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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, February 29, 2016
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TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

Martial Law II

TIGHT ROPE
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY

There's a lot of talk underscoring the dangers and the crimes of the government under martial law. The candidacy of Senator Bongbong Marcos, the heir apparent of his father who declared martial law is being attacked by no less than President Benigno Aquino. The President warned that the election of Bongbong could be precedence for the future dictatorial regime.

It is believed that if he wins the vice presidency he will be just a breath away from taking over the government. Indeed it is speculated that the son will follow his father.

Bongbong denies this speculation and, in fact, had declared that if he ever becomes president, he will not declare martial law. But his critics and the anti-Marcos groups are playing on the perceived people's fear of martial law.

But are people afraid of martial law? The question becomes valid for two reasons: (1) Bongbong is beginning to over-take Senator Chiz Escudero in the vice presidential race; and (2) Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has started to push Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay to the sidelines.

Setting the judgment of anti-Marcos establishment aside, we must take note that Duterte has declared that he will rule as a dictator. He will get rid of corruption and crime in three to six months. He will even cover Manila Bay with corpses so that he suggested to the enterprising to start establishing funeral parlors because they will have brisk business if ever he wins.

Despite this clear and unmistakable declaration, people are going for Duterte. They justify with a ridiculous explanation that Duterte is merely joking to get into the news. He is making shocking statements to get media coverage.

This is an electoral campaign and we ought to judge candidates for what they say or promise to do and not get entertained with dangerous jokes. Suppose he wins and declares martial law and rules with a draconian hand? Can those who are campaigning for him recall the votes or share the responsibility of a dictatorial regime?

If he wins, God forbid, and do what he promised he would do, what then? Indeed, despite what he said people who voted for him might regrettably say “we thought you were joking” and he answers, “well I am just doing what I promised and you loved it”.

And when that happens, shall we just bite our elbow or will the Duterte campaigners who gave us the siren song of Duterte willing to be burned at the stake?

Reason tells us that we must avoid taking a risk but in the case of Duterte we are not taking a risk – we are forewarned of the terrible danger that we will face – Martial Law II under a Duterte regime which will be worse than Marcos'. The late Marcos at least never said he will declare martial law and did it constitutionally. He took draconian measures, justifying it as due to the threat of insurgency.

Duterte campaigned to rule under a dictatorship and suppose people voted for him. That will justify his totalitarian rule. He got a mandate to rule as a tyrant.

It is stupid to think he is just joking – to repeat, what if he really meant it? His promises can never be attained without dictatorial rule. He cannot just kill people he thinks are grafters,addicts or drug pushers. How many members of Congress, government officials and members of the judiciary will be floating in Manila Bay within three to six months of Duterte's regime?

What will happen to the rule of law, to judicial determination of guilt?

Duterte exhibited behavior that does not respect others, not even the Holy Father when they cross him or irk his convenience and pride.

So far, the only substantive program of government of Duterte is federalism but without any specifics. Remember that Hitler preached the same kind of principle and, coupled with dictatorial power he dragged Germany and the world in the most terrible and deadly war of the centuries.

To paraphrase Communist Party chairman Jose Ma. Sison speaking in the Netherlands, “I will not gamble” with Duterte after the candidate spoke at the Lyceum. Neither should we.

Shorn of expletives and draconian measures, what has Duterte to offer within the bounds of the Constitution, the laws and morality? His life, he admits, is already mired in the pool of immorality. He said so himself. Is this the kind of president we want?

Despair can make us lose perspectives.*

           

 

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