Uncertain times – Manila Standard


These are uncertain times. President Rodrigo Duterte in several public speeches talked about his possible declaration of emergency or forming a revolutionary government. While both instances are within the President’s prerogative under the Constitution when the national situation warrants such a draconian measure, the citizenry nonetheless is wary that an emergency rule or a revolutionary government would be declared only to perpetuate oneself in power.

President Duterte’s threat to declare such extreme measure, he said, is brought about by destabilization plots to oust him from the presidency. While there is indeed widespread criticism against his war on drugs and the collateral damage of extrajudicial killings, the public perception is that he is still in full control of the government.

Talking about possible emergency rule or a revolutionary government can only betray the President’s own fears and uncertainty with his own people .

Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile gives credit to Duterte for his foreign policy in attracting China and Russia to take notice of the Philippines as no longer America’s fair-haired boy in Asia, he said. This has prompted both China and Russia to provide weapons in the country’s fight against terrorists . China has also offered financial aid in the reconstruction of Marawi and the building of two bridges over the Pasig River to ease traffic congestion along Edsa.

“No president of the Philippines has ever achieved the coming over of China and Russia except for Digong,” said Enrile.

Enrile, however, was not in favor of President Duterte making public his every move especially on such a sensitive matter as the declaration of emergency rule or forming a revolutionary government.

“Before President Marcos and I declared and imposed martial law throughout the country, not once did we talk about it in public,” said Enrile, adding it took at least two years of serious study on its impact on the national life. More importantly, he said , we thought of ways how martial law can be implemented with the least resistance from the populace. Enrile must know what he’s talking about. It took 14 and a half years before Marcos was toppled by the February 1986 People Power uprising at Edsa.

I was then news editor of the Lopez-owned Manila Chronicle when Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. Unlike the rest of the populace who woke up the next morning to find out there was no radio, TV or newspapers to know what was happening . The Chronicle knew the unfolding scenario. On the eve of that fateful day, a truckload of soldiers came to the Chronicle office at midnight on Escarpment Road In Ortigas to shut down our newspaper.

Duterte’s possible emergency rule has been floated in appearances before the military establishment. While these “floaters” did not elicit the gung-ho response from officers and troops, a reading of the army’s sentiment did indicate either acquiescence or lukewarm acceptance of a revolutionary government.Our soldiers will, of course, be at the forefront of implementing either a revolutionary government or emergency rule. Our troops have just been through a harrowing five-month battle against the Maute/ISIS terrorists who laid siege to Marawi City. To implement emergency rule would be asking too much of our soldiers. They also now will be stretched thin against the communist New People’s Army whom President Duterte declared as terrorists. The President scuttled any more peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front because of ambuscades against government troops even as the peace talks were going on in Norway. We can now only expect an escalation of hostilities from these two communist forces.

The Maute ISIS terrorists are far from being a dissipated group. Their defeat in Marawi can only make them mount new offensives to recover from this setback. Defeating an enemy in one battle does not win a war.

The people need to support President Duterte in the event of war on two fronts against the communist NPA rebels and the Maute-inspired terrorists. An emergency rule might then be justified.

Against this possible conflict scenario, there is the backdrop of political uncertainty with the pending impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and another move to oust Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. Why is Carpio being targeted? Her term is only up to July next year. That is only eight months away.

Is this a consolidation of power to control the High Court that would question an emergency rule or the legality of a revolutionary government? We hope not.

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