Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: May 2017
Friday, 26 May 2017 10:41

MANILA IS NOT OUR ENEMY!

To all CDP dues paying members of good standing; volunteer members; Young Centrist Union (YCU); Centrist Democratic Sectors; and Centrist Democrats all over the country.

MANILA IS NOT OUR ENEMY! We have allies in Metro-Manila, Luzon and Visayas as we have enemies in Mindanao.

Our main enemy is the oppressive perverted Unitary System we are trying to replace with a new governance paradigm Parliamentary-Federal through the revision of the 1987 Constitution.

THE DEEGONG'S Martial Law declaration is not the problem. In his best lights as our President, Martial Law is his solution in his appreciation of the recent dangerous events in Marawi. And the incident in Marawi is not even the main issue. It is just the trigger to contain the growing threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups. The DEEGONG understands he has to contain this in Mindanao before it spreads to Visayas and Manila. God help us if the malls in Manila are hit. Then Manila may want Martial Law declared too!

LET'S STAY RIGHT IN THIS GAME! LET'S KEEP OUR EYES ON THE POLITICAL BALL!

Lito Monico C. Lorenzana Chairman, CDP
Published in LML Polettiques
Thursday, 25 May 2017 09:50

Political chameleons

IN May 2016, the Deegong ran with just a handful of PDP-Laban stalwarts; the current Senate President, the House Speaker and one or two nondescript candidates for Congress. But three weeks prior to the President-elect’s assumption to power, the LP and some members of mother political parties jumped ship to the PDP- Laban’s “super-majority”. Perhaps there was nothing wrong with this from the standpoint of Filipino politicians and their brand of traditional politics. But it is stretching credulity to a shameful level when one particular politician paraphrased President Quezon and proclaimed: “My loyalty to my party ends when my loyalty to my country begins…” Sheer hypocrisy!

He would have salvaged a shred of self-respect if he just simply declared that “I want to be with the winning brand for self-interest”. This “political butterfly” phenomenon has been the norm in modern Philippine politics. In this context, changing political parties is akin to chameleons changing their skin color perfunctorily, and politicians possessed with the temerity to stay affiliated to a political party out of ideology and values are rare. They are an endangered species.

In 1986, when Cory won, the Marcos KBL was decimated, and though Cory did not believe in a political party – which was tragic – they gravitated to her. In 1992, Fidel Ramos whose Lakas-Tao party reportedly “could all get into one taxi” built a “rainbow coalition” of NUCD-CMD-Lakas and remained in power up to GMA’s administration. That party was dominant until PNoy took power in 2010 and decimated the NUCD-CMD-Lakas, giving rise to the new Liberal Party. Today, we have a “not so new kid in the block”— PDP Laban—with more than 100 LP members swearing allegiance to the principles and ideology of this “left-of-center” party.

Last May 10, Ansaruddin Adiong of Lanao del Sur’s 1st district, Winston Castelo of Quezon City’s 2nd district, Geraldine Roman of Bataan 1st district, Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato’s 2nd district and Alfred Vargas of Quezon City’s 5th district took their oath before Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the PDP-Laban secretary general.

Along with them were Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela 1st district, Abdulmunir Arbison of Sulu 2nd district, Scott Davies Lanete of Masbate 3rd district, Xavier Jesus Romualdo of Camiguin and Divina Grace Yu of Zamboanga del Sur 1st district. Last Wednesday, two former LP members Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City and Councilor Gian Sotto took their oaths before the PDP-Laban president, Senate President Koko Pimentel.

With this recent defection, the emasculation of the once mighty Liberal Party and its minor cohorts is complete, reducing the remnants to a pathetic few and leaving their political carcasses strewn all over the place.

I bring these episodes and names up not to disparage these politicians but to emphasize that the political party system in the Philippines as the backbone of a truly democratic governance is severely defective, leaving the elected leaders perhaps with very little choice but to defect for personal survival.

Almost all of the political parties in the Philippines are structured in a manner that hew closely to the centuries-old patronage system. The patrons who provide the funds make almost all of the political party decisions, especially with regard to those slated to run for elective positions; the central/executive committees are usually manned by their allies and subalterns; and there are no real offices and party activities year-round except during election periods.

