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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, November 22, 2019
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OPINIONS

Games presidents play

Ninfa Leonardia

What game is President Duterte playing with his Veep, Leni Robredo? One moment he seems to be trusting her, and even counting on her as his co-worker for the country. The next, he is suspecting her of being a chismosa (gossipmonger) who may unwittingly disclose state secrets to the enemy. I’m not talking about an enemy in warfare, rather in politics, because they belong to opposing political parties. Sometimes I am inclined to suspect that someone is feeding him chismis right there in the Palace so he will not be chummy with his “vice”.

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But I do admire Madame Robredo for being so forthright. To the talks going on and being published in the media about the President’s reservations about her, she answered swiftly and directly – to tell her so himself. Indeed, the President seems to be going about it in a roundabout way, not telling her frankly. Is he hoping she will just know about his views via the grapevine? That does not sound like him, the outspoken, cussing, no holds-barred head of state.

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And is it true, that during a press conference, he called her a “scatterbrain” with “knee-jerk impulses? Tsk, Tsk. She is such a lady, she would never throw that back at him. But just between you and me, don’t you think he is also afraid that she might succeed where he has apparently failed? From the start it sounded as if she is more methodical about approaching her assignment but that, obviously, did not sit well with the Boss. All right, let him tackle it himself, but please, please, do not start that EJK (extra-judicial killings) binge again!

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What powers do judges have outside of their salas? A judge from Cabanatuan was declared “persona non grata” in Baguio when he ordered a traffic enforcer who cited him for illegal parking to appear in his coutroom that is in the province of Nueva Ecija! His charge against him was for “indirect contempt”. Now, did he expect the enforcers to kowtow to him and exempt him from traffic rules just because he is a judge? But the Baguio City Council reacted by declaring him an unwanted person in Baguio. Now he will have to look for another place to cool his temper.

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What’s your pronoun? Are you a He, She or They? An Agence France Presse report had an item on the issue that suggests you have a choice to be called “he”, she” or “they”, and that is acceptable. Well, I also learned a new word from the article and that’s “binary” that I understand refers to your gender. And even the Merriam Webster dictionary has gotten into the act by defining the pronoun “they” as singular, and can refer to either sex. I may agree to being called “they” but please don’t call me “it”.

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It was only recently that I learned that the term “life imprisonment” does not really mean being in prison as long as you live, but only for some 40 years. Well, that is long enough, but to the victim of the convict, it surely must not be enough. Just imagine, if the crime was committed against you or your kin by someone who is only 15 years old, he or she will be eligible for release at the age of 55. Quite an old age, but not too old to get into mischiefs, you know.

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But there is a move in Congress, and I think it has already been approved, that will repeal the provision limiting the maximum penalty, or the so-called “life imprisonment” to only 40 years. Worse, the provision enabled the release of so-called life-termers after only 40 years, or for showing good behavior during their incarceration. That may sound humane, but not to the families of the victims of the crimes, who may not only be aggrieved by the release, but also scared by the possibility that the released convict may get even with them.

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Oh, they are serious. Even Donald Trump himself must be bothered by what he used to belittle, which were the moves to yank him out of the Office of the President of the United States. What he used to brush aside as mere harassment, is now taking shape with no less than nine officials of his government set to testify against him. Seems he was overheard by two officials talking on the phone to the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt against his potential rival, Joe Biden, in exchange for military aid against Russian aggression. How careless could he be to talk about such matters within earshot of other people? He denies it, but there are two persons confirming it.*

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