[Newspoint] Our own Gang of Four and a Half
The Duterte regime should recall lessons from tragic history, but apparently it does not. The default is readily ascribed to the nation's prodigiously short memory, but that reason is itself underlain by a complex of other reasons.
The whole problem is cultural and pathological – and explosive, too, and President Duterte may just happen to be the one to detonate it.
There's something about Rodrigo Duterte that incites in one feelings so overwhelming one is rendered amnesic, witless. It's a power that lies in deviancy, a power that has divided the nation in his favor and yet has held both sides captive, one charmed, the other cowed.
Again, it should be alarming, if understood.
Duterte has partisans across the classes. The patron class and the rest of the upper classes embrace him as a fraternal fellow, being a dynastic patriarch himself, and naturally concede preeminence to him, being president.
Among the under-classes, on the other hand, he is the redeemer, the proper and true strongman who this time around will lift them from poverty, by shortcut, not by the already glacial-paced “development” methods that yet get derailed along the way; in their desperation, they are predisposed to grant him his crotchets; in fact they see them as hallmarks of genuineness.
To the partisans elsewhere on the class spectrum, he is a novelty worth trying.
And so Duterte gets away with his habitual flouting of the norms of propriety, civility, and decency. Not even the Pope was spared his profanities, nor the Pope’s Principal his denigration (“No one tells me what to do, not even God”), and this only Christian nation in these parts just about let both cases pass.
But it is his disregard for the rule of law and the right to life that has produced the direst consequences. The drug dealers and addicts, who to his one-track mind are the elemental scourge of the times and with whom he has made war, he has threatened, “I will kill you!” Sure enough, in 7 or 8 months more than 7,000 of them have dropped dead, and he says he’s not stopping; on the contrary, he says, he “will be happy to slaughter” the rest of the 3 million of them – that’s his own count.
A novelty Duterte is not; he is a mere variation on a theme of which in modern history Hitler is the primary figure, the very model of his promised happy slaughter; in fact a local counterpart and Duterte idol, too, lived until only a generation ago – Ferdinand Marcos.
Anyway, all that most instructive history has been lost in the nation’s selective memory.
Reminding the nation
But trust Duterte the narcissist to call attention to it in his own perversely confident fashion. At the 80th-birthday celebration of Joseph Estrada, the actor, impeached president, convicted plunderer, and now mayor of Manila, Duterte came and sat at the head table, there to be photographed for posterity, with him and two other characters of equal sterling reputation – Gloria Arroyo and Imelda Marcos.
Obviously the nation has to be reminded: Arroyo and Marcos are themselves accused of plunder, and that is not all. It was Arroyo who pardoned Estrada; it was also she who was the superior party in the infamous “Hello, Garci” phone conversation inciting the electoral commission to rig the vote for her retention as president. Now retired from her rigged presidency, she is a member of the House of Representatives, like Imelda, and is credibly rumored as being groomed as its Speaker. Imelda is who else but the surviving half of the 14-year conjugal dictatorship, mother of Ferdinand Jr, Duterte’s chosen heir to his presidency.
Duterte, Estrada, Arroyo, Marcos – they are our own Gang of Four, who, in the 60s and 70s, in its original Communist Chinese incarnation (another relevant lesson in history), was the ruthless power behind Mao Zedong. Upon Mao’s death, 3 of its members – one died in a plane crash, supposedly escaping, 5 years earlier – were tried for treason; two, one of them Mao’s wife, were sentenced to life in prison, the third to 20 years.
Our own gang would have been 5, but the aspirant fifth, Jejomar Binay, apparently did not make the grade. A multiple-term mayor of Makati, the country’s premier business town, and the last previous vice president, and accused of plunder, too, he'd had the proper reputation until he suffered his first electoral loss, and badly, in the last presidential race, the same one Duterte won. But one never knows. If his presence at the party signified a foot in the door, he might be in to some extent.
So, for now, make it Gang for Four and a Half. – Rappler.com