Invariably, political parties do not have a uniquely consistent set of beliefs that distinguishes one from the other; at most they proffer slogans and motherhood statements that pass for political doctrines. Their political agenda are predictably directed towards the preservation of elective members’ prerogatives, ensuring the continued accumulation of pelf and privileges for themselves and their families. Individual programs and family interest, perforce, have precedence over that of a political party’s collective appreciation of society’s needs. And once they are gifted the privilege to govern, public policies are instituted on the fly emanating from the framework of traditional political practices, their comprehension of national issues seen subjectively through the prism of personal and family interests, thus perpetuating the existing flawed political institutions.

We need immediate reforms in our political party system even prior to PRRD’s plans to shift to a federal parliamentary system. This can be achieved through the passing of the proposed Political Party Development and Financing Act (a bill that has been pending in Congress for several years) which will:

1) Penalize “turncoatism” (or the switching of political parties, “balimbing”, “political butterfly”);

2) Enforce transparent mechanisms providing and regulating campaign financing to eliminate graft, corruption, and patronage (corporate & individual contributions); and

3) Institute strict state subsidy that will professionalize political parties by supporting their political education and campaign initiatives.

In more modern developed countries, political parties are the “sine qua non” of a vibrant democracy. They are not vessels for personal electoral survival and perpetuation in power of political families. They exist because the citizenry, the wellspring and final arbiter of political power, have diverse issues and aspirations that need to be articulated and amplified to a wider political domain. Political parties must provide them real choices.
Published in LML Polettiques
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao late Tuesday, hours after government troops battled members of a local terror group in Marawi City.

The attack in the southern city prompted the President to cut short his visit in Russia.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is with the President in Moscow, said he will stay to sign several agreements.

The decision to return to Manila as soon as possible was made after Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following fierce clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi City.

“I have spoken to my counterpart here in Moscow and have explained the situation and they understand that the security of the Filipino people especially in Marawi and the whole Mindanao is a priority. They understand that the presence of President Duterte is essential in the Philippines but I will be staying behind. The agreements will be signed and we will have a bilateral meeting with the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov,” Cayetano said in a news briefing.

Cayetano said Duterte “feels that he is needed in Manila as soon as possible” and Palace officials will announce when the President will be flying home.

Duterte was scheduled to be in Russia until May 25.

Soldiers and policemen battled dozens of gunmen protecting one of the world’s most wanted Islamic militants in Marawi City on Tuesday, authorities said.

At least one policeman was killed in the hunt for Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, according to military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano.

The gunmen attacked a hospital during the clashes, Ano said.

“Please advise people to stay inside their houses. We will clear the area,” he said.

He said the fighting began when police and troops raided a house on Tuesday afternoon where Hapilon, the subject of a US State Department bounty of $5 million, was believed to be hiding.

This triggered fierce clashes throughout the afternoon and into the evening, with Ano estimating there were about 50 gunmen. Photos posted on social media by Marawi residents showed the gunmen walking through the streets of Basak, a Marawi suburb of about 1,700 people.

A woman who asked not to be named said that she saw about 10 armed men take up positions at the gate of a government hospital. Police clashed with the gunmen near the hospital, leaving one officer seriously wounded and one of the extremists dead, she added. The military said it could not confirm the militant’s death. Ano said eight security personnel had been injured in the clashes. LEENA CHUA WITH AFP
Published in News
Friday, 19 May 2017 07:58

CDPI Summer Youth Leaders Dialogue

The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) will be holding its 1st CDPI Summer Youth Leaders Dialogue on the 23rd of May 2017 at Hotel Vicente, Davao City.

It will be a one-day event participated by student-leaders from various colleges and universities in Davao City. The goal of the youth leaders’ dialogue is to gather ideas and understand different perspectives in the topics of federalism, democracy and youth leadership in the midst of the present political structures.

Furthermore, it is the general aim of this activity to engage potential youth leaders in enhancing their knowledge in the field of governance and politics and to raise their awareness and commitment to take on leadership roles.

Miss Rochelle C. Sanaga and Jessalyn C. Jayag will present the CDPI as an organization, what they do and what the organization is all about. Mr. Ted Lorenzo A. Lago and Joshua Adrian S. Cericos will present the role of the youth in the process of federalism.

There will be presentations of outputs and round-table discussions every after each presentation to cater questions and to deepen the participants’ understanding of the topics.
Published in News
Thursday, 18 May 2017 08:40

I simply love Mocha!

MY Mocha is just a little bit faultless; well, almost perfect. My wife Sylvia hates it when I show interest for Mocha. Last week, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. On our way home from dinner, I had this urge to bring my Mocha home with us. She surprisingly agreed.

