TO THE POINT: A Dangerous Game

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 February) — Muingon mo’g diktador? Diktador gyud ko. Kay hindi ko mag-diktador [#*!#*!] walang mangyayari sa bayan na ‘to. Tinuod,” MindaNews quoted President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Other national media online did the same.

His Cebuano-Tagalog in English: “You say I’m a dictator? I’m really a dictator. Because if I will not be a dictator (expletive), nothing will happen in this country. That’s true.

He spoke in Cebuano interspersed with Tagalog and English aired live over state-owned PTV4 in Malacañan last February 7 to 217 NPA surrenderers from Mindanao.

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Did he just speak to the NPA surrenderers? He did to all NPAs, Communists and their umbrella and front organizations; to all his critics, leftists, activists and political opposition.

He admitted being really a dictator, flirting with dictatorship. He twitted his critics and adversaries for calling him “dictator”, agitating them to do more. He was egging them to play a dangerous game – flirting with and courting dictatorship.

Without him as dictator, nothing good will happen to the country. Proof? The brutal, bloody war on drugs; the destruction of Marawi to destroy the Maute ISIS-Daesh terrorism; the continuing martial law in Mindanao to wipe out other forms of terrorism and the Communist-NPA insurgency,

For all these, he has been called “dictator”. But they are good, he said, and could not have happened had he not acted as dictator. And, he swore — with expletives – to make more good things to happen with him as dictator!

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So, the dangerous game will go on.

More condemnation, more protests – ugly name-calling and caricature, effigy burning, NPA ambushes, et cetera, etcetera. The louder the vows to continue until Duterte steps down or is removed.

The protesters, critics, activists and political opposition, damning Duterte and his administration, will feel triumphant with the social media and street responses. And so will be the NPAs, the CPP and NDF with more ambushes and burnings.

Duterte is a calculating warrior, raised in the streets. “Don’t support a dictator.” Hear the ring of irony? He knows. If the people see as good what he is doing for the country as a dictator, they will support him.

More protests, more criticisms, more street marches, more NPA ambushes and burnings, et cetera, et cetera, can destabilize the country, can raise anger. Duterte will ride on these to expand nationwide martial law and be a dictator for the good of the country.

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Duterte proclaimed martial law in Marawi and the entire Mindanao for 60 days on May 23, 2017, had it extended until end of 2017, and for the entire 2018 as recommended by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. The Congress, and then the Supreme Court, approved the 60-day declaration and its subsequent double extension.

The Supreme Court (INQUIRER.net, February 6, 2018: Constitution ‘silent’ on number of times martial law may be extended – SC) ruled in its decision dismissing four petitions against martial law extension:

“The Constitution is silent on how many times Congress may extend a proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It also does not fix a period for the duration of any extension of a proclamation or suspension.”  It noted: “The 60-day period of the initial proclamation and/or suspension by the President cannot be considered to apply to any extension as determined by Congress.”

In their dissenting opinions, five members of the Court, as reported by The Philippine Star of February 11, 2018, the “SC decisions on ML extension creates grounds for dictatorship”.

Martial law, according to Article VII, Sec. 17 of the 1987 Constitution, can be extended on only one condition, “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety shall require it”.  This was completely ignored; only the President on the advice of the military and the police has the say on  the condition.   

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Duterte enjoys the dangerous game. More criticisms, protests, demonstrations, name-calling, effigy burning, NPA ambushes and burning, et cetera, et cetera, will give him the ammo to declare martial law nationwide and rule as dictator.

Who will stop him?

Surely, not the Congress, not the Supreme Court; not China or Russia.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Patriicio P. Diaz was editor in chief of the Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City and later the Mindanao Kris. He is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his ‘commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator, and Peace Advocate.’ You may e-mail your comments to patponcediaz@yahoo.com)

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