AS THE BAMBOOS SWAY | Duterte, salamangkerong halata na


A salamangkero is a cheap magician who, with his ‘bilis ng kamay’, makes things appear or disappear in your face. With a whisk of his hand, drawing your attention to it, his other hand could be doing something else like producing a rabbit, changing the face of a card, or anything that we consider magic. Almost always, even if you are that attentive, no matter how you try, you cannot catch the trick and you are awed or amazed at being hoodwinked.

When President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte campaigned for the Philippine presidency in 2016, his banner gesture was, and is, his right clenched fist trusted forward at chest level. He said he was a leftist and his clenched fist mimicked the progressive left’s clenched fist which was pointed towards the sky. With this gesture, he promised to fight against all Noynoying and past administrations’ negativities. He promised to eradicate corruption in the government and criminality all over the Islands, to promote industrialization with promoting steel production, to create jobs so Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) could come home. He promised to wage war against the drug menace. He promised to kick out the US troops as he is against foreign intervention. He promised to talk peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed New People’s Army (NPA), even phoning his former instructor, Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the CPP.

As then mayor of Davao City, he emphasized the crime and drug ‘cleanliness’ of the City as showcase of what he can replicate to cleanse the Philippines of her social and economic ills.
It appeared that with his clenched fist whisked in front of the faces of Filipinos, he had blanketed all the ills that would be eradicated if ever elected. Sixteen million were readily hoodwinked and they catapulted him to the presidency.

There was, however, a red flag that should have been given more weight. He said that his being leftist is only “hanggang kili-kili lang.” So, while his fist covered the Filipinos’ faces, his words spoke the truth. So, he was not totally leftist. He was not totally for the peasants who needed land reform. He was not truly for the workers nor the OFWs. He was not totally against the oligarchy. He was not totally going to fulfill his promises, nay not going to fulfill them at all.

The hoodwinking eventually showed. He had allowed the father of all oligarchs, dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He orchestrated the removal of those he initially installed as leftists from his cabinet including avid environmentalist Gina Lopez. Eventually, there were no more talks of land reform, end of contractualization or industrialization. There were no more talks of international intervention with actually him letting China invade the Philippine seas.

At a whim, he just ended the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which represented the CPP and the NPA. What was left are his foul words cursing the Pope, misogynist attacks against women even calling them pangit, calling the poor ‘patay-gutom’ and telling them ‘wala akong pakialam’ on their hardships.

The greatest salamangka of them all, however, is Digong’s war on drugs. In his initial moves to prove his seriousness, he orchestrated the imprisonment of Senator Leila Delima who he branded as a drug lord protector. It now appears that he has done this to prevent the senator from pursuing her uncovering his criminal extra-judicial killings in Davao City. The salamangka does not work anymore because the drug lords presumably being protected by the senator had been set free while the protector still languishes in jail.

Furthermore, it is appearing that Digong wanted to silence Delima because since then his family had already been involved in the drug business. The killings in Davao was a salamangka to cover their tracts in the city as they had been involved in the drug syndicate in the Philippines from the beginning.

When Digong sat as president, the drug salamangka went full force with him now in total control of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) through which contrabands pass through. Moreover, apart from the gestures of cleaning up the Philippines, he applied the Joseph Gobbels principle. Gobbels is the German Nazi propaganda minister who promoted the line “Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.”

Thus, he presents matrixes of those suspected, imagined, and targeted prospective anti-Dutertes as drug lords while his son, Paulo, and son-in-law’s Davao group maximize their use of the BOC to import drugs. He also extra-judicially kills small time drug users and conduits to project his seriousness in his war against drugs while letting his drug lord compadres scot free.

Later on, he would slap Senator Trillanes with a silly void ab initio regarding his non-compliance to amnesty procedures, so the senator could be imprisoned. The senator had been, apart from other issues, asking Digong to sign a waiver, so we could check his bank account which presumably would show his booty from his drug dealings.

In the end, however, no matter what salamangka maneuverings he did – ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, promoting BOC chiefs suspected of being in cahoots with drug smuggling, discrediting whistle-blower Deputy Collector Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang who proves with x-rays that Php11B worth of shabu had lately been smuggled through the BOC – aso lang ang katapat niya. Mangaong may be lying, former BOC Chief Isidro Lapenas may have admitted wrong about shabu coming in through during his watch, x-rays may be erroneous – but a BOC dog that sniffed PHP11B of shabu were smuggled in by the Davao Group could not be wrong.

That dog could not be Digong’s best friend. It is the only being that could not be hoodwinked by the whisk of his hands. Also, too bad, that dog could not be summoned by the senate to be discredited. It could not also be fired nor promoted.

Unfortunate, however, that the salamangka’s revelation only hangs by the dog’s nose. Digong still holds the stage and is at its center to wave his hands with so many assistants helping him with props and blinders. And here comes the military cavalry to further enforce his hoodwinking.

Sad, too, that there are still those who are amazed and clap at being hoodwinked.

BTW, where is that dog?#


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