Thursday, January 05, 2017

Day 5: What this Duterte Apologist Didn't Get About the Law

This post is a reply to this article, which came out in the Inquirer today:

Assuming I did not misread him, which is always a danger when reading the apologetics of the powers that be, what the author is saying is that Duterte's actions against the drug menace is compelled by necessity. And law has no bearing in that. And to the author, this is what lawyers do not get. 

Of course, I get it. When someone is shooting a drug addict in the head while the poor guy is hogtied, the man with the gun is not reciting some Latin phrase like "Dura lex sed lex." He's just shooting, probably enjoying it, and telling himself this is a necessity. 
Nonetheless, I think these are the things that this Duterte apologist and the rest of them do not get: 

1. Necessity is relative.

What is necessary to us might not be necessary to others. Even the degree of necessity is dependent on the subject and the object of necessity. In addition, necessity is also a function of time and space. So, nobody is absolutely right or absolutely wrong about the necessity of things. I'm sure Duterte's argument about the necessity of curbing the drug menace is compelling. But, it is not absolute. His own confession about his use of Fentanyl already cracks the argument about the evil of drugs. Hitler thought killing the Jews was a necessity. Marcos thought declaring martial law was a necessity. General Smith felt it was a necessity to create the harrowing wilderness in Samar and Leyte during the Filipino-American War. The "N" word is such a cliche.

2. Power is a mania.

People who rise to power are not in it purely for lofty intentions. Nobody becomes President, because he/she is in love with the Philippine Constitution. There is in each of us earthlings,  a will to power -- an impulse to subjugate others, an itch to be the alpha male or queen mother. Of course, education helps us to tame that mania. The monks make a vow of obedience. St. Therese the Little Flower proposed that we aim to be like a child. But not everyone is religious. And not everyone educated is aware of this will to power. Some even go to yogis to ask for a mantra, which can be prayed over and over to make the ambition become a reality. Some actually become presidents, aware  of this will to power, and they want more of it. Why this rage with the drug addicts? I can understand PNoy's rage with the Marcoses, albeit I'm not all for it. But Duterte's rage with the drug addicts? If this were a novel, Duterte's character would be criticized for not being round enough. There is no explanation why he has this rage with the drug addicts,  except that he is using it as a ruse for more power. Killing is the ultimate act of power. Some people are addicted to killing, because it is the act of ultimate power.  Nietzsche and Foucault -- they've written about this before. 

3. Due process  is an absolute.

If you look back at history, which is essentially a history of power, things only became humane when due process was recognized by the powers that be. When people were killed at the whim of a king or queen, it was savage. And we judge it as savage because we evaluate it with the value of "due process," which at its core is fairness, power that listens before it strikes, power that recognizes no absolutes, but the absolutes of fairness and frailty of the human capacity to know. For that reason, we have constituted ourselves into a nation. We put power at the service of law, so power and the mania that inflicts those who have it in our system, can be tamed and put into the rational service of every citizen.  Yet, this due process is not the ultimate. Our aim is justice. We have to get it right. The only way to get it right is not to use absolute force; we have to arm force with knowledge and insight, and there is no way we can get that if we shun law and due process. And all this raucous will pass, but our nation  will only be judged, now and forever, by our adherence to the value of due process. Did our State listen to the 6,000 before they were killed? 

Tell me I don't get it.

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