The idea came from Bong Go, revealed Bato dela Rosa. That’s Senate Bill 1784 or the proposed Former Presidents Benefits Act of 2023. “Go noticed the pitiful situation of the ex-presidents.”
Let us indulge them and measure the three living ex-presidents if they are truly in a pitiful situation.
Erap Estrada already has his Joseph Ejercito Estrada Museum and Archives in his 19-hectare Tanay, Rizal rest house. Built at a cost of P30M, the sources of which he declined to reveal, the complex also includes his future grave site, a bar honoring his friendship with Fernando Poe Jr. named El Rey (The King), ponds and lagoons, a ranch and mini-zoo (horses, ostrich, ducks, deer), and a museum that narrates Erap’s history as a politician. Today he has opened it to the public as the JE Camp Hotel and Resort with a 14-room hotel, swimming pool, and trams to take guests around the resort, a Maranaw village, a chapel, and a souvenir shop that sells his signature wristbands with the presidential seal. The museum includes a 65-seat ampitheater that screens the 145 movies he made from 1957 to 1989.
Pitiful ex-president Estrada? Let’s hope he passes Bong Go’s definition, even if until today, Estrada can still manage to support all his numerous families.
What about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? She has not constructed her museum and library yet, but let’s see if she can afford to build one. In 2016, she declared a net worth in Congress to the tune of P434,636,322.52 (she placed 11th richest, Emmeline Aglipay Villar was second at P1.3B, Imelda Marcos fourth at P917M). In 2017, she declared a net worth of P464.8M with no debts, making her richer by 30.2M. In 2018, when she was House Speaker, she rose to 10th place with a net worth of P479,546,617.30, making her wealthier by 15M.
Pitiful ex-president Arroyo? She can go back to wearing neck braces so that Bong Go will take pity at her.
But Go is actually zeroing in on his boss, ex-president Rodrigo Duterte.
Even before retiring to his protectorate Davao City, Duterte was already pampered with his first perk. Four senators refused to sign the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee panel report on the multibillion-peso anomalies of Pharmally Pharmaceutical because it included Duterte in the plunder charge. What a huge relief for the Davao City strongman, considering that Estrada and Arroyo both left Malacañang only to be jailed for plunder charges.
Go and Dela Rosa are asking for what is already a legislated array of benefits for ex-presidents: a tax-free annual pension (Republic Act 5059 and Cory Aquino’s Executive Order 145 which amended it by increasing the amount), a lifetime privilege of an officer-led security detail by the Presidential Security Group, diplomatic passports that entitle them to Philippine embassy courtesies as well as courtesies by the host country (Republic Act 8239), and a state funeral when they die.
But the ex-president is having bouts of boredom as a private citizen, Go said.
To keep him fascinated, Bong Go can embark on building him a presidential museum and library. And for that, they can do the JFK template. The JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts was built from donations of political associates, private corporations and foundations, foreign government grants, private citizens and interest groups who wished to honor the memory of John F. Kennedy.
The Rodrigo Duterte presidential museum and library can easily be built using donations from China, his Chinese friends, POGO businessmen who he allowed to operate, Navy frigate suppliers, and drug traders and smugglers that he had set free. That’s already a caboodle of supporters and cash. That is not to mention yet the bonanza of donations from Pharmally executives (fugitives from the law?) – chairman Huang Tzu Yen, president Twinkle Dargani, and treasurer Mohit Dargani.
Go claims Duterte needs a speechwriter. His library can be a collection of all his speeches prepared by his Malacañang speechwriters, all of which he had discarded because he preferred his impromptu soliloquys. It can also exhibit a document that is now considered very rare – his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth that he refused to publicize even if it was mandatory by law.
The museum can have a special 4K-megapixel digital cinema to be named The Matrix that will screen all TV footage of the countless times he said, and with this title: “I will resign tomorrow if…” Another digital video entitled “My Gahd I Hate Drugs” will show the various events he had cultivated friendship with Peter Lim.
If he is bored, he can go travel the world using his lifetime diplomatic passport. He just has to be careful that he does not travel to countries with memberships in the International Criminal Court or non-member countries that have signed agreements with the ICC to jail convicts of crimes against humanity. One country where he will be safe will be the People’s Republic of China. Comrade Xi will welcome him there anytime with open arms, with imperial accommodations at the famous Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing where he can sip unli Chinese tea.
No presidential jet to use for his travels? He can ride in better style by counting on friend Apollo’s Cessna Citation Sovereign to fly abroad, fuel paid for. After all, he himself admitted being offered three properties by the wealthy pastor at Woodridge Park, a lot in Royal Pines, a Nissan Safari, and a Ford Expedition. The jets cannot currently fly to the US where Apollo is sure to be arrested upon arrival.
The ex-president can also increase the frequency of his talk shows at SMNI where he can charge high talent fees. His troll lieutenants Sass Sasot and Lorraine Partosa are now employed there, so he is in homely company.
So there you are, the many phenomenal ways to keep ex-president Duterte from a humanitarian-challenged life.
Oh, at the entrance to his museum, can be this epitaph, borrowed from Nick Davies of The Guardian: “To have gunmen is a gangster’s requirement; to have gunmen in uniforms, with all the power of the state behind them, is a gangster’s dream.” That will be his ultimate statement of defiance against the ICC. – Rappler.com
Antonio J. Montalván II is a social anthropologist who advocates that keeping quiet when things go wrong is the mentality of a slave, not a good citizen.
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