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Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Deciphering Rody

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 00:00 Published in Commentary

Everytime Rody Duterte threatens the nation, such as threats to kill mayors and perhaps governors who engage in the illegal drug trade, and even boasts of having personally killed criminals, and more recently, threatened to declare martial law, and that the Supreme Court (SC) can go hang itself, such threats bring great headlines in the media, and his usual critics, rights groups, senators and congressmen allied with the yellow groups, also have a field day issuing denunciations picked up by media and columnists, all for media mileage and good copy for the media especially on a slow news day.
Yet it is also clear that no matter the Rody threats of declaring martial law, for instance, it is also evident that Rody does follow what the SC says, and follows too, what the Constitution says.
So when he threatens to declare martial law unilaterally and flirts with it by stating he can do so with or without the Supreme Court, his usual critics shouldn’t act as if this threat would bear fruit.
Truth is, Rody, in several instances came up with the claim that he will have former President Ferdinand Marcos’ remains buried in the Heroes Cemetery, yet he also later said that he leaves it up to the Supreme Court to rule on this issue.
In the case of former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, in whom he has always expressed his preference as a vice presidential mate, Rody had teased, many a time, here and abroad, with Filipino audiences of Bongbong Marcos addressed as Vice President Marcos.
Yet he also said later that the issue will be left to the SC, acting as the Presidential Election Tribunal.
Rody is a lawyer, a one time prosecutor in Davao City, and a city mayor who was effective in transforming his city from a crime laden city to a peaceful one and to the point of ridding the city of drug addicts and pushers.
Of course, Davao City is hardly drug free, but the incidences of the drug trade problems have been greatly reduced.
He can’t quite do the same in the entire Philippines, mainly because the Philippines can hardy be compared to the problems of a city, especially a provincial city.
But Rody, as president of the republic, still has to be credited with the lowering of the crime rate, and has also brought about a big rehabilitation center in Luzon and will probably ensure that more drug rehabilitation centers would be built.
Rody’s ways are certainly unorthodox and his impolite and undiplomatic mouth keeps getting in the way of what he really wants to say, especially when he is being criticized.
However, it is more likely that Rody comes up with threats, to bring about criticisms, more to perhaps pinpoint who his critics really are, rather than make good his threats — through unconstitutional means.
This is how he must have figured the Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he first refused to give her a Cabinet post, but relented after a time, and offered her the Cabinet post of Housing czarina.
However, as she, a Cabinet secretary of Rody, started criticizing him, which a Cabinet member should never do publicly, as such objections of the presidential statements or ways should be brought up in private and in Cabinet meetings.
If a Cabinet member disagrees publicly with the President, then that Cabinet member should resign.
Instead, when a text message from the Executive Secretary to Leni stated that she is not welcomed in the Cabinet meetings , or words to that effect, she tried to come off as a martyr, but this apparently didn’t work, as her ratings went down, and continues to go down, according to the surveys.
Now she is out of the Palace loop and has been too vocal against Rody and his ways too soon. Worse, her criticisms of Rody don’t seem to make a dent on the general public. But she the chance of being Rody’s friend but blew it.
Still, Rody now knows who are his friends and loyal allies, and who are not.
Rody can be very inscrutable in his ways, but while he likes to attract criticisms, it gives him that opportunity to hit them in a general way by threatening the nation with the declaration of martial law, but he ends up anyway by not imposing it, or if he does, he will be following what the constitution mandates Congress and the Supreme Court to do should this arise.
But if he says he can declare martial law unilaterally, of course he can do so — impose military rule in any place in the Philippines or in the entire Philippines — but only for 60 days, after which he will have to abide by the Constitution.
And that, given past actions, he will abide by High Court decision and Congress, too.
Rody is not that difficult a person to decipher. Rody is a president who usually does not do as he says — only when it comes to his earthshaking threats.

 

