The critics of President Rodrigo Duterte have increased in numbers but raised the same issues that had been rehashed many times over. Political harassments, human rights violations, extra-judicial killings and befriending China, among others.
Last week, Agnes Callamard, a rapporteur (reporter) of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, sneaked into the Philippines with the help of the local Commission on Human Rights and Free Legal Assistance Group. Callamard tucked along a “Dr.” Carl Hart obviously to buttress her claim that Shabu does not damage the brain of the user.
Earlier, Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo proposed to decriminalize the use of shabu, which the Duterte government wants to eliminate as the substance has hooked millions and had been attributed to be driving addicts to commit heinous crimes and violence.
The presence of Callamard, was timed with the meeting of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In her speech, Callamard negated the World Health Organization findings on the danger of shabu and had her sidekick Hart, who was introduced as a doctor, to confirm it. She even had the gall to demand that death penalty should not be re-imposed in the Philippines.
Philippine CHR Chair Jose Gascon, the midnight appointee of past President Benigno Aquino III, was ebullient he found an ally in Calamard and Hart. And I can only imagine how VP Robredo is smiling from ear to ear. From her prison cell, a very privilege detainee, former CHR Chairperson now member of the Philippine Senate rattled of statement to her friendly journalists how wrong Duterte was and that the President should answer for the death of the victims of extra-judicial killings. Not to be left, an aging but still garrulous Ex-CHR Chair Etta Rosales, who, like her predecessor (Leila) De Lima is so consumed at indicting Duterte on EJK (extra-judicial killing), came out from the cold to denounce who else but their common pet peeve Duterte.
But the cabal of anti-Duterte critics cannot celebrate despite the magma of issues that was to denigrate the Philippine President in and out of his turf.
As Callamard was speaking, US President Donald Trump was talking on the phone to President Duterte requesting him to persuade Chinese President XI Jinping to still the nerves of North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un. Acting as a go between the two most powerful men in the globe, Duterte called on his friend Xi to convey Trumps message.
Trump is a believer of Duterte’s all-out war against drugs and for obvious reason. The candidate Trump had proposed to put up a concrete wall -- ala Berlin wall -- in the border of the US and Mexico not only to deter illegal Mexican nationals looking jobs but also to curb the illegal drugs from entering the US.
Before Calamard and her doctor Hart could go on a honeymoon as Duterte suggested, the Social Weather Station came out with its recent survey on trust rating of the President and Vice President. To the chagrin of the President’s critics Duterte’s trust rating was +70 for EXCELLENT while VP Robredo took a nose dive chipping off 15% from her previous rating but remained GOOD anyway.
While President Duterte was taking off for the World Economic Forum in Cambodia, the Central Bank reported an 11% growth of Foreign Direct Investment which simply means the confidence on the investment climate in the Philippines under the leadership of the hillbilly Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and his Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez is back.
Duterte was sound asleep when he landed in Cambodia while back home and elsewhere his rabid critics are grinding their teeth in exasperation.
Such is a sublime paradox. While Calamard, Gascon, Robredo, Trillanes and De Lima along with their perjured witnesses defamed President Duterte and destroyed the image of the country, the trust of the leaders of the most powerful countries on earth and of his own countrymen was an all-time high and never equaled in the Philippine history. It is a paradox indeed that some characters want to crucify Duterte in the International Criminal Court and other nit-witted Congressmen want him impeached while his people extol him like they never did to any of their leaders before.
(Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)