"It would be a virtual Palace putsch, or even a constitutional coup d'etat."
Don't look now, but we may be witnessing the last nail about to be hammered on the coffin of Philippine democracy with the recent resolution of the ruling political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) urging Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president in 2022 and choose whomever he wants to be the presidential candidate.
At bottom, this is a brazen political machination designed to circumvent the constitutional provision on a presidential term of six years without reelection and make Duterte president-for-life.
If it comes to pass, Duterte would effectively throw the Constitution out of the window and repeatedly stomp on it with his two feet until it is smashed to smithereens — if that's not already happening right now.
Duterte as vice president, with his chosen successor as President, will make him the power behind the throne.
It would be a virtual Palace putsch, or even a constitutional coup d'etat, that would allow him to continue to rule this benighted country with an iron hand for the next six years, or until 2028, after the 2022 polls.
Unless, of course, multiple potentially fatal diseases that he admits are now ravaging his body cut short his partymates' misbegotten scheme to let him occupy Malacañan Palace until his last breath.
If the PDP (thankfully they've dropped the Laban part because what they are doing now is not to fight dictatorship nor uphold democracy but simply to keep power for themselves) wants to make Duterte president-for-life under the guise of a vague and dangerous notion of "continuity," it will basically mean that this political party that played a big part in rescuing our democracy from dictatorship in 1986 has now totally abandoned its original pro-democracy platform and embraced authoritarian rule lock, stock and barrel.
The PDP-Laban came into being in the late 1970s as an alliance of pro-democracy forces against the onslaught of despotism cloaked under what was called a "smiling martial law." Sadly, it is now a shadow of its former self. Its name is
I recall the late senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. telling media gathered for our regular Saturday Forum@Annabel's one or perhaps two years before he passed on that "Filipinos should speak up now, before it's too late." He didn't directly criticize the spate of killings in the Duterte administration's bloody war on illegal drugs nor the emerging pattern of
wanton killing of activists, journalists, human rights lawyers and critics of the administration, perhaps out of deference to an elected president. But his message to journalists then was loud and clear: Let us not allow this runaway train to drive our precious democracy off the rails and beyond repair.
Our monumental misfortune is that Nene did not leave in good hands the political party that he founded to resolutely defend Philippine democracy at all costs.
Today, what we have under the aegis of this political party is both method in the madness, and madness in the method, that put the future of this country under a shroud of ominous darkness.
Murder most foul
You probably can't blame the country's top cop from repeatedly poking his finger in the forehead of Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan and repeatedly pushing him against the wall of a police precinct, a scene captured by TV cameras soon the policeman's prompt arrest for the cold-blooded murder of a 52-year-old woman in Quezon City early this week.
No doubt Police General Guillermo Eleazar just couldn't hold back his outrage and pure exasperation over what the non-commissioned police officer had done, which was to give the entire institution yet another black eye amid the top cop's recent pledge to cleanse the PNP of bad eggs and instill discipline among its 150,000 members. “¨ It was Zinampan, in an earlier social media post, who had even boasted that in his years in the service, he had lived up to the PNP mission "to serve and protect." It was this same cop who had also virtually defended another police officer, Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca, who had also murdered a mother-and-son tandem in Tarlac province six months ago, in another incident caught on a cellphone camera. Zinampan said, in so many words, that what Nuezca had done should not tarnish the image of the entire institution.
The Commission on Human Rights is correct in pointing out that the involvement of another police officer in cold-blooded murder is "gravely concerning as we expect our police to ‘serve and protect,’ and not be at the front lines of violating rights, let alone arbitrarily curtailing one's right to life,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
“At the same time, after a string of recent deaths and killings being attributed to police officers, we urge the PNP to translate commitments of internal cleansing into actual reduction of cases of human rights violations on the ground. One death is one too many,” she added.
We fully agree with the CHR position and urge Gen. Eleazar to proceed with his order to immediately file a criminal case and institute summary dismissal proceedings against Zinampan. This is the proper thing to do given the widespread public uproar over this latest case of a wayward cop who had vowed "to serve and protect" yet did exactly the complete opposite.