By Getsy Tiglao
As President Rodrigo Duterte battles political forces hell-bent on ousting him, it bears asking – why is this happening again to our country?
Duterte is the duly elected president of the Philippines and the most popular ever with an overwhelming 86 percent approval rating. So again we have to ask, who are the individuals comprising this tiny but deadly group that want to force him out of Malacañang?
President Duterte himself suspects that Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales are part of the cabal that want him ousted. He has asked both to resign but they have refused to do so.
“The President believes that (the two officials) have allowed themselves to be used by certain political forces to discredit him and his administration in order to spark public outrage and eventually oust him from the presidency,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.
“In other words, he finds them suspect and it’s his prerogative to ask them to resign,” Abella added.
In any other country in the world – where shame and wrongdoing are automatic career-enders – the public officials would have resigned immediately especially since it is the president himself who is asking them to do so.
But not here in the Philippines, where convicted mutineers such as Antonio Trillanes IV can become a top-rank senator, and where jailed narco-politicians like Senator Leila de Lima continue to disrupt the body politic through surreptitiously released media statements.
We are way too free, too accommodating, for our own good.
Those who are unfamiliar with our recent history would think what is happening right now is scandalously unusual. It isn’t.
Our post-colonial history is peppered with various instances in which a well-financed, well-connected group seeking power uses various strategems, such as political intrigues and media manipulation, in order to convince people that certain officials are corrupt and deserve to be booted out. Hoodwinking Filipinos has become a fine political art.
The nationalist Elpidio Quirino, sixth president of the Philippines, had to suffer through slanderous accusations that he had a golden chamber pot and four-poster bed. Both were proven to be lies that were peddled by media who allowed themselves to be used by the oligarchs and the American agents, who wanted the pro-US Ramon Magsaysay to be the president.
Former President Joseph Estrada, despite his many faults, was a legitimately elected official. But somehow he lost his position in a confusing haze that some people today still celebrate as EDSA 2. His vice president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed his post but she, too, ran afoul of the same elite forces that want power for power’s sake.
While Arroyo barely survived the strong moves to remove her from power, her appointees in strategic positions were quickly eliminated. First one was former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was replaced by now Ombudsman Carpio Morales, the appointee of former president Benigno Aquino III.
Carpio Morales was thus in the key position to help oust the next valuable target, former chief justice Renato Corona. The Ombudsman used the deception trick of adding all the entries in a time deposit account of Corona, including the same money that was rolled over and reinvested, in order to make it appear that the chief justice had $12 million in his dollar accounts.
It is the same ploy, same media machinations, that the Ombudsman is using to convince the public that Duterte has billions of pesos in his bank accounts.
Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang had earlier claimed that he had documents from the Anti-Money Laundering Council which he said confirms Trillanes’ allegations that Duterte has hidden wealth. But then the AMLC denied giving anything to Carandang, and this dimwit backtracked and said his documents came from media!
For this alone, the lying and other unethical behavior, Duterte should fire Carandang immediately.
It is clear now that our country is being held hostage by the same destructive forces that have bedeviled us for decades, and which intensified after February, 1986. It seems that the disruptors quiet down only when it is a Liberal Party man that is sitting in the palace.
So when the LP’s candidate, Mar Roxas, failed to win the presidential election of May, 2016, and instead Duterte from Mindanao sailed into Malacañang and began undertaking reforms, this same group started to work behind the scenes to reclaim power.
They couldn’t hope to control Duterte, a seasoned local politician from Mindanao who from the onset was wary of the Manila-based elite. He had a unique perspective on nationhood and wasn’t beholden to the usual oligarchic interests.
In one of his moves that took the noisy minority by surprise, he allowed the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos thus putting a closure to this episode of our history. He also effectively eliminated, for now at least, a political weapon that was overused by anti-government groups and other power blocs.
Then there is the tough anti-illegal drugs campaign that Duterte initiated in order to stop the Philippines from becoming a narco-state, to reduce criminality which mainly has been linked to drug use, and to prevent the use of children as pawns in the drug trade.
In other countries this move would have been applauded but here where narco-politicians are plentiful and powerful, it is the President and the police force that are being portrayed as the villains.
Can President Duterte stand up against these hostile elements, the professional power-grabbers, and finish his term? We hope so, for the sake of our beloved country.