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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)
FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

By VICTOR AVECILLA: SENATE PROBE HEADED BY DE LIMA IS A FARCE


SEPTEMBER 20 -Victor Avecilla:
The ongoing investigation in the Senate headed by Senator Leila De Lima has become a farce. Officially, the investigation is supposed to find out if the recent deaths allegedly associated with the government’s current anti-drug abuse campaign are state-sponsored extrajudicial killings. De Lima’s numerous press statements suggest that she has already made up her mind that President Rodrigo Duterte is behind those deaths. From the start of the political campaign in 2016, De Lima, who was running for a Senate seat under the Liberal Party of then President Benigno Aquino III, was so beholden to Aquino that she served as the LP mouthpiece in their relentless character assassination of Duterte, who was an early frontrunner in the presidential race. Even when she was still justice secretary, De Lima had already publicly accused Duterte of being the brains of the so-called Davao Death Squad, an alleged vigilante group responsible for extrajudicial killings in Davao City. De Lima promised to conduct a thorough investigation but, as expected, no investigation took place because De Lima was busy preparing for her senatorial campaign. De Lima also created a national controversy on the eve of her departure from the Department of Justice. The Iglesia Ni Cristo religious sect accused her of undue interest in a criminal investigation involving some ministers of the sect. When De Lima denied taking undue interest in the investigation, the INC staged a large-scale picket outside the DoJ headquarters in Manila. Later on, the picket moved to Edsa and Shaw Boulevard, where the demonstrators denounced De Lima. Because the anti-De Lima rally caused a traffic nightmare in the metropolis, President Aquino intervened, and a closed-door meeting took place between him and some INC officers. After the meeting ended, the INC declared a victory and the rally dispersed peacefully. Surprisingly, Malacañang made a similar claim to victory, but President Aquino and De Lima refused to disclose to the public what the government agreed upon with the INC. Even as of this writing, De Lima refuses to reveal what actually took place during that meeting. READ MORE...

ALSO: Slow-moving traffic


SEPTEMBER 26 -THERE are less than two weeks before President Duterte’s first 100 days are over—but short of lobbying Congress for emergency powers, Transport officials have done precious little to alleviate the daily woes of millions of commuters and motorists, particularly in Metro Manila. This week, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said he was optimistic that Congress would grant Duterte emergency powers before the end of the year to ease the country’s traffic woes. In the Senate, the committee on public services last week wrapped up its series of hearings on the emergency powers the administration seeks. A final draft of the bill is expected to be submitted for debate by November. The House, meanwhile, is consolidating 10 bills with different proposals seeking to give Duterte the emergency powers. A working group will tackle the consolidated bill, and hopes to have it ready for the House committee on transportation by November, as well. We can appreciate that it takes time to push legislation through Congress—even though the previous administration demonstrated that it could ram through an impeachment complaint in just one day. Assuming that this administration is more serious than its predecessor about the need for a thorough debate in Congress, the process will indeed take some time. What is disconcerting, however, is how little has been done in areas that do not need emergency powers. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - A plea for extension


SEPTEMBER 20 -We knew President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to eradicate the drug menace in three to six months was fantastic to begin with. Still, because this man of drastic action said so, we took his self-imposed deadline at face value. Even before he assumed office, Duterte showed us how resolute he intended to be in his war against illegal drugs. Even the drug users and pushers themselves seemed to know he meant business, because they started surrendering in droves, for fear of their lives. The unrelenting pursuit of those involved in the drug trade—and the extreme means by which they were eliminated—has called the attention of human rights groups and the international community. The general response of Mr. Duterte to these critics is something better captured in colorful language. And now the President says he needs more time to get the job done. “I did not realize how severe and how serious the drug menace was in this republic until I became president,” Duterte said, adding that the trade of illegal drugs is largely being operated by people in government. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Tony La Viña - The travesty of the 1973 Constitution
(Most dangerous of all, as I mentioned in the first column of this series (read Related, below) on the lingering legal shadow of martial law, are the provisions in the 1987 Constitution giving the president the power to declare martial law. Because of that, we could repeat September 1972 and the travesty of a constitutional dictatorship all over again. With President Duterte, we come full circle. In his hands now are the full powers of the presidency. And they are awesome. READ THIS COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING)


