To die for
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 (The Philippine Star) - May 1, 2016 - 10:00am

He is a self-confessed womanizer. He is also someone who has publicly admitted to killing criminals and even bragging about them without remorse. A tactless motor mouth who pokes funny but demeaning remarks at women and at the weak. And one with a penchant to blurting out expletives at every chance he gets even with a self-imposed fines for every cuss he makes.

And it seems that no amount of criticisms for this unusual, and often resentful behavior could turn off people who have blindly support him no matter how crass he can make himself.

But a downright liar and thief which he himself vows with passion he will never become and promises to rid the government of when he becomes president? That, the Filipinos can never forgive.

Many have expressed alarm over the P200 million that PDP-Laban presidential standard bearer Rodrigo Duterte has supposedly stashed in a bank but which he did not disclose in his statement of assets, liabilities and net (SALN) for 2014 as Davao City Mayor.

And that Duterte continues to refuse to sign a waiver to open his accounts at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, (BPI) despite an earlier challenge to rivals to do so, is something that the Filipino voter will remember come May 9.

Hypocrisy is something that Filipinos flatly reject.
To project yourself to being a certain person when you’re absolutely not, when you’re absolutely the opposite is what we call “plastic” in street language.

Duterte may have actually skirted serious accusations that he claimed to be poor. But the revelation that he is actually a present-day millionaire who has hundreds of million pesos in the bank is an allegation Duterte should not just shrug off flippantly.

For over 20 years, he has been Mayor of Davao City, which definitely does not have a salary commensurate to his alleged money in banks.

“Worse, with so much unexplained wealth, people are now wont to think that Duterte was able to amass so much money from illegal activities which he swore to rid Davao City of.

Did he enrich himself from the illegal activities he claimed he had stopped is now among the possible explanation for his P200-million bank account?” This was asked by Senator Trillanes IV in his allegation on the unexplained wealth of Duterte.

Duterte must immediately execute genuine waiver to open his bank accounts and stop making excuses that he just wants to spite Trillanes, who is running as independent vice presidential candidate. Unfazed by Duterte’s usual braggadocio, the equally loose cannon like Trillanes who divulged the Duterte’s alleged millions of pesos, if not dollar accounts, stashed wealth, is not backing a bit to a good fight with the gun-toting Mayor.

It’s now time for Duterte to man up and face these accusations squarely. After all, that’s the kind of street justice he also demands.

Both candidates should stop name-calling like traditional politicians do to skirt issues. The two should face each other like gentlemen even if they are only engaged in word war.

Trillanes dared Duterte to see each other today, Monday at the BPI branch at Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City. Because he is in Davao, the Mayor instead is sending one of his legal counsels, Salvador Panelo to meet with Trillanes to examine the questioned bank accounts.

Initially denying the allegations of Trillanes, Duterte subsequently changed tunes, saying he has less than the amounts being mentioned. Asked why he did not include in his 2014 SALN the reported bank deposits, he reportedly replied: “I already spent it.”

Such information is required in the SALN reporting under the heading: “Cash on banks.” All government officials and employees are required to submit SALN every year before deadline falls every 30th of April.

We have seen many top government officials fall in our time because of this failure or omissions in their SALNs.

For the same offense of alleged failure to include certain personal assets in his annual SALN, former Supreme Court (SC) chief justice Renato Corona was ousted from office before the mandatory retirement of 70 years old. For his SALN omission, Corona fell ignominiously as the country’s first magistrate removed through impeachment by the Senate.

Sadly for Corona, he passed away last Friday without being able to clear his name and honor in a graft and unexplained wealth charges filed against him before the Sandiganbayan. The erstwhile Chief Justice succumbed to cardiac arrest at age 67 years old. And his troubles all stemmed from the alleged omission of vital information required by SALN.

Despite demonizing campaign launched to oust him, Corona stuck to his strong belief on Constitution and laws. He respected the impeachment proceedings even if he knew very well it was much a political process being made to bear upon him.

What I admired about Corona most was his patriotism but quiet ways to show his love for our country, even to die in defense of the Republic he sworn to protect. This I personally saw while he was the first executive secretary of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

When Malacañang came under attack by supporters of ousted President Joseph Estrada in May, 2001, Corona was among the few officials who stayed on at the Palace to protect the seat of government. He was manning the Palace gate when I saw him with a handgun tucked on his waist. This was after the Presidential Security Group locked down Malacañang following the so-called EDSA-3 revolt.

It was a few months after Mrs. Arroyo was installed into office after EDSA-2 in January, 2001. Corona told me then he had license for the gun and was ready not only to use it but also to die, if a situation arises to defend the duly constituted government.

No SALN omission, however, can erase my high esteem of Corona. Duterte, who is also a lawyer, should draw lesson from Corona’s sad fate.

Duterte earlier expressed also his readiness to die for the country as a “hero” defending our claims of West Philippine Sea.

But if he wins the presidency, Duterte threatens to shut down Congress if only to stop Trillanes from initiating impeachment against him. At this stage, the possible win of the front-running presidential candidate is ominously in the air.


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