With Homobono A. Adaza
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero
Cicero is a philosopher – he was a popular Roman politician. He was not only quoted by his peers and avid followers, he is quoted even now by knowledgeable and well read individuals but by brilliant and accomplished national and world leaders. Why? He fits Plato’s definition of a philosopher king – a leader whose wisdom is tested and well acknowledged by everyone, including his opponents and enemies.
Cicero is a philosopher politician of all seasons – in words and in action, as shown On by the quote at the start of this article.
Provocation and Remembering: Treason and Presidents are always interesting subjects – in a debate, political campaign, essay, and simple conversation. It becomes intriguing when it is a tussle in a court of law or in the floor of Congress – in a criminal case or a case for impeachment. It becomes more interesting and intriguing if it is the subject of book like that of Rebecca West’s New Meaning of Treason.
This article is first of two on treason and Presidents. The Presidents are the Siamese twins of the Philippine presidency – Rodrigo “Digong” Roa Duterte and Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III. On Digong, it comes as a provocation from two friends – retired general Robert Ganzon and barrister businessman Raul Corrales. Both of them are from the South –Robert from Iloilo, the home province of my irrepressible and ebullient friend, the late Senator and Mayor Roding Ganzon while Raul is from Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu cities.
The provocation comes in the form of a question – Can President Duterte be charged with treason on his conduct involving the West Philippine Sea? This article is a response to that question.
On Noynoy Aquino, it is a case of remembering. On March 4, 2015, Herman Tiu Laurel and I filed a case for treason against President Noynoy Aquino in the Office of the Ombudsman on his conduct in the Mamasapano incident, Noynoy’s giving Five Million (P5,000.000.00) Pesos to Ibrahim Murad, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as President Noynoy Aquino’s gift to the MILF in Tokyo, Japan and for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The case is docketed as IC-OC-15.0531 in the Office of the Ombudsman – filed on March 4, 2015, dismissed quickly seven (7) days later on March 11, 2015. We filed a timely motion for reconsideration on April 24, 2015 which is pending resolution before the Ombudsman for five (5) years, eleven (11) months and twenty (20) days as of this day. Seven days to dismiss the complaint but less than eight days to exactly six (6) years with the motion for reconsideration
This will be the subject of the second part on the article on treason and presidents.
The crime: There is a discussion on when can one be charged on the crime of treason. To get a clear picture on what treason means, here is the definition of treason under Article 114 of the Revised Penal Code: “Art. 114. Treason. – Any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Republic of the Philippines or adheres to her enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere, shall be punished by reclusion temporal to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed a 100,000 pesos….”
The discussion revolves primarily on whether there is war against the Philippines. These questions arise – What is meant by war? Does it mean a declared war when the government through Congress passes a declaration of war against another country? Or, does war under this provision mean a state of war without Congress declaring that a state of war exists?
But even if there is no war in terms of the use of armaments, any “Filipino citizen who adheres to her enemies, giving them aid and comfort in the Philippines or elsewhere…” commits the crime of treason as defined in Article 114 of the Revised Penal Code. And Communist China is an enemy!
The answer: In law, here and elsewhere, when the words of the law are clear, there is no room for interpretation. The provision of the law, in application to President Duterte, states “– Any Filipino citizen who… adheres to her enemies, given them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere, shall be punished by reclusion temporal to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed a 100,000 pesos….”
As previously stated, the provision of this law is clear – President Duterte is adhering to China by allowing Communist China to invade the West Philippine Sea, exploit its resources, build artificial islands with military installations and possible nuclear weapons, preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing in our exclusive economic zones.
Other than adhering to Communist China, Duterte is also “giving aid and comfort” to Communist China not only in his conduct relating to the West Philippine Sea but by allowing their drug lords to flood the Philippine with illegal drugs, dumping and allowing electronic gambling here which is prohibited in Communist China and according to Senator Ping Lacson, allowing more than three thousand members of Communist China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be here in the guise of workers in Communist Chinese gambling operations in the Philippines, in preparation to make legal what is a fact – de jure from de facto.
