‘Over 3,000 dead among the close to 200,000 Filipinos infected with COVID-19, and Duterte’s lone pitch is to wait for a vaccine. Barely even a word on the Jolo blasts in his last public statement.’
IN June 2020, members of the PNP killed four members of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit in broad daylight. These intelligence officers were in the middle of tracking two suspected suicide bombers. Because of their deaths, the AFP lost track of the suicide bombers.
Last Monday, two explosions rocked Jolo, killing at least 14 people, half of whom were soldiers. The explosions were caused by two suicide bombers in a brazen terrorist attack – the same two suicide bombers being tracked by the Army intelligence officers killed by the police back in June.
Persistent rumors have been circulating about the supposedly failing health of President-in-Perpetual-Isolation Duterte. After all, since the pandemic began, Duterte has barely been seen live and in public, limiting his exposure to barely-edited blithering aired at ungodly hours of the night, or the next morning. The reality lends itself to a situation ripe for speculation.
In response, Presidential manservant and occasional Sen. Bong Go posted a photo that, to people trained in photography and image manipulation, appeared clearly edited. So even after Go posted a video via Facebook Live showing Duterte standing and talking, the combination of the hilariously atrocious initial response and Duterte’s own slurred speech and drooping eyelids in Go’s video did nothing to quell the ongoing rumors.
Speaking of a blithering Duterte, since Day Zero of this pandemic, Duterte has mouthed nothing but utter garbage. He offers no coherent plan, gives no actionable instructions, provides no concrete solutions – on pre-recorded messages to boot. Forget being about perpetually isolated; Duterte is perpetually useless and worthless, an abject waste of the tax money used to pay his salary.
So when Vice President Leni Robredo comes out on live video, laying out a coherent, actionable, concrete set of actions that government can take, she really isn’t doing anything beyond being a generally competent government official. But by comparison, she sounds like the best thing since sliced bread – so much so that Duterte actually had to delay his scheduled pre-recorded video to the following day, just so he could put in a throwaway line in there and try to pass it off as some sort of weak comeback.
Back in May 2016, we decided that we wanted a relatively unknown mayor to be our president, based largely on hype: “He’s decisive!” (Duterte actually vacillated about running and only formally ran when his placeholder lackey was about to be disqualified for being a nuisance candidate – Diño is no longer a candidate, but is still a nuisance.) “No nonsense!” (I suppose we all suddenly became collectively deaf and dumb when Duterte started making death threats and rape jokes?) “He’ll bring about real change!” (Yeah, for the absolute worst. Hello, every last recycled corrupt Duterte appointee, how are your bank accounts, still healthy and untraceable?)
Now, in the middle of a pandemic, we have an indecisive, nonsensical President who cannot change his idiotic habits if our lives depended on it – and it does. Over 3,000 dead among the close to 200,000 Filipinos infected with COVID-19, and Duterte’s lone pitch is to wait for a vaccine. Barely even a word on the Jolo blasts in his last public statement. In the meantime, while Filipinos are literally dying, he prioritizes his authoritarian fetishes with the enactment of the clearly unconstitutional “Anti-Terror” Act, shutting down media outlets while favoring his own oligarch friends.
I hope that the next time we take meaningful action we aim for a consequence that actually benefits us rather than puts us in harm’s way.