Shutting up the President

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FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

I apologize that I could not personally thank all those who texted and emailed me yesterday—on the feast-day of St. Francis of Assisi. One gets to be 77 only once, and I appreciate it very much. As animal lovers brought their pets to be blessed in church in honor of that great and well-loved saint, I prayed that we may learn to love the lowliest animals as well as he did, but also care for the least of our brethren much more than we are inclined to do. This is a constant challenge, but it has grown beyond all measures lately.

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Francis (1181-1226) spoke with birds and the wolf that preyed on the livestock of the Italian town of Gubbio; we have to speak to a different kind, President Duterte, and convince him to stop the routine killing of drug suspects, and put up with the Obamas and Ban Ki-moons of this world who want him to follow the rule of law. I cannot say if the poor man of Assisi had an easier time.

A restatement of purpose
But it has not been easy for anyone to function as a constructive political critic, much less as a God-fearing, law-abiding and concerned patriot these last three months. After 53 years in public life, mostly as a journalist, I can only promise to be true to my duties, wherever that would take me. I will never purposely offend the President, but I will state my honest position on every issue. If my good intentions and sincere desire to be helpful amount to nothing, then there is nothing more I can do.

I thought I would insert this brief restatement of purpose as a critic after an important anniversary. At a time like this, many may be tempted to look at a serious critic as a danger to society.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen made the mistake of invoking the Constitution and repeating the slogan of the First Quarter Storm at the University of Philippines—Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? (If we do not act, who will? If not now, when?)—and quickly found himself in a hostile beehive in the social media. I sympathize with Leonen, who is not entirely innocent of the offense with which he charges DU30.

But this is the price one must be prepared to pay. And this is how efficiently the pro-DU30 camp disposes of its perceived “enemies.” It will use its every advantage in the law, propaganda, technology and money.

A three-part article by the journalist Maria Ressa on Rappler, on weaponizing the internet, shows how effectively the camp has used the internet to manipulate the political narrative to DU30’s advantage, from the time he declared his candidacy in 2015. From midnight of Nov. 25, 2015, when DU30 declared his candidacy until 2 am the next day, 30,000 tweets on DU30 were posted, sometimes more than 700 tweets per minute, says the article. “Paid trolls, fallacious reasoning, leaps in logic, poisoning the well—these are only some of the propaganda techniques that have helped shift public opinion on key issues,” Ressa writes.

Fake social media posts are used to spread “fear, uncertainty and doubt” with respect to DU30’s war on drugs. Netizens who express critical opinion on DU30 are not only verbally abused but also threatened with physical harm by trolls.

When wrong becomes right
This situation has clearly spilled over to the mainstream media, and to the rest of society, where DU30’s standing as a demigod is now promoted by a new corps of fanatics, which includes some commentators who did not have a kind word about DU30 before he became President. This has so impacted the thinking and conversation in the public arena that what is right is shouted down by the mob as wrong, and what is wrong is trumpeted to the political heavens as right. The perversion of moral values has become routine.

There is no debate about the evil of drugs, and the need to expunge it from our midst. But going after this evil does not justify the unspeakably greater evil of eliminating drug suspects without due process. One observer compares it to the hygienic campaign during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward (1958-1962), which sought to exterminate sparrows, rats, mosquitoes and flies.

None of Mao’s targets had any human rights. Among them, the rat had the most sordid reputation; it had long terrified men, women and children. In George Orwell’s novel 1984, it is used to terrorize the central character Winston Smith; in Albert Camus’ La Peste (The Plague), it makes up the invading army that overruns the Algerian town of Oran.

The sparrow and the drug addicts
But it was the Eurasian tree sparrow that finally exposed the folly of Mao’s campaign.

