From whiff to miasma
President Duterte started out setting a high standard of integrity for his appointees. He said just a whiff of corruption — true or not — will merit dismissal. Well, with so many blatant cases of corruption among his appointees, many of them revealed by Mr. Duterte himself, the whiffs of corruption have blended into a miasma.
There is a world of a difference. A whiff is a “smell that is only smelled briefly or faintly.” A miasma is an “oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere which surrounds or emanates from something.” On the Albayalde case, Mr. Duterte’s nose is hopelessly clogged. He is in the midst of a miasma of his own making, but he cannot smell even a whiff. He may continue to have his army of DDS and trolls, but not being able to distinguish illusion from reality is dangerous, even for a President.
Gen. Oscar Albayalde will go down in history as being so pointedly accused by no less than an illustrious set of his peers — retired police generals Benjamin Magalong, Aaron Aquino and Rudy Lacadin. By their accounts in the marathon Senate blue ribbon committee hearings, Albayalde has consorted with and protected “ninja cops.” All Albayalde has managed in his defense has been to deny, deflect and dig in. Albayalde offers the theory that this confluence of damaging testimony is all politics and conspiracies about the choice of his successor. For somebody who has risen up the ranks of a huge police organization that is in the business of ferreting out the truth through investigation techniques, this is as lame an explanation that a person of Albayalde’s stature and position can put forward.
Albayalde holds on to his position by virtue, he says, of the trust and confidence Mr. Duterte continues to repose in him. This is the peculiar situation of many leaders whose past catches up with them. Albayalde forgets that his real customers are the Philippine National Police and the Filipino nation, not the President who has appointed him.
Albayalde owes an explanation and proper closure to the officers and men and women of the 190,000-strong PNP who have entrusted their careers and lives in the service of the PNP. How do they take the whiff of corruption and betrayal surrounding their commander? What is the significance of all of the actions they have taken in pursuit of the war on drugs? Albayalde is also accountable to the entire Filipino nation, especially those who have been victimized by the extrajudicial killings under Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs for over three years.
When he took over the helm of the PNP, Albayalde looked like a level-headed director general of the PNP, rising up the ranks to earn the post. He even cut the figure of an upright but gentle grandfather.
But Albayalde has over the months seemed to seek molding himself in the image of a fanatical Ronald dela Rosa. Was he approximating the closeness of Dela Rosa to Mr. Duterte, as if that were part of the role of a director general of the PNP? Albayalde has staunchly defended Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. He proudly makes the Duterte punch salute with his entire family.
But Albayalde cannot be a Dela Rosa. Dela Rosa is authentic. He can say without fear of being accused of exaggerating, that he will serve Mr. Duterte to his last breath. If Albayalde aspires for the same level of perceived blind loyalty, he forgets he does not have Dela Rosa’s unique history with Mr. Duterte.
It is certain that the term ninja cop will remain in the vocabulary of Filipinos. After failing to dispel public suspicions that he is the top ninja cop, Albayalde will remain in the consciousness of the PNP and the people. He cannot just fade away.
Long after Albayalde is gone, Mr. Duterte will still be reeling from the Albayalde fallout. Despite the testimony of his peers against Albayalde, Mr. Duterte has chosen to stand by his appointee. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo has declared, “Given the fact that this man whose reputation has never been soiled and considering the fact that the President trusts him, then anything that will link him to any irregularity will be a black propaganda.”
The rot that Mr. Duterte stands in is his own making. It comes from his habit of recycling discredited and discarded officials, Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña just among the recent ones, transferring them from one drawer of the government structure to another.
In a sense, the Albayalde case serves the nation in a curious manner. In seriously discrediting Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs by being associated with ninja cops, he has unwittingly become the silent partner of Mocha Uson who has fatally discredited the other Duterte grand idea of federalism through her “pepedederalismo” gimmick.
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