[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Sara Duterte’s honest convictions

Vergel O. Santos
[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Sara Duterte’s honest convictions
I doubt that Sara’s statement portraying herself and, by natural extension, her consenting father unvirtuous also had been cajoled out of her; it looked more like an attempt she had taken on her own initiative in order to sound philosophical, in keeping with her new stature

Falsehoods, cover-ups, treacheries – that’s what the regime of Rodrigo Duterte is all about, and it’s the sense you got from the mouth of babes, indeed from the mouth of his own daughter Sara no less.

Sara is not exactly such a picture of sweetness and innocence as are the babes we normally like to cuddle, but a babe she is in her own right – inexperienced, simpleminded, impressionable. And it is precisely, and ironically, because of her frailties that she comes across as credible, if rather pathetically so.

If she were a stronger and more confident character she would not try too hard, as obviously she does, playing party leader and political kingmaker. It would seem she was cajoled into playing the part by Gloria Arroyo, the former President and current Speaker. Since finding a special place under the Duterte sun, Arroyo has been successful as a political puppeteer, so successful she at times appears to work strings tied to the President himself. Why, if she did not possess the natural aptitude, she would not have been able to assume the presidency on a rigged vote and more recently to get herself acquitted of plunder, by a Supreme Court she had managed to pack with loyal appointees.

I doubt, though, that Sara’s statement portraying herself and, by natural extension, her consenting father unvirtuous also had been cajoled out of her; it looked more like an attempt she had taken on her own initiative in order to sound philosophical, in keeping with her new stature.

The words just burst forth during a campaign stump, never to be repeated, giving the sense of an impulsive utterance that, although regrettable, was thought better left unrevisited than taken back at the risk of creating a new and even greater stir and causing her bigger problems. But her words are simply too incriminating to be dismissed or forgotten.

She said honesty had become an irrelevant standard for seekers of public office (and for public officials as well, I would say, pursuing further her premise that all politicians are dishonest).

Her argument cannot possibly hold in that sweeping sense, but doubtless it does in her particular case – her words, after all, amounted to a confession. Obviously, she had not been at all impressed by the lessons dinned firstly into us all at home and in school: “Honesty is the best policy.”

Dismiss honesty, and the multitude of virtues synonymous with or related to it goes with it; to mention only some: integrity, uprightness, probity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fidelity, sincerity.

Actually, honesty is a moral peak we are challenged to reach, although we still get some credit for any partial achievement – an A if only for effort, as we like to bargain. For elections, here’s how the rating system works: the less dishonest candidate is the more preferable one.

Sara’s own rating system is so pure it does not allow for the slightest taint of honesty. Thankfully, she can only speak for herself and, of course, her family and their adherents.

Speaking for myself, I certainly feel proud of the small smudges of honesty I bear. I’m not a candidate like Sara – she is up for reelection as mayor of Davao City – but, to me as a voter, the tiniest speck of honesty counts, comparatively, given especially the wholesale Duterte dishonesties going around.

Look alone at the following: the tortured rationalization of the ceding of the West Philippine Sea to China and of other criminally lopsided deals with it; the grossly undercounted kills in the war against illegal drugs; the unexplained wealth of the Duterte family; the undisproved allegations of a secret tattoo that seals the links of a Duterte son to bigtime drug suppliers; the concocted drug-dealing case for which Senator Leila de Lima has been held in jail for over two years now; the steady assaults on press freedom that are fit into legal pretexts of tax evasion and ownership-law violation in a feeble attempt to justify the arrest of Maria Ressa, Rappler’s CEO and one of its founders; the disguised coup successfully mounted against the minority Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by the same Supreme Court majority that had nearly always ruled for the side Duterte was known to favor.

Is it yet any wonder why Sara Duterte would have everyone think honesty a lost virtue? In this electoral season, she is only too anxious for company in dishonesty for her family and party, and, as apparently and understandably insecure as she is, for approval as a political patroness for herself. – Rappler.com

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