Reflections and Appeal to Supporters of a Duterte Dictatorship

For Those With the"We Need an Iron Hand" Mentality

"This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector," said Plato. And it is true: throughout the course of history, public safety and national security have been the most used pretext to justify suspension of civil rights and the use of violence. 

For this reflection I would like to (i) request that we take a step back and reconsider popular notions about authoritarian governance, (ii) present philosophical and moral arguments against centralized power, and (iii) hope and pray that I am wrong on all accounts against an authoritarian leadership, if I am not able to change the minds of those who see it as the only means in creating a peaceful and prosperous society for the Filipino people.

Full interview:

It is, perhaps, because we are all sick and tired of the Philippine political system that we are willing to resort to someone who has no hesitation in admitting to murder or ignoring the Rule of Law to, ironically, uphold the Rule of Law. Supporters are consequentialist. The person they clamor for has no regret nor remorse because, to him, those he killed are the foulest and most evil and their deaths benefit society.

I do not question his motives or even his character (as much as his choice of words and cursing makes him a bad role model for children). I do not question his guilt. He himself admits with no hesitation to murders and use of violence. I do not discredit that he may have noble intentions for our country and its people -- what worries me is the means and lengths he's willing to take to achieve them. 

Separation of Powers and Extrajudicial Punishments/Killings

He proudly tells the public that he had made smokers eat cigarette butts (most of Davao city is mandated by his administration to be smoke-free) and made some eat falsified public documents. This fearlessness to ignore due process has been venerated by many on social media. They say this is what it takes. They call it political will to get things done. 

We always condemn, ever so passionately, extrajudicial killings and yet we fail to see that Duterte's approach in curbing crime through murder or his discretionary punishment is no different. It is against the most basic human right to due process.

And yet there seems to be no action from the Department of Justice (or whatever bureaucracy has mandate for this) to investigate Duterte's extrajudicial decisions (see, even he is entitled to a fair trial where he can defend himself).

"Pag ako ang nasalubong mo, sagasaan talaga kita. Pag namatay ka diyan, pasensiya ka na. I told you to obey the law. So if you go against the traffic at nagdala ako ng tractor, at nasagasaan kita, putang ina ka, pasensiya ka. Leche ka. Sinabi ko sa iyo, sundin mo ang batas," Duterte says in the interview. 

In a dictatorship or authoritarian government, one person or group of persons legislate, execute, and judge with or without the consent of the people. The reason these powers were separated to begin with is to ensure checks and balance between the three so that no one branch has abuse of power (ie. someone from the executive branch using a tractor to kill someone who has a traffic violation).

This use of force and intimidation is criminal, especially from a public servant, and no one should have such power to bully citizens. All citizens must always be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

My Two Cents

For some cliché and undying last attempts to persuade you, here are some classic sayings: violence begets violence, absolute power corrupts absolutely, the government should always only be our servant and never our master,  the government governs only at the consent of the governed. 

All I ask is that we don't assume benevolence for someone we want to have a throne with such centralized power. The solution is in decentralization. Ironically, Duterte claims he advocates federalism. He claims to want a dictatorship if ever he becomes president (although he has been so fickle about his candidacy) and yet advocates decentralization of power from Imperial Manila and the national government. 

Let's read up on history of authoritarian regimes. We will realize that it is wrong to assume that just because we create such an authoritarian seat of power, a Singapore-esque Lee Kwan Yew of the Philippines will emerge. For every one authoritarian like him, there are dozens who have abused such a seat of power, with or without the consent of the people. 

Lastly, as I have mentioned above, if I was not able to make you reconsider freedom over dictatorship for  even a tiny bit and one day we do end up with a dictator or authoritarian government, I do hope and pray that I am wrong and that it does leads to peace and prosperity and not violence and suppression of civil rights and liberties. 


  1. I am sorry but all I see here is ignorance.

    Since when did Duterte ignore due process? Pag pinakain ba ng falsified docs or upos ng sigarilyo, ignored due process na? That's called enforcing the law my dear coddled illustrado, because people are not afraid to outright break it in our mother Philippines. Yung pinakain ng dokumento was rightly sent to jail and was filed several cases. Yung pinakain ng sigarilyo got what was coming to him and paid the fine. May extra nga lang na spice na dinagdag ang mayor.

