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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 14, 2019
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Trumpís monument?

Ninfa Leonardia

The circus is on. The election season has started and it will be every man for himself as candidates fall over each other in the attempt to grab political positions all over the country. This promises exciting times, which we earnestly hope will also not be bloody times. The Philippine National Police has geared itself for the campaigns and let us pray that they will be successful in preventing violence and bloodshed this time.

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But was it a good sign or a bad one that had the President of the Republic who was in Bacolod the other night to attend a private birthday celebration starting to fire people left and right? The most prominent of those who got the ax was no less than the Police Chief of the city who, most residents felt, had been doing a good job as its top cop. I heard he mentioned other people in connection with the drug problem, and, naturally those allegedly named must now be shaking in their boots knowing how he deals with that kind of problem.

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We hope, however, that whoever are his contacts as far as drugs are concerned in this city, are reliable ones and will not be naming names for personal vendetta. I was told that a businessman was mentioned, and I hope the guy will be able to clear his name. It is quite dangerous to be even just “mentioned” by the President, you know. His “hunters” may just take his word for it without further verification. I think the President is annoyed that his initial target for ending the problem has not yet been met, but I don’t think people really expected it to happen. Even with all their wealth, manpower and resources, the biggest countries themselves have not totally solved the drug problem.

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But President Duterte should be in a very good mood right now. His salary has reportedly been hiked by some P102,000 per month. This was after he complained that his present pay was not enough to support his two families! Now, what about other government workers also with two families – will they be entitled to increases, too? Or does the law allow that only to the highest official of the land? The same report says that the lowest paid government employees will also get an increase, but only P1,000, with no mention of the number of families he has to support. Is that fair? Maybe not, but presidents are different from ordinary folk like us.

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What do other provinces think of the endorsement by Senator Frankin Drilon of his eight favored candidates for senator? I admit that the ones he had named are worthy ones, but why did he say he picked them because they will help him “push the progress we have seen in the province and city of Iloilo”? I guess this should encourage Negrenses and Bacoleños to also make sure they have their own senator to “push” our progress. But he did say he considers the Western Visayas, where we also belong, as his stronghold!

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Meanwhile, government workers in the United States are agonizing over the “shutdown” that has also deprived them of their paychecks. Imagine receiving your paycheck with nothing but zeros printed on the space for “amount”. How are these workers getting by? Most complain that they cannot pay their mortgages, loans and other financial obligations. Unpaid amortizations mean added interests, and that’s a big problem for wage earners. Even travel is being affected. And what has caused all these? They now have an immature leader who is sulking because Congress won’t grant him the $5.7 billion he wants to use in building a wall that would shut Mexican migrants out of his country.

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So who will blink first? I don’t think it is likely that Donald Trump will, being as stubborn as he is. So far, he has been deaf to the call of the people. But the gripes of about 800,000 federal government workers could escalate into big trouble for his administration, only, he does not want to see it that way. Now he is scrounging around for the funds to build that wall, which another official has described as “an immoral wall that America does not need or want”. But their President wants it, and is tapping all sources to build what he must consider a “monument” to him. That is, if it doesn’t end up with the nickname “Trump’s Folly”.

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But Donald Trump may have something more on his plate when the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, releases its findings on their probe into his relations with Russia, especially in connection with his election as president of the U.S.A. But whether or not they had adverse findings, anyway, he had already been elected president by then, and virtually boss of the FBI, isn’t he?*

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