Psychopath – (noun) a person with antisocial personality disorder manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse, in extreme egocentricity, in failure to learn from experience, etc. Psychopaths tend to lack normal human emotions such as guilt. They also lack the ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships. They are often highly intelligent and skilled at manipulating others.
Sycophant – (noun) a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage; a servile self-seeking flatterer.
Power could be such a potent motivation that people are willing to go to great lengths to possess it — or even to get close to it. It is no wonder, therefore, that when Duterte won the presidency, opportunists of all colors and sizes huddled up close to and swarmed Malacanang.
Just like flies would to manure.
Many members of the opposition readily deserted their respective sinking ships and jumped into that of the PDP-Laban, which was fast getting jam-packed with the other political chameleons.
New alliances and coalitions between other political parties and the president’s party were formed.
People who supported and worked for Duterte’s campaign saw it as the perfect opportunity to collect and reap the benefits of being a loyal boot and ass licker.
Those closest to him, meanwhile, elbowed their way through the burgeoning crowd to secure the meatiest positions available.
Needless to say, their efforts paid off.
Despite Duterte’s initial pronouncement that he will get only the best and the brightest people because “the Filipinos deserved nothing less,” he went on an appointing spree (with their contribution to his campaign as the main qualification for the selection of those appointees) weeks before he was proclaimed the election winner.
The following are some of the President’s political appointees. Together, let us know them a little better and see if, indeed, their connection to the Palace was not their only credential to their current positions. We will also take a peek at what they have managed to bring to the table thus far.
DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II. He was the legal counsel of Hubert Webb in the celebrated Vizconde massacre case; the former lawyer of Sen. Lacson and Ramon Tulfo; the deputy counsel who conducted the direct examinations of now Sen. Trillanes and the other Magdalo members during the investigation of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny; Duterte’s fraternity brother in San Beda and his lawyer when he was linked to the Davao Death Squad by then CHR Commissioner Leila De Lima; the defense lawyer of retired SP04 Bienvenido Laud (the owner of the quarry in Davao believed to have been the burial ground of the DDS victims); the founder and president of the Brotherhood for Duterte Movement; and the controversial target of the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s ire during the Corona impeachment trial. (Yes, Aguirre and the Hear-No-Evil lawyer are one and the same.)
When Aguirre was appointed by then presumptive Pres. Duterte to head the DOJ, the latter’s orders were quite specific: “Focus on illegal drugs, graft and corruption and heinous crimes, and file appropriate charges no matter who gets hurt.”
After only a year at the helm of the Justice department, Aguirre has already figured in a plethora of controversies.
The government’s drug war has already killed thousands, many of which were perpetrated by unidentified masked men, yet no single killer has been held legally accountable. Amid the international community, the Catholic Church and the human rights advocates’ resounding call for accountability and end to the killings, the Dep’t. of Justice has remained deafeningly silent.
Aguirre used 12 convicted felons (all of whom were granted immunity and witness protection, while 5 of whom have had pending applications for pardon or clemency) to testify against Sen. De Lima during a congressional probe on the Senator’s alleged involvement in the drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison. (Said felons were reportedly granted certain perks and privileges in exchange for their testimonies.) At the same public hearing, he threatened to present sex videos allegedly of De Lima and Dayan “to establish their relationship.” He also released fake BDO deposit slips to further implicate De Lima. During presscons and interviews even before a single case against De Lima was filed before a court of law, he found great joy in destroying the Senator’s reputation by accusing her of being the country’s biggest drug lord — an action that utterly ran counter to what a judicious Justice Secretary should be.
To date, Peter Lim is still as free as a bird despite PDEA and Kerwin Espinosa’s separate testimonies that the presidential friend is a bigtime drug lord. (Lim has been, in fact, named by no less than the President himself in his drug matrix as among the top-tier drug lords operating in the country.) Just recently, DOJ downgraded the murder charge against the 19 policemen involved in the rubout of Mayor Rolando Espinosa. (Ex-CIDG Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos, the team leader, has long been involved in illegal drugs, according to PNP Chief Dela Rosa.) Both of these despite the administration’s controversial War on Drugs.
It is also on his watch when the bloody raid (eyewitnesses assert that it was a massacre, not a raid) against the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City took place. Amid claims of irregularities in the execution of the operation, and a clamor to look deeper into the incident that resulted to the death of 15 people, the DOJ thru its constituent agency, the National Bureau of Investigation, has been conspicuously quiet. Yet again.
Aguirre has the uncanny habit of parroting Duterte’s statements. According to him, the killings of thousands of drug suspects and criminals may not be considered crimes against humanity because those drug suspects and criminals are not humans. Duterte has been repeatedly heard making the same statement.
The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul Jack Lam had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. The DOJ Sec. was even quoted telling an ex-BI official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte’s frat brothers and appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.
He earned the title “The King of Fake News” after exposing to the media that some opposition lawmakers, in connivance with some Moro clans, were behind the Marawi clashes. He even used a photo (which turned out to be an old one) to support his claim. Before that, he also accused former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, along with a Laguna solon, of allegedly trying to bribe the inmates who testified against De Lima to recant their testimonies. He once accused Sen. Trillanes, moreover, of having benefited from the PDAF scam with Napoles. All claims were eventually proven to be baseless, malicious and outright lies. Sen. Grace Poe lambasted Aguirre for “propagating fake news like a troll,” while the NUJP called him a “mean-spirited coward” for blaming the media for his blunders following Aguirre’s yet another claim that he was just being misquoted by the media.
He is also among the 11 government officials tagged in the criminal complaint filed against Duterte at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.
For the succeeding parts of this article, we shall get better acquainted with these other notable Duterte sycophants:
POLITICAL APPOINTEES (continuation)
PNP Chief Director Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Budget Sec. Benajamin Diokno
Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III
Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Tourism Sec. Wanda Tulfo-Teo
Communications Sec. Martin Andanar
PCOO Assistant Sec. Mocha Uson
Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
DSWD Assistant Sec. Lorraine Badoy
Ambassador to the UN Teddy Boy Locsin Jr.
Tourism Promotions Board COO Cesar Montano
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
Senate Pres. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard “Dick”Gordon
Senate Ethics Committee Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III
The World Health Organization has pegged the annual number of deaths due to road accidents globally at 1.25 million. It estimated the fatalities in the Philippines to be at 10,379, broken down as follows:
53% – motorcycle riders
19% – pedestrians
14% – four-wheeled vehicle drivers
11% – four-wheeled vehicle passengers
2% – cyclists
1% – others
These figures paint a grim and alarming picture of road safety in the country. However, most road accidents (a total of 95,615 for the year 2015 alone, as reported by MMDA) can easily be avoided and the fatalities greatly reduced, or even totally eliminated, if we only make a habit of practicing these important road safety tips.
Before you hit the road, especially during long trips, always check your BLOWBAG – an acronym for Brakes, Lights, Oil, Water, Battery, Air, Gasoline.
For the Brakes:
You know that you have to drive to the nearest mechanic’s shop for a much-needed diagnosis when you experience any of the following:
when the brake light appears (and refuses to disappear) on the car’s dashboard
when the car takes longer to stop after you brake
when you hear a high-pitched squeal or a harsh grinding sound while applying the brakes
when the car pulls as if it wants to make a right- or left-hand turn on its own
when the brake pedal vibrates or thrums
when the brake pedal is non-compliant or over-compliant
when the steering wheel shakes while braking
For the Lights:
Many accidents occur as a result of a misuse or nonuse of your car’s many lights. Know all of them and their specific functions.
Headlights (Low Beam or High Beam) – these are turned on when visibility is low. Low Beam is used when you are driving closely behind another car, while High Beam is for when there is no car up ahead or approaching from the opposite direction.
Parking/Park lights – these are used to increase the car’s visibility when parked in a dark area or at night.
Tail lights – these automatically turn on whenever the headlights are on.
Fog Lights – these are used during poor visibility conditions like fog, rain, snow, and dust
Signal Lights – these are used when making turns and changing lanes.
Hazard (Flashing) Lights – these are used when the driver is having trouble on the road.
Brake Lights – these appear on the back of the car when the driver is stepping on the brakes.
Reverse Lights (usually in high-end vehicles only) – these pop up at the rear when the driver is moving the car backwards.
Running Lights – these automatically come on when the car is running but the lights are off.
Flash Lights – these are used as a way of communicating with other motorists.
Interior Lights – these are used when light is needed inside the car.
For the Oil:
The engine oil’s main purpose is to lubricate all the parts of the engine. Aside from this, it also prevents excessive wear of parts, cleans the surfaces, keeps the engine cool, inhibits corrosion, and keeps the engine sealed properly. The level (and color) of your car’s oil needs to be checked once a month. This could easily be done by opening the hood of your car, locating and pulling the oil dipstick out, wiping it clean, inserting it back into its tube, and pushing it all the way back in. Pull it out again, this time to read the oil level. If it is too low, add the appropriate amount of oil. If the color of the oil is either black or brown, or if it looks milky or foamy, it should be checked by a mechanic. (Aside from the engine oil, there are other fluids that you need to monitor regularly. Read http://lifehacker.com/five-fluids-you-should-check-to-keep-your-car-running-s-1556413981).
The car battery plays a crucial role as it supplies electrical energy to your motor vehicle. The engine will shut off and your car won’t run with a dead battery. Luckily for you, a dying battery gives off warning signs. Beware of the following:
when the Battery Warning Light illuminates on your dashboard
when the vehicle electronics like remote locks or interior lights randomly stop working
when your lights are not as bright as they should be
when your car is backfiring
when your car won’t start unless you step on the accelerator
when you turn the key in the ignition and the only reaction you get is a clicking or ticking noise
when you hear the engine of your car cranking slowly but it won’t stop
Maintaining the proper air pressure of your car tires is important to avoid the potential of a flat tire or a blowout. It also helps optimize tire performance and fuel economy. When your car’s tires are underinflated, you would experience a significant loss of steering precision and cornering stability. When they are overinflated, however, they could get damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road. Improper inflation can also cause excessive or uneven tread wear that can lead to an accident. The recommended air pressure for your car (usually between 30 and 35 PSI) may be found on a sticker in the door jam or in your owner’s manual; some models even place the stickers on the trunk lid, in the console, or on the fuel door. As your tires’ air pressure cannot be accurately estimated through visual inspection, you must have it checked with a quality air gauge. Tire experts suggest doing this at least once a month.
For the Gas:
Just like your body converting food into energy, a car engine converts gas into motion. So basically, your car won’t move an inch without gas. You can easily monitor the level of fuel left in your tank by consulting the fuel/gas gauge indicator that is usually found on the car’s dashboard. The needle strikes the F when you have a full tank, and E when you are about to run out of gas. Once the indicator comes on, you have to bring your car to the nearest gas station for a much-needed refill. However, if the gauge already reaches a critical level and there is still no refilling station in sight, you better start praying your rosary and heed the advice of this article: https://www.cars.com/articles/six-things-to-do-when-youre-about-to-run-out-of-gas-1420684453409/.
Familiarize yourself with your dashboard indicators. Ignoring a warning dashboard light could not only result in a costly visit to the mechanic, but could also pose a threat to your life. Although all those lights blink for important reasons, there are five warning lights that you should never ignore. Read http://www.aa1car.com/library/5_warning_lights.htm.
Be mindful of the traffic lights. Green means it is safe for you to cross, while Red means you have to make a full stop. Contrary to the popular practice of going faster because it’s about to turn red, Yellow indicates that you have to prepare to stop in preparation for the red light. If you are unable to stop safely, proceed with caution.
Change lanes with caution. It is never safe to swerve (to weave in and out of traffic by constantly changing lanes), but if you have to go to another lane for any one of these reasons (your lane is ending; you need to be in another lane to make a turn at an approaching intersection, you notice a hazard ahead in your lane; you are in the wrong lane; or you want to pass the vehicle in front of you that is going at a speed lower than the speed limit), there are steps that you should follow to ensure a safe change of lanes. First, turn on your appropriate signal light. Second, check your mirrors, then check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder. Next, slowly change lanes. And finally, turn off your signal after completing the lane change.
Observe speed limits. Every driver has this occasional urge to unleash his inner fast-and-furious persona. However, each type of road you traverse has its own speed limits that you must follow, not just for your own safety, but also for that of your passengers, of other motorists, and of the pedestrians. Remember, speeding is a major cause of collisions. For a quick guide to these speed limits, read this: https://www.autodeal.com.ph/blog/quick-guide-speed-limits-in-philippines.
Pass or overtake carefully. Do not pass or overtake over solid white or yellow double center lines; when there is a “no overtaking” sign; when the distance is not safe for overtaking; when you are approaching a bridge, an underpass, an intersection, or a railroad crossing; or when there is a bend, dip, or hill ahead that can obscure oncoming traffic. Additionally, overtake only on the left side of the road.
Neither cut in nor counterflow. Cutting in (making a sudden sideways movement in order to position your car in front of another car, while leaving an unsafe distance between the two vehicles), counterflowing (driving against traffic), and tailgating (driving too close to the vehicle in front of you) are common causes of road accidents.
Do not use the road shoulder as you would an ordinary lane. The road shoulder is designed for emergencies and emergencies only. Parking on no-parking zones will not only earn you dirty looks from other motorists, but a parking ticket as well from the traffic enforcer. Additionally, you should not stop on railroad tracks. Otherwise, you’re just an accident waiting to happen.
Before moving your car, wear your respective seatbelts. Many vehicular deaths could be avoided if only people, both the driver and the passengers, would realize the importance of these inconspicuous and seemingly useless belts. Remember, seatbelts save lives.
Do not overload. Aside from the fact that it carries penalties under the law, its consequences could also be fatal. Overloading places massive strain on vehicle tires, making the vehicle less stable, difficult to steer, and harder to stop. It causes damage not only to the vehicle’s suspension and tires but to our roads and bridges, too.
Whenever you need to stop your vehicle on an area where standing or parking is prohibited, install an Early Warning Device (EWD) at least 4 meters to the front and another one at least 4 meters to the rear. Under the law, a pair of EWDs is a mandatory accessory for all vehicles except for tricycles and motorcycles.
You are not above the law. (Nobody should be!) So, as a law-abiding citizen, you are expected to follow all kinds of laws, rules, ordinances, and the like that govern all road users. These are designed to protect you, your passengers, the other motorists, the pedestrians and commuters, and properties and infrastructures, both public and private. You must also respect the traffic enforcers.
Never ever drive if you are drunk, under the influence of drugs, sleep-deprived, or when you can’t give driving the benefit of your full concentration.
Keep distractions away while driving. Even without the new Anti-Distracted Driving Act in effect, you should know that driving while using your mobile phone poses a great danger, not only to you and your passengers’ lives, but also to those of other motorists and pedestrians. Aside from phones and other electronic devices, there are many other hazards inside your car that could drive you to distraction: an unrestrained pet, a cup of coffee, the sight or even the aroma of food, a shapely leg next to you, the noise of your nagging spouse and bickering children, etc.
