This is not to insult the fans and followers of President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte, -- I am sure there are still a handful of them out there – but we really have to now ask, Is he still of sound mind?
From his latest words and actions, it would seem that the country’s chief executive is losing it. Literally, losing it.
He appears almost clueless as to what is happening in Marawi now. Mr. Duterte must be reminded that he is also commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. His claim that he was not aware that US troops had joined the AFP in ending the crisis in Marawi is mind boggling.
He has also said in various occasions that the NPA and Nur Misuari’s MNLF should join the fray, then backtracked by saying that the underground Left should not have a part in the government’s efforts to wipe out the Maute group, which remains in control of some parts of Marawi as of this writing.
Recall that the president said the Marawi “incident” would be over by May 31 and that the Maute group was little more than a nuisance, a ragtag band that had been created by a group of drug dealers.
Not true, of course. The ISIS-linked Maute group has proven itself to be a major thorn on the side of the AFP, and driving them out of Marawi could take a few more weeks, perhaps months.
Yes, Mr. Duterte has paid tribute to the AFP’s men who have fallen in the ongoing battle for the city. He has attended their wakes and promised to help their families. This is all well and good, and is part of the job of the president. He must not only condole with the country’s fallen heroes, he must be seen by the people to be doing so.
Being commander in chief involves so much more than public perceptions though. To admit that he was not aware that foreign troops were actively engaged in the battle against homegrown terrorists means that he is no longer totally in charge of his mental facilities.
That the Marawi attack happened at all indicates that there was a failure of the intelligence community to keep tabs on what was already a known terrorist organization that was active in the area.
In the private sector, when a chief executive officer is no longer able to perform the task of running the company, the course of action to be taken is obvious. That CEO is asked to resign, or is relieved of his post if he fails to admit that he is no longer able to run the company.
Digong Duterte’s absence during this week’s Independence Day rites is yet another reason to believe that he is no longer fit for office. The poor excuse that he was “not feeling well” is lame, at best, and was an outright lie, at worst.
All he needed to do was to wake up early, head for Rizal Park, and give a short speech. He was not being asked to deliver a Gettysburg address. It was nothing more than a photo op to show the people that their president is alive and well and in control.
One day after he missed that very important event, Malacanang had the temerity to announce that the president was in excellent health and only needed some rest.
Already, there is talk that Mr. Duterte should simply be allowed to play the role of president by cutting ribbons and showing up at public events on a regular basis, while letting his Cabinet run the country as some kind of cabal whose only goal is to stay in power until the end of the president’s term.
This same cabal has already gotten used to disseminating false news and getting away with it.
As the latest proof, so-called Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre showed “evidence” that opposition senators were behind the Marawi attack by displaying an old picture of those lawmakers having lunch. After his falsehood was exposed, Aguirre was not even man enough to admit his mistake.
Meanwhile, the Palace’s spin doctors announced that the injustice sec was doing a terrific job and had the full confidence of the president.
For ordinary citizens, it can be downright scary to see a president losing control, all the while surrounded by yes men and sycophants telling him – and us – that all is well and good.
This is what it was like during dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s waning years of misrule. A sick man is the head of state and he is now lost.
Why we are back to this sorry state is difficult to fathom. But this is exactly where we are.