July 19, 2018, 5:46 am
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Summer shorts

SUMMER is officially here, according to PAG-ASA. Expect generally clear skies and 34-degree weather, except in politics where dark clouds always hover, accompanied by scorching heat generated by opposing sides on mercurial issues. 

Let’s take a look at some of the issues that are likely to dominate the media space for the rest of the summer season. 

The oral arguments on the quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno only exacerbated wounds and shone a brighter spotlight on the animosity within the walls of Padre Faura. Partisans have lined up on both sides, eagerly awaiting the result of the clash of titans. We can expect the temperature to go up a few more notches, with President Rodrigo Duterte’s dramatic pronouncement that CJ Sereno can now consider him as an enemy. 

The electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo. Realizing that the moment of truth can come sooner than anyone thinks, the Marcos camp has been throwing everything they could at Vice President Robredo, including their neighbor’s kitchen sink.

The Robredo camp, mostly courtesy of Atty. Romy Macalintal, has been steadfastly trying to shut down new propaganda being churned out by the Marcos machine. It’ll only get hairier as the ballot recount progresses.

An interesting twist in the entire Facebook saga has come by way of the announcement that the social media network is tapping Rappler and Vera Files to be its fact checking partners in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the debacle with Cambridge Analytica wasn’t as big as it was in the United States, with some of its Filipino users shrugging off the implications of the data breach. The generally lukewarm response from the public did not deter the National Privacy Commission from taking Facebook to task for the data breach, and is requiring it to submit documents on the data breach as it applies to Filipino users. 

I’d be shocked if no champagne bottles were uncorked over at the Rappler and Vera Files offices at the announcement of the news, given how these two outfits have been demonized and vilified by Duterte fanatics. An air of panic was apparent over at some self-professed Duterte bloggers, while the less astute of the lot started calling for a boycott of Facebook in favor of another social media platform where they “could tell the truth about” Duterte without “censorship” from Rappler and Vera Files. 

It was entertaining to watch them try to walk themselves back from this boycott, eventually spreading the word that Facebook accounts shouldn’t be deleted, only deactivated. 

All is not lost for federalism advocates, even with the non-postponement of the May 2018 barangay elections. If you remember, those batting for federalism were banking on the postponement of the barangay elections to October 2018 to piggy back the intended plebiscite. Despite the setback, I doubt that the advocates would give it up knowing that they are doing “Duterte’s work.” The more setbacks encountered by the federalism movers means less chances for proponents of a no election for midterms in 2019. This isn’t definitive, of course, especially in light of creative and devious solutions that Duterte allies come up with to push their agendas forward. 

Soon enough, SONA season is going to roll around and cabinet secretaries will again be in a mad rush to provide material for Mr. Duterte’s third SONA. As the years wear on, they’ll find that they can’t keep bloating the number of addicts to shock people into submission. Before long, the bloated numbers will lead people to ask: what are you doing about it? Why do the numbers keep going up, even with you at the helm? 

Whatever new thing the administration comes up with the rally their troops and distract the public after this haphazard non-plan about the Boracay closure, it cannot be denied that the minimal progress in the International Criminal court is spooking the life out of them. Consider this: if Mr. Duterte is indeed as courageous as he says he is, and is willing to face the music at any time, what’s with this threat to arrest ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda once she sets foot in the country? And we’re not even being investigated yet, just the beginnings of a preliminary examination.

Whether he realizes it or not, Mr. Duterte is playing right into the hands of the proponents of an ICC trial. By responding the way that he has, replete with curses, threats and bravado, he really is showing the world that victims of extrajudicial killings cannot get justice within his administration, paving the way for a case before the ICC. In the words of one of my favorite public servants: “Don’t interfere when someone is making mistakes. Give him enough rope to hang himself.”
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