ICC and President Duterte (Photo courtesy by Kahimyang)

“There is always a time for reckoning.”

– President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

In the whole presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte up to this point, this is about the only statement I could agree with. It is absolutely right and indubitably futuristic. Why? From the national point of view, it cannot happen during Duterte’s time as he is a person of personal revenge which characterizes his term as President. National reckoning — it will not come during his time because he does not know how to think as a natural leader.

Only fools and unthinking fanatics can say shamelessly – that he is a good President. Even if you distort the meaning of the word good, he has not been a good President and never will be – not if he lives a thousand years. It may be a harsh judgment but when the future of the country is at stake and the lives of generations of Filipinos are on the line, the only way to produce results is to be harsh – at least in language.

International Criminal Court (ICC): Lately, mainstream and social media are agog over the recommendation of a retired Prosecutor of the ICC that the complaint against Duterte for crimes against humanity is finally recommended to the chamber for preliminary investigation. Because of this news, many of my friends who do not like Duterte as President told me that finally Duterte will be finally arrested. That’s the hope of the hopeless. Why?

Granting a warrant will be issued, who the hell can arrest him in this country? Duterte has the military and the police in his pocket. As Duterte has claimed over and over again, like hogs he has been feeding them so well. So he feels safe from being arrested – by the lemmings of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The ICC has no enforcement agency – it has to depend on the member nations who signed the Statute of Rome. Who among them will raise an arresting force? There is none in the offing.

United Nations: You will probably tell me – how about the United Nations? The UN has no enforcement agency. It cannot even enforce the decisions of its own creations. It could not enforce the decision of the UN Arbitral Tribunal on the West Philippine Sea. The only possible country that the UN can ask to arrest President Duterte is the USA. But the US is not a signer of the Statute of Rome. Logically, it will not do it. What about the Interpol? That’s a joke. The units of the Interpol in the Philippine belong to the police and National Bureau of Investigation. They are all dumb driven cattle of Duterte. There is no hope there.

Then, where can hope be found?

The people and other forces: This kind of situation is nothing new in the Philippines. There were a number of occasions in the past when judicial and legislative institutions failed but the people decided to find the proper remedies in their hands – invoking section 1, Article II of the Constitution which provides that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

Marcos ouster: But we are living altogether in a different situation from the past events involving the ouster of Presidents. In the case of President Marcos, it was a combination of forces and events – the continuing activities of the political Opposition in the provinces, cities, towns and, most of all, in the Parliament; the deteriorating human rights situation; the perception of continuing graft and corruption in the highest levels of government; the serious condition of President Marcos health; the brazen assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.; the scandalous cheating in the 1986 snap presidential election; the growing disenchantment with the way the military was run by Marcos generals; the erroneous order to arrest Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and PC Chief General Fidel Ramos; radio broadcast of Jaime Cardinal Sin urging Catholics to support the Enrile coup; the support of the political Opposition led by UNIDO and Corazon Aquino the Opposition presidential candidate who was perceived to have won the election; the swing of major components of the military to the coup forces; the electrifying debate in the Batasang Pambansa on who won the election; the declaration of Namfrel that Cory Aquino won the election; the walkout of the canvassers in the Comelec canvassing of votes; the participation of the people of Metro Manila to support the coup; and finally, when President Marcos bowed down in defeat – with his brilliance, courage, health and some of his cronies deserting him..

Of course, it should not be discounted that the United States government abandoned Marcos and international media gave the coup a favorable supportive coverage. All these factors contributed to the inevitable ouster of President Marcos.

Erap fall: In the case of President Estrada, his fall started with the Senate minority walking out in the course of an impeachment trial. The Senate minority felt that the Senate majority would play out the trial as a game of numbers. As the trial was a done deal in favor of President Estrada, the minority felt it was time to appeal to the people for redress.

As usual with traditional politicians, they could not generate enough force and connection with the military establishment. Former President Fidel V. Ramos mobilized some of his people in the civilian and military sectors to withdraw military support from President Estrada. The principal credit for withdrawal of military support from President Estrada should go to the late Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), General Angelo “Angie” Reyes. The ones who were primarily responsible for persuading Angie Reyes to withdraw support for President Estrada was the late Secretary of National Defense Fortunato “Tony, Fortune” Abat, Brig, Gen. Edgardo “Abe, Ed” Abenina, a Commodore of the Philippine Navy and a University of the Philippines intellectual with an established political stature.

Current situation: As of the moment, the combination of forces that lead to the fall of Presidents Marcos and Estrada does not exist. As said earlier, the military and police are in the pocket of President Duterte. There is no civilian leader who can strategize and make people march to dethrone Duterte– absolutely none. He exists only on the level of the mind. So on this basis, President Duterte can feel safe from being ousted until his last day in office. He can continue with his pointless, brainless and scandalous activities and behavior till July 1, 2022.

About the reckoning Unless God intervenes between now and July 1, 2022, we have just to suffer the tomfooleries, insanities and incompetence of the Duterte government. After all, it is our fault for electing him and tolerating him thereafter. While it is true the main problem is Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his government – it cannot be denied that the same level of problem is with the voters who elected him. The greatest problem is in all us – for tolerating him and his government.

In the silence of my aging library, I seek refuge in these lines from Rudyard Kipling’s IF –

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”


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