SEPTEMBER 20 -Tony La Viña.......>>>>
Filipinos like to think that the three branches of government are separate and equal, but neither is true both formally and in the operational code of actual exercise of powers. Under our presidential and unitary system of government, patterned less from the American system (where the US Congress has very strong powers that make it rise up to parity in influence as the President and a Supreme Court that is revered for its independence) but more from the office of the colonial governor general that had absolute powers to keep colonial Philippines in check and under control, the President is much stronger than the Congress and the Supreme Court. We have seen this strong presidency in the controversy around Aquino vs. Araullo when former President Noynoy Aquino did not hesitate to publicly pressure the Supreme Court to modify its decision declaring certain acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional. The Araullo decision should be read together with Belgica v. Executive Secretary, another decision on constitutional issues regarding the budget which declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund and other pork barrel funds (defined as those where legislators continue to have a say on post-enactment budget decisions) unconstitutional. The overall impact of these two decisions is to strengthen the role of the president in budget decisions even as Congress formally has the power of the purse. At present, the president has almost total control of the budget, which explains why legislators easily abandon their political parties to join the administration coalition. Most dangerous of all, as I mentioned in the first column of this series on the lingering legal shadow of martial law, are the provisions in the 1987 Constitution giving the president the power to declare martial law. Because of that, we could repeat September 1972 and the travesty of a constitutional dictatorship all over again. With President Duterte, we come full circle. In his hands now are the full powers of the presidency. And they are awesome. READ THIS COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - The alienator
(We object, however, to his propensity to rant and to speak like a thug. President Duterte’s aversion to criticism and his vicious response to anybody who does not agree with him will become his undoing. His closest, most trusted advisers need not effect the metamorphosis they once promised. That may be too late, given the President’s age and temperament. By at least tempering his speeches, however, Mr. Duterte can come off as less unhinged—and a lot more credible.)


SEPTEMBER 24 -When Rodrigo Duterte was elected president, he said he would undergo a metamorphosis once he was sworn in as leader of the land. He was referring to his penchant for cursing and for tough talk. He gave us the impression that he would tone down his language and behave in a more presidential manner, befitting his high office. We thought his inaugural address gave us a glimpse of what was to come. The 15-minute speech was honest and to the point, and it complemented well what appeared to be Mr. Duterte’s clear grasp of the ills hounding the nation, ills he sought to address. We were mistaken. Nearing his 100-day mark, it seems any changes in the demeanor of the President came in the form of ramped-up rhetoric, not only against his political opponents but against the international community. He cursed United States President Barack Obama and called United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a fool. Both men had criticized Duterte’s manner of implementing his war against illegal drugs. Since Mr. Duterte assumed office in June, over 3,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed—and more bodies are turning up every day.
READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

De Lima’s Senate probe is a farce


by Victor Avecilla

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 (MANILA STANDARDE) posted September 20, 2016 at 12:01 am by Victor Avecilla - The ongoing investigation in the Senate headed by Senator Leila De Lima has become a farce. Officially, the investigation is supposed to find out if the recent deaths allegedly associated with the government’s current anti-drug abuse campaign are state-sponsored extrajudicial killings. De Lima’s numerous press statements suggest that she has already made up her mind that President Rodrigo Duterte is behind those deaths.

From the start of the political campaign in 2016, De Lima, who was running for a Senate seat under the Liberal Party of then President Benigno Aquino III, was so beholden to Aquino that she served as the LP mouthpiece in their relentless character assassination of Duterte, who was an early frontrunner in the presidential race.

Even when she was still justice secretary, De Lima had already publicly accused Duterte of being the brains of the so-called Davao Death Squad, an alleged vigilante group responsible for extrajudicial killings in Davao City. De Lima promised to conduct a thorough investigation but, as expected, no investigation took place because De Lima was busy preparing for her senatorial campaign.