Be an informed, levelheaded, and considerate driver. If you have a standing anger management problem, better steer clear of the steering wheel for a while until you have sufficiently addressed your condition. The monster traffic in our cities, coupled with the absence of discipline in many motorists, can make any driver angry – but if the person behind the wheel has a hostile or aggressive behavior, the situation can easily escalate into a heated road altercation, and may even lead to death.
Indeed, time flies so fast. Isang taon na pala ang lumipas since Duterte took his oath last June 30, 2016 as our country’s 16th president.
Ayon sa kanyang inaugural speech, “Malasakit. Tunay na Pagbabago. Tinud-anay nga Kausaban (Compassion. Real change.) – these are words which catapulted me to the presidency. [But] these slogans were conceptualized not for the sole purpose of securing the votes of the electorate. Far from that. These were battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change.”
‘Yan ang pangako n’ya when he was still campaigning.
‘Yan ang ikinondisyon n’ya sa utak nating lahat na kailangan ng bansa.
‘Yan ang pinaniwalaan ng 16,601,997 Pilipino na bumoto sa kanya.
‘Yan ang inasahan at patuloy na inaasahan natin mula sa kanya at sa kanyang administrasyon.
After 365 days in Malacanang, masasabi ba natin that the President was able to deliver on his promised change? Or have we all been taken for a ride?
C’mon, let’s find out by looking back at his first year in Malacanang!
Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation
Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, thousands are killed in just a span of one year. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.
Pork Barrel has made a comeback
Under the 2017 National Budget, a Congressman gets an annual allocation of P80 million while a Senator gets P200 million. The SC ruling specifically prohibited the post-enactment intervention of members of Congress in the national budget. To effectively go around that ruling, Congressmen were asked to submit a list of projects before Malacanang had to present the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress. Under PNoy’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), members of the Congress were making postenactment identification of projects, while under Duterte’s PDAF, everything is done preenactment or during the budget preparation. Budget preparation should be the domain of the executive branch. When the legislature is asked to participate in it, the whole exercise could easily open doors to patronage and corruption. Meanwhile, the House leadership claimed that “they are just exercising their power of the purse.”
An identified drug lord is set free
According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace, unscathed, and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.
Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman
The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.
According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace and wheel chair–, representing Pampanga’s second district at the House of Representatives.
Rampant Human Rights violations
Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”
The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate, and the downgrading of charges against the perps
According to the result of the NBI’s investigation and of the probe of the Senate Committee on Public Order, the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Supt. Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the President himself a few days before the rubout. Despite the glaring evidence against the team, though, DOJ recently downgraded the charges against the perps from murder to homicide. Marcos and his men are now out on bail.
Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero
The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.
The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president
Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.
The Vit Aguirre-Jack Lam rendezvous
The DOJ Sec. and the gambling mogul had a private meeting at some hotel room hours before a P50-million bribe/extortion money changed hands from Lam’s camp to Aguirre’s. Aguirre was even quoted telling an ex-Bureau of Immigration official who was with him at that meeting, “Ikaw na ang bahala diyan” before leaving the room. Two BI officials (both are Duterte and Aguirre’s frat brothers and presidential appointees) were implicated for extortion, while both Aguirre and Lam walked away scot-free.
Slashed budget for calamity funds
Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.
Camp Crame is now Camp Crime
Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.
The death of Project NOAH
The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.
The near-collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels
Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners. The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.
The ongoing election protest of Bongbong Marcos
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is moving forward with the case after ruling that Marcos’ election protest is sufficient in both form and substance. As service fees for the contested precincts, Marcos has been ordered to pay P66.2 million while Robredo P15.7 million. Historically, it takes around 4 years for the PET to resolve electoral protests.
Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail
Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the bigtime drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of a handful of Bilibid convicts and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.
Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts
With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.
The country is considered a major money-laundering hub
According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”
Higher monthly pension for SSS pensioners and Higher monthly premiums for all SSS members
To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.
The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury
During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.
The Commission on Appointment’s rejection of Gina Lopez
Gina Lopez is one of Duterte’s appointees that could have effected real change in the country with her unwavering advocacy for the protection of the environment. Her appointment, however, was rejected by the powerful bicameral CA. Duterte attributed CA’s decision to the power of lobby money.
The reimposition of death penalty
Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes were removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under the new law, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!
The Lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old
Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.
Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea
Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the seabed for possible mineral deposits.
The inclusion of archrivals Duterte and De Lima in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
Duterte’s supporters rejoiced when the popular President topped the readers’ poll for this annual list. Their joy was short-lived, though, when they learned that the name of Sen. Leila De Lima somehow found its way to the prestigious list. Duterte was listed under the Leaders category, while De Lima under the Icons. The write-up on Duterte was assigned to and written by Cesar Gaviria, the former Colombian president that Duterte called stupid for criticizing his war on drugs. The write-up on De Lima, on the other hand, was penned by Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former US Ambassador to the UN.
Mocha is now a legit source of information
With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when Philippine Star gave her her own column, when DZRH gave her a tv show, and when the president gave her a government position. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead? No one, but her boss PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar came up with a brilliant piece of advice: Uson should hire page managers for her blog. Hopefully, we won’t shoulder that extra expense. Uson’s monthly salary of more than P106,000 (plus allowances and bonuses) is already hard to accept, as it is.
SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction
Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it is possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she is found to be the least guilty among those involved in the controversial Pork Barrel scam.
Lower personal income taxes but Higher excise taxes
As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning P250,000 and below will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that measure would entail, higher excise taxes on petroleum products, automobiles and sugar-sweetened beverages, and VAT on lease of residential units, sale of real property and in electric cooperatives will be implemented. Note that the net effect of all these additional taxes (increase in the prices of basic commodities, meds, fares, housing, etc.) would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes.
Duterte’s foreign trips that cost thrice more than his predecessors’
The government spent at least P386.2 million of taxpayers’ money on the President’s 21 foreign trips during his first year in power. (Said figure does not include the cost of his last 4 trips – to Cambodia, Hong Kong, China and Russia). Former Pres. Fidel Ramos called Duterte’s Russian trip a junket because of the countless free riders. Aside from the 16 (out of 23) cabinet secretaries and around 300 businessmen, also spotted in the trip were Gen. Bato Dela Rosa and his wife, the Commanding Generals of all three major service commands (the army, navy and air force), former MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, actors Robin and Rommel Padilla, Phillip Salvador, Cesar Montano, Sandra Cam, concert producer Bernard Cloma, Mocha Uson and his manager Byron Cristobal, and presidential son Baste.
The declaration of Martial Law over the entire Mindanao
Despite the AFP and the Presidential Spokesperson’s repeated initial statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control, Duterte declared Martial Law for the whole Mindanao. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.”
The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension
With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.
The revision of history
Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)
The desensitization of the Filipino people
We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.
The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials
When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.
The dismissal of the impeachment complaint filed against Duterte
The members of the House Justice Committee unanimously voted that the impeachment case filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano against Pres. Duterte was sufficient in form but insufficient in substance. Impeachment is considered both a political exercise and a numbers game, and since Duterte maintains a stronghold at the Lower House, with at least 267 out of the 293 lawmakers as his allies, no impeachment complaint against him is expected to prosper.
The Resorts World Manila attack that left in its wake 38 casualties and at least 54 injured
The attack, perpetrated by a lone gunman, showed Gen. Bato Dela Rosa’s thirst for media exposure. It was a developing situation at the time yet he was providing updates –which turned out to be unverified reports—to the media. According to him, the gunman was Caucasian (Jessie Carlos was Filipino who used to work in the Dep’t. of Finance), was killed by government troops (he was wounded in a firefight with the casino’s in-house security before he burned and shot himself), that no one got hurt except for those who suffered minor injuries due to the stampede (37 died due to suffocation), and that a member of the casino’s security accidentally shot himself in panic (a Resorts World official denied such incident). He later urged the public to stop spreading unverified information. Bato is such a clown.
