“The 16 million Filipinos who voted for Duterte as president in 2016 made a colossal blunder as he has led this country to the dark depths of authoritarian misrule.”
No, we’re not talking about a vehicle that miraculously takes you 100 kilometers on a liter of fuel. Or your meager cash stash allowing you to purchase luxury goods at bargain basement prices.
We’re talking about those who think they’re God’s gift to the Philippine political system, especially now that it’s election season once again.
We’re seeing it in full throttle: candidates who aspire for top positions in government with little more than self-delusion, bravado and an overweening sense of entitlement rather than solid achievement, proven competence and unsullied integrity.
By now, we should be wary of people who have managed to reach the pinnacle of public office with empty promises, bombastic speeches and song-and-dance routines.
Once elected or appointed to public office, they promptly help themselves to taxpayers’ money, whether through pork barrel or the gargantuan budgets of various government agencies, even if they already receive scandalously high salaries and benefits compared to the minimum wage earners in this country. No wonder the rich get poorer and the poor do not just get poorer but also die sooner from hunger and disease.
Non-performing public officials spend most of their time staring at the ceiling and walls, counting exactly how many lizards crawl on the walls and the ceiling because they have little inclination nor the capacity for intelligent and spirited debate on the issues of the day.
Or, they resort to name-calling when someone calls them out for their irresponsible statements. The most egregious examples of these come from show business, but they can also come from other government agencies and local government units.
Then there’s also unmitigated hubris on the part of a certain politician now running for higher position who recently castigated a witness in a recent congressional hearing for expressing doubt over a recent stand of the House on an issue. What did he tell her? “How dare you question the wisdom of Congress!” Last we looked, wisdom, let alone infallibility, has never been the strongest suit of our lawmakers.
The framers of the 1987 Constitution, aware of the steady rise of political families particularly during the martial law regime, wisely decided to prohibit political dynasties “to guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service” but left it to lawmakers to pass an enabling law. That was a fatal mistake on their part, since giving Congress the power to decide if members want to stay in office for generations on end or not should have been a no-brainer.
As things now stand, different versions of the anti-political dynasty bill filed by well-meaning legislators have ended up in the trash can because the very same politicians who should have been voted out of office a long time ago or their successors are the ones moving heaven and earth to ensure that they remain in power for as long as they can.
But the most glaring example of a politician who has gone so far on so little is our sitting president. He ruled Davao City as its mayor for more than 20 years before running for the highest national executive position in 2016 on a platform that promised to end the drug menace and corruption in six months. Now with less than a year to go in his presidency, Rodrigo Duterte has neither ended the drug menace nor the scourge of massive corruption. It has only left a bloody trail of more than 8,000 suspected drug users/traffickers killed by police — because they allegedly fought back.
He has even publicly defended those accused of corruption, as the Pharmally scandal now being investigated by the Senate starkly demonstrates. He vowed to defend the Constitution when he took his oath of office in 2016, but stomped on it with heavy jackboots right after his inauguration.
Not only has Duterte not fulfilled his campaign promises, he does not want to leave public office even if the Constitution disallows his re-election. No problem, he says, he could always run for vice president, as he has said on more than one occasion. But as the recent political circus involving the substitution of candidates has shown, he really does not want to be out of power. For one thing, he fears that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would finally investigate him for crimes against humanity for his bloody war on drugs from 2016 to 2019.
Now, Duterte is saying he will run for senator because he wants to change the way the Senate conducts investigations in aid of legislation after the Blue Ribbon Committee unearthed irregularities in the procurement of supplies, such as face masks, test kits and personal protective equipment from an undercapitalized firm backed by a Chinese national he had once appointed as an economic adviser.
The 16 million Filipinos who voted for Duterte as president in 2016 made a colossal blunder as he has led this country to the dark depths of authoritarian misrule. Now he wants to inflict even more damage to Philippine democracy with his senatorial bid in May 2022.
How can we trust this vindictive and foul-mouthed leader when he does not even want to make public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN as required by the Constitution of all public officials from the highest to the lowest?