De Lima also created a national controversy on the eve of her departure from the Department of Justice. The Iglesia Ni Cristo religious sect accused her of undue interest in a criminal investigation involving some ministers of the sect. When De Lima denied taking undue interest in the investigation, the INC staged a large-scale picket outside the DoJ headquarters in Manila. Later on, the picket moved to Edsa and Shaw Boulevard, where the demonstrators denounced De Lima.

Because the anti-De Lima rally caused a traffic nightmare in the metropolis, President Aquino intervened, and a closed-door meeting took place between him and some INC officers. After the meeting ended, the INC declared a victory and the rally dispersed peacefully.

Surprisingly, Malacañang made a similar claim to victory, but President Aquino and De Lima refused to disclose to the public what the government agreed upon with the INC. Even as of this writing, De Lima refuses to reveal what actually took place during that meeting.

READ MORE...

The public got more curious if there was an exchange deal between the administration and the INC when the television news media aired a segment of De Lima, who was already an LP senatorial candidate, visiting the INC central office to seek the support of the sect in the elections. Although De Lima was politely received, she failed to get the INC nod. Her surprising win, placing last in the list of 12 successful senatorial candidates, did not erase the public’s curiosity.

De Lima refused to be interpellated by her colleagues right after she delivered her first privilege speech as a freshman senator, and she gave no reason for her refusal. However, after Manny Pacquiao, another freshman senator, delivered his first privilege speech on the death penalty, De Lima asked Pacquiao numerous questions, all obviously designed to reveal that Pacquiao knew nothing about constitutional law.

For one who asks a lot of questions, De Lima sure dislikes being questioned.

After getting settled in her new job, De Lima virtually proclaimed herself as President Duterte’s nemesis in the Senate, even if Duterte had not yet served a hundred days in office. By taking on the highest elective official of the land, De Lima was probably projecting herself as a crusader to make up for her having placed 12th in the Senate race. What hogwash!

Nonetheless, even before De Lima could gain a momentum in her probe, the ghosts of her past came back to haunt and discredit her.

First, De Lima is currently facing a separate investigation undertaken by the DoJ regarding anomalies in the national penitentiary which took place when she was still the justice secretary. Those anomalies pertain to the extraordinarily special treatment afforded by prison officials to the convicted drug lords, including air-conditioned spacious quarters, catered meals, and access to modern appliances, laptops, mobile phones, firearms, drugs, cash, and the like. President Duterte himself accused De Lima of receiving large sums of bribe money from the imprisoned drug lords.

Second, it has been alleged that De Lima’s personal driver is also her secret lover, and that her driver collected, on her behalf, the bribe money from the drug lords. A photograph of a large house in Pangasinan which De Lima supposedly gifted her driver appeared in the print media.

Unfortunately for her, De Lima’s ambivalent and seemingly equivocal denials have not done anything to dilute the public ridicule against her in the social media.

To all intents and purposes, therefore, De Lima’s Senate probe was going nowhere on account of the credibility problems faced by De Lima herself. On one occasion, she was virtually labelled as damaged goods.

Last week, De Lima made full use of the weeklong lull in her Senate probe and produced a witness, Edgar Matobato, who claims to be a former member of the Davao Death Squad. Testifying in De Lima’s probe, Matobato attributed many deaths in Davao City to President Duterte when he was still the city mayor.

For whatever the testimony of Matobato is worth, its timing is awfully suspicious. What took De Lima so long to produce this surprise witness, considering that she had been chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and, after that, Justice Secretary for the longest time? If De Lima knew of Matobato back then, her delay in producing him in her probe suggests that she had been harboring a fugitive from justice. Now, if De Lima knew of Matobato only recently, then her overnight reliance on his anti-Duterte testimony is post-haste, self-serving, and reckless.

Allowing Matobato to testify in the Senate probe under such suspicious and anomalous circumstances, as De Lima has done, makes the Senate probe a farce, and increases the low regard thinking Filipinos have for the current Senate.


Slow-moving traffic posted September 26, 2016 at 12:01 am

THERE are less than two weeks before President Duterte’s first 100 days are over—but short of lobbying Congress for emergency powers, Transport officials have done precious little to alleviate the daily woes of millions of commuters and motorists, particularly in Metro Manila.

This week, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said he was optimistic that Congress would grant Duterte emergency powers before the end of the year to ease the country’s traffic woes.

