Pirated version of Duterte

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

After watching the video of Mayor Isko Moreno attacking Vice President Leni Robredo after the filing of COCs, I could not help but shake my head in disbelief and disappointment. The tirade and verbal insults he hurled at the Vice President were simply premature, inappropriate and extremely combative. Premature because he was responding to a story or claim made presumably by a reporter who was out of frame. It would have been different if Moreno had personally heard the statement of the Vice President and followed with a brief and polite response or reaction if it were necessary, but it was not. To tear and rip your fellow candidate based on a “heard and said” or hearsay was so premature and amateur.

I say inappropriate because Leni Robredo is still the Vice President of the Philippines and that alone requires courtesy if not respect, especially from someone who aspires to hold a high position in national government as well as someone who presents himself as the healing candidate.

As I watched the clip of Isko Moreno’s barrage, two things left a very disturbing impression. First of all, Isko Moreno’s attack on VP Leni felt like a “pirated version” of the Duterte campaign tactics in 2016 when Duterte the candidate kept bombarding Grace Poe with accusations and attacks on citizenship and competency. Is this allegedly because certain people running the campaign of Isko Moreno are the same people who handled the tactics and strategy for Duterte the candidate?

I find it hard to believe that the Mayor who has been so comfortable and courteous towards a woman vice mayor can suddenly turn and act like a misogynist. I even wonder why he attacked the Vice President, insulted the Aquino loyalists and made a big issue of Robredo’s motives for politics and colors with such intensity, considering his flaccid response to the attacks and character assassination he was subjected to when he first announced his plans to pursue the presidency. Politics is about addition, not subtraction.

Aside from the impression that he could be using a “pirated version” of the Duterte campaign strategy, the other thing that Isko Moreno should not have done was to push victims of Martial Law to “move on.” Moreno’s claim to fame is that he used to eat pig slop and push a box cart picking trash in order to survive. He has clearly moved on from hunger and poverty, but filling your stomach with food and lining your pockets with money is different from reliving the death, the torture, the kidnapping, the rape and  being robbed of your freedom to travel, to hold a job, or to be constantly harassed, not just by uniformed people but by tax officials.

Most of all there is no moving on when you don’t know where your son, daughter, sister, brother or father is buried. How can people move on when they have to live and relive their worst experiences and realities every time a picture, a song or even a TV show triggers those painful memories? We lived those experiences, we did not act them out like paid movie stars, we were subjected to them as innocent victims.

Try as we may the memories cannot be erased and because of that, it is difficult to just move on, especially when people like Isko Moreno callously tells you to “move on” and you see the people who engineered your pain and your loss parading themselves in the political limelight or living in affluence.

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Most people who heard the news were undeniably shocked at the unexpected death of CHR head Chito Gascon due to COVID-19. After fighting the good fight for so long and standing up against various individuals and forces to protect human rights, many of us expected that he would be sued, detained or worse, Extra Judicially Killed by those affected negatively by his leadership and the work of the Commission on Human Rights.

As low key as he was, mild mannered even, Chito Gascon impressed and inspired many of us to take courage and stand up to any form of human rights violations. He personified courage and polite boldness that many of us could only wish we had. It makes me wish that there was a “Noble Prize” we could posthumously award Chito Gascon for “showing fine personal qualities and high moral principles and ideals.”

Nonetheless, so many people have expressed their sense of loss, admiration, respect and recognition of the invaluable things that Chito Gascon did. Not many people in government have had the privilege of being honored by people so openly and publicly. It is no small comfort to know that he really mattered to people and that he earned their respect.

I am reminded of a verse in the Bible that I have kept in mind through the years in relation to sudden deaths, especially involving relatively young people such as Gascon. It is a verse that helps a little to understand why GOD sometimes allows the good to die young and, given the work and the kind of enemies that Gascon collected in his uncompromising stance, the verse seems appropriate:

“The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart, devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.” Isaiah 57: 1 - 2

It may be that God wanted to spare Chito Gascon a violent death or political calamity and the like. It does not make his passing any easier, especially when so few are brave enough and righteous enough to stand up to people who have become drunk with political power. While we pray for the eternal repose of Chito Gascon, now would be a good time to pray long and hard to GOD to protect those of us left from the Calamity that is in our midst or that may soon come upon us, GOD forbid!

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