ONCE again Rody Duterte courts the imagination of followers and skeptics as he bites his thumb at human rights advocates, saying that they’re wrong that he killed 700 people but rather the correct figure was 1,700.
This next wild move is not a whimsical remark made at a spur of the moment. Rather, it is planned and calculated to illicit that shock and awe that secures his current’s following of his larger than life persona and the added hope of winning more of the impressionable youth and underthinking voters who, out of sheer frustration of the way the political system has failed them.
Duterte knows that legally he cannot be criminally liable for the acts he claims he committed because of his sheer say so. Even if he swears by the Bible or before a court of law on the mass killings under his death squad there will be a lot of things that have to be establisged first, like who was killed, under what circumstances, corroborating testimony. He has a better chance of being believed and liable if he stood in the middle of Plaza Miranda and declared: “I kissed a girl and I liked it!”
The best that can be done, apparently, comes Human Rights Commission Chair Chito Gascon. He is calling for the investigation on these Duteret revelations. This is directed, of course, on the legislature since there’s no other body that can come up and do that quickly. But alas, like that’s going to happen so close to the 2016 elections, including tese politicians’ own.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can do it – it can do so under its charter, initiate an investigation on its own, even without an aggrieved party or complainant coming forward. But like the NBI will. It took them ages, political pressure and a public clamor to even look into the Airport’s laglag bala scam despite common knowledge in our international gateways that a lot of harassment of departing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are being perpetrated by so-called NBI agents, searching for papers or other contraband just so the hapless worker will cough up cash so as not to miss their flight.
All other law enforcement agencies need a complainant first before anything can be started. You ever get into a vehicular accident and looked for a cop and a traffic investigator? “Sir, walang gasolina yung mobile,” is the standard answer, so you have to give some gas money for them to get off their butts.
As things are, heaven forbid, perhaps we should elect Duterte to get things moving so that we can investigate, prosecute and jail Duterte.
But is he really that killer and human rights violator? Or is thgis just that image of bigness that he wants to portray to grab some attention and, hopefully, vote conversion?
In the 1950s when Ramon Magsaysay Jr. was running for president the Americans were starting their cold war campaign against the rise of communism worldwide. Fearing what they called the domino effect of the rise of communist regimes, they tried to stop it from spreading in different parts of the world. Think North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam. In the Philippines, in the hopes of supporting the young democratic republic the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) covert operations involved the dumping dead bodies where they could easily be found, with what looked like two punctured wounds on their necks – vampire bites – and then spread stories and rumors that the communist cadres are aswangs.
Philippine military officers were likewise trained to employ these extreme image enhancements to keep the communities they were operating cooperative and stop lending support to the communist insurgents. This is like a hearts-and-minds campaign, but in a negative way. One specific unit – headed by military officers who are now either retired or engaging in political office – was known in its area of operations as cannibal. It was said that they would grill and eat body parts like ears, noses and sometimes extremities of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels they would capture and kill in the mountains. The stories eventually landed in the tabloids when these military men started the rumblings of rebellion against the Marcos dictatorship.
But of course a couple of guys from that unit told us young reporters then that the image building was sometimes necessary in the field – psychological operations, it was called – and that in their case some pig ears, snout and other parts came in as handy and tasty snacks over the campfire.
So with all the killing, illicit affairs, cussing and cursing, is Duterte for real or just a figment of his own fertile imagination? Unfortunately, we may only know for sure if we vote him into office in 2016. Or maybe not.