Pubdate: Fri, 19 Aug 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin (The Philippines)
Column: Chaff From the Grain
Author: Hector R. R. Villanueva


"Rise, above principle and do what's right." - Walter Heller

AS the famous Roman orator Cicero had written, "laws are silent in 
time of war," and Duterte's war against drug trafficking and its 
lethal effects on humans is total war.

The fight against drugs has become relentless, uncompromising, and 

It is fatal and it affects all classes and all ages which call for a 
united and nationwide effort and urgency.

For these reasons, President Rodrigo "Digong" Roa Duterte should be 
given the leverage and space to pursue his crusade against drugs, 
corruption, and criminality unhampered by bureaucratic niceties and 
legalistic obstacles.

When President Duterte inadvertently blurted out the probability of 
martial law, he must have immediately realized that his unfiltered 
utterance was a slip of the tongue, flippant and unnecessary even if 
he might have been ruminating with the idea.

The fact is that the residual trauma of martial law will not be 
replicated as long as the oligarchy, including mainstream media, and 
Congress, do-gooders, and selfrighteous human rights advocates cast a 
dominant influence over Philippine politics and society. Never again, they say.

Thus, the opposition to Charter change or the restoration of the 
death penalty or divorce and the burial of former President Ferdinand 
Marcos are all patterns in a tapestry in which the masses have been 
excluded and never consulted.

In fairness to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who had vowed to adhere 
to the rule of law, the President is out to pursue democratically his 
crusade against drugs and corruption, and other reforms along a 
narrow corridor or passage, so to speak, between the tedious and 
bureaucratic legalese on the one side, and on the other the 
temptation to cut corners and fall prey to authoritarian practices to 
fast-track reforms.

In contrast, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III had both 
houses of Congress eating out of his hand with his liberal use of the 
Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement 
Acceleration Program (DAP), or pork barrel, to keep his allies in 
line, but failed to institute reforms.

Without having to resort to martial law, President Rodrigo Roa 
Duterte has the option of pursuing a lethargic and complacent style 
of governance like President Noynoy Aquino or the military agility 
and acuity of President Fidel V. Ramos.

Pursuing reforms under a democracy, a President has the arduous task 
of overcoming bureaucratic hurdles and congressional sandbagging 
which makes martial law or emergency powers so titillating and tempting.

When all is said and done, martial law is not in the scheme of things.

For one thing, any form of martial law is not possible in this 
country owing to the significant presence of US military forces under EDCA.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has the authentic "daang matuwid" 
mission under the rule of law as a true democrat that he is.

You be the judge.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom