President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Photo: businessinsider.com
on a state visit to Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial
law in Mindanao in response to a string of attacks by a band of
terrorists known as the Maute group. During a press conference on his
arrival back in Manila, Duterte mentioned the killing and decapitation
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief of Malabang, as well as
arson and fighting in the streets of Marawi.
45 years ago then-President Ferdinand
Marcos likewise justified his imposition of martial law on lawless
communist subversives. And like many Filipinos of today, many back then
supported the president’s decision. It was only after decades of
totalitarian rule and widespread corruption by Marcos and his elite band
of cronies that Pinoys eventually put their foot down and deposed him,
sending him and his family packing to Hawaii.
Will Duterte encounter a similar fate? Only
time will tell. However, given this president’s totalitarian bent, it
would seem that Duterte is playing with fire. Checks and balances exist
in governments across the globe for a reason. And the reason is that
human beings are imperfect—period! And so systems are put in place to
prevent any one individual from amassing too much power.
Filipinos who lived through the Martial
Law years experienced it first-hand. Hopefully, Filipinos of today will
not have to go through the same painful experience their parents and
grandparents went through.