POSTSCRIPT / November 14, 2019 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Suppress vital info, reap the whirlwind

IF THE HEAD sounds “similiar” (sic) it’s because it was the same head of our Postscript last May 23 when President Duterte’s being unseen and unheard of for a week triggered a slew of speculations, mostly negative.

This time, after the President appeared haggard, if not sickly, in photos/videos and his spokesman said he was going to take a three-day break, the announcement raised fresh questions about his state of health.

Earlier he was noticed to have missed visiting the areas in his home ground hit by killer earthquakes and then failed to follow up on his sparsely worded memorandum naming Vice President Leni Robredo co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD).

In damage-control, his spokesman clarified that the President was not taking a three-day leave as announced earlier, but only going to work from home.

A lesson in public information to be relearned here is that nature abhors a vacuum. Disturb or suppress the free flow of information and you stir up a tempest of speculations.

Watch nature restore balance when the equilibrium is upset. Out at sea, for instance, when a low-pressure area develops, the surrounding air rushes in to fill the near-vacuum, often generating a typhoon, hurricane or such a destructive weather phenomenon.

Hide the President after he is seen to be fatigued and seemingly unable to work normally, and you reap a whirlwind of rumors topped by a public demand for a medical bulletin.

A bulletin is needed, his apologists say, only if the President is in “serious” condition. The 74-year-old Duterte may be suffering from a number of ailments, they add, but none of them is “serious” enough to be life-threatening.

They must be taking off from Section 12, Article VII, that says: “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”

But why wait for the President to fall into near-coma before updating the citizens on his health? Precisely, the framers of the Constitution did not want a repeat of the macabre 1986 scenario of an ailing Ferdinand Marcos trying to govern from his sickbed.

It is best for Malacañang to level with the people and issue a medical bulletin. If the President’s doctor says he is “in the pink of heath,” as his spokesman claims, well and good.

Vice President Robredo herself has been tossed into the discussion about dying. One question is what happens if she, the new anti-drug czar, is killed before the election protest filed by the loser, former senator Bongbong Marcos, is resolved by the Supreme Court?

The SC justices sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal did not throw out his protest despite PET’s Rule 65 saying it may be dismissed if the protestant fails, as Marcos failed, to recover substantial votes in the three pilot provinces he had picked to show the worst cheating.

This is hypothetical, but if Robredo is murdered while the protest is pending (and the crime blamed on drug lords), will Marcos become the Vice President with the physical elimination of his rival? The answer is in Section 9, Article VII, which says:

“Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President during the term for which he was elected, the President shall nominate a Vice President from among the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately.”

 On the country’s state of health

AS TO the state of health of the Philippines, here is what a psychologist says:

The difference between poor and rich nations is not in their ages. Countries like India and Egypt are more than 2,000 years old and are still poor. On the other hand, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which 150 years ago were not that significant, are today developed and rich.

The difference between poor and rich nations also does not depend on their natural resources. Japan has limited territory, 80 percent of it mountainous and unsuitable for agriculture, but is the world’s second largest developed economy. It is like an immense floating factory, importing raw material from all over and exporting manufactured goods.

Look at Switzerland. It does not grow cocoa but produces the best chocolates in the world. In her small territory she raises animals and cultivates the land only for four month in a year, but manufactures the best milk products. This small country is an image of security that has made it the strongest world bank.

Executives from rich countries who interact with their counterparts from poor countries show no significant intellectual superiority. Also, racial or color factors do not evince importance. Migrants notorious for being lazy in their home country are productive when working in rich countries.

Where then lies the difference? It is in the attitude of the people, molded by education and their culture. Analyzing the conduct of people from rich and developed countries, we see that a majority abide by these principles: Ethics, integrity, responsibility, respect for laws and regulations, respect from majority of citizens, love for work, an effort to save and invest, the will to be productive, and punctuality.

It has been observed that in the poor countries only a minority follow these basic principles in their daily life.

We are not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature is cruel to us. We are poor because we do not have the proper attitude. We lack the will to follow and teach these principles of working in rich and developed societies.

(Shared by Brod Oscar Fuentes of Pinoy ’55)

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ERRATUM: We apologize for mistakenly saying last Tuesday the “60 Minutes” show that featured Rappler’s Maria Ressa is an NBC News program. We know it’s CBS News as we watch “60 Minutes” when its topic interests us. The typo may have been the result of our following the news often on NBC, as we also do on ABC and CNN (but not FoxNews).

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 14, 2019)

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