[OPINION] It’s downhill from here for Duterte

The martial law option

With the rise of resistance exemplified by the September 21 rallies, Duterte might now want to move quickly to impose martial law nationally to advance his authoritarian agenda. The problem he faces is that even if the subservient Congress and the Supreme Court majority were to support this move, the military high command has tremendous reservations, since the Armed Forces does not have the resources to impose martial law effectively nationwide and the generals know that the surest way to elicit challenges from junior officers is to be seen as accomplices in converting the AFP into Duterte’s personal instrument.

Yet, worried by the growing opposition, Duterte may, in fact, miscalculate and declare martial law, which may temporarily slow his regime’s descent into crisis but actually accelerate it in the medium-term.

The maleficent seven

Politics is unpredictable, and things can either unravel very quickly from now on or we might be entering a more fluid period, where the regime, depending on circumstances, can have periods of recovery, followed by phases of retreat. But there is no doubt that the overall trajectory from now on is downhill. 

If there is any indication of which direction the wind is blowing, it’s the behavior of the “Maleficent Seven in the Senate.” Some people are puzzled why Sotto, Gordon, Villar, Pacquiao, Pimentel, Zubiri, and Honasan are so angry about their signatures not being attached to a resolution condemning the killing of minors in Duterte’s anti-drug war. Why does Sotto devote a whole privilege speech reacting to a blog calling him and his buddies “Malacañang Dogs”? It’s simple. It’s their sniffing, with their finely honed opportunistic sense of where the wind is blowing, that their patron is no longer invulnerable, and it’s time to say distancia, amigo. 

But it’s too late, guys. Duterte’s tattoo is all over you, and, like the triad tattoo, it’s indelible. – Rappler.com


*Rappler contributor Walden Bello is National Chairman of the recently formed coalition Laban ng Masa.  He made the only resignation on principle in the history of the Congress of the Philippines in March 2015 owing to differences with President Benigno Aquino III over the latter’s double standards in the fight against corruption, his refusal to take command responsibility for the tragic Mamasapano raid, and his negotiating the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.