Exasperated on corruption, Duterte opts to ‘coast along’
AT GROUND LEVEL - Satur C. Ocampo (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2019 - 12:00am

“Nagsawa na ako. Nasusuka na ako,” President Duterte complained in one Cabinet meeting, expressing exasperation over corruption and red tape, while beleaguered with myriad other problems. “And yet, you just cannot abandon the office,” he told newly named government officials last Tuesday, “so I coasted along hanggang ngayon.”            

In three public speeches before different audiences this month – on Sept. 7, 12, and 17 – Duterte, in his broken Tagalog, unburdened what he said was in his heart and in his mind.

“I will just use … Tagalog para mailabas ko rin ano ang nasa puso ko. At para kung gusto ninyong basahin ang utak ko – you can be predictable [sic] kung ano ang lalabas,” he told his mostly Bangsamoro audience at the second demobilization of MILF-BIAF combatants in Maguindanao last Septe. 7.

(The demobilization was part of the “normalization” process in establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), via the Bangsamoro Organic Law enacted by Congress following a peace agreement in 2014 between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.) 

When his family came to Mindanao in 1948, Duterte narrated, much of the region was wetland wilderness including Davao. He noted that there were many white foreigners – “mga puti, who were enjoying the fat of the land.” “Sila yung binigyan ng mga lupa at tayong nandito nakatingin lang,” he said. “Kami pumunta dito para rin sana mabigyan ng konting blessing ni Allah at makapagtayo ng bagong buhay,” he added.

He traced back that situation to the fact that Spanish colonizers had come to the country and subjugated our people for almost 300 years, taking over their lands. Crediting his mother as “one of the earliest guys to talk about the historical injustice,” he proudly claimed, “I was the one who propagated that kind of narrative” and wished that Allah could give him a chance to do something about the historical injustice.

“So ito ngayon [the chance to do something],” Duterte told the Bangsamoro combatants. “Do not be sad na ang armas ninyo binigay sa gobyerno. Kasi kayo gobyerno na. Eh kung kailangan ninyo talaga ng armas para idepensa ninyo ang gobyerno dito sa BARMM, walang problem. Bibigyan ko kayo ng mas bago,” he assured them.

“Habang ako ang President,” he further assured them, “makukuha ninyo what was promised to you – health, financial, we will do it. Alam ko wala kayong pera, nagtatayo pa lang ng state. Bago pa ito, give it a chance to grow. We promised to help you, so do your best.”

On Sept. 12, Duterte spoke at the inauguration of the Bataan Government Center and business hub called “The Bunker”. After congratulating the province’s officials and businessmen, he shifted to his Tagalog and talked lengthily about corruption, red tape, illegal drugs, and other subjects.

“I’d like to address myself to the Filipino people,” he said. “Gusto ninyong mahinto ang corruption? O ito: tanggalin natin ang neto at pupunta tayo sa gross [income] sa BIR. Pag yan ang isinunod natin, kagaya ng Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei and the rest, you would have removed about 70 percent of the corruption…”

We must have law and order and there must be no corruption, Duterte averred. “Ako, wala akong patawad,” he stressed, referring to his summary dismissal of the chairman of the Pasig River Commission. “Sinabi ko, ‘Umalis ka na. Hindi na lang kita hiyain kung anong kasalanan mo. Umalis ka kaagad bago kita patayin.”

He recalled instances of corruption that he instantly confronted and acted on. First was the approval by the board of trustees of the Nayong Pilipino, whom he had appointed, of a contract to set up a casino inside the Nayong Pilipino. “So nagalit ako.”

Then he narrated that, upon arrival at an AFP-PNP command conference, he was shown a document on a “ghost-delivery” scam of medicines for the AFP hospital. “Talagang pumutok ako,” he said and recalled telling the armed services top brass: “Kung pati kayo nandyan [sa scam], walang pagasa itong bayan na ito. You don’t deserve me and I don’t deserve you.” If they wanted a new president, he said he told them, “Titindig ako at aalis ako at magkuha ng tiket, yung last flight sa Davao, mag-uwi ako doon. Bahala na kayo sa buhay ninyo.”

And in a Cabinet meeting, Duterte said he “got pissed off” over a presentation showing a list of steps for getting clearances from certain government agencies that filled up almost three pages. He ordered the procedures simplified, then addressing the Filipino people, he recalled he had advised: “Pag magbayad kayo sa tax ninyo o fees, clearances whatever, at humingi itong mga gago na ito, sampalin mo. Kung may baril ka, pwede barilin mo, huwag mo lang patayin, sa paa lang, serious physical injuries lang yon. Probation ka… and I will defend you.”

At the Sept. 17 oath-taking of newly appointed government officials in Malacanang, Duterte reprised his accounts of these instances that made him furious. At the Cabinet meeting incident, he recalled his outburst: “I’m so exasperated. Lumabas ako, sabi ko, ‘P…… i.. kayo, inyo na yang gobyerno na ito. Nagsawa na ako. Nasusuka na ako.”

However, he told the new officials of his resolve not to abandon the office to which he has been elected and to just coast along. He further said: “Remember what I said. I was only about two months in office and I said I did not realize that my greatest enemy or opponent is not really the opposition. Gawain mo lang ang tama, bahala na magyawyaw sila. But kung ang gobyerno mismo kalaban mo, ang Customs palusot dito, palusot doon. Ang BIR… Wala talaga. Sabi ko, hindi ko mahabol…”

“Wala na akong ginawa simula ako umupo kung hindi magpaalis, magtanggal ng tao,” he lamented. “Sad because some of them were with me way back in 1988 when I started my political career as mayor of Davao City.”

On the illegal drug issue, Duterte affirmed the PDEA director’s acknowledgment that some law enforcers were “recycling” confiscated drugs. “Totoo yang corruption sa droga. Yang recycle sinasabi lagi. P…… i.., patayin mo talaga lahat ng pulis na crooked.”

Although he had admitted that he couldn’t wipe out the illegal drug problem up to the end of his term in 2022, he vowed anew to sustain his war on drugs. “Kayong mga durugista, mga drug lords,” he roared, “maabutan ko rin kayo, pareho kayo ni Parohinog [the former mayor of Ozamis City, who was slain in a drug raid]. Talagang papatayin ko kayo.”

“Itaga mo kung saan mo itaga yan,” he continued. “Sa bayag mo o sa libingan ng nanay mo pati tatay mo. Pag inabot kita, totodasin ko talaga. I said, do not fuck with my country. I will kill you.”

Duterte’s trusted aide for 21 years, now Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, said recently the President “really speaks that way.” He advised, “Whatever he says in his speeches, his whispers or his body language could be true, could be not [true]. Be careful.”

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Email: satur.ocampo@gmail.com

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