Lackluster performance

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

SOMETHING was amiss when Du30 delivered his fourth state of the nation address (Sona) this week. A keen observer would note that a different Du30 was on stage.

In the last three years, the public saw a defiant, bombastic, and arrogant Du30 delivering his Sona with bluster, guns blazing. This time, the people saw a tired, docile, and timid Du30 gave a speech like a student in a hurry to finish his report in class.

Handlers of Du30 said that the Sona this year is short, only 40 minutes. But when it was delivered, the address lasted one hour and thirty-four minutes. Du30 (as usual) deviated from the prepared speech several times and his ad-libs stretched his Sona.

Most of the ad-libs were half-finished and incoherent ramblings. It is hard for the audience to figure out what Du30 mean in those off-the-cuff remarks or make sense of those rants. It happened several times that the public wondered if Du30 was merely exhausted or there is a deeper physical and psychological explanation of what they saw. For example, while reciting the achievements of the Department of Education, Du30 suddenly departed from the script and declared “I do not want to quarrel with….but we multiply very fast….”  It was obvious he was talking about the rapid population growth and do not want to fight the Church that strongly opposes artificial birth control. But Du30 did not elaborate on his population policy or his personal thought on population control. He just went back to his speech citing the figures on the alternative education program. The issue of population explosion is left hanging.

In another instance, he stopped reading and abruptly declared “I believe in God… others have accused me… What I cannot believe is how can a perfect God create hell or make an imperfect world.” In the past, Du30 has made controversial statements on the fall of man, his own interpretation of the event in the book of Genesis. In his Sona, Du30 did not expound on his theological views on the matter or what he truly believes.

The audience is left to wonder what that was all about, why he inserted that in his speech, what is his point since there is no elaboration. He then returned reading the script as nothing happened. (It appears Du30 is leaning towards Gnostic theology. Gnostics believe that the creator of this world is a jealous and arrogant god, the Demiurge –Ialdabaoth. He should get acquainted with Gnostic beliefs if he is serious. What does Apollo Quiboloy, Du30’s favorite religious crony who was there has to say on this?)

Du30 also inserted a tirade against the international community, defiantly saying he is prepared to go to jail. “All I want is a heater in jail since it is cold there and unlimited conjugal visits.” He was clearly referring to a likely trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) but made no mention of the body or the preliminary examination on his bloody and brutal war against illegal drugs. Quickly, he returned to his prepared speech leaving the audience to speculate the sense of that unfinished paragraph.

One-liners intended to be jokes Du30 inserted in his extemporaneous rambling hardly elicited laughter. The applause was weak and far between. The fanatical enthusiasm of the past is gone, replaced by polite but bland response. The atmosphere in the Congress hall was dull and boring. It seems the saturation point has been reached and Du30 no longer electrify or dazzle. The Sona was a lackluster performance.

Du30 spent almost half of his Sona railing against corruption. He denounced the endemic corruption in high places, expressing his disgust on this social cancer. Claiming sick and tired of corruption, Du30 appears to be confused, behaving like he is on the campaign trail. He has already won.

Did Du30 forget that he is now president and he is complaining against the government which he heads? If corruption is still as bad as before if not worse, then he bears the full responsibility of its continued existence. He is now president and has the awesome power to stamp out corruption. That corruption thrives under his watch indicates he is not only a failure in fighting corruption but he is responsible for its flourishing in government.

Truth is Du30 created the condition for corruption to prosper in government. One major source of corruption in government is the pork barrel fund allotted to members of Congress. Under Du30, the pork barrel of each legislator has doubled (now said to be P150 million). The budget impasse last year was caused by the pork barrel war between congressmen/women and senators. If Du30 is serious in eradicating corruption, he should have abolished the pork barrel fund.

The glaring hypocrisy of Du30’s anti-corruption posturing is revealed when he addressed the wrong audience. Delivering an anti-corruption speech before the most corrupt individuals in the country who are also his friends and staunch allies exposed Du30’s fake anti-corruption drive. Aside from members of Congress (who are among the most corrupt), those whom Du30 enjoined to stop corruption are Bong Revilla (who is ordered by the court to return 127 million pesos), Imee Marcos (whose family “stole” $10 billion from the Filipino people), convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), the epitome of a corrupt government. Asking the corrupt to stop corruption is like designating pedophiles to take care of the kids.

In fact, corruption is making a big come back and is booming under Du30. High officials accused of corruption were set free with GMA leading the list. Imelda Marcos, convicted of seven counts of corruption, has not served her sentence. Presently, no big name is being prosecuted for corruption under the present dispensation. It is in the area of fighting corruption that Du30’s performance is the most lackluster and wanting.