Who is onion-skinned?

One who is infamously volatile made the charge.

In fact, he once spewed vitriol at his own daughter in public without any regard for social conventions. “Change your name, you are a disgrace!” he said in a social media post at his daughter who had claimed that her friend was hospitalized after being beaten up by her father.

What do you call somebody who erupts like a livid volcano at a mere criticism, even by his own daughter? Despite fuming in public, he never presented himself as a public official at the bar of accountability for laying a hand on somebody, a criminal act.

Yet the pot can call the kettle black. “Public servants should not be onion-skinned and should not make use of this right as a tool to silence critics,” fumed Paolo Duterte at public school teachers party list representative France Castro after she filed a complaint in court against Rodrigo Duterte for threatening to kill her.

Let us convince ourselves that the Dutertes are not onion-skinned. Random events are numerous where Dutertes fuming in public do not need to be cherry-picked.

Rodrigo Duterte erupted publicly by blasting Amnesty International for reporting that policemen were paid P5,000 to P15,000 for every drug sting operations. “I’m not a weakling president. I’m from Mindanao. I am smarter than Manila people.” On the same breath however, he admitted that he provided the Philippine National Police for that year (2017) P115M in intelligence funds for Oplan Tokhang.

The former president of Colombia Cesar Gaviria called on Duterte, in a New York Times editorial, not to make the same mistakes he did in fighting the illegal drugs trade in Colombia.

“The war against [drugs] cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone,” said Gaviria.  “Throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse.”

How did Duterte respond? “Gaviria is an idiot.”

Was he onion-skinned for that? Judge for yourselves.

In 2017, senators grilled Paolo Duterte for his alleged drug links. The then senator Antonio Trillanes IV questioned him and his brother in-law Manases Carpio on the hundreds of millions in their bank accounts. Trillanes suggested they sign bank secrecy waivers to clear themselves. Both men refused, Paolo at one point even replying with “No way!

This was a senate hearing where lying or uncooperative resource persons can be held in contempt. The issue at hand was a “Davao Group” that accepted millions in bribes to move shipments of illegal drugs through the Bureau of Customs. Paolo refused many questions thrown at him, dismissing them as “irrelevant.”

Was he onion-skinned for that? Judge for yourselves.

Jason Gomez was a voter of Davao city who expressed disappointment at Sara Duterte’s Facebook post in 2016, right after she was elected as city mayor.

Sara had posted that she recorded her “first solo album” at a recording studio. “Please support my first single Walang Forever.” To Jason, Sara was having fun when she should have been working. He said: “WTF! Magtrabaho po kayo Mayor. 600T ang bumoto po sa inyo. Instead na magtrabaho kayo eh nung day 1 pa lang ay leave na agad.”

(Go to work Mayor. 600T voted you into office. Instead of working on your first day in office, you went on leave from work right away.)

Within minutes – take note of the haste of her anger – Sara replied. “WTF mo rin ka. Kaya nga ako nag leave kasi ayaw ko gawin personal ko na trabaho sa mga oras na bayad ng gobyerno!!! Ikaw ang incompetent na commenter, buhay mo nasa Facebook lang! Magtrabaho ka na rin.”

(WTF to you too. The reason why I went on leave was because I did not want to use personal time during the period when I am paid by government!!! You are an incompetent commenter, your life is only on Facebook. Go to work too.)

Was she onion-skinned for that? Judge for yourselves.

France Castro the victim, red-tagged and death-threatened by Rodrigo Duterte, was gaslighted by Paolo Duterte instead to make the kettle look black.

How defines onion-skinned? To be very sensitive or emotionally susceptible to the verbal attacks or criticisms of others; balát-sibuyas – [adjective] thin-skinned; easily offended; easily hurt; sensitive to criticism; *literally: onion skinned.

But to the arrogant and entitled public servant, there is another meaning – only they can criticize; paid for by us, they cannot be criticized by us.

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