DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that this actually is LP's plan. What I am saying is that this is the model of future events that best fits my current understanding of the situation. Nothing more, nothing less.
It’s 3:00 AM of October 17th and Duterte is still in Brunei. He will be arriving here in China on the 18th, so I do not expect anything to happen today. I’m in my Beijing hotel room, restlessly trying to figure out how to pass the time. Then I remembered the Reuters’ news article featuring ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [Reuters] recently, warned the newly-installed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of possible ICC action, as she explained that ICC may have the jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines' crackdown on drugs.
The Senate HearingsThe Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has been hounding President Rody Duterte with allegations of extrajudicial killings since 2009 [TP: Ooh, Ronnie]. Seven years later in 2016, they still haven’t managed to file a case with probable cause [TP: Wikileaks]. Even de Lima admitted in August that they have not been able to file cases against Duterte since 2009 because of lack of evidence [TP: Ronnie].
De Lima Meltdown Phase 3: Temper Tantrum and Dramatic Walkout
The finale of the three-part De Lima Meltdown series doesn't need a lot of intro. Dick Gordon's fierce rebuke turned Leila de Lima batsh!t crazy as Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV defends her like a coup-plotting knight in low-IQ armor. And as usual, Manny Pacquiao was furious too.
Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/TheThinkingPinoy/videos/701731916640581/
Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/TheThinkingPinoy/videos/701773966636376/
Posted by Thinking Pinoy on Monday, October 3, 2016
Matobato turned out to be a dud. And with Matobato being central to de Lima’s “case” against Duterte, the senate investigation of extrajudicial killings, corollarily, also turned out be a dud. At least, in as far as pinning the killings to the mayor-turned-president.
On the last day of the senate hearing, Senator Gordon mentioned that former Liberal Party Director-General and current CHR Chairman Chito Gascon called him. The topic of the call isn’t important for this article, but a particular detail is:
Gascon told Gordon he was in Amsterdam [DZRH], the primary port-of-entry to the Netherlands. Amsterdam and it’s just an hour’s drive away from The Hague, the city where ICC sits, the city where Bensouda is based.
Yes, it appears that Gascon has internationalized the Liberal Party’s Plan B [TP: PLeni], despite the fact that CHR’s inability to prosecute Duterte not because of state negligence or pressure, but due to the fact that no evidence exists.
The Sense of UrgencyDespite being in office for barely four months and despite enjoying overwhelming support from 86% of Filipinos [Balita], he has been facing what could probably be the most vicious minority opposition since the fall of President Marcos in 1986. And not-so-coincidentally, the minority opposition at the time was also the Liberal Party.
That’s we will attempt to answer in this article. That is, let’s ask: What is LP’s endgame?
2019, the Magic YearLate 2019 will probably the turning point of contemporary Philippine Politics.
By late 2019, a majority of today’s Supreme Court justices will have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, so that the majority of end-of-2019 justices will be Duterte appointees [TP: SC Math]. A new set of senators will also have replaced the senators elected in 2013. Assuming Duterte retains the same level of local popularity up to then, it’s pretty certain that anyone he endorses will almost surely win. Add the fact that Duterte enjoys the support of the Lower House, the Police, and the Military.By late 2019, if things are allowed to progress as they do, Chief Executive Duterte will enjoy support from the Legislature, the Judiciary, the PNP, and the Armed Forces. In short, Duterte will de facto become the most powerful president this country ever had. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party will become trivial, to say the least.
Naturally, the Liberal Party will do everything it can to prevent this from happening.
Mode of OusterThe Liberal Party fears 2019, and it wants Duterte out of Malacañang before that. There were originally three ways to go about this: impeachment, natural death, and assassination. However, I have already explained in a previous article that Villar’s DPWH appointment made impeachment impossible [TP: Villar] so we’re left with natural death and assassination.
Duterte is already 71, and that’s already three years past the average Filipino’s life expectancy. The problem, however, is that despite the chronic ailments Duterte deals with on an everyday basis, the old man probably won’t die anytime soon. While it’s true that Duterte health may be precarious, blindly relying on natural causes is not the most reliable course of action for LP. After all, the Enrile has been around since the age of the dinosaurs yet he still breathes as of press time.
Thus, we are left with one last option: assassination.
Of course, you may argue that assassination need not be implemented before 2019. However, that argument makes sense only if LP still has a suitable replacement if and when that happens.
What exactly am I trying to say here? It’s simple.
There are two preliminary conditions necessary to ensure LP’s resurgence:
- Duterte's death
- Leni’s eligibility
The first one is obvious: as long as Daddy D breathes, he’s president, so LP needs that to stop. The second one, however, is a little more complicated.
A President LeniRules of succession dictate that VP Leni Robredo should replace Duterte should the need arise.
As we’ve explained, that “need” arises only if Duterte dies through assassination (or through more creative ways, such as a “plane crash”). Of course, Duterte is a walking target and LP (or the LP ally US Government) can have him assassinated right away. However, this will not work if done too soon given Duterte’s immense local popularity [Indep].
I think it’s safe to say that Leni’s installation after a Duterte assassination will likely trigger another People Power Revolution. The LP doesn’t want that, especially since that may translate to a dela Rosa, Inday Sara, Cayetano, or Marcos presidency. LP needs an LP-aligned president, and Leni is the only one with some semblance of moral ascendancy among LP’s ranks.
Now, LP can wait for Duterte’s popularity to fade. LP can just kill him off in, say, 2019 or 2020. But there’s a catch: Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest.
Leni vs BBMI have explained how BBM could have been cheated in the previous elections. First, I explained that the vote counting system hash code anomaly [TP: Hash Code]. Second, I explained how Comelec chose to use obsolete cheating-prone technology from Smartmatic [TP: Obsolete].
