[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Covering up a national sellout

Vergel O. Santos
[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Covering up a national sellout
When he surrendered our sovereignty to China over some of our richest and most strategic territorial waters, he not only committed treason outright, but launched himself on a continuing crime of national betrayal

 

The smokescreen trick is plain enough: The Duterte regime is beclouding the air with all manner of concocted issues to give itself cover as it tries to escape with its own crimes.

The latest of these concoctions are the sedition charges it has brought against Vice President Leni Robredo and other oppositionists, as well as against some members of the clergy

But, first, a few things about sedition.

Sedition, like rebellion, is an overt act. It does not qualify simply thought or spoken; it has got to be a done deed. In any case, crime-ridden regimes are known to weaponize the law against sedition in order to harass, persecute, or otherwise intimidate enemies and critics, and the Duterte regime is no exception.

But, apparently mindful not to be seen as too immoderate to be credible, Duterte’s enforcers have decided to downgrade their case to “inciting to sedition” – that is, merely advancing the idea of sedition by ways other than actual. Still, for two of the accused the case looks particularly ludicrous.

Senator Leila de Lima is just too constricted to be able to do anyone harm, let alone commit a crime as complex as sedition against a target as formidable as an entire regime – and a yet vengeful and authoritarian one in Duterte’s case. She has been in jail for more than two years now while on trial for another implausible crime: “conspiracy” (a close cousin to “inciting”) to trade in illegal drugs.

As for Fr Robert Reyes, if he is an inciter at all, his motive can only be…well, priestly. And, being in charge of an impoverished parish, he has his hands too full, of demanding souls, to be able to take any further burden. So much for means and opportunity.

In fact, he and de Lima have been demoted to the secondary category of accused – those alleged to have only operated in the “shadows.” I’m not so sure what that means exactly. What I know is that a “shadow government” has its own place in a democracy – as a counterpart team from the political opposition that stands ready to take over once the sitting government is defeated in an election, resigns, or is otherwise unable to govern.

At any rate, if there’s any doubt as to the political motives behind these sedition charges, certain antecedents should be decisive.

The whole ploy revolves around a police character named Bikoy, who sought sanctuary from the religious, presenting himself as a penitent and whistleblower. He implicated Duterte and his family and certain associates of theirs in the drug trade. Shrouded and enveloped in shadow to conceal his identity, he went online with records of supposed money made from drugs, codes, modes of operation, and other such details.

Not too long afterwards, he appeared at a hurriedly called press conference barefaced and accompanied by police officers led by their chief, Oscar Albayalde. A brother of Bikoy’s, in an apparent family betrayal, had led police to his sanctuary. He recanted his story forthwith, saying that the opposition had put him up to it.

But what, really, can we expect of a case put together by the same people who gave us that “matrix” about a plot against Duterte, a matrix met with such ridicule their manufacturers themselves feel only too relieved to not ever be reminded of it? The matrix was nothing more than straight lines arranged web-like to meet at points indicated by the names, and in most cases by the pictures as well, of the alleged conspirators. To call it “matrix” is to mock the sophisticated idea that the word refers to in this age of technology.

But then, again, the whole point is to throw anything at the opposition and other watchdog groups and institutions – the church, civic and rights campaigners, the press – in order to undermine their credibility with the public and keep them busy defending themselves. For, once the air is blown clear of those nuisances, what will emerge unmistakably, being so patent and so widespread, is a plague of official crimes, notably corruption, nepotism, cronyism, summary executions, selective application of the law, and, yes, treason.

And if only for that last-listed crime, how can the idea of getting Duterte out of the presidency be seditious? It is noble, actually, proposing as it does that he be stopped in the middle of selling out our nation.      

When he surrendered our sovereignty to China over some of our richest and most strategic territorial waters, he not only committed treason outright, but launched himself on a continuing crime of national betrayal. He laid us open to foreign invasion, economic for now, but surely, given China’s expansionist habits, something bound to be progressively worse. – Rappler.com

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