The closest from home where I can get my Mocha, also called mochachi or mocaccino, is the Blugre Café at the MTS, not Starbucks. My wife hates it when I sip this chocolate-flavored variant of a caffè latte. She says I’m already fat and recommends just plain Americano.

This column however is about the other Mocha. She has been raked over the coals lately that I thought I’d dive right in and try to put things in perspective.

I have never met Mocha Uson. I don’t have any personal knowledge of what she is other than what I read in social media. I don’t follow her in Facebook or twitter. I don’t even have a twitter account. So, this column is not a paean to her.

But I just hate it when the so-called literati and educated look down on people’s newfound status. I find certain commonalities with the young lady. We are both children of murdered fathers—both public servants whose assailants were never brought to justice. In some ways, I sympathize with this hardworking girl.

Mocha Uson’s stint early this year as a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) drew a lot of reactions from netizens, fellow celebrities, and even from some government officials. But her appointment this week as assistant secretary really stirred a hornet’s nest. Offhand, there is no question as to the President’s prerogative to choose his people. The Deegong has already gone on record that he did it “…in payment of his debt of gratitude for her earlier support for his presidential bid…”; and by now we should know that PRRD gives premium to such loyalty.

PRRD appreciates the kind of expertise Mocha possesses which, by the way, no one among the President’s people can provide. The former “sexy dancer” as she is disparagingly referred to by the snooty, has broken through the traditional choices made by past presidents and that made her entry to the PRRD government blunt and unwelcomed. But she is closer to the female version of the Deegong, a person with common sense who understands the language of the masses, and all in all a political outsider with potential for public service.

The accusation of her lack of education is hogwash. She graduated from a leading Manila university and has a bachelor’s degree. We have a lot of highly educated public servants who have been caught with their sticky fingers in the government coffers. Enough of high-class education!

Political blogging draws networks together in a community that tackles as many diverse societal issues as there are bloggers. They can be very idiosyncratic and unavoidably readers are influenced by the partisanship of some very articulate ones. But this is the whole point of blogging where the readership is allowed instant intimacies fundamental to social media interaction in contrast to traditional media where interface with readers is staid and confined to “letters to the editor”. Bloggers like Mocha Uson inject subjectivity into the political conversation shaping arguments condensed from opinions of the readers.

Her political blog has been a popular online hub mainly because she speaks and writes the language not only of the millennials but of the ordinary person on the street. She is astute enough to strategically position herself on an issue extracting every ounce of advantage. When petitions demanded to close down her Facebook page, she plastered online her photo, gagged with a silver masking tape. She defiantly telegraphed the message that she will not be silenced defending the persona and the interests of the Deegong.

Her Palace appointment, however, is a double-edged one. As a high official of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) she has been entrusted the sensitive job of communicating government programs and official presidential messages to the citizenry and even beyond through social media. Along with it, of course, comes the privileges, honors and recognition. Therein lies her difficulty. As a private blogger, she was free to say and print what was in her mind. She has been accused of concocting fake news in defense of the Deegong and like her sponsor, was also liberal with language often considered inappropriate.

There is a code of conduct that covers government officials (RA 6713) and she could be made liable for transgressions now that she has morphed from a private person to an official government employee. Her strength as a private blogger could be a bane as a government-paid publicist. Henceforth, she will be put under a microscope of severe political scrutiny not only by the detractors of the Deegong but even his own allies perhaps resentful of the ascendancy of one who was once a member of the “dancing entourage” of the presidential campaign.

And she could be vulnerable defending the President’s programs from the predictable attacks by traditional media. She can no longer label print media as “presstitutes” when they become critical of DU30s policies, especially in matters which the Deegong considers his very own personal advocacy—human rights and illegal drugs. But with reportedly about 5 million followers in her Facebook page, she has her back covered. So, let Mocha be Mocha!
Published in LML Polettiques
Thursday, 11 May 2017 09:56

CDP roadmap to federalism, 2017-2028

DURING the 8th Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) congress that was held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City last May 6, Senate President Koko Pimentel presented the PDP Laban’s federal-parliamentary model which is a hybrid of the US and German systems. He described it as “…semi-presidential and semi-parliamentary but uniquely Filipino”. His presentation was thorough and detailed, and it was apparent that the model was borne out of the PDP Laban’s experience and grasp of the Philippine situation over the years. It was a formidable reflection too of what is in the mind of its main sponsor, President Rodrigo Duterte, their party chairman.

