How do you solve a problem like Duterte? | Inquirer Opinion
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How do you solve a problem like Duterte?

It may be a sign of dementia, or near-dementia, but “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”—the song from the movie “The Sound of Music”—kept running through my mind as I tried to figure out presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte—his midnight press conferences, his contradictory statements, his rages, his apologies, his blowing hot and cold. So substitute “Duterte” for “Maria,” and it kind of clicks.

How do you solve a problem like Duterte? Maybe he is a problem because I don’t know him, but that doesn’t seem to cover it. Consider that his friend of 30 years, self-appointed “Son of God” Apollo Quiboloy, cannot seem to get a handle on him either—at least not since he became President-in-waiting.


Google the lyrics of the Rodgers-Hammerstein song. Humor me. Although it is about a young girl rather than the older fellow that Duterte is, there is a connection; I can relate. Here are portions of the song (just substitute “Duterte” for “Maria” and change the pronouns):

“She’s always late for chapel, but her penitence is real. She’s always late for everything, except for every meal. I hate to have to say it, but I very firmly feel, Maria’s not an asset to the abbey.


“I’d like to say a word in her behalf—Maria makes me laugh.

“How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you find the word that means Maria? A  flibbertigibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

“Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her. Many a thing she ought to understand. But how do you make her stay and listen to all you say? How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

“Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

“When I’m with her I’m confused, out of focus and bemused. And I never know exactly where I am. Unpredictable as weather, she’s as flighty as a feather. She’s a darling! She’s a demon! She’s a lamb!

“She’d outpester any pest, drive a hornet from its nest. She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl. She is gentle! She is wild! She’s a riddle! She’s a child! She’s a headache! She’s an angel! She’s a girl!”

It’s not a one-to-one comparison (remove “moonbeam,” “cloud,” “darling,” “demon,” “lamb,” “girl,” etc.), but you get the picture. Or don’t you? If you don’t, then attribute it all to my pre-dementia. But I just can’t get the song out of my head when I think of R2D2 (my name for Duterte, at least until he assumes the presidency).


* * *

On to serious matters. There is the still-unresolved case of the account of R2D2 in the Julia Vargas branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which treated the public to a lot of saber-rattling on the part of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and R2D2.  But the issue seems to have been forgotten in the elections. That should not happen.

To remind everyone: Trillanes claimed that R2D2 had a bank account with his daughter Sara, which once had P200 million in it, including eight deposits to the account on his birthday two years ago (March 28, 2014).   R2D2’s first reaction was to call the Trillanes accusation “garbage” and a “fabrication,” but upon further meditation, he stated that he had “accounts” in BPI and other banks. But he denied that he ever had P200 million in them.

Trillanes then upped the ante and claimed that the P200 million was only the tip of the iceberg and that R2D2 was actually a billionaire. He also said he would resign if his allegations were not proven correct—that’s how sure he was.

The senator also challenged R2D2 to sign a waiver allowing his accounts to be examined. The Reader will remember that R2D2 and his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, earlier (on March 11, 2016) claimed to have signed waivers that purportedly allowed the opening of their bank accounts to public scrutiny, in the interest of transparency, and dared the other contenders to do the same (no one took the challenge).

Anyway, on May 2, or one week before Election Day, Duterte’s representative Sal Panelo and Trillanes appeared at the Julia Vargas branch of BPI for the showdown: the opening of the famous bank account. But the showdown turned out to be a  dud. No accounts were shown. BPI said it had to scrutinize the wording of the waiver, and it would take it one week to do so. Also, Panelo said something about an affidavit that Trillanes should have signed but did not. In other words, it was all sound and fury signifying nothing. Or at least nothing that would affect the elections.

Why “signifying nothing”? Because, if R2D2 really wanted to open that bank account to public scrutiny, all  he had to do was go to any BPI branch, even one in Davao City, produce his ID, and ask for a copy of the transactions concerning the bank account. And he would have had it within five minutes. The wonders of computerization. I did it once, only recently, with a bank account that was over five years old, and was given a copy within five minutes.

So I can only surmise that R2D2 wasn’t willing to have his bank accounts scrutinized. Of course, I could be wrong.

But the point is that given R2D2’s strong anticorruption stance, the issue must be resolved once and for all. If possible, before July 1. So we know whether he will be a credible corruption fighter, especially since he proclaimed that the first corrupt person he would go after is Vice President Jojo Binay.

And if R2D2 never had that money in the first place, it is only fair that Trillanes resign, as he promised to do.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, hidden wealth, Rodrigo Duterte
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