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Will Duterte Help Reform the Philippines or Will he be a Black Mark and Repeat Abuses of the Past?

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   8 comments

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PHILIPPINES: RETURN TO DEATH BY GARROTE


By Kevin Stoda

Partial Book Review of Ambeth R. Ocampo's (2010) DEATH BY GARROTE, Philippines: Anvil Publishing, 100 pages.

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Many Filipinos are uneasy with the newly elected president of the country, Rodrigo Duterte. He reminds many of a souped-up version of America's Donald Trump. He has a dangerous mouth, threatens journalists, and is not afraid of using inappropriate language and hate speech. Duterte won the presidential election with about 42% of the national vote in the May 9, 2016 election.

Public 'can kill' criminals

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More recently, this week, Duterte announced fairly directly that he is the country's chief promoter of vigilantism and lynching in the Philippines, a tradition dating back centuries. Specifically, Duterte stated that the "Public 'can kill' criminals!" However, until recently, many in the Philippines had hoped for and voted for Duterte to be the nation's potential great Law-and-Order Chief.

Like Donald Trump, Duterte often intentionally uses, chooses, and abuses the most inflammatory vocabulary. On the 9th of May, the day he won the election, Duterte announced that he would "be a 'dictator' against evil and vowed to step down in six months if he failed to fulfill his promise to stamp out corruption."

I hope the people of the country hold Duterte to his word, i.e. to resign, if he walks the talk.

Extrajudicial killings advocated

Last month, Duterte also said in one interview that he wants to empower security forces to "shoot to kill" anyone that resists arrest. Naturally, like Donald Trump, Duterte constantly claims to be misunderstood. Interestingly, allegations have "also surfaced that he was connected to extrajudicial killings by a well-coordinated group of vigilantes, earning him the moniker 'The Punisher' by Time Magazine. Duterte himself has confirmed [some of] the claims during a live TV show broadcast locally in the Philippines last year."

Finally, in the last week of May, Duterte upped his ante on his competition with Donald Trump in his battle on free speech through attacking journalists. Duterte stated publicly, "Even if you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you're a son of a b*tch." Duterte stated this in context of the killings of some journalists, whom he had claimed were linked to media corruption. United Nations officials who learned of Duterte's responded by stating that it sounded like a permission slip from the president-elect for Filipinos to kill journalist--and Philippines is already in 3rd place as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists already--right behind Iraq and Syria.

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Ambeth R. Ocampo & Today's Philippines

One of the Philippines more popularly read journalists is the historian, Ambeth R. Ocampo. He is best known for his writings on Philippines' national hero Jose Rizal and for Looking Back, his bi-weekly editorial page column published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
One of his most recent articles, "It's us who repeat history", which was related to the history of the presidency in the Philippines He writes, "As the new president (Duterte) gazes on his predecessors it will be timely for him to remember the first [president of the Philippines in 1898]--the controversial Emilio Aguinaldo. It is not well-known that Aguinaldo, maligned as a power-hungry, power-grabbing president in history classes, considered resigning from the presidency and, in fact, offered his resignation in December 1898, asking his countrymen to accept it as a Christmas gift."

In short, Rodrigo Duterte's promise this week to quit the presidency or resign, i.e. if he can't beat-down corruption in the country, is not an unheard of practice in the Philippines. Ocampo continues that part of Emilio "Aguinaldo's resignation is relevant to any new president."
Aguinaldo wrote to all Filipinos in his resignation, "You are all aware that there is no office superior to that of the president of the nation; he is honored, he is obeyed, he is the superior of all, distinct from all other eminent personages, so that public order is dependent upon him; one can desire nothing better; if he is to perform his duty rigidly of watching over the welfare of the nation, no other office is to be compared with it; but if he uses it as a means to further personal interests, there is no better office by which to obtain great wealth in a short time."

As far as electing a president of the land, Aguinaldo added, "[W]e can feign acquiescence and when the time for action comes, elect the one who deserves the office, for the choice must not fall on anyone by whom the country would be imperiled."

Ocampo concludes his article, "We will never know what made Aguinaldo contemplate this drastic step of resigning, but from the text one can get a sense that his trust and optimism had been misplaced".History may seem irrelevant to millennials, but anyone who reads texts like the ones quoted above may be misled into believing that Aguinaldo foretold the future, because in the end history does not repeat itself, it is us who repeat it."

The fact is that many Filipinos today remember Aguinaldo, in his later life, as a traitor to the country. Hopefully that Duterte's future? Many recall that Duterte's father served under Ferdinand Marcos and Duterte is not averse to working with the son of the infamous dictator.

Death by Garrote

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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