The workload continues to stymie me, making it difficult to post anything. However, upon reflection, that's not the only reason why I've not posted much in the past two to three months.
I got burned out.
The first 51 days of the Duterte administration has been a dismaying experience, as both the President and his loyal followers have shown the ugly side of the Filipino.
For the President, while he has made a number of welcome moves, such as the lowering of income tax and the requirement for government offices to release documents within three days of application, he has also made a good number of questionable moves, such as:
- the insistence to bury the late dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani - I'm unsure why Duterte is so bull-headed on the issue. He came into office with a largess of political capital, and, yet, he chooses to waste it on this divisive issue. Make no mistake: burying a corrupt dictator in the Libingan sends the wrong message. It says that history will be rewritten in order to soften the horrors of that era, which set our country back so much that it's taken 30 years in order to bounce back. It's tantamount to having Hitler feted in Germany, or Idi Amin in Uganda, Baby Doc Duvalier in Haiti, and so on, so forth. We may be one of the very few countries who will give military and burial honors to a man who raped and nearly destroyed our country. And Duterte is spearheading the historical revisionism.
- his callousness towards human life - so far, his war on drugs has claimed a reported 1564 deaths in one a half months. This number includes a number of people who had nothing to do with drugs, and were just unfortunate to be at the wrong place and the wrong time. These include alleged drug dealers who supposedly fought back or resisted arrest. While some of these deaths are legitimate, more are the work of vigilantes sowing fear and chaos. There are some who argue that there were more people who were killed by riding-in-tandem during the Aquino administration, but here's the thing: while records show that 3,000 or so died via riding-in-tandem, these were not ordered or abetted by the Aquino administration. Secondly, while 3,000 died over the course of the six-year Aquino administration, 1,564 have died in the first month and a half of the Duterte administration. Do the ratios, and, if this keeps up, the death toll after six years will far outstrip those killed during the Aquino administration. Duterte is on record saying that he does not care about these deaths, as long as the perceived drug menace is eradicated. It's doubtful that many of the families of these victims will see justice done.
- his inability to accept criticism - the President has shown a Trump-like attitude when it comes to criticism; instead of accepting it for what it is, the President has chosen to hit below the belt and attack his critics. When Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno took him to task for including dead judges in his drug list, the President threatened to have government officials ignore the Court and even threatened to declare martial law. The President's actions against Senator Leila de Lima were beyond the pale, as the President claimed that the Senator's driver was her lover, and that he was the conduit to the drug lords. Up to now, no charges have been filed against Sen. de Lima, which raises the question on whether Duterte actually has the goods on de Lima.
At the same time, a number of Duterte's followers have shown an appalling level of cognitive dissonance, refusing to acknowledge that their elected President was wrong and going to the extent of raising fallacious arguments in order to defend him. As I posted on Facebook, it's akin to banging one's head against a brick wall. As a result, I have resolved not to engage his followers, and will instead continue to post, here and on Facebook, my thoughts and reflections on the state of affairs in the country.
As it is, a number of Duterte critics have disengaged, whether dismayed by the state of affairs, or threatened by his fanatical followers. American expatriate blogger Joe America, for one, has decided to suspend his blog, citing the dangers to his family, as well as the requirements of his visa. He also castigated the President's internet trollers for making intelligent discussion useless.
I must admit that I have been tempted to follow Joe's suit. I suspect that his reasons are my reasons for my relative silence the past few months.
However, there's a part of me that just refuses to be cowed by the state of affairs, but I will have to do some reflection on how I will proceed. I, too, have personal concerns that may be affected should I continue to write critically about the current government. While my readership is nowhere near the big hitters, it's still possible that someone will wander into the blog, and identify me as a Duterte critic.
Rest assured, I will probably try to find ways to post more regularly, although I can't say for sure what I'll be writing about. Perhaps those of you who do read my posts can give me suggestions.
Until then, I leave with a snippet of Dylan Thomas' famous poem,
"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."