The missing Duterte gambit backfires
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - August 19, 2020 - 12:00am

Rumors swirled around this coronavirus-rapped country over the weekend that President Duterte hide off to Singapore to secretly seek treatment for some undisclosed ailment. But as most scuttlebutts go, the details were deliciously unsupplied. And it didn't help any that the Palace tried to be coy or cryptic, thus allowing the DIYers to shape the evolving runaway narrative by themselves. To the chagrin of the man in the narrative.

So out came he in typical Duterte temperament, his equilibrium sufficiently disturbed. He launched into a harangue about how his right as a citizen to go anywhere he pleases was the business of no one. That is absolutely correct but for one tiny tingle -- the president, which is who he is (in case he has forgotten) has a very public 24/7 job whose business it is also of the public to know 24/7.

A president cannot go missing for a minute without minds, well-meaning or malicious, starting to wonder and wander. Stretch that unforgiving minute by any length and tongues start wagging, usually in the manner by which the Devil is so good and adept at. And when the tongues take over from the mind, the narrative is often lost to reason and skedaddles off with its own independent script.

But why is there such an inordinate interest in the health of Duterte? At 75, he is certainly "entitled" to his own humanly share of hiccups every now and then. Other than that, he seems perfectly all right to most people, except for those who want him sick for reasons that have nothing to do with his health. Unless he is SERIOUSLY ILL, he cannot be compelled to disclose the state of his health. Go read THE WORDS in the Constitution.

I think the reason for wanting to know the whereabouts of Duterte each time he cannot be accounted for even a single minute is more political than a genuine concern for his well-being. Had it been so, it would be offerings of prayer for his health, instead of innuendoes of where he could be getting treated for God knows what and heaven forbid, especially at this time when having any leader is always better than being without a rudder.

The enemies of Duterte find ousting him through the health backdoor their only viable means of rising to power. Waiting for their chance at the end of his term takes too long. And too unappealing. Judging by the results of the last midterm elections, in which their entire Senate slate was completely wiped out, with some of their so-called bright boys even getting clobbered by also-ran lightweights, election for the opposition is really not an option.

The opposition right now is bereft of anyone of presidential measure. And no one among them is doing anything spectacular enough to gain a little of that measure. Instead of trying to rise on the strength of their own merits, they seem to wait for Duterte to fall and use his fallen form for a little elevation. But for all his faults, THE Duterte just seems to remain as popular as ever.

Never wanting for drama, whether in sound or image, Duterte coupled his coming out rant with the tender image of quiet family time captured so eloquently in a photo by, who else but, Bong Go. There's the missing Duterte, in his humble home in Davao, having a simple meal with partner Honeylet, daughter Kitty, and a grandchild. True or not, the Singapore gambit not only failed; it backfired. Who can be bad to the man in the picture?

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