[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Wrong side up


President Duterte has found his poster boy, the emblem of his regime, the embodiment of its character, the personification of its beliefs and codes of conduct. 

That poster boy is Nicanor Faeldon.  

Duterte has proclaimed him Mr Upright, the one to look up to for inspiration and emulation. Imagine him cast in bronze, feet held together straight up in the air, arms outstretched at his sides for balance, and head stood on the plinth in the circus act that precisely illustrates the perspective from which Duterte rules: wrong side up.

That perspective, being contrary to the one promoted by Guillermo Tolentino’s Oblation, the iconic monument to openness and selflessness that all these 84 years has welcomed you to the University of the Philippines, strikes a chord that gives off a portentous resonance specific to that state university: Duterte wants to starve it of funds for being too liberal for his own taste. 

Needless to say (but said here for Duterte’s sake), as only expected of all institutions of learning, UP offers to educate its students in every ism across the ideological spectrum. If they choose to lean left, it’s a choice made not only freely but knowledgeably – although our democratic Constitution says that freely is fair enough. 

But since the very idea of freedom, and, in particular, of education conducted in an atmosphere of freedom, is anathema to him, Duterte may as well build a Nicanor Faeldon University that will turn humans into loyal canines.

Only a Duterte presidency would find a fit for Faeldon. In fact, he received his Duterte testimonial for uprightness while under Senate investigation as prisons director, for liberating inmates who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for heinous crimes, like murder and rape, therefore automatically ineligible under the law rewarding good conduct in confinement; yet another issue is whether they and even those nominally eligible had been truly behaved enough to deserve liberty.

Duterte, however, views the case as a mere “misapplication” of the law largely and has been quick to come to the defense of prison officials and staff who found themselves involved in it but acted “in good faith” – whatever that means. 

Obviously, he counts Faeldon among them, but is firing him even so. Anyhow, there’s really nothing to being fired from the Duterte regime: it is the position that is found undeserving of its occupant, not the other way around, again in keeping with the regime’s wrong-side-up perspective. That’s why no one fired has been punished. In fact, one is more likely rewarded with a new position, as was Faeldon himself. 

He had been Customs commissioner before prisons director. He was fired after a methamphetamine (shabu) shipment worth P6.4 billion had slipped past him. 

Also, not a month into his prisons directorship, his son Nicanor Jr, in a strangely coincidental case of bad luck but good faith, found himself in the home of his girlfriend in the exact moment of dawn that it was raided for drugs. Shabu was found and seized. Junior was arrested along with everyone else, but soon cleared, thus saved, in case his father had meant his filicidal public ranting: “I will kill that idiot….”   

It’s now the father’s turn to prove himself upright. Well, he had better look genuinely incredibly idiotic, although even that may not work, given the stark findings that continue to emerge from the Senate hearings. 

It is becoming more and more evident that just about any privilege a prisoner might desire, not only liberty, has a price – from a cellphone, a television set, and other amenities that make for a more comfortable prison life than the prescribed one to gambling, drugs, and sex. How could Faeldon have missed all that, and missed it “in good faith”?

Duterte himself has no chance with a good-faith defense. That simply will not wash with his unremitting persecution of critics or the thousands of dead in his brutal war on drugs or his treasonous ceding of Philippine sovereignty to China over the West Philippine Sea and the continuing betrayals arising from it. But the insanity defense may just work for him. 

Operating wrong-side-up is definitely not normal or sane. But it’s something he cannot help; it is a compulsion driven by a psychological disorder, properly clinically certified: he is a remorseless narcissist.

Still, he will have to end up confined. – Rappler.com