I HAD TO BACK OFF from politics over the holidays, if only to muster sufficient cheer to remind me that Yuletide is about life and hope and light. It almost worked. I was almost carefree. My vacation from the daily death toll did me good. I wish I didn’t have to return to reality. I’m sure many of you understand.
I’ve had enough of blood and corpses, enough of death threats and intimidation, enough of imprecations and execrations – enough! I no longer feel the need to dissect every foul move or motive of the president. He has proven himself beyond comprehension. He plays by his own rules and he expects the whole nation to kowtow, or at the very least, to condone his eccentricities. After all, he “loves the Philippines” and by golly, take him or leave him or be damned! (*supply a litany of curses here*)
The Romans taught us that civilization is built on law, and that the noble virtues and lofty ideals we collectively cherish are the basis of those laws; these are what ultimately civilize us. But where are those ideals today, and can we consider our current society still civilized…or have we fallen to the feral state where survival is by tooth and claw, where might is right and only the strong flourish?
Are ideals now merely a vestige of a genteel past that has given way to harsh cynicism and exigency? What does the law matter if, for their war on drugs, the chief enforcers are willing to circumvent it – and justify that circumvention – with the encouragement of the chief executive? If the secretary of justice lacks aptitude in the penal code and the bill of rights? If a clutch of Supreme Court justices cannot be trusted to interpret it objectively? If its executors consider themselves immune to its sanctions?
A few weeks ago we stopped by our local PNP headquarters on business. There was one empty parking slot and we gratefully occupied it. There were no signs telling us we couldn’t. Errand done, we returned to our car only to find it blocked by a BJMP mobile. Another one blocked the car beside us. I went to the PNP desk officer to ask for assistance. He was very helpful. He informed me that they had nothing to do with it and pointed me to the BJMP unit at the basement. I thanked him anyway (you have to be polite in a PNP HQ) and arrived there to find the driver of the car beside us, apparently with the same purpose. We were told that the mobile officer would follow, so we returned to our vehicles. When the BJMP officer came, he was rude, sullen, and supercilious. He crossly told my husband that we had occupied the BJMP parking slot (though there was no sign). And I suppose, to penalize us, he blocked our car. My husband and I looked at each other over raised eyebrows and apologized (tongue in cheek) for the inconvenience we had caused as the driver resentfully got into the mobile and let us go. This is a wee and innocuous yet still disgusting example of how certain law enforcers today interpret their oath to “protect and serve.”
By reporting this I am in no way dismissing the many improvements already effected by the Duterte administration. Yes, I have heard the stories of how the long lines at government agencies have disappeared, how fixers no longer pepper the hallways, how ordinary citizens now get their government documents in minutes and without grease money to boot. For all this I congratulate and applaud the respective department heads and support the government’s efforts to standardize these experiences nationwide.
Yet having said that, these changes are only what the people deserve. I realize it was not easy to make them happen; I am merely pointing out that we have sunk very low indeed if the government’s efficient delivery of basic services overwhelms us with gratitude. We have to set the bar high and maintain ideals; if not, how can we ever aspire?
I support the war on drugs but I do not endorse the excesses and abuses taken to wage it; in fact, I vigorously oppose them. Why? Simply because while a campaign against drug abuse is right, using intimidation and lies and criminal violence to make it succeed is wrong. Very clear. I am afraid that the demarcation between wrong and right is being gradually eroded by the consistent fudging of the president, his mouthpieces, and the trolls. Yet fantastically, it is they who irritatingly default to dichotomous thinking whenever convenient (“If you oppose the EJKs, then you are an addict!”, “If you do not support President Duterte, then you are a traitor!”, ad infinitum. And we should include the ever-handy deflection, “Joke only!”) We must be careful. These master manipulators may well doubletalk us all into national schizophrenia if we do not beware. Enough.
And then there is the unconscionable, deliberate, increasingly beastly treatment of vice president Leni Robredo. I’m sure you folks have read what Martin Andanar said about her recent snubbing at the Vin d’Honneur:
“Ang sa amin lang naman dito, prerogative ng Pangulo. It’s his house. Homeowner. Kung hindi mo naman kasundo ang in-invite, why would you invite? Sabi ko nga sa interview, awkward. Awkward di ba?“
“It’s his house. Homeowner”??? By what mechanism was the ownership of Malacañang Palace granted to Rodrigo Duterte – divine right? He is merely a tenant who, in my view, sullies the stately halls with his vulgarity and pettiness. He is there, unfortunately, by leave of 16.6 million Filipinos; however his ascendancy by democratic fiat in no way vested him with royalty, much less, nobility. He doesn’t own the Palace, Sunshine. We do.
So, enough. Enough of gaslighting, of lies disguised as euphemisms, of personal vendettas implemented with executive force. Enough. Too many people have died, too many families have been lacerated, and too many children orphaned in this war on drugs that is not even supported by accurate data. I think about those fatherless children and what their future will become. Have they at their raw age been sucked into a vortex from which there is no emerging? What is being done for the families left behind? Oh yes. Bato dela Rosa gave them toys last Christmas.
During the campaign, Duterte made a vow that if he couldn’t win his war on drugs in 3 to 6 months, he would resign. It is past the deadline, and no success is reported. Mr. Duterte, if you truly love the Philippines, then the most honorable thing you can do for your country now is to resign. I ask it, and I know many others do as well. Restore our faith in your good will and in your integrity as a Filipino and as a maverick politician. There is a Power greater than all of us to whom we shall be accountable one day. Have the humility and decency to understand that He demands justice and shall mete it out to the oppressed and oppressor alike. So please resign, sir. Do it for your sake, but do it primarily for the nation – for we the people have truly had enough.
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known… Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
– Matthew 10:26, 28