The perversion of the law by double standards, says Walden Bello, resigned representative of Akbayan, a partylist with close ties to the Aquino government, is what attracts the disillusioned to Duterte. Those who like to talk of human rights must first convince the public that “the rule of law is not just empty rhetoric.”
Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte struts around like an urban cowboy, a gunslinger on a motorbike. He is the beloved strongman of a city famed for its surface gloss of peace and order. He talks like some TV wrestling god — threats and sexist lines galore. He even has a made-for-TVwrestling tag, “The Punisher”.
Most people either love him or hate Duterte. On both sides lie legitimate viewpoints.
Those who feel helpless amid the flood of crime and corruption say soft leaders will hand over the country to drug lords, gambling lords, smuggling lords and those who, with finesse and elegant language, siphon off the people’s taxes and the nation’s wealth in the service of their friends.
Others believe there is a reason for the term, “basic human rights.” They note that killings ascribed to Duterte — who has never been charged for these — only involve poor sewer rats. They believe his solution to problems — the promise of a bullet going the way of the wrongdoer — will gift the country once more with the peace of the graveyard.
The din is loud and will grow louder.
Duterte knows playing nice now won’t convince the latter group. So he shuns nuance and serves up the logic of raw, desperate survival. Don’t lecture the Davao city mayor about how democracies have no place for the law of the jungle. He’ll come back with a Tarzan yell — and millions of true believers will echo back the sound.
But that is a topic for another column. Today, let’s hear from Walden Bello, former member of the House of Representatives and senatorial candidate for #Halalan2016.
Bello resigned as representative of the party list Akbayan because it had become too uncritical, too subservient to the dictates of President Benigno Aquino III.
Here is a reminder from the man:
Some quarters have expressed dismay that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is running for the presidency. I can certainly understand their concern with Duterte’s terrible record on human rights and due process.
My response to Mayor Duterte’s candidacy, however, is to borrow from Voltaire and say to him, I may vehemently disagree with what you stand for but I will defend your right to run for office based on what you believe in.
Indeed, Duterte’s running should be seen as a challenge by human rights advocates to educate the electorate on the value of human rights and due process, which some have complacently assumed there is a national consensus on.
It will also challenge us to prove to the people that the rule of law is not empty rhetoric; that our laws can, in fact, be used to prosecute and punish the criminals and the corrupt; and that the pursuit of law and justice is blind, meaning it is not perverted by double standards.
The burden of proof, in short, is on us to prove Duterte wrong.