“Certainty is the privilege of the immature; doubt and growth go hand in hand.”
— Jay Jacobs in R.F.K.: His Life and Death
“… long-range plans do not make so much sense…
Who know whether any of us will be alive then?”
— Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy
READING the Jacobs quotation, I wondered where this creature comes from. Obviously he does not know the nature of revolutionaries and reformers—they are both dreamers.
Dreamers must be resolute, passionate, intense and certain; otherwise, how can they generate followers and true believers? One thing about Jacobs, though, is his brief narrative on the life and death of Bobby Kennedy, for the editors of American Heritage, is well written, with interesting insights into the man and his time.
The Bobby quotation is in the mid-60s, with Bobby having been chastened by the sudden death of his brother, JFK. From then on, everything started to be uncertain. This was no longer the Bobby who was Attorney General of the United States of America—abrasive to the point of arrogance, intensely passionate and certain—breathing with “celestial fire,” just like Savonarola. This is the Bobby that I loved and admired.
Duterte with the 400 business tycoons
I was glued on television listening and watching his Excellency Rodrigo speaking before 400 business tycoons—ecstatic, admiring and applauding to their hearts content before their lord and master. Most of them come from Manila and places outside Mindanao. These are the men and women of the country who have been brutalizing the poor and the middle-class all these years. They were bowing before the new President hoping to convince him that they, too, are true believers in the dream of reform for the people.
Duterte started with his normal course of reverse modesty—confessing to his having been a student with grades below 80, just enough to pass his classes. He pointed to his Davaoeño team as a cluster of valedictorians to the delight of his flattering and domesticated audience. All the valedictorians were beaming with pride like strutting peacocks, only to be flattened by Rodrigo saying that the valedictorians were working for him in Davao and are obviously working with him now.
His simple explanation for this turn of events is destiny. Of course, it could not be otherwise because with his credentials, just like his Siamese twin PNoy, the presidency seemed millions parallax away. But that’s it—it is destiny, baby!
Zero tolerance for graft and corruption and criminals
I was not amazed at his Excellency Rodrigo returning to his normal form using the usual expletives so familiar in the campaign trail. What amazed me was the way the tycoons greeted his remarks with thunderous applauses. They were enthralled. They were ecstatic.
They were wildly smiling like slaves being sold in the slave market. I could not believe it but there it is—the undeniable evidence documented by your favorite television station.
His Excellency is no fool. He is better than his domesticated slaves. He knows that greater part of his audience are criminals—tax evaders, labor law violators, co-conspirators in anti-graft cases, smugglers, gamblers, drug lords and drug users, economic saboteurs, bribers, and what-have-you. So what is next for them and zero tolerance? This we have to see when His Excellency assumes office on June 30.
What about the DAP and PDAP criminals?
What will zero tolerance do with the PDAP and DAP criminals starting with PNoy and Butch Abad? What will he do with Belmonte and Drilon? What will he do with VP Binay, his wife and son? What will he do with the members of his party who are notoriously involved with PDAP and DAP? What will he do with his contributors who are involved in these shenanigans?
What will he do with the governors and mayors who have all kinds of criminal cases? What will he do with top officials of the BIR, BOC, BID, DENR, DA, DPWH, DOH, DOJ, DAR, LTFRB, LTO, in the judiciary and many more public officials who have cases—criminal and administrative?
What will he do with criminals in media?
Oh, Your Excellency, for the love of Heaven, give them Hell, these criminals, without mercy, in the same manner that the DDSs don’t give due process and mercy to the poor, young and helpless illegal drug pushers and illegal drug users.
But as I say, it’s a matter of waiting. It is a waiting game. It is a damnable time of waiting even if it is only six days away. As the poet said once upon a time, time and tide wait for no man. But this time we have to wait for six days and his Excellency Rodrigo. As the cliché goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Gascon and human rights
Chito Gascon, chairman of Human Rights Commission, is so intense and voluble about human rights. He has challenged his Excellency Rodrigo with all that passion in his good-looking face. Well, Chito, when his Excellency Rodrigo declares a revolutionary government—where will human rights be? If you know your constitutional law and your basic Cebuano, your human rights will become homan rights—meaning, finished or gone rights. If His Excellency Rodrigo will be kinder to you because of your beautiful face, then you will be on your way to Danding Cojuangco’s Bugsok Island, one of the most isolated in the Palawan group of islands, enjoying the sounds of waves and watching the “sunset and evening star” while waiting for “that one clear call” for you to be on your way to the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Iba Pa, in Taguig City.
