Displaying items by tag: opinion

Can Duterte use martial law for drug war?


Pia Ranada


MANILA, Philippines – A few days after declaring martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte began floating the idea of including the fight against illegal drugs in his basis for possibly expanding martial law.

This inclusion has basis, he claims, since it's the illegal drug trade in Mindanao that finances terrorist groups there.

"Ang first declaration ko was lawless elements, kasali ang droga. 'Yun nga ang number one. Isali ko na ngayon kasi ang sa rason na ibinigay ko sa declaration ng martial law, rebellion," said Duterte on May 27, while talking to soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

(My first declaration was lawless elements, including drugs. That is number one. I will include it now because the reason I gave for the declaration of martial law is rebellion.)

"I will come up with another general order. I think Lorenzana will do it... Pati droga (Including drugs)," he added.

With martial law, Duterte said he can detain drug lords and narco-politicians without an arrest warrant.

"We will go after drugs and you can arrest them without warrant and you can search their houses without a search warrant," he said. (READ: Duterte's drug war blinding PH from rising ISIS threat, analysts say)

The Maute brothers and their supporters, according to the President, put up a shabu laboratory in Lanao del Sur, and are using profits from selling shabu to fund their terrorist activities. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you should know about the Maute Group)

"The Maute brothers went to the Middle East to study terrorism. When they went back here, they built the biggest laboratory dito sa (here) – and everywhere in the area of Lanao del Sur, and here in Buldon and it was really to fund terrorism," Duterte said.

But can the President declare martial law or expand its coverage on the basis of the spread of illegal drugs?

Even the military's own spokesman, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, thinks the Constitution is clear that martial law can only be declared for two reasons.

"One, rebellion, and the other, invasion. There is no other condition other than those… Other than that, anything related to rebellion and invasion may be connected to it, but if it's not, then we cannot," Padilla said on June 2 during a Palace news briefing.

A Supreme Court lawyer also told Rappler that drugs cannot be basis for a martial law proclamation.

Fighting crime – in this case, drug trafficking – is not grounds for declaring or expanding martial law, said the lawyer. (READ: Understanding Duterte's martial law remarks)

Drugs funding terrorism 

But Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that under the current martial law, Duterte can target drug syndicates directly funding terrorist groups behind the rebellion.

"What the President is saying is right now, the rebellion is being funded by drug money so if you relate that and the rebel groups would expand their assault in the nearby provinces then there would be a basis for expanding the declaration of martial law," said Panelo on Monday, June 5, during a media interview.

Thus, only drug lords or narco-politicians suspected by authorities of funding rebel or terrorist groups with drug money can be the target of martial law.

"If the drug syndicates are funding the rebellion, they can be arrested," said Panelo, explaining that these persons would still be arrested for a crime related to rebellion, one of the grounds for the proclamation of martial law.

In his recent speeches, Duterte has been telling the public about the connection between terrorism and drugs.

"Hinayaan kasi natin ang droga (We let drugs proliferate). There was a time, until now, that the terrorism activities in the Philippines is funded and fueled by drug money," said the President on May 31 in Davao City.

He reiterated previous statements that he would use martial law to solve all of Mindanao's problems. (READ: Duterte to end martial law when Mindanao 'stable')

"But I advise you, let's end this. That's why I said, don't force me into it because if you do, I'll solve all the remaining problems." (READ: Martial law in Mindanao: Duterte's warning fulfilled– Rappler.com



Stop the bombings, rethink martial law


Sylvia Estrada Claudio


It is almost two weeks since fighting began in Marawi City and two weeks since martial law was declared in Mindanao.

And yet the people of Marawi continue to suffer. The crisis has entered its third week. A crisis that has caused the loss of lives, homes and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

As soon as I heard the news, I knew that there were those who would not appreciate someone who is not from Marawi or Mindanao for making comments.

To some extent this reaction is understandable. Mindanao has long been discriminated against by people in “imperial Manila”. Because it is farthest from the seat of power, because it is populated by religious and tribal minority groups, because it was but a few generations ago considered a frontier and underdeveloped place, it has had its share of being told what to do with itself by people who wanted only to benefit from disenfranchising Mindanao.

On the other hand, this reaction is counterproductive and illogical. First, not everyone in Mindanao is free from the kind of prejudices that have caused the problems in Mindanao. Not everyone is free from the bad habit of giving knee-jerk opinions. The converse is also true in that Filipinos from all parts of the country have compassion for Mindanao, an understanding of its realities, and the capacity to make correct recommendations.

Second, Mindanao is part of the Philippines and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao is a profound national event. Mindanao is indeed a part of the Philippines and all Filipinos are now called upon to extend their understanding and compassion to Marawi and its people. All of us must consider what martial law in Mindanao means for the whole nation.

