" What is happening to the magic?"
The Duterte magic is fast dissipating and he knows it. The telltale signs are there for everyone to see. A number of politicians who, for five years have kept quiet, sided with, or even defended President Duterte’s highly controversial pronouncements and actions have started to speak up against him. This is particularly true for those with ambition to run for the presidency in 2022.
Also, Duterte’s allies in Congress who used to be very vocal in defending the President (except for those who are really close to him) are now noticeably quiet and may possibly be publicly distancing themselves from him. Perhaps they know that their principal’s popularity is waning, and that their own position might be jeopardized if they continue to be seen as being too close to Duterte.
I expect that more and more will become vocal in criticizing Duterte and his administration especially regarding the way they are handling the pandemic, the Commission on Audit (COA) reports, and the allegations of, at best mismanagement of, and at worst, corruption involving COVID-19 funds.
The weakening of Duterte’s magic may be further fueled by the recent decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber I’s decision authorizing the opening of an investigation in relation to crimes allegedly committed in the Philippines in the context of Duterte’s “war on drugs”. The investigation will cover the period between November 1, 2011 and March 16, 2019 when the Philippines was still a State Party to the Rome Statute, and thus, bound by its provisions.
Moreover, the case covers acts committed in Davao area prior to 2016, and others, when Duterte already assumed the presidency and started pursuing his “war on drugs.”
While the whole process may take years before the case is decided, what will be unearthed by the investigation will surely be covered by international and local media. Moreover, since complainants are Filipinos, it will not be surprising for their stories to come out. The ICC received 204 victims’ representations on this case. That’s 204 stories waiting to be told.
Thus, Duterte’s problems will not easily go away.
Given these, what is Duterte busy with these days? How is he handling the “problems” thrown his way? It appears that the president is unjustifiably preoccupied with defending his people from allegations of possible corruption particularly in the handling of COVID-19 funds. Sadly, he does this by badmouthing those who have turned critical of his administration while at the same time trying to assure the public that no one among his people is corrupt.
The biggest target of his ire (for now) is Senator Richard Gordon who, after five years of being an ally has started strongly criticizing his administration especially after Gordon expressed his openness to run for a higher office in 2022. Gordon has also been at the forefront of the Senate “investigation” on the Department of Health’s management of billions in pandemic funds.
Duterte, uses his “talk to the nation” sessions to trash-talk Gordon as if the country is not being continuously ravaged by the COVID-19 virus. With our present situation, it is more than reasonable to expect the president to be hard-pressed in finding solutions to the record-breaking number of cases and hundreds of deaths on a daily basis due to the pandemic.
Duterte should also be hard at work in leading the government in finding ways to support and strengthen our healthcare system that is at the brink of collapse, and provide care and assistance to our extremely overworked healthcare workers. He should be busy with helping our people who are now without livelihood and going hungry, and the businesses that are now in the red.
He should also be conferring with health experts for solutions, and commanding the IATF, most especially the DOH to be more efficient, effective, and pro-active in testing, contact tracing, treatment, and inoculation.
Instead of telling his people to not mind COA’s reports, he should be ordering them to do what needs to be done to clear things up with COA. Instead of simply and feebly assuring the Filipino people that his men are upright and not corrupt, he should be taking the cudgels for the Filipino people since the funds in question are owned by the people. He should be squeezing the truth from Health Secretary Francisco Duque and others who may be involved. He should be the first to clean up his department.
There are a million things to do but Duterte chooses to go after his critics. In my book, this is a very wrong move. He only has a few more months as president. This is his last chance to show the Filipino people that he is capable of doing what is right by the people he is supposed to serve.
The root of Duterte’s problem is neither Gordon nor his critics. His problem is himself for refusing to do things the president should do especially during times when the country and the people need THE president. Since 2016, the country has been without a leader president. Look where we are now.
@bethangsioco on Twitter; Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook