LAST June 17, Atty. Elly V. Pamatong announced he had taken over “full-pledged powers of the presidency” since June 13 when, he said, it became vacant. President Duterte’s candidacy papers were defective, he said, and the president is “either dead or dying.”
Good heavens. Is Pamatong crazy? People speculate about Duterte’s health but none of what Pamatong said is happening.
Those who know Pamatong though aren’t surprised. He’s the kind who do goofy stuff to get public attention. Arrested in 2014 as mastermind in a foiled plot to bomb Ninoy Aquino Internal Airport. Led his supporters in 2004, tossing steel spikes on Edsa, which disabled 100 vehicles and created a huge traffic jam.
That showed some criminal bent but was he nuts?
Anti-com, poll bids
He founded USSAFE in 2013 to fight communist insurgents and advocated for making the Philippines the 51st state of the U.S. In 2015, in Cagayan de Oro, he and some followers declared war on China, signing with their blood on a manifesto and burning China’s flag.
Radical and strong-willed, naive apparently, but was that being loco?
Pamatong ran for president twice, in 2014 and 2011. Disqualified by the poll body as a nuisance, he litigated all the way to the Supreme Court and at one time dramatized his plight by cuffing himself to the Comelec office.
He exaggerated his capacity to get votes, undaunted by his losing streak. He wasn’t even in the running for president and in 2007 when he ran for Pampanga governor, he was tail-ender among four competitors. Did that suggest an unhinged mind?
OK, these could be indications of something ajar in his head: he sued Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales for “disturbance of public order, swindling and Immoral doctrines.” And he once pushed for the creation of a “Republic of Mindanesia,” which would comprise of Christian areas in Mindanao and some parts of the Visayas.
That’s far out, man, enough to make one suspect he bumped his noggin when he was a kid or, the convenient explanation these days for any irrational act, was hooked on drugs.
Got it right
But then when in 2010 he sought to disqualify senator bets movie actor Lito Lapid and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, he had remarkable sense of clarity. He alleged the two were “hardly educated, mentally very poor and not prepared to step into the ring of legislation.” A valid concern but as a lawyer (though suspended for now), Pamatong must know that education is not a requirement for election to public office.
It could be eccentricity teetering on the edge and confused with something worse. But, hey, no doctor or institution has ever certified him unfit in body or mind.
In 2011, Pamatong sued Duterte, then Davao City’s vice mayor, for libel after the public official called him crazy. The case must have been thrown out. Still that should boost the theory that among politicos insanity is difficult to pin down. And note that Duterte, in calling out Pamatong’s claim to the presidency as a pretender’s bid (a future and never king) didn’t use the C word anymore.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2017.
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