If this behavior is not adhering to Communist China and giving it aid and comfort, I really don’t know what is.
Communist China: Does invasion and occupation of our exclusive economic zones and parts of Philippine territory make Communist China our friend? Its conduct is not that of a friend, it is that of an enemy. It simply means, the country is in state of war with China. It is not of our making – it is that of Communist China. How can that be? President Duterte says Communist China is our friend because President Xi Jin Ping of Communist China is his friend and Xi is an honorable man. True – Duterte and Xi are friends and they deserve each other. It is none of my doggone business if they are – that’s the duo’s business. Whether they are friends or not, it does not detract from the fact that Communist China clearly behaves as an enemy – as it is in fact an enemy.
But when a supposed friend invades and occupies portions of your land and exploits your resources, is he a friend? President Duterte’s answer to this question is a deafening – yes. So what does that make of President Duterte? He is the exact embodiment of what Cicero says of treason – Duterte is the enemy within.
Questions: Why is Duterte doing this? One can only speculate. Observing him for the past four and a half years as President and if you wish to explain his behavior on this matter you can only arrive at speculative conclusions – certain or uncertain. Certain elements define President Duterte – he is not prepared to be President on the first day of office; he has not learned since then how to be President; he is impervious to advice; he is intractable; he projects the impression that he is better than the rest and he provides the best answers to every problem; and he is narcissistic.
Because of these, most of his decisions have produced tragic if not disastrous results – both on the national and international levels. Let us set aside the others first and zero in on this question of his relationship with Communist China and President Xi Jin Ping, an ambitious leader for world domination.
From the standpoint of our national interest, President Duterte has placed it second to Communist China. This is shown by a series of rhetorical questions.
Is allowing the invasion and taking over of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) in our national interest?
Is Communist China’s building of artificial islands with military installations and possible nuclear weapons at the WPS in our national interests?
Is the driving out of Filipino fishermen from traditional fishing grounds by Communist Chinese forces at the WPS in our national interest?
Is the exploitation by Communist China of our natural resources at the WPS in our national interest?
Is the prohibition and prevention of Communist China of our ships and planes at the WPS in our national interest?
Is the refusal of Communist China to recognize the ruling of the UN Arbitral Tribunal on the West Philippine Sea in our national interest?
The answers to these questions will provide the key on whether President Duterte is the enemy within as defined by Cicero.
Justification: Could Duterte’s justification be found on the following – his grand parents are both Chinese, according to some researchers; his pronouncements that our country will be richer if it becomes a province of Communist China as a result of which Filipinos will have better lives; he does not want to risk a war with Communist China because it would mean loss of thousands of Filipinos lives and we will lose a war against Communist China anyway; his gratitude to his Chinese supporters, financiers and friends; it is affirmation and demonstration of how powerful he is and there is nothing Filipinos can do whatever he decides to do; his lack of understanding of international relations and power play; his love of country is mere matter of words like many other things that he says; his lack of education and failure of understanding of the meaning how it is to be truly human and how to live in a democratic country; his inability to learn how to be President?
Or, is it a combination of some or all of these reasons? Whatever it is – none can serve as an excuse for treason.
Final questions: Can President Duterte be charged with treason as President Noynoy Aquino was? Of course, he can be. But who will? Even if somebody does, the Ombudsman will just dismiss it as fast as it dismissed the treason complaint against President Noynoy.
But if somebody does, it will be interesting to see it for the record. It will be encouraging to see a Filipino do it to escape the charge that this is a country of cowards and you know what.
Even if nobody will possibly do it, we should all have the consoling thought, in the words of President Duterte himself – “There is always a time for reckoning.” And the rule that President Digong said so well, ironically, applies to all, including President Digong and President Noynoy. This is so because as Scarlett O’hara said it in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind – “There is always tomorrow.” (to be continued)