Commentary Editor's Pick

Duterte crumbles

Suddenly a Dutertephobia erupted. It came after Rodrigo Duterte’s televised self-incrimination, thanks to airtime by his fugitive friend Quiboloy, asking his confidential fund-troubled daughter to kill France Castro, a duly elected representative of schoolteachers in Congress. Castro was herself a public school teacher.

The SMNI booboo was effective. It brought back six years of the sound and rumble of Duterte diarrhea talk that only made Bongbong Marcos look so good and genteel and soft-spoken. Dutertephobia mixed with the public’s Duterte fatigue proved to be a fatal cocktail after the national outrage that was the impetus for Congress’s refusal to grant Sara Duterte her entitlement for secret money.

After the series of Red Chinese bullying in the West Philippine Sea, there arose a heightened sense of nationalism. Channeling Sara’s confidential funds to our puny Coast Guard was received with national applause. Duterte’s Red China pivot was never popular to begin with. It is the least trusted country to Filipinos.

The same week, his mouthpiece SMNI deleted the video playback of the segment. Some took to the online complaints form of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (this writer did) to report SMNI, where it is listed as the Swara Sug Media Corporation/Sonshine Media Network. Readers are urged to file a complaint against SMNI for breaching the KBP’s Broadcast Code of the Philippines. Congress must revoke the SMNI franchise.

It also did not help at all that the villainously loquacious Harry Roque made his own verbal hemorrhage on SMNI. The public has never identified with Roque’s juvenile battles except for comic relief. What is he angry at? Attention?

SMNI deleted too late, however. The fearless Duterte admonisher Antonio Trillanes IV was able to record the episode and promptly sent it to the International Criminal Court in The Hague where it is now assessed as damning evidence against the Davao city petty tyrant for crimes against humanity.

After the fallout of Sara Duterte, the father’s ranting all sounded as though he was asking for his share of the Marcos-Duterte political power loot. He had resurrected the Marcoses by allowing, even surreptitiously, the burial of the late dictator at the heroes’ cemetery. His daughter elected Bongbong Marcos by the power of the family’s exponential troll popularity.

Now he is asking for his shares of stocks. To his consternation, the Marcos-Romualdez clique is an ingrate for refusing his daughter’s confidential funds. Sara is now over, 2025 or 2028. By asking her father to come to her defense did not raise public approval.

Sara’s other damage control was to go see the Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo. But how much can the INC do to mend the damage when what registered instead in the public mind was her convoy that halted traffic, a Metro Manilan’s nightmare? No funny thing happened on her way to the INC central temple.

In fact, Rodrigo Duterte’s share of the Marcos power deal crumbled even as early as 2022. The Commission on Appointments bypassed his attack dog Jose Calida. A year ago, Calida resigned because he had no choice – Marcos Jr. did not reappoint him. In case we didn’t notice, that was a slap on Duterte’s face. Calida would have been the Duterte sentry at the Commission on Audit, which holds one of the most implicating records of public money mismanagement against the Dutertes.

For now, the Duterte holdout in the Marcos government is Menardo Guevarra, the current solicitor general. But Guevarra’s appeal in the ICC to block and/or delay the investigation on Duterte was finally rejected in July of this year. With the Marcos-Duterte war going full steam ahead, talks are rife that Marcos Jr. may soon allow ICC investigators to enter the Philippines.

If he does that, his loyal supermajority in both houses of Congress will certainly back him up. It will only take a senate resolution asking the president to restore the country’s membership in the ICC. Duterte’s three stooges plus one in the Senate – Go, Dela Rosa, Tolentino, and Padilla – will easily crumble into a super minority.

It is the ICC that Duterte fears the most. The Arturo Lascañas testimony, the deposition of which has already been completed, is the evidence that Duterte and his accomplices have no power to repudiate because it is a first-person testimony. The same is true with the testimony of Duterte’s other former hitmen who have also gone to the ICC, and whose testimonies corroborate with Lascañas’s.

It would appear as well that part of Duterte’s deal with Marcos Jr. was to perpetually keep Leila de Lima in jail. With only one more case left unresolved, what is there left to hear by the court when a majority of the witnesses have now recanted? Marcos Jr. is aware that the De Lima case is one bad baggage he inherited from his predecessor. It is a scar to his mission to refurbish the bad Marcos image before the world. Marcos Jr. has no interest to keep the innocent Leila de Lima in jail.

The Dutertes will need a super narrative to overcome the Marcos strategy that is now killing them softly. That is putting it kindly. As we see now, the Duterte might is crumbling before our eyes.

Come to think of it – what narrative can they come up with besides their usual hoodwinking that they are the crime and corruption busters of this country?

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.