The consequences of a Duterte presidency

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Greg B. Macabenta

Posted on April 27, 2016

Mabuhay ang NPA!” Rodrigo Duterte has exhorted in his speeches. And Jose Maria Sison, Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) founder has acknowledged Duterte’s promise that if he becomes president, the New People’s Army -- the CPP’s armed unit -- will have one foot in Malacañang.

Said Sison: “Sabi niya, kapag ako ang presidente, isang paa ng NPA nasa Malacañang na. Ready for coalition.”

It’s on YouTube, in case anybody wants to check.

While it makes sense to negotiate peace with the NPA, Duterte’s idea of a “coalition” grants the latter undue belligerent status. Are Duterte and Sison envisioning “power sharing” along the template that marked the dirty wars in Central America?

Have we heard a single expression of outrage from the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or of the Philippine National Police over what Duterte and Sison said? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Why is the silence of the military brass so deafening?

Aquino has just appointed a new Acting AFP Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda. Will he choose to ignore Duterte’s in-your-face defiance -- nay, in-your-face insult -- of everything that the men under his command have been fighting and dying for?

By the way, is former President Fidel V. Ramos, a former defense chief and former AFP chief of staff, still convinced about supporting Duterte despite his being a Communist coddler? No peep from Ramos, either.

Duterte has told the US and Australian ambassadors to shut up and has threatened to sever relations with the two countries if he ever assumes the presidency -- because they protested his depraved remarks concerning a slain Australian lay minister.

Meanwhile, here’s how a rabid pro-Duterte columnist in a major daily spun Duterte’s slamming of the foreign diplomats:

“It is not really the Duterte remark on a beautiful Australian that offends. What offended the American and Australian ambassadors and the Filipino elite was that an obscure, uncouth, ill-mannered, common Filipino should break their stranglehold on the Filipino nation... That was the context of the anger against Duterte.”

This columnist -- who happens to be a woman -- chose to completely ignore Duterte’s psychotic remark about wanting to ravish a rape and murder victim and chose instead to twist the topic to a purported foreign “stranglehold on the Filipino nation.”

If you’ve ever heard a more non sequitur commentary, this one was it. And this person is supposed to be an opinion maker? Good grief!!!

Maybe Duterte -- who is not famous for thinking before he lets bile spew out of his mouth -- doesn’t realize the implications of his threat against the US and Australia. But surely the captains of Philippine commerce and industry understand the consequences of being dubbed a pariah in the international community.

But have we heard even a word of caution against such a reckless actuation by someone who would be president of the country?

Some Duterte fanatics have argued that the US and Australia need the Philippines as much as we need them and that they would never abandon our country, whatever the aggravation. These simpletons fail to see that turning the screws on our hapless country does not necessarily mean letting go of their strategic position here. They’ll just make life more miserable for the Filipino people, with greatest impact on the masses.

And talk about the masses, it appears that there is a growing wave of support for Duterte among them because of the fantastic belief that he will rid the country of criminality and corruption in three to six months. And not just the masa -- even supposedly intelligent individuals from the so-called Class ABC have been taken in by the double-talk. Apparently spurred by extreme frustration over the incompetence of the current administration and the endemic corruption in Philippine society, these people are willing to believe anything.

No amount of logical explanation seems to convince them that Duterte’s promise is no better than that of a sideshow medicine man.

As a matter of fact, on the basis of the fantasy of a crime-free and corruption-free government, they are willing to forgive Duterte for his profanity, his boorishness, his immorality, and his oft-announced murderous tendencies.

These people can’t even understand the fact that crime cannot be eliminated by someone who is, himself, guilty of criminal behavior, and justice cannot be dispensed by someone who has no respect for the rule of law. And about the promise of a corruption-free society, Duterte’s rabid admirers cannot see that Duterte’s mind, mouth, attitudes and entire being are so corrupt that he makes the hustlers at Customs and BIR look like altar boys.

So how else do you convince the Duterte fanatics that voting their idol to Malacañang is like self-flaggelation and like banging one’s head against a stone wall?

How do parents stop an emotionally disturbed child from doing drugs? How do they dissuade a daughter from running off with that married dirty old man? How do you keep a whole nation of fanatics from pushing the country off the cliff?

The exhortations of the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t seem to help. In a nation of Catholics, it has become fashionable for Catholics themselves to accuse the clergy of hypocrisy. It is also taken for granted that the Catholic Bishops Conference has more bark than bite and can never rally a Catholic vote.

The activist women’s groups are up in arms against Duterte for making light of rape and debasing feminine dignity -- but will their efforts be enough to stir the outrage of women voters?

How do you convince a blinded, mesmerized, unthinking people -- not just the so-called poor but also the wealthy and supposedly enlightened -- that delivering the country into the hands of Duterte is virtual suicide? How do you make their simplistic minds see the light?

Then the other day, I stumbled upon a posting on Facebook by a certain Mike K. Cohen. It seems that in Cohen’s view, dealing with simpletons may also require a simplistic explanation of the consequences of a Duterte presidency, particularly that part about severing ties with the US. I quote the post, as follows:

“A few people are smiling about the bravado of a comment of Rody Duterte on severing ties with US if he wins. The impact of that short list:

Goodbye all visas and green cards

Goodbye all call centers jobs

Goodbye McDo, Shakeys, 7-11 all US brands

Goodbye all balikbayan boxes

No more Western Union

No more padala

No more trade

No more tv shows or movies

No more concerts or US music

Lastly goodbye to the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and all Apple products

Likewise any and all trade with the US directly or indirectly... that is what severed ties means... a total end to relationships of four million Filipino Americans and their families back home, that would last for up to six years... Perhaps Mayor Duterte needs to think more next time before he speaks -- the last leader who tried to sever ties and declare war on the USA is sitting in a US prison his name is Noriega -- the last US ally to sever ties over a ‘feeling offended...’ he’s still in US supermax prison. Google him -- Manuel Antonio Noriega.”

That last point should send some chills up Duterte’s spine. Jose Maria Sison and his motley forces will not be able to protect him from the CIA. And if Duterte thinks China will, then he’s more simple minded than he has already shown himself to be.

Greg B. Macabenta is an advertising and communications man shuttling between San Francisco and Manila and providing unique insights on issues from both perspectives.