Carpio so loud and brave from the stands

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - May 3, 2021 - 12:00am

Former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio is no different from any loud-mouthed spectator screaming from the stands. These people always think they are braver and better than the fighter slugging it out in the ring or the player playing his heart out in the court. From the relative comfort and safety of the sidelines, they call out perceived mistakes and shout out insults over unheeded instructions they have no authority to give.

But Carpio is not just a spectator of any sport. He is a heckler standing on his seat demanding attention from the national leadership. He thinks he is better and braver than the president in the field of geopolitics. And maybe he is. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. He has to be president first and deal with the problems of the nation from the shoes of an actual holder of that office before he can claim to be better and braver.

Right now Carpio is no more than just an ordinary pipsqueak. Bellyache as he might, he is not president. It is Rodrigo Duterte who is. And right or wrong, it is the voice of Duterte that holds sway in this country, not Carpio's, no matter how shrill and loud he becomes. It is Duterte who owns an overwhelming mandate to do what he is doing, and the consistently high approval and confidence ratings to tell him he is on the right track with it.

Carpio is wasting his time carping about Duterte's policies toward China and the South China Sea because Duterte is not going to be his rival for the presidency in 2022. If Carpio is angling for Malacañang, he should reinvent himself as a candidate. If he thinks Duterte's policies are wrong and wants to replace them with his own, he only needs to remember one thing. And that is to win first.

All his carping about being right and Duterte wrong will not amount to anything if he does not win. If he does not win, it will be the policies of the winner that will next come into play. And if Carpio again does not agree with the new policies, where will it take him but back to the stands again, there to become what he apparently missed while being a sober and staid Supreme Court justice --a loud and self-righteous spectator.

To win, Carpio has to be imaginative. He needs to capture the electorate's attention. Duterte did it with three things; he promised to wipe out illegal drugs in three months, he promised to stamp out corruption, and he promised to ride a jet ski to the Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag there. None of these ever happened, but it was never for lack of trying so that, even while failing, he was endearing himself to the public.

Carpio has been very critical of Duterte's China and South China Sea policies. Hearing him talk gives the feeling he is arching for a stronger direct confrontation with China. That was probably what was also on Duterte's mind when he made that jet ski promise. But what happens inside the kulambo may be different from what one imagines outside it.

I would love to see just how brave and resolute Carpio can be toward China if given the chance. I would like to see if his bite is as good as his bark. Right now Carpio has nothing to lose with his carping except his saliva and a good night's sleep. I wonder what happens if he wins and his neck is no longer the only thing on the block but also those of his family, friends, and countrymen. Then he will see why Duterte threw the jet ski away.

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