TURNING POINT: The Scent of Downfall

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/24 February) — It is now evident the Duterte Davao model in fighting criminality, the drug menace and corruption could not work when applied at national scale. Why?

In Davao, Duterte was able to cow his constituents to submission with his strongman tactics using the police and other armed allies. Oppositions and critics could not withstand his fear approach in running the city. Thus he was able to rule the city of Davao, establishing his own political dynasty like any trapo warlord virtually unopposed for more than two decades.

When the guy was to rule the entire nation, he could not muster the same reliable allies from his previous domain. He noticed that his new constituency was so huge, varied and intractable. His strongman and fear approach to governance was treated with contempt and was condemned not so much by his political opponents but by the mainstream churches, the media, the academe, by Western countries and international organizations. His government spends more precious time and resources in fending the blows of critics here and there, and soon in cleansing its ranks from misfits and scalawags rather than in promoting its development programs.

While his policy of co-existence with the NPA worked in Davao, it was a disastrous failure when duplicated nationwide. In Davao, he had to deal only with the local NPA command; nationwide he has to deal with the CPP NDF top echelon which are unfortunately in far away foreign lands or urban centers, detached from their armed elements, the NPA in the countryside.

While the different NPA units throughout the country may have shared the same ideology and purpose to overthrow the government, by their geographic fragmentation and isolation they inescapably vary in operational strategies, such as in recruiting new members and in raising funds for logistics and operations.

It seems the government unilateral ceasefire at the advent of the Peace Talk is only good and observable when it is to the advantage and serves the interest of each NPA unit in the context of the unique situation where each one is found. In the battlefield, pragmatism and survival from a perceived threat rules over any prescribed convention.

The difficulties and setbacks may have likely forced Digong to retreat often from the capital to Davao, his enclave and comfort zone to recharge in an atmosphere where he feels he has absolute command and unwavering local adoration that continuously gives him an intoxicating high.

The public confession of SPO3 Arthur Lascañas of his heinous crimes as Davao Death Squad administrator and hitman committed on order of then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte has become an unstoppable wrecking ball rammed into the facade and walls of Digong’s comfort zone. It may only be a matter of time when everything would crumble around him and expose him vulnerably naked.

The de Lima arrest offers nothing but a brief consoling respite from the media’s voracious undivided attention over the devastating Lascañas bomb.

Like a copyrighted refrain, the automatic response of PRRD tax-money-paid apologists was to claim that the bomb dropped by Lascañas was part of the scheme to destabilize the Duterte government or oust the very popular president. Uncannily, Senator Gordon, Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Rights, was quick to jump to the aid of the embattled President claiming, as if he was there when the transaction was made, that the retired police officer was paid for the demolition job; that there’s no need for the Senate to resume the EJK hearing and that if Lascañas has really the goods on the former mayor he could just directly charge him in the proper court.

Also as expected, other supporters of Digong have gone to work in destroying the credibility of Lascañas, saying that he is an unreliable witness, having perjured the testimony he gave in the Senate in October 2016 that there was no death squad in Davao contrary to the allegation of self-professed DDS member, Edgar Matobato. A perjured witness or resource person is no longer acceptable to give testimony anywhere for it is useless to believe a confirmed liar. If he will be allowed to testify, his testimony, accordingly, has no probative value.

The acceptability and validity of a person’s testimony is for any hearing legal forum to decide. If a testimony is a variation or turn-around from one made earlier, the reason for being will have to pass rigorous scrutiny. There could be one thousand and one reasons why a person has to take back what he earlier said. As said, only fools don’t change their mind. The reason for the about face, however in this regard, ought not to be whimsical or one arising plainly from the demand for self-preservation but one that serve greater or higher purpose, notwithstanding the risk, such as truth and justice and which is logical, experientially possible and believable for the new testimony to gain probative value.

Whatever, the Lascañas revelation is not an issue reserved only for the proper court to look into and examine closely but for the entire nation to decide and make a stand.

In the light of the 31st People Power Revolution anniversary tomorrow, will the explosive damning expose of Lascañas and the controversial drug charges and arrest of Sen. De Lima provide fuel and fire to the celebration? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan is a retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus in Misamis Oriental).

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