MANILA, Philippines – Members of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives have called out President Rodrigo Duterte for his "twisted" and "dangerous" logic, following his latest controversial statement that leaders sometimes need to do "wrong" to protect the people.
“That is twisted logic. You cannot do something for the people using the wrong methods," Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said in a press conference on Tuesday, November 15.
"I think what the President has been saying and doing is sort of conditioning people na tanggapin na lang ito lahat (to just accept everything). So that is dangerous because it would desensitize people that anything the President says parang (like) it trivializes things when it should not,” Villarin added.
In his speech at the 80th anniversary of the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday, Duterte said leaders are made to choose on a course of action to take, adding, "either we do something to protect society or do something sometimes wrong to protect society."
Duterte made the statement just two days after he warned that he could suspend the privilege of habeas corpus if lawlessness – particularly in the narcotics trade – continues in the country. (READ: Alvarez: Congress will suspend habeas corpus only if Duterte justifies it)
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said suspending the privilege of habeas corpus was "just an idea" while Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Duterte told lawmakers at a Palace meeting Monday night that he was only "thinking aloud" when he raised the possibility to bolster his fight against illegal drugs.
Confusing thought process
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, for his part, said he cannot understand the President's thought process, citing repeated instances when Duterte's spokesmen had to clarify his statements.
"I think the correct expression really is to right a wrong but this time it's the opposite – to make a wrong in order to make things right. That's to wrong a right. I cannot comprehend that thinking process," said Lagman.
Lagman, one of the most vocal critics of the Duterte administration, does not buy the idea that suspending the writ of habeas corpus – protection against warrantless arrests – was only a "passing thought" of the President.
"It has an undergone a thinking process, because it is not a remark [or] a knee-jerk reaction. Thinking aloud means you’ve talked about it," he said.
The lawmaker suggested that Duterte become more prudent in consulting with his advisers before making any pronouncements.
"Whether he was thinking aloud or he was dead serious in that statement, he said it very clearly and I think the repercussions on the alarming situation would ensue. The opposition to that intention to declare the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus would be truly justified," said Lagman.
"I think the President should be able to make his statements after due consultation with the members of this government or with political leaders so that there is no mistaking as to his clear intentions," he added.
'Copycat' of the Marcos regime?
Villarin also warned that Duterte, in his recent pronouncements, seemed to be following the footsteps of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"So in effect, all of these maneuvers or policy proposals, what this government is doing is being a copycat of the Marcos regime. Because in the first place, even during the campaign, President Duterte admired Marcos," said Villarin.
He also described Duterte's statement on considering doing the "wrong" thing to protect the people as "Marcosian."
"His way of saying things, that a leader should do wrong to protect the people, is also a Marcosian logic. So what we're saying now is we should be aware of all these proposals coming from the administration," said Villarin. – Rappler.com