Faeldon and Duterte
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

There are certain advantages old age brings to a person that far outweigh apparent disadvantages. Most of these advantages lie along the ability to appreciate deeper meanings than how things appear. The loss of hearing, deteriorating eyesight, and the diminution of physical dexterity, some examples of those suffered by many a senior citizen pale in comparison to the wisdom gained by a man whose instincts are sharpened by his struggles.

I was sitting with a much younger fellow while watching on television the investigation conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee last week. We were exchanging views when the TV cameras focused on Nicanor Faeldon as he was busy answering questions. Then the disparity of our perceptions with my seatmate surfaced. The younger man saw Faeldon as a peacock.

The former military putsch leader didn’t appear glum. In fact, he noticed two things. First, the smile that registered on the face of the erstwhile military renegade each time he tried to weave words to explain his action. To my friend’s view the former putschist’s answers carried a disdain for those ganging up on him. I had a different perception.

The smile was a cover, a smokescreen, an attempt to fill the holes in Faeldon’s senseless answers. Take for instance when he said that he signed the memorandum order for the release of the rapist-murder convict Antonio Sanchez despite his doubts that what he did seemed wrong. He smiled at Senator Lacson, the man who grilled him. How can ever one smile amidst a swirl of doubts?

Secondly, we both observed how Faeldon was garbed. He wore some kind of a military-type outfit which we thought to be a uniform for jailers. What attracted more our attention though was his shoulder board. He had four stars! Our appreciation of the significance of the number of stars varied. My younger buddy exclaimed that the chief of the Bureau of Corrections deserved the rank that General George Patton did not get even after leading US forces that reclaimed Italy from the combined Nazi and Fascist armies.

I imagined that some psychological affliction, not entirely different from megalomania, hit the former marine captain. It was somehow surreal. The jump in military rank, (from what I knew as captain to that of general) indicated by what was placed on the shoulder board, could only be explained by such seeming obsession to be addressed as a four-star general.

That was not all. Faeldon, in his exposition on his supposed recall of the Sanchez release order, succeeded to persuade President Rodrigo Duterte. The words of the captain (err, the four-star general) were probably gospel truth to the ears of the Malacañang resident. Why do I say this? On a later day, my younger friend called me to express delight that the president was unequivocal in his position.

The president confirmed his full trust in Faeldon. There could be no more ponderous declaration than “kana si Faeldon, tarong na nga tawo” or words to that effect which the president remarked on while giving some Naga City residents free housing. In a manner of speaking, Duterte completely exonerated his former customs chief from the insinuations that he was involved in the smuggling of allegedly P6 billion worth of shabu.

The old man in me suggests that Faeldon and Duterte may be of the same frame of mind and I hope I am wrong.

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