Rodrigo Duterte

[The Slingshot] Rodrigo Duterte’s one last act of corruption

Antonio J. Montalvan II

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[The Slingshot] Rodrigo Duterte’s one last act of corruption
Rodrigo Duterte's 'weapons must be seized. A dangerous man like Duterte must be incapacitated and deprived of such firepower. Because plainly and simply, he abused his power.'

Lost in our astonishment at the licensing of at least 358 weapons before he bowed out of office last 2022, is how Rodrigo Duterte got to license that enormity of arsenal without breaking the law.

First, there is our shock at the sheer number. Why does one need 300+ weapons for retirement? The number itself is equivalent to an oversized company (200 soldiers at most) or an undersized battalion (1,000 soldiers), opines a gun collector. Duterte already enjoys the privilege of lifetime protection by the Presidential Security Group at state expense. But that is not sufficient for him.

His past licenses in 2011 and 2014 included 13 firearms. Yet not once in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) did he declare ownership of guns. Rappler has on file his SALNs for 1998-2000, 2002-2009, 2012-2014, and 2016-2017. That means he has been dishonest in his SALNs.

The 358 weapons add up to a conservative estimate of at least P7 million. Only a rich man can have that kind of stash. That is only what Rappler’s investigative reporters Lian Buan, Jairo Bolledo, and Jodesz Gavilan obtained from the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP FEO), the issuer of gun licenses. Would there be more outside public knowledge? That is a distinct possibility.

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Duterte got licenses for over 300 guns 2 weeks before his term ended

Duterte got licenses for over 300 guns 2 weeks before his term ended

Did he undergo the required psychiatric exam as required for gun collectors? Many skirt that requirement by hiring fixers to submit their application papers. A president in office has no need for a fixer, much less Duterte, who is feared. The PNP was pliant to his every whim and fancy, including the whim and fancy to kill.

If he did undergo the psychiatric exam, did he truly pass it? Lest we forget, Duterte has a history of failing a psychiatric exam. In July 1988, he was found to have Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as per an official report from a psychologist at the time that his wife Elizabeth Zimmerman filed for a marriage annulment.

The report said his behavior was characterized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” and a “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors.” He was also found to have a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings,” and “was unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions.” Those are hardly any semblance of a normal mentality required of responsible gun owners.

In October 2016, Agot Isidro had the boldness to publicly call Duterte a psychopath. Based on the damning psychiatric report, that seems to be not without reason.

The 358 firearms raise a lot of questions. But here’s actually the weakest link of this issue: Republic Act 11766. Duterte signed this into law less than two months before he would have completed his term. It is a very brief new law that constitutes only a single page or two.

Two aspects of that law directly benefited Duterte. First is the validity of a license to own a gun. The previous law, Republic Act 10591, Section 19, had a validity of only two years. The licensed gun owner then renews it on one’s birthday after two years. Under the new law, Duterte made the validity to either five to ten years – at the option of the applying licensee. What a caprice.

The second is the list of occupations qualified to own licensed firearms. In Section 7, the old law listed only the following eight: “Members of the Philippine Bar; Certified Public Accountants; Accredited Media Practitioners; Cashiers and Bank Tellers; Priests, Ministers, Rabbis, Imams; Physicians and Nurses; Engineers; and Businessmen, who by the nature of their business or undertaking, are exposed to high risk of being targets of criminal elements.”

Under the new law, Duterte added two more professions to accommodate himself: elected incumbent or former officials (that’s himself), and active and retired military and law enforcement officers. That’s it – only two provisions in the old law were amended by the new law, yet provisions that had a direct benefit on Duterte. Not only that, the inclusion of elected officials and retired law enforcement officers is precisely the lethal mix that makes up the country’s prolific private armies, which is a principal contributor to gun violence in the country.

Was he thinking of expanding the now-established Davao Death Squad after his retirement?

And then what benefitted him he signed into law on May 6, 2022. He then filed his license at the PNP FEO in June. He left office on June 30, 2022. For all intents and purposes, Republic Act 11766 is a midnight law.

What will Duterte use those weapons for? Is he going to open a gun museum in Davao City? Or is it because he will put up a firefight once state agents come to him to arrest him for his case in the International Criminal Court?

What can be possibly done? Knowing now its self-serving motives, Congress must repeal the law, revert to the old RA 10591, and then revoke the licenses given under the new law. That will render Duterte’s 300+ arsenal illegitimate. The weapons must be seized. A dangerous man like Duterte must be incapacitated and deprived of such firepower.

Because plainly and simply, he abused his power. –

Antonio J. Montalván II is a social anthropologist who advocates that keeping quiet when things go wrong is the mentality of a slave, not a good citizen.

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I agree: “Because plainly and simply, he abused his power.” This is just one of the incidents of abuse of power and the last one. What a way to say goodbye to the Filipino People!

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