The filing of a criminal case against Duterte before the ICC
Atty. Jude Sabio, Edgar Matobato’s lawyer, went to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands where he accused Duterte of being a mass murderer. “The lawyer claimed that Duterte has been waging mass murders constituting crime against humanity from his term as mayor of Davao City under his Davao Death Squad to the present after assuming the presidency through his bloody drug war.” Also included in the complaint are 11 of Duterte’s senior administration officials.
Just a month after, Sen. Trillanes and Congressman Alejano also flew to The Hague to file a supplemental communication against Duterte. They cited the unabated and systematic killings in the country and Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as compelling reasons for the ICC Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation on the situation in the Phils.
Senate Pres. Pimentel and eight other senators flew to France to repair the PH-EU ties
Amid Duterte’s repeated verbal attacks against the EU, his rejection of its $278.7-million grant, and his arrogant statement that we can survive without EU’s assistance, nine of our honorable senators decided to use taxpayers’ money to fix the relationship between the powerful union and the Philippines. Said effort and expenses could have easily been avoided if only the President learned how to control his dirty mouth.
Positive economic momentum, Volatility of the stock market, and Peso depreciation
In 2016, the economy grew by 6.8% — a stellar performance that economists attribute to the stable and fast-growing economy that the previous administration turned over to Duterte. According to them, the positive momentum will carry us through 2017, but beyond that, certain factors – the success or failure of the implementation of Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, the country’s political stability, Trump’s America First policy, etc. — will ultimately dictate our fate.
Last year, the Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at the former POTUS Obama in connection with the latter’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.
Meanwhile, our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.51 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is now at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,” has a domino effect.
The President admitted, albeit grudgingly, to going to Guangzhou, China during the New Year holidays for a medical visit. He, again, went into some sort of unexplained hibernation –4 days in February, June 12-16, and June 20-27. Because of these absences, people are calling for the full disclosure of Duterte’s medical records.
An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system
Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.
President Duterte is expected to stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!
They are the silent yet reliable fixtures in our lives, the families’ pillars of strength, and the mothers’ steady but often underrecognized and unsung partners in raising and nurturing their children. They are our discreet cheerleaders, the steadfast shoulders we can cry on, and the proud fans who inconspicuously carry their family’s photos around like a badge of honor.
They are our fathers.
Today that we celebrate them and their daily acts of quiet heroism, let us push them out of the sidelines where they are most comfortable in, and into the limelight that is their rightful place. Together, let us count the things that our fathers are best at.
They are best at waiting. Have you seen the McDonald’s Fathers’ Day tribute video? Fathers are known to wait for their children – sometimes wearily and self-consciously but, oftentimes, patiently. He waited for your arrival outside the delivery room, at the daycare center while you were chatting with your new friends, at the kiddie party while you were playing and dancing with the mascots, at the bookstore while you were reading some fairytale books, at the amusement park while you were enjoying your favorite rides, at the field while you were taking a shower after a game, at the corner of a boutique while you were shopping for some dresses and shoes, at the car while you were attending your prom or some friend’s party, at the steps of the building while you were taking your college entrance exam, at the bus terminal after your fieldtrip or out-of-town excursion, and at the living room for your arrival after a date.
They know that they are not yet done with the waiting but they are not complaining – as long as they have their mobile data at hand.
They are best at worrying. Fathers are certified worriers. Do you remember the first time you rode your bike? Your first day in school? The first time you were hospitalized? Your first recital? Your first inter-school competition? Your first speech before a big crowd? Your first unchaperoned date? Your first time behind the wheel? Your first job interview?
Your fathers are always there with you – anxiously pacing back and forth, nail biting, hair-pulling, hyperventilating. He learned how to pray the rosary because of you.
They are best at hiding their most intense emotions. Culture dictates that men are supposed to be strong, that they should never surrender, that they don’t shed tears. However, when you ran to him to have your scraped knee kissed after you fell off the stairs, when you gave him an impulsive hug in exchange for some McDonald’s kiddie toys, when you handed him your medals after the recognition ceremony, and then during your teenage years, when you would repeatedly lie to him to cover up for your friends, when you gave him your first eye roll, when you chose to watch his favorite movie with a girl than with the family, when you forgot to greet him on his birthday – he had always put on a brave face.
Your fathers want you to believe that they are unaffected, when, deep inside, their hearts are ripped into small pieces with your every action.
They are best at dishing out words of wisdom. While mothers are normally the naggers in the house, fathers are the source of succinct yet profound and penetrating statements that stay with you long after you have become a parent yourself. Sometimes, though, fathers can convey their message more effectively with a deafening silence coupled with a simple pointed look or a tilt of the head or a raised eyebrow.
They are best at teaching. With all the things that your mothers are too busy to teach you, the fathers are just too eager to take charge. Who taught you the rules of ball games? How to fly a kite? How to swim? How to play the guitar? How to pitch the tent? How to cook over an open fire? How to use basic tools? How to ride a bike? How to dress like a gentleman? How to defend yourself? How to treat girls right? How to drive? How to change a flat tire? Who taught you that it is okay for both boys and girls to cry?
They are best at protecting. When our firstborn was just a toddler, he nearly drowned in a swimming pool. My husband didn’t know how to swim but, without a moment’s hesitation, he jumped in — shoes, wallet, cellphone, and all! When our second child, as a small boy with a big voice, was bullied by his classmates and locked up by his own adviser in a tiny storage room for not talking in class, my husband, livid with rage, marched to the principal’s office and demanded that the incident (and the concerned teacher) be investigated, asap! When our youngest child was hospitalized, and a newbie nurse who didn’t know how to find a vein made a needle cushion out of our daughter’s arms, my husband furiously berated the nurse’s superior for letting loose an untrained nurse to attend to some unsuspecting patient.
My husband is normally level-headed, but you dare touch any of our children and you’d find yourself in big trouble. A mother-grizzly-bear kind of trouble! I bet most fathers are just as protective with their own children.
They are best at giving. Fathers know their children’s needs and try to address these the best way they know how. They can be relied upon to give words of comfort when you are down, of encouragement when you are having a crappy day, of assurance and confidence when you are doubting yourself, of praises when you achieve something you worked hard for, of caution when you tend to be impulsive and careless, of inspiration and motivation when you are about to embark on a new adventure, of challenge when you are lulled into a false sense of complacency, of guidance when you are drifting away from your personal goals, of gratitude when you become exceptionally generous to your siblings, and of faith when you are on the verge of giving up hope.
They also provide you with their precious time, happy memories, an ideal home, and a good education. And your allowance (and something extra that your mother knows nothing about), of course!
They are best at listening and observing. Your fathers have been your captive audience ever since you flashed them your very first smile when you were just an infant. From your senseless babbling and mumbling to your excited squeals during a game of peekaboo, from your first pitiful attempts at singing to your incoherent story-telling, from your nervous giggles each time you would see your crush pass by to your oohs and aahs at the sight of a pretty dress on the mannequin, from your annoying aghhhs and eeews to your exasperating duhs and whatevers, from your loud chatters to your happy humming along with the music, from your silent sobs due to heartaches to your heart-wrenching wailing when your dog died — your fathers have heard them all.
Do you know what they miss hearing from you, though? A whispered “I love you” to remind them that you appreciate them somehow.
