Du30 an anachronism: era of dictators gone
By Roly E. Eclevia
President Rodrigo Duterte is an anachronism. He would be dictator when the era of dictators has long been gone.
The social, political, and economic climate may no longer be conducive to the rise of one-man rule. Maybe people nowadays are more aware of their rights and ready to fight for them.
In any case, the era is said to have ended with the arrest in London of Gen. Augusto Pinoche, who had ruled Chile with an iron hand from 1973 to 1990. There is a long list of other Latin American dictators, all deposed before him, among them Alfredo Stroessner, Anastasio Somoza, Raul Alfonsin.
Of course, we drove Ferdinand Marcos out of power. The Indonesians did the same with Sukarno and Suharto.
The only holdout is Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Kim—and his father and grandfather before him—endures because Communist China props up his regime.
Oh, President Marcos and Gen. Pinochet and their bloodthirsty, thieving counterparts in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Near East, lasted the way they did because of US support.
That does not bode well for President Duterte’s dream of ruling for life.
It is not martial law President Duterte has in mind, but a revolutionary government, a dictatorship in all but name.
He had better come up with something similar to liberté, égalité, fraternité. It is no empty slogan, but a conviction the French lived and died for. And so did the Americans—as well as the Russians and the Chinese—in modified forms.
The war on drugs just won’t do.
Can President Duterte silence those who will oppose him? the Catholic Church, civil society, the academe, trade unions, and the rest of the population? He won the presidency, remember, only by a plurality, with 70 percent of the voters preferring other candidates. He could not have won a runoff, if there was one.
The AFP has gone on record they do not recommend a declaration of martial law. That means, “count us out”.
President Duterte expects the PNP to enforce his orders. That is a doubtful proposition. The police organization can’t rely on brute force alone to do it. It got to have the respect of the people—respect it has lost in the war on drugs. There will be widespread and vigorous resistance.
The president has destroyed the PNP as an institution. It has, at his behest, gone on an orgy of murder and violence, ostensibly to save the country from the drug menace. No such noble motivation. Its members and the death squads in their employ are after the bounty, paid for each kill: P5000 for user and P8000 to P15000 for dealer.
So cheap a price does President Duterte put on human lives.
The wind may be shifting. The true believers are still around, but even they are now struggling to justify the murders of poor and defenseless people. The rest of the population—and the whole civilized world—find the whole thing repulsive.
Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco is frantically setting up Kilusang Pagbabago, a thinly veiled communist movement, to clothe the power grab with the legitimacy of a form of government. He will make sure the president will not be another Idi Amin.
All communist revolutions are the handiwork of intellectuals. The intelligentsia imbues them with a noble purpose, provides the direction. Or they won’t even get off the ground.
If Evasco insists, where are the social scientists, the economic geniuses?
Vladimir Lenin had Leon Trotsky; Mao Tse-tung had Chou en Lai. Who will be President Duterte’s political strategist, Vitaliano Aguirre? Who will draw up the Filipino equivalent of the USSR’s First Five-Year Plan or the PROC’s Great Leap Forward, Ismael Sueno? Who will communicate the advent of the new millennium, Martin Andanar? Mocha Uson?
Maybe President Duterte has no pretensions to greatness. He just wants to emulate President Marcos. Indeed, he expresses admiration for the late autocrat, but he diminishes him if he assumes he, or just about anybody with a taste for absolute powers, can replicate his feats and exploits.
President Marcos was a highly intelligent man and, with his rich, stentorian voice, a superb speaker. He was astute and a great political planner. Those traits kept him a step ahead of his enemies. Although short in stature, he had a commanding presence, and that was why civilian and military leaders held him in awe. He was young at the height of his power. He was suave and charming with an engaging smile. No threats, no profanities ever escaped his lips.
In short, President Marcos was everything President Duterte is not.
President Duterte is openly contemptuous of the Catholic Church. He tells people to leave the faith and join Iglesia ni Duterte, but that’s stand-up comic stuff.
Come to think of it. He won the presidency by entertaining his audience with those outrageous statements about Pope Francis and that poor Australian lady missionary. His jokes are becoming frayed at the edges. They are no longer funny.