Nobody special

Vice President Sara Duterte has been the butt of jokes, particularly in social media, over her reticence to open up as a public official about her millions of pesos of confidential funds and her extraordinary number of security guards. She has earned the monicker “Miss Confidentiality” for refusing to disclose where she has spent over Php221.4 million requested by and released to her and why she needs so many bodyguards.

She practically buckled under the intense grilling of Sen. Risa Hontiveros who must be credited for being the seemingly only and bravest oppositionist in the legislative branch of government.

In one Facebook meme, pictures of special foodstuff were arranged in a collage, among them siopao special, special halo-halo, wanton special. The last frame showed a portrait of Duterte with the caption: “Nothing special.”

For indeed why should she as VP and as secretary of the Department of Education be given special treatment and funds way above other government agencies that are in dire need of them like the Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy that have to protect our West Philippine Sea against the encroachments of the aggressive Chinese military?

In fact, what noteworthy thing has she done as DepEd secretary at a time when there is a shortage of classrooms and when teaching materials are so lacking that she even deigned to have educational posters removed from the walls of public school classrooms?

One wonders, in one’s paranoia over where this country is headed to, if this is still part of a World Bank-International Monetary Fund conspiracy to keep Filipinos barely literate so they could continue to serve as the carpenters and domestic helpers of the world.

What enrages this concerned citizen is the glib way Duterte continues to lie or keep mum when, as a public servant worthy of that title, she must give full disclosure. Just about everybody is speculating that she is raising funds for her 2028 presidential candidacy.

Or, given the track record of the Marcos family of public thievery, she may be planning to build an overseas trust fund that can bail out her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, from accusations of human rights violations, specifically extra-judicial killings during his failed drug war, by the International Criminal Court.

Like father, like daughter, shall one venture to say?

What worries this citizen is the general apathy of the public on this matter. Sure, stinging social media memes and jokes offer a measure of relief from the collective disgust over failed governance. But this outcry must be expressed more openly for it to matter, for it to shame Duterte and her ilk.

Baguio writer-activist Luchie B. Maranan posted this challenge in her Facebook account, and it does read better in Filipino:

Ang mga salitang naiisip ko kapag nababasa ang tungkol sa confidential funds: sakim; imbi, sakre, nakaririmarim, marumi, makamkam, masakim. Magdagdag na lang kayo ng iba pang naiisip ninyong salita. Ipraktis natin ang ating vocabulary.”

Comments have been close to viral and are sure to enrich one’s Filipino. Among the terms posted in FB in the different Philippine languages for a greedy, selfish person, which Duterte is showing herself to be, are: buwaya, kapal-mukha, bwakaw, swapang, walang hiya, mapag-imbot, tulisan, mandarambong, ganid, masiba, walang kabusugan et al.

Well, one wants to tell Sen. Hontiveros by way of rubbing her back in encouragement, we are with you in saying to the VP’s face, you have proven yourself to be un-special, unworthy of the people’s, not just the voters’, respect.

But it’s not too late for her. Just come clean, although this may be like asking a tiger to change stripes if Duterte’s nature is to feel entitled to helping herself to taxpayers’ money.

She has five years to undo the damage she has wrought and make due restitution. Then and only then can she be considered someone special.

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