Offline (Beting Dolor): What is he thinking? Or worse, planning?
One very disturbing bit of news that came out in Rappler over the weekend said that weeks before he stepped down from the presidency, then president Rodrigo Duterte registered around 300 firearms in his name.
Think about that for a minute.
Why would a retired chief executive who should be enjoying what’s left of his life purchase enough weapons to arm a private army?
Philippine warlords of both past and present — hello, former Rep. Arnie Teves; hello, Ampatuan clan — would normally have one or two dozen goons serving as his/her private army. Each would have one side arm and one long arm, on the average, which would be sufficient to terrorize enough of his provincemates to vote for him or his anointed candidate year in and year out.
The number of armed goons would, of course, grow proportionately if another wannabe political overlord of a province (usually either a gambling lord or a drug lord or both) sets up his own little army and challenge the current big boss.
Verily (I love that archaic word) this has been so since way back, to around the post World War ll years when a newly-independent Philippines had not yet reached an ideal level of political maturity where candidates for public office would debate issues and the electorate was free to decide who they believed would best serve their interests.
Then as now, the poorer the province, the greater the chance that one family would hold sway in every election. Dynasties they were called.
Some dynasties would last for decades, while others would be short-lived. Even in Metro Manila, dynasties were commonplace. Heck, even the very progressive city where I live – Makati – has been ruled by the Binays for decades.
And in the adjoining city where I grew up known as Pasay AKA Sin City, it was the Cuneta dynasty that ruled for decades.
Alas, when patriarch Pablo Cuneta passed away, the influence of his family died along with him. It might have lasted a few decades more had his favorite daughter Sharon decided to run for mayor, but she wisely stayed away from the dirty politics of the city.
It is not clear if the same thing that happened in Pasay will also happen when Jejomar Binay moves on to the Great Beyond. My feeling is it won’t, but what do I know?
What is clear is that Rodrigo Duterte wants his immediate family to remain in power, at least until the day he dies. Having a daughter as vice president, a son as mayor of his city, and another son as congressman may be enough to assure that he can sleep nights without worrying that those big, bad investigators of the International Criminal Court will come knocking at his door in the middle of the night and escort him to The Hague or some such place.
His family is his greatest insurance, but just to be absolutely sure, he appears bent on surrounding himself with a heavily-armed private army who would die for him as long as they are well fed and are also paid handsomely.
There may be a reason for his concern.
For the longest time, it appeared that a certain Pastor Apollo Quiboloy was completely untouchable.
In fact, Quiboloy and Duterte fed off each other, and was watching each other’s back. Moreso when Digong became president, and he made sure that nothing but nothing could touch his spiritual adviser. Not even the mighty US of A and its FBI could grab him despite overwhelming proof of very serious crimes committed by the so-called religious leader.
For good measure, Dutz even made sure that Quiboloy AKA the Only Begotten Son of God or Some Such Nonsensical Title would own a broadcast network. The better to protect the Davao Duo until the end of their days.
But hold your horses. Or your giraffes if you don’t own horses.
Some things happening now seem to indicate that not only is Digong’s influence waning, Quiboloy is also in similar straits.
Where there were more than a hundred congressmen in his party during Digong’s presidency, he now has less than 10. And instead of a supermajority in the Senate, he now has only a handful of loyalists, namely Bato dela Rosa, Robin Padilla, and Bong Go.
Quiboloy, meanwhile, is no longer as untouchable as he was a mere year or two ago. A brave senator is now calling for an investigation into his alleged crimes committed in the US, and some are truly sickening. If some of the accusations are true, then the guy is truly a perv of the highest level.
As far as I’m concerned, the FBI would not make up stories about his alleged crimes, so he must be deathly afraid of American G-men coming to take him away.
As Digong fears the ICC, Quiboloy is allergic to the FBI.
Which brings me back to Digong and his guns. Specifically his fixation for guns.
You all know what some say about gun fanatics, yes? They compensate for their, uh, short manhood. The Rappler report says that the former president has some of the longest and most expensive long arms available.
He may even have a golden gun for all I know.
His followers say that there’s nothing wrong with being a gun enthusiast. And they may be right. I have a couple of good friends who own several guns, which they lovingly caress when the mood hits them. And they would probably give me the finger if they read this.
But in all seriousness, I do know rich dudes who have something like a dozen guns, some of which are part engineering marvel and part work of art.
And for the record, I did have a paltik when I was a crazy kid, but only have a nice air gun now which looks and feels like the real deal. It was gift, ok? From my grandkid, believe it or not.
As for Digong and his 300 guns, I can only surmise that he may be thinking of setting up a security agency, mayhap? Or maybe he plans to have a firearms museum, with each of his three adult kids in politics in charge of taking care of a hundred guns and rifles each.
I don’t really know, but I must surmise that it is also possible that the ex-president is preparing for Armageddon, as he is very likely not waiting for a Chinese invasion and has armed himself and his followers to defend the Republic of the Philippines.
Or will he side with the People’s Republic of China and wage war with the US? Whajatink, folks?
I, for one, see no rational reason why this former chief executive should purchase so many firearms, unless he knows something and he’s not telling us.