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Human Face

‘Sutokil’ on the menu

If speakers of Tagalog have tapsilog and longsilog—short for tapa/longganisa, sinangag and itlog (aged beef/native sausage, fried rice and fried egg) for breakfast, the Visayans have sutokil which stands for the verbs sugba (to grill), tola (to cook a fish/chicken-veggie soup dish) and kilaw (to prepare raw fish marinated in vinegar and spices). Sutokil, a combo meal for lunch or dinner, sounds like “shoot to kill” but is not as lethal. It is, in fact, healthier than tapsilog and longsilog because sutokil needs no frying and consists mostly of seafood.

There are many sutokil eateries in the Visayas, each one boasting of the freshness of the day’s catch and the spiciness of the kinilaw. Grilled (sinugba) tuna panga (jaw) is to die for. I’ve been to an all-tuna restaurant in Davao City offering sutokil and the visit was really worth it. Cebuanos would exclaim, “Lami gyud!” and Ilonggos, “Kanamit gid!” I will not be surprised if eateries offering sutokil will be sprouting overnight (also in Metro Manila, I hope) because the acronym is becoming a byword, thanks to the man of the moment.

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President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s intent to issue shoot-to-kill orders on lawless elements and his take-no-prisoners stance should cause fear and trembling among those concerned, but his words are also worrisome for human rights advocates. Already, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has made its stand against the return of the death penalty which Duterte plans to revive. And Duterte called CHR Chair Chito Gascon “an idiot.”

Those who are tired of heinous crimes and drug-related offenses welcome Duterte’s threats; others consider them harmless bluff and bluster or inflated talk. But will he, can he, on the national level? How far will he go and what if he crosses the line, as his alleged Davao Death Squad did?

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Defeated presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay’s campaign line that he would make the Philippines like Makati City where his family ruled (he, his wife, son, and, now, daughter) did not work and he ended up fourth in the tally.  And so Duterte’s promise to rid the streets of criminality in a few months, Davao-style, will have to be proven. He now fancies calling himself the “Mayor of the Philippines,” which is more than what the president of this country should be.

Already, the cities of Taguig, Mandaluyong and Quezon City have been putting teeth into their respective ordinances that prohibit unaccompanied minors from being out in the streets at certain hours, and for their parents to be answerable for their children’s actions by paying fines or doing community service. Only now do we know about these ordinances being implemented, although local execs are saying that they had been doing the rounds and picking up juveniles while also admitting that Duterte’s national curfew for minors would boost their efforts. Time to make pasikat and put back their dentures.

But sutokil gastronomic delights aside and speaking of real shootings and killings, something the incoming President said at one of his nocturnal briefings in Davao City, sent shivers down my spine. Asked to comment on the killing of journalists, he said journalists are not exempted from assassination. Did he mean it is always open season? And to say that these journalists—did he, at least, say “only some”?—were corrupt was the reason for their being targeted is to demean the memory of those who died in the line of duty, who died not because they were corrupt but because they were, in fact, hounding the corrupt. They knew where the stink was. A reporter I know who had exposed massive corruption that involved government officials is now lying low because of security threats.

There are corrupt people in the media as there are corrupt people everywhere—the government bureaucracy, the corporate world, the churches, the nongovernment organizations, the banking system. The last one recently gave us a shocking glimpse of a cross-country money-laundering operation the likes of which we have not seen before.

To be fair to outgoing President Aquino who reminded repeatedly, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” his call to arms emboldened investigative journalists to dig deeper. But, alas, spade work is still hampered by the nonpassage of the freedom of information bill. But despite this, who blew the lid on the earth-shaking, jaw-dropping massive corruption that involved even senators and their accomplices (several are now in jail and on the run) who allegedly connived with an enterprising operator, if not investigative journalists? I am proud to say that the exposé first saw print in the Inquirer, and with more spade work without letup, the whole operation unraveled. But we have yet to see the last of this.

Those who gave Duterte the majority vote were no doubt enticed by his strong sound bytes peppered with words like “shoot to kill,” “extermination,” and “death by hanging” (he even described how quick it could be, with the spine getting severed and all that). His fans equate this with strong, decisive leadership, with, uh, being presidential.

Archie Brown, political scientist and historian, author of “The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age,” eschews worshipping the false god of the strong leader. He writes: “Politicians spend a lot of time trying to portray the leader they oppose as weak. They believe this resonates with a broader public.” He warns about leaders who “fall prey to arrogance” while “the rest of us… undervalue collegial and collective decision-making… Whether we are talking about authoritarian regimes or democracies, the idea that the most admirable and successful leader is one who maximizes his or her individual power is deeply suspect.” He goes on to cite lessons from history.

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Send feedback to cerespd@gmail.com or www.ceresdoyo.com.

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TAGS: Chito Gascon, Commission on Human Rights, death penalty, food, human rights, Rodrigo Duterte, shoot to kill, sutokil, Visayas
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