The sparrow is not an insect but a bird, but Mao saw that it ate grain and, therefore, robbed the people of the fruits of their labor. So people were mobilized to go after the bird by beating drums and banging pots and pans to scare them from landing, according to Wikipedia, and to force them to continue flying until they fell from the sky in exhaustion. Nests were torn, nestlings were killed, eggs were broken. Non-material rewards and official recognition were given to schools, work units and government agencies according to the number of sparrows brought down.

But some sparrows found “sanctuary” in the extraterritorial premises of some foreign embassies. One of these was the Polish embassy. The Chinese government tried to pursue the sparrows, but the embassy personnel refused to grant entry to the hunting party. People then surrounded the embassy, beating drums, pots and pans from the streets. After two days, the birds started falling from the embassy building, and the embassy personnel had to use shovels to clear the premises of dead sparrows.

By 1960, the Chinese government realized that the sparrows also ate insects, but with the sparrows gone, the insects, notably locusts, proliferated. Rice yields decreased, the forests were degraded, and ecological imbalance became unavoidable. The Great Chinese Famine ensued, during which some 20 million people died of starvation.

There is no basis for comparing the drug suspects to the Winter tree sparrows. Their disappearance from the scene could only reduce our rice consumption and, perhaps, improve the ecological balance. But exterminating them without due process, while DU30 attacks those who attack the killings in the most toxic and vulgar language, can only inflict far from serious consequences on the moral character of the Filipinos.

The society is debased
From being one of the most God-fearing, polite and courteous people in the world, they could become one of the most vulgar and cruel people on earth. And if the negative reaction of the global market continues, and the drying up of the economy follows, they could become among the most miserable people in the world. DU30 can still do something about it, and it is not too late.

Aside from the summary drug killings, which have provoked worldwide condemnation from the press, governments and international institutions, DU30’s quarrel with the world has been caused only by his foul mouth, nothing else. No great sovereignty- or national interest- issues are involved. He seems so deeply in love with his own vulgarity that he seems unable to deliver a point without punctuating it up with an expletive.

Nobody else—not even in the dockyards—seems to talk like that. Even Teddy Locsin Jr., his ambassador-designate to the United Nations, is having a hard time trying to compete with his “F***k you” tweets.

Why does he do it?

Dangerous Leader Disorder
This probably needs a medical explanation. His trusted Cabinet officials should look into it. In an online article on “Dangerous Leader Disorder,” Dr. John D. Mayer examines the cases of Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein and comes up with three things they had in common. Indifference toward people’s suffering and devaluation of others; intolerance of criticism; and a grandiose sense of national entitlement. The Cabinet has to ask themselves: are these three qualities present in the President? If they are, then they must reach out for a medical cure or a constitutional solution.

The solution does not lie in a coup d’etat, which both Martin Andanar and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. have been talking about, but in the President or majority of the Cabinet informing the leaders of Congress that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

If, on the other hand, he does not suffer from any such disability, the Cabinet must agree to treat his speech problem by compelling him to never comment on any issue without a written text, or by allowing a 30-second delay in all his live interviews, so that anytime he utters a profanity or an obscenity, Andanar or a technical person could cut off the offensive portion during that 30-second delay, as done by the most responsible broadcasting networks.

If he persists in talking without these safeguards and precautions, the Cabinet must find the courage to tell him as gently as possible, but to his face by all means, “Please shut up, Mr. President.”

fstatad@gmail.com

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37 Comments

  1. Yonkers, New York
    06 October 2016

    The few million Filipinos–7% of the nation’s 107 million–who have so far resisted being hoodwinked by Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte’s “populist” appeal–can find comfort in this Column, “Shutting up the President,” by Francisco S. Tatad in The Manila Times of October 6th.

    It is not that former Senator Tatad here, for the first, time, criticizes Little Tyrant Duterte for his megalomanic warrantless genocidal mass-murder of those he SUSPECTS are engaged in the illegal narco problem, for he has consistently done that in several past insightful columns of his; it is that, this time, he may have pinpointed what could be at the bottom of Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte’s psychotic pronouncements and actions.