Some basic features of the political structure is the retention of a universally elected president as head of state with specific powers granted by the soon to be revised 1987 Constitution. It has in effect a “strong federal president” but one who does not assume all the responsibilities of running the bureaucracy of government. Thus, the designation “semi-presidential”.

The legislative body retains the two houses—with a twist. Senators will be elected by the states, similar to the two senators from each of the 50 US states comprising the 100-member US Senate. The Senate has certain veto powers over some of the actions of parliament but it is strictly not a “lawmaking body”.

The parliament is the equivalent of the current House of Representatives with members elected from each of the 11 states of the Philippine Federal Republic. And the political party that has the majority of MPs gets to choose the prime minister, the head of government. Majority of lawmaking powers emanate from this body and only from among the MPs will come the prime minister. The current “party list” are embedded in the party and are allotted seats in parliament on a proportional basis.

All these are models to be discussed and debated publicly and none is “itinaga sa bato” (written in stone), as Senator Koko said. But the main thrust of PDP Laban is that federalism must be in place before President Duterte steps down from office in 2022 – a good 60 months from today.

Closer to German model

The CDP “Roadmap to Federalism” presented by the author, hews closer to the German than the US system. For one, the executive and legislative bodies are fused into a unicameral (one body) parliament; with the party which gets the most number of members of parliament elected choosing the Prime Minister, the head of government. The President, elected from among the members of parliament, surrenders his membership to any party and becomes the head of state – and like the current Queen of England has ceremonial duties, none political. The President who holds office for five years is given some powers by the Constitution – like that of commander in chief.

The PDP Laban and CDP positions are not that far apart as to the political structures, differing only in the time element. The PDP Laban’s thrust is transition to a federal parliamentary government within 60 months. CDP looks at a longer horizon even beyond 2022 – after President Duterte’s term.

To put this in perspective, federalism is intricate and complex. It is the antithesis to an aberrant unitary government practiced over a century, where values of political patronage have permeated the body politic.

The CDP roadmap is thus designed to mitigate the shock to the body politic arising from the purging of traditional political practices through the immediate passage of reform laws, now pending in Congress. Furthermore, the critical process of transition to a parliamentary-federal republic has to be in place in the revised constitution so the assurance of its continuity is safeguarded by the constitution itself even beyond the term of the current President.

3 major steps

The CDP federalism roadmap is simplified in three major steps:

1. To put in place four preconditions while revising the 1987 Constitution: political party reforms now pending in Congress; pass a universal freedom of information law; instigate electoral reforms; and make the ban on political dynasties executory in the constitution. The time frame here is two years with a plebiscite by May 2019.

2. The transition into a parliamentary government, known as “party government” because of the pivotal role of political parties.

3. Provinces and highly urbanized component cities are allowed to evolve first to an autonomous territory. Government can’t impose on the body politic the territories that will eventually become states in a federal format. Provinces and cities need to negotiate as to actual territories and population to encompass a bigger state; the considerations of the natural resources and wealth; the similarity of customs and language; and even the seat of the state capitals. All this will need time and with guidance from parliament.

By the time the President steps down, the parliamentary government will be in place. The prime minister or head of government will be chosen by the political party majority or through party coalitions. The president or head of state will be elected from among the members of parliament. Transitory provisions in the 2022 Constitution may allow DU30, by then 77 years of age, to be the head of state, with lesser powers but with his political ascendance intact. Or if he so chooses, he may retire.
Published in Commentaries
The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) – with its new tagline of “Partido Para Pederalismo”, has successfully hosted the 8th National Congress on the 6th of May 2017 at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City, Philippines.

Secretary Ernesto C. Abella, who was one of the invited keynote speakers along with Senate President Aquilino “Koko" Pimentel, talked about the programs of the Duterte administration. He was glad that the CDP share the same vision with the administration and that federalism will most likely take place in the Duterte government but only when the people is willing to take an active part in such change.

With optimism, Sec. Abella said that “it takes a nation, to build a nation” and the way forward is through federalism.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, the PDP-LABAN President, also spoke about their party’s version of roadmap to federalism.

CDP and PDP-LABAN have similar ideological underpinnings although the CDP’s position on some issues has a slight twist with that of the PDP-Laban stance: a unicameral versus a bicameral parliament; a ceremonial president versus a strong one; and the Prime Minister as Head of Government leading towards an eventual Federal system of government. The major divergence in both position is in the question of timing of the restructuring of political elements.

