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Who’s the traitor?

If speaking out about the country’s problems and failings constitutes “treason,” then the biggest traitor of all is President Duterte himself. Time and again, the President has lashed out at the criminality, especially the drug trade, that he says prevails in the land. He has lambasted government officials—mostly his political enemies, to be sure, but also some allies—for alleged corruption or for doing or saying something he does not agree with. All these statements laced with salty curses and sharp profanities, by the way.

Such posturing he has done not just at home and before his own people, but also during his trips abroad. Many times, he has not been afraid to castigate foreign leaders to their face, putting diplomatic and trade relations with these countries at risk, and much of which has led to the negative, critical coverage of the country by foreign media.

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But then, also in foreign relations, but especially when it comes to China, Mr. Duterte has shown an entirely different side to him—he is not only conciliatory and reasonable but even eagerly, scandalously servile. In response to reports of incursions by Chinese ships into our waters and territory, he throws up his hands and declares that he has no intention to go to war with our giant neighbor. Then he reveals that he had “consented” to such irregular Chinese explorations, even if our own defense and diplomatic officials say no such agreements were ever signed or discussed. Isn’t this treason on Mr. Duterte’s part?

You’d think the rest of the Duterte administration would be used by now to the President’s “loose lips,” his diplomatic gaffes, premature judgments of guilt, his liberal use of, shall we say, less than polite language.

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But why are these same officials, especially House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, now foaming at the mouth about a video message recorded by Vice President Leni Robredo and sent to an international conference sponsored by a UN commission on drugs? Accusing her of committing “treason” by daring to “wash our country’s dirty linen in public,” these officials are threatening to impeach the Vice President, throwing in other charges that seek to link her to moves to oust the President from the presidency. Mr. Duterte himself complained before an audience of Filipinos in Myanmar that the VP was “too eager” to take over his post.

In a statement of support for Robredo, the women’s group Pilipina denounced what it called the “ill-will and malice” imputed by Duterte officials in their denunciations of the VP’s video message. The women pointed out that Robredo didn’t say anything new or startling in her video message. What she said, the statement reiterates, was “nothing more than what is true and what is a fact, already widely known both in the Philippines and abroad in regard to the Administration’s ‘war on drugs.’”

Speaking about the irregular methods employed in the government’s “war on drugs,” the group said, “does not make VP Robredo the culprit in the increasing notoriety of the Philippines at the international level.” Instead, said the women of Pilipina, “it is the state actors’ own actions, their utter disregard of the rule of law… that brought infamy to the Philippines.”

At the same time, the group called on Duterte officials “to refrain from mentioning unverified and false information such as the Vice President’s alleged involvement in the impeachment complaint filed against the President.” Indeed, the statement points out, the video message was recorded last month, for a conference that had been planned many months ago, and weeks before the filing of the impeachment complaint against the President by the Magdalo Party.

This being Women’s Month, it would also be worthwhile to point out that our tough-talking macho officials, led by the President, have trained their guns so far on women who they deem dare to stand up to their power. It started with Sen. Leila de Lima, continues with Vice President Leni, and who knows who’s next—Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Sen. Rissa Hontiveros? Who lies in the cross-hairs of the Duterte minions and goons?

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TAGS: China, Diplomacy, Duterte, Feminism, foreign policy, impeachment, opinion, Robredo, traitor, treason
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