18mar20 – Even a carabao can take only so much

POSTSCRIPT / March 20, 2018 / Tuesday

Even a carabao can take only so much

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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WHY stick your neck out and speak against the troubling times when you can just stay home watching on TV the bad news inserted in-between teleseryes and endless ads?

This is the dilemma of many of those protesting the madness and the impunity they see around them but are so tired that they are tempted to just hunker down and wait for a miracle to sweep the landscape.

The ceaseless debate in media, sometimes reduced to name-calling and threats of physical harm, could drain the stamina of even those of steely nerves and a firm resolve to pursue advocacies.

The last week in particular unloaded a pack of issues that observers who care for their country and their rights as free citizens cannot ignore. Among them:

>The dropping of drug trafficking charges against big-time suspected narcotic dealers, among them businessman Peter Lim, a kumpadre of President Duterte, and self-confessed drug lord Erwin Espinosa.

>The continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been waiting for a year in jail to be indicted on charges of conspiracy to trade in drugs mainly on the basis of Espinosa’s now discredited testimony.

>The placing under the Witness Protection Program of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Once tagged as the “brains” of the multibillion-peso “pork barrel” scandal that rocked the Aquino administration, she could be the star witness against targets of the current regime.

>President Duterte’s filing notice with the United Nations that the Philippines was pulling out from the International Criminal Court even as its prosecutor prepared to examine his alleged massive violations of human rights.

These big issues weighed on the public already reeling from the deterioration of essential services, traffic and mass transport systems, price increases, and the unabated killings related to the administration’s drug war.

But like the stolid carabao that goes berserk when pushed to the limit, Filipinos — known for being eternally optimistic, smiling when already hurting – can take only so much abuse and lack of respect.

Inaction and silence will only feed the impunity, prolong the agony, and delay the day of deliverance. So now we see a growing number of Filipinos, especially among the youth and the millennials, speaking up in social media and out in the streets.

We see the regime fumbling all over the place – from the rights of minorities to sovereign rights over maritime areas, from the managing of local government concerns to international relations, from the question of affordable rice to the security of contractual “Endo” workers.

The Duterte administration has not been able to step out of its Davao shadow. After more than a year of improvising from one crisis to another, President Duterte has not outgrown his provincial outlook, trying but failing to pass it off as a new brand of populism.

The President’s continuing to antagonize foreign entities and shy away from international forums –some observers say out of a lack of self-confidence – has shrunk the stage where he can project and protect Philippine interests.

His campaign promises to stop crime, drugs and corruption – which won him 16 million votes to clinch the presidency by plurality – have been hobbled by a variety of problems, including human rights issues and selective prosecution.

Skeptics are looking to the 2019 polls – assuming elections will be held as scheduled – as the tipping point. If Duterte and his runners hurdle the midterm hump, he is likely to be able to coast along up to the finish line in 2022.

That is according to the timetable, until and unless a new Constitution is adopted, as desired by Duterte, and the rules rewritten to keep him as the leader beyond the 2022 end of his current term.

Senate President Koko Pimentel, head of the ruling PDP-Laban party, has said the party will not support candidates who do not work for the shift to a federal-parliamentary setup that is being pushed to replace the presidential-bicameral system.

• Twitter alive with Pinoy issues

THE LIVELY exchange on Twitter can be a gauge of public interest on the issues mentioned above. We share some of the posts:

Mala-Caña Ang Palace @Simply_Clinton — Boracay is a cesspool, he said. Wanda Teo was a witness to Boracay deterioration, she said. Boracay needs one-year closure to rehabilitate, they said. He will send marines to bomb illegal structures, he said. (He’s shaking hands with Boracay casino investor.)

PATOLA @PatrickTOlalia — Kung hindi na-publish daw sa Official Gazette ang pag-ratify sa Rome Statute kaya’t illegal… bakit kailangan mag-withdraw si PDuts? Mga ka-DDS takot ba sya o takot na takot?

Federico Pascual @FDPascual — Oo nga. If Rome Statute and/or Philippine ratification was not published in the Official Gazette and therefore, per Palace legal experts, never bound the Philippines, why did Duterte have to withdraw from it?

Teddy Locsin Jr. @teddyboylocsin — Just to make sure because the other opinion is that Senate ratification preceded by years of US pressure to stop the President from submitting it for ratification was notice enough to make it part of the law of the land.

tony.IMHO @tonygrimIMHO — There is the old saying “if you’re not guilty you’ve nothing to hide”. That aside, what did Duterte gain besides tarnishing PH reputation for commitment to international treaties. What do your friends at the UN think about all this?

ABS-CBN News @ANCALERTS — Andanar to critics: Why fear Napoles if you’re innocent?

@FDPascual — Now they’ve trotted out Napoles, clad in DoJ immunity, to scare LP/opposition senators sitting as judges in the Sereno trial into toeing the Palace line.

Vin Marion @MarionA56n — Critics to Andanar: Why withdraw from ICC if you’re innocent? Why afraid to sign a bank waiver if you have nothing to hide? (Those are for his poon.)

Luz Prado Morales @prado_luz — #NaDuterte ang Boracay! LOOK: Duterte shakes hands with billionaire Lui Che Woo who is building a massive Galaxy casino in Boracay.

Miss Maggie @MiaMagdalena — Duterte: “Presidency is killing me.” Ako: “Your presidency is killing me.”

@FDPascual — Nila: “Your presidency has killed thousands.”

Niccolo @matsvsmats — Mas marami pa sa NPA?

 

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 20, 2018) 

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