The CDP passed a resolution to thresh out differences of the two positions in a meeting to be represented by coordinating bodies of PDP-LABAN and CDP.
Published in News
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 13:25

The laughter of a hypocritical world

JOEL Rocamora’s article last year in Rappler (“Duterte’s China card,” October 24, 2016) best represents the views of those who are skeptical of Duterte’s recalibration of Philippine foreign policy. Rocamora panned Duterte’s alignment with China—and Russia. He questioned its strategic value—or lack of it. “We have become the laughingstock of the world,” Rocamora concluded. “In the end, our biggest problem is that our President is, plain and simple, incompetent.”

Rocamora’s analysis is all shine but wanting in substance. It dismisses Duterte’s strategic move as hogwash but fails to demonstrate that this strategic move is the least desirable option given the current geopolitical situation. What ultimately weakened Rocamora’s analysis is his questionable appreciation of facts, events, current political economic reality, and US interests.

Rocamora said that US military projection in the South China Sea “is in support of freedom of navigation and international rules on territorial claims (UNCLOS), in this case represented by the decision of an arbitral tribunal in The Hague.”

First of all, the UNCLOS is not a rule on territorial claim. The decision of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague made this clear; UNCLOS “does not address the sovereignty of States over land territory.” Because of this, the arbitral tribunal cannot “make any ruling as to which State enjoys sovereignty over any land territory in the South China Sea, in particular with respect to the disputes concerning sovereignty over the Spratly Islands or Scarborough Shoal.” Furthermore, as the arbitral decision has confirmed, UNCLOS doesn’t also “contain provisions concerning the delimitation of maritime boundaries.”

Rocamora isn’t being transparent about what kind of navigation the United States is trying to protect in the South China Sea: commercial or military? At one point, it seems that he meant commercial navigation. China, according to Rocamora, would “want military control over vital sea lanes through which $5 trillion in trade pass per year.” This would be an existential threat to Japan, Rocamora warned. However, this could only be a threat to Japan if 1) the commercial trade passing through the South China Sea is mostly going to Japan; and 2) that Japan’s trade partners depend on the South China Sea. Considering the two conditions exposes the weakness of Rocamora’s argument.

Most of the trade passing through the South China Sea are going to China. Because of this, one can reasonably argue that any military projection of China in the South China Sea is meant to secure that trade route through which its export-oriented economy largely depends. Furthermore, China’s maritime assertiveness is rooted in its own history of being attacked by European and Japanese powers via the sea. Learning from its painful experience, China aims to strengthen its maritime defense in order to stem a repeat of that history. And it’s doing it by getting better control of the trade route to and from its shores.

The South China Sea is Japan’s major energy supply route; a bulk of it comes from the Middle East. But Japan is already diversifying its energy sources. For example, Japan’s deepening bilateral relations with Russia is largely energy-related. The Ukraine crisis induced Russia to pivot to the East, while the Fukushima disaster spurred Japan to warm up to Russia.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, as of 2015 Japan’s top import partners are “China 24.8 percent, US 10.5 percent, Australia 5.4 percent, South Korea 4.1 percent; while its top export partners are US 20.2 percent, China 17.5 percent, South Korea 7.1 percent, Hong Kong 5.6 percent, Thailand 4.5 percent.” China is the top trading partner of Japan. The economic relationship between Japan, China and South Korea is set to intensify because they signed a trilateral landmark free trade agreement in June 2015.

Given these facts, why did Rocamora say that China’s presence in the South China Sea would be an existential threat to Japan whose top trade partner is China, with whom Japan signed a trilateral free trade agreement with South Korea? Why would China choke Japan’s economy while at the same time deepen its economic relations with it? It doesn’t make any sense — perhaps it does in Rocamora’s universe.

Let me conclude this with a conversation I had with a former Dutch classmate. He asked me to help him make sense of what’s going on with our country’s strange turn in its foreign policy. I told him: What’s there to explain? Duterte is simply doing what Europeans did to the US. Except the curses, the deeds are the same. The US urged European countries to not join China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. But what did EU countries do? They defied their long-time ally and courted Chinese investments. The Dutch King even visited China in 2015! So, why can’t the Philippines do the same thing as EU countries are doing?

For Rocamora and those who share his views, we are the laughingstock of the world for doing exactly what the rest of the world is doing: deepening their economic ties and forming strategic partnerships with China to the chagrin of Uncle Sam.
Published in Commentaries
ON the admission of the President himself, about 90-plus bureaucrats have to date been “let go” from his administration. Such a euphemism for dismissal cannot, however, mitigate the pain of PRRD’s wrath for those who were sacked, not to mention the grief their families have had to undergo.

