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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, December 7, 2018
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with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

Kidding around


Who was shocked when President Duterte revealed that he uses marijuana to stay awake? I wasn’t because the man can pretty much do or say whatever he wants. If nobody reacts, then he gets away with it, but if people howl in protest, the advantage of being the first comedian or joker cum President in the history of the country is that he can always say it was a joke and mock the people who didn’t get the punchline, because it was meant for “smart” people who get his humor or the bastos Bisaya crowd that more Filipinos should try to understand because we now have a bastos Bisaya leader to adjust to.

As the Philippine National Police pointed out in a tweet that was mysteriously deleted after the presidential weed joke wasn’t declared a joke yet, Cannabis is illegal in this country. It may be harmless compared to Fentanyl, his other drug of choice, but when used improperly, just as illegal. However, if he smoked the joint at an ASEAN meeting, ostensibly to stay awake when he wasn’t power napping, then technically he was not disobeying our draconian drug laws that he has sworn to prosecute as brutally as possible. If he weren’t joking, that would be pretty smart.

The President’s chongke joke was unclear whether he smoked it, used a bong (you see what I did there?), or if he took cannabis oil. But as he said, it was a joke and only the stupid would not get it, so let’s be smart and no longer wonder about the details of the President’s preferences when enjoying dope.

Anyway, Mr. Duterte also said he supports the medical marijuana bill so his joke was probably just his way of showing support for that bill. But until he signs it, the potheads of the Philippines will still have to watch their backs because the President was just joking about weed. Ok?

Another topic the president was apparently not joking about was when he wistfully expressed his desire for a proper death squad.The urban legend of the Davao Death Squad that has left thousands of bodies in its brutal wake is apparently not enough for our dear leader and he now wants our taxes to fund an official Duterte Death Squad, apparently to go after communist rebels because he is jealous of their Sparu units and he wants to out-assassinate them.

Our president’s fans take pride in him being a lawyer, but if you come to think of it, is no way any death squad could be legal in this country or planet. Unlike weed that has the medical marijuana bill giving hope to Filipino potheads, there is no death squad bill pending in Congress to give hope to the bloodlust of people who think like our president. Even the restoration of the death penalty requires the suspect to be arrested, tried, sentenced and then finally executed by an executioner. There is nothing in our Constitution or sense of moral decency as a nation that allows a gang of government assassins who can target anyone their master wishes to liquidate, no questions asked.

But legality and the constraints of the Constitution have never stopped this administration from doing what it deems best for the Filipino, as we have seen from the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, the removal of Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, and the harassment of Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa. If Mr. Duterte’s best and brightest minds can conjure up the ways and means to make life difficult for those irritants, there should be other creative ways to make assassination legal in this country. It will be interesting to see the mettle of this country’s new Chief Justice who was especially chosen by our dear leader after the previous one was found unworthy.

Between the weed and the death squad, I was hoping Duterte would be serious about the weed and joking about the death squad. Alas, I was wrong and our Tatay Digong does not enjoy a harmless joint to relax but would rather get people killed extra-judicially using our taxes instead. On a purely fiscal standpoint, presidential quality weed should be way cheaper than a gang of assassins, lookouts, motorcycles, guns and bullets.

Anyway, if you want to look at the bright side, we shouldn’t be afraid of government-funded assassins because we have already been living with assassins for years. We survived the NPA’s Sparu units, the different DDS’s who kill whoever they deem guilty of whatever crime they deem punishable by death, the PNP’s rogue killer cops like the ones who were caught and convicted for killing Kian delos Santos and Jee Ick Joo, and other assassins for hire that have made life unbelievably cheap in this country. Another death squad won’t matter much if you look at the big picture.

In a country where death squads are rife and encouraged by the President himself, all we can do hope and pray we don’t get killed. Be good and upstanding citizens. Don’t be poor like Kian. Don’t look poor or addict-like. Joke about marijuana use only. Prefer Fentanyl. Don’t be a suspected drug user, pusher, or communist rebel. If you find yourself suspected of anything, do an ex-mayor Jed Mabilog and run for your life.

We can’t do much about death squads and assassins in this country because they, you know, kill for a living. We can’t complain to the president because he loves ‘em. We can’t complain to the legislature or the judiciary because, after seeing what he can do to those who don’t love him, they love him and by extension, everything he loves.We can’t complain to the police because our PNP chief is already considering the logistics and management issues of having their very own death squad. We just have to live with them.

My only beef with Duterte’s Death Squad is that this one will be funded by our taxes such as the upcoming excise taxes on fuel that government will impose upon its people once more, probably because its assassins need bullets.

I should shut up now. I might need some weed to calm down.

But don’t be stupid, of course I’m just kidding!*  

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