Inexcusable, unworthy—but what about us?
It is said that President Duterte is “losing it,” that he is “at the end of his tether.” He is “unhinged.” Why? Because, first, there was his tirade against the (unnamed) Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which published the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of the Duterte pere et fils. The vituperation was unusual even for the President, who is infamous for his bitter and abusive language.
It was indeed a doozie, even for a country inured. The expletives, plus the rant against the “dilawans,” plus the attack against media, and the sheer lack of logic or maybe complete ignorance of the law, all combined to make it one. Example: What does he mean, that the money he and his family make outside of their government income is no one else’s business? Has he read Republic Act No. 3019 or Republic Act No. 6713?
I interviewed lawyer Diosdado Calonge, who worked in the Ombudsman’s office for more than 17 years before he retired as director of the prosecution bureau, and former senator Rene Saguisag, who was the main author, along with senator Jovito Salonga, of RA 6713 (the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). This was in connection with the TV show “Bawal ang Pasaway” (it will air on Monday). It is safe to say that they completely disagree with the President’s view.
Combine this with his threat to proclaim a revolutionary government and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. This is not a new threat, but this time, his aim, he explicitly stated, was not just to stop criminality and drugs, the war against which he has admitted he is losing. He also wants to use it to stop his critics. Thus, in his eyes, his critics are on the same footing as criminals, corrupt officials, drug lords and addicts.
And then, of course—and this is a new low—there was his peroration (3.29 minutes long) about his penis and its size (erect, it reaches up to his navel, he said). This, in front of a mixed audience who laughed (my husband said it was nervous laughter). Whether it was with him, or at him, I couldn’t say. This is conversation that can excusably take place in the locker room, or among drinking buddies who are well into their cups. In other words, a strictly private conversation. And definitely not in mixed company.
But there he was, in public, for all to see and hear. Including our children and grandchildren. This is the President of the Philippines talking to his people, and to the world at large.
Inexcusable, no matter what Malacañang says. Unworthy of even the most uneducated man, much less the President of 105 million people. What example does that give to the 21 million families that comprise our Republic?
Reader, if he were anywhere near rational, the President would easily discover that the PCIJ has examined the past five Philippine presidents on their SALNs, and other high government officials. Therefore, he is not being singled out; it is par for the course. So all he had to do was to answer their questions or comment (civilly) on their report.
Any president, with all his marbles, would also realize that critics come with his position. He is no saint, after all, and in a democratic setting, he just has to defend himself. And not by threatening his “enemies” with incarceration and worse, but, and I hate to use the word again, in a more rational manner.
Finally, Reader, I am almost 79 years old. And in my lifetime, I have never heard any of the past presidents of the Philippines (I can remember back to President Manuel Roxas) use the kind of gutter language President Duterte uses in public. Nor do I recall having read or heard of any other head of government who talked, much less bragged, about his penis. For that matter, I have never read or heard about any head of government who has insulted men of the cloth, or urged his soldiers to shoot women rebels in the vagina, or asked his policemen why they have not yet killed certain people. All these in public. So this must be material for the Guinness World Records.
What is also for the Guinness World Records is that President Duterte, in spite of all these, enjoys the trust and satisfaction reportedly of almost 8 out of 10 Filipinos. So if he is irrational, what does that make us?
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