Tuesday, October 4, 2016


photo from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/324877/news/regions/davao-mayor-duterte-moonlights-fights-crime-as-taxi-driver

THE faults and loopholes in plans are always clearer in hindsight. And it is from this perfect angle within the present that you might grant me the indulgence to find out where the presently-perceived progressing wrongness in Rodrigo Duterte’s national war on drugs may have started, going even beyond its practical launch during the transition period prior to his inauguration.
    I won’t get into the good things the war brought out from the dark as it exposed to national attention a problem already so huge that the gravity of the situation in solving it seems almost unimaginable now. I’m sure Duterte’s defenders can enumerate quite well enough some of those good things.
    But if the world and a growing number of Filipinos have perceived some things going wrong with the Duterte approach to the problem, so have I, and—thanks to the beauty of hindsight—I may now proceed to venture into where those mistakes may have been lurking prior to and during implementation:

  1. First, it seems to me now that when Duterte made his drastic solution to the drug problem as one of the highlights, if not the sole highlight, of his presidential election candidacy and campaign, that was perhaps also when he practically started to shape what would later be his impending war on drugs’ problem with critics (perhaps also this war's later-found difficulty in quickly and efficiently obliterating the menace). True, Duterte the candidate might not have been the Duterte candidate that many wanted to see blossom, though we don’t know that, if he had not harped too much on that subject (or on that solution of his to that subject). But Duterte is Duterte, and if everyone has an obsession, this was his.
        But one thing for sure now, well at least now looking back, is that the loquacity of the campaign rhetoric on it as a problem needing a drastic solution, while it served his campaign was also already paving the way for its potential unraveling. For it was simply by announcing this solution of his to the nation, and consequently to the world of criminals (and to the parallel universe of policemen frustrated with the requirements of the law and the corruption in the judiciary) that he may have unwittingly planted the seeds of the war’s own defeat.
        We might remember that the death toll from this war actually already started during the transition period when Noynoy Aquino was still commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Duterte was still the president-elect with diktats in waiting. When, during this period, Duterte made speeches encouraging police to kill drug criminals who opted to fight it out with arresting officers, the encouragement certainly sounded like an offer to policemen to use that scenario as their perfect alibi for the summary execution of confirmed drug dealers that the President might have wanted done (as per some other contents of his speeches). The encouragement would likely also have been useful to erring or criminal cops friendly to drug lords, who may have used the same scenario as the same perfect alibi for the elimination of would-be-whistleblowers (small pushers, runners, client users).
  2. The garrulousness of Duterte’s anti-illegal-drug campaign never changed its ways after his inauguration, maintaining a high profile via its appetite for loudness. That practically functioned as a warning to big drug criminals of their impending arrests. In fact, Duterte and his henchman, newly-installed Philippine National Police chief Gen. Bato de la Rosa, would state very explicit warnings to those drug lords on broadcast TV, saying, clearly or in effect, “get ready, we’re coming for you”. This ill-advised loudness defeated the potential of getting to the big drug lords through the quiet use as assets of small dealers (and client users). Instead, the government practically encouraged and aided the elimination of these small dealers, in the process eliminating their potential use as assets and witnesses necessary for getting to the big drug lords and necessary for the latter’s later ultimate conviction in the courts. In short, the Duterte proclivity for braggadocio made it possible for the program to only get the small fry as it practically warned the medium and big fish to get out of the way, even aiding the latter in eliminating elements in the equation who would potentially rat out on them. Thus the so-called “vigilante killings,” which, for all we know, may likely have been killings of simple users who necessarily knew who were who in the trading of the drug supply. These “vigilante killings” by drug dealers would be exacerbated by such programs as 1) Oplan Tokhang that encouraged the surrender of runners and users for listing and 2) mandatory drug testing that announced results: these two programs exposed users to the world of drug dealing as potential testifiers, which would be reason enough for their later or immediate assassination/elimination by the drug dealers. The programs' ultimate accomplishment? These eliminated the witnesses, setting free the drug lords. 
  3. Another offshoot of Duterte’s loud campaign (which might have been frustrating to the PNP’s quiet spies and assets) was its susceptibility to being used by the regular murderers for hiding the real motives of their murders. It’s not unlikely that some policemen frustrated with the law and the justice system might have been easily taken in by the cardboards laid on top of murder victims' bodies announcing an anti-drug-pusher motive for their killing, a reaction that would lead these policemen to dismiss any enthusiasm to investigate further other possible motives behind those killings. And when one such occurrence multiplies itself to a horrific number that may trouble the media and human rights organizations as well as the rest of the relatively civilized world, then the war on drugs starts to move on its way to defeat. Instead of gathering more fans (in the manner it gathered fans during the enthusiasm of the election campaign period), it accumulated critics.
  4. I need not say much about the potential of Duterte’s approach—along with any killings via vigilantism that may likely have been encouraged by Duterte’s passion—to eliminate wrongfully-accused persons (innocent persons) or persons adjudged as guilty by the verdict of mistaken identification.
  5. Much of the enthusiasm for and loyalism towards Duterte’s war on drugs seems to have derived from a mythical appreciation of its beauty, lacking any favor for a delicate treatment of the problem. This kind of enthusiasm would necessarily churn out more good-looking braggadocio (bravado) instead of more scientific thinking towards winning the war. The potential unraveling of the still-continuing war (for which the President has asked for another six months to complete) could start precisely from this seeming waylaying of any delicate treatment of the situation in favor of the charismatic carelessness of the drastic, thanks to the penchant for sweeping obsessive thinking in the President himself. Thus his announcements (after the Davao explosion that some have begun to regard as an experimental false flag) that the military might have to be hauled in into this war, without weighing the fact that this solution could bring in more problems (via evolution) instead of real closure. We’re not even talking yet about the announcements that seem to be jeopardizing a long-time alliance with the relatively more democratic West (that has been critical of his war) in favor of a sweet-talking trickster called China (that has offered him rehab centers allegedly already under construction). This obsession by Duterte with one single personal interest (the dreamy utopia of a drug-free world) seems to have become so emotional to him that it has placed the drug problem in a pedestal worth any sacrifice, even the sacrifice by a leader of his country’s national sovereignty, thanks perhaps to a blinded confidence that he will not be deceived by his new like-minded allies from the lands of Qin Shi Huang and surviving KGBs.
  6. The recently-accumulating careless statements of the President have made people nervous, primarily of the fact that he may have used this bottom-up war on drugs not for the serious elimination of the trade and drug lords but merely as a casus belli for the establishment of a culture of fear and obedience, fear of and obedience to a loved leader, after which establishment he can perhaps impose whatever personal utopia he has had in that strange 71-year-old brain of his, and likewise place in power the friends and institutions (local and foreign) that he wanted placed in lieu of the old friends his 71-year-old memory had come to hate.