They are best at learning. Since your fathers are, basically, observers, they learn tons of things from you. They learn, for instance, that when there are babies in the house, sleep and rest become things of the past. They learn that, when the babies start to crawl, they need to be as fast as The Flash to be able to keep up. They learn that, when the little ones start to walk, they need a weekly massage for those back pains from too much hunching over. They learn that, when the terrible twos come around, nothing is safe from being destroyed, eaten, peed on, climbed on, and jumped off. They learn that, when the toddlers turn into threenagers, they are given a sneak peek at the horrors they would face ten years down the line. They learn that “why” can be the most loathsome word in the world. They learn that, no matter how much they love you, there are days when they wish they just bought dogs rather than have babies.
And, then, the kids grow into despicable teens. That entails a different set of horrible realizations altogether.
They are best at setting an excellent example. To be effective role models for you, fathers have mastered the art of walking the talk. They know that no amount of flowery words could ever compensate for broken promises, loveless marriage, or a gloomy future. And so, they exert enormous effort to make sure that your home and family will be conducive to raising children who are happy, hardworking, respectful, loving, strong, confident, empowered, appreciative, kind, and prayerful by being all those things himself.
Despite all these, however, don’t place them on a pedestal.
They may seem to know it all, but most of the time, they are terrified that they are doing it all wrong. They may look strong and steady when all they want to do is slump in the corner and cry. They may appear self-assured and dependable when they are secretly longing for the heavy burden to be lifted off their shoulders even just for a little while.
Yes, they have their shortcomings and misgivings. They have fears, doubts and regrets. They commit mistakes. They falter and fall.
But don’t get disappointed. Don’t be annoyed. Don’t be enraged. Instead, give them your sweetest smile and say, “I understand you, take a much-needed break. I do not love you any less just because you are showing me your weakness.” With those words, you might just prove to your fathers that all those years of sacrifices and compromises have not been for naught. That they have managed to raise wonderful kids. That they have not failed in the most important role that they are playing…that of fatherhood.
Rodrigo Duterte’s entry into the national political arena, and his eventual ascension to the presidency, opened the floodgates to numerous powerful assertions that changed, and are still changing, the way most Filipinos view and accept things. His repeated public pronouncements on various issues have managed to condition our minds to abandon some deeply entrenched values and beliefs to accommodate his largely unconventional and radical ideas and views. The questions thus currently burning a hole in our minds are these: “When his term ends, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be? Or would we even want that to happen?”
The following are Duterte’s claims and proclamations that many of his supporters are gobbling up—greedily, naively, insatiably.
The country seriously needs change, and it can only be acquired through Duterte.
An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.
Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the most marginalized members of our society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed, for the longest time, by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians whose only interests were to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope – our Messiah – to that ever-elusive change.
As much as I don’t want to come off as the previous administration’s mouthpiece, much less its apologist, but history would tell us that President Aquino is largely credited for stabilizing our economy when most in the region was stumbling or falling apart. (President Duterte himself admitted that there was no need to fix the country’s economy left by PNoy because it was doing well.) PNoy even enjoyed a 57% satisfaction rating days before he vacated Malacañang – the highest among the ratings of all the post-Martial Law presidents.
Even the die-hard LP supporters have to admit though that, like the other presidents before him, PNoy had his shortcomings and lapses in judgment, some with graver consequences than others. But I would like to believe that the man served his country the best way he knew how. He just needed a few more years to allow the people to fully enjoy the proverbial fruits of his labor, thus, his appeal for continuity.
But, no, we couldn’t give him that.
How could we when we were already conditioned to clamor for change? We were made to believe that waiting did not have to be an option when someone else could very well make our lives better in an instant. Yes, we, the most gullible of the lot, fell for all those promises of quick results – hook, line and sinker. It didn’t matter one iota that most of those promises were ludicrous, outrageous, unrealistic, or ill-thought-out, as proven by the developments and changes that have already taken place under Duterte’s administration. (Read Change Has Truly Come Sa Bayan Ni Juan.)
The country is plunging into narco-statehood.
I am sick and tired of hearing President Duterte’s repeated assertions that the Philippines is on the verge of becoming a narco state. He used that claim during the campaign, and won the presidency primarily because of his bold promise to eradicate drugs, along with corruption and criminality, in just 3-6 months after he assumes office. Now, already on his 12th month and with more than 12,000 drug-related casualties, he continues to feed us with the same statement during his public tirades and rants…as if he also needs to constantly convince himself of its veracity.
But, how serious, really, is the drug problem in the country?
Based on the 2015 nationwide survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippine, as commissioned by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), drug use incidence from Jan 1, 2015 – Feb 5, 2016 is at an estimated 1.8 million, or 1.8% of that year’s total population.
I am not, in any way, trying to discount or even downplay this number or its possible social and criminal repercussions, but this figure is hardly tantamount to an epidemic – especially considering the facts that it was significantly lower than the recorded 6.7 million users in the country in 2004 (the year with the highest recorded number of drug users) and the 5.2% global average of drug use in 2014.
So where did the President get his figure of 4 million “drug addicts,” you ask?
According to the same survey, the lifetime drug use prevalence in the country is at around 6.1%. Simply translated, this means that the number of Filipinos who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives is 4.8 million. President Duterte might have drawn his 4 million figure from this datum. Or it may be, as the President constantly claims, from ex-PDEA Chief Dionisio Santiago’s old estimate of 3 million —which the former raised to 4 million using a highly complex process called logical deduction that only he was privy to. (Note that the PDEA Chief was one of the 17 members of DDB, hence, his sole source of official data and figures should be the DDB itself.)
Either way, the President’s basis for his 4 million figure is clearly erroneous. Intentional or otherwise, President Duterte based the “bloody” all-out war that the government continues to wage against illegal drugs on an incorrect premise.
The country will be better off if we ally ourselves with China (and if we keep our distance from our long-time partners like the US and the EU).
The President has also been conditioning us to believe that China is our country’s ally – a benevolent, reliable and generous one. He wants us to conveniently ignore China’s blatant disregard of the UN arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines on our maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Questioning China’s bullying, territorial-grabbing and subjugating efforts would, for him, reduce us to nothing more than a bunch of ingrates. So, the next time China builds another artificial island on the WPS, undertakes an exploration of Benham Rise, threatens our fishermen anew, questions our DND Secretary’s visit to one of the islands in the WPS, or worse, sends drones and surveillance cameras and targets us with their precision weapons and missiles should we decide to drill oil there, we should just try to look the other way and remind ourselves of all of China’s pledges – a ready market for our exported bananas, an influx of Chinese tourists, a dole-out of investments and loans, and an unlimited supply of illegal drugs. (Read this.)
The Catholic Church will soon be passé.
The Philippines is home to the largest Catholic population in Asia, holding the record for being the third largest Catholic country in the world. Under the present administration though, the Church has been the subject of constant attacks, tirades, and condemnation from no less than the President himself. When clergymen and church figures criticize Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the President readily retaliates by lambasting the church and its leaders, claiming that the Church has no moral ascendancy and is a hypocritical institution that will soon be irrelevant and passé. Once, he even urged Catholics to stop listening to the priests and, instead, join the Iglesia ni Duterte – a religion he would establish that, he claimed, would not be as restrictive as the Catholic Church. In his Iglesia, he added, men can have as many as five wives.
The media is the epitome of bias and corruption.