Don’t worry, Chito, you’ll be in fine company there. Many “heroes” are living there now several feet under the ground or above group, depending on his/her affluence because it is currently known as the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Soon enough, when President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos will be buried there, courtesy of his Excellency Rodrigo who is a friend of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.; to avoid continuing the debate about whether Ferdinand should be buried there or not, His Excellency Rodrigo will have to change the name of the place to either Libingan ng mga Presidente at Iba Pa or Libingan ng mga Bayani ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte. This way the debate ends because who can contest the fact that FM was President of the country, better than most on the level of performance—whether angelic or devilish. Who will dispute that FM is an idol of His Excellency Rodrigo?
Rappler.com reported on Feb. 17, datelined Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, “the heart of Marcos city,” Duterte to have said: “My decision will be to allow his burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani … because he was a great President and he was a hero… He had the idealism, the vision for this country.”
Well, well, Your Excellency Rodrigo, I agree with you about FM being “a great President” because “He had the idealism, the vision for this country.” You said it in 2016 because you were a Marcos boy and campaigning for votes in Ilocandia, but I wrote that in my book titled Leaders From Marcos to Arroyo, printed and published in the United States of America in 2010, six years before you stated your encomiums for the man. My book is sold abroad by barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com, locally by Popular Bookstore, at Morato Ave., Quezon City, and at F. Sionil Jose’s La Solidaridad, at Padre Faura, in Ermita, Manila.
Footnotes in history
I was never a Marcos boy. As a matter of fact I was one of FM’s vicious and bitterest critics. But my family and my University of the Philippines training, which pays respect and commitment to the tradition of excellence and the aristocracy of the mind, compel me to be objective in the eyes of history. This is why I share with you my appreciation for FM as a great President and visionary, especially because in one moment in time, he called me “a dangerous man because he is an imponderable factor,” according to Secretary Antonio “Tony” Raquiza and, in another moment in time, in a person-to-person encounter in his office in Malacañang, FM tried to impress me to join his administration in these terms: “You know, pañero, you should join me for several reasons: we both graduated from UP Law; we dream dreams for our people; you are an ideologue and so am I.” Then he paused for a while and continued, “And on top of that we are two of a kind.”
I almost got mesmerized, but personal principles, integrity, training and a high sense of personal pride compelled me to reply, “Mr. President, if I do that, people will conclude that you bought me. Besides, what will happen to your propaganda that democracy exists because of people like me, if I join you? There is no royal road to the Promised Land, Mr. President. We travail different roads. Maybe one day, we will see each other in the Promised Land.”
This was met with deafening silence by FM and the historic moment ended there. But as I reflect on this incident, I cannot help telling myself, Would the country have been better had I joined FM? This reflection is met with a thousand maybes. But to borrow some lines from the Broadway musical Cabaret, with the song sang with overwhelming verve and passion by Liza Minnelli— “What good is sitting alone in your room? /Come hear the music play /Life is a cabaret, old chum /Come to the cabaret.”
What good is continuing reflection, life is a cabaret, old chum. Yes, life is a lot of lesson learning. I just want to emphasize a point here: that my criticism of His Excellency Rodrigo is nothing personal as they were not for FM. Ordinary mortals who read my books, intentionally or accidentally, ask me this question: “You were an enemy of FM, why are you praising him in your books?”
What good is continuing reflection when life is a cabaret?
The answer is direct and simple: I was never an enemy of FM; I was his critic and one of his political opponents. My politics has never been personal; it is a politics of principles, vision and love of country. Maybe FM was right when he told me we were two of a kind.
The difference is that he had his season and mine may never come. Besides, he is dead and I am alive, and I am writing for history. When you do that, you have to strip yourself of being a partisan and your purpose is to be objective and tell the truth.
I was one of the first opposition leaders to FM who publicly stated that FM should be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. I have consistently adhered to this view, but now with a little difference—that to avoid further debate or controversy, the place should be renamed Libingan ng mga Presidente at Iba Pa, to explain the burial in that area of people who had not been Presidents, or Libingan ng mga Bayani ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte.
Let us spare each other this nonsensical debate. One man’s hero is another man’s heel. Let us link our hands together to build a better country. Besides, who cares about heroes? I don’t! Let history be the judge.