President Duterte: It’s all about Mindanao
I’ve been trying to piece things together, doing the deductions, adding the numbers, calculating the odds. I even spied one of those old Sherlock Holmes caps in the costume department of Gaisano Mall in Ormoc, and plopped down P265 to buy it in hopes that some of the great detective’s lore might rub off on me.
Never mind that Sherlock was a dope addict and would have been shot on sight as soon as he stepped from the boat onto Philippine soil.
I am forced into this deductive mindset because, like so many Filipinos who try to make sense out of current events, I can’t figure out the man they elected as President. He says one thing then does another, or withdraws his claim, or changes the time-frames, or snubs the Vice President then appoints her to a very substantial position on the strength of a smile at the changing of the guard at a military ceremony. To say he is unpredictable is like saying Donald Trump is loud.
So, as I expressed before, I am confused. Off balance . . . perhaps the way he likes it.
If he spoke directly, with commitment and accountability, I could know what he means, and trust what he says. But he does not, so I am left with these calculations.
If they are unfair or unkind to the President, I apologize. I am only trying to do my job to be an intelligent guardian of my citizen son and a worthy caretaker of my citizen wife. Who is also off balance . . .
So I ask readers to indulge me. Kindly take all that you see and understand about President Duterte, all that you see and don’t understand, and all the questions you have, the rumors, the data, the headlines, the trolls, the yellows, the memes and speeches . . . and throw everything high into the air. Way up there.
Then let it drift down and assume shape, each part linked in some way to another.
That’s what I’ve done.
This blog will tell you about it. It will put together all these observations, and connect them into one pattern that makes sense. That pattern may be wholly wrong, but . . .
. . . at least it makes sense, whereas current events do not.
Besides, you are not inutile here, you may shoot down my observations and deductions, confirm them, modify them, or provide your own computations. Indeed, President Duterte or his top staff . . . rather than claiming I am irresponsible for trying to attach some sense to activities that seem to make none . . . can do the same thing by explaining what in the hell is going on these days in the Philippines.Why did Mayor Duterte run for President?
Speculation. He ran because he was da man in Mindanao, and there is no way for da man or Mindanao, his realm and his heirs, to go up unless he could make something more out of that region than being mayor for a lifetime.
He did not run because he had a vision for the Philippines.
He ran because he had a vision for Mindanao.
In Mindanao, da man is da warlord with the biggest set of juevos and cannons and friends in powerful places. Mayor Duterte has huge juevos and death just a plank in his political platform. He has cannons in the hands of people who are not afraid to use them, and a lot of friends in powerful places, from the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to the leaders of the armed and dangerous New People’s Army (NPA), to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, the man who led the deadly hostage taking in Zamboanga a few years ago, to two former presidents and the son of a dictator longing to run the nation again: the honorables Fidel Ramos, Gloria Arroyo and Bong Bong Marcos. He also has a Filipino-Chinese strategist and working aide who is Mr. Duterte’s youth on steroids, a bright and hard-working guy by the name of Christopher “Bong” Go,
This is no hick town “Hi’ya podner!” ex-mayor. This is a powerful strongman, a warlord, a clan kingpin, a master of strategy and a superb executioner, of both tactics and people. Don’t let the debate yucks, the jet-ski comedy, or tears at his mother’s grave mislead you about the heart of iron that beats in this man’s very intelligent soul.
He is a gameplayer, a calculator, a master of manipulation. A nice guy one day, a terror the next.
As I see the pieces of evidence float leisurely down from the sky, I’d guess that President Duterte would happily deal-in former presidents Arroyo and Ramos, or Bong Bong Marcos, to take the national government off his hands . . . on his terms . . . when he is done with it. He only wants Mindanao. And he can use his band of rebellious brothers to defend Mindanao while he works to raise the economy of the region to emulate that of Hong Kong or Taiwan or Singapore. It’s a bigger place, after all.
He’d be the biggest rebel and kingfish the Philippines has seen since . . . since . . . ever . . .
President for life of the Independent Republic of Mindanao, homeland to the great Moro peoples and a lot of other groups who have never been fully welcomed into the Philippines. Leftists among them.
And his heirs would have a lock on the rule of that land for way past our lifetimes . . .
- All he would need is an economic launch pad and cross-island infrastructure along the lines of that proposed by forward-looking Sir Joseph America in his article “Manila is to New York as Davao is to Los Angeles”.
- He would need China, or a deal with China, for the infrastructure, for a tap into the lucrative drug pipelines, and for the riches to be obtained by selling ore and labor to China. The last thing he would want would be a war with China over a few islands that have absolutely no place in his calculus.
- He would need federalism as the jumping-off platform to independence.
- He would need power and control over the political groups who could block him; it’s astounding how such a radical man has so quickly put together dominant groups in both the House and Senate. He’d need the drug dealers who could protect and fund him, and he’d need the island’s vast physical resources to build a powerful economy.
- And he would have to gain the support of former enemies who would become his hired enforcers in order to reach the goal of independence for their promised land, and the riches that would soon flow from it.
Well, that is the picture that fell from the sky. Yes, it is speculative, for sure. But we can do some more work, get to some meat, perhaps, or some “what ifs” that may add more depth to the speculations.
