Healthy and back to work
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Once again the public has been speculating about the health of President Rodrigo Duterte. On the heels of the heart attack rumor (which was quelled) came more wild speculations that the president is on his deathbed back in Davao City and that is why no one saw him again for several days a while back. However, the internet is always rife with rumors and it should be a general rule of thumb that we take everything that we read online with a grain of salt. After all, it’s easy to fan the flames of false news and exceptionally hard to extinguish them.

This illness rumors have once again proven to be false as the president was well enough for his recent trip to Tokyo, Japan where he was able to secure several Japanese business investments for his Build, Build, Build infrastructure projects and more. Hopefully with this new influx of support we can begin to see the fruits of these projects and utilize them. After all – we are well into the president’s term now and we have yet to really see these new infrastructure projects he has been working so hard on. It would benefit the country greatly to be able to see improvements in, at the very least, transportation infrastructure.

In either case, I think it’s about time people stop speculating on the president’s health. This is the umpteenth time illness rumors have surfaced and the umpteenth time they have been squashed. I’m sure there are more important things for all of us to focus on then whether or not the president has a migraine. Sure it seems fair for the public to wonder about their president when he hasn’t been seen in a few days but we also have to remember that this particular president commutes back and forth from Manila to Mindanao to engagements overseas quite a bit and it’s possible he is once again indisposed due to numerous travels.

Which is a far cry from saying the president is in the pink of health. He was the first to admit that he suffers from migraines and gets sick on occasion and needs to rest. But, he also clarified that he is not so sick as to impair his judgment or his ability to do his job. He is, most likely, just suffering from the same type of sicknesses we all are – stress, headaches from deadlines, worrying, and the like. We sometimes take sick leaves from work as well but it doesn’t mean we’re on death’s door. Nothing to be concerned about. In the end we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. 

At the end of the day we shouldn’t be looking for reasons or potential excuses for the president to not finish his term. We should just hope he works on fulfilling his promises, creating new opportunities and infrastructure like he promised and stepping down once his term is officially over.

* * *

President Duterte has approved the request of the Presidential Commission of Good Government (PCGG) to sell roughly P700 million worth of jewelry that formed part of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family. The president has further promised that the people will be the ones to benefit from the sale as this has been the pressing issue over all the money allegedly stolen during the Marcos era – that it was stolen from the people and should, therefore, be returned to the people as well.

This particular collection, the Hawaii collection, is one of three jewelry treasure troves of Marcos’ widow Imelda Marcos. Currently at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, it has been valued at over P700 million which is a good start. According to the Palace, they also plan on auctioning some of the Marcos property valued at over P300 million and some stocks totaling over P40 million. The total value of the alleged ill-gotten wealth is roughly over P1 billion – money that should be funneled directly to the benefit of the people.

Graft and corruption has been a serious issue in the Philippines. Whether it be the supposed ill-gotten wealth from the Martial Law era or the millions stolen and squandered during the pork barrel scandal – these are funds that should have and could have elevated the lives of Filipinos and were, instead, used to pad the pockets of those who are already rich. We often wonder why the divide between the rich and poor in the country is so wide and this is one of the reasons. Those who have want more and those who don’t have anything – get nothing.

This is something that has to change if we really want change for the Philippines. This auction is a good first step and hopefully others who have stolen from the coffers of the country are made to pay back what they owe as well. Excuses should not be accepted. Hopefully we are able to audit the sale and account for the money properly. This is the only way to ensure that it will be used for the benefit of the people and not just moved around only to end up in some other rich politician’s bank account.

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