Freedom of information

generals2If President Duterte was fed wrong and “poison” information as the generals allege, would they provide him the “right” stuff in order to, as they say, clear their names? Would they incriminate other men in uniform or would they implicate their patrons – i.e. politicians?

But if indeed they are blameless and their records spotless as they declare, why was it convenient for them to look the other way while their fellow countrymen were being consumed at the innards by the drug trade? Why did they allow it to flourish when they have, in the first place, the responsibility to eradicate it? Doesn’t tolerating a crime make one an accessory to it especially if you are a law enforcer?

President Duterte, in one of his media interviews prior to assuming office (before media pissed him off, that is), related in detail how the ‘quota system’ (for lack of a better term) at the PNP hierarchy works – from the bottom up to the topmost and (probably) beyond.

But media failed to pick up such a significant piece of information which the public ought to know; perhaps because a) they were not listening b) they could not make out what the erstwhile mayor was saying due to his Visayan inflection c) it was not new to them as those things are just whispered about but not discussed in the open or d) their editors deleted it from their story. Donald Trump has a succinct description for the US version – ‘dishonest media’.

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Did the President violate any laws for announcing the names of the five generals? He is a lawyer and former prosecutor, he should know. He has a phalanx of legal experts around him to provide advice, they should know. Would he be so rash as to make accusations without standing on solid evidence?

The Communications Secretary said the testimonial and documentary evidences are being kept at the moment, not for release to the media as yet, for obvious reasons. And the basis for the naming of names are intelligence reports that the President of the Republic has access to – validated many times over.

Someone being interviewed on radio said Digong has been gathering data and building up dossiers since a year ago, before he even decided to run as president. It might not be a far-fetched idea that the generals themselves were informed beforehand. They were asked to just leave the service quietly or avail of early retirement like a few others of star rank did, including the Chief PNP who retired without fuss a few months before reaching the compulsory age to give way to his successor. Kung sumabay sila, hindi sana nahalata.

Would it be a stretch to think that they thought this President, who is unlike his predecessor by any bounce of the imagination, will observe their code of silence and allow them to go on with their business as usual?

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Public shaming is a violation of due process? See Tanauan, Batangas’ periodic parade of addicts, pushers and lawbreakers. Have any of them gone to court yet to sue the town mayor who, like Duterte, speaks softly but carries a big stick?

The President is exercising his strong political will at a scale never seen before in a long succession of leaders. If you are an honest and law-abiding government official, bureaucrat or functionary, being publicly humiliated should be the least of your concerns. But if you provide your families with a lifestyle not commensurate with your salary in government, then your happy days are over.

So, yes, cry your hearts out because your reputations have been smeared. But did you ever shed a tear for the millions of Filipinos who suffered the scourge of illegal drugs under your watch? You go through the motions of raiding drug dens and seizing contraband, but more often than not, the culprits were nowhere near the scene of the crime. Were they tipped off? How many “ninja cops” – those who recycle seized narcotics and put them back on the streets for sale to innocent kids – have you put behind bars?

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The Big Brick Wall – i.e. General Bato – said that there are more names in Digong’s list but they are still being verified. The 35 or so local executives that the President has hinted as being on the drug trade as well should be on pins and needles now. DILG Secretary Sueno has just revealed on a morning TV show that the list has grown to 200, targeting mayors, governors and barangay captains. Again, they are being subjected to thorough verification but their names will be revealed sooner or later.

If in the end, he is proven to have erred on the side of discretion, then it would be interesting to see how the man called The Punisher will fess up to his mistake. What is apparent, though, is – not only are people (addicts and pushers) surrendering in large numbers on a daily basis in many parts of the country; many citizens are also volunteering morsels of information that they have known all along but were afraid to tell the authorities. If that is not change, then Mar Roxas is president.

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Mocha

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Some members of mainstream media have been frothing in the mouth at this lady for scoring an exclusive interview with the Incoming President. What, a “sexy entertainer” out scooping ‘legitimate journalists’ for a full, albeit edited, 15-minute audience with The Digong? A ‘TH’-blogger with 20 million hits outsmarting the big names in news and broadcast media? I say, eat your hearts out.