When the President’s controversial and, oftentimes, contradicting statements and pronouncements stir discord, draw flak, or are picked up by the international press, the local media usually bear the brunt of Malacañang’s censure and wrath. The Chief Executive and his henchmen allege the journalists of unfair reporting and of deliberately misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misquoting, twisting, or sensationalizing Duterte’s words. Critics claim that this knee-jerk reaction and behavior could be considered an attempt to discredit or undermine the media. In the face of the most recent expletive-laden attacks and allegations of the President against the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility proclaimed that that form of harassment and intimidation “has brought the highest office to a historic low.” It could be recalled that Communications Secretary Andanar, a media practitioner himself, once accused the Senate media of receiving $1,000 each for covering the press conference of self-confessed DDS member, retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas. Mocha Uson, an ardent supporter of Duterte and, now, a presidential appointee, makes a habit of calling the media outfits that are critical of the president, “presstitutes.” She also makes a habitual call to her millions of online supporters to boycott the country’s traditional, mainstream media. Additionally, when Duterte won the online poll for the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, his supporters rejoiced. Malacañang said that it was indicative of the fact that Duterte is “so admired” by Filipinos and international leaders because of his national agenda. However, when his approach against drugs was heavily criticized by a former Colombian President, who was tasked by Time Magazine to pen the write-up on Duterte (while Duterte’s archnemesis, Sen. Leila De Lima, received a glowing write-up from a former US Ambassador), Malacañang was quick to point out that the said magazine has not been fair by choosing to focus on the negative, unsubstantiated news about the President, while failing to mention the reason behind De Lima’s incarceration.
Spreading fake news is fine, even for government agencies and entities.
Both the Philippine News Agency and Mocha Uson, as the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media, are under the competent stewardship of Andanar’s PCOO. Uson has been the source of numerous fake news that Duterte supporters gleefully spread. Apparently, her new government position does not deter her from continuing with her old ways as she recently shared a wrong photo of the Philippine Army on Facebook. PCOO, on its part, was responsible for an animated video promoting Martial Law, while PNA has had its fair share of blunders like its report that 95 nations, in their UN Human Rights Council meeting, were convinced that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The opposition is constantly working to destabilize the government.
Under this administration, opposition is not regarded as a necessary partner in legitimizing our democratic right to dissent, or even in hearing out the voices coming from the proverbial other side of the fence. Instead of directly addressing the issues hurled at them, Duterte and his minions of apologists and defenders are known to malign, intimidate, mock, verbally abuse, humiliate, threaten, persecute and, in Sen. De Lima’s case, jail anyone who holds contrary views and adversarial positions. The United Nations, the European Union, leaders of other nations, human rights advocates, the faith-based groups, and the international and local media – they are all nothing but an unruly bunch working closely with the “dilawan” in hounding and attacking the government, with the sole intent of overthrowing it. Early this year, all the remaining opposition senators were stripped of leadership posts and committee chairmanships while, in the House of Representatives, the solons who voted against the death penalty bill were ousted from their key posts. If this tyrannical condition persists, all the political dissenters under this administration will eventually find themselves cowering in the corner, voiceless and powerless, behind bars or, worse, rotting away six feet under.
Slut shaming, catcalling, disrespecting or objectifying women is acceptable.
President Duterte’s sexist, chauvinistic and, to an extent, misogynistic reputation remains intact months after he assumed presidency. More than 16 million voters chose to ignore the offensive “jokes” Duterte constantly delivered during his campaign sorties – jokes about his multiple girlfriends (of which one of them he claims is for his “short-time” use only), their housemaid that he used to molest in her sleep, the Australian missionary raped and brutally killed by a gang of inmates that he thought was a waste because the missionary was so beautiful that he should have been first among those who lined up to rape her, and of Duterte actually giving a couple of his female supporters a liplock. During a press conference shortly after his inauguration, he catcalled a female reporter. (Catcalling, for him, is a compliment if we are to believe his apologist in Malacañang.) During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, he admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during their cabinet meetings. He also used the rumor of a sex tape to slut-shame Senator De Lima on national TV. In his apparent effort to defend House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the issue of womanizing, Duterte said that it simply couldn’t be helped; “There are so many women and so short a time in this world.” Just recently, he made another rape joke in front of our troops fighting in Marawi City. His supporters, meanwhile, believe that Duterte’s behavior towards women is a non-issue. After all, they voted for a president, neither for a priest nor a saint.
Government resources can be used freely to pay for personal debts of gratitude.
When the President won, he promised to hire only the “best and the brightest.” The Filipino people deserve only the best, he quipped – “walang palakasan o anumang utang na loob.” Naturally, his supporters gloated. Today, we, the taxpayers, are paying the likes of RJ Jacinto, Arnell Ignacio, Kat De Castro, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Dino, Cesar Montano, and Mocha Uson – not because of their admirable academic backgrounds, competencies, personal attributes, or experience in public service, but because these celebrities happened to support Duterte during his campaign. Duterte himself admitted that those appointments are his way of paying his debt of gratitude to his loyal supporters. His foreign trips are also highly criticized due to countless tag-alongs and free riders (Ex-President Ramos called Duterte’s Russia trip a junket.). With no less than the president openly advocating and practicing patronage in government, worse cases of corruption will inevitably be more prevalent under this administration.
Killing/Waging war is the panacea for our country’s many ills.
When the most powerful man in the land promises to kill every drug dealer and user, and promotes killing as the most effective and fastest approach to winning his war on drugs, and when his officials believe that drug addicts are not humans and are thus not entitled to the most basic of human rights, we better be prepared for the inevitable deadly outcomes. Laws and due processes are blatantly disregarded. Human rights are abused and trampled on. The death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate. Bills such as the Death Penalty and the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability are feared to be used for the government’s bloody campaign against drugs. Critics of the war on drugs are cursed, threatened, or persecuted. Law enforcers are emboldened to take the law into their own hands. The root causes of the problems are not duly addressed. Even the issue of China’s illegal and baseless claim on the WPS was reduced by Duterte to an unsavory pick between two choices only: the relinquishment of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed waters OR an all-out war against China. Filing a diplomatic protest before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is not an option for this administration.
Duterte can get away with almost anything because he is a popular President.
Filipinos are known to be a forgiving race, but where the present Commander-in-Chief is concerned, many of us could go as far as being unquestioning and complicit. He curses virtually everyone as much as he wants during presscons and public speeches, and we hardly bat an eyelash. He threatens to kill somebody, and we shrug our shoulders. He slut shames a woman, and we laugh uproariously. He gives the WPS to China on a silver platter, because it is, after all, “theirs historically”, and we feign indifference. He puts people’s reputation and lives in jeopardy by publicly disclosing unverified lists and making unsupported claims, and we rejoice unabashedly. He travels with his friends and supporters using our hard-earned taxes, and we endure with calm acceptance. He rubs elbows with big-time plunderers and oligarchs, and we react with fierce protectiveness. All of these make me wonder: How low a level should the President stoop to before we finally wake from this deep apathy?
It’s just a matter of time before the entire Philippines is placed under Martial Law.
In the wake of Ferdinand Marcos’ dreadful years of dictatorship, Filipinos have avoided the possibility of another Martial Law like the plague. A mere mention of it could cause some of us to shiver with fear. But due to Duterte’s constant and seemingly casual reference to it – as a response to CJ Sereno’s alleged interference with his job, to the “sheer magnitude of the drug problem in the country,” to lawless violence after the Davao blast, to a need to “preserve his country,” to the crisis in Mindanao –, many of us have gradually grown desensitized to the idea. Now that he has already declared ML over the entire Mindanao, we should brace ourselves to Duterte’s imminent declaration of expanding it to cover the whole country and, possibly, beyond the constitutionally mandated 60-day period. Especially after announcing that he would ignore the Supreme Court and Congress if they try to meddle with his decision.
The erosion of our moral values is no cause for alarm or even concern.