Here’s what the Pimentel federalism draft legislation says on Page 4 under a proposed new section under “Article I. National Territory”:
New Section. Article I. Dissolution, Secession or Separation of States. No State may dissolve itself, secede or separate from the Federal Republic unless it first secures the approval of two-thirds of its qualified voters in a plebiscite called for that purpose. Thereafter, the Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its members, voting separately, act on the proposed dissolution, secession or separation of the State concerned.
If something along these lines will be inserted into the expected federalism proposal being advocated by President Duterte, then the steps needed to secure an independent Mindanao are:
- Plebescite vote of two-thirds of Mindanao voters. Easy.
- Vote of two-thirds of all members of Congress. Not so easy, but there are two paths to securing this vote: (1) apply power, favor and money to obtain the backing of compliant legislators, or . . . not preferred . . . (2) engage in war to force secession.
Juevos and cannons.
Mindanao has absolutely no use for the United States. The only linkage between the US and Mindanao is American backing of the war on terror: the satellites, drones, intelligence personnel and training of the AFP. This is an entirely separate skirmish than the matter of islands in the West Philippine Sea.
What if President Duterte calls off the American dogs as a part of his peace agreement with the CPP and the arch-terrorists, Abu Sayyaf? That is a powerful negotiating chip.
The fundamental question is, can militant Muslim Mindanao be brought into the government of Mindanao to satisfy their desire for a national homeland? Will they be willing to share power with, but under, the Duterte clan?
I don’t know. But I can see that the US is a bother and China is more of a resource to Mindanao than a threat. China is a market for ore and labor, an inward bound pipeline for drugs, and a funding source for empowerment and infrastructure. All President Duterte needs to do is keep the Philippines out of any shooting contest between the West and China, and posture the Philippines as a commercial ally of China, under the correct terms.
That’s a tough task, but it for sure reconciles the conflict we see between what the Constitution says and what DFA Secretary Yasay told AFP (Richard Hedarian) the other day:
- The Constitution: The government must manage territories for the exclusive and sovereign use of Filipinos.
- Secretary Yasay: The government can allow China or other neighboring states to share the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.
What does Mindanao care about relationships with Australia or Japan or ASEAN states? Nothing. Mindanao only cares about Sabah in Malaysia as territory for expansion, down the road. If the power of the Philippine state can help move in that direction, great. Not crucial, mind you. But an interest.
The war on drugs can be used as a smokescreen, or as a way to deliver to China a clear path to the distribution of drugs in the Philippines once the small fry are out of the picture. It makes it look like the President is a tough guy, hard at work for the nation, Philippines. He’s the macho man his followers adore. It’s a diversion, a very visible and deadly one. If there is a sucker born every minute, a lot of them lined up to vote for death, mistaking it for authority.
Doing the arithmetic
Remember, President Duterte can relegate all this speculation to dust. Easy. He just needs to explain why he does what he does, to the apparent detriment of civility, human rights, judicial process and Philippine sovereignty.
He only needs to start delivering big drug lords connected with China . . . not PNP generals with no announced evidence to back up his charge . . . become a firm advocate for Philippine sovereignty over the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone, build a well-equipped and trained military working directly with the US to defend that sovereignty, stop coddling the terrorist and extortionist gangsters of Mindanao and hunt them down for the criminals they are, go anywhere but China for infrastructure development, and lose the Mindanao-centric thinking.
He only needs to start thinking and acting like the leader of the entire free Philippines. A law-abiding straight-shooter looking out for the best interest of all Filipinos.
Think about a few things.
- There are 3.5 million Filipinos living in the US and 1,200 living in mainland China, yet President Duterte is cold to the US and warm to China.
- President Duterte has said that Abu Sayyaf is not an enemy of the Philippines. Beyond that, the US is the “cause” of the problems in Muslim nations.
- The anti-drug crusade has not yet reached a connection to China where most drugs are widely said to be sourced.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is pursuing a path of appeasement with China over the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In doing so, DFA is tossing aside all the chips earned by the Philippines, all the alliances and credibility and leadership, built up during recent years.
- The mining industry, so vital to an independent Mindanao, has been brought under President Duterte’s control.
- President Duterte presents Imperial Manila as a problem, as the “enemy”, a place to be avoided, rather than as the grand economic centerpiece of a vibrant, growing nation. The Philippine nation to his marketing people is a grainy black and white photo of dirt, drugs, poverty and crime. It’s a false photo. It’s a photographer’s set, a set-up, one dingy alleyway in a vibrant city and nation.
- The Office of the President operates an active propaganda program to control the set of ideas expressed in mainstream and social media. Critics are viewed as unpatriotic. They are threatened by thuggish internet storm troopers encouraged by the government of the land.
The picture fits
The picture explains why internationally recognized standards of human rights do not matter to the President . . . nor does the nation’s reputation internationally, nor its security blanket, the United States . . .
Why, we can even go so far as to say that, yes, indeed, the West Philippine Sea is not a meaningful sovereign rights issue . . .
. . . for the Independent Republic of Mindanao.
What does your picture look like? The one falling from the sky?