Sen. Manny Pacquiao and President Duterte (right)
“The only reason for the triumph
of the forces of evil is those good men
do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Less than a year ago, President Duterte delivered a usual tirade against graft and corruption. He said that graft and corruption are “rampant” in his government. He even said that his enemies are the people in government in his war against graft and corruption.
Duterte: President forgot that he is the head of state and government. If there is anyone to blame for the proliferation of graft and corruption in government and in the country – it is nobody else but President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The admission shows he is incapable of solving the problem of graft and corruption. He even said that at the rate things are going – graft and corruption will still be there beyond his term. This admission is devastating as it shows a lack of competence as President.
But that is Rodrigo Roa Duterte as a human being, President, and former Mayor of Davao City. Unlike the seasons, Duterte never changes – in words and in action even in his usual inconsistencies. As I wrote in my previous columns, the simple problem with President Duterte is – he does not seem to think before he opens his mouth. This is a matter of habit of President Duterte, before opening his mouth, does not stop, look and listen or he does not look before he leaps. Why is that? He likes what he sees in himself — in what he does and what he says.
An intelligent pupil in public elementary schools knows these warnings. But President Duterte is something else, as some intelligent observers say — Duterte may have gone through San Beda College of Law but remains uneducated. Senator Pacquiao may not be as schooled as President Duterte but, the way he responds to President Duterte, Pacquiao is really educated in compared to the President – in behavior and in language.
Pacquiao: The word war between President Duterte and Senator Pacquiao started when it has become obvious that Pacquiao is planning to run for President in the 2022 elections. It gathered more fire when the PDP-Laban National Council passed a resolution endorsing the candidacy of President Duterte for Vice-President in the 2022 elections with the right to choose his presidential candidate.
Senator Pacquiao took offense at the calling of the National Council meeting without his consent or knowledge as President of the PDP-Laban. Ambitioning to be President, it is obvious why Pacquiao was offended by the resolution. If Pacquiao did not publicly object, his dream for the presidency in 2022 is finished for good. . .
To fan the fires further, Pacquiao accused several departments of the government of graft and corruption – the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Energy (DOE), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). And Pacquiao claims to have documentary evidence in his hands which he will reveal in time through a resolution he intends to file with the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Senate. Not only that – Pacquiao claims he will reveal more incidents of graft and corruption in government from time to time.
Pacquiao made the correct choice in identifying DOH, DOE, and DSWD. These are the three most unpopular departments of government during the pandemic.
The denunciation of Pacquiao finds support with the public, mainstream, and social media. In the case of Pacquiao, he claims he has documentary evidence to prove his accusation. And there are reasons to believe he is telling the truth.
In response, President Duterte said Pacquiao should study some more and do his job in the Senate. Pacquiao, in return, wondered why President Duterte should be offended when he is only trying to help the President. Duterte thought that by railing against Pacquiao by using his usual vulgar thrusts, he could floor Pacquiao. Well, Duterte did not even dent Pacquiao but the senator came out with a counterpunch that floored Duterte to sleep. Touche’, Manny!
Graft and corruption: The problem of graft and corruption has been in this country for eight decades since 1949. It became the popular whipping creature in every presidential election from President Elpidio Quirino to the current President. It started with a Palace golden urinola, an expensive Malacañang bed, and the Buenevista-Tambobong Estate involving a few thousand pesos and millions of pesos. It has grown in size from one regime to another. Finally, in the current administration, it has ballooned into billions that even mathematicians have lost count of.
There is nothing Duterte and Pacquiao can do to make a difference to the people of this country on how to solve the problem of graft and corruption – it will only be for show. It’s just from nothing to nothing – whatever that means. Both Duterte and Pacquiao are traditional politicians. They are operating within the system and they will continue working within the system. That way – they can never solve the problem of graft and corruption, not if they live a thousand years.
Presidents have come and gone but graft and corruption remain. The general perception is it cannot be uprooted because it has become a part of our culture. To borrow some lines from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade – graft and corruption to the left of you, graft and corruption to the right of you, graft and corruption behind you, graft and corruption in front of you, graft and corruption under you and graft and corruption above you, volleyed and thundered.
It continues to the present day without let-up.
Hope: Is there hope to end graft and corruption in our country? Of course, there is hope! As they say – when there is life, there is hope.
But hoping is not enough. I am like the high school boy in a story that ends every essay with the famous line of Patrick Henry – “Give me liberty or give me death!”
His teacher, befuddled by the boy’s obsession with Patrick Henry and the well-remembered line, tried hard to think of a subject of an essay in which the boy could not invoke the sacramental line. The subject was – The Brown Cow. To the great surprise of his teacher, the young boy wrote a beautiful essay on the brown cow ending with these lines – “The cow is lazily grazing in the garden. This cow gives us milk but as for me – ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’” And his teacher almost died laughing.
As of this moment, I am like that boy in high school obsessed with an idea – not just of liberty but system change. 2022 is another opportunity for system change. This is probably the last opportunity of this decade. I think we all should grab this opportunity by the forelock – by electing someone a visionary, revolutionary, brilliant with balls in his brains and brains in his balls, disciplined and focused with character and integrity with the right values, mean what he says and do what he must for God, country and people.
Don’t laugh at me as you think it is impossible. As I keep on repeating, the impossible is only in the mind. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald did it in the United States of America. Winston Churchill did it in Britain. Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin did in Russia. Mao Tse Tong, Chou-En-Lai, and Chu Teh did it in China. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara did in Cuba. Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap did in Vietnam. Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, and Moshe Dayan did it in Israel. Muammar Khaddafi did it in Libya, etcetera, etcetera.
We can do it in this country – if we try. As President Fidel Valdez Ramos used to say with his thumb up sign – “Yes, we can.” Even if he was not able to do all that he wanted. I dare say for tomorrow if we march behind the right leader – Yes, we can! (ai/mtvn)