    It could really be that Rodrigo Duterte has “lost his mind.” Or that his mind is now unbalanced. Meaning, of course, that he is suffering from PSYCHOSIS.

    There should be somebody close to him who should summon the courage–now–and suggest to Little Tyrant Duterte to consult a good Psychiatrist so that he may save himself and the country further damage.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  2. Shutting up Duterte is like a moth to a flame.

    I am sure even those nearest to him have already said to him TO TONE IT DOWN. I don’t know what will do it. But in the meantime, keep writing him to do so.

  3. Andrew, Bettina and Gerard, felisa won/t answer you that my advice for you self righteous people, probably some of you are yellowtards supporters. did your pres. Noynoy did something to change the lives Phil. poor. My answer is nada, zero. same as usual.

    Now , again felisa would not answer this one but get out from your car and glass houses and asked any pinoy on the street who woked and come home late in the evening to fed his family, you/ll be ashmed of their answers , loosers…

  4. I agree with you Mr. Tatad. In fact, when I heard Mr. DU30’s slogan during the election campaign to kill drug peddlers and users with senator Peter Cayetano at the back doing a second demotion for Mr. DU30 platform on illegal drugs’ annihilation by annihilating its users and peddlers, I started already to doubt to Mr. Du30 capability of statesmanship on how he would make it to us Filipinos and to other countries’ Leaders. My reason is this: if were to be a candidate for the presidency like Mr. DU30, I would have to talk with respect to my fellow citizen in the Land in all levels and kinds of people; I would have to talk with authority over any case I might have to speak of, but with the use of the Laws as my basis to make the people aware of our common duties, destiny and hope. I would invite the people to walk with me in my newly capsulized paradigm shift of public service, as Mr. DU30 is a Bayan member and a Lawyer, anyway. I would not use Vulgar words, obscenity and macho image, but only an image of a good public servant leader. When I had not seen the quality of leadership I was looking for from him, as he was accused directly and indirectly with the mysterious killings for both big and little offense during his term of service in Davao though crime free-a contradiction of words by the presence of mysterious killing, I became suspicious over his psycho-emotional impurities or psychiatrical problems that should had been healed during his childhood or before he became the leader of Davao and the Philippines now.

  5. mabait na pinoy on

    Yes indeed! PDU30 is suffering from ” Dangerous Leader Disorder”, where he hates being criticized. Secondly, he already admitted na yung ugali niya minsan ay pang “mayor” lamang. People should understand that he is not used in dealing with International leaders and his exposures in International Relations are limited. This is the reason why often times, he steps on his little dick and gets out of line by not being politically correct. Most of his followers have limited understanding about people’s natural rights and International politics, as well, so they hate to see when the President is being criticized constructively. What a mentality we have, eh?

  6. The solution is simple, wherever Du30 makes his next speech the presidential communication staff must bring a portable bleeper to bleep out all his expletives.

  7. Very well said Mr. Tatad. You are one of the very few who stand up and voiced out your comments about this
    President. This is the first time I agreed with you. But where are the others? Why were they silent about
    all that is happening with this President. Are they afraid? I am a Fil-Am, and I was so ashamed by what
    this President has been doing. To those some 10 million responsible Filipinos who did not vote for Duterte,
    pls. speak up. I know, the 16 million who voted for him, is dwindling down, every minute this bad mouthed
    President opens his mouth. Somebody pls. dissect the President’s brain?

    • Keep on dreaming we won`t go back to your dark ages under yellow tards , you kind of insulting the 16M and thousands of pinoy abroad who likes the Pres. and voted for him.

      Just an advice cry like a river, your clown/stooges candidate lost last election and eating dust or better yet jump in the river with @&**$ around your neck.

  8. BTW come to think of it, the Duterte “expletives” is purely reflective of how some of us if not most of us talk in our every day interaction with people. This is just similar with the very prevalent use of the word “fuck” and “shit” in their everyday life in the western world. To ask another another person to shut up simply because of the use of expletives is like asking everybody to shut up! That includes you and me.

