Just when has power-napping become one person’s problem?
It only becomes one huge problem if you napped and you are Presidente Rodrigo Duterte, who happens to attend the meeting of the heads of states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Journalists covering the event reported that President Duterte napped and because of this, missed some of the events laid by the organizers.
Expectedly, like what most people believed, this was an easy feed for those who openly criticize and wish ill to the president.
First to grab the limelight is Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who said, there are just but two reasons to this: either the president is lazy or he has problem with his health.
From that, we could also see two reasons why Trillianes came to that conclusion: he refused to see anything good from President Duterte or, that has just shown the end of his thinking capacity.
Other than Trillianes, we could not tell who else would say that the president is lazy.
In fact, many people openly admit that, just by following through the news reports of the president’s daily itinerary, for a man of that age, it is a surprising feat that he could do all those, in a day.
Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan for one, has said this is the first time that a president arrived within 24 hours of a tragedy. This only tells us that Trillianes was probably still sleeping when President Duterte landed amidst the wailing and the sorrow of the landslide victims’ families.
Moreover, as a rebel soldier and a loudmouth which he plays to the hilt, Trillianes is in no position to give his opinion about the president’s health because he, after all, is not a doctor. And even doctors do not easily give out their diagnosis without getting the patient under a rigorous battery of laboratory tests.
This is not the first time that Trillianes, in his reflex reaction amidst television cameras and microphones, is quick to issue statements even if he is ignorant of the issues which President’s critics hurl at him. And we are certain, this would not be the last.
Two years since sitting as the country’s top official, President Duterte has made for himself a rare brand of courage and hard work: two values that were conspicuously absent from then president Benigno Aquino Jr., who also happens to be Trillianes’ boss.
Then, it never was an issue when Pnoy sleeps on his job, or be lost from the public eye for days, to hide inside cabinets and play hide and seek with the Presidential Security Group.
Now, Trillianes and his brand of snapping critics won’t allow this luxury of napping to an old hard-working man?
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, such a hard working man (if we base our observations from news reports outside Capitol), was reportedly rushed to a hospital last week for possible exhaustion.
The governor was gracing a ground breaking of another big-ticket resort project in Panglao, before he was whisked to the hospital and air lifted to Manila.
It happened a day after he was reportedly hyper-ventilating and fuming mad over what a national paper insinuated: that the waters off the tourism crown jewel is among the cesspools President Rodrigo Duterte described for Boracay.
The broadsheet also effectively affixed the cesspool tag for Panglao, its colliform count was over the tolerable levels, despite its being lower than Mactan in Cebu, or Boracay.
As quoted, DENR Environment Management Bureau head William Cuñado citing the bureau’s recent study, showed that the dirt in Panglao waters is 50 units above safe levels for swimming. The news also said Mactan and Boracay are much worse.
So what spoils the waters in Panglao?
Recent inspections leaked to us showed that over 300 resorts in Panglao have been served notices of violations to the Clean Water Act. Simply said, these resorts drain their waste water, not in the required three chamber sewage tanks but elsewhere. Some, like a popular resort has a “storm drain,” oozing into the beach, even if there are no rains.
Also contributing to the problem are resorts building structures well within the 20-25 meters easement zones, the area in a beach that is by law, designated for free public access.
If these resorts are mushrooming within these areas, what are the chances their wastewater are also conveniently using the rising and ebbing tide to mask their stench?
Now, the governor, who has been among the development oriented teams pointing us Bohol’s development direction, who is also admittedly the among the staunchest environment-advocate, if not the most, must already know this.
As governor and also self-admitting as the most well-travelled among Boholanos, it would be naive to believe he did not see these environmental violations in Panglao.
Coming in to the end line of his last term, the Governor should have shown his univocal resolve to solve Panglao and the abased coastal waters elsewhere in Bohol. After 8 years, his idealism should have gotten the best in him.
He did not.
That is because, simply because rolling his sleeves and dipping his hands to fix the mess could get him the sludge, and the wastewater issue would potentially smear his political career.
At the expense of the environment, at the expense of his solemn oath, he omitted his duty for his Yuta Kong Minahal.
Even when he would become a lameduck governor, for seven years, he did not show Dagohoy’s courage of defending the land and offering his lawas and kalag.
For wanting to come out always clean, that is the cesspool he has chosen to dip himself into. No amount of press release disinfection can wash that stench he chose to perfume himself.
The devil and the deep blue sea moment proved to be much tougher than it seems.
The incident in Inabanga last Tuesday ignited the glowing coal burning in us. We, who have picked the pen as our weapon in telling people how we have fared against the escalating demands of civilization thought we were braver than the rest. We thought with a journalist’s responsibilities as our blanket of authority and the idealism stoking the embers of service for God and men, handling information is easy. No it is not.
