Sunday ∗ 10 Sep 2017

Sabotage, malignant elements, damage control

It reeks of desperation, the President now asserting that there is someone out to get his government and / or its war on drugs, which to him is proven by the corpses turning up with heads wrapped in tape.

“The police would not wrap (victims). That is not the job of the police to…you wrap, that’s foolishness. So there are saboteurs. <…> That’s why I have said to, the PNP Chief is here, to closely look into this because we are being sabotaged.”

Sabotaged? It sounds like the President is merely echoing his supporters about a (dilawan) destabilization plot against him, which is really nothing more than an excuse that absolves government of all responsibility for the state of violence on our streets, police brutality included. If we let this pass, and allow Duterte to imagine we believe this narrative to be true, then the next thing we know everything wrong with this government will be blamed on sabotage.

Taguiwalao and Mariano not confirmed? Sabotage! The Senate refuses the terrible National Budget that D(uterte)-House of Representatives is putting together where Oplan Tokhang gets BILLIONS in funding? Sabotage! The Senate puts into question the impeachment of Sereno and Morales? Sabotage! People rally out on the streets against the killings and this culture of violence? Sabotage! And of course the expected (and already articulated outcome): Duterte must now declare Martial Law because look! Saboteurs all around!

We can see through this strategy. And this is so easy to discredit using Duterte’s own words.

See, since as far back as August 2016, Duterte has been talking about the surfacing of these wrapped up bodies. Across the instances in which he has mentioned it at length in his speeches (as published by PCOO), he has done so only to say that this is NOT the work of the police. Not once has he condemned these types of killings. And not once has he called it “sabotage.” On August 29 2016, speaking to soldiers:

Basta in the performance of duty, there is really no problem and to think that wala man, hindi natin trabaho yan. Buti narinig na. Bakit balutin pa ni Bato yung patay? Hindi ba trabaho ng sundalo o pulis ang gawa ka ng mummy diyan? Nabalot yun kuwan, you’re wasting your time. Isang bala lang yan and you know, when you are in a war, in the coming days it will be hard for us to..

On December 16 2016, speaking to the Filipino community in Singapore:

I would not allow the police na paluhurin ’yung tao tapos tatalian ‘yung kamay sa likod. That’s a lot of garbage. Hindi ka pulis niyan, hindi ka sundalo. Why would you do that? And if you are the police, why would you wrap a body with masking tapes all around until sa ulo? Na hindi naman tayo nagma­manufacture ng mummy. Sa Egypt lang ‘yun.

Not once does Duterte even sound like he considers these deaths to be the problem of government. At some point he passes on the explanation for these deaths to the people. In a speech for the TOFIL Awards on December 12 2016:

Even before I became president <…> there were already a lot of killings. And it became a profound problem when I assumed office. And I saw ‘yung mga balot­balot, ‘yung balutin ng plastic ang katawan, hindi trabaho ng gobyerno iyan. Hindi kami gumagawa ng mummy. Hindi ito Egypt. We do not export anything of that kind. <…> That is an indication of torture. We do not do it. Kasi kung lumaban ka talagang mamamatay ka. But torture huwag kayong maniwala. Killing a person on bended knees with his hands tied at his back, hindi amin iyan.

Now, kayo na ang bahala. You have to sort it out because I cannot explain every death in this country.

Imagine a President, who promised peace and order and safety, who admits that his Presidency has had “profound” implications on these killings, imagine that President telling the people: kayo na ang bahala, sort it out, I can’t explain those deaths.

Yet Duterte actually explains those wrapped up corpses in other speeches, pointing out how his own drug war strategy is what has brought it on. In the August 21 2016 early morning press con:

For the extrajudicial killing <…> it’s not the work of the police to be wrapping people with plastics and putting them in the bag. That is not the job of the police. I just told him that one bullet will do. Why do we have to wrap it, waste your time that is not. But we know at the start what we planted the intrigues there. <…>
I have learned a lot during my prosecution days. We planted evidence. We arrested persons but we released them. But telling him that it was this person who squealed on him. And then, when he goes out about killing, then we said that it was this fellow who really did it, who did you in. We first planted the intrigues so that we would know where they were, from where they came from.

And then on August 29 2016, speaking to the VACC:

Look ganito ‘yan eh. At the start, talagang pinasok namin ‘yung intriga na si ‘A’ ang nagturo <sa’yo> si B. So, hayaan mo lang. Hulihin mo and let him out. He wants to fix the things, let him. Tapos, we need to look for ‘B’, and si ‘C’ naman sabihin namin na si ‘A’ man ang [inaudible] sa’yo. Tapos hulihin namin. O sige: You want to bail? Okay <…> walang problema. Paglabas ’yun nga.

So we sowed intrigues. I got it from reading so many books about Mafia. Bright na ako diyan sa intriga and we started that. Kaya ‘yung mga balot-balot, it’s torture, that’s not ours. Maniwala ka. <…> ‘Yan ang trabaho ng kabila. ‘Yan ‘yung torture nila. So hindi lahat ng… baka government, government, lahat na lang government.

So Duterte has not only acknowledged the wrapped up corpses all this time. He also cleared the police of any culpability in those deaths, and admitted that his drug war strategy involved sowing intrigues so that the people involved in the drug system would just start killing each other off, ergo, these dead bodies. Not once has he said that this is sabotage, done by saboteurs.

That’s because it isn’t. The past year Duterte himself has accepted the surfacing of wrapped up corpses to be normal, as if it is part and parcel of the war on drugs. He insists these deaths are not on him — because the police did not commit these crimes. Yet peace and order is on him, and street violence is his responsibility. That it now involves an emboldened shameless police force, is this drug war’s undoing. It is also all on Duterte.

This talk about sabotage, and the Palace warning us about “malignant elements,” is government grasping at straws, figuring out how to do damage control, given the growing collective anger and a populace slowly but surely gathering the courage to stand against these killings and its concurrent culture of violence.

In truth: we know better than to be sucked into this blackhole of troll discourse which is now about “protecting Duterte” from saboteurs. Please lang. The malignant elements have been enabled by this drug war, and the biggest saboteur of nation is Duterte himself.

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