Duterte’s Smoke and Mirrors – A Statement on the Filing of Charges against, and Investigation of, the Aquino Cabinet by the Duterte Administration By Sen. Leila M. de Lima

Crisis management under the Duterte administration is all smoke and mirrors. With nothing to show after more than one year in office except blusters, blunders and scandals, Duterte has resorted to looking for scapegoats. And what better scapegoats are there than the favorite punching bags of the Duterte lynch mob, the Liberal Party (LP).

This regime thrives on projecting its failures to conspiracy theories and imagined enemies of the state, and to an all but decimated political opposition, after the great majority of the LP it is crucifying has already jumped ship and turned Dutertistas. It is blaming everyone but itself. This is what the charges against Aquino officials are all about.

Duterte's miserable performance in fixing the MRT, the number one issue thrown at the Aquino Administration during Duterte's presidential campaign, is again being blamed on former Aquino DOTC officials, led by Secretary Mar Roxas, one year and five months after PNoy had already relinquished control of government to Duterte.

Duterte has to be told. PNoy is no longer the President. He is. The buck stops with him now. And no amount of speeches at an MRT station to blame detaching carriages on imagined saboteurs, or an MRT-commuting PR stunt of his spokesperson-cum-senatorial wanna-be, can change that fact.

Duterte has to start solving problems soon, and fast. His lies about all his failures being the fault of the past administration will soon lose traction. After a while, say in two years, the blame game will no longer wash with the public. When that time comes, no amount of misdirection that harks back to an ancient circus, of feeding innocents to hungry lions, will satisfy the public anymore.

But to those who refuse to be taken for a ride by Duterte, that time has already come. They can see right through the filing of cases against former Secretary Roxas for the MRT mess Duterte is unable to fix, and DOJ's efforts in investigating PNoy and former Secretary Butch Abad for the DAP and PDAF issues, and former Secretaries Rogelio Singson and Abad for a purported road right-of-way scam.

I for one am the very first to see right through Secretary Aguirre's gaslighting scheme. I was the very first Aquino official to be used as a scapegoat for the inevitability of the failure of Duterte's grand strategy against the drug problem, even as his own son and son-in-law are implicated in the single biggest drug-smuggling scandal this country has ever seen.

These people need no pointing out to the fact that in one year under Duterte, the nation is already in shambles. The much promised crime-free and corruption-free Philippines in six months remains to be an illusion. The peso continues its nose-dive, from one of Asia's most stable currency before PNoy ended his term in 2016, to Asia's worst performing. Without any increase in sources of revenue coupled with unmitigated administration spending, Duterte's finance team is satisfied with managing the fiscal deficit through debt-financing, thus increasing foreign debt several fold since they started attempting to plug holes in a ship being sunk with trade imbalances, decreased foreign direct investments, and alarming inflation.

This is debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay even before they start working. And Duterte and his economic team still wants to add to this burden onerous financial obligations on Chinese loans that will finally seal this country's future as China's most subservient client state.

Indeed, there are public officials who need to be sent to the gallows for bringing this country to the brink of catastrophe. The only question is should it be the officials who left government with billions of pesos in savings, billions of dollars in foreign reserves, a stable currency, and strong economic fundamentals, things that are the only reasons still keeping the country's economy afloat? Or is it the current cohort of Duterte officials who has managed to bring a once robust economy to its knees all in a matter of one year?

The writing is already on the wall. Government cannot be run with nothing but smoke and mirrors. There can be no substitute for competence and an international reputation as a stable regime led by a sober, rational and decent president. Definitely, as more of the public will soon find out, national government can never be run the same way as a city that has thrived on nothing but smuggling and the killing of the poor. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can prevent the country's backslide to the year 1983.

It took the country 30 years to get out of the bankrupt state the Marcos dictatorship has left it in 1986. Unless we wake up soon to the reality of the grave Duterte is digging for us, our children will live half their lifetime climbing out of that grave, once again, the same way we did 30 years ago.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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