Another presidential promise
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - August 27, 2020 - 12:00am

President Rodrigo Duterte appeared on television in the morning of the other day. It was apparently broadcast thru the facilities of government owned PTV. To me, the president’s national address last Tuesday was important considering that only few days ago there was a rumor that he secretly left the country to find medical care in a foreign land and social media even featured a supposed air ambulance landing in Davao City and in a quick turnaround flew back to its country of origin with a special passenger. Malacanang itself added fuel to the gossip when the presidential spokesman introduced the words “perpetual isolation” to a baffled citizenry to explain the president’s absence.

President Duterte had to be seen by his people to dispel all doubts of his physical health. Because it was a very important event, I tried to find out if the other television companies carried the president’s appearance. I kept switching from PTV to ABC Channel 5, to GMA Channel 7 and to ABS-CBN Teleradyo. On the upper left part of the screen of Channel 7, there was shown “Recorded Earlier - Davao City” which it changed later, to “Recorded Last Night” ostensibly to prove that Duterte showed up in person. The scene served to satisfy people’s curiosity even if it was uncharacteristically brief. Unlike in previous times when the president so wandered off his script as to consume much time than necessary, he was economical in his words such that the “show” ended within an hour.

There were few cabinet men who made their reports to the president. They were the ones who practically dominated Duterte’s morning “Talk To The Nation.” I noted the substantive statements made by Secretaries Carlos Dominguez and Menardo Guevara. But, frankly, their dissertations were purely administrative in character which did not necessitate being aired on national television. Their lengthy discourse made me conjure that they were but props. Of course, I want to admit that I could be wrong. There was also Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go. How ubiquitous is the guy! To his credit, he got seated on the right immediately next to the president. To the uninitiated on seating protocols, like most of us, the arrangement projected an aura of a fusion of the executive and legislative departments although i surmise that it was an apparent political endorsement of some kind. In any case, I heard no word from the legislator and Sen Go’s deathly silence only announced his irrelevant presence.

What was the gist of President Duterte’s virtual appearance? In somewhat subdued language, the president asked his audience to trust him that every single centavo appropriated by the government to fight COVID-19 would be accounted. His assuring words were that he would be responsible, a rephrasing of Harry Truman’s the buck stops here.

The truth is that the president’s announced assurance was unnecessary! That is his job to account where people’s taxes are spent. It goes with his oath of office. Just the same, it is sad that even with his attempt to project sincerity, I take his presidential promise with a grain of salt. I cannot forget his assurance to rid the country of the illegal drug menace within three months after becoming our president. It is a failed promise. I also recall his commitment that upon his election to office, he would ride on a jet ski to the islands in the West Philippine Sea to plant the Philippine flag and drive all Chinese there. This has become utterly false. In fact, the president betrayed his commitment for he has tolerated the Chinese invasion into our territorial domain and their illegal occupancy of our land. End.

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