WE have reached a point when it’s already senseless to debate on whether or not President Duterte is serious or not, or lying or telling the truth — or half-truths — about his stories. He has succeeded in blurring the lines between truth and falsity, reality and irreality, and reason and irrationality.
Take, for instance, his narrative on Thursday in Da Nang City in Vietnam where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit. There, he claimed that he knifed to death another person when he was 16.
Duterte said, “Rambol dito… at the age of 16, may pinatay na ako. Tao talaga. Rambol. Saksak. Noong 16 years old iyon, nagkatinginan lang. Eh lalo na ako ngayong Presidente na ako. You f*** with my countrymen, ’di kita papalusutin. Bahala na kayong human rights.”
Really? Mr. President, was the real or imaginary dead stabbing victim a Filipino, your compatriot, your countryman?
The context of that pronouncement was, again, his so-called “war on drugs” that, come to think of it, never really stopped the flow of the supply of illegal drugs because Duterte merely ordered a crackdown on users and addicts, street peddlers with dirty fingernails, and small-time and a few big-time distributors who were then replaced by new “franchise holders.” His order was merely to “destroy the apparatus,” but just like water, the supply of illegal drugs continued to flow and found a way into the market. There was never an order to get major suppliers or cut the drug supply by going to the roots. And I doubt if this superficial “war” has hurt the suppliers a bit. Except for the temporary setback, exactly how were the suppliers hurt with the slaughter of the Parojinogs when there will always be a replacement, a new “franchise holder,” so to speak? And so, it doesn’t surprise me a bit to be informed that it’s business-as-usual again in Ozamiz and Misamis Occidental.
It will be a waste of time to try to figure out if Duterte’s tale in Vietnam was an outright lie, another hyperbole, a display of exaggerated masculinity and bravado or if there was even an iota of truth in that narrative. He has said things far worse than that, and everytime he does, he gets away.
But it would be interesting to point out that his wild tale about having stabbed another human being to death when he was still a minor was greeted with laughter and applauded by members of the headless Philippine native chicken brigade in Vietnam. Applauding a tale or even a joke about the murder of another Filipino — another human being — should be offensive to moral sensibilities or by any moral standard. That was no laughing matter under normal circumstances. By that I mean that we live in very abnormal times.
This sentence also tells a lot about the mindset of this President and his propensity to abuse his powers: “Eh lalo na ako ngayong Presidente na ako.”
So what if you’re the President?
But he adds this qualifier: “You f*** with my countrymen, ’di kita papalusutin.”
Now, how did the real or imaginary stabbing victim in the real or imaginary riot f*** with his countrymen?
Mr. President, the major illegal drug suppliers which you once said are from China (later Taiwan) are f***ing with your countrymen, and your government has no record to show that it has lifted a finger to seriously go after them. If you did cut the supply, then the “apparatus” and everything else down the line would have crumbled. Or are these foreign drug sources also imaginary? What is not imaginary is the flow of illegal drugs that has remained unabated because Duterte is only going after the dealers and victims instead of the producers and suppliers. As long as there is a drug supply, there will always be peddlers, many of whom are hawak sa patalim, and victims.
As we have already seen, this Steven Seagal movie-inspired pa-pogi points and loud-mouth crackdown is going nowhere. Better change the approach and wage a real no-nonsense war on drugs. Target the production and the sources of the supply. Pastilan.