    Sadly, all this developing blindness or myopia (in government or in the people) may perhaps only be proven true when it’s already too late and the only redeeming solutions available are already hidden in the tears of hindsight. [S / -I]

P.S. October 4, afternoon: If I may be allowed to speak in the language of divination priests, I'd bluntly say this to you now, Mr. President: "Here you are again, sir, deciding out loud, making all your thoughts known at a local leaders' congress. Sure you're telling them truths, collective truths and personal truths, but isn't the habitual or continuous screaming out of extemporaneous, lecturing truths risky when you are telling these to the populace yourself, touting yourself as your own best communication expert? Isn't it a disadvantage when you are being heard in the battlefield of your war, consequently warning the enemies you shouldn't be handing the benefit of a warning? Might it not be better to tell all these to key people in your team, giving them the blunt truths they might already know that yet need to be quickly and aggressively addressed? Might not the communication of a positive purpose or goal work better for the people's collective listening ears? Can you come up with a better communication plan than the non-plan you now have of making criminals daily hear your ever-present anger that's enabling them to adapt or be ready for?"
    Here's my joke about you to counter your Hitler rant:
    Kung si Rodrigo Duterte ang naging Hitler ng Germany at si Bato de la Rosa ang kanyang naging Goering, hindi na kakailanganin ni Churchill si Turing dahil walang magiging Enigma.

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