A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2019 - 12:00am

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law…” Substantially, the heart of this right is the requirement of “reasonableness” or the absence of the exercise of arbitrary power. Unfortunately, this is one of the rights under our Constitution (Article III, Section 1) which is blatantly disregarded by the present administration since it assumed power in 2016.

As previously pointed out, the most noticeable and alarming move of this administration which disregards this basic right is the “Oplan Tokhang” or the operation supposedly undertaken to solve the drug problem. Under this Oplan, mere suspects in the violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly those living in the slum areas are arrested without filing of charges and without any warrant. Then if they resist arrest or try to fight back, they are oftentimes killed even if they are unarmed.

Later on, the government even released a “Narco List” containing names of officials and drug lords supposedly engaged in illegal drug trade. Obviously, even if the government may have enough proof against those in the list, this is still another violation of the above provision of the Constitution because they are already condemned before they can be heard in a proper court proceedings where they have a chance to be heard and to disprove their involvement in the illegal drug trade. Instead of airing said list, this government should have just filed the appropriate charges against them to afford them of the right to due process of law.

Then just recently, the administration likewise aired an alleged plot by journalists and human rights lawyers to oust Duterte as President by releasing a “matrix” which shows the names of organizations, journalists and lawyers allegedly involved in the plot to blacken the image of the President. The listed plotters allegedly distributed and published online videos of a whistle blower “Bikoy” who exposed the alleged involvement of the Duterte family in billions of pesos of importation of shabu from China. They are undoubtedly the same people who previously exposed the participation of Duterte and his family more specifically his son Paolo, in the illegal importation of shabu from China worth P6.4 billion where they supposedly raked in millions of pesos as payoffs. 

Apparently, this “matrix” is an attempt by Duterte and his family to discredit these journalists and lawyers and show that their expose about their drug connection, is false. But attacking and destroying the credibility of the accusers and just trying to show their subversive motive to oust Duterte from power, will not definitely resolve the issue. Duterte should face the charges head on and prove that they are not true. Indeed such stance even led people to believe and conclude that the expose against them is indeed true.  

The strategy used by this administration even goes to show and confirms the long held belief of so many people that the present leader of their country is suffering from delusions of being prosecuted. A lot of people are now convinced that Duterte and his family have been entertaining the thought that his election into office as President is a big mistake. In fact, Duterte himself admitted that he is really prone to uttering profanities and vulgar language and that he has not really been trained in the art of statesmanship. Obviously, he feels the peoples’ disappointment in choosing him as the leader of the country who must act with utmost integrity and responsibility.

Another sign of this delusion of being prosecuted is his public utterances of being beholden to China out of fear. Many times he has openly admitted that he could not enforce the UN decision declaring that the West Philippine Sea and the Scarborough Shoal are part of our territory. He has repeatedly declared that if we try to enforce said ruling, China might unleash its nuclear weapons against us and we are not in a position to defend ourselves. Such stance has apparently emboldened China to practically “invade” the Philippines by sending so many illegal Chinese workers without any valid permit and by exporting Chinese goods that may even include illegal drugs. The irony here is that he likewise declared that he will declare war against Canada simply because it has not yet removed the shipment of tons of garbage and trash to our country although steps have already been taken to do so. Declaring war against a country for such flimsy reason, while at the same time appeasing another country for committing a graver incursion into our sovereignty is highly questionable and even shows lack of integrity and consistency.

It cannot be denied therefore that we are living in uncertain and unstable times. The worst part here is that the leader of our country himself has caused these feelings of uncertainty and instability. People however have not lost all hope that we can eventually get out of this precarious situation in due time. They continue to hope that our leader will finally realize the flaws and defects in his manner of running the affairs of our country. They still expect the time when their President will either realize his defects in exercising the power of the Presidency or will eventually fulfill his threats of resigning and stepping down.

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