Not the right time

Monday, 16 January 2017 00:00 Published in Commentary

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are back to taking to the streets again, to show their rejection of the wave of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the country.
There is nobody to stop the bishops and their Catholic flock from taking protests actions since we are under a democracy. There is doubt that the police would be present to stop them.
But to what end?
Sure, the bishops and their Catholic flock can come with their protest procession, whether it is against the EJK or the RH law, which in essence is in effect after the Supreme Court stated that there are no longer restrictions to bar the move of government to make effective the RH law. But to what end?
Their protests, which are usually not that effective by way of numbers and sympathy, despite virtually forcing Catholic school children to join the protest action, it is certain that after perhaps a one day media coverage, the event is forgotten.
The protests, organizers said, will culminate with the “Walk for Life” on February 18 which Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas President Zenaida Capistrano said will be an opportunity for lay people to show that they care for others, especially the poor.
The street rallies are said to show opposition “to the more than 6,200 unexplained killings and as well as government’s plan to restore the death penalty.”
Said Capistrano: “We, the Filipino Catholic lay faithful signify our protest against all forms of threats to human life and dignity that are coming from the economic, social and political structures and authorities,” adding that “We have all the chances to do what is expected of us. Let us express to the government our real sentiments. Let us go out and tell them that we are against this culture of death,” she added.
These are noble reasons they have, yet the same CBCP and lay groups certainly know that there are more indifferent people as of now on this issue of EJK, as many Filipinos feel much safer today under the Duterte regime, This is not to defend the EJKs, but merely to state facts.
Even the surveys show that some 84 percent of the respondents nationwide approve of President Rody Duterte’s fight against criminality, some acts of which stem from drug use and lack of money for an addict-pusher to get his daily fix.
Still killing through extrajudicial means is wrong and people must learn to separate the number of EKJ and killings stemming from legitimate police operations, although some policemen’s claim of legitimate killings are not legitimate.
The better way, compared to street protests by the Catholic bishops is to help these drug addicts through rehabilitation.
Have these bishops even bothered to put up a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, to keep them away from drugs?
The Duterte administration is perhaps the only president who cared enough to find ways and means to have rehabilitation centers built for drug addicts and users.
Then too, if the infrastructure project plans of the government pushes through, there would be jobs opened for many, which in the end, will bring more money for the poor, among whom are drug addicts and pushers who may no longer have any need for such.
Street protests will hardly bring any results these Catholic bishops and their lay people.
In the case of the protest against the death penalty, such protests will hardly make a dent. The better way is for these groups who are against the death penalty and the artificial contraceptives is for them to convince the Senate and the House not to pass the death penalty bill, since it is Congress that enacts the law.
The reality is the fact that street protests led by Catholic bishops will not bear fruit at this time, mainly because Mr. Duterte is just too popular with the masses for protests to have any significance by way of getting the Palace to buckle down to their demands.
Also, majority of the Filipinos are of the view that the Catholic bishops have been engaging in politics and are part of the yellow groups that have weakened, if not destroyed democracy through at least two presidential ousters.
There is hardly any doubt that the bishops are into getting rid of Mr. Duterte, even if such street protests are disguised as protests against the EJK and the RH law as well as the death penalty. The bishops merely hope that these street protests they come up with may get stronger in time, where politicians from the opposition will join their rallies that they hope would lead to an ouster of the Duterte government.
It won’t fly. The people are sick and tired of ousters and hardly approve of bishops engaging in politics.

Still a verbal war, at this time

Sunday, 15 January 2017 00:00 Published in Commentary

Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, during his recent confirmation hearing, made statements that would be pleasing to the ears of the Republican hawks in the committee which would either confirm or reject him.
Tillerson was much too bold in stating that China must not be allowed access to reefs it had reclaimed in the disputed waters and for the artificial islands to be destroyed.
The Trump nominee compared the artificial islands in the South China Sea to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which he said is illegal.
This poses a big program, especially for a country like the United States that always claims adherence to the rule of law and other legalities.
As the Chinese state run media, China Daily pointed out, Tiillerson lacked legality in his statement that US must not to allow China access to the artificial islands, which is illogical, considering that the US is neither a claimant country to the disputed territory, nor, for that matter, is the US a partner of the Philippines in the territorial dispute before the Permanent Arbitration Court (PAC) where a lawsuit was filed by the Philippines, which had won the case, but which, under the Rody Duterte regime, his decision was that in the dispute with China, it  would best serve the Philippines to engage in bilateral dialog with the Chinese, while putting the territorial dispute in the back burner, in the meantime.
This move by President Duterte has not only brought about peace with China but has also reaped a vastly improved trade and diplomatic relations with China.
During the reign of the US puppet in the Philippines, then President Aquino, the US could say that its forays, air and sea into the South China Sea where the artificial islands are, were in support of the Philippines, which then claimed to be rightful owners of the territories being claimed by China. That was probably the US cover on what may be called “legal grounds” on account of the PCA ruling won by the Philippines.
But what legal grounds would the US, Trump and Tillerson, if he does get the nod of the confirmation panel by insisting that China cannot be allowed access to these artificial islands, especially as China is already situated in these disputed territories, with its air and sea power, plus its nuclear arms, ready for any move by the US against China and the disputed territories?
As the Chinese newspaper said: If China is not allowed access to islands it has long controlled, does this also apply to Vietnam and the Philippines? Should the Nansha Islands become a depopulated zone? What does so-called US freedom of navigation around the Nansha Islands mean?”
And who is the US to bar China, or for that matter, any other country, from accessing the disputed territories? The US may want to be the “policeman of the world,” but even in this self appointed task, it has its limits.
Then the US had the support of the Philippines under the Aquino regime, but that has been lost with the Duterte presidency, that prefers peace with China than war with the support of its military ally, the US.
So which claimant-country in Asean — and there are many, that will willingly partner with the US countries in barring China from access to the artificial islands?
Actually, not one save for the Philippines, mainly because it was the Philippines, with of course the prodding of the US, that questioned China’s nine dash line territorial claims, winning some and losing some.
Not one other claimant country has that legality, if one must come to that.
Despite the US claims of Russia having annexed Crimea being illegal, to date, the US, save for its sanctions on Russia, has not dared to move militarily against Russia, knowing Russia to be a superpower, and a war between the two countries would just ensue, which neither Russia nor the US wants.
In much the same way, neither the US nor China would want to engage in a real war, unless of course, one country provokes the other with its military and nuclear might.
“Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish,” the Global Times, said to be a mouthpiece of China, said in an editorial.
China Daily took a similar line, saying: “It would set a course for devastating confrontation between China and the US. After all, how can the US deny China access to its own territories without inviting the latter’s legitimate, defensive responses?”
Indeed, it’s either going to stay a verbal war between two superpowers unless US wants to come up with World War lll, and cause the annihilation of the world.

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