Will VP candidate Duterte bare SALN, state of health?

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Rodrigo Duterte accepted last week his party’s vice presidential draft for Election 2022. In effect he opened himself to voter scrutiny.

As president, Duterte evades two basic disclosures. First, the yearly sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). Second, his true state of health.

Further evasion can become an election issue. Filipinos expect candidates to be upfront. SALNs and physical-mental clearances thus are voluntarily publicized. Candidate Duterte will have to follow suit.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Witholding wealth and health records, while other VP contenders disclose theirs, will invite derision for Duterte. Bluster and cussing in televised pandemic updates won’t suffice. His spokesman and chief legal counsel cannot obfuscate for him as usual. Running in his senatorial ticket, they will be busy explaining their own financial and psychiatric makeups.

The Constitution requires SALNs. Procedures are in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Filers must waive bank secrecy for tax examination.

Duterte last disclosed a SALN for 2017. He keeps confidential his SALNs for 2018, 2019 and 2020. He is the only president in 30 years to refuse SALN publicity. He breaks his own Freedom of Information orders on the Executive branch.

Early this month Ombudsman Samuel Martires rejected the request of Senator Leila de Lima for copies of Duterte’s SALNs. Duterte found that as a new excuse to continue witholding the documents.

But Martires is just one citizen. The desire for transparency of 62 million voters far outweighs his opinion. Duterte will be hard put to resist.

Duterte’s health status will be a valid issue too. He will turn 77 before Election Day. Every time he wobbles on stage and with slurred speech, voters will ask if he can still hurdle a six-year tenure.

Duterte admits to be diagnosed with Buerger’s disease and Barrett’s esophagus. Also, to suffering migraine and back pains from a motorcycling accident. He is on a cocktail of medications and painkillers. Voters will want to know if those destabilize his physique, emotions and mental faculties.

Secrecy will only trigger more questions. In the 1986 snap presidential election, dictator Ferdinand Marcos tried to hide his nerve disease and organ transplant. But he kept staggering up and down stage. Censors failed to quelch news photos of him bleeding and being rushed away on a stretcher.

Duterte will be asked about 1998 court psychiatric findings in annulling his marriage. On record, Duterte suffers from a long-term psychological condition. Details, reported by The Independent of London in 2016, include:

• “antisocial narcissistic personality disorder,” a pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness” and “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors;”

• “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings” and “unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions;”

• “unhealthy and destructive behaviors” and “poor capacity for objective judgment” failing to “see things in the light of facts” and

• “psychologically incapacitated to handle essential marital obligations” due to “inability for loyalty and commitment” and “lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.”

Duterte frequently shocks the public. He cursed the pope and God and told soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina and allowed them to rape up to three times. He ordered policemen to kill drug pushers and addicts and “shoot on sight” violators of pandemic lockdowns.

Two factors enabled Duterte to overtake other presidential contenders in 2016. The administration was split by two aspirants, and one of them kept bashing only the survey frontrunner of the opposition.

Duterte won’t be as lucky this time. He will be perceived as unconstitutionally attempting to retake the presidency by the backdoor. He said he needs continued immunity from suit. The International Criminal Court has authorized his investigation for crimes against humanity. Seven thousand have been slain in his bloody war on drugs.

Duterte’s every campaign statement will be doubted if just a joke. If he jokes, he will be castigated for taking lightly such serious issues as Chinese aggression in Philippine seas and corruption in the deals of his Chinese adviser Michael Yang’s Pharmally. Already netizens are taking Duterte’s faction of the ruling PDP to mean Plunder During Pandemic. The vice presidential debates are eagerly awaited.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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“Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” is available as e-book and paperback. Get a free copy of “Chapter 1: Beijing’s Bullying and Duplicity”. Simply subscribe to my newsletter at: https://jariusbondoc.com/#subscribe. Book orders also accepted there.

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