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I Hate Filipino Culture -Society/Politics

Saturday, December 19, 2015

If Duterte were president...

There are those who argue that what we need is an iron-fisted leader or even a dictator, a Filipino Lee Kuan yew perhaps. Maybe it's true that a US-style democracy works against us because we’re a country of shallow people and therefore very much susceptible to the influence of demagogues , leaders who appeal to the emotions.  

For some, this iron-fisted leader is Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao who has often times admitted to being responsible for the extrajudicial execution of criminals. This is a fact that's not ignored or even contested by his supporters. For a lot of them it's actually his selling point. For a society that finds cursing and distributing condoms to those who can’t afford it morally reprehensible, it is a bit of an oddity that a politician who espouses extrajudicial killings would find popularity.

The right of every person to a fair trial is ingrained in every modern democracy. It is a globally recognized basic human right. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Duterte’s judgement is indeed impeccable. That he can tell with certainty who is guilty and who is not, rendering trials unnecessary. Surely, Duterte with his impeccable judgement wouldn’t have time to carry out the killing or judging of all of the country’s criminals all by himself. He will have to delegate. Would his delegates be gifted with the same omniscience and “purity of intention” as their boss? We don’t even trust our police force to handle the country’s traffic situation without extorting our motorists. People can’t even fly in this country without the fear of bullets mysteriously appearing in their luggage. Imagine our law enforcement officers operating in an environment where killing offenders of the law without trial is justified. Maybe the Duterte system sort of works within the confines of Davao’s borders but when taken to the national level, the potential for abuse will expand exponentially. It don’t think that one would have to be particularly pessimistic to see that. On the contrary i think one would have to be zealously optimistic not to see it.

The Davao death squad, which the mayor has admitted to having connections with, is not only responsible for the death of rapists and muderers. They've also allegedly executed people who have committed Petty crimes. Minors have allegedly been executed. Even some of the locals of Davao will admit that some people have been killed by mistake -and they're ok with this because they're happy with the peace and order situation in their city. Imagine the misfortune of those people who were killed by mistake -that their lives were sacrificed for the whims of people who demand peace and order at any price. Even if it was just one person killed without a fair trial and killed by mistake, that’s one person too many.

The mayor has a treasure trove of quotable quotes that would be funny if it was coming from a comedian, entertaining if it was coming from an action star but bone-chilling for someone who's running for president. If you really think about it, who really wants death squads roaming the streets of Metro Manila at night looking to deal swift and fatal justice to suspected criminals?

We can only make assumptions because no one has the clairvoyance to see what a Duterte presidency would be like. Maybe the naysayers are wrong. Maybe he will reform the country. Maybe he can straighten the police force. Maybe his "enforcers" will hit the right targets every time, maybe he won't ban algebra and trigonometry. Maybe this, maybe that. We will have to make assumptions about the other candidates too. The one constant though is that this is a person who is known for and has admitted to operating outside of the law to kill. That is a lot of power to give to one man. We’d be giving up a very basic human right in the assumption that we're surrendering that right to a person who has pure intentions and to a system that will not be abused. If we’re inaccurate in our judgement of his ethics, which we already know are already quite questionable to begin with, we're screwed. The legal system exists for a reason. If it is flawed, fix it. By circumventing it, you'd just be replacing a problem with an even bigger one.

If we're going to give up basic human rights for the greater good, why not go all the way? How about trying Eugenics? The use of selective breeding and sterilization to breed out criminality and breed in intelligence perhaps? Or maybe fashion a “democracy” where only a select few have the right to vote, perhaps the intellectual elite. All of these measures will sacrifice the rights and the quality of living of a few individuals for the greater good of the collective. I’m NOT saying that I’m in favor of any of these measures but If we’re going to throw universally accepted ethics down the trash bin, there are far less violent and probably more effective and long term ways of eradicating criminality, demagoguery and perhaps stupidity in the country.

Give up the rights of the few for the many. That's what's being suggested. Surely a few innocents will suffer but we’re at war with criminality and at war there are always casualties, right? You’d just have to pray to your chosen deity that that casualty will not be you or someone you know. In a world of progressing civility where rights are gradually being disseminated equally to every race, gender, age, this is several steps back.. The hierarchy of world governments doesn’t go from a full democracy, where the right of every citizen is equal and legally protected, to a system where the rights of the citizens are conditional and can be waived when one man or the Filipino mob demands it. There are plenty of steps in between.

Duterte's supporters might argue that it's only the rights of the criminals that he will be taking away but without the right to a fair trial, innocence is a very fragile, transitory thing. When the authorities, deem you a criminal, you are one and you have no say about it. As one country under one leadership, we're all in the same frying pan. You can't selectively "cook" certain people without getting others or yourself burned accidentally.

When laws are being violated or "circumvented" around me, I would like to think that it’s being done by deviant individuals, not by my own government. That there is an objective legal system that’s not based on one man’s word and that everyone is subject to it. No one should be above it, no one should operate outside of it, especially those in power.

2 comments:

  1. thank you so much for that. i've been thinking the exact same things and it's good to see them voiced out.

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  2. "The hierarchy of world governments doesn’t go from a full democracy, where the right of every citizen is equal and legally protected, to a system where the rights of the citizens are conditional and can be waived when one man or the Filipino mob demands it."

    It does when one imposes martial law. Though, of course, like he said. He'd never do that. Right? .

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