What you sow, so shall you reap. If you planted ill will, do you expect to gather good seed? Nope, it is not retribution (vis-à-vis Duterte’s ‘justification’ as to death penalty for heinous crimes) or vengefulness (the favorite word to use against the Outgoing President). It is about putting people in their right places. ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Media has become too powerful even for their own good, the kaakibat (paboritong bigkasin ng mga TV news reader these days) responsibility is now just an afterthought.

So, Mocha Uson (yes, the lady has a full name) delivered to the Incoming President a list of concerns aired by some of her 3.7 million followers on Facebook (who among you, media high horses and casual critics have at least 1,000 ‘likers’, fans, or whatchamacallit on your numerous accounts in social network sites?) and the latter gave more than a perfunctory look at the papers given to him – he granted Mocha an impromptu exclusive interview. What more can a much-maligned, routinely looked down upon (because of her livelihood? Or lack of high society DNA?) “sexy entertainer” dressed in decent clothes and speaking respectfully to a person in authority ask for?

A legitimate SCOOP. Because the new President. Does not want to speak directly. To mainstream media anymore. For reasons. Everybody now knows. And which unbelievers. Continue to twist and turn. To suit their own purposes. Who cares? But their own kind. And the rest of us. Who voted for change. Don’t give a hoot.

The ‘scoop’? President Duterte said the owner of ABS CBN (he actually mentioned the Lopez scion’s name) attempted to bribe him to grant Sky Cable a permit to operate in Davao City, saying that they were apprehensive because the existing cable operator was a friend of the mayor. Pissed off, the mayor asked for a blank application form, signed it and waved them off. He told the interviewer to put it on record that Lopez said Davao was the only place in the country where they did not have to do a payoff.

(Not that we have not known long before where local executives get their ‘extra’ income, but now that President Duterte has confirmed it, should we look at our mayors, governors, congressmen and senators – even barangay captains – in a whole new different light or do we say, what else is new?)

Going back to Mocha Uson. Those who have been judging her based on an intermittent and cursory browsing of her blog entries presumably don’t know her back story and why she supported the erstwhile Davao City mayor during the past campaign, volunteering her and her group’s services in sorties all over the country. It might not be worth anything to people comfortably ensconced in their ivory towers but where she’s coming from, many in the peripheries can relate.

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Her father was assassinated by four men riding in tandem. A brave and makabayan (Mocha’s own words) regional trial court judge who took a case no one would touch by a ten-foot pole because it involved a notorious gang backed up by politicians in their province. The gang leader was sent to jail and in the ‘normal’ course of things in this unfortunate republic of ours, good men die when evil men decide that good must not triumph over evil.

So, yes, Mocha Uson saw her father in Mayor Duterte. But malicious minds imply something more degenerate. That is their lookout, though. Harboring resentment towards a stranger is not good for the wrinkles.

And by the way, the Incoming President addressed her as “Ma’am”.

(For more insights on Mocha Uson, go to -http://www.philstar.com/supreme/2016/06/11/1591614/night-mocha-uson)

Panatang Makabayan

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A few generations ago, including mine, Filipino school children were taught love of country through the “Panatang Makabayan” (Pledge of Allegiance) that we had to recite every morning during flag raising ceremony. We knew it by heart and the words still ring loudly in my ears —

Panatang Makabayan
Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas
Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan
Ito ang tahanan ng aking lahi
Ako’y kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan
Upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapakipakinabang
Bilang ganti, diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang
Susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan
Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin ng isang mamamayang makabayan at masunurin sa batas
Paglilingkuran ko ang aking bayan nang walang pag-iimbot at ng buong katapatan
Sisikapin kong maging isang tunay na Pilipino sa isip, sa salita, at sa gawa.”

But in November 2001, a new version was introduced by the Department of Education under the late Secretary Raul Roco. The existing one was revised for no other reason than to “use shorter lines in less formal Tagalog.” In so doing, not only were many words and phrases, taken out – especially the last line; it also lost its cadence and rhythm.

