Beware the hypocrites in us

Patricio N. Abinales

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Beware the hypocrites in us
Digong is alas us; and we are – well, most of us – are Digong

One piece I wrote musing about the possibility of a fascist movement rising amongst the more rabid supporters elicited varied responses. There were the expected cries of “how-can-you-say-that-when-you-are-a-Mindanawon!” but I was also pleasantly amused at an American professor alluding that my prognosis is way off base because this rabble has more affinity with the millenarian and communist movements of the past.

This last, I thought, insults the memories of the likes of Macario Sakay, Narciso Ramos and Ka Bart Pasion – all nationalists and democrats. Then again who is not used to such these sticky tags from some of these Kanos?

The point I am making here is that associating some of the so-called “Dutertards” with the Il Duce’s Brownshirts did not mean Digong himself shares the same fascist leanings as his followers. If you go by the rhetoric alone, then you can make that argument that he could very well be our Pinoy Vozhd. However, if you take a serious look at his long record as a city administrator, you can also make the argument that he did rule Davao as a democrat.

But this is not what interests me here – this will be reserved for the next issue.

What I find curious is how many people – from that pompous cacique blowhard Carlos Celdran to my academic friends in the Ateneo and UP, from leftwing to rightwing folks I am friends with, including (semi-retired) activists from my generation – are engrossed and bothered by Duterte’s public avowals.  There is good reason to be worried: the words and imageries coming out of Digong’s mouth are repulsive and downright despicable. No quarrel with that.

The opprobrium over Digong’s mouth may also have something to do with one unstated reason: that the mayor’s verbal tics are not that exactly unfamiliar to his critics: that deep down what repulses people about Duterte is that he reminds them of themselves.

When you hear professionals cursing their peers as they try to outwit others in Manila’s traffic congested roads, you know they are Duterte’s brothers-in-arms (pun intended).

When you listen to professors who cuss at students for doing badly in exams or, worse, cheating on their answers, you know they are Duterte’s brothers-in-arms.

Moreover, when you see husbands who humiliate their wives, partners or children as prelude to a beating in the privacy of their homes, you know they are Duterte’s brothers-in-arms.

When you notice university fratmen ogle and whistle at coeds passing by their tambayan, you see the mayor’s menfolk replicating his Trump-like open ogling of women.

When you take a peek at the bars of Makati’s Burgos Street and see middle-aged businessmen salivating over half-naked dancers, you see the mayor’s menfolk replicating his Trump-like open ogling of women.

And as you observe students testing their “pick up” lines on prostitutes along the Quezon Boulevard stretch, you see the mayor’s menfolk replicating his Trump-like open ogling of women.

Some critics do not only fear Digong because of his autocratic habits, they also detest him because they see themselves in him. The only superficial difference is that they do their best to keep their “dark sides” hidden. He is despised because he dares to bring out in the open, attitudes and utterances that are best kept in private – the curses, the maligning of women, the racist remarks, and all other kinds of nasty asides. These have to be kept offstage because they could sully one’s public name and standing. The chatter off-stage, however, is equal to, if not worse than, that of the mayor.

His critics do not approve of Duterte’s chico de calle argot, but if you visit them in their homes and quietly watch how they shift from speaking Taglish to their family members or close friends, the only one to switch to nasty Tagalog and scold their maids and drivers for missing a smudge on the dining table or accumulating dust on a living room corner. It is here where you notice that their real personae are hardly different from Digong’s.

Digong is alas us; and we are – well, most of us – are Digong.

Opposing Digong, therefore, cannot be just on the cursing, the sexist remarks, and threats. One needs to go beyond these peripherals but unlike the communists who make the same excuse to justify their votes for Digong, one can argue the opposite.

Focus on his lack of substance, his simplistic view of peace and order, and his indifference to whether our economy will stall or regress under his administration. This may be a dull process because it will involve presenting serious, rational arguments to a group whose extremist wing now wants babies to be raped and critics to be treated like the drug addicts killed in Davao.

But we hope it will work, even late in this campaign season. Let us wish each other luck, cross our fingers, and plunge into the abyss. –

Patricio N. Abinales is an OFW.


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