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The gods etc. - Part 2

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

In my April 11 column, I wrote about a shocking revelation made by President Rodrigo Duterte in Tagalog. I may have difficulty understanding Tagalog, yet I thought I understood the substance of his Tagalog prose and comprehended the unimaginable impact of the presidential declaration. Because I do not speak the language and to avoid being misunderstood, I quoted verbatim his words as they came off the press. “Gawin na lang ninyo kami ng province of China, di wala na tayong problema.” I then proceeded to comment that Duterte’s incredible statement was a skewed sense of nationalism! To me, his words constituted a betrayal of public trust and indisputably an act of treason. Then I concluded that the president must be out of his mind for it was absolutely shocking to have heard such an utterance from a president of the republic.

To drive my point home, I quoted from Reverend William Anderson Scott's book “Daniel”. “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad”. I imagined that the gods whom the president worships must have so demented his mind enough to drive him to say something that derogates the territorial integrity of the country he is president of. I say this with the impression that the president’s god is not the same god as we Christians worship because I remember the president asserting that our god is stupid. It is perhaps poetic justice that his god must have made him crazy.

In any case, President Duterte and his affable legal counsel talked the other night about the liability that a person who is sick with the coronavirus incurs when he goes around and infects another. Both Duterte and Panelo are lawyers and they were unequivocal when they assigned murder to be the criminal responsibility of that person. I would like to believe that they only tried to spread fear among such gallivanting individuals to make them toe the health protocol lines.

This administration is a monumental failure in addressing COVID-19. We are the worst country in the ASEAN to combat this pandemic. While all other nations have flattened their curves, (and even stopped transmissions) the surge that we continue to have tells us that our government has failed to find ways of containing this disease. Surely, all fingers must point to the president’s incompetence in handling the situation.

President Duterte cannot avoid a failing grade for his mishandling of this crisis. His failure is incontrovertible, his much-ballyhooed popularity notwithstanding. Just imagine that the initial advisory issued by government was for the vaccination of 70% of our population in order to reach a plateau called herd immunity and yet today (and we are in the middle of the year) only about 1.4% of our people have been inoculated.

In order to pass the blame for his ineptitude, Duterte issued the threat. This is actually warfare tactics where his rating is at stake. He must avoid the stigma of total failure. In the hope of evading such a backlash, he needed to threaten his people. To Duterte, every Filipino afflicted with the virus who moves about and infects another Filipino is guilty of murder. That was how I perceived the declaration of the president to be. Panelo even pronounced the penalty that can be imposed on such individual. Murder carries the highest sanction in our justice system. This scheme of threatening his erring constituency with reclusion perpetual is madness. The president’s gods must have indeed made him crazy!

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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