By RUDY D. LIPORADA
A week before President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte’s SONA, FilAm advocates staged a protest at the office of the Philippine Consular office in Los Angeles, California. This was a protest rally in consonance with other protests staged in major capital cities not only in the United States but in other countries before and during the SONA.
The response of the staff of the consular office had shades of Digong’s violence from the Motherland spilling over the US mainland. Led by a Joel Blas, staff forced nine community advocates out of a Digong administration-funded town hall. The staff dragged them, even by the neck, repeatedly shoved them, and threw them onto the ground. This, while the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) forces just looked on while preventing other advocates from entering the building.
Apart from other issues, the advocates were protesting, primarily, the stance of personnel from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Philippines. They are claiming that US grassroots organizations opposing the regime are “terrorist fronts”. Basically, they are red-tagging out of the Philippines or other foreign lands’ advocates of change in the Motherland. At that town hall meeting, they were also endorsing military and paramilitary murders of Lumad (indigenous) leaders who they accuse also of terrorism for protesting mining and logging companies who had been encroaching and destroying the lands and livelihood of the Lumads.
With this spillover of violence, I am reminded of a friend who had cautioned me about my writings. He said that I am too fiery and should subdue my writings because I might get in trouble. He means basically that I should keep quiet and abdicate my rights that are guaranteed by the fourth amendment and by the constitution’s basic rights to free speech and redress of grievances.
How could one keep quiet and not exercise one’s rights when blatant anomalies in government are so glaring that not to say anything is tantamount to let the worse turn into worst
Consider the snippets the last SONA speech of Digong. No, wherein that an hour thirty-four minutes speech did he mention progress on his promises when he vied to be elected president – no industrialization, no land reform, no end to ENDO, no peace negotiations. Instead, he promised again to stop the drug menace and graft and corruption in government – failed promises to which he long should have resigned his post as he promised to resign six months after failing them. He himself has admitted that the drug problem has increased. Meaning his extrajudicial killing method did not work. He still hates corruption but is surrounded by people like the Marcoses, Estradas, and Arroyos.
In his SONA, he said, “It has been three years since I took my oath of office, and it pains me to say that we have not learned our lesson. The illegal drug problem persists. Corruption continues and emasculates the courage we need to sustain our moral recovery initiatives.”
My retort: We have learned our lesson – We have a president who swindled the Filipinos with false promises. You promised to eliminate the drug problem and corruption in six months after your ascension as president. We still have drug problems because you let the biggest drug lords scot-free, killed the wrong people. Corruption exists because you have declared the father of corruption – Marcos be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Imelda who has been sentenced for plunder is still not jailed. You just have reshuffled those who have been charged with corruption and even promoted them.
You said “Years ago, we saw the terrible devastation caused by illegal drugs. On May 23, 2017, our law enforcers launched an operation to serve a warrant and to neutralize terrorists. A group of armed men with sophisticated weaponry and aided by locals radicalized by extremist dogma and teachings fought our troops for weeks. During that Marawi Siege, tons of shabu worth millions and millions of pesos. Drug money killed 175 and wounded [2,101] of my soldiers and policemen in that five-month battle.”
My retort: Wondering who smuggled those drugs when drug shipments passed through the BOC and you said that the dogs who sniffed them off were wrong. You had more sense at sniffing. By the way, how is the rehabilitation of Marawi City going? It’s been two years now.
You also said, “I respectfully request Congress to reinstate the death penalty for heinous crimes [applause] related to drugs, as well as plunder.”
My retort: You do not have to advocate for the imposition of the death penalty. It is already in place as Extra-Judicial Killings. You admitted it yourself that that is your own only fault.
Furthermore, “My countrymen, it is a sad commentary that we cannot distinguish our need from our greed, our principles from our prejudices, the real from the fake, and the truth from a lie. The reason is that many of us, what matters above all is the ‘self.’ It is selfishness [at] its worst for no purpose other than personal aggrandizement.”
My retort: ‘We’ is you and your cohorts. Thanks for admitting this through your spokesperson, Panelo and your other minions.
You said, “By the way, I commend the Bureau of Investigation for its handling of high-profile cases resulting in the arrest and prosecution of criminals. These culprits will have their day of reckoning in court. I hope it happens during the last three years of my term.”
My retort: Really? High profile? Again, why is Imelda Marcos who was already sentenced not yet in prison?
You said, “That is why, I implore those who occupy positions of power and authority, to let your deeds and accomplishments do the talking. Lead by example. Words ring hollow when not followed by positive and prioritized action. Time and again, I have emphasized that like my fellow workers in government, trabahante lang po ako ng Pilipino.”
My retort: So, why did you not defend the Filipino Fishermen who were decked by the Chinese at Recto Reef and left them to drown? Why are shouting sovereignty when you do not lift a finger against China trampling on our sacred shores and encroaching on our patrimonial resources?
On Boracay, you said, “So I told the Agrarian Reform, go to the place, have it inspected because I will declare the whole of the island a land reform program. And I gave the islands piece by piece to the Atis, the natives of the place para walang masabi. Marami kasi ginawa ko raw [applause] para linisan ko, ibigay ko sa mga kaibigan ko”.
My retort: Land Reform in Boracay? Why not the whole Philippines? In fact, farmers are now suffering due to your rice program of importation. By the way, Boracay is not arable. It is too sandy. Kaya nga tourism lang ang main income diyan.
Funny that you said, “Wala akong kaibigang mayaman. Ayaw kong kaibigan ng mayaman because pagka mayaman ka, tatabi ka lang sa akin, pati ako napahiran na ng kung ano-ano ang hingiin mo sa gobyerno.”
My retort: Really? Who are the Marcoses, the Arroyos, Enriles, Estradas, among others, and those that you have freed from prison-like those involved with the PDAF? They are not your friends?
Of all your bespeaks, you said, “Let me repeat what I said many times before. Honestly, I have identified the enemy who dumped us into this quagmire we are in. I have met the enemy face-to-face and sadly, the enemy is ‘us.’ We are our own tormentors — addressing the Filipino people — we are our own demons; we are as rapacious predators preying on the helpless, the weak and the voiceless.”
My retort: Thanks for admitting this. But then you have to define ‘us’. If ‘us’ means the upper echelon of the Philippines, like the landlords and bureaucrat capitalists, aka trapo, you are so right. And this segment of your SONA defines who are the exploiters in the Philippines with you as the main seller of the patrimonial assets of the people, the chief of the drug lords, the protectors of those involved in graft and corruption, and the murderer of the those who protests.
That are more items in your SONA that could be questioned. Unfortunately, my column space could not be enough. Suffice to say that I must have covered enough.
Now I go back to my friend who admonished me. I ask if you don’t retort to what you think is not proper, who will? If the advocates do not assert themselves, who will? If we do not question, we relegate our rights to free expression to silence, then we declare the constitution as useless – as toilet paper like Digong has already, repeatedly, said. And if you say we should cower in silence, then we are giving Digong and his minions the license to continue with their corruption, with their plunder, with their murderous regime.
We would have given Philip Salvador the merit in saying, “Mamatay kayong lahat.” This, without us saying or doing anything to thwart the masses’ destruction. #nordis.net