The ignorance that kills

Estrada, Duterte, Arroyo, Marcos
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Within months of his coming to power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte’s profanities, tirades, threats, outrageous remarks about women, human rights, heads of foreign states, and what he was actually doing, had called the attention of international media — in Japan, the United States and Europe — to what was happening in the Philippines.
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After the Supreme Court — the Senate?

Tito Sotto
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The newly elected president of the Senate has been accused of plagiarism, of disrespecting women, of cluelessness about the most pressing issues of public concern, and of ignorance of the Constitution.

During the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who rose to his present exalted rank thanks to his credentials as a celebrity in a mindless noontime television program, used without proper attribution portions of someone else’s blog post in his speech against it, and translated for inclusion in it parts of a speech by Robert F. Kennedy.

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It’s not just about Sereno

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The unprecedented removal through quo warranto proceedings of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from her post isn’t only about her, or solely about the Supreme Court, the rule of law, the Constitution, or the Duterte regime and its autocratic pretensions. Even more crucially is it about the fate and future of the democratization process that at least twice in history has been interrupted at its most crucial stage, and, driven by the need to address political and economic underdevelopment, has had to twice start all over again in this country.

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A coup by any other name

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The Marcos terror regime may have been overthrown 31 years ago, the institutions of liberal democracy restored, and a new Constitution drafted. But the threat of dictatorship has never really passed.

The conditions that made the making of a tyrannical regime possible in 1972 are still in evidence. Among them are a lawless and self-aggrandizing political class afflicted with the authoritarian virus; an unreformed police and military establishment that is similarly impaired; and those sectors of the population impatient with the inefficiencies of what passes for democratic governance and who imagine one-man rule to be the cure-all for the country’s ills.

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Imminent danger

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Never mind the 2017 Duterte State of the Nation Address, which was replete with profanities, self-serving claims of current and future progress on various fronts, among them the regime’s brutal and failing war on drugs, and justifications for the use of unaccountable State violence. Take his so-called assurance that he won’t place the entire country under martial law with a reasonable amount of skepticism. All SONAs are after all political and since Commonwealth days have served the ends of every Philippine regime without exception.

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Villain in hero’s guise

Ferdinand Marcos
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The Libingan ng mga Bayani is not, as it name suggests, literally a heroes’ cemetery. Soldiers, policemen, and former Philippine presidents can be buried there, apparently on the tenuous presumption that by having worn a police or military uniform, or being elected to the Philippine presidency, an individual becomes a hero — meaning an exemplar of humanity, and worthy of emulation for, presumably, having risen above the limits of personal, familial and class interests in behalf of country and people.

Most dictionaries define heroes and heroism in less socially redeeming terms. A hero, says the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities,” or “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.”

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His father’s son

Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (Senate of the Philippines)
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In a performance that would have done his father proud, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. managed to apologize and not apologize at the same time during a television interview last week (August 26).

Marcos Jr. was asked if he was going to apologize for martial law — that period in Philippine recent history, the length of which is still in dispute to this day. (Martial law officially ended in 1981, but in testimony to his own cunning, Ferdinand Marcos retained his authoritarian powers until he was overthrown in 1986.)
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Boy scouts and dictators

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THE partisans of Renato Corona made it a point during the four months of his impeachment trial to warn the public of the danger of dictatorship should Corona be removed from the Supreme Court and Benigno Aquino III left to choose his successor.

That would assure, they said, Aquino control of every branch of government. With the elections of 2013 practically guaranteeing that his coalition would emerge victorious in the Senate and House elections, he would have control of the Executive, the Judiciary, and both houses of Congress by next year.

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Dictatorship in democratic garb

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Speaking through a joint statement, several opposition groups warned the other day that an “Arroyo dictatorship” could follow the approval of House Resolution 1109 .

Their fears, said the United Opposition, Gabriela, Bayan, and Gloria Step Down Movement, among others, were not groundless, given the country’s experience with the government of Ferdinand Marcos, who managed to establish a dictatorship in 1972 by placing the entire country under martial law.

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