations, much a like a community of people who must learn to live with each other.
Is this the best way for China to guard its own dominion in this part of the world and advance its interest? Be rough and intimidating on its neighbors? Instead of employing persuasive powers, the terror of brute force? This is not the way to win allies nor sway enemies.
Now that the ruling on its nine-dash line was dashed by the International Tribunal, China decides to dig in and threatens the Philippines and the rest of the world to lay it aside or else. After ignoring the jurisdiction of the Tribunal where it could have presented its side with its own evidence, it now uses the international media to broadcast its side of the story while threatening the rest of the world of possible devastating consequences.
The world should engage the citizens of China. Do they agree to the actions of their government?
China should reconsider its own posture and image. As a mighty giant, it should not be seen as a bully or an intemperate ogre ready to go on a rampage if offended. It should assume a more high-minded stance as a world superpower. The Philippines indeed could be leaning more on its side being a next-door neighbor which could provide plenty of benefits, but is being pushed away instead into the embrace of another.
In the spirit of the times, for whatever it is worth, I am re-publishing a couple of posts about the war against drugs, the first from a year ago, the second, from eight.
The case of Maryjane Veloso, the Filipina convicted of drug offense whose execution in Indonesia was temporarily stayed, once more calls attention to the wisdom— or lack of it— of the war against drugs. Maryjane is really just one among the so-many casualties of this war. Indeed, how many thousands have been executed or sentenced to a lifetime in jail since the war started? How much public funds have since been poured into the effort? Yet, illegal drugs trade has steadily flourished over time into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, and is growing more robustly than ever. This alone should compel us to rethink our approach and strategy.
Society, no doubt driven by noble motives, takes it to itself the responsibility to shield its citizens from the menace of drugs. Thus it legislates laws in various degrees of severity in the fulfillment of this assumed responsibility.
The drug user though does not share such society’s concern; he rebels against it. To him, it is simply his right, he exercising his own free will to satisfy his own cravings. It is not for society to decide what pleasures he must indulge in or not. At times, he must be perplexed: what’s the big deal? what wrong is there in his using drugs? He enjoys the highs and the mind-bending effect it has on himself, why deny it to him? It is not like he is causing any damage on anyone or anybody’s property that if caught he must be shot to death or be placed in prison for the rest of his life. If there be any harm, it is only on himself, but then that is his personal business. A lot much like smoking or drinking or skydiving… Absent any moral restraint or bother, there being no inherent evil in his vice, he continues to seek the fulfillment of his desires, plays cat and mouse with the police if need be, and pays the price no matter how high— and to hell with the Government playing Big Brother on his life.
Now, where there is a buyer, at the right price, there is always a seller, count on it. To the seller, it is simply business, no more no less. The merchandise to him is just that, a thing to sell for profit. Does a businessman care if his rope is intended for suicide? Or the knife to kill? Yet even in case he does and shifts to other wares to sell, trust that someone will emerge from out of nowhere to take his place to supply the buyer the merchandise, if under the most forbidding circumstances, at the right price.
The thing is, prohibition accomplishes two things: one. it limits general access of the public to the drug, but, two, it also jacks up the price of the merchandise. The first is the intended result, the second the unintended. From the original unintended consequence emerges a chain of undesirable spin-offs. As prohibition jacks up the price of the product, at times astronomically, peddling drugs becomes an extremely lucrative business. It’s the Law of Supply and Demand, nothing more. And because it is illegal, the criminal types naturally get to take full charge. The kind to whom you would otherwise deny access to riches for the evil that they are, inevitably they get to take control of a business that rakes in cash in overflowing abundance. What happens when criminal minds have billions at their disposal? Of course, limitless power to buy or force their way in and out of every nook and cranny of society. To what extent do they now have control of our society, we could only speculate. But if the occasional cocky display of power and hints of incipient influence be any guide, we could only shudder.
Indeed, it is a difficult dilemma but we must make a choice. Protecting society from the evils of drugs appears to have spawned a greater monster.
For alcohol prohibition, our US version, it was about 13 years. Between mafia crime, poisonings from adulterated beverages, and the dropping age at which people were becoming alcoholics, Americans decided that the “Noble Experiment” — whether it should actually be regarded as noble or not — was a bad idea. And they ended it. New York State did its part 75 years ago today, ratifying the 21st amendment to repeal the 18th amendment, bringing the Constitution one state closer to being restored. It took another half a year, until December 5th, to get the 36 states on the board that were needed at the time to get the job done. But Americans of the ’30s recognized the failure of the prohibition experiment, and they took action by enacting legalization of alcohol. Industrialist John D. Rockefeller described the evolution of his thinking that led to the recognition of prohibition’s failure, in a famous 1932 letter:
“When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”
The “experiment” with drugs, it appears anywhere you look, is headed for the same devastating failure. In the United States, the trend is going opposite the intended direction: addiction is worsening and the industry is flourishing. This despite the billions of dollars poured into the effort, not to mention thousand deaths and executions littering the path. And surprisingly, figures show higher percentage of users in countries where draconian measures are on employ, like the US.