And we wonder why today’s young do not take patriotism seriously.

This is what they recite today:

Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas,
aking lupang sinilangan,
Tahanan ng aking lahi,
Kinukupkop ako at tinutulungan
Maging malakas, masipag at marangal
Dahil mahal ko ang Pilipinas.
Diringgin ko ang payo ng aking magulang,
Susundin ko ang tuntunin ng paaralan.
Tutuparin ko ang tungkulin ng mamamayang makabayan
Naglilingkod, nag-aaral at nagdarasal ng buong katapatan.
Iaalay ko ang aking buhay, pangarap, pag-sisikap sa bansang Pilipinas.”

The Panata as our generation knew it was a translation from the original English text:

I love the Philippines.
It is the land of my birth;
It is the home of my people.
It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents;
I will obey the rules of my school;
I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen;
I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully
I will be a true Filipino in thought, in word, and in deed.”

Guess who “reminded” Filipinos that the Philippines is “the land of my birth and the home of my people” while kissing the Philippine flag all across the country?

The ascendancy of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the 16th President of the Philippine Republic, whose love of country is unquestionable, will hopefully inspire a resurgence of patriotism among Filipinos.

Digong kisses the Philippine flag during a "Miting de Avance" in Manila
Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte kisses the Philippine flag during a “Miting de Avance” (last political campaign rally) before the national elections at Rizal park in Manila in the Philippines May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Ask not what Duterte can do for you

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Chances are, there will be no answer. Because it is not about you. Or me. Or the pet dog barking up the wrong tree.

It is not about you demanding that he should fix this or he should remove that, because either you voted for him and you want to be proven right or you didn’t vote for him and you don’t want to be proven wrong.

It is not about you ranting at the choice of people he wants to put in place, because they are “recycled”, they are not the “best and brightest”, or they are just not good enough for your (lofty) standards. Guess what, he is the President-in-waiting and you are not. He has the prerogative to appoint people whom he wants to work with, and he does not have to get your nice little approval.

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It is not about you and me just sitting there watching him do all the dirty work and yakking till Kingdom come that he is this or he is that and he shouldn’t do this or he mustn’t do that. Armchair experts are only as good as the upholstered metal where their elbows rest; in fact, they are the worst kind of ‘critics’ as they base their statements solely on their own all-knowing self-righteousness.

It is not about you scrutinizing every move he makes and every word he says and pouncing on him like he cannot do anything right even if he has yet to formally take his oath. His pronouncements today do not yet carry the weight of the office he will assume on June 30, and there you are storming the gates of Hell for him to fail before he could start the ball rolling.

For whatever it is worth, Duterte said he doesn’t care about his haters. He is here to serve the people the best way he could. And “people” includes those who did not vote for him and those who persecuted him without let up before the election – especially the media focusing only on his “despicable” mouth, not to mention the pastoral letters and homilies from moral crusaders, so called.

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Now, if you don’t want to be “included”, you are free to make good your threat to leave the country if Duterte is elected. You have the wherewithal, right? Go ahead and pack your bags and leave the Philippines to Filipinos who want to remain Filipinos regardless of who their leader is.

But if you choose not to move your butt and continue to nitpick, that is your right as well. While doing so, examine yourself and think about these:

1) Do you report your correct taxable income?

2) Do you pay your employees the right wages?

3) Do you text while you drive and do you drive when you’ve had too much to drink?

4) Do you occupy the street as parking area for your car because you don’t have a garage?

5) Do you stand at attention when the National Anthem is playing?

6) Do you keep an unlicensed firearm?

7) Do you buy an expensive designer bag even if you can barely afford it?

8) Do you take home bond paper and other supplies from the office?

9) Do you work your full eight hours a day at the office without taking ‘unauthorized’ breaks to do Facebook, Candy Crush or Solitaire on your computer?

10) Do you not open your desk drawer to make room for envelops that will ‘fast-track’ the flow of documents such as permits, licenses, etc. needing your signature?

11) Do you not bribe a traffic enforcer to get out of a routine traffic violation?