In the Senate, the committee on public services last week wrapped up its series of hearings on the emergency powers the administration seeks. A final draft of the bill is expected to be submitted for debate by November.

The House, meanwhile, is consolidating 10 bills with different proposals seeking to give Duterte the emergency powers. A working group will tackle the consolidated bill, and hopes to have it ready for the House committee on transportation by November, as well.

We can appreciate that it takes time to push legislation through Congress—even though the previous administration demonstrated that it could ram through an impeachment complaint in just one day. Assuming that this administration is more serious than its predecessor about the need for a thorough debate in Congress, the process will indeed take some time.

What is disconcerting, however, is how little has been done in areas that do not need emergency powers.

READ MORE...

Back in July, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Tugade’s presentation of transportation solutions was one of the highlights of a Cabinet meeting the day before, saying the secretary had discussed “a menu of changes which could very positively impact the rate of flow of traffic soon, very soon.”

He added: “Within the next 100 days, you should be feeling something.”

Sadly, we have not.

In July, Tugade made a similar presentation at the World Trade Center Up Close and Personal forum in which he said that projects to ease road congestion in Metro Manila that don’t need the grant of special powers by Congress were part of his department’s plans for the first 100 days.

Within 100 days, he said, the department aimed to sustain traffic enforcement at choke points and enforcing the no-parking, anti-colorum, and anti-smoke belching policies.

He added that he had already started taking back streets that belong to the government—and that illegally parked cars would be brought to impounding areas outside Metro Manila because their owners “are not entitled to convenience” after the inconvenience they bring to other commuters.

Again, none of this has happened in any significant manner. In fact, there has not been a single news report of any of these programs being carried out during the last 89 days.

During his first few days in office, Tugade promised two things would be achieved by the first 100 days: cleaner toilets and faster Internet service at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He might pull that off yet—but we’d say he is aiming far too low—and like the traffic in Metro Manila—moving way too slowly.


EDITORIAL - A plea for extension posted September 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

We knew President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to eradicate the drug menace in three to six months was fantastic to begin with. Still, because this man of drastic action said so, we took his self-imposed deadline at face value.

Even before he assumed office, Duterte showed us how resolute he intended to be in his war against illegal drugs. Even the drug users and pushers themselves seemed to know he meant business, because they started surrendering in droves, for fear of their lives.

The unrelenting pursuit of those involved in the drug trade—and the extreme means by which they were eliminated—has called the attention of human rights groups and the international community.

The general response of Mr. Duterte to these critics is something better captured in colorful language.

And now the President says he needs more time to get the job done.

“I did not realize how severe and how serious the drug menace was in this republic until I became president,” Duterte said, adding that the trade of illegal drugs is largely being operated by people in government.

READ MORE...

A Palace spokesman exhorted the people to give the President a chance because he was providing a comprehensive solution to the problem.

It is not as if the public were crying out for more bodies. To date, more than 3,000 have been killed either by the police or by vigilantes and the Duterte administration has not reached the three-month mark yet. By all means, Mr. President, take all the time you need. But do it well and do it the right way.

We are aware, as well, that the menace of illegal drugs is not the only ill that must be combatted by the Duterte administration. We understand that the time and attention of the President is finite.

We would rather measure success in terms of things accomplished: crimes reduced, cases filed and resolved in court, travel time saved, and families fished out of poverty—rather than in mere number of days and months.


The travesty of the 1973 Constitution posted September 20, 2016 at 12:01 am by Tony La Viña


Tony La Viña

While reformists called for the convening of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, the Marcos forces eventually hijacked it; as a consequence, the 1973 Constitution was turned into a tool by the Marcos regime to perpetuate itself in power.

1973

Having declared martial law earlier, Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 86 calling for the cancellation of the plebiscite and instituted barangays’ citizens’ assemblies to ratify the new constitution by a referendum from 10–15 January 1973. This was challenged before the Supreme Court in what became known as the ratification and plebiscite cases.