We opened our radio sets Tuesday morning for the customary breakfast news while a steaming mug of black brew sits on a platter. It was supposed to be just like any ordinary breakfast. But the news about the bandits being able to settle in the remote upstreams of the lazy Inabanga River unsettled us.
Then, we were elated and tried mentally composing our supposed to be aptly worded salute to the joint police and army force, for getting the 11 bandits. Seconds later, we were thinking again.
Hardly have we emptied the mug, we have lost count of how we have revised and re phrased the manner we could relay the information. So we decided to get a clearer picture by getting to the site and hearing it from the horses mouth.
There were coordination meetings, such where operational details would normally keep the media off. But at least there would be one single source of information, we thought.
We thought wrong. Nobody was speaking and everyone was asking questions nobody can answer.
Such is the beginning of the victory that the terrorists have achieved in Inabanga.
When local officials and the military failed to consider what they know that terrorism thrives in fear, failing in the critical job of bringing information down is exactly feeding the fodder.
We thought managing crisis is a strength of our local officials. What they did with Inabanga is sure thing not anything nearer than we thought.
When you have an information vacuum in a crisis, believe us, there speculations come rushing in to fill the abyss.
When you have people whose times to relay information is to the national media, then you deprive the more culturally grounded information workers the opportunity to dissipate the boiling babel.
So, why when calls for screening information which officials did not tell, trust that the people who obtained them would readily take the task.
So we have a babbling insanity at out midst, and we can hardly control it.
Here, you can hardly blame people when they think and decide for themselves based on the limited information they get.
And we have a terror getting fanned across, eating everything in its path.
Bohol schools are rotting and the kids are in danger, and yet the Department of Education has the gall to defend those who have been remiss of their jobs, if only to present a false idea that Boholanos are lucky.
On this issue, we want to be truly schooled.
No less than Board Member Victor Dionisio Balite, himself a school administrator who has to break that myth that Bohol is that well managed, and its school projects are prime proofs of cover-up, and the slips are slowly showing.
Recently, BM Balite believed that the noble Sangguniang Panlalawigan, in a possible political vendetta to cover up something ominously big, has unduly stretched a bit to demonize a media man who has made it a commitment to tell the people about Capitol’s indiscretion.
In a move to possibly shut down a lawyer for his brutal allegations, the bullies at the SP did, just what their political patrons would do, shake, rattle and roll the whistle blower into submission.
When the sneaky SP ruled out a persona non grata charge against a lawyer, it dipped its hands into politics and disregarded a job it was supposed to prioritize: public services especially rebuilding public schools.
Three years past the great earthquake that brought Bohol to its knees and crumbled or rendered several school building unfit for human stay, many school children still use the cracked structures as their class rooms.
This while the SP swirled and twirled and tangoed to earn the continued patronage of Capitol and its tenants.
Exposed and now rendered inutile for choosing politics over public service, the Department of Education came in to the rescue.
Coming in with a crisp rebuttal of the Balite allegations that several schools have remained at a sorry state even after the government downloaded repair and rebuilding funds, the DepED presented a 92.7% school repair accomplishment.
We should have accepted that at face value, if only we did not know that aside from the DepED, the Department of Public Works and Highways has also its share of school building projects to do.
And then we also know that Capitol, through the Provincial Engineers Office have similar engagements with LGUS to put up and restore classrooms.
As to why the DepED did a knee-jerk reaction came from DepEd when it did a heroic rescue, many have wondered.
First, we know that the education department especially in the Division of Bohol, is not a cloister of saints, nor technically a pit of snakes.
For one, leaks as to the sub-contractors for DepED school projects are slowly getting raised eyebrows: why are these familiarly sounding names like those in the government signatories; government caterings services or why are these food businesses using buses and waiters on government payroll?
Well, it is a jungle of prey and predators when it comes to money for school projects, and DepED should have learned that.
Now, the SP, upon the scraped pride of a Balite, will have to see for themselves the extent of the lies that Bohols schools are into.
And as to how officials at the education department acquired million peso condominiums, money for foreign travels and shopping splurges, and blooming businesses, then your guess would be as good as ours.
This week, the SP will visit another unfinished school building and only the PEO can pull a miracle.
We will never know when these site visits will stop. What we know of is that, the DepED may not survive salvaging its tattered reputation.
For dipping its hands into the mess that its government patrons are getting embroiled, for DepEd, it would be a huge price to pay.
The great schism that pseudo human rights advocates are claiming that is dividing society, is nothing but a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.
How did we come to that?
To date, if the assumption can be finally substantiated, then it can be said. But, certainly, the current government drive against drugs has shaken and stirred the underworld of the meth industry like what most of us were never really told.