Throwing our all-out support behind a particular leader could actually be commendable, but doing so at the expense of some values, beliefs and principles that are deeply embedded in our culture and psyche is alarming. Go to a link to a Rappler or ABS-CBN’s article about Sen. De Lima or VP Robredo and it would be impossible not to notice how Filipinos today could be indifferent or complacent on one hand, and ruthless, harsh and violent on the other. Bigotry is now at its peak. Comments and remarks laced with malice and virulence are flying around. Vindictiveness has become the name of the game. Integrity, benevolence, diplomacy, and basic respect for others have flown out the window when Duterte and his minions occupied the Malacañang Palace almost a year ago.
With six years’ worth of mental conditioning under the present administration, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be when his term eventually ends? Would we even want that to happen?
So you think I’m ranting? You can bet your last cent, I am! And I am ranting because I am now beyond being sad, alarmed, indignant and angry.
I. Am. Livid!
Why? Let me share with you all the idiotic posts I have been reading on my FB feed lately, and the reasons why I consider them such.
1. Declaring ML is a presidential prerogative.
True, it is a presidential prerogative. There is no argument about that. The issue here is whether the recent developments and the present situation in Marawi warrant the declaration of ML over the entire group of islands in Mindanao. What could be Duterte’s compelling reason to declare ML when the AFP and the Pres’l Spokesperson have been repeatedly issuing statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control. They have also been giving out constant assurance that there is no ISIS presence in the country.
Duterte, on the other hand, has been singing an entirely different tune. During his meeting with Pres. Putin, for instance, he said that he needed the latter’s help in fighting ISIS elements that “have occupied a part of a Philippine town.” Where did he get that intel if not from the AFP? And in case he would later claim that he has another source, why did he not share that extremely sensitive info with the AFP?
2. Martial Law has been declared in Mindanao, yet the people ranting against it are from Luzon and Visayas.
The last time I checked, there remain three main islands that comprise the Philippines –Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao— so, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. Moreover, the latest developments in Mindanao inevitably affect the whole country as the declaration of ML opens deep, painful and festering wounds from the past. Also, ML in Mindanao is and should be everyone’s concern –Mindanaoan or not—especially since Duterte is already contemplating the idea of extending it beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of 60 days and expanding it to cover the entire country. So, yes, every Filipino should speak up now. While we still can.
3. If you can’t be of help, shut the fuck up! You are reeking of the stench of a yellow cult/Dilawan/oligarch/elitist/!
Before you go on with your name-calling, let me remind you that the role of opposition is crucial to a country’s democracy, and the government should accept that role, however small or inconvenient it may prove to be.
It is the opposition’s role to challenge government policies and provide alternatives where appropriate. It is the opposition’s role to question the government and hold it accountable to the public. It is the opposition’s role to ensure that all voices will be heard. In return, the government should respect and listen to the opposition. They should not be made to feel threatened, maligned, intimidated, mocked, abused, humiliated, persecuted or eternally silenced by the government or its supporters.
As a good Filipino citizen, there are at least three things that I do to help my country — I pay my taxes right, I abide by the laws of our land, and I take my role as an opposition to heart. Oh, and there’s one more. I try to empower as many of my kababayan as I can by informing and educating them through social media. I write articles and share information acquired only from reliable, credible and verifiable sources. I never spread fake news or the revisionist’s version of our history.
4. The President, the AFP and the other authorities know what they are doing. Let them do their job.
If the authorities really know what they are doing, Duterte as the Commander-in-Chief should not have left the country with all his security and defense officials in tow. But, as it is, he went to Russia –supposedly for an entire week– with PNP Chief Dela Rosa, AFP Chief Año, DND Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon, Exec. Sec. Medialdea, ARMM Police Director Sindac, and the commanding generals of all three major service commands – the army, navy and air force. They left the government defense forces virtually without leaders amidst the numerous police and military operations that they are conducting all over the country.
Additionally, according to our lawmakers, failure of intelligence and coordination among our security forces led to the bloody clashes in Marawi City. With PhP2.5 billion intel funds at their disposal, the government should have been sufficiently informed and fully prepared before sending our troops to any operation especially in Mindanao.
If we are, however, to believe DND Sec. Lorenzana and the PNP’s words that there was no failure of intelligence and that the police, in fact, knew of the Maute Group’s plan to attack Marawi as early as May 17, they must have realized the enormity of the trouble our troops would likely be heading to. Why then did all these have to happen? Why did our officials decide to proceed with their Moscow trip? Was it the government’s intent to have the Marawi situation blow out of proportion so that there would be a compelling reason for the eventual declaration of Martial Law? After all, the casualties could easily be considered part of the firefight’s collateral damage. Let us hope not.
5. Martial Law is necessary to address the problems in Mindanao.
No. Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is a disproportionate response to a “localized and contained” situation. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.” The Phil. Muslim Society, a group of Muslim lawyers, is planning to challenge Duterte’s hasty declaration before the Supreme Court. According to them, “declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, more young people to join the rebels.”
History tells us that ML could easily lead to abuses and dictatorship.
Bigger and more ferocious insurgents, rebel forces, terrorist groups and religious extremists (CPP/NPA/NDF, MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, Khalifa Islamiyah, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc) have been wreaking havoc and mayhem in the country for many years now. Clashes between the government and the anti-government forces have resulted to bloodier and more hostile encounters before. Yet, no post-Marcos administration dared to declare Martial Law (aside from Gloria Arroyo who, in the wake of the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, declared ML in the province of Maguindanao for 8 days—a decision which caused her 7 lawsuits). Until now. So what makes the Maute Group special? Is it because they are the ones responsible for the bombing in the night market in Davao, the President’s beloved city?
Duterte, in his effort to assuage our fears about his ML declaration, said that there is no need to worry if you are a law-abiding citizen. He also claimed that no abuses will happen under his Martial Law.
Why do these statements sound all too familiar?
Because with his War on Drugs, he said the exact same things.
A few months after, however, when even law-abiding citizens would turn up dead, and cases upon cases of police scalawags’ involvement in despicable crimes were exposed, he and his bunch of apologists started singing different songs. The one was entitled Collateral damage, while the other, Internal cleansing of the PNP.
Duterte supporters, in trying to defend their Tatay Digong’s latest controversial action, claim that the Constitution provides safety measures against Martial Law abuses. We need not fear, they say. Sure, we won’t.
We won’t if only Duterte doesn’t maintain a stranglehold on the “super majority” of our lawmakers. We won’t if only most of the Supreme Court justices are not formulating their decisions based on either their fear of Duterte or how sufficiently their palms have been oiled. We won’t if only he is not trying to buy the police and military’s loyalty with many promises (“I will go to jail for you!”) and meaty government positions. We won’t if only somebody like Cardinal Sin is currently leading the church and its flock in fighting the many clowns in government.
I hope, there won’t come a time when I would have to say, “I told you so.”
Wow, I love the sound of that! If you only knew how often I whisper your name as I watch you from up here—it’s the sweetest sound, far sweeter than the melodious sound of the harps and flutes that we play here.
Heaven is such a beautiful and happy and glorious place, but there’s one spot that I would rather be in. It’s the one spot that, no matter how much time has passed, its memory still lingers with me. It was my shelter, my refuge, my comfort zone. It was my personal heaven there on earth. It was the one spot where I felt completely safe; where I knew that nothing and no one could ever harm me. The one spot where I grew to know only one kind of love. Your love.
Mom, I miss being inside your womb.
I miss your comforting voice and the funny little noises and strange sounds that you used to make when talking to me. I miss the gentle feel of your hands on your tummy each time you felt me move inside you, or when you caress me when reading me a book or when you stroke your belly in time with the tempo of the classical music you made me listen to. I miss your laughter and the animated way you talk. I miss the protective embrace you used to give me when you would accidentally bump into something. I miss everything about you, Mom.
If I could, I would have stayed forever in your womb.
But, then, God had other plans for us.
