IT IS OFTEN remarked by those who do not wish to invite undue attention to themselves that “some things are better left unsaid.” In the case of Vice President Sara Duterte, who also serves as the Secretary of Education, there are far too many