I for one have taken some time to read and learn from the many discussions that this tragedy has evoked. I have given special attention to the voices from Marawi and Mindanao. Here is what I have learned and concluded.

Safety of ordinary citizens

This is the ongoing concern. Calls that oppose all military operations in Mindanao are unacceptable. The city is indeed under siege and military force is justified.

What we have is a humanitarian crisis in the making. By the fifth day of crisis, 80% of Marawi had evacuated. Many had the luxury of moving in with family in nearby Iligan City, but many more had to move into evacuation centers.

But the crisis is not due to the destruction directly caused by the terrorists. At this time the greatest cause of destruction is the military response, particularly the aerial bombings.

Over the past two weeks I have seen on social media heart-rending individual stories of Marawi residents. It is clear that they accept the need for government force but they are feeling that their lives, homes and communities are equally threatened by the bombings. Both citizens and community leaders are urging a stop to the bombings.

Part of the problem may be that our military does not have the necessary equipment that will allow accurate targeting of sites. This has caused widescale destruction. It has also caused the deaths of innocent people including our own soldiers.

Divided on proper level of force

It is not, however, merely the bombings in Marawi that are causing anxiety and debate. Even among Mindanawons, there is a difference of opinion as to whether martial law is the appropriate response. One of the earliest calls to reconsider the declaration of martial law is the Mindanao-based group Konsensya Dabaw. They raise the same concerns that many other groups have raised as to whether martial law for the entire Mindanao is the proper response. Among these is the statement of 5 Ateneo University presidents across the country.

For one thing, Marawi is but a very small part of the whole of Mindanao. We have also been told repeatedly by the military that the situation is under control and that the Maute fighters in Marawi are not a huge force.

Both Konsensya Dabaw, the presidents of Ateneo and various other groups have reminded the nation of the nightmare experience that was martial law under Ferdinand Macos.

While it is true that Mindanawons say they feel safer because the military has been called, I for one need to ask whether this is an equally worrisome situation because public safety and security is a police matter. For people to feel the need for military action implies that the government has failed in its promise to provide peace and security.

The Philippine Constitution (and that of most other countries) considers martial law as an extraordinary and grave remedy. It is a last resort. It is not meant to solve daily issues of peace and order. It is not meant to solve terrorist attacks. As some have pointed out, this is the first time that a terrorist attack has evoked a martial law response. A very similar situation was the MNLF attack in Zamboanga in 2013. This did not require martial law. More serious attacks in other countries such as the bombing of the twin towers in New York did not elicit a martial law declaration.

Duterte increases our anxieties


CROSSFIRE. Marawi residents are caught in the crossfire. File photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler 

In a recent speech at the Ateneo, Chief Justice Sereno gave Filipinos a clear explanation of what we agreed upon when the nation ratified the current Constitution in 1987. She makes clear that it is within the rights of the President to declare martial law. But she also makes clear that because the country has suffered from the Marcos period, the framers of our Constitution put extra safeguards to ensure that history would not repeat itself.

She is clear that a repeat of the horrible past depends both upon the vigilance of people and the Duterte administration’s willingness "to take sufficient care to abide by the Constitution and the laws."

The statement made by the President that his martial law will be just like Marcos’ martial law and that it will be “harsh”; his condonation of rape committed by his soldiers (in Mindanao where we have the largest number of Muslims and indigenous peoples); and his statement that he has no intention of obeying the Supreme Court – are causing more anxiety and resistance. These are in fact sufficient reasons to fear the political vendettas and massive human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship. It contradicts his assurances that martial law is a necessary and judicious act that he undertakes without any thought of perpetuating himself in power.

It also does not help that the President has been threatening us with martial law, long before the troubles in Marawi. This makes it look like this incident has been used as a trigger for something he has always wanted to do. As Konsensya Dabaw notes: “Beginning March 2017, President Duterte has publicly talked about putting in effect martial law in Mindanao in order to ‘finish”’ all its problems.”

Congress fails the nation

In refusing to review he declaration of martial law, Congress has failed the nation.

It is not merely that they are now in violation of their Constitutional duty. Any constitutional expert worth their name will tell you that the Constitution is unequivocal that the President must report to Congress within 48 hours and that Congress must convene in order review the proclamation of martial law.

It is also that the people are divided on this issue and fearful. The review process, if done with integrity would have helped allay people’s fears or could have given critical feedback to the Duterte administration about how to handle the threats in Marawi and Mindanao.

Instead, Congress has shown itself to be overly compliant. A group who have no concept of the checks and balances mandated by the Constitution. They have chosen political expediency over their duty to serve us with integrity. This Congress is so much like the rubber stamp legislatures of the Marcos dictatorship. They are adding to the fear and insecurity instead of helping allay it.

