"ANO kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako diyan ni piso? Did I prosecute somebody na pinakulong ko? Ang kasal-anan ko lang 'yung mga extrajudicial killings."
I admit my blood ran cold hearing this.
It was a statement as appalling for its seeming casualness as for its literal implication.
For here was Rodrigo Duterte, 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines, speaking from the seat of power, Malacañang Palace, admitting to extrajudicial killings committed under his watch.
But what made it truly chilling, to my mind, is he spoke of what amount to, if not totally state-sanctioned, at best tolerated, murders as if these were the least of his offenses. As if killing was a trifling compared to theft.
It had to be one of the most brazen displays of the twisted morals that inform who Duterte is and what he does.
And then, for the nth time, he maligns International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda -- although he clearly no longer recalls her name -- threatening to hit her on the head the way he earlier threatened to slap United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard.
"Eh 'yang extrajudicial killing naman, itong mga ulol, lalo na 'yung, itim na sino 'yun, sabi ko, 'wag ka, ihampas ko sa ulo mo 'yung prosecutor na 'yan," he said in his speech before new career service officers.
What I believe we have been witnessing over the past couple of weeks, in fact, has been the rapid unraveling of Duterte.
We have, of course, become familiar with Duterte's disjointed, rambling speeches, which many have derisively come to refer to as his stream of unconsciousness.
Lately, however, he cannot even stay on topic, going off instead into bizarre rants against his latest obsession, the totally implausible Magdalo-Liberal Party-Communist Party plot to oust him.
And now this latest pronouncement by a man who never fails to grab the opportunity to boast of his supposed expertise in the law AND of how he has time and again disregarded the law, treating it like a nuisance to be tossed aside if it gets in the way of what he wants. Or, to look at it another way, playing out more rope to hang himself with.
I expect his spin doctors to go into overdrive to "explain" their principal's latest verbal outrage.
Here's the thing, however.
Methinks that Duterte may totally lose his marbles, if he hasn't done so already, but those who have benefited from his mad and bloody rule will do everything within their power to keep him where he is.
Not out of any real concern for him, no, but to squeeze every advantage they can while he remains president.
Look at the military, for example, and how they have picked up Duterte's mad refrain and made it their own so they can advance their own agenda of openly targeting legal dissenters by lumping them with the armed revolutionary movement that they can never manage to defeat because they continue to believe they can defeat with force of arms a conflict rooted in society's ills.
Poor Digong, the bully is more and more looking like a puppet on a string.
One who will likely end up discarded in the dung heap of history once they who fattened themselves off him find him of no more use.
If we are to recover from this nightmare and its aftermath, we should remember that they are as equally to blame for bringing us to our present hell and should be held accountable.
September 28, 2018
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