OPINION: Cracks now showing in the Duterte administration

Harvey S. Keh

Posted at Feb 27 2017 04:30 PM

It has been less than a year but despite the perceived popularity of the administration of President Rody Duterte, it is now encountering problems at almost all fronts. 

The recent arrest of Duterte’s known political nemesis, Senator Leila de Lima will not silence those opposing the present administration. On the contrary, it has actually further galvanized support for De Lima and has emboldened more Filipinos to speak up against Duterte and his allies. 

The problem with De Lima’s arrest is that it is primarily based on the testimonies of convicted hard-core criminals like Herbert Colanggo who eventually received special privileges from our Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre right after they testified against De Lima. 

Now, Aguirre is even moving for the charges of these criminals to be dropped in exchange for them to testify against De Lima. How can you now say that their statements are credible after knowing that they actually got something in return for making up these statements? 

People are also now beginning to question Duterte’s war on drugs given that up until now, high-profile drug lords such as Peter Lim also continue to remain free despite him publicly saying several times that Lim is one of the top drug lords in our country.

The reawakening of the Church

The Church, which was disturbingly quiet during the first few months of Duterte, has now awakened and has decided to lead the fight against the rampant extrajudicial killings and the planned reimposition of the death penalty in our country. 

During their recent "Walk for Life" held at the Quirino Grandstand, the Church led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and Archbishop Socrates Villegas once again showed that it can muster numbers just to show the present administration that it will not remain silent on issues that already concern the morals of our people. 

As Archbishop Oscar Cruz warned our political leaders, there have been several political leaders throughout history that went against the Church but they have since passed on while the Church despite all its flaws and weaknesses has remained strong.

Duterte’s tenuous hold of the Senate

In addition to these, the sudden change of heart of SPO3 Arturo Lascanas is also causing panic among the allies of the President. 

Through a hastily called press conference at the Senate last Monday, Lascanas, with the support of Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers, named Duterte as the one who was calling the shots for the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS). 

This corroborates the earlier statements made by former DDS hitman Edgar Matobato who also pointed to Duterte as the person who perpetuated the murder of several people in Davao City. 

Senate allies of Duterte led by Senator Richard Gordon tried to stop the reopening of the investigation but they were surprisingly outvoted and thus, the Senate investigation and hearing on the DDS will begin next week with Lascanas as the main resource person. 

Due to this, Malacanang immediately called its allies in the Senate for a meeting to discuss how they will be able to minimize the damage that will be done to Duterte when Lascanas appears before the Senate committee on Public Order chaired by Senator Ping Lacson. 

This event shows that Duterte does not hold a big majority in the Senate, which makes him politically vulnerable in the coming months. Without a Senate majority, Duterte would also be unable to pass his priority bills that include the reimposition of the death penalty and charter change towards federalism.

Conflicts inside the Duterte Cabinet

In his own Cabinet, Duterte is also facing some major headaches with the clash between Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez and Department of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez on the recent order given by Lopez to shut down the operations of several mines in our country. 

This could’ve been avoided if only there was proper communication and consultation within the concerned Cabinet members before Lopez released the order to close down the mines. Now, Duterte may be left to choose between supporting Lopez, who is now under attack from different business groups, or backing his close friend Dominguez.

Duterte should now focus on leading our country

For the sake of our country’s future, Duterte should now focus on leading and solving our country’s problems instead of focusing his time and energy on attacking his political enemies. 

In the next few months, Filipinos will now ask what this administration has concretely done to make their lives better. 

Traffic is still very much present and even getting worse by the day. The peso has depreciated considerably which may eventually lead to higher prices of basic commodities. The peace process with the CPP-NPA that was supposed to be one of the major highlights of this administration has been terminated. 

There is still much time to turn things around and prove to everyone that the 16 million Filipinos who voted for him made the right decision. 

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.