Over 30,000 Boholano drug personalities have voluntarily surrendered and made themselves available to authorities. If projection was right, this leaves around 10,000 now shivering in the dark world of withdrawal. Until somebody gets a lead. Or he surrenders for good.
Unlike the simple-mindedness these pseudo human rights activists show to convince the gullible to swallow their shallow logic, the world of drugs may not be as simple as their simple minds can fathom.
As they seem to imply, their advocacy is the faulted logic of the absolutes. Their logic is black and white. In short: you are an angel or the devil. No in-betweens.
So when the order to finally bring down the hammer and pound drugs to brittle pieces, the President himself staked his name for the authorities.
“Trust that the office of the President would be behind you in this,” Duterte said.
Then, the human rights activists suddenly clicked on to the default setting.
Now, all the killings that happen are miraculously ascribed to state operatives.
This late, the death count is a little over 400. Some are pushers caught red-handed and had to fight it out because getting into the same cell block with the users would be fire on their asses.
Rights advocates easily forget that before Duterte became a household threat in the drug industry, people especially those linked to drugs have a queer habit of just dying. They forgot they did raise no howl, foul or full then, they whose easy refuge is a biblical quote.
Rival groups who dream of making a killing in the industry have to maw the competition.
Now, these pseudo rights advocates think rival drug groups suddenly forget they can kill competition.
They suddenly remember that killing is deplorable and that human rights must be the sole guide.
That is when the blinders come in.
Drugs, unlike the shallow minds can fathom, is a convoluting take and can divide one’s sense of propriety.
Drugs have caused people to act weird.
Sons rape and mangle mothers, grandmothers, sisters and innocent minors. Dutiful daughters steal and do everything; inhuman acts to ruin families and snap relationships. Drugs make human beings pale in comparison to animals for it messes with ones sense of logic.
They think killing has suddenly become a monopoly of government and much as it is inhuman to ascribe the murders to their usual suspects, anything against the government has become their moral compass.
Then last Tuesday, drug surrenderers took to the streets, certainly not on their free will.
Now, did we hear them raise a howl? This definitely is a shame campaign. And is not right. Not humane. Like sounding brass. Or tinkling cymbal.
But on one hand, drugs do strange things to one’s logic, like we argued.
That exact moment an artist puts the last daub of paint in a work of art, it breathes its own.
Intrigue, like art or like the truth, these things earn lives and live on their own, uncontrollable.
So we did not break sweat in following the end of the $81Million bank account as intrigue flapped its wings, fanning the fodder of corruption. And again, it involves an alleged Capitol official.
After decades of decadent television culture, bland vaudevilles and run-on telenovelas, people have imbibed the culture so attuning: intrigue to get one immersed in the cold art of storytelling.
For those whose past weeks were spent in the closet, a lawyer journalist spilled the details of a tale but adeptly omitted the links to cook up an arcane tale. The story however perked up the intrigeros.
It said, a woman who deposited an amount in a bank, was erroneously handed the wrong passbook.
Of course, the woman, unnamed, saw the deposit, which was too much, realized it was not her passbook. So, she returned it to the teller and pointed to her the error.
The teller, accordingly panicked and profusely apologized, before handing her the real passbook.
Then, like any ripe intrigue, the tale went on saying, this woman’s conscience couldn’t keep her settled, she has to confess to a priest. The priest too, accordingly passed the story. Besides, the teller vanished.
And the art, intrigue, lie or truth rolled like a snowball, picking up tiny details until the whole tattered story stood whole, menacingly rattling the loose nutheads at Capitol.
So the tale nudged Boholanos via newspapers and editors who find a lawyer’s and a journalist’s statement too good to pass off as hoax. Well, even lying politicians can be news sources, so why not a lawyer who knows he could be laundered in the washing machines of public opinion if he faults?
Feeling slighted by the tale of a multimillion deposit, and feeling too early heroic, a legislator at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan stood to demand an investigation.
And apparently, the arcane tale hooked an arcane legislator too, who seems authorized by the Vice Governor to lead the Committee of the Whole, invited media messengers, all but one.
So what do we have?
A story now, with P81million now wrongly seen as $81M, a woman depositor who is not a woman after all, a priest who denies he is that unnamed priest, and Capitol again behaving like it had all the money to spend just to deflect an issue that nobody would have believed.
So what if the alleged priest breached the vows of confession to share the story? And so what if a banker, who happens to apparently step on the feet of the current association president, breached bank secrecy laws?
Well, if indeed there is no meat in the tale because it was just an intrigue, then why the spin?
Ah, because like a lie or an intrigue, truth too must have its way of getting revealed. And because no matter how arcane the tale is, the smoke always leads to a fire somewhere.