12) Do you not bribe Customs for anything that you bring into the country that has commercial value?

13) Do you not segregate your trash?

14) Do you not throw candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the street and ignore ‘no littering’ signs?

15) Do you not spit anywhere and everywhere and spread your germs and viruses on the air?

16) Do you not use a ‘fixer’ to have your car registration renewed or checked for smoke emission, and to get your passport or driver’s license processed because you don’t want to fall in line?

17) Do you not insert yourself in the middle of a long queue?

18) Do you not use the overhead walkways because you are too lazy to climb up and down and just go ahead cross the street even if there are ‘no jaywalking’ signs?

19) Do you not look down on your fellow Filipinos and condescendingly call them “dukha”?

20) Do you ever donate to charity and not let the whole world know about it?

21) Do you ever volunteer your services to help a fellow countryman in times of calamities?

22) Do you ever patronize the works of Filipino poets, authors, musicians, painters, sculptors, artists, designers, inventors?

23) Do you ever report a crime you have witnessed to the authorities?

24) Do you ever open a door for someone? Help someone cross the street? Let someone pass your car on bumper-to-bumper traffic? Stop your car behind a pedestrian lane to let pedestrians pass?

25) Do you ever listen to your parents when they tell you not to stay out late at night?

26) Do you ever give up your seat at the MRT, LRT or bus in favor of a senior citizen, a pregnant woman, and a person with disability or do you remain seated smug while listening to your earphones and ignoring the sea of humanity around you?

27) Do you ever show respect towards your parents and elders by not talking back at them even if you think you are right?

28) Do you ever show respect towards fellow motorists by not unnecessarily honking your horn, cutting lanes, tail gating, and shouting invectives at them when they do the same to you?

29) How far have you ever ventured up north and down south of your country the Philippines?

30) How far will you go to effect change on yourself before asking your leaders to change themselves?

Time to look askance – to borrow Duterte’s word – at ourselves and contemplate if we are capable of initiating change through the small things we do every single day.

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You and I are just among the hundred million tiny snapshots that make up the grand mosaic of our existence as a nation. President Duterte is there to take care of the Big Picture, hopefully, the best way he knows how.

So, if you will keep on whining and carping on how ugly his mouth is and how “evil” his deeds are without giving him the chance to do what he needs to do – better just go away and live in some land of sugar and spice and everything nice where you will be considered as second class citizens.

The Philippines under Duterte will be better off without the sound and fury of sanctimonious people whose only claim to patriotism is their insistence that Daang Matuwid is the one and only true path. Six years of that, and are we as a people any more patriotic than Rizal ever was?

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Why I am voting for the antipolitician

 

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Epal, trapo, kurakot, mandarambong. Those words are now engraved in the political consciousness and everyday lingo of Filipinos. They signify what has become, regrettably, ‘normal’ in Philippine politics and of the supposed representatives of the people. For far too long, we allowed this aberration to swallow us into apathy, such that it is now part of our culture and we didn’t even know it.

And then there is the anti-politician. The antithesis to all that is traditional in politics. Is there such an animal in this mostly impoverished land where patronage politics reigns? Where family dynasties rule as a matter of entitlement, where buying votes is not a matter of scruples but a matter of course, and spending billions in people’s money to prop up candidacies is never a matter of decency and morality?

No. That strange creature called anti-politician doesn’t exist because this country has been governed by a long line of leaders belonging to the ruling class, as it were. People who are either spawns of established political clans with interchangeable surnames or protégées of kingmakers – oligarchs, if you will, who decide which candidate will ensure the perpetuation of their wealth and the prolongation of their status as THE elite.

Comes along this probinsiyano from Mindanao, and everyone got caught dead in their tracks. His opponents, that is. Modestly attired like the typical promdi and without the typical politico’s swagger, no one paid attention to him early in the campaign, dismissing him as the joker in a deck of cards. He has no money, no machinery, no name recall – and mainstream media just outright ignored him.

