Sunday, December 25, 2016

"A man's got to know his limitations."...

Fictional character police inspector Harold Francis "Dirty Harry" Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in the film Magnum Force (1973) whispers to himself after rogue police lieutenant, Callahan's superior, Neil Briggs (Hal Holbrook) blew up in his car.  The bomb that killed him was planted by Briggs' cohorts and had been intended for Callahan.  The camera then zooms in on Callahan and the closing credits roll up.

Yes, I am taking about Duterte, the mayor of Davao who reportedly relishes the moniker "Dirty Harry".  He was 26 when the eponymous Eastwood starrer was released in 1971, and Magnum Force was sequel to Dirty Harry.  He might have fancied the nickname but he had long since murdered the character.

Callahan: It's not hard to understand how this could happen, the way things are. As incredible as it seems, there may be a sub-organization within the police force.  Sort of a death squad like they had in Brazil some years back. Damn.
Rogue motorcycle cops (Briggs' band) confronting Callahan: Do you have any idea how hard it is to prosecute a cop?
Callahan: You heroes have killed a dozen people this week. What are you gonna do next week? Kill a dozen more.  Is that what you guys are all about, being heroes?
Rouge cops: All our heroes are dead. We are the first generation...that's learned to fight.  We're simply ridding society of killers that would be caught...and sentenced anyway if our courts worked properly.  We began with the criminals that the people that our actions would be understood.  It's not just a question of whether or not to use violence. There simply is no other way, lnspector. You of all people...should understand that. Either you're for us or you're against us.
Callahan: I'm afraid you've misjudged me.

Briggs: I run the investigation, with your record, I can make anything stick.
Callahan: What I can't understand is, why you of all people?
Briggs: A hundred years ago in this city, people did the same thing. History justified the vigilantes, we're no different. Anyone who threatens the security of the people will be executed.  Evil for evil, Harry. Retribution.
Callahan:  That's just fine.  But how does murder fit in? When police start becoming their own executioners...where's it gonna end, Briggs?  Pretty soon, you'll start executing people for jaywalking. And executing people for traffic violations. Then you end up executing your neighbor 'cause his dog pisses on your lawn.
Briggs: There isn't one man we've killed that didn't deserve what was coming to him. Yes, there is. Charlie McCoy. What would you have done?
Callahan: I'd have upheld the law.
Briggs: What the hell do you know about the law? You're a great cop, Harry.  You had a chance to join the team, but you'd rather stick to the system.
Callahan: Briggs, I hate the goddamn system. But until someone comes along...with some changes that make sense,  I'll stick with it.  You're about to become extinct.  Living a bad dream in which all of us are the victims.

Callahan: A man's got to know his limitations.

Duterte himself has owned and bragged to have committed vigilante-type killings while mayor of Davao.  He rode his motorcycle and shot, just like the rogue cops -- taking the law in their own hands.  As president he has turned the presidency rogue and could turn our own police force rogue, if he hasn't already. His cheap movie has obituaries for credits.  It has to end now.

(Image source:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An opportunity for parties

The recent election might just have provided an opportunity for political parties to firm up and take real shape.  What could they do? They could each form shadow cabinets.

The shadow cabinet, similar to the ones in the United Kingdom, would be composed of senior leaders of the non-ruling parties to mirror the cabinet of the incoming government.  Each member of the shadow cabinet would lead on a specific policy area for the party and to question and challenge their counterpart in the cabinet. In this way the official opposition seeks to present itself as an alternative government-in-waiting. [] 

Here are some reasons to do this now, never mind that elective tenures are currently fixed:

1.  Apparently the incoming government needs a clear vision and policies.  They appear to be reputation-centered; and the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) would be saddled with not governing, but with keeping numerous balls up in the air, each of which would be a piece of interest of the "members" of the supermajority.

2.  There are critical yet controversial solutions proposed to address various issues. Among them: the restoration of death penalty; emergency powers for the president to attempt to solve the traffic crisis in the metro areas and for other issues; turning the police into likely bounty hunters through kill rewards; arming civilians to help fight "drugsters"; constitutional change; and of course, claims on the West Philippine Sea.

3.  It appears that the conditions for constitutional change could be made more favorable by the incoming administration.  Those conditions would be unlike 1986 when the only viable option was for the then-president Cory Aquino to appoint members of the constitutional convention. This planned one would be different.  Interests and all-boys clubs will likely rule. They will get themselves elected to shape the constitution to their tastes.

The opposition/s, in a dynamic democracy like ours, need/s to chime-in and take away the spotlight from the just-one perspective.  They should offer the already-engaged public with sound alternative solutions and arguments in order to explore or exhausts the issues better (and in the process differentiate themselves from the others).  We all could go to the polls sooner that we expect.

For 2016 a total of 169 parties registered with the Commission on Elections, 46 of which are national.  Not all of them would be capable of putting up a shadow cabinet. But with some consolidation, if necessary, at least the big names, national and regional, could. Easily.

Now more than ever, there could be room for party institutes to be put up to research and take positions on issues and build stronger support bases.  Women party leaders along with their party, or an all-women shadow cabinet composed of CSO members, could inform on the impact of the controversial solutions especially on women and children.  The parties could at the same time look into attracting talent and training young cadres to adapt and spread party positions and principles.

I am not a party person myself but I would like for parties to be fully functioning.  I am an elections person, and I would like to see competitive elections; and if parties offer good and competent candidates, voters will always "win", whichever way they vote. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Namfrel pre-election assessment report

Access the full report at: 

Assessment Summary

"At the time of this report there will be 35 days left to the May 9 presidential and general elections. If the current opinion polls hold, the elections for president and vice president may produce close results."

PEAM was pleased to hear that there is a good level of confidence in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) among stakeholders. COMELEC has a particular challenge relating to the issuing of voters’ receipts. Voters want a sense of confidence that their votes will be counted as cast. Another issue relates to the timely and transparent reporting of vote totals. Swift and accurate reporting is essential, especially due to past experiences.

Free, fair, inclusive and credible elections depend also on a permissive environment, and we have heard concerns expressed about vote buying and private armed groups impeding access to polling centres.

In the event of close elections, it will be important for all stakeholders to respond in a measured way, and for COMELEC to be prepared to provide a clear narrative surrounding the conduct of the polls and the publication of results.

In addition to issues related to the present elections, this assessment also suggests a national dialogue concerning possible desynchronization of national and local elections, and the possibility of run-off elections to ensure future presidents and vice presidents have a strong mandate.

There is also work to be done to improve the access to their franchise of indigenous people, people with disabilities, and overseas Filipinos."