These involved petitions assailing the proposed ratification upon the grounds, among others, that the presidential decree “has no force and effect as law because the calling... of such plebiscite, the setting of guidelines for the conduct of the same, the prescription of the ballots to be used and the question to be answered by the voters, and the appropriation of public funds for the purpose, are, by the Constitution, lodged exclusively in Congress...” and “there is no proper submission to the people there being no freedom of speech, press and assembly, and there being no sufficient time to inform the people of the contents thereof.”

While the case was being heard, Marcos, on 17 January 1973, issued Proclamation No. 1102 certifying and proclaiming that the 1973 Constitution had been ratified by the Filipino people and thereby was in effect. This proclamation was questioned in Javellana v. Executive Secretary, which saw the Supreme Court severely divided on the issues. Despite the voting, the Court decision stated in its dispositive portion that, “This being the vote of the majority, there is no further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect.”

In that case then, there as no Supreme Court ruling that the 1973 Constitution has been validly ratified because six out of ten Justices held that there was no valid ratification in accordance with Article XV, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution, which provides only one way for ratification, i.e., “in an election or plebiscite held in accordance with law and participated in only by qualified and duly registered voters.”

Moreover, that Supreme Court “resolution” could not be considered an outright decision on the merits. Nevertheless, because there were not enough Justices to grant the petitions to nullify Proclamation 1102, a majority of Justices agreed on the formula that there was no longer any further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect.

The Javellana decision removed the final legal obstacle to institutionalizing an authoritarian regime in the Philippines. Later on, because of this legitimation by the Supreme Court, Marcos and his supporters would claim that his regime was one of constitutional authoritarianism.

Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, then sitting as head of the Supreme Court, dissented from the Javellana case, and famously added “I dissent.” right after the dispositive portion. Disappointed by the Court’s decision, Concepcion would opt for early retirement. Later, he would have the last word as in the Chief Justice would later chair the Judiciary committee of the Constitutional Commission that would draft the 1987 Constitution.

1987

In the latter constitution, Concepcion made sure that never again would the Supreme Court shirk from its solemn duty to decide the most important disputes in our society.

During its lifetime, several amendments to the 1973 Constitution were introduced. These were initially either initiated primarily to perpetuate Marcos’ one-man- rule, as exemplified by the aforementioned Amendment No. 6, or introduce to construct some semblance of democracy to his unpopular regime by experimenting with various political systems like the French presidential system.

The referenda and plebiscites that were conducted to ratify the amendments were all rigged, orchestrated, and made possible by his total control of governmental agencies like the bureaucracy, the military, and the Supreme Court.

The 1976 amendments were ratified in the referendum-plebiscite held in October 1976, and were proclaimed in full force and effect also that month. The most controversial among the 1976 amendments was Amendment no. 6. While 1973 Constitution vested legislative power in the National Assembly or the Batasang Pambansa, this amendment granted the concurrent legislative authority with the parliament.

By virtue of Amendment No. 6, Marcos virtually became a one-man ruler. It granted him legislative power even after the formal lifting of Martial law on January 17, 1981. What made it worse was that the Batasang Pambansa was effectively a rubber-stamp legislature, always approving whatever the President proposed.

It must be said though that there were a few exceptions in the 1978 and 1984 parliaments. Those who stood their ground against the dictatorship included assemblymen like Reuben Canoy, Nene Pimentel, Homobono Adaza, Hilario Davide, Marcelo Fernan, Orly Mercado, Lito Atienza, Eva Kalaw, Salvador Laurel, and others in the opposition.

1987 CONSTITUTION REPLACED THE 1973

The 1987 Constitution replaced the 1973 Constitution. But unfortunately, certain concepts and provisions from latter were imported into the former. Foremost is the choice of the presidential system over a parliamentary system and a unitary system against a federal system. These two fundamental governance options continued the imbalance among the three branches of government and between the national and local government units.

Filipinos like to think that the three branches of government are separate and equal, but neither is true both formally and in the operational code of actual exercise of powers. Under our presidential and unitary system of government, patterned less from the American system (where the US Congress has very strong powers that make it rise up to parity in influence as the President and a Supreme Court that is revered for its independence) but more from the office of the colonial governor general that had absolute powers to keep colonial Philippines in check and under control, the President is much stronger than the Congress and the Supreme Court.