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But then, he went around the country spreading a clear message and the message reverberated across audiences from one end of the spectrum to another. Before long, people were coming in droves to his rallies. On their own initiative, not the usual trucked-in “followers” garbed in uniform-colored T-shirts with packed lunch and a few hundred bucks to pay for their transportation home, accordingly.

They lined up the streets where his motorcade would pass – blocking the whole length and breadth with their warm bodies, occupying every single available space, chanting his name and raising their clenched fists up in the air for the world to see. In anger and protest, perhaps, but with a smile and a hopeful look on their faces, sometimes with a hint of tears, like being cradled in a blissful stupor.

Until his opponents found out – too late in the game, albeit – that the landslide had become an avalanche. His ratings zoomed past everyone when nobody was looking – from obscure fourth to frontrunner with double digit leads. Rodrigo Roa Duterte had already seized the bull by its horns, so to speak, and the matador is dancing his way to the Palace by the River.

So why am I voting for the anti-politician?

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Everything about Mayor Duterte is unconventional – from the simple house and rundown car, the worn out shirts and broken shoe, the uncouth mouth that would elicit laughter, ridicule, hatred or scorn; the tawdry anecdotes that got him into trouble a few times with the moralists, the doing away with the niceties and going straight for the jugular. He also offers himself as trade-in for children and women taken as hostages by terrorists, forces even foreigners caught violating Davao City’s smoking ban to chew their cigarette butts, removes the finger nails of men caught molesting women, and pretends to be a taxi driver prowling the streets at night to catch hold-up thugs or make sure that young women stranded on the streets get home safely.

He speaks to his audience not in rhetoric or bombast but in plain language – like talking to another person one-on-one, not to a crowd wary of politicians’ flowery discourse. Parang nagkukuwento lang, complete with mindless curses and muddy jokes present in ordinary conversations. In a tone that sounds like a grandfather admonishing an errant grandson or an uncle advising his niece to follow the wishes of her parents.

But the thing is – he gets things done, and he does not advertise his accomplishments the way most epal-iticos do.

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His ‘poverty’ is mere fakery? In the first place, did he say that he was poor? He only said he has no money to run an expensive campaign. And why would he fake it? Even lowly bureaucrats in many parts of the country flaunt their new-found prosperity by building houses and driving cars not commensurate to their salaries in Government. How so? Talk to the hand.

He has millions in the bank? And scores of properties under his name? Exactly the point. If he wants to hide his wealth, why would he use his name in bank accounts and real estate properties most of which are actually his children’s, who are professionals themselves? Isn’t it that the rich and famous stash their booty in offshore accounts under names similar to William Saunders and Jane Ryan?

He is friendly with insurgent and rebel groups? What’s wrong with that? The NPA, MILF, MNLF, NDF, even the BIFF and ASG, are Filipinos, too. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, communists, even those that take up arms against the government – we are all Filipinos. If being friendly with them means there will be fewer people killed in the name of ideology or plain banditry, then better that than be at constant war against fellow Filipinos.

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He is a Communist? There goes the Red Scare. I thought it had gone down together with the disintegration of the Soviet Republics? Even China, the only remaining huge Communist state, has gone (greedy) capitalist and is now enjoying superpower status. Why would Mayor Duterte resurrect an ideology gone passé? He said he is a Socialist. Left of center. Huge difference there. Look it up in the Encyclopedia, under social equality.

He will resort to extrajudicial killings? He has repeatedly said he won’t, but unbelievers will never listen. He said he will use a special group in the military and police to hunt down crime and drug syndicates, and will not tolerate abuses from those enforcing the law. Would you like him to spell out his strategy and let the criminals know?

Criminality? If you have not had a face-to-face encounter with crime, you will not empathize. Good for you if didn’t have a brother gunned down in the dead of night by hooded men riding in tandem, whose family could not find redemption because the justice system is such that criminals have more rights than the victims.  Due process is accorded to the killer and the dead are often just interred with their bones.

