I’M TRYING MY best, really I am, to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m attempting fairness, you see. Perhaps Dutertenomics will work and jobs will be created. Perhaps his two-pronged China policy will disarm that bully and maybe, one day, he’ll lay claim to the Spratlys. His plan to build a subway might even be viable despite the west valley fault – after all Japan’s rails are great, and it’s smack in the ring of fire. One can dream.*
I just can’t get past the killings, which haven’t stopped, no matter how officials define them. All I know is that daily I read of folks who were once alive and now are not. While the killings aren’t all drug-related, many are, and it’s naïve to unlink them from Duterte’s vaunted war. What is a war without deaths? It’s ridiculous to deny it. The presidential diatribes against drug users/pushers and his adjunct “incentives” for the PNP have seared my brain. There are things I can’t unhear, images I can’t unsee. They are evidence enough. The connection is incontrovertible.
Let’s not call them EJKs (to please Cayetano, who nitpicks about nomenclature). Let’s call them summary killings, which they are. Let’s keep track of the dead, and find out how they died; let’s learn their names. Here’s one:
Heart’s death is classified a “death under investigation,” despite the testimony of the family and other eyewitnesses that it was the cops who did the deed. Therefore, it is one death that Cayetano can officially dispute and, perhaps, dismiss as unrelated to the war on drugs. The Navotas police chief concluded this case “will remain unsolved.” Rappler’s latest figures inform us that there are currently 3,603 such cases in the books (the PNP count has it at 3,271). Meanwhile, their families grieve and wonder who will pay for their pain. As Heart’s mother says, “Sino’ng kakasuhan ko, ma’am? Si Duterte?”
China and DU30
I also can’t overlook it that he welcomed Chinese warships to Davao, mainly because he’s president and he felt like it. The visit came a day after he issued a diluted ASEAN statement on China’s adventurism in the disputed areas, on the rationale that “the Philippines and other nations are helpless to stop the island-building, so there is no point challenging China in diplomatic and legal circles.”
It is illustrative of his milquetoast stance that he saluted the People’s Liberation Army navy troops wearing one of their caps and a DU30 shirt with merely a small Philippine flag patched on its sleeve. That the DU30 emblem was bigger than the flag speaks loudly. Subsequently, he made sounds about allowing the Chinese navy to hold war games with us in the Sulu Sea. He had to be subtly reminded by SND Lorenzana that a treaty is needed to validate such joint exercises. Duterte must have forgotten that he is a president and not a king and that he cannot make those decisions unilaterally.
I am deeply offended that the chief executive who is tasked with the defense of our national sovereignty so readily kowtows to China on matters where we already had leverage. I expected him to press our advantage, instead, he slunk back and played it safe. He brazenly continues to justify himself saying that honey traps the fly. Really now. Surely, skilled diplomats can assert our rights without necessarily embroiling us in conflict. How ironic that Duterte is so eager to wage war against his own people but is terribly squeamish to champion them.
Utang na Loob
Furthermore, I cannot accept his penchant for appointing individuals on the basis of utang na loob instead of their professional aptitude. His designation of Mocha Uson as PCOO Asec. bewildered many; indeed, jaws are still hanging as I write this, including mine. Her creative imagination is notorious for prolifically producing alternative facts which she maliciously feeds her DDS fanbase. Social media erupted with incredulous critiques after hearing the news. To this, Duterte replied, “Inggit lang iyan. Inggit iyan sila na ikaw dumating doon. Sabi ko, ‘Ako, I decided to employ her.’ Sana sinabi ko, ‘May utang na loob ako? What’s wrong in paying?’ Tutal ako naman ang may-ari ng Malacañang ngayon.”
No, Duts, you do not own Malacañang; you never bought it; it is not for sale. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your policies have only caused the death of my countrymen and the mitigation of our global stature. You have compromised our dignity and jeopardized our economy. You continue to create division among us and to perpetuate the flaws you promised to change. You not only practice but celebrate patronage politics, and treat the power that was reposed in you by your electors as largesse to dispense at pleasure. You are not a king. You are merely a tenant – our tenant – and we can evict you for breach of contract at our sovereign will.
For the sake of national unity, I was hoping to find something about you I could support. Yet in light of the deaths and your several contretemps, none of them minor, I will continue to back the efforts to hold you culpable. There can be no justice in this country without accountability, sir; and without justice, my poor motherland will continue keening for peace.
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come on them. – Proverbs 24:24-25
*DoTr Sec. Arthur Tugade was asked by a reporter whether the subway project might not be “too ambitious.” He replied, “Even the Creation was too ambitious, but we have to have ambition in order to change our surroundings.” (See http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/stateofthenation/412117/sec-tugade-inanunsyo-ang-posibilidad-ng-settlement-sa-napurnadang-northrail-project/video/#small from 1:56 to 2:08.)