    • I agree. But for goodness sakes, he is our president. I am so sure, even Obama utters expletives. But have you read, watched or heard of news about it? Most likely, none.

  9. HitlerDU30 – The only way to “stop” him is through people power. He will continue w/ his rudeness, gutter language & other “kabastusan” because he is REALLY sick & continues to suffer from “Psychopathy”. His unacceptable behavior is the sum total of his MISPLACED & DISTORTED values acquired consciously or unconsciously during his early childhood days from his parents, relatives, in-laws, friends, religion, school, organizations & other bad influential environmental factors. At 71++ y/o, it will be very difficult for him to metamorphosis into a “butterfly”, so to speak. The sooner he is removed physically, the better for our country.

  10. Mr. Tatad, We were all publicly aware of how then Mayor Duterte countered criminality and drug addiction in Davao City. And yet he was prodded by a huge sector of the country to gun for the Presidency. Many times he refused and even publicly made the voting public aware that his style of administration is different. But the common tao cried to high heavens for him to vie for the Presidency and finally did and won.
    In his first 100 days in office he made a significant difference in curbing criminality. The incidence of criminality in most urban cities is largely attributed to drug abuse. And that is precisely what President Duterte is doing. We have come to a point where we have to counter the drug menace head on !

  11. nakita ko sa isang tv news na umiikot si presidente sa isang bahagi ng davao, sakay ng isang truck na tinanggal ang bubong. Tipo ng truck na ginagamit sa electoral campaign. Nasa harapan ni Pres ay isang kahon na puno ng mga bagong facet towel. Ipinupunas muna ang face towel sa kanyang mukha at leeg bago ito itapon sa mga tao. Tuwang-tuwa naman ang mga nag-aabang ng nakasambot ng inihagis na face towel.

  12. look who’s talking, tatad being part of martial law? too nice character in writing a piece but completely different in actual sense. the president really had a bad mouth when it comes to criminals and completely indifferent to common and peace loving citizens. other than his mouth which was highlighted since the start of his term, du30 had advanced a lot of things for his citizens and never it was tackled in any forum. the better things are ignored and just focused controversial topics creating bad image to the country. and tatad blame of this to du30 because of his inability to function as president of the country. it’s purely baloney..

  13. I couldn’t agree more, Kit.
    It was written succinctly to correct the President for the sake of his country he truly loves.
    Reason urges us and him to do so.

  14. The Filipino values fall came after the 1986 EDSA Revolution, it did not really instill to the Filipinos the ideals of EDSA. It is the other way around and no less than the politicians, businessmen, the new oligarchs who started it all, they became ALL CORRUPT and the peopled lost its trust to the government, poverty became prevalent so nag kanya kanya na.

    Democracy is not really good for people who lacks sense of social responsibility and poverty is prevalent. At this moment, where drug menace is national security concern, extra-ordinary measures must be undertaken.

  15. “Please shut up, Mr. President.” That is not enough. The cabinet should tell him to just resign as he is not fit to be president.

  16. Anastacio de Guzman on

    The popularity of DU30 derives from mis-administation of Pnoy. The ordinary people suffered a lot under his term re: MRT, traffic, drug menace, selective justice, substantial price increase of rice & other basic commodities, etc. Lots of lying, deceptions & hypocrisy have happened like Mamasapano, DAP, etc. It will be difficult for the ordinary people to go against DU30 as the yellow cult will be backed in control of the country, Besides, DU30 resonates with the people. They can see in him that he protects them. Many have been accomplished during his first 3 months of his administration. The current VP is LPs Leni Robredo, hence she will takeover the reign of the government if DU30 will be ousted. Probably, if Bongbong Marcos will win his protest, there will be a major reductions of critics and destabilization moves.

