Into the final stretch of the presidential campaign, the entire monstrosity of the Duterte terror finally unravels.
Even seasoned politicians, like Vice President Jejomar C. Binay who is not known to engage in dirty gimmickry, lies and subterfuge but rather in principled, straightforward ventilation of legitimate issues, can take a good schooling from Duterte on the art of fooling the people en masse and even get adulated for it. The seemingly aimless meandering course embarked on by Duterte on the way to his current determined push to win the presidency betrays the political genius of a man rivaled only by Ninoy Aquino on the local scene and by Hitler in world history.
It was Ninoy who achieved the impeccable talent of keeping the people in tow on a mass scale so that when, for instance, he commanded them to jump from a building, the question they would ask was not why but from which floor. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler, who strode the streets of Germany as a vagabond in the depression era of the 30s, was a gifted public speaker so that when he coined the phrase “superiority of the Aryan race” and peddled it to all Germany, he got the whole Aryan people, who were the Germans, enraptured by his magic spell, pushing him to the pinnacle of Germany’s political power. Of course, we know it was Hitler’s handiwork to gas up to 6 million Jews in World War II, the worst ever in human history so that you would think it was already the Awful Horror described in the Revelation.
As the Holocaust was a staple to Hitler in his time, or grenade blasts, like the Plaza Miranda bombing, to Ninoy during the anti-dictatorship struggle, killing for Duterte is as staple as peanuts for beer drinkers, or for that matter Duterte himself chewing gum during interviews.
Crafting the Duterte icon for the presidency has been a brilliant maneuver through and through. Early on he announces his intention to run for President. And then abruptly he declares he is withdrawing from the race. And he has his legions of followers – at one time, estimated at 50,000 massed at the Quirino Grandstand – pleading for him not to withdraw, continue the fight.
In what evidently was an orchestrated campaign in the social media, the nation was treated to a spectacle in which his daughter Sarah, now having substituted for him as mayoral candidate of Davao City, had her head shaven completely in purported protest of her daddy’s withdrawal from the presidential contest.
Still Duterte remained steadfast in his declared desire to stay out of the race.
When pressed on by his people, he told them, “Sabi nang ayaw ko. Ang tigas ng ulo nyo.”
What followed was an episode that even saw the Davao City bully filing his certificate of candidacy for mayor of Davao City. In the stretch of the election period, this event was a far prelude to Duterte’s finally filing a substitution plea for PDP-Laban presidential candidate Dino, who had withdrawn from the contest.
A number of legal questions attended the issue. One, Dino had already withdrawn when Duterte filed the substitution plea. Duterte could, thus, not substitute for the candidacy of somebody who was not a candidate – being no longer one actually. One other legal question, and this is what makes these entire proceedings laughable, was the fact that reflected on the certificate of candidacy of Dino filed with the Comelec central office is the post of Mayor of Pasay City as the one he was running for. From both legal angles, Duterte was substituting for a non-existent presidential candidate. Ergo, Duterte is a non-presidential candidate.
But as in all travesties of the country’s constitutional and legal processes, this Duterte comic extravaganza had come to caricaturize how easily malleable our democracy is in the hands of the unscrupulous and vicious. It became immaterial whether Dino was still a candidate or not, hence, legally replaceable according to constitutional mandate. As to the infirmity of his certificate of candidate, i.e., actually declared as candidate for Mayor of Pasay City, the Comelec ruled that it was an honest mistake.
That was the labyrinth of maneuvers Duterte traversed on the way to the climax of the presidential race. It was a convoluted saga characterized by intrigues and machinations, punctuated with sudden twists and turns that at each juncture had the nation guessing: is he or is he not? While at the outset I already pictured a grim scenario of the nation if it came under the rule of Duterte, some colleagues had a mindset of the Davao butcher as just being the opposition attack dog against Mar Roxas. True enough, Duterte’s worming into the limelight of the presidential fight had him spewing insults against the Liberal Party standard-bearer. To Duterte’s dare for him to engage in a slap match, Roxas got hooked into making his own kanto boy stance: “Bakit sampalan pa, suntukan na lang.”
For one who has been steeped in bourgeois upbringing, that pretense was pretty incredible, as was his quite-too-obvious hypocrisy of shoveling earth like a construction peon or lugging on his shoulders cargo only market kargadors would. Duterte had a heyday making fun of Roxas, now calling him “supot” (uncircumscised), now branding him a faggot, now casting ill aspersion on his economics mettle by exposing his Wharton diploma as fake
By the time the Philippine Presidential Debate unwrapped in Cagayan de Oro, Duterte had gotten ingrained into the people’s psyche as one possessed of the comic expertise of Comedy King Dolphy (witness how his fingers twiddle on his chin) or Action King FPJ with his consistent brandishing of his exploits with the criminals of Davao. Unlike FPJ, however, who never picked small guys for foes (that is, except for the late Franklin Cabaluna and the little crew of FPJ Productions), Duterte is on record of having pounced on petty lawbreakers like small-time illegal drug runners and even minor children, all of poor families. And not just beating them to pulp like FPJ did of his enemies in movies but also shooting them dead through the infamous DDS (reading it Davao Death Squad or Duterte Death Squad makes no difference). In Davao City, calling by any other name summary execution, extra-judicial killing, or riding in tandem horror would stink as Duterte.
The period of the debate saw Duterte’s numbers soaring in surveys. Previous to the event, Duterte had been consistent on the third spot, below Grace Liamanzares and Jojo Binay statistically tied on first. After the debate, Duterte catapulted to second, above Binay and already threatening Grace. Roxas kept the fourth spot then as now.
When the second debate came, that must have been the moment Duterte planned for his coup de grace. He truly hogged the limelight. The more than one-hour delay of entrance of Vice President Binay gave Duterte every opportunity to steal the scene. It was a virtual stand-up comedy act, with Grace and Roxas as his sidekicks – quite effective for the roles – providing the leads for his crispy remarks which thrilled an audience that dote on sanguine machismo and naughtiness bordering on porn lewdness.
That second debate must already carry the scary message of Duterte unleashing his unstoppable juggernaut, like Hitler in his conquest of the whole of Europe in World War II, or Ninoy returning home on Aug. 21, 1983 – the date of the infamous Plaza Miranda Bombing – to execute the greatest political sleight of the hand, the exquisite genius of getting himself killed in order to bring about the ascension of Cory to Malacañang.
If Hitler’s holocaust or Ninoy’s gory homecoming scares, then cringe from what scarier demonic deeds Duterte is out to commit once he becomes President. People have been so conditioned to accepting for good his many twists and turns, his evidently irrational indecisiveness, fickle-mindedness and frivolity that as President whatever he does goes. That’s the ultimate disaster for our country.