    Let's go to the elephant in the room: Duterte having killed people. Congratulations, you are an idiot. It doesn't mean that he kills, that he kills everyone personally ALL THE TIME. Pulis po ng Dabaw ang gumagawa ng trabahong iyon, at yung mga pinapatay ni Duterte, ay yung mga taong matigas talaga ang ulo at naaabutan niya. That reputation has made Davao City into one of the safest cities in the world: in a war torn island like MIndanao, san ka pa?

    I disagree with this whole piece that the problem is freedom vs dictatorship. We have had too much "freedom", we NEED an iron hand to keep us Filipinos in line. I put freedom in quotation marks because we've been under the Coujuangco-Aquino oligarchy for quite some time now. Besides, if you go to DC and ask the people there, they're not feeling anything as oppressive as what Martial Law was. What Davao has been enjoying for 20+ years is coming to the national stage, tapos ayaw mo pa nun?

    For what, because you can't make paputok anymore, or smoke in public anymore, or being forced to use ped xings and bridge xings, or being forced out of bars at 12 am? You'll take the minuscule amount of pros to the overwhelming amount of cons that you enjoy in the present government instead of being willing to submit to a leader who doesn't abuse his authority? (Yes, really. The guy and his family are being checked by security guards everywhere they go, walang special treatment like Binay and his cronies)

    Be a little more wise. Just because he's being endorsed by the people and is popular with the masses doesn't mean he's the usual popular candidate that you have to go against kasi nga contrarian ang gusto mo.

    Take the good with the bad. Kung si Hesukristo ang hinahanap mo, magbigti ka na lang. There's a reason why Gandhi and Mother Teresa never ran for office, tapos yun ang mga tipong taong gusto niyo sa office.

    1. One by one, how would you define due process? Cause I'm pretty sure hindi po part ng due process ang pakainin ng sigarilyo or documents. Extrajudicial po yan, meaning walang authority ang candidate mo or his police/goons to execute such a punishment.

      Di ko po sinabi na Duterte kills personally ALL THE TIME san niyo po nabasa yon? Paki read back naman po where I said "He himself said..."

      Hindi po assassins ang mandate ng pulisya. And again, may due process po at limits ang power ng pulisya hindi pwedeng dahil, and I quote you, "matigas talaga ang ulo" dapat resort to murder na. May dahilan po kung bakit may presumption of innocence at iba pang natural rights sa ating constitution.

      Di ko rin po sinabi na walang ginawa para maging safe ang Davao. What I said was "what worries me is the means and lengths he's willing to take to achieve them." -- including, again, extrajudicial means such as, but not limited to, murder, pakain ng sigarilyo, etc.

      Agree po akong part ng kawalan ng freedom ang mga oligarkiya tulad ng mga pamilyang sinabi niyo po.

      Sana po na clarify ko at sana ang argument ay sa mga sinabi ko. Maari niyo po basahin ulit. Pwede niyo rin po ito basahin: para sa karagdagang kaalaman ukol sa strawman, red herring, non sequitur at ang madalas pong ad hominem sa inyong mga sinulat sa comment.

      Mabuhay po kayo at salamat sa pag basa ng aking blog. Sana maging masaya ang inyong pasko. lol.

    2. Lol. Grumaduate na po ako jan sa mga fallacies crap na pang forum at pang reddit. Gumamit ako ng "ALL THE TIME" na remark kasi yun palagi ang pinapalabas ng side niyo eh. Kelan pa ba naging bawal ang pagpapakain ng upos ng sigarilyo at pekeng dokumento sa nagkasala SO AS LONG AS dumaan sila sa tamang proseso? Kelan pa ba naging extrajudcial yan? Kung si Etta Rosales nga o si De Lima hindi yan tinitira, ikaw pa kayang blogger.

      Kaya rin po ang tawag ko sa iyo ay "coddled illustrado" is because you don't understand the situation enough: dito sa Pinas, hindi enough ang paggawa ng batas. Kelangan may tao ring nag-eenforce ng rules. Ganun lang. No offense po ha, pero marami na kasi akong nakikitang mga opinyon gaya ng sa iyo na grossly misunderstanding everything about Duterte, all stemming from the fact that he kills and curses on live TV.

      Let's review the facts po:

      #1. Duterte has never been indicted for extrajudicial killing. Kahit po yung witness ni De Lima kepyas kasi nag-confess siya na dinala lang siya from Davao City Jail. Kung sabihin mong takot siya kay Duterte, walang rason para dun; protektado siya ng DOJ, isang national institution.

