Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 July 2016 

The inclusion of Vice President Leni Robredo in the Cabinet of President Duterte as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (following in the footsteps of the unlamented VP Jojo Binay and his predecessor, VP Noli de Castro) may be explained in any one or a combination of ways.

The first, of course, is that she came, she saw, she conquered. All it needed was a face-to-face encounter for her charm to work—just as it did with the rest of the Filipino people. Apparently, she had never met him before, and when she did, her simplicity, her sincerity, and her intelligence wove their magic. She is also very easy on the eyes.

The second is that PDu30 realized how boorish his behavior to the VP had been. His mother’s admonitions to him as a youth kicked in, and the natural, courtly manners of the gentleman he was raised to be rose to the surface. All he needed was the opportunity, and his “ma’am’s” and his escorting her to the door are the marks of that gentleman.

Either one, or some combination of all three, as I said earlier, would explain PDu30’s sudden, and much welcome, turnabout. And there is an additional benefit to him: Adding Leni to the widely disparate Cabinet mix he already has might just be the ingredient that will help calm the expected troubled waters that his ship of state is sure to encounter.

* * *

Encomia having been heaped on the man, now come the potshots. This newspaper’s editorial yesterday I echo in its entirety. Five police generals, two retired—he dragged their names through the mud, and we are expected to take his word for it? Because there’s not one iota of evidence he presented.

He said he had heard about them since his mayor days. That’s not good enough, especially knowing the cesspool of wild rumors that this country is. Then his man (PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa, or “Bato”) said there is a lot of evidence against them but he won’t show it for fear it might prejudice the people’s case. Then there was a veiled threat (from the President himself to the National Police Commission) that they better not fool around (he used the word “zarzuela”), which obviously means he wants them to turn in a guilty verdict.

I don’t know these generals. But I would have preferred that they were told why they were being relieved (in the case of the three still on active duty). And if there wasn’t enough evidence, the exposé should have been postponed until such had been gathered, don’t you think, Reader? The same should go for the retired generals, who are no longer in a position to harm the rest of the force.

Methinks the desire to show “action agad” for public applause overcame the more basic need to show fairness and the rule of law to everyone. The pity of it is, I think that if those generals had been found guilty in a process that was fair and transparent—remember, for the active ones, the case is an administrative one, so the level of evidence required is not much—the applause would be even more resounding.

Right now, PDu30 has most everyone applauding, but I think a note of apprehension is creeping in. Too many deaths of “suspected drug dealers,” including a policeman. That’s vigilante justice. Not even star chamber proceedings. Who is to say they were not killed in order to silence them? By higher-ups? By drug lords? What’s more, all of those killed will soon be replaced by others. They are too low in the supply chain. In other words, it has been all sound and fury, signifying nothing. And we Filipinos are smart enough to know it.

Bottom line: PDu30, we are behind you in cleaning up the country’s drug problem. Your shock-and-awe tactics may be impressive at first glance, but the honeymoon will soon be over. As it is, the “I will kill you” threats are no longer as resonant as they used to be.

And the people will soon realize that you have not even provided them with the means to determine whether you have succeeded or not. How will we be able to tell if you have succeeded or not? Surely not by the number of extrajudicial killings of the lowly drug dealers, who will soon be replaced? Or maybe by the number of drug lords (the top of the supply chain) “neutralized”? Tell us, please, so the public trust in you and the government will not be eroded. After all, you have said that this is the biggest problem that we face.

And while we’re at it, will you please, in the interest of transparency, make good on your campaign promise to have public officials lay bare their bank accounts? Can you start with yourself? We still don’t know if you or Sen. Antonio Trillanes is the liar. Or have you both forgotten that there is still this hanging issue?

Finally, pardon me for having such a long memory, but you did promise that if you win the presidency, you will see that Binay (Jojo) goes to jail. How about it? There is evidence galore there.