THE President seems to be suffering from hyperopia or farsightedness, a condition where distant objects are seen more clearly than ones that are near.
How else can we explain his propensity to discuss historical injustice and trot out the Bud Dajo massacre of 1906 that reportedly claimed the lives of 600 inhabitants of Jolo Island as example and yet ignore the many massacres and other human rights violations that occurred within the time of the Marcos dictatorship from the 70s until the mid-80s?
The 1971 Manili massacre in Carmen, North Cotabato that had elderly, women and children among the victims, the Tacbil Mosque massacre in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat in 1974 where an estimated 700 to 1000 civilians died, and the 1982 shelling of Pata Island in Sulu that purportedly led to 3000 deaths readily come to mind. These are just three of many examples, and they occurred in Mindanao from which the President hails.
“Ignore” is the appropriate term to use going by the systematic and consistent efforts of President Duterte to redeem Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. and buttress the political stock of the younger Marcoses. These include allowing the burial of Marcos, Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, proudly extoling Marcos as the “brightest” president of the country, casting aspersions about the truth of human rights violations during Marcos’s time, and openly acknowledging the support of the Marcoses for his election bid.
His recent statement saying that the Philippines is “better off” under a “dictator in the likes of Marcos” is proof of this hyperopia.
At the same time, he seems to be having a blurred view of more contemporary and up-close matters. His remark that he would only step down if his successor would be former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Jr. or Senator Chiz Escudero blatantly disregards Constitutional provisions on succession and could be indicative of his true stand on rule of law.
He cited the anti-illegal drugs drive and his unfavorable assessment of Vice-President Leni Robredo’s abilities as justifications for his thinking. But it smacks of political near-sightedness or myopia—and that’s putting it mildly.
His messages to the military and police—that they are charged with finding his successor should he step down and his hesitance with constitutional succession—confirms how stretched his views are about the nature of our polity. Can that be said to be a case of political astigmatism?
The above are not just symptomatic of his problematic state of seeing, they also chillingly indicate just how abhorrent his vision for the Philippines is. Why would he wish on us a return to the dark days of authoritarianism? Why would he want to expose Filipinos to the risks and atrocities associated with militarism? Why would he interpret the democratic mandate from the 2016 elections as absolute power to wreck the laws and institutions he swore to uphold?
The President has vision problems. Where and how would a leadership with distorted vision lead us?