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Shame on this President

Reader, we have a President who has been described as “bastos,” “sinungaling,” “mamamatay-tao,” vindictive, a misogynist and a blasphemer. And that is the least of it.  There is also the charge that he is practically handing over the Philippines to China under several pretexts—showing an independent foreign policy, getting on the good side of a  major international player, taking advantage of the benefits that China can give, etc.

The label “de facto dictator” has also been used, mainly because of his control of the legislature and the Supreme Court, which have practically abdicated their powers to him, and the fact that he has been allowed to abuse his powers by using government entities and agencies to go after his critics and to help his friends (Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa).

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That is not all. Of late, a certain “Bikoy” has connected his family to drugs. If this allegation is true, and the burden of proof is still with this “Bikoy,” it would make a mockery of his war on drugs, and explain why the big ones get away.  The more malicious souls opine that the drug factories here are destroyed so foreign suppliers can have a field day. I do not subscribe to this notion.

On the other hand, he has been credited as presiding over the tax reform program (TRAIN), vetoing some truly egregious portions of it; the rice tariffication law; the free tuition policy at the tertiary education level; making Filipinos feel safer in their neighborhoods because of the elimination of drug addicts and “istambays” (never mind how). Also, vetoing the portions of the 2019 national budget that were obviously pork barrel. My husband Christian, who lawyers pro bono for farmers, also has high praise for how the Philippine National Police under Gen. Oscar Albayalde has been most receptive to their requests for assistance and protection.

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So there you have it, the pluses and the minuses in a nutshell. I invite you, Reader, to add or subtract to the list above, and weigh them to see whether on the whole, he is a net positive or a net negative for the Philippines.

I have weighed them (helped by data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s StatDev that show how he has performed against his own Philippine Development Plan, and my students in development economics), and have found President Duterte wanting. I therefore will vote against his cronies and those he supports in this coming midterm elections, because it is crucial that there be more checks and balances in place over the next three years of his administration, to try to minimize the losses, or maximize the gains, if you will.

My name, Reader, has been included in that infamous matrix that supposedly identifies those who want to oust President Duterte and conveniently connects them to the “Bikoy” videos. You must have noticed, Reader, that the media organizations they implicate happen to be among the most highly respected organizations—PCIJ, Rappler, Vera Files—in the Philippines, respected because their conclusions are always evidence-based, with transparency as to their methodology.

And where did that matrix come from?  According to presidential spokesperson Sal Panelo, it came from the President himself. And since it came from the President, it must be true. What kind of logic is that? Especially considering that the President has been caught out in public with glaring inaccuracies—which are excused as “he was only joking.” Did his intelligence agencies give him that matrix?  None has come out to admit their participation. So I can only conclude, more logically than Sal, that it must be the product of the President’s fertile imagination. Good grief.

I state for the record (I originally did not want to dignify that matrix with a statement) that I have never participated in any “oust Digong” movement. Why should I be interested in the outcome of the elections if I was part of a plot to oust him? He included me probably because I am a member of the Rappler board.

And probably because I have criticized him more often than I have praised him. But that isn’t my fault. That is his. I merely call it as I see it—not from the top of my head, but after doing my homework. Which is what he should be doing, shame on him.

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TAGS: ’Bikoy”, bastos, Bong Go, dictator, Duterte, Get Real, president, Rappler, shame, train, winnie monsod
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