To be clear, the above article comes from a pro-drugs site likely maintained by drug addicts. Yet, while the idea is unpopular, its pitch for legalization makes sense. For ultimately, the economics of the market will force the issue. Prohibition does not and cannot eliminate the twin forces of supply and demand. That much is clear, notwithstanding the nobility of the mission to shield people from the perceived evils of drugs. It can for a time stand in the way but like water seeking its own level the forces of supply and demand eventually adjust to find their equilibrium. Basic economics, pure and simple. Price goes up sky high to reflect the deadly risks involved in the equation. Indeed, the business maxim that risk and profitability are in direct proportion to each other, is just as true here. Which means a more dogged enforcement coupled with laws made more severe would only jack up the price of drugs even more. With a margin of profit two-arm lengths wide, you have an extremely lucrative business opportunity in your midst openly luring all sorts of risk-takers from far and wide, from high and low, from every nook and cranny to cash in quickly real big time. And as it is prohibited by law, business go nowhere but underground, naturally— into the hands of shady characters that very well belong there, people whose reason for being is to kill and die for every piece of action. Over time, wealth overflowing in limitless abundance accumulates in the wrong territory. You have a fountainhead of great power in the hands of Darth Vader. That which has had a humble start paying off and threatening lowly cops, moving gradually up, eventually graduates into bankrolling a presidential campaign. Then they take decisive control of society, these shady characters and their troops of gangsters, with a president as their front.
Follow closely how the P4B shabu haul in Subic will eventually disappear from view. It is instructive. Law enforcement finds its limits where this is said: “take this fortune and get out of the way or you and all the people you love will perish”. Show me one who will dare cross the line and I will show you a fool.
President Rodrigo Duterte starts his six-year term today. I wish him luck and good health, good health most especially because of his advanced age. I see a strong-willed, damn-all-the-torpedoes kind of leader with a clear—well, more or less— understanding of the nation’s problems. A natural-born leader, from what I sense, the role of leadership should fit him well, and, at 71, the oldest yet to become Philippine President, he should have the added advantage of the respect and deference normally accorded older people.
Despite all the flak he was getting lately for his roguish ways and wayward mouth, we are hearing enough admiring testimonies about the man from good, reputable people. He also has a remarkable track record to boot. These are enough for me for now. But just to be clear, I did not vote for him, well, not for anyone actually, because I skipped the elections altogether.
Let me make some cursory comments on a few things:
I think the China problem will be one of the most intractable and most difficult challenges. But maybe, just maybe–I laughed aloud when this idea came to me–his womanizing ways could actually help him navigate the waters. If you could balance between three to four women at a time, all of them happy to share between them you, maybe you too have the natural skill to deal with two world superpowers trying to woo you into their side. As it is, we are at a precarious balancing act between two powerful countries, and for the Philippines, the best position is to be able to stay in the middle, friendly in our own terms to both powerful nations, much like being the object of desire of two competing women who are taking care to be in your good favor. Huh, if Duterte could do that, it would be a great feat in diplomacy.
Poverty, this problem that has been with us for the longest time, should finally get its real solution. The designated NEDA chief, Dr. Ernesto Pernia, was talking about investment-led growth as the goal. Finally someone who understands… Most of poverty is actually due to lack of jobs or opportunity to earn enough means to pay for the high cost of living. So, it’s really all about job creation and job creation is a function of investment. More investment, more jobs; more jobs, less poverty. It’s an oversimplification in a way, but it helps to make plain one simple underlying science of it that is somehow often lost in too much theorizing and analysis.
I remember Duterte’s novel proposal about offering our numerous uninhabited or sparely populated islands as exclusive autonomous investment havens to big investors. I like the idea.
War on drugs? He will most likely fail in that area because it’s the law of supply and demand. Tighter drug prohibition would only serve to constrict supply and up the price of the commodity some more. The higher the price, the more profitable, though more risky, the business becomes. The more profitable the business goes, so do its size and wealth. Bigger and wealthier, more brute power and influence to battle the government. Like The Prohibition in the 1920s, it will only lead to more blood and violence in the streets but the industry would flourish nonetheless. The alcohol and cigarette of those years are the equivalent of our prohibited drugs today. The same social and economic forces are at work, no more, no less, and look at where alcohol and cigarettes are being sold today. But, hey, I am willing to be disproved.
President Duterte has taken personalities of varied, even opposing, persuasions into his Cabinet. I am wondering just by what magic could he meld such divergent personalities into one working team, instead of one squabbling bunch.
I am also amazed at how he is taking everybody into the fold: Joma Sison and the communists, Nur Misuari and the separatist Muslims, the human rights victims, leftist radicals, the Marcoses… wow!
There’s just so much in one plate: war on drugs, war on criminality, war against corruption, war against poverty, bureaucratic reform, economic reforms, peace talks with the communists, peace talks with the Muslim rebels, constitutional revision, parliamentary form of government, federalism, and more…
But Duterte should be wary of the Yellows. The Yellows genuinely believe that he was voted into office by a misguided, ignorant minority. They also believe that they are duty-bound to put things back in order by whatever means necessary. They are the ones who are happy about the way things are and are opposed to change. They are the ones agog over the developments over the last six years. They are the ones who want continuity and are against the disruption and reordering of things that Duterte had promised to make. Make no mistake about it, they are the enemies who are lying in wait for his fall…