Yellows and Reds test the limits of Filipinos' support for Duterte government

It's quite clear now that the Reds and the Yellows are trying to paint Duterte into a dilemma with two horns. They're going to use human rights and the Marcoses as the two main issues against him.

The second stage of the vilification campaign in media has begun with another story in the New York Times headlined They're Slaughtering Us Here. Right after this story was another by AFP which detailed how the bodies of the dead pushers and addicts are piling up in funeral parlors and morticians are growing weary of them daily volume of bodies they have to embalm.

The strategy is get Western countries to exert pressure on the Duterte administration to stop the killings. The Reds and the Yellows have come out openly with strong statements; Senator De Lima has openly accused the President of being a murderer. The Reds have called on Duterte to respect human rights and stop the killings. They have, for good measure, thrown in accusations that some of their grassroots organizers have turned up dead or are missing. There is one faction of the Communists negotiating with the government while there is another accusing it of authoritarian rule and human rights violations. The goal of both the Reds and then Yellows is to test the limits of public support for Duterte's war on drugs.

The narrative with the Marcoses centers in the burial of the former President and how Duterte can be against corruption when he is supportive of the Marcoses. The blame for the Marcos renaissance is going to be placed on Duterte, never mind that it is the Yellows fault for not having prosecuted the Marcoses to the hilt over their corruption and ill-gotten wealth. Imagine, Duterte is elected President thirty years after Marcos' ouster and all of sudden, all of the blame is on him.

An adjunct to the issue of human rights violations is the reinstitution of the death penalty. It remains to be seen if Congress will pass the measure given the pressure on the lawmakers will mount at the start of the New Year. A related issue is the lowering of age of criminal liability. Both measures are meant to serve as deterrents to criminality and corruption but both the Reds and the Yellows will again cry human rights violation.

While Duterte is on the side of the law, as he has reiterated often enough, his detractors will try to paint him into a corner where his eventual choice will be damn if he does and damn if he doesn't. The provisions for martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus under the 1987 Constitution renders both inutile given the provisions which the President needs to comply with upon his declaration of either of the two, or both measures simultaneously.

Duterte is not without radical options in such an event. If the military and the Muslim secessionists are solidly behind him, he can declare a self-coup and form a revolutionary government or a civil-military junta. This will enable him to arrest the Yellows and the Reds and go after the drug lords without having to contend with the legalities. He can then have a new Constitution drafted and call for a plebiscite to ratify and elections after ratification.

The next option, in the event he is painted into a corner, is to head off to Davao and declare Mindanao independence with the Muslim secessionists serving as his armed component. This would trigger a constitutional crisis, which Robredo would have to contend with, as the Yellows will surely seize power under the assumption that the AFP and the PNP sides with them.

The crisis could be made worse if Visayan politicians echo the same call and decide that they will join Duterte and Mindanao in the formation of a separate Republic. The scenarios would be too many to try to foresee but it would definitely throw the country into chaos in the near term until the issue of legitimacy is resolved.

The other option is for Duterte to be true to his word and say he's had enough. He steps down in favor of Robredo and retires to Davao.

Duterte is certainly unpredictable so the above are all the product of second guessing the President who cannot be really second guessed.

Furthermore, any wrong move by the Yellows and the Reds could be met with violence by the people specially if their support for Duterte doesn't wane. The deep divisions in the societal fabric is very evident. The underprivileged see Duterte as their champion and their hope for a better future for their children. The Reds and the Yellows are dead wrong if they think they can again use the same playbook they employed in the 70s and the mid-80s against Marcos.

RG San Luis as posted on Facebook.


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