We have seen this strong presidency in the controversy around Aquino vs. Araullo when former President Noynoy Aquino did not hesitate to publicly pressure the Supreme Court to modify its decision declaring certain acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional. The Araullo decision should be read together with Belgica v. Executive Secretary, another decision on constitutional issues regarding the budget which declared the Priority Development Assistance Fund and other pork barrel funds (defined as those where legislators continue to have a say on post-enactment budget decisions) unconstitutional.

The overall impact of these two decisions is to strengthen the role of the president in budget decisions even as Congress formally has the power of the purse. At present, the president has almost total control of the budget, which explains why legislators easily abandon their political parties to join the administration coalition.

Most dangerous of all, as I mentioned in the first column of this series on the lingering legal shadow of martial law, are the provisions in the 1987 Constitution giving the president the power to declare martial law. Because of that, we could repeat September 1972 and the travesty of a constitutional dictatorship all over again.

With President Duterte, we come full circle. In his hands now are the full powers of the presidency. And they are awesome.

-------------

RELATED MANILA STANDARD SEPTEMEBR 17 COLUMN

The long legal shadow of martial law posted September 17, 2016 at 12:01 am by Tony La Viña


SEPTEMBER 20 -Tony La Viña

The title of this column comes from a chapter I was asked to write about the long-term impact of the martial law experience in the Philippines.

Next week, we will commemorate the 44th anniversary of the proclamation of martial law. To remember that, and as my contribution to the collective effort to make sure that our dictatorship experience does not happen again, I share excerpts from my draft chapter through this and subsequent columns.

I start with February 25, 1986. This was a good day for Filipinos. It marked the end of the Marcos dictatorship which started with the proclamation of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972.

Five years earlier, in 1981, Marcos had formally lifted martial law but it was cosmetic. Even as a small number of opposition members were elected in the 1984 parliamentary elections, Marcos retained legislative power under the 1973 Constitution through Amendment Number 6. Up to the end of his dictatorial regime, human rights were wantonly violated with people arrested without warrants, enforced disappearances happening, and extrajudicial killing as well as massacres of protestors still occurring.

DEMOCRACY RESTORED

With the people power revolution, formal democracy was restored. Certainly, the pre-martial law Bill of Rights became the rule again. While initially governing under a revolutionary Freedom Constitution, President Corazon Aquino immediately convened a constitutional commission that then quickly drafted the 1987 Constitution that on February 2, 1987 was ratified by the people.

Things have changed indeed. But the long legal shadow of martial law lingered for decades. Even now, remnants of the legal architecture set up my Marcos remains, not the least of which are the provisions in the 1987 Constitution which perpetuates an imbalance in separation of powers, favoring a strong president that can suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus, be granted emergency powers under certain circumstances, and worst once declare a state of martial law throughout the land.

Many Filipinos, particularly those belonging to the economic and social elite—initially supported martial rule. With the support of the military, cooperative media, a small cadre of social and economic elite, and a coopted legislature and Supreme Court, President Marcos established for himself a repressive regime—stifling all forms of dissent, perpetuating himself in power by manipulating the adoption of the 1973 Constitution—made himself both Head of State as President and Head of Government as Prime Minister, rigged elections and installed himself as a dictator for life.

Marcos’ designs were not at once apparent. He justified martial law as a way, among others, to dismantle the oligarchic structures and patronage system which contributed much to the suffering of the people, to infuse moral values sorely lacking among Filipinos like discipline, spirit of self-sacrifice for the national welfare. In other words, he wanted to establish a New Society, calling it as the Revolution from the Top. The objective was to emulate the economic progress and political stability of Taiwan and South Korea. And a wide majority of the local business community and foreign governments, particularly Washington, approved. Only a few brave souls dared to raise a cry of protest.

ECONOMY DURING MARCOS MARTIAL LAW

The first years of martial law saw increased economic gains due to bolstered business confidence and political stability. President Marcos tapped good technocrats from the academe and business sector. He encouraged foreign investments, projecting the country as an excellent choice for multinational investors because of low wages and industrial peace. The influx of foreign capital increased considerably. Land reform was instituted and new agricultural initiatives introduced. Amount of investments in infrastructure was at unprecedented levels, with the construction of new roads, highways, bridges, hospitals and other structures essential to nation building.