Whether the sacking was deserved is not the point at issue here. This article will not examine the guilt or innocence of these public officials.

What needs to be examined is the policy concomitant to the dismissal of these officeholders. This is therefore not an in-depth investigation of individual circumstances singling out two of the President’s men who, because of the importance of their jobs, their personal closeness to the President and their high-profile dismissal, could be the core hypothesis of the President’s emerging doctrine of the “whiff of corruption”. As the Deegong himself stated, he will “…not tolerate any corruption in his administration and he will dismiss from office anyone who is tainted even by a ‘whiff of corruption’; and he is ready to sack any public official even on the basis of false allegations of corruption.”(Inquirer.net, March 30, 2017)

On April 3, after the Cabinet meeting, PRRD fired Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno on the spot due to “loss of trust and confidence”. This dismissal was precipitated by a joint report of Sueno’s three undersecretaries through a letter sent to the President alleging, among other things, the anomalous purchase of fire trucks from Austria. Imputations of corruption involving the acquisition of trucks for personal use and payoffs from illegal gambling were added to the menu of charges.

President Duterte questioned Sueno on the legal brief prepared by his accusers but he claimed not to have seen it. It was his “wrong answers” to Duterte’s questions that was the immediate trigger for Sueno’s firing. But the legal brief was reportedly kept from Sueno, so he claimed ignorance.

At a press briefing the next day, Sueno said:“Feeling ko naman walang [I feel that there was no] due process dahil [because]he did not listen to me…”.

On a similar matter earlier this year, Peter Laviña, was sacked as head of the National Irrigation Administration. It was precipitated by a report personally given to the President by NIA directors on February 23 that Laviña ”…allegedly called them and pointed out projects the regional office had and told them, ‘Kayo nang bahala sa akin’”[It’s up to you to take care of me].(Rappler).

The next day, February 24, in a speech in Davao, PRRD announced that he had fired an appointee (presumably referring to Laviña); and on February 27, PRRD intimated at a meeting with some members of labor groups that the NIA chief was fired for allegedly receiving “40 percent”. No details were given.

The President sealed Laviña’s fate and left his reputation shattered with the statement: “When I said there will be no corruption, there will be no corruption…even a whiff of corruption, talagang tatanggalin kita (I will fire you) …”

Over the following months, this Duterte Doctrine was applied several times but we don’t have the exact data on the carcasses of the bureaucrats strewn over the landscape. Most of these public servants were once close to the President and gifted by him with appointments to sinecures with the associated pelf and prestige.

Facts common to both sackings (Lavina and Sueno) are that these charges of anomalies were reported by subalterns from within their own organization direct to PRRD; the President within a period of a few days from receipt of information took action to dismiss the alleged offenders; the targets of these charges were not given ample time to prepare a reasonable defense; and they were not allowed to confront their accusers. But insidiously, the dismissals were done publicly putting to shame these alleged offenders without a measure of a face-saving mechanism. This public humiliation was a deliberate act by a President out to send a strong message to the bureaucracy, that the consequences of even a “whiff of corruption” are immediate, deadly and total.

From several standpoints, presidential prerogatives have wide acceptance when it comes to hiring and firing of people. And our laws are clear on the matter defining presidential responsibilities stipulated in the Constitution (Article VII, Section 16).

There is no question that the President has the power to terminate from the bureaucracy anyone whose performance displeases him. But the President must be subject to the minimum of fairness and the etiquette of dismissal, for no other reason than this is what is demanded of civilized behavior. But more importantly, there is a greater overarching principle that covers the conduct of the mighty, the powerful and the humble – the rule of law.

The latter demands that the accused officials must undergo “due process”. This is the minimum requirement for a just, humane and civilized democratic society. The requisite process is simply that allegations of transgressions be investigated in a transparent manner by legitimately sanctioned structures. And the President, by virtue of his ascendancy granted by the Constitution, has conferred on him also its primary guardianship. He must therefore uphold its principles.

From another standpoint, nations with weak leaders breed weak laws and will find themselves in a quagmire of corruption and lawlessness. Nations with prudent laws but governed by leaders void of political will to implement such laws may only cripple the primacy of the rule of law. But strong leaders with political will must understand that all are equal under the dominance of the rule of law; none above. President Rodrigo Duterte must aspire to be one of the latter.

By these precepts, the Duterte Doctrine is defective.
Published in Commentaries