Friday, September 9, 2016

Looking back

When President Duterte was just starting, he declared that he would not look back and point fingers at what the previous administration had done wrong, had not done right, and should have done. "Move forward," sounds good, if you agree to the honor burial of his patron, deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and just forget EDSA 1986 happened and mattered.

When crooked politicians suggest we move on and forget the past ("What's done is done." "Minalas sila.") -- and forgive!-- the first thing a good citizen must do is turn around and look at his wallet, family, and past. In 2005 Gloria Arroyo, whose cohorts are now in Duterte's Cabinet, exhorted us on TV to forgive her for lying about the Hello Garci tape and to forget that she usurped the presidency, which should have gone to FPJ. Electoral rigger Virgilio Garcillano, after things had cooled off and the electorate's reliable Alzheimer had set in, returned from hiding abroad and even ran for Congress in 2007. Recently, Arroyo was released from hospital arrest, as if no massive plunder and other heinous crimes had been committed. Looking back, during Duterte's campaign, he said he was in favor of releasing Gloria. What he did not say was that he and Gloria were BFFs and that he has a blind side: he cannot see his friends' sins against the Filipinos he avows to love and protect.

Now Duterte is blaming Media for his latest foot-in-mouth gaffe, which caused the cancellation of his meeting with President Obama. What, exactly, is Media's role, except to air his announcement precisely as it was captured by the cameras. What I find fault in today's broadcast media is the tendency to bleep out the presidential "putang-ina" and "shit" in his tirade against Obama and other victims of his ire -- thus shielding Filipino families from the complete presidential pronouncements, with the decorum of every hood in the neighborhood.

During the Summit, Duterte and Obama somehow managed to avoid each other and shake hands. The diplomatic fiasco stung the very sensitive Duterte. But he anticipated the humiliation and prepared some photographs showing atrocities by the Americans during the process of colonizing the Philippines, from 1898 to 1904. Filipinos who fought for freedom were killed and labeled as bandits; in 1901 American soldiers were ordered, as retaliation for the natives' killing of 48 members of the US 9th Infantry, by Gen. Jacob Smith to kill every male over 10 years old in Balangiga town, Samar. Graphic photos were shown to the other world leaders to remind Obama that human rights violation is not an exclusive prerogative of the Philippines. Duterte emphasized the hypocrisy of the critics of the extrajudicial killings in his anti-drug campaign, wherein there are more unofficial murders than the government-instigated murders. So Duterte looked back in time, selectively.

And Duterte trolls lapped it up, even if nearly all, millions, have no idea that we had been Spanish Indios from 1521 to 1898, America's Little Brown Brothers (1898-June 3, 1946), and Japanese puppets from 1942-February 1945. And now we are slaves of the Filipino oligarchy, from which Duterte's father benefited much, especially during Marcos' Martial Law. 

Looking back a little closer in time -- from September 21, 1972 to Feb. 21, 1986 -- we can see what this president, this Duterte, refuses to see: the disappearance of thousands of people whom Marcos' military goons labeled as communist rebels, which included students protesting against warrantless arrests, abductions, and the curtailment of their freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and other basic rights. Are there graphic photos of coeds nabbed by members of the constabulary or Metrocom, then raped, subjected to water torture and electrocution, brutally killed, their mutilated bodies thrown into still unknown graves? Among the victims were human rights advocates (Etta Rosales et al), writers who criticized Marcos' rule and corruption ("Pinasuka ako ng dugo." -- Ricky Lee), and rivals in politics and business monopoly. Before Duterte reaches the distant past, he cannot avoid the evidence of murders, and of plunders that impoverished the country, caused by his friends, the Marcoses, and, still closer in time, the Arroyos.

Hypocrisy can mean declaring not looking back but still looking back, beyond the big chip on your shoulder, and stating, as President of this damned Republic, that the US ambassador to the Philippines is "bakla" and a "son of a bitch." Ambassador Philip Goldberg's past sin? Goldberg had criticized presidential candidate Duterte for a hideous joke he made about the rape and murder of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill. After he became president, Duterte recalled meeting US State Secretary John Kerry: "I quarreled with his gay ambassador [referring to Goldberg]. I am pissed with him. He meddled during the election, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that. That son of a bitch really annoyed me." Whelp of a doggie for an ambassador, bastard of a whore for a president. There must be a clinical explanation to this madness.

De Lima, former DOJ chief and now senator, did not escape Duterte's memory and wrath, either. He is now gathering evidence against De Lima and her former driver for their alleged coddling of drug lords in the National Penitentiary. Then there's Ban Ki Moon. Duterte, after shaking hands with the UN Secretary General last week, did not spare the man for issuing his concerns about the extrajudicial killings in the present administration.

Looking back, I thought Marcos was the worst authoritarian thief elected to the presidency. Then I thought Cory, after a brief admiration in 1986, was the caregiver of cronies and relatives in government. Ramos, in dotage still a political butterfly, flitting from his cousin Ferdinand's garden to Cory's yellow canvas to Gloria's team to Duterte's street corner. Estrada, instigator of EDSA 2001, was just a cut from the old Marcosian cloth as was Benigno Aquino III a chip off his peevish mother. What could be worse?

Well, after looking back at lot, we still have to look forward, wondering why Duterte insists on just six months to wipe out a serious drug problem, when he can -- methodically, without murdering "collateral damages," setting a bright example to the world community -- ensure the success of his vision in six years: 2,191 days instead of the silly 180 days he imposed on himself. That it's a campaign promise does not hold anymore, after he failed to jetski and plant a Philippine flag on Scarborough Shoal to fulfill another campaign pledge. Or was it another joke? The jokes and excuses are running thin; at least, through this eerie and deadly transparency, we can clearly see how worthless the lessons of History are, when we entrust our future to less worthy men.

Look back to affirm, not to deny, the truth.

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