With a compliant legislature in the Batasang Pambansa and a subservient Supreme Court, Marcos successfully put in place the political and legal infrastructure which enabled him to exercise absolute power, in the process churning out innumerable presidential decrees which cemented the dictatorship. But with absolute power at its disposal, the Marcos regime not only created a new breed of oligarchs known as cronies to whom the dictatorship granted monopolies. They supplanted the traditional economic elite but also redefined the term corruption and profligacy, which then First Lady Imelda Marcos best exemplified.

The Marcos dictatorship resulted in innumerable cases of human rights violations, a wrecked economy, highly politicized military and weak governmental institutions.

NATIONAL TRAUMA

In the end, the martial law experiment proved to be a national trauma which must not be repeated and never forgotten.

Today, 44 years later, we are still feeling, as this article illustrates, the ugly vestiges of martial law. None of the architects and enforcers has been brought to justice. Moreover, with the presidential system that we have, there is always a possibility—and that’s not even remote—of a repeat of 1972.

As pointed out above, the president is given a lot of leeway when it comes to the exercise of his extraordinary powers.

What level of conflict demarcates the choice between ordinary police action and resort to emergency rule?

What degree of punitive State action is necessary to address the emergency without exposing civil liberties to unwarranted perils?

Sadly, the answer to these questions depends largely on this wide presidential discretion. And that is why it would have been better if the 1987 Constitution completely did away with the martial law powers of the president.

In my next column, I will write about the transition from the 1973 to the 1987 constitution and the opportunities we missed there. In subsequent columns, I will also write about the impact of martial law on our human rights jurisprudence and on Marcos-era statues that are still in the books 30 years after the dictator was overthrown. Facebook: deantonylavs Twitter: tonylavs 


The alienator posted September 24, 2016 at 12:01 am



When Rodrigo Duterte was elected president, he said he would undergo a metamorphosis once he was sworn in as leader of the land. He was referring to his penchant for cursing and for tough talk. He gave us the impression that he would tone down his language and behave in a more presidential manner, befitting his high office.

We thought his inaugural address gave us a glimpse of what was to come. The 15-minute speech was honest and to the point, and it complemented well what appeared to be Mr. Duterte’s clear grasp of the ills hounding the nation, ills he sought to address.

We were mistaken.

Nearing his 100-day mark, it seems any changes in the demeanor of the President came in the form of ramped-up rhetoric, not only against his political opponents but against the international community.

He cursed United States President Barack Obama and called United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a fool. Both men had criticized Duterte’s manner of implementing his war against illegal drugs. Since Mr. Duterte assumed office in June, over 3,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed—and more bodies are turning up every day.

READ MORE...

This week, he expanded his reach to the European Union, which he said was scolding him as if he were its subordinate. The EU had called on the Duterte administration to “put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings,” and had expressed alarm over the “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations.”

On Tuesday, during a speech, Mr. Duterte told the EU “F**k you” while making an obscene gesture with his finger.

This has gone beyond politics.

The stock exchange—in both the general decline in stock prices and in the net fund outflow—this week reflected what could be investors’ growing uncertainty over the President’s rhetoric. Market analysts say both long- and short-term investors see the President’s behavior as disruptive, potentially affecting economic and business policy.

Mr. Duterte also said he did not care about the opinion of credit rating services, like Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s, which rate the Philippines’ attractiveness as a borrower. Moody’s had said in a statement that “increasingly controversial law and order policies could exact an opportunity cost for reform.”

We have no doubt that Mr. Duterte has the country’s best interest in mind. The policies he pursues—even if we don’t agree with all of them—reflect the most effective ways he believes our national problems can be solved.

We object, however, to his propensity to rant and to speak like a thug.

President Duterte’s aversion to criticism and his vicious response to anybody who does not agree with him will become his undoing. His closest, most trusted advisers need not effect the metamorphosis they once promised. That may be too late, given the President’s age and temperament. By at least tempering his speeches, however, Mr. Duterte can come off as less unhinged—and a lot more credible.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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