Send in the crabs

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

There is no stopping the dumpster fire that is the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. The soul of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who heads the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), has totally evaporated right now in trying his best (but not really) to put out the flames.

But the damage has been done. All eyes are now on the country as it struggles with containing the results of the PHISGOC’s chaotic handling of this important sporting event.

From kikiam-charged breakfast meals to unfinished press conference venues resembling the sets of 90s action movies, everyone is having a field day at ridiculing the event. Foreign and local athletes suffered logistical complications that could have been avoided if the organizers had any foresight. The PHISGOC also did an amazing job with the menu by making the athletes think that street food is part of a full diet.

Foreign and local correspondents, on their part, had to make do with unfinished venues and misprinted press IDs. But what really takes the cake is how Cayetano is treating these anomalies as if he was not the chairman of the PHISGOC in the first place.

It is not enough for Cayetano and the rest of the House leadership to point fingers back at the Senate for having caused budget delays. And now that we are at that point where national pride is hurting, the best we can do is to cling to whatever sense of decency we have left.

Right. As though this government hasn’t done enough damage to national prestige since day one. All of a sudden, the pro-Duterte camp is showing its nationalistic colors by venting their anger on the media and on those who called out Cayetano and the rest of the sleazy dirtbags of the PHISGOC.

For Duterte’s allies, what has been demonstrated at the very least is a desire to sabotage an international event and discredit the current administration for purely political reasons by the opposition. They insult the media for reporting what local and foreign athletes observed. They even compared the critics of the SEA Games as degenerate crabs who pull others to the bottom of the bucket out of sheer jealousy.

Using the crab card to mask your own biases doesn’t do much but confirm the cognitive depravity that many of this government’s followers suffer from.

If indeed it is “crab mentality” that’s dragging this country to the ground, we could not treat this year’s SEA Games as the only example of how awful this negative trait is eating us up.

When Vice President Leni Robredo accepted Duterte’s challenge to join the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), she was met with stark criticism, much of it directed at her refusal to adopt the President’s “Kill the scumbags” style of leadership. The administration gave a tongue-in-cheek approval of her efforts as the co-chair of the ICAD, rabid supporters amped up their insults, telling Robredo she could not live up to the achievements of Duterte in a drug war that was supposed to end within three to six months.

Of course, the most die-hard supporters couldn’t possibly realize that, so they chose to stick with Robredo’s incompetence as the only narrative that mattered.

Just when Robredo requested official data and the lists of identified drug personalities and began gaining momentum, Duterte had her fired from her post only two weeks in (which I guess is equivalent to. Supporters cheered this move and insisted that Robredo was really incompetent, despite officials in the Philippine National Police and no less than Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino urging her to reveal her findings.

With the SEA Games, the administration’s supporters are calling for unity in support of our national athletes and sobriety in dealing with the utter incompetence, bravado, and mediocrity manifested by Cayetano.

If only they had shown an inch of support for Robredo in revealing, if there are any, drug kingpins within the administration itself. After all, Duterte doesn’t want them in his government. Since that isn’t the case, then it’s safe to say it takes a crab to know another crab.