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At Large

That three-day hiatus

/ 04:05 AM November 13, 2019

Would that every government (or private) employee enjoy the perks of being President of this land. This thought is engendered by the recent announcement that President Duterte has declared a self-imposed (or self-granted) three-day leave that is, said his spokesperson, “unrelated to his health.”

Choosing to ensconce himself in his Davao comfort zone, Mr. Duterte, we were assured, would simply take the hiatus as a time to read up on and sign all the papers that have accumulated on his desk. The Davao idyll, Salvador Panelo elaborated, was necessary because if the President remained in Malacañang, he would still be bothered by visits and calls that would eat into his private time.

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What is this, 1954? Don’t we now have email, cell phones, Facebook live and Facebook chat, and a thousand other “apps” that allow for instantaneous communication? Nothing can prevent an anxious courtier or lackey from bothering Mr. Duterte during these three days with an urgent message or concern. Why hole up in Davao?

Unless, given his disappearance for three days which begins today, Mr. Duterte expects something to happen and he doesn’t want to be around to soak up the mess. This, by the way, is a favorite gambit of beleaguered political figures who seek deniability for deeds and events that they do not want linked to them, even if they were the “brains” of the operation.

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What indeed could be the plot brewing in PDuts’ brains? The most obvious and most convenient would be the long-rumored imposition of martial law throughout the country. Having failed to catch Vice President Leni Robredo in the trap he had laid out by offering to put her in charge of the antidrug war, perhaps he’s counting on wider powers to keep her new high-profile responsibility hamstrung.

That won’t be such a shock, though, given how easily Mr. Duterte drops the threat of martial law whenever he’s piqued or threatened. And remember, martial law is still around in Mindanao, where he enjoys the most public opinion support, and it won’t be too much of a stretch to broaden its reach.

Then again, why for only three days? Why doesn’t the President just extend his Davao hiatus to the rest of his term? Not notoriously hardworking, the avowals of his toadies to the contrary, there would be a lot less snarking if he does a prolonged R&R in his old stomping grounds. But let me take this opportunity to appeal as well for a public disclosure, in as full and forthcoming a manner as possible, from a certified competent medical practitioner, on the true state of the President’s health. Even if he’s just resting, the country deserves reassurance that we have a leader in the pink of health, in the healthiest state of mind.

* * *

To celebrate my friend Emma’s _th birthday, the “Media Girls” (so-called since we all worked together in the bloom of our youth in the Media Affairs Office of the Archdiocese of Manila) decided on an overnight “staycation” at the prodding of another friend, Sandra. She had observed, she said, that whenever we got together for lunch or dinner, the time spent trading stories and poking fun at each other was much too short and “bitin” (“inadequate” is such a bland translation).

Well, guess what. We had an entire afternoon and overnight stay to soak in each other’s company, but we still went home feeling a little shortchanged because we still hadn’t run out of stories, laughter, bingeing on snacks, laughing more, gossiping, confiding in each other, laughing some more and making fun of events and personalities of the day. We came home loaded down with leftover snacks that Emma brought home from LA, and with the fruits of a shopping spree at Real Food, a “healthy food” emporium where the “Silly Goose” vegan cookies of Sandra’s daughter Steph are sold.

We stayed at a suite in Ascott in BGC, and one of the blessings of a weekend stay there was that there was hardly any traffic or other people. The weekend was indeed a luxury getaway, mainly because we felt so far removed from our workaday concerns—such a blessing in these stressful days! So, here’s to Emma, Sandra, Peachy and Jess and moi. We are the “Media Girls” who have known each other for over 40 years, longer than our married lives, and keepers of each other’s secrets and fantasies. Long may our friendship stay strong and durable!

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TAGS: At Large, Duterte's health, martial law, rina jimenez david, Rodrigo Duterte
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