      #2. The means and lengths that Duterte has used to achieve peace and order in Davao City has not in any way breached upon the personal freedom of its constituents. Kaya nga ang mga Dabawenyo, laging humihikayat ng mga tao na pumunta sa kanilang lugar. As for me, I came, I saw, I believed.

      #3. May limits po ang power ng pulis and I agree. Pero naman, this idea of "innocent until proven guily" only makes more guilty people get away sa ating bulok na sistemang pang hurado. Don't tell me you don't know that. Besides, kung wala ka talagang kasalanan, sa presinto ka na magpaliwanag. Explain your side well and lalaya ka rin. Kaya nga nanlalaban ang mga suspek eh, kasi alam nila guilty sila. You can't ask your police force to do the impossible, they have to be alive to do their jobs. Gaya nga ng sinabi ko, kung gusto mo ng perpektong presidente eh tawagin mo na si Hesus. Pareho na rin yang logic sa hinahanap mong model police.

      And to think ha, Davao City's police force is multi awarded all over the globe.

      Kaya wag niyo na po ako idaan sa sarcasm. Nakakaumay na.

      Merry Christmas din sayo at sana bumisita ka rin sa DC para makita mo ang mga nakita ko, at hindi lang sa mata ng ABS-CBN.

    3. nakakatawa lang na paano mo mapapatunayan na guilty ang tao? May name tag ba sila at nakasulat rapist ako, magnanakaw ako? babarilin mo nalng bigla?

  2. Rafael S. BenedictoJanuary 9, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    To people who reject the opinions of this blogger, let's do a little thought experiment. Here it goes...

    Let's imagine you are a father (or a mother, if you're a woman) one or more children. We all can agree that human nature is unpredictable, right? It is possible that even the most well-behaved kid can commit a crime later in life.

    Okay. Imagine if, one day, your son (or daughter) commits a crime like drug smuggling/pushing, shoplifting, or even a murder. For this thought experiment let's just go with drug pushing.

    They say that Duterte's goons send warning letters to criminals urging them to stop what they're doing, turn themselves in, or else "someone" will come after them.

    Still with me? Good. Now, we can also all agree that people can be stubborn. Let's imagine that even when your son has read the warning letter he refuses to stop and turn himself in, and continues to do drug smuggling or pushing, etc.

    Duterte's goons go in riding a motorcycle with sunglasses on and...bang! Headshot! In broad daylight!

    Then you, the father (or mother) of this kid, saw on the news that a random drug pusher has just been served "justice". You cheer, "Yan ang mayor namin! Duterte all the way!".

    Then later you realize that it's your kid you're seeing on TV, his face blurred on the screen to hide that big hole in his head.

    Then Duterte shows up on TV, being interviewed by the media. When asked if he ordered the killing he simply says something like:

    "Yan ang mangyari sa mga kriminal dito sa Davao. Wala akong pakialam kung sino ka. Shoot to kill".

    You had no idea that your kid was committing a crime behind your back. Soon a relative calls on your cellphone, asking "what happened?" Later, the kid's friends message you on facebook, asking "what happened?"

    Then your kid's younger sibling pulls on your trousers, asking "what happened?"

    With our little thought experiment done, let's proceed with some reasoning.

    The purpose for the "due process of law" is not to grant mercy or sympathy to the criminal. If he deserves to be punished then he deserves to be punished. Rather, the due process of law is for the family members, friends, and loved ones of the criminal who deserve to know and understand his actions and consequences that would be imposed upon him. Not only that, the rest of the general public deserves to know and be assured that their own children and loved ones would also undergo a fair and civilized trial if ever they happen to break the law in some way.

    This goes for criminals who commit more serious crimes as well, such as rapes and murders. There is a reason why family members are invited to witness the court trials and executions of criminals condemned to death: so that they could at least understand why he has to be punished and perhaps say their last goodbyes, even if it's to a murderer or a rapist.

    If you readers can't understand this line of reasoning behind my rejection of Duterte and his so-called "iron hand of justice", then I don't know what will. But I'll say this: Duterte is nothing more than a power-hungry politician with the ethics of a gangster and the manipulative tendencies of a dictator.

    That's all. I hope I've given this blogger and his article the credit deserved for siding with reason.


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