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The ventriloquist and his dummy

The hour-and-a-half scripted exchange between President Rodrigo Duterte and his chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo drew negative reactions from the public.

Some said it was a “moro moro” between the master and his vassal. Another called it “lokohan.” Viewers who couldn’t stand the obviously self-serving dialogue between the President and Panelo could only exclaim: “thank God for the remote control!”

From this end, I can only say—and I’m being charitable—that it was a dialogue between a ventriloquist and his dummy. Now don’t ask me who the dummy is. I leave it to the people to decide’

Too bad, it was an opportunity lost for the President who could have simply gone ahead with what was earlier announced by Malacañang as an address to the nation. This is done by some countries for the head of state to address the people and tell them what is being done by government to alleviate problems of great magnitude.

In the United States, presidents talk to the nation in a format known as a fireside chat that is informal in style. This is apart from the annual State of the Union presidential address.

The President, if he had been well advised by his Communications Office, could have had the opportunity to project himself as true leader of the land. He could have addressed national issues such as the spiraling cost of basic commodities spawned by the P54-to-$1 plunge of the peso and the 6.4 per cent inflation.

Instead President Duterte spoke lengthily about the revocation of amnesty of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and the alleged plot of Joma Sison of the Communist Party of the Philippines in collusion with the opposition Liberal Party to oust him. The President didn’t offer any proof except to say the intelligence report came from a friendly power.

Both the CPP and the LP have denied any conspiracy to topple the President. Senator Trillanes also denied any ouster plot with military officials to pull a putsch.

This bit of information gave rise to suspicion that it was China, whose President Xi Jinping publicly said he will NOT allow his friend Digong to be removed from office, who fed Duterte the information. Opposition legislators claimed this is an indication of foreign meddling and possibly illegal wiretapping activity in the country.

A presidential address to the nation in light of the economic challenges and other ills plaguing Filipinos would have been dramatic if he also used the occasion to announce changes in the Cabinet. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade by public perception are not performing well.

Piñol, after three years at the DA, has yet to at least present a program of rice production to ease the present rice crisis. His solution to the problem is more importation of the basic staple. Taiwan, whose agricultural land is not as extensive as the Philippines, is exporting rice to the country.

Tugade, on the other hand, has yet to do anything significant to fix the recurring breakdown of the Metro Rail Transit. Monstrous traffic and the daily breakdown of the public rail transport system is the new normal. People who are gainfully employed are at risk of losing their jobs because of being constantly late due to the paralyzing traffic.

National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino has already resigned from his post, unable to handle the pressing problems in his agency. Aquino, according to Malacañang, is still answerable for alleged anomalies in his office.w 

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , National Food Authority , Jason Aquino , Salvador Panelo , Antonio Trillanes IV , Xi Jinping
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