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Revolutionary government? Dictatorship? Martial Law? Bogeymen created by an insecure outgoing administration in fear of its own shadow. The mayor said he will resort to a revolutionary government, IF threats of coup d’états persist and people in government will not cooperate with him in instituting reforms. Would he shut down Congress if partisan members act belligerently? Our country has enough laws, many of which are unenforced – I won’t mind not having to address a few conmen as “Honorable” for the time being.

Is he a threat to democracy? Make that, is he a threat to the elite? The World Bank and Forbes Asia say only 40 families control 75% of the country’s wealth. Is the elite afraid a Duterte presidency will drive them to penury?

And don’t give me the religion and immorality card. God hates hypocrites like you and me, including men of the cloth and women of charity. Maybe we should just look at ourselves more closely at the mirror and quit pontificating.

This is an emotional time for Filipinos. We can’t afford to be fence sitters complacent with the intangibles – believing that either change is coming or the status quo remains – while sitting smug in front of our laptops and spewing remarks that are invariably hateful, untruthful, unchristian, insufferable.

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While others are promoting hatred and division, here is one man who says “I am here for the ordinary Filipinos. In spite of my (dirty) mouth, I will give you a clean government and a peaceful society. (And) If you believe in God, you will not harm your fellowmen.” Empty words? Perhaps. But I am willing to gamble on him because ‘status quo’ is not an option.

And for whatever it is worth, he is also the only presidential wannabe who carries the Philippine flag everywhere he goes, who bows to the audience before and after he delivers his rambling speeches, and invokes his fate to the will of God and the electorate – saying do not vote for me if you do not like me. I have not seen in recent memory how Filipinos from all walks of life have turned to the flag as a symbol of hope. I guess patriotism is back in vogue.

So, yes, the master tactician beat his opponents at their own game of deceit and sleight of hand. The Filipino people must have finally found the type of leader that sparks a revolution – a revolution that comes from within and spreads throughout a nation hungry for change. A leader that is both loved and feared by the people, and hated by a few. The one who does not say ‘I am going to be’ because he is the one ‘meant to be.’

That is my truth, and you don’t have to believe it.

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Dear Vice President Jejomar Binay

#CandidateSeriesNo5

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You were the frontrunner early in the presidential race, perhaps owing to the fact that you announced your intention very early in the ballgame as well. The ‘premature campaigning’ gave your main opponent plenty of time to do a seemingly well-financed demo job, albeit with little success if the earlier surveys were to be believed. Nevertheless, the issues against you – mostly that of corruption – have to be addressed, which you said you will do at the proper forum. You did not consider the Senate hearings as the “proper forum” as you never attended any of its long, drawn-out sessions, preferring to answer the allegations “in court”. But what about the court of public opinion that will judge you too come election time? Filipino voters – especially those who are ‘informed’ and social media savvy – have been waiting for your explanation, and the campaign should be the proper time and venue to present not only your platform but more so, your answers to the concerns plaguing your candidacy.

At any rate, following are my questions:

1) Did you enrich yourself while in office as Mayor of Makati?

You were a human rights lawyer, a member of MABINI (Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism), before President Corazon Aquino plucked you out of obscurity to serve as Officer-in-Charge of Makati City in 1986 when she removed all sitting local government officials during her “revolutionary government” and replaced them with her appointees. Since then, you and members of your immediate family have won every election either as chief executive or representative of the country’s financial capital.

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You said in your earlier campaign ads that your mother died because there was no money to pay for her medical bills. Then again, you also say by way of explaining the real estate properties reflected in your Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) that you inherited some of them from your parents. Isn’t there an obvious disconnect there somewhere? The simple-minded way of thinking being, if your parents were poor, how could you have inherited from them anything at all?

If you became wealthy by practicing law, it would have been quite understandable. So many lawyers in our country get rich by lawyering for rich clients or high-profile criminals. But since you have been mayor of Makati from the onset of your political career, you would have had to give up lawyering pro bono for the poor, which was MABINI’s advocacy. Nevertheless, your wife is a doctor. So, perhaps, the good Doctora earned more from the practice of her profession than you did as Mayor of Makati.

