Setting aside the imperatives of a historic peak in pandemic infections, Rodrigo Duterte attempted to clarify where billions under his watch had gone. But his intentions were far from explanatory. Politicking remained as his theme as he hurled invectives, attacked, and pointed to past procurement practices.
When the president’s weekly televised report to the nation debuted as the COVID-19 pandemic was still establishing a beachhead on our shores, it was compelled by the exigencies of a deadly microbe that had altered our lives so drastically we had to leave our fate in government’s hands.
If Duterte’s 91% approval ratings are to be believed, such surrender made sense. By taking the statistics further, the same numbers should indicate confidence levels had he our welfare in mind. We should then be able to use the words "approval’’, "satisfaction’’, "confidence’’, and "trust’’ along with the phrase "competent pandemic management’’.
The expectations that precede the presidential report bear complex demands. The objective was not merely to report, but critical to a seriously anxious public, it needed to identify specific solutions and pro-active mitigating measures the public could initiate on their own. The paradox of true leadership is the empowerment of those led. That is vital to democratic constituencies stigmatized by feelings of vulnerability, helplessness, and impotence.
Note the profound difference between the attitude today against that instance when, under Benigno Aquino III, employing four eloquently crafted words, "Kayo ang boss ko!’’, Noynoy empowered, inspired, and lifted a constituency long cursed in a state of dependence if not servility.
So important were Duterte’s Monday afternoon COVID reports that when they were subsequently shoved deeper into the witching hours, people would still stay up in anticipation. Unfortunately, both in form and substance, his report quickly headed south as it deteriorated into incoherent rambling, cursing and the senseless soliloquies of the silly, shameless, and short-sighted.
Today, no one really sits through the ungodly hours wasted on slurred rants and tasteless narratives -- a drama de noche that ranges from graphic depictions of a leader’s digestive functions to alternative versions of the truth and livid ad hominem attacks on decent people.
He creates so much confusion, contradictions, and reversals it seems we have been vexed and vaulted to the Tower of Babel. Miscommunication has turned into misinformation, then disinformation, eventually worsening into deceit and deception with consequences verging on fatal.
Praying what appears as dead remains dead, allow an autopsy on the cloying carcass of presidential pronouncements.
Bannering patriotism, Duterte boasted raising our flag within our exclusive economic zones. Then he spends his term compromising patrimony and defending foreign intrusions and hostile hegemony.
While campaigning, he projected the image of an efficient administrator. And then he virtually militarizes the bureaucracy with a kennel of the inexperienced and unqualified.
Duterte is a self-styled populist but analyze his populism. Highest unemployment levels, hunger incidences, and poverty indices. When the public attempted to cope with neighborhood community pantries, these were summarily tagged as terrorist recruitment hubs.
Where truth might lie, in his report, effectively greenlighting malversation, Duterte denigrated the Commission on Audit by instructing it to “reconfigure” its findings.
Unfortunately, our pushbacks have been pale, and pathetic. Critical thinking has been cauterized. No one debates Duterte’s approval ratings anymore. Few now contest the weekly extra-judicial killings and police brutality.
Lately, his witching hour reports have been pre-taped. That is ominous. The winter solstice may soon be upon us as darkness intrudes upon the dawn.
Meanwhile, surrendering to the systematic suppression of the truth, many simply toss these reports to the open sewer where they belong.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.