We care, Mr. President. Even if you don’t!
Idi Amin is best described as the beastly, brutal, “murderous and erratic” deposed and dead President of Uganda. The whole world knows of Idi Amin, that his rule was characterized by gory “human rights abuses…and….extrajudicial killings,” among blood curdling negatives.
Whether we like it or not, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte is now the President of the Philippines. Do we not all wish him the best of governance and all the successes the country deserves and needs?
But of course, we do.
By constitutional mandate, his 39.01% plurality has emphatically declared that it is also the President’s irreducibly bounden duty and responsibility to lead us and represent us, Filipinos, at home and in the world stage. Rodrigo R. Duterte, whether he realizes it or not that as our President, is the face of the Nation. He is the face of the Filipino. He is our face! Proud Filipinos that we are. We want to be proud of our President. It is our fervent desire to remain and be nurtured as proud Filipinos.
But Mr. Duterte has made the citizen’s task more burdensome and difficult. On the third Monday of his Presidency, he created the day’s top stories that shattered my sense of civic equanimity! What about you? Let me share my disappointment.
What a crestfalling greeting to begin the week with. We were accosted by news that our President just does not care! Uncaring of the discomfiture, disrepute and ignominy through which he is dragging the country by his demeanor and pronouncements. It is an embarrassment he has numbly heaped upon the great majority of Filipinos who wish him nothing but glory and success, pro patria, despite not having voted for him.
It could be a people’s misfortune if indeed, blinded by untrammeled ego, Mr. Duterte simply does not get it! There are burgeoning tell-tale signs that he misinterprets what the Presidency in a democracy is all about. And the plurality that granted him electoral victory, an unrestricted, unrestrained license to behave, willy-nilly, with insensitivity towards those who wish to care for his Presidency, if only he would deliver on his promise of reconstructed civility via self-metamorphosis!
'I DON'T CARE'
“I don’t care being likened to Idi Amin,” he declared without any prompting and in his full volition. “I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin.” Remarks all delivered in emphatic reiteration of his avowed intention “to end the country’s problems on criminality and illegal drugs,” justifying “the killing of suspected drug personalities.”
And for good measure, he announces that he will grant pardons to the police who are “indicted over the rampant killings of drug dependents.” Imperiously, the President boasted. “I am the only one who can do it"..."and nobody else.”
And from the same bully pulpit in Malacanang, he proudly declared that he will not honor the historic “Paris Agreement” on climate change to which the Philippines, among more than 170 other countries, is a valued signatory.
Cockily, he even called the international covenant stupid and absurd. “That’s stupid. I will not honor that.” “That’s not my signature.” Yet barely two weeks earlier, on his inauguration, he pledged to honor all of the country’s international commitments and treaties!
FLIPFLOPPING AND MORE
There must be some folks from the serious and credible quarters of Philippine journalism that, by now, must be tracking and recording the lengthening litany of Presidential flip-flops and flimflammeries. I speak of campaign stump promises he now realizes he cannot deliver.
Doubling policemen’s salaries and appointments to positions for which there are mandated legal procedures, even Presidents must observe. And appointments to non-vacant government positions with tenured incumbent occupants.
There, too, are the unrestrained and continuing vicious social media attacks that he spawned and tolerates. Witness the mean spirited, hateful disinformation heaped upon Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Leila de Lima, all proven to be false and thrashy. And just as I was readying my hosannas over the President’s motorcycle ride into Muntinlupa, the event was unmasked as another hoax. (Yet, I continue to remain ready to sing praises to our President!)
From these chicaneries, scripted and glibly winged or even unintended faux pas, it is possible to glean a forthcoming loss of credibility, potentially laying to waste the stellar public trust rating the President still enjoys. Too early in the game, yes. Still unblemished by a public’s familiarity with the man’s yet undiscovered foibles and frailties. Yes, again.
But we are getting there, are we not? Beware, the law of political gravity will inevitably apply! What is up has to come down! How soon or how ably delayed that reckoning is is a performance worth queuing up for.
JUXTAPOSED AND FLUMMOXED
When all such are juxtaposed against Mr. Duterte’s available and unrefuted psychiatric profile, one is led to conclude that when he, perhaps mistakenly during the campaign’s exuberance, admitted that he was “bi-polar,” his remarks were not really just uttered in mere jest. Was he, otherwise, unloading himself of an inconvenient truth?
The conclusions of Dr. Natividad Nayan, the attending psychiatrist, (which are part of the judicial records of Mayor Duterte’s and his then wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s marriage annulment proceedings) present us with relevant and critical information.
Presidential candidate Jojo Binay used these as campaign fodder, even suggesting that candidate Duterte “seek immediate psychiatric help.” After all, the following phrases are contained in that clinical document: “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness”…….”grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behavior” ….”persuasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their human rights.”….”lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.” “Anti-social, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”
Will we be witnesses to the unravelling of a sociopath? We hope not. It is not the people’s responsibility to right and steady an unkeeled Presidential ship. Ours is but to suffer the consequences!
THE PRESIDENT'S HEALTH AND FOI
As we speak, a Freedom of Information (FOI) presidential issuance by way of an Executive Order (short circuiting the legislative process) is hanging fire. With bated breath, we await its now delayed release. Never mind that it was promised as a “day one” wonder! It now seems to be going through a “ping-pong” process among those tasked to produce the document. Another flip flop, perhaps?
Will the President’s FOI recognize the people’s right to know the status of his physical and financial health?
We know of his "Buerger’s disease” and “Barret’s esophagus,” ailments which he himself admitted to be afflicting him. What might the latest medical prognosis be? Or, will he even allow the question to be posed?
And, of course, the multiple Bank of the Philippine islands accounts. Will we ever see the trail of all transactions (deposits and withdrawals) from the dates of account inception to the time when these were uncovered and exposed?