I am not totally certain about the parameters of Bongbong Marcos’ (BBM) electoral protest, but several of high profile lawyers I have spoken to suggest that BBM’s case is quite strong. Now, LP would have simply dismissed my claim as hogwash, but their subsequent actions after the case filing suggest otherwise.
Leni wanted in August to have the BBM electoral protest dismissed [Star], arguing that Marcos showed no evidence suggesting her direct or indirect participation in the cheating. This is a very weak argument, as it does not categorically refute the BBM’s fraud accusation against the vote counting system per se. Leni again asked the SC in September to dismiss the protest, citing basically the same reasons she gave in August, plus the accusation that BBM forged evidence [SunStar].
Regardless of the veracity of Leni’s points, what’s clear is that both the August and September motions are dilatory tactics, something that the BBM camp itself pointed out this month [Tribune].
Yes, Leni and LP are delaying the progress of the case.
This is further emphasized by the fact that PNoy appointee and PNoy ex-classmate Caguioa handles the pol case [ABS] so Caguioa can choose to delay the progress of case for as long as he can. PNoy appointee Sereno, in her capacity as Chief Justice, also handles scheduling so she can choose not to include this issue in the weekly en banc sessions.
This isn’t a party that’s confident in Leni’s May 2016 win.
Odds stacked vs LPDespite its claims of being an impartial body, we all know that politics still plays a major role in the Supreme Court, so that the political alliances of each justice somehow affects his or her decisions on certain issues.
The catch here is this: the affirmation of BBM’s case only requires a simply SC-PET majority, i.e. 8 votes out of 15. It’s worthy to note that in the event of abstentions, it would be so ironic if SC adopts Sereno bastardized definition of “a majority” per Grace Poe decision [TP: Poe DQ].
With this in mind, there are several things that makes BBM likelier unseat Leni. These are:
First: SC’s Current Roster
Unfortunately for LP, Aquino got to appoint only six justices (Sereno, Reyes, Perlas, Leonen, Jardeleza and Caguioa), so that the other nine are Arroyo appointees. Add the fact that Reyes is Duterte’s fraternity brother, along with Arroyo appointee Mendoza [Star].
If justices were to vote along partisan lines, this would be an easy BBM win.
Second: LP-SC Bitter History
We all know that this is generally an anti-PNoy court, and Robredo, being a political neophyte, wouldn’t elicit political loyalty from any of the Arroyo-appointed justices. What further exacerbates the situation are:
- LPs persecution of Arroyo from 2010 to 2016 as LP filed weak case after weak case to keep her in detention [TP:PGMA Acquit].
- LP’s barrage against former Chief Justice Renato Corona in retaliation to a then-impending unfavorable Hacienda Luisita decision [TP: Gascon].
Third: Persuadability of swing votes
If PNoy-appointees (five without Reyes) all vote pro-Leni, and there are only two who would vote pro-BBM, BBM still has to persuade six more justices to join his cause. Given the previous point, this shouldn’t be very difficult. However, should BBM fail to muster enough support from the swing justices, he can always ask for help from Malacañang.
Duterte is aware of of the entire situation so he’s also probably awre of the BBM-Leni issue with respect to his predicament. This may be why he mentioned Imee’s support for his campaign in a recent speech [GMA]. That is, Duterte subtly sent LP the message that if push comes to shove, he’ll do what needs to be done.
Fourth: Consecutive retirements
If BBM, even with Duterte’s help, fails to muster enough support from the current roster, they can just wait for Duterte to appoint a few more justices to fill the gap. There are 10 justices retiring from today until 2019.
That is, if voting on the BBM protest were to be done today, we will have a President Marcos.
The PlanYes, it appears that Leni is most likely unable to hold on to her post for long, so they have to act fast. But before we go further, let me give you a quick recap of the situation from LP’s point of view:
- First, assassination is required because impeachment is impossible while natural death is unreliable.
- Second, regime change has to be before 2019 because BBM will most likely win electoral protest.
- Third, Caguioa and Sereno can work hand-in-hand to delay progress of the electoral protest to give LP time to do what needs to be done.
The only thing that probably keeps LP from assassinating Duterte (Read: Plane Crash) is Leni’s lack of legitimacy, i.e. she’s unlikely to get local support. If Duterte dies today and Leni takes over, we can expect a People Power Revolution in just a few minutes.
To remedy this issue, an international campaign to destroy Duterte’s international reputation was put in place. The most recent development – Bensouda’s statements – only serve to underline that claim.
Now, if ICC’s Bensouda eventually decides to investigate Duterte, then that’s pretty much the end of Duterte’ international legitimacy. An announcement of an ICC investigation will make Duterte look like a madman in the eyes of the world, and we’re not even talking about an ICC conviction.
Forget the ICC conviction: all LP needs is for Duterte to lose all international credibility, as they could settle with a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo type president. That is, a President Leni Robredo with no local support, but with international recognition.
With international recognition of her presidency, Robredo crushing a People Power Revolution like Edsa Tres, she will be seen as simply "enforcing the law" instead of "acting like a tyrant".
From the LP’s upper management’s point of view, that’s a lot better than a toothless post-2019 LP, right?
These series of scenarios actually fit Duterte's pronouncements during his speeches in various military camps in the past couple of months. In those speeches, Duterte told the military to take care of the drug problem should the problem "outlive" him, with the preface being his claim that no other presidentiable can solve the drug problem except him.
Let me state this more simply.
If the ICC decides to investigate Duterte, then Duterte will most likely die. Maybe through a bullet, or maybe through a plane crash. A plane crash, perhaps. Because it’s something that a certain political party tends to be historically good at.
Besides, Duterte himself said [Inq], "'If my plane crashes, don't worry, Leni is there to replace me" [TP]
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