“Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears; I write about PDU30, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good, if any, is forgotten. So let it be with PDU30, because he is an honorable man.”
– Rhythm and many words borrowed from Mark Antony’s oration in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
ON July 26, PDU30 will deliver his first state of the nation address (SONA) before members of Congress and everyone of significance to the PDU30 government. I heard PFM deliver a SONA in the same building and in very familiar grounds.
I could not be ecstatic about his speech because I was a member of the opposition, duty bound to examine the contents of the speech and articulate our own version of the state of the nation.
This column is designed to lay the basis for a correct approach to the SONA of PDU30. It has nothing to do with the original of the speech of Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar—not about time, circumstances or intention. It is just about my appreciation of the rhythm, the cadence and the beauty of the words. So there is nothing to read beyond that in the edited version.
July 26 is only 26 days from the day of the assumption of power of PDU30. It is popular wisdom in this country that it is too early to judge a President in the first few months in office—whether he will turn out to be hero or a bum, just like some of the others before him. I am trapped to make a grudging acceptance of the questionable validity and viability of the popular embrace of the idea. Why? It is due to the continuing reminder of the gem of thought of one of the most intelligent scholars—the charismatic former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said that “if a man does not know how to be President on the first day of office, he will never learn till the end of his term.” This is probably a hyperbole but I fully agree that this is the rule, not the exception.
It is against this backdrop that the PDU30 administration will be judged by political historians. PDU30 could not be talking about achievements yet; that is too early to tell.
But to say that his government has not done anything that attracted public attention and approval is to be blind and pompously partisan. It has done some things that have attracted so much public attention and approval. They may not be so huge and all encompassing. They may be little but they can be justly described as humble beginnings. But as they say, big things come from humble beginnings.
But PDU30 has committed blunders that can overshadow his limited achievements in such a short time. The President’s men and women should begin seriously plugging these leaks in the dike. Their fingers would not be enough to do it. The ball is in their court.
Their boss describes them as the best and the brightest. They better make good his words.
Since I know a number of them, the description of PDU30 proves hollow and meaningless as they are far from the truth. Probably they have changed; they have reformed. Let their actions prove louder than words. Words are only relevant if they come from the mouth of PDU30, even if they are the wrong principles and distortions of the fundamentals and existing realities within the system.
Lessons for PDU30 and his men
It would serve this country well if those who want to be leaders observe the conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties of the United States of America. The Republican Convention is ongoing at Cleveland, Ohio, and ends tomorrow, July 24. The beauty of the convention is not so much the thundering ovations and the incantations of “LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN; TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP! LOCK HER UP!” but the articulation of American values and principles, the primordial importance of the American family in the life of the nation, the American dream and the role of America in the world as a bastion of democracy, justice and freedom.
Very impressive to me were the speeches of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Chris Christie (of New Jersey), vice-presidential nominee and Gov. Mike Spence (of Indiana), and the children of Republican presidential candidate, DONALD J. TRUMP.
They were all outstanding and deserving of the standing ovations!
Featured in the speeches of the three politicians is the need to listen to the people, the primary commitment to the observance of promises to the people, honoring one’s oath the moment it is made and the primordial importance of God, country, family and human values as well as justice, freedom and equality in American and in the world.
Listening to them makes you cry as you see beauty in their commitments to God, country and principles against the backdrop of madness in this country and in many parts of the world.
Testing the promises of PDU30 during the campaign
We test PDU30 in what he has done in the last 26 days and his next 74 days against the promises in his campaign and his Oath of Office as President of the Philippines, on June 30. But first, we highlight the many promises of DU30 during the campaign. These are some of the important ones, among them:
1. He would declare a revolutionary government the moment he gets elected President. Well, he was elected President, but he did not declare a revolutionary government.
2. He promised that Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay would immediately go to jail the moment he becomes President. PDU30 is now President and he did not honor this commitment.
3. He said he would take a jet ski with a Filipino flag and plant it at the Scarborough Shoal. He did not honor this commitment. Instead, he is in smiling terms with the Chinese Ambassador while our fishermen could not fish at the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal because they were bombarded with water cannons of the Chinese Coast Guard. We won the case at the UN Arbitral Tribunal (UNAT), with the approval of almost all countries in the world, yet we are behaving as though we lost the case. Why are we behaving this way? Is the case at the UNAT a game of perde gana—the loser wins! China behaves as though they are the winners in the case. We allow ourselves to be bullied. What kind of a people are we? What kind of a President have we got?
4. He said he will eliminate illegal drugs and graft and corruption in six months. Well, it is not even the first month of his presidency so you could not hold him yet on this promise.
Thus far, his boys have succeeded killing hundreds of poor illegal drug pushers and illegal drug users. We have not heard of any drug lord getting killed. Instead, his PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa had a crying session with the four police generals whom PDU30 accused in full view of media as protectors of illegal drug lords. PDU30 entertained in full view of media his compadre whom he denounced as being a drug lord, instead of killing him.
These are promises he made which he did not fulfill as yet. Or will he fulfill them? Only time and circumstances will tell.
The promises when he was inaugurated President
The major promise when he became President is his oath of office to fulfill his duties “faithfully and conscientiously … preserve and defend the Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to everyman and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God.”
The first series of questions arises: Is the indiscriminate killing of illegal drug users and illegal drug pushers consistent with the oath of preserving and defending the Constitution, execution of its laws and doing justice to everyman?
There is no death penalty under our existing laws, so is the killing of illegal drug users and pushers of illegal drugs consistent with executing the laws?
Is the killing of these illegal elements consistent with due process of law, human rights and the rule of law?
Is the killing of the poor users and pushers of illegal drugs while the drug lords and their protectors are being given a soft different treatment consistent with the equal protection of the law and doing justice to everyman?
Is the soft treatment of the Chinese drug manufacturers and producers who were caught in their vessels not violation of equal protection of the law and doing justice to everyman?
Does Chinese life matter more than that of a Filipino?
PDU30 promised to kill Peter Lim the moment he gets out of the plane. He did not kill him. Instead, he gave him a grand interview in his office. Is this equal protection of the law?
He promised to appoint the best and the brightest in government. Did he? He must have been joking when he made this continuing commitment. The appointments are hardly different from those of Asperger syndrome PNoy’s KKK—kaklase, kabarilan, kaibigan, kasama, kabayan. It is only one thing better than PNoy, at least there is no kabaklaan.
I could go on and on with more questions, it is tiring and the intelligent readers can add more questions to their satisfaction. This is the way to measure PDU30. Listen to his first SONA as to whether he and his boys could deliver what they promised that “change is coming.” Or would it be a reiteration of that famous line in a song—“You keep coming back like a song.”