Making sense of a Dutertian legal gobbledygook

Patricio N. Abinales
Making sense of a Dutertian legal gobbledygook
Let me try to do the next best thing, and that is annotate so that we can, at the very least, get a glimpse of how the brain of a Dutertian works

Like many, my immediate reaction to the “joint resolution” issued by the Department of Justice to provide legality to the drug charges against Senator Leila de Lima was to make fun of it. For the document – nasty as it is – is quite funny.

Grammarians and English professors will spend the rest of the President’s term figuring out the sentence constructions, bizarre metaphors, and out-of-this-Earth phrases from this document. It will be a linguistic massacre, pun intended.

After stepping back a bit, however, I found criticism too easy, and asked myself, how about trying making sense of the document’s murderous lexicon as a way of putting the kibosh on it? How about clearing up the verbiage of this cabal of mediocre government attorneys and transform this painful-to-read legal document into a readable piece?

I would not countenance writing a new, simpler and perhaps even potent version of this “joint resolution” for obvious political reasons. But let me try to do the next best thing, and that annotates the piece so that we can, at the very least, get a glimpse of how the brain of a Dutertian works (or not work).

So here we go:

Resolution Annotation

“The nefarious drug trade has succumbed to the most atrocious and appalling condition in Philippine history.”

The drug trade died or surrendered to the “most atrocious and appalling condition” – a single one! – in history. Should it be the other way around?

“In recent years, there has been an increase in widespread drug use and addiction. This can be attributed to the proliferation of the vicious drug trade in the country.”

Well, obviously! The “increase in widespread drug use and addiction” cannot be attributed to something else.

“Drug debilitate the basic structure of society by destabilizing families and communities thereby endangering future generations.”

We, the present generation can kiss their lives goodbye. Drugs have already “debilitate (d)” us. It will be up the Dutertismo to save the future generation; we have no role in that plan.

“The trafficking of illicit drugs is the world’s largest illegal business.”


“Crimes and violence connected with drugs became a plebian affair.”

“Plebian affair” is not only awkward but what does it mean? And why in the past tense? Has it ceased to be one today?

“Drug traders and consumers resort to felonious acts in pursuit of their dubious drug related activities.”

They are drug traders and consumers of course! They cannot but be “felonious” in the actions! No drug dealer or user is praised for discontinuing the old gang’s “dubious drug-related activities.”

“Far from debate, illegal use of drugs and dependency distort the normal perception capacities and functions of the brain.”

Eh? “Far from debate”? The lawyers may be thinking of the phrase – “It is no question that the use of drugs….” But what is “the normal perception capacities” of the brain? Perceiving is associated with the senses. The brain figures out what you “perceived.”

“All these resulted to drug induced hostilities and hyperbolic criminality rates. Thus the aggressive campaign of the government against illegal drugs.”

A big LOL over the phrase “hyperbolic criminality rates.” Where in Heaven’s name did these lawyers learn of the phrase? Or perhaps this is an original? If so then we can laugh ourselves louder at its inanity. A better phrase would be “crime rates,” not “criminality rates.” One says the level of criminality. Or how about “hyperbolic (possible to use here) criminality”?

“The personalities and exalted positions held by the parties make the present complaints an extraordinary and exceptional narco-politics story. Officials entrusted with governmental powers, abuse and misuse their authority not only for illegitimate gain and personal aggrandizement, but in furtherance of their vicious agenda and political ambitions…”

The sentences are decent and acceptable although there is a hint of purple prose in the phrase “exalted positions held by the parties…” And why “parties”? Isn’t Senator De Lima the sole target of the “indictment”?

“Even the most ideological leader in spiritual realm can be manipulative by means of the pervasive fallacy of power and indulged in onslaught drugs and corruption issue.”

This is an eye-popper. The “ideological leader in spiritual realm”? This “realm” being “spiritual” means that it is not of this (material) Earth. Are these lawyers referring to God or Satan as the “most ideological leader” of this realm? And what is this animal called “the pervasive fallacy of power”? How can power be a misconception or a myth (these two being synonyms of the “fallacy”)? There is also this other animal called “onslaught drugs and corruption issue” that this “ideological leader” of the “spiritual realm” is indulging on! “Onslaught here is used as an adjective so one could mean “attack drugs” or “blitz drugs.” I checked websites that list drugs peddled by syndicates and corrupt officials – the President’s alleged bête noire. Could not find anything that is called “blitz drug” or “attack drug.” Even if this phrase is the authors’ way of describing shabu, it is not yet clear why the adjective “onslaught” is necessary to impress on us the dangers of this drug. Maybe what the authors are trying to say is this: “Even the Archbishop of Manila and head of the local Catholic hierarchy can be exploitative by using his fallacies of power and thereby allow the drug trade to thrive.” I cannot figure out the relationship between the thriving drug trade and the “fallacies of power,” but hey, one can do much to decipher a moronic manuscript.

“These resulted to the relentless and sustained campaign against illegal drugs, crimes and corruption by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who has overwhelmingly earned the support from the citizenry with an unprecedented margin…”

This is decent enough a statement albeit it is excessively long.

“Stand charged and bruised beyond redemption by popular opinion, the issue on fraternity affiliation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and Senior Assistance State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong, became a lame excuse to insist on the inhibition of the Panel of Prosecutors (Panel) to afford impunity.”

How does one charge and bruise “the issue on (sic) fraternity affiliation” of Duterte and his minions? The phrase “to afford impunity” suggests both the price as well as the inability of Senator Delima to “purchase” it. So, how much would “impunity” cost these days, say, in pesos? Perhaps what these lawyers wanted to say is “Now that Senator Delima has been charged and her political attacks failed, she has now used the fraternity affiliation of Duterte, etc., as a “lame excuse to insist on the inhibition of the Panel of Prosecutors in the name of impunity.”



Well, if one were to be very succinct about it, these Dutertian minions could just have written, “Drug use has worsened today abetted by Senator De Lima who has abused her power as a member of the Upper House. She is helped by the ‘manipulative’ Bishop of Manila who uses fallacies to protect the drugs and corruption. This is the reason why President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had launched this anti-drug campaign with impunity. As for Senator De Lima, she has gone down to the bottom of the political muck, but has inched her way out of the well, by impugning the integrity of the Justice Secretary and a senior assistant state prosecutor.”

But they are not succinct. Thank God, they are not. – 

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