By BENJIE OLIVEROS
The Social Weather Station released the results of its un-commissioned survey, covering the period September 23 to 27, showing that the satisfaction and trust ratings of President Duterte dropped significantly. His satisfaction rating was 48 percent, an 18 percent drop from June, and his trust ratings dropped 14 percent to 61 percent. This, according to SWS is a very significant and fast drop, compared to previous presidents whose ratings likewise dropped but at a much slower rate.
The next day, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eduardo Año, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa were quoted in the news saying that the Philippines has “too much democratic space.” This, according to the country’s top security officials, is being exploited by “terror and criminal groups.” Año batted for amendments to the Human Security Act, mentioning that in Singapore, United States, Malaysia, Australia a person, on mere suspicion that he or she is involved in criminal or terror activities, could be detained for up to three years even without charges.
PNP Chief De La Rosa, on the other hand, pushed for a National ID system and for the registration of all cellphone users.
Well, with the thousands killed, with estimates reaching as high as more than 7,000, in the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drugs war, and 67 killed, three forced disappearances, 49 torture incidents, 927 illegal arrests, 54 illegal searches, and 112 physical assaults and injuries, among others, from July 2016 to May 2017, mostly related to the government’s counterinsurgency operations, one would think that the country has too little and not too much democratic space.
What need has the country for more repressive measures when even teenagers such as Kian de los Santos are being killed in cold blood?
Even just one extrajudicial killing, torture, or enforced disappearance is already an attack on democracy.
It’s also as if there is no martial law in Mindanao. In Mindanao, suspects are arbitrarily arrested or disappeared. Those without government-issued IDs are detained. Even workers’ strikes are being prohibited and picket lines harassed by soldiers. What democratic space are they talking about?
And the Duterte administration has even been adamant about not letting up in its bloody campaigns. Worse, President Duterte even threatened to order the shooting of human rights defenders.
The Duterte administration has been relying more and more on state security forces to keep itself in power and on repressive measures to keep discontent about its policies in check. It has been issuing insults and threats on its critics.
If the Duterte administration chooses to keep its bellicose ways, the situation would soon come to a head. President Duterte should learn from the lessons of history and the experience of his idol, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, which he appears to emulate. No one could keep himself in power forever. The late dictator Marcos was able to hold on to power for a little more than 20 years but was toppled anyway. And that was when the Filipino people have not yet experienced the power of its collective action.