THE LATEST of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial statement is the one about his plan to audit all government agencies including the Commission on Audit (COA). That is, if he ran and won the Vice Presidential position come May 2022 election. Of course his statement was premised on something that is not yet even certain to happen. Meaning, even if the President somewhat mentioned that he is going to run for the second highest office in the land, its certainty has yet to wait until the last hour of the last day of the filing of certificates of candidacy or the lapse of the deadline of the substitution of candidates for certain positions.

     When the President said that, he seemed to have thrown a stone to the direction of a hornets’ nest hanging over a body of water. It did not just create ripples on the part of the opposition and other administration critics but on certain sectors of the administration as well.

     The varied reactions are couched mostly on questions like,  what would be the President’s legal basis to do such audit when it is not one responsibility of the Office of the Vice President to undertake audit; was the President serious with his pronouncement considering that he is a lawyer and thus presumed to be knowledgeable of what the Constitution has defined to be the job of the Vice President? Or, was he just baiting his critics and other anti-administration people to create controversies so their attention will be veered away from his real motive for the forthcoming elections thereby further smoke-screening and making his enemies confused?

     We are certain the President knows all the answers to his critics’ questions even as he is fully aware of what the Constitution mandates the Office of the Vice President to do. But of course, the President will not do all that he said. Why, because after all, it is our hunch that he will not even be running for Vice President. Yes, we will stick to our earlier position that the President is only bluffing his way towards a successful concealment of the person he will finally endorse to be the standard bearer of his Party. Thus, he continues issuing ambivalent, often contentious, statements that are keeping the opposition and other anti-administration denizens at a loss as to what and where exactly they have to concentrate on their attacks and strengthen their own defenses.

     But even as the President is somewhat succeeding in his strategy, the ones slowly gnawing on his solid foundation for an administration worth remembering by the people, are some of the men walking with him in the corridors of power. Some are holding positions in the upper echelons of his administration while others are those who are paid “a peso-a-year” appointments but are “worming” their way to the government coffers through juicy deals using their suddenly existing business entities.

     Sadly, most of them are the President’s acquaintances and close friends from Davao City.  While some of them have remained beyond the reach of subpoenas of Congressional probe bodies, the lesser “gods” are already at the mercy of investigators in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. They are now being flagged down by the government audit body because of suspiciously humongous transactions entered by government agencies where they have hands to make the deals happen.

     Unluckily for the Davaoeno President all these controversies are evolving at the time when his term has barely ten months left. And if indeed the alleged shenanigans of those people who are his own extension in the other agencies under the Executive Branch of government cannot be dotted toward him, this may be the most opportune time for President Duterte to “do the right things” – push hard for the Congressional probers to proceed the investigation and not to disparage them by calling the lawmakers as “all posturing.”

     When the probes are culminated and definitive findings are officially pieced together and appropriate recommendations are made, he must do the necessary –fire and file charges against those found to have wronged the people and defiled the administration – and retain until he steps down from Malacanang those exhonerated.  That way he can forever hold high his head wherever he goes. 

     And Duterte would probably go down in history as the only President to have remained trusted by the people for the entirety of his term.

     However, it is also our take that should he do something that could be misconstrued by the people as tolerating or condoning the wrong-doings of his men by shielding them in whatever way he can, then we would not be surprised if his administration would be cursed down the route to history.

     Yes, the President still has the chance to redeem a likely deteriorating image caused by his own people and those who purport to help him see the country through in these economically turbulent times.


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