We all know the saying: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The country’s chief executive is now acting like a power-mad ruler who senses that his time may soon end, and will do anything to extend his reign.
As his administration continues to flounder, President Rodrigo Duterte is getting more and more desperate. How else can one explain his most latest statements and actions?
In recent days, he supported his Solicitor General’s bid to free the universally reviled plunderer Janet Lim Napoles even as he allowed his Justice Secretary have Senator Leila de Lima arrested under the most questionable of circumstances.
Allowing Napoles to go free does not make any sense. None whatsoever. There is only one justification for such an abhorrent act, and it must have something to do with the billions of pesos that the pork barrel queen is known to have amassed.
I have no proof but I do have some common sense. It tells me that the huge sum that she plundered will very likely change hands (if it hasn’t already) and the political and economic future of a certain family or two will be assured for generations to come.
Meanwhile, Duterte continues to show that his supposed hatred for any and all forms of corruption is being proven to be largely all talk, a figment of his imagination. Unfortunately, the entire Filipino nation is paying the price.
I am not a great fan of Senator de Lima, but I do know that her arrest and incarceration is not right. Whatever crime she is accused of should have been brought before the Ombudsman by the Sandiganbayan. Without exception, this is what the Constitution says. Any government official accused of wrongdoing must be judged by a court that exists to try elected or appointed officials.
The Duterte administration would have the public believe the testimony of convicts pointing to De Lima as having received millions from drug lords. In exchange, those convicts were granted certain privileges by the administration with the help of a House of Representatives that has shown itself to be totally subservient to the president.
Duterte’s blind hatred for De Lima stems from her stint as head of the Commission on Human Rights when she ordered a probe of the former Davao City mayor’s alleged killing of numerous suspected criminals in his southern fiefdom.
With the whole world watching, Mr. Duterte just turned her into a martyr.
Like US President Donald Trump, President Duterte is not too fond of local media. He has reason to be. There are still a number of media organizations that live up to the highest standards of the industry, and the country’s top newspaper is among them.
It was the Philippine Daily Inquirer that exposed Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay as having falsely claimed that he was never an American citizen. In other words, he lied. He lied to the Commission on Appointments (CA), which hopefully will not make the same mistake it did in earlier confirming the appointment of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.
Lying about his citizenship is not even the worst of Yasay’s sins. Just ask the business community. As far back as his time as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Yasay has been involved in questionable dealings.
Then, after a failed bid for national office, Yasay was appointed to head a bank that had been closed by the old Central Bank. The commercial bank reopened a few years ago. That bank didn’t stay open for long with Yasay at the helm. In fact, he reportedly caused it to run aground again, this time permanently.
The scuttlebutt is that Yasay is only keeping the Foreign Affairs post for the one year that defeated vice presidential bet Alan Peter Cayetano – running mate of Mr. Duterte in last year’s elections – may not yet assume any appointive position in the government. After Cayetano takes over as DFA secretary, Yasay will be given another cushy position in the Duterte administration, possibly as Philippine ambassador to Washington.
It will be seen in the coming days if the CA is as beholden to Mr. Duterte as the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, as well as a high number of senators. If the CA confirms Yasay, then Congress really is as helpless a mess as the executive department led by a power hungry politician who should have been put out to pasture many years ago.
Was it John F. Kennedy who said he wanted only the best of the best in his government? In the Philippines, we have a president who has mostly recruited the worst of the worst.