NEW YORK CITY — Is this the most foul-mouthed administration in the history of the Philippine Republic? It seems like it. Verboten: to criticize it. Verboten: to question it. Verboten: to cast doubt on any of its policies.
Once one does, one is liable to be insulted, degraded, one’s humanity undermined, and even threatened, even as those who do so are profuse in their expressions of faith in democracy and the freedoms that constitute its very core.
Witness the smear campaign systematically undertaken against Senator Leila De Lima, one that originates in the gutter mentality of those orchestrating it. Rather than addressing the life-and-death issues she raises—the very real possibility of innocent lives being taken in the unrelenting war on drugs—unfounded aspersions are cast on her character.
There was the suggestion put forward by the House of Representatives leadership for its members to view a sex tape that purportedly depicted De Lima in coitus—what has been condemned as “slut-shaming,” and rightly so, by prominent women journalists. And the allegation was suddenly put forward, without any proof whatsoever, that her driver was not only her lover but also the conduit for payoffs by drug lords in prison.
Character assassination is as old as the hills, a strategy in the playbook of those who stoop to play dirty politics.
Never mind that her sex life, real or imagined, is entirely irrelevant to the campaign against drugs, which is at heart a war against the poor. The gullible public laps up the salacious rumors, for sex scandals are a top draw in the bread-and-circus meant to distract it from the other issues that urgently need to be paid attention to.
Traffic in the metropolitan sector is still a nightmare. Whatever happened to this administration’s commitment to unclog the streets? And the economy is stagnant, with income inequality as bad as ever.
In the eyes of every tyrannical government, whether that of Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, or Ferdinand Marcos, the law is there to serve its agenda, and not the other way around. We see this disturbing tendency in the current dispensation.
Recently, alpha male Rodrigo Duterte compared himself to Der Fuhrer and said he would be “happy to slaughter three million” drug addicts. Wait. Three million? That would be half of the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis. In perverse fashion, some will probably think, oh, that’s only half as bad, and give him a pass.
That seems to be the premise behind a tweet of Teddyboy Locsin, Duterte’s choice for ambassador to the United Nations. “I believe that the drug menace is so big it needs a Final Solution like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. No rehab.”
This was followed by “You may find it hard to believe but the Nazis were not all wrong, give or take killing millions of the wrong people. Keep an open mind.” What’s three million between friends? And open mind? As in open sewers? And who would be the right people that would warrant killings on such a massive scale?
And yet, as horrifying as that sentiment is, the language pales in comparison to his other tweets. Click here for those.
One can only assume that eloquence and erudition have deserted this man, who was considered an accomplished debater, a stout defender of free speech, a man of culture and an intellectual. That person is nowhere to be seen in these tweets. What is evident is a trite, crass, and impoverished imagination.
As I noted in a previous column, whenever the leader of the pack barks, his followers will bark as loud, if not louder, and bare their fangs as ferociously as they can.
As for comparing himself to Hitler, Duterte apologized not long after, but again this seems more pro-forma than anything else. He may have apologized for hurting the feelings of the Jews but please note that he uttered nary a word of apology for the brazen transgressions of the law, not one word of remorse conveyed to the families of the more than 3,000 dead, and counting, alleged suspects (meaning, folks, that those killed should have been presumed innocent until proven guilty).
Such an apology however would require a moral compass and a quality of mercy much deeper than we are likely to see.
Copyright L.H. Francia 2016
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