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