It is a dramatic scene we are now familiar with. Paolo Duterte was fuming mad when the House stripped him of 2B pesos in funds for his district. He was left with a “measly” (his own words) 500 million pesos.
Dutertes go into public tantrums when money is refused them. They rage and rant as though their job security depended solely on public money. Remember Sara’s “enemy of the state” threat? Why is that so if the money refused is not for their own pockets?
Paolo, of course, is the eldest son of the president who wagered that “fighting corruption with a remorseless clenched fist is the only way towards the change (he) promised.” But this was also the same father who proclaimed that, “what my family earns outside government is none of your business.”
How do the Dutertes know when public funds become measly? Let us count the ways.
In January 2018, after Paolo had resigned as vice mayor of Davao city that preceding December, there were five docketed cases against him in the Ombudsman. Two were for graft cases that were criminal in nature, two were administrative, and one for ill-gotten wealth.
Notice that of the five, three had to do with public money. And that was not all. One of these was a preliminary investigation on Paolo’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
But this was 2018, when the president was Paolo’s father. The father had boasted that he would kill his son if he would be found guilty of corruption. The Duterte presidency was under a Machiavellian climate of fear (“What I want to do is instill fear,” a line that Patricia Evangelista recalls for us in “Some People Need Killing”). Did we really expect all the five docketed cases against Paolo Duterte in the Ombudsman to prosper? Hell no. That was only for fantasy tales.
Rodrigo Duterte of course did not kill his son. Those are just part of his monotonous boasts to bolster his clenched fist image. It remains just that — image. But the indelible mark was made – the Dutertes get away with the law because they are the law.
Like all of his siblings, Paolo Duterte is heir not just to the dysfunctionality of the Duterte clan he was born into. He inherited his favored political status through the grotesque politics of his father. He was raised to flaunt arrogance. He was accustomed to see ordinary citizens cower in fear at his presence. Money was a commodity to silence the truth. No one but no one must talk back against a Duterte and reveal their secret side.
When he resigned as vice mayor, Paolo appealed to the masses that believed the Dutertes are for real in public service. He said he would retire from politics in 2019, the year of the midterm elections halfway into his father’s bloody reign. “I will be going back to farming. I am planning to retire,” he said.
Did he? Humility is not a trait of traditional politicians in the Philippines.
In 2019, when Paolo won as representative of Davao city’s first district to the House, he announced he would run as House Speaker. His father was president, yet delicadeza was never discussed of a power monopoly in the hands of the Dutertes.
The House in 2019 would later appoint Paolo as one of its 22 deputy speakers, when the temptation was dangled before them that each would receive 1.5B pesos in pork barrel. It was eventually dropped when the plan was discovered in the Senate. But just stop and consider the ridiculous inflation of having 22 deputy speakers. It was for the purpose of getting Paolo’s support for Alan Peter Cayetano instead of supporting Lord Allan Velasco as Paolo had threatened Cayetano. Ergo, Cayetano made Paolo deputy speaker, and with it the pork barrel privileges of one.
That explains why Paolo is fuming mad at Martin Romualdez’s House stripping him of 2B pesos in pork barrel funds. Paolo has been privileged for so long. Now that the Marcos-Romualdez clique in government is dead set to demolish the Duterte dynasty, all that Paolo Duterte could do is whine and cuss. There is no one to threaten anymore.
Come to think of it, they could have been divested of all their decayed power and privilege since a long time ago. It is time to see all Dutertes go.
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.