An illusion and a fraud

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
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The argument that such values as human rights and the right to life are alien to Asian culture and impositions from the West, is not new. But not since the martial law period (1972-1986) and only recently has any Filipino functionary or politician demanded that other countries refrain from criticism of the policies and acts of the Philippine government on precisely that basis.

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Exercises in futility

Duterte with soldiers
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At about the same time that the peace panels of the Philippine government (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) were concluding back channel talks in Utrecht, the Netherlands, during which they agreed to return to the negotiating table, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was bombing communities in areas whose residents, it believes, either harbor the New People’s Army (NPA) or are supportive of it in various ways.

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Murder, he said

Rodrigo Duterte
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About extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in Davao city there have been rumors for over a decade. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) looked into them in 2003 and found that the killing of dozens of people, most of them male, and under both Philippine and international standards, children — some of the victims were as young as 14 — apparently had to do with Davao’s reputation as a low-crime city. The implication was that the killing of who were then described as mostly petty criminals was the chosen strategy of the administration of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to rid the city of crime.

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Things fall apart

Imee Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte
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The 31st anniversary of EDSA 1986 was marked — the government didn’t exactly celebrate it — with both chaos and indifference. The disorder was evident in the differences in the various groups’ and even the government’s separate and conflicting activities to observe it. Apathy was the usual response of much of the populace to an event whose significance has continued to elude them in the same way that they can’t tell what happened in much of Philippine history, thanks to what we laughingly call the educational system.

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Promoting impunity

Rodrigo Duterte for death penalty
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THE campaign by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies in Congress for the restoration of the death penalty is replete with irony. Capital punishment is supposed to discourage criminality while at the same time insuring that those who commit certain crimes get what they deserve. But what’s likely is that rather than deter crime and assure crime victims of justice, it will further strengthen the impunity, or exemption from punishment, of the powerful, privileged, and well-connected.

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Self-fulfilling prophecy

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The unfortunately named Magdalo group — the Magdalo was the Katipunan faction that murdered Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna — identified with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has a point. It doesn’t do anyone any good for the Philippine government (GPH), particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and President Rodrigo Duterte on the one hand, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the other, to be throwing accusations at each other at this time when the peace talks between them have been suspended and are in grave danger of once again being abandoned, as they were during the Corazon Aquino, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III administrations.

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