Are you tired, Mr President?
So is the stranded overseas Filipino worker who missed her flight back to work in Dubai last weekend because of an airport accident at NAIA. So are grade school students in the boondocks of Central Mindanao who walk 7 kilometers to school 5 days a week on dirt road, rain or shine. So is your soldier who’s been fighting the communists for more than 40 years already – and still counting.
They have not resigned because they cannot and will not. Many of them, in fact, voted you to office in 2016 in hopes you’d make their tiredness worthwhile.
Why would you threaten to quit on them simply because you’re frustrated with corrupt public officials, as if that’s not everyday reality for Filipinos banking on the promise that change is coming?
And why would you dare choose your successor from a bench of losers when you already have one?
President Duterte’s meandering statements Tuesday night, August 14, are worrisome both for what were said and how political players and the general public responded to them. (READ: Duterte: 'I am ready to step down')
He must be playing with us again or lacked good sleep the night before, was the subtext of the reactions from politicians the day after – which bordered on the flippant to the dismissive.
But words have never been empty for this leader.
No other president has mobilized the bureaucracy to action as much as he has, in clear, categorical language. Kill the addicts. Run after drug-dealing mayors. Jail that woman senator. Impeach the chief justice. Punish “fake news” media. Embrace China. Dance with Russia.
Duterte’s words set the tone, shape public acquiescence, and create the environment for fast action by government and non-government actors who act on his bidding.
On August 14, the President said two things. First, he’s ready to quit, but for love of God and country he won’t because waiting in the wings is the “incapable” Vice President Leni Robredo. Second, he preferred two possible successors: the military or Bongbong Marcos.
Now let’s cut to the chase.
The President seems and looks more than tired.
On the eve of his State of the Nation Address on July 23, he went to the hospital for a checkup but some say it was more than that. He was not himself on SONA day – as he allowed the bickering Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Pantaleon Alvarez to grab the news agenda from him, and, more surprising, he stuck to the teleprompter in his most boring and lackluster SONA performance yet.
So instead of asking if he's tired, we taxpayers should demand disclosure about this national security concern. Are you seriously ill, Mr President? The nation, after all, deserves a fully-functioning presidency.
The other concern is about the President's irresponsible statement on succession.
Preferring Bongbong Marcos could not have come at a more circumstantial time for the defeated vice presidential candidate and the Supreme Court, which, as an electoral tribunal, is hearing Marcos' protest against Robredo.
The statement was made as senior justices lined up at the Judicial and Bar Council to vie for the vacant chief justice post. Duterte now has 4 appointees to the Court, and is filling up 4 more vacancies by the end of the year.
Then the President pushed the envelope further, as he tempted the military with the option of succeeding him. Which is dangerous, coming from the commander-in-chief, because now he’s planted the seeds and who knows how this would shape conversations in the camps.
Cynics are saying these are just words. But if there’s any legacy that this President would have, it is that his words take on a life of their own and have consequences that last beyond his term.
Duterte’s declared options are not only extra-constitutional, they’re novel in a country that thinks it already has had enough of political experiments.
Every president has the right to resign. But not on his own terms.
Duterte's contract with the public, as stipulated in the Constitution, clearly states both how he should govern and how – should he decide to give up – he should transfer the reins of power to his successor.
No room for wishful thinking there. – Rappler.com