Sacrificing present for future

No one can disagree that deep systematic and structural issues are at the root of the security problems that beset the nation and particularly Mindanao.

People-centered and equitable development of Mindanao are the real and final solutions to these problems. But this cannot be achieved without basic values like respect, tolerance, religious freedoms, freedom of expression and dissent.

The bombings in Marawi and martial law are at cross purposes to these goals.

If Congress and the Duterte administration will not practice restraint then it falls once again to the people to ensure that the rule of law and rights be ensured in this period of fear and anxiety.

The suffering of the people of Marawi and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao are matters of grave national concern. All of us must take the time to be properly informed. We must be able to debate each other and accept political differences.

At the moment the well-being of our nation is at peril and we must rely on each other’s wisdom to ensure the survival of our democracy. – Rappler.com 



Duterte’s crude response to Chelsea Clinton shows his inner Marcos

Rodrigo Duterte is an eye-for-an eye guy, if you haven’t noticed.

But if the eyes belong to the American scion of an ex-president like Bill Clinton and the daughter of the much-maligned Hillary Clinton, Duterte doesn’t feel inclined to stop at a pair of eyes.

The guy just declared “Partial Martial” in the Philippines. Marawi and Mindanao for now. The guy wants to be the new Marcos. And now he’s doing what someone who wants to be the New Marcos does. He bad mouths everything in his way. 

So when Chelsea Clinton criticized him for a recent comment about taking up the cudgels for soldiers who would commit rape during martial law. Clinton said rape was “Not funny. Ever.”

She’s right.

You don’t joke about rape. Just like you don’t joke about beheading U.S. presidents, as comedienne Kathy Griffin found out.

Clinton also called Duterte a “murderous thug with no regard for human rights.”


Well, she does have a point.

As an elder and a statesman, Duterte should have let it go. It’s Chelsea Clinton. She’s not in his way. Duterte should have simply ignored it all.

But he couldn’t.  In that way, he’s like Trump. And he let Chelsea have it—directly.

“When your father, the President of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls there in the White House, how did you feel? Did you slam your father?” said Duterte at the 119th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Davao City.

And then he got even saltier.

“I repeat, when President Clinton was fucking Lewinsky, what was your statement or your reaction?” Duterte added as he further dredged up the 1995-6 case with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky that led to Clinton’s impeachment.

Duterte claimed that he wasn’t technically making a rape joke, but was being sarcastic, indicating that he was actually saying that he would be the one answering for the soldiers’ actions.

Duterte also has a sense of history and mentioned that American soldiers come to the Philippines and rape Filipinos, and even kill transgenders. Complainants, he said, usually get paid off and are given visas to live in the U.S.

The harsh truth, perhaps. And worth discussing in some forum. It still would have been better to let Chelsea’s statement go.

Chelsea Clinton criticized President Duterte’s recent rape joke. ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is Duterte paving his way for being the international “bad guy.” Picking on Chelsea just adds to all the Duterte buzz.

There’s been a lot lately. Starting with the praise from Trump about his drug war and extrajudicial killings. And that was just a teaser for the secret nuclear sub information shared by Trump with him.

Add that to consorting with Putin on the day before he declared martial law in Marawi, and you can see why Duterte can’t stop.

The Philippines was made in the U.S.’s image and now we have the man who is happy to emerge as the Brown Trump, the second coming of Marcos. And things are coming together nicely for him.

Already the Philippine Congress has successfully blocked a joint session vote on Duterte’s declaration of martial law, settling for a voice vote in the House as the official OK.

Doesn’t sound good enough for me.

Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin seemed to sum up Duterte’s declaration, saying there was “no coherent and holistic assessment of what necessitated” martial law.

Indeed, is martial law going to solve the problems in Marawi? Unlikely, but who’s in control here?

“Everything seems to be at the sole discretion of the President,” Vilarin told INQUIRER reporters.

The Supreme Court is the next stop. But at this rate, who knows if the high court can stop a raging strongman?

The signs are there. Just look at Chelsea Clinton as rhetorical roadkill. And Duterte doesn’t care. His bad-ass star is ascending.

Expect to see more of Duterte’s flexing in the media as we count down the “60 Days of Partial Martial.”

I’d say with Congress in Duterte’s back pocket, expansion of the declaration is likelier than you think.

At this stage, no one appears able to check Duterte on his test drive to absolute power.

Who can put the strongman back in the bottle?

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes for the Inquirer’s U.S. bureau. Contact www.amok.com


Subscribe to this RSS feed


Sign up to keep in touch!

Be the first to hear about special offers and exclusive deals from TechNews and our partners.

Check out our Privacy Policy & Terms of use
You can unsubscribe from email list at any time