Thoughts linger in people’s mind why the Five “Narco-Generals” tagged by President Duterte as having involvement in illegal drugs opted for the humiliation track as opposed to resigning, retiring or surrendering.
The Five Generals found themselves in a catch-22 predicament. Every which way they go, it amounts to the same thing: Humiliation.
Say, they resigned, retired or surrendered – as initially urged by Duterte, even when he was not yet president – of course, that can draw big attention, too. Their names would be dragged the same. And they would be shamed.
Four things that these Generals might have banked on, buy time or test how the game would be played out.
- The Omerta in the Military
- Past Presidents have never been confrontational with the military
- That Duterte could be bluffing
- Their “narco money” always bailed them out in the past.
Today’s campaign against drugs is just tougher than the usual, but money can lure everyone as before. “Pera Pera lang yan”.
Omerta or conspiracy of silence in the military is the same as the Mafia’s code of silence. When a General, for example, amassed unexplained wealth coming from shady deals or deeds, not one among his peers would see, hear or talk about it. They would not snitch or squeal on their own comrades or “mistha”. All the while, in all likelihood, everyone from the upper echelon of the military knows about the drug involvement of the five Generals that Duterte tagged. Yet, no one howls about it. They are all timid.
All of Duterte’s predecessors go easy on the military. They didn’t want the military to be disgruntled, as they are wary they may cook up a coup, or launch mutinies. With Duterte, the Generals perhaps thought he would be the same as the other presidents before him – careful not to confront them. As the Generals feel confident, untouchable, and safe – might as well wait and see.
The Generals may have thought, too, that Duterte is all sound bites, empty threats, and on a fishing expedition. Does Duterte really have the goods on them? He is a politician and a lawyer. What if he is just bluffing?
The Generals and their cohorts have had previous entanglements with the law, and because of their huge “narco money”, they were able to buy the silence of everyone. If the push comes to shove as the situation is tougher than usual, their “narco money” would come again to their rescue. Tempered with arrogance, the Generals would say – “Kayang-kaya. Pera pera lang naman yan”.
So these Generals gambled on the humiliation path as their best option.
As President Duterte named the five Generals involved in the illegal drug trade on July 5, 2016, they panicked. And all they come up with are lousy excuses; they are willing to take a lie detector test, or undergo a lifestyle check, or saying – their conscience is clean.
Retired Deputy Police Director Marcelo Garbo, one of the Generals named by President Duterte even claimed he believed the President was fed with wrong and poison information.
On July 7, 2016, President Duterte presented a matrix to the media that shows Garbo as the coddler of two drug lords who operate drug trade while inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Should these Generals, say, take the resign, retire, and surrender path, could they negotiate a saving face? Probably. And maybe the impact of humiliation would not be that heavy.
What these Generals misread perhaps is the full measure of Duterte’s battle cry, which he always says in his bold, and crude elegance in an intonation that fits the occasions. He utters his battle cry, along this line: “I am ready to stake my honor, my life, and even my presidency, for all I care. But I have to do what I have to do to save my country from drugs, criminality, and corruption.”
All along, as events unfold, President Duterte’s battle cry neutralize entities that get in the way of his leadership style; the Church Hierarchy of the CBCP, the rogue Media Industry, and now, the five “narco Generals” of the Philippines.