  17. Anastacio de Guzman on

    The popularity of President Digong derives from the mis-administration of Pnoy for 6 years. Many ordinary people suffered a lot re: MRT, traffic,drug menace, substantial price increase of rice & other basic commodities, etc. during his term. Lots of lying, deceptions, selective justice & hypocrisy under Pnoy administration. So, it will be difficult for ordinary people to go against DU30 as the LP mafia will be backed in control again of the country. Leni Robredo is the current VP and she will takeover the reign if DU30 will be ousted. Probably, if Bongbong Marcos will win his protest, then there will be a major reduction of critics and no destabilization moves.

  18. Mr. Tatad please continue to be the voice of truth and your scholarly analysis of the burning issue on the Duterte Presidency. TRUTH hurts. and. . . . the TRUTH will set us free.

  19. Thank you, That is a nice article :)

    Personally, I think Digong has too many sins that his conscience can’ t handle the guilt anymore that is why he is that Foul Mouthed. It is just a matter of his spirit not able to control all the effects of polluted soul.

    1. It is evil to say that one should commit suicide| and Digong always says that. It is like he pushes someone to go against the Laws of God.
    2. Thou shall not pu God’ s name in vain| Digong uses God’ s name and Christianity in many awful statements.
    3. Digong’ s soul is bathed with the blood of many| when he orders the killings of both Physical and Non-Physical on Humans. Murder on one’ s Mind is also a sin against the 10 Commandments.

    There are so many faults that I can find in this Duterte Person| one thing for sure: his mind got EVIL.

    • that’s true..actually he said once in a speaking engagement that if God will throw him to hell, he will kick out and replace Satan…so you better pray that you will not also be thrown there coz for sure you will be double dead…kung maka comment naman parang di dimonyo tong damuhong to…

  20. The Great Defiant on

    tell it to senate datdat…
    there “bastosan to the max, walk-out, patayan ng mic, kapalan ng mukha,at walang disiplina at respeto ang mga buwaya dun..

  21. The best article I read in my entire life comparing sparrows and the drug addicts” I guess it is too late now. Tremendous forces are in the works by now. Nobody can stopbDuterte in talking. He likes to be like god.

  22. You got it all wrong , Mr Tatad. Come out from your exclusive village and walk around. You will see that things have changed for the better, even people’ attitude have changed . We are not paid hacks. We truly believe that the president has done good. You are so out of touch , it is pathetic.

    • Walk around where? What improvements can you see in three months that I can’t see? Poverty is still there and visible. The obsenely rich are still there. The poor education standards are still there. Inefficient and excessive Beaurocracy in government agencies is still there.Public transport is still a joke and of course the traffic jams are still there. Corruption is still there. Uninspiring and self serving politicians are still there.So please, where are these improvements that you speak of?

    • nabawasan ang adik pero nadadagdagan naman ang “HATE” kung saan at malamang magkakahiwahiwalay n mga Pilipino.

    • Dear Felisa, please could you advise what has changed for the better. Thank you.

      Mr. Tatad, you are indeed wise and courageous to enumerate in this newspaper the truth as you and many other people see it, although not many people have the experience and expertise to put into writing as you have done so. Please continue to act as the conscience of the people and continue to write such articles as this one.

      There are many people in the Philippines who live in great hardship. It is the responsibility of the President and Congress to work hard to uplift the status of these people, so that they may contribute to the success of this nation, More jobs that pay equitable wages and have fair working conditions need to be created, so that the people may find profit in such work and not resort to taking drugs or to work as OFWs.

    • Hi Felisa. I bought a simple cellphone for my son’s birthday since his very old, malfunctioning unit finally gave way. I bought a second hand unit, btw. After paying, the stall keepers warned me to keep the unit in a safe place and for me to be extra careful because there are many bad elements lurking inside the mall.

      Again, my son, after signing out from work, would just walk going home. On many times, he would tell me, he is almost running because on the way, he would notice someone following him. He has become so frightened.

      Fear has enveloped the Filipinos nowadays. If that is the change you are advocating, then you are correct.