Point-by-point take down of Time Magazine’s anti-Duterte story

Sass strikes again

Point-by-point take down of Time Magazine’s anti-Duterte story

- in Opinion, Philippines

MIGUEL SYJUCO: “In a span of six weeks, the Philippines’ new President, Rodrigo Duterte, has made international headlines for the hundreds of suspects killed in his war on crime.

ME: This already presumed that Duterte is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murdering all those people listed in The Inquirer’s “Kill List.” A presumption strongly expressed in the title of the article: “…Duterte will get away with murder.”

Syjuco assumed rather than explained how exactly Duterte is responsible for each and every death listed by Inquirer. Has Syjuco entertained and tested and falsified plausible rival alternative hypotheses? His dangerous assumption, which is propagated by Big Media, is actually helping people get away with murder by simply riding the “Blame Every Killing On Duterte” bandwagon.

SYJUCO: “…the President’s seemingly outrageous actions are merely part of the Philippines’ deeply entrenched culture of impunity. What is frightening is that so few people realize that yet.”

ME: That “so few people realise…the Philippines’ deeply entrenched culture of impunity” is absolutely wrong.

Let’s begin with the favourite punching bag of the Philippine Intellectual Elite: Mocha Uson. Mocha Uson’s father was actually a judge assassinated by riding-in-tandem criminals. The murder of Uson’s father was unsolved. Uson has a very personal experience of this “culture of impunity” that Syjuco is talking about. In fact, if Syjuco would just listen to the stories of the people he dismissively calls “Duterte trolls,” he would realise that each one of them has a personal experience of this “culture of impunity.” For example, there’s this OFW in Saudi Arabia whose sister was murdered and raped by three shabu addicts, who until now are roaming free. That’s impunity. I have two friends who were brutally murdered in their own houses, yup related to drugs, until now these are unsolved. That’s impunity. A lot, if not all, who voted for Duterte has personally experienced this culture of impunity.

Thus, it’s very wrong for Syjuco to say that only a few realise that because one of the major reasons people voted for Duterte is his decisive action against the drug menace which had produced so many victims – people who were raped, murdered, robbed – longing for justice, justice that has been choked by the culture of impunity in the Philippines.

SYJUCO: “Yet Duterte has also vowed to pardon any police and military involved in the extrajudicial killings, while also pledging to pardon himself.”

ME: Syjuco isn’t completing the narrative. Duterte repeatedly said that no police or military will go to prison for doing their duty. Duterte isn’t ordering wanton killing of people. His order is clear: If the person you are arresting is violently resisting, if your life is in danger, then kill the person. And there are already stories of police officers being shot by the person they are arresting, but mainstream media aren’t really paying them much attention.

SYJUCO: “He has ensconced his daughter and son as mayor and vice mayor of the city that he ruled for two decades, while also refusing to fully answer allegations about hidden wealth.”

ME: His daughter and son were elected democratically. To fully answer those allegations, the one who made the accusation should file a case in court. Trillanes didn’t do that, right? And besides, do you really find Trillanes’ accusation credible? He was informed by a stranger called Joseph de Mesa, who until now isn’t surfacing, who in turn got the information from an anonymous source. How is that credible?

SYJUCO: “Duterte has threatened to shut down the legislature if it hinders his plans,”

ME: You didn’t complete the narrative. Duterte threatened to shut down Congress if they “fuck with the Constitution.” You are misleading your readers, Miguel. That’s totally different from if Congress hinders Duterte’s plan.

SYJUCO: “…invoked the specter of martial law when criticized by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court”

ME: Nope, he didn’t. Regarding the ”martial law” quip? That wasn’t a threat. It was a snide remark rather than a threat. He said it in this context: He cannot secure warrant of arrests for each person implicated in the drug trade because the number of people involved would make it impossible. He was pressed for time. Because it would be impossible, he then remarked snidely if it would be better to just declare martial law, which would give him the power to secure all those warrants instantly. He didn’t even order the judges implicated in the drug trade arrested. He ordered them to report to the Supreme Court to clear their names. How is that sinister?

SYJUCO: “… insulted concerned foreign ambassadors.”

ME: Goldberg is a shady character to begin with. He’s declared persona non grata in Bolivia for meddling in their domestic affairs. Evo Morales accused of Goldberg of destabilising his government. And that’s exactly what Goldberg is doing. That “concern” isn’t an innocent concern. Why don’t you urge the Philippine Ambassador to the US express concerns about the massive human rights violations and extra-judicial killings in the States, and let’s see how exactly the US would take it.

SYJUCO: “He has chipped at the influence of the Catholic Church by emphasizing its corruption.”

ME: Is this something wrong?

SYJUCO: “And he has warned that members of the media are not protected from assassination: “The Constitution can no longer help you,” Duterte told reporters, “if you disrespect a person.”

ME: No, that was not a warning. What Duterte meant was the Constitution cannot help you from being killed. How could the Constitution help you against someone who is about to murder you? Yes, no one is exempted from assassination because everyone CAN BE assassinated. That’s a fact. Even if we preach killing is wrong, that wouldn’t stop anyone who wants to kill you for whatever reason. Even the Constitution can’t help you at that moment that you are about to be killed. But how come Syjuco is totally silent about the fact that Duterte actually established a “presidential task force against media killings”?

SYJUCO: “Many of his online supporters gained sudden renown only by defending Duterte loudly, and when your new President has a 91% approval rating and can do no wrong, anything you say or do on his behalf is similarly unassailable. That’s dangerously heady for both pundits and trolls, who now shout down opposition, cast as bias any legitimate concerns, allege that Duterte’s critics are in the pay of drug lords, threaten death or rape to dissenters, and seek to publicly shame objectors whenever they can.”

ME: What Syjuco failed to mention is that people like him dominate the mainstream media. Duterte supporters are marginalised in the mainstream media. Syjuco’s article even emphasised this when he said: “online supporters.” Pro-Duterte folks are relegated to just comment and post on FB and Twitter. The anti-Duterte narrative is the dominant narrative being propagated by Big Media. Even pro-Duterte people are being “shout down”, ridiculed, shamed, threatened with death and rape, and cast as biased by anti-Duterte folks. Anti-Duterte critics don’t have a monopoly on these experiences.

SYJUCO: Paraphrasing you: criminal elements like alleged pushers are experiencing “systematic victimization,” which is akin to the the victimisation experienced by homosexuals in history

ME: Will I be a traitor to the Filipino LGBT community if I will absolutely refuse to equate the victimisation of LGBT folks with the victimisation of criminal elements…like alleged drug pushers who flood our country with shabu which destroyed and continue to destroy individuals, families, and communities (recently 300+ houses were razed by fire after a shabu addict set an LPG tank on fire)? So should we start a liberation movement for drug pushers?

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