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[Newspoint] Where does the army draw the line with Duterte?

The question may be perfectly sensible on the face of it, but it does not take into account Duterte’s character. Authoritarianism defines it, and his death-squad justice as mayor of Davao City for more than two decades affirmed it. Now, as president, he warns about ruling the entire nation by martial law.

And he has been quite consistent in his deviancy; the more than 7,000 dead linked to his war on drugs in the first 7 months of his 6-year presidency should alone prove his seriousness of sick purpose. A clinical report on him, if only we bother to refer to it every time we feel like giving him the benefit of the doubt, should set us right: 

Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder [a condition characterized by] gross indifference, insensitivity, and self-centeredness...grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors...pervasive tendency to...violate [others’] rights...

The report, made by Dr Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists, went into the court records in 1998 and formed part of the basis for the annulment suit brought, and won, against Duterte by his wife.

Predictably, Duterte partisans have protested against raking up his old, domestic record and relating it to his presidency, as if to argue that time and situations could suddenly reform a man’s character and that, with Duterte precisely, the case has been one of schizophrenic renewal.   

If anything, the pathology that afflicts him could only have been intensified by his election as president. Indeed, no situation offers greater inspiration for self-entitlement and violation of others’ rights. For his invective and blasphemy, he has found prized targets in Barrack Obama and Pope Francis, among others, and he has an entire nation to patronize or punish.

Ferdinand Marcos is his professed idol, Ferdinand Jr, his anointed heir. And martial law is his avowed theme. It provided Marcos cover for his regime’s excesses as well as for the incapacities caused him by debilitating illness and surgeries. Given Duterte’s authoritarian predisposition and apparent frail health, how can things be different in his case?

When martial law came down in Mindanao, Duterte’s own plot went into motion, proceeding northward to the Visayas, then to Luzon, although, he said, only as necessary and on the advice of the military. Well, don’t be so easily taken with any hints at restraint or prudence. Duterte spoke more in character when, in the face of world criticisms of his war on drugs, he declared, “No one tells me, not even God!”

BRIEFING. President Duterte is given a briefing on the Marawi situation on May 26, 2017. Presidential Photo

BRIEFING. President Duterte is given a briefing on the Marawi situation on May 26, 2017.

Presidential Photo

With Duterte, any deviation from form should raise an even higher level of alarm. His show of deference toward the army in particular should, again, provoke reference to his clinical record. The relevant diagnosis: “manipulative behaviors.”

His courtship of the soldiers began soon after taking office. He went on a nationwide tour of the camps, bearing promises of higher pay and more benefits – unfulfilled to date). In the thick of the Marawi fights he visited wounded troops and, in his own way of striking manly intimacy, told them probably one of the sickest jokes, if not the sickest, ever told by him or anyone else: “If you commit three rapes I will own them all!” The laughs he got, hopefully, were no more than polite.

At any rate, his defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, is not one known to laugh at such jokes or be patronized. In fact he has contradicted Duterte a few times, and done so publicly. He has disproved Duterte’s accusations of an insidious American arms buildup in the Philippines, defied his order to let the Chinese alone in the Philippine waters of the South China Sea by sending out patrols, and now, in effect, criticized martial law in Mindanao as an excessive measure.

Doubtless Duterte knows only too well that Lorenzana and his generals command the ultimate swing force and that without its support he is a toothless dictator. But where does it draw the line with him? – Rappler.com