I was inside you for only three months when your world shattered and all the joy in you vanished. It was the moment you were told that I had Turner’s Syndrome and cystic hygroma. I couldn’t possibly survive those congenital abnormalities, the doctors said, so you were advised to have an abortion. But, no, you were adamant, Mommy. You fought for me. You wanted to hold on to me until such time when God would eventually take me back with Him to His kingdom.
I knew how hard it was for you and Daddy to accept our fate. (I was, after all, your answered prayer – a miracle growing inside of you, the first among your big bunch of future children.) But with your impenetrable faith and continued hope for a divine miracle, you tried to live each day with renewed energy and enthusiasm. For me.
And so, just like with a bittersweet summer romance, you continued to carry me inside you knowing that you couldn’t keep me.
You knew what to expect, but my death almost three months after still left you reeling, crushed and devastated. I knew that a part of you died with me that day.
I tried to visit you in your dreams as often as you would allow me. I wanted to tell you that I was in a better place, to reassure you that I wouldn’t mind if you decided to move on. I would have loved to see you smile again, Mommy.
And, so, when you got pregnant with Veronica, I was ecstatic!
I sensed all your initial doubt, worry and fear, and your relief after each successful prenatal check-up and the doctor’s repeated assurances that everything was fine. I saw how extra-careful you were with Veronica, afraid that one tiny mishap might adversely affect her.
I was excited when I saw all those baby stuff and pieces of furniture that you bought a few weeks before her arrival. And, oh, the baby shower! It was beautiful, Mom, and I was touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity of your friends and colleagues who threw it for you. You must have been a very good friend to them to deserve that.
When you were finally rushed to the hospital due to contractions, I was there with you. And when you opted for a natural childbirth since your insurance wouldn’t cover epidurals, I cringed. I knew that, somehow, you welcomed that chance to feel all the physical pains that labor naturally entails because, with me, you were robbed of that opportunity. But I was also aware of what was to come.
True enough, you were soon moaning and crying and shouting with the unbearable, excruciating, burning pain of trying to push Veronica out of your body. (Up to this day, it still boggles my mind why only moms get to experience all the pains of childbirth. Shouldn’t dads share those with moms, too?)
When Veronica eventually popped out, I too was thrilled to see her. But when I saw your face creased with worry when she didn’t make a single sound, I began to get scared. For Veronica. For Daddy. For you.
Mostly, for you, Mom.
Veronica was turning blue, you were getting hysterical, and the medical staff was in chaos. They rushed the baby to the NICU, and you were left dumbfounded, incredulous and disconcerted. You couldn’t believe that you were experiencing that all over again. I couldn’t either.
At least, with me, you knew what to expect. But with Veronica, you were caught completely off guard.
When we followed Veronica to the NICU, we saw how beautiful, how healthy, and how perfectly normal she appeared—and how pitiful, with all those tubes attached to her tiny body. We learned that she had a congenital heart defect, a condition that could easily be detected during a prenatal ultrasound but was obviously overlooked by your doctor.
You were heartbroken especially since you were not allowed to hold her, but with the doctor’s plan to fly her to Hawaii from Guam for surgery, you were still brimming with hope. I saw how you and Daddy drew strength from each other, and from your trust and faith in God.
Shockingly, though, Veronica left after only about 28 hours of literally fighting for her life.
Oh, Mommy, I wish there was something I could have done to take away all your pain. If only I had the power to bring Veronica back to you, I would. In a jiffy. No parent deserves to experience the agonizing grief of losing a child. Yet, you did—two times in a row.
You didn’t have any other choice but to accept what happened and to offer Veronica up to God just like what you did with me but, for a long time, you remained withdrawn and depressed. There was no life left in you.
They say that, with the loss of a loved one, the pain never really goes away. One only learns how to live with it.
I saw how you strived to get up each morning pretending that you were alright. To the world, you were Strength personified. We both knew, though, how you would curl up on your bed each night and cry yourself to sleep, hoping that it was all just a nightmare that you could wake up from.
When you and Daddy moved to Virginia in 2000, I was one with you in looking forward to a fresh, new start.
So when you received the good news that you were pregnant after consulting with specialists and genetic counselors and undergoing fertility workups, I told myself, “This is it. We’re done with the storms. It’s now time to welcome the bright, brilliant sun!”
When you successfully delivered Aaron via CS, and heard his very first cry, we all cried with him. That time, though, the tears we shed were of unadulterated joy.
Life was good. You seemed like your old self again. You smiled more often, laughed a little louder, moved with springy strides. You found your purpose.
Little did you know that you were about to face another challenge.
You noticed that Aaron was already two years old yet he was yet to speak a single word. He behaved oddly, was prone to frequent and uncontrollable temper tantrums, and was different from other children his own age. He wouldn’t socialize with other kids, either.
Numerous tests on him later revealed that he had delayed language development and borderline autism.
Again, you felt dejected and overcome by adversity. You began doubting yourself. “Am I not really fit for motherhood?” “Does God not consider me worthy enough?” “Am I a bad person to deserve all these?”
But you didn’t allow yourself to be defeated by those paralyzing emotions. You didn’t have that luxury. You had to be strong because someone heavily depended on that strength. Aaron needed you.
Each day proved to be a struggle but you and Daddy were still grateful to God for everything. You knew that He places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight, so you felt honored that God considered you among the strongest of His children.
I really admire that in you, Mom. Your faith is simply indomitable and unshakable.
More than three years after, you got pregnant again—and that indomitable and unshakable faith was put to the test once more.
During the third month of your pregnancy, your doctor discovered that, due to a neural tube defect, the baby had no skull and her brain would not develop. She had 0% of survival.
Everyone from both the medical and clinical fields that you happened to talk to agreed on one thing—that you should have the baby aborted as soon as possible.
Yes, that sounded familiar. You were told to terminate the pregnancy too when they learned that I couldn’t possibly make it. But with this little one, your third perinatal loss, even some of your relatives and friends advised you to have an abortion.
You knew that they meant well—they were all concerned that “prolonging your agony” would be too much for you to handle. Well, I guess, they didn’t know you that well, do they?
So like the protective mother grizzly bear that you were, you held on to the precious baby in your womb. You treasured each experience you had with her—seeing her during the ultrasound scans, hearing her heartbeat, feeling her kicks. She was very much alive, and you were her only lifeline. What kind of mother would intentionally cut the connection that was keeping her alive? Definitely, not you, Mom!
You gave birth to Angeli after a full term.
She was so beautiful, Mom, and so was the baptismal ceremony for Angeli that you specifically requested, prepared for and witnessed.
She stayed with you, Daddy and Aaron for just a total of 108 hours, but she managed to leave you with a lifetime of sweet memories. For that short a time, you were a mother to a baby girl, Moml! Knowing you, I was sure that that wonderful experience would stay with you for the rest of your life.
With all four of us, you cried buckets. Your heart got shattered into many tiny pieces. You experienced being thrust into an abyss of doubt, sadness and grief.
God must have seen all that, and so, he decided to reward you. Finally.
Aiden, our bunso, is such a darling. He is sweet, affectionate, obedient and, most importantly, perfectly healthy. I love watching him and his Kuya Aaron together—just two boys having fun and enjoying each other’s company. And how he loves to please you! Imagine joining (and finishing!) a 5K race so as to make you and Daddy proud.
Mom, I know that you’re okay now. But when clouds once again block the sun and threaten to cast gloom over your smooth-sailing life, when you think that you’re all alone and the universe is conspiring against you, remember that I’m always near. Together with Veronica and Angeli, we are your three personal angels keeping constant watch over you.
Take care of yourself, Mommy. I love you and I miss you very much. Happy Mothers’ Day to you!