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Then again, people generally do not believe that your wealth comes from regular toil – especially those who have heard, true or not, of the units in condominium buildings “in exchange” for approval of construction permits or something. Which, in fairness, is also ‘practiced’ by other city mayors hereabouts, according to real estate industry insiders. Was it you who started the trend?

2) Corruption is the sword that hangs over your candidacy. It is your baggage, according to one of your opponents. How are you going to overcome that and make voters choose you in spite of?

Corruption is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as wrongdoing on the part of an authority or powerful party through means that are illegitimate, immoral, or incompatible with ethical standards. It often results from patronage and is associated with bribery.

Of course the term can be applicable not only to you but a host of other ‘public servants’ as well. However, since you are the one running for President and corruption being associated with you like second skin, as it were, it is a valid issue that cannot be easily swept under the rug during an election period no matter how hard your spinners try to ignore it.

Be that as it may, the charges being leveled against you are yet to be proven in court. Still, perception is sometimes more convincing than fact and social media can be brutal. Would your ‘constituency’ – whoever they are or whatever they constitute which apparently are largely the beneficiaries of Makati City’s abundance back when you were making sister cities of every city in the country – stick with you through thick and thin?

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You are confident that your “large political machinery” will carry you to victory, calling it your ground support which you say only you and Secretary Mar Roxas possess, boasting that the battle is actually between you two despite what the recent surveys and rallies show. But considering how your former allies, with their respective ground networks, have been abandoning your ship and transferring their support to another candidate – would your confidence still hold water?

The bigger question, though, is: How are you going to explain the charges of corruption and win over the undecided voters? The Commission on Audit does not come up with findings without basis or they have no business acting as examiners, inspectors or checkers of the people’s money.

3) Are you going to perpetuate the Binay name in Philippine politics?

You were against the Anti-Dynasty Bill, saying that everyone should be allowed to run for public office if they are qualified. Three of your children occupy elected positions at the same time. Two, after your son was (forcibly) removed from his seat at City Hall. Indeed, they were elected by the people but everyone knows that elections in our country often favor those who are in power.

In a recent newspaper interview, though, you said you are agreeable to enacting the Anti-Dynasty measure but “must come up with a clear definition of a dynasty.” So, what is your definition of a dynasty? How far down or across the line can members of a political family run for public office? How many of them can do so simultaneously within the bounds of decency and delicadeza?

Dynasty as defined by the Free Encyclopedia is “a sequence of rulers from the same family usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system but sometimes also appearing in elective republics”. Obviously, we belong to the latter category – elective republic governed by a whole family occupying various positions concurrently.

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Used to be that fathers passed on the ‘baton’ of public service to their sons when it was time to retire or leave – which was normal, decent and fair. Today, however, father, wife, children, siblings, ‘serve’ all at once in various instrumentalities of government either as elected or appointed officials. Is that the new normal, decent and fair?

4) With a few more days left in the campaign, how do you hope to “touch the hearts and minds of the people” considering that your ratings have gone down considerably?

One of your campaign promises which resonates well with the working class is the exemption from taxes of employees receiving below P30,000 per month. Some quarters are saying that is a preposterous claim because no less than 60 percent of taxpayers belong to that bracket. How then will you compensate for the revenues that will be lost? Or is it just one of those empty promises that politicians usually make during a campaign to entice voters?

In concrete terms, how do you plan on alleviating poverty? Having, as you say, experienced poverty first hand, what pro-poor programs are you going to implement that will make the poor say they are no longer poor? If, as you also declare, you know how they feel, how would you make them feel that Government actually exists for them, not just for the rich? And if Makati is your Exhibit A, how come half of your city is still populated by the poor in spite of you and your family having been at its helm for 30 years?

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Your campaign slogan “Ginhawa sa Buhay ng Bawa’t Pilipino” (or was it “Kay Binay, Gaganda ang Buhay”?) is anchored on the premise of poverty alleviation but is not backed up by even a single narrative on how a Binay Administration would provide relief in the life of every Filipino. Is “Binay hindi bala” the counterpoint to “Tapang at Malasakit” with a specific agenda and timetable? Or is it just like “Oras na” and “Gobyernong may Puso”? Cliché, nebulous and apathetic?

5) Why do you deserve to be the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines?

All things being equal and all basic qualifications aside, what would make those who are undecided at this point give their vote to you? Competence? Experience? Character? Are these the qualities that should matter most in making our choice for the next leader of our country? Do you have all those traits and more? Like patriotism, love and fear of God, strength of personality and conviction, leadership by example?

You are perceived as a traditional politician, part of the status quo, the usual order of things, politics as usual, a chip off the old boys’ club, same old, same old, The Establishment. Are you comfortable with that?

Wouldn’t you want to be the kind of leader that inspires change, sparks a revolution, ignites fire in the belly, institutes reforms that are inclusive not selective? Someone who is both loved and feared by the people? The one ‘Meant to be’ rather than ‘I should be’?

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Instilling fear

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The presidential (and vice presidential) candidates and their cabals are picking on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise to eradicate crime within six months if he wins. They insist that it is impossible, improbable, it is a bluff and it cannot be done. Well, it’s Duterte’s problem, not theirs, right? That is his campaign promise, and he rises or falls on that promise, right? So, what is their problem?

The problem is, his opponents are now realizing from the huge crowds who flock to his rallies and motorcades that people actually believe he can do it. Spouting motherhood statements just won’t hack it anymore, ladies and gentlemen. Filipinos can only be complacent, indifferent and apathetic towards their leaders, not to mention their situation in life, to a certain degree. Comes the time – belatedly or not – that they reach the proverbial point of no return.

We removed a dictator 30 years ago – which was impossible to do, but People Power did it, remember?

What the candidates and their spinners are doing is promoting the MINDSET that things cannot be done because they are difficult to do. They won’t do it because it is not doable. Have they tried doing it before saying they can’t do it? Because that is the justification of the LAZY, to put it rather bluntly.

Which is what has been wrong about this country since the so-called Edsa Revolution. Filipinos have reverted back to the culture of waiting for the guava fruit to fall from the tree, and the kind of leaders that we’ve had upheld that attitude for their own vested ends. It might come as a surprise, if not downright shock, to find out what we have accomplished as a people since we became the toast of the democratic world. Tell me about it and maybe I won’t say it was all such a waste.

And so, here comes Mayor Duterte offering change. In the real sense of the word, perhaps.

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He speaks the language of the masses, replete with the mindless curses that ordinary folk utter in the ordinary course of their ordinary lives. The ‘cultured’ and ‘polite’ elite be damned if they get offended. They represent not even 10% of the population. Their wealth won’t be diminished by the volume of expletives thrown their way every time the working classes discuss land reform, labor ‘contractualization’ or wanton exploitation of natural resources among themselves.

He speaks of specific things to do in clear terms, straight from the shoulder, no ifs or buts, and has repeatedly stated that he won’t resort to extrajudicial killings in order to keep his self-imposed deadline. Why did he impose that deadline, in the first place, when nobody asked him to? I would surmise that he has a plan and he will use the goodwill that a newly elected President is imbued with to get things done in as short a time as possible – in the same way that President Aquino used his bravado to eliminate, ta dah, wang wang.

True, ‘thou shalt not kill’. But why do policemen kill criminals? Why do soldiers kill in the name of country? Why did God order the Israelites to kill their enemies and take their lands and belongings? Why did He say, “Now, as for those enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and kill them in my presence” (Luke 19:27)? But of course, God also reserved punishment for those who commit murder against their own people.

The point being that instilling fear in the hearts of evildoers is the name of the game, and criminals today have absolutely no fear. The type of crimes being committed are so horrible that even the angel of death would cringe in horror. Who among the present crap, I mean crop, of candidates can implant the seed of dread among hardened crooks? None but the one who has been there, done that.

Mayor Duterte might use the goodwill and bravado of a newly elected President to tick off the first item on his agenda. How he will do it he is keeping close to his chest. Otherwise, he must honor his other word and allow whoever is elected as Vice President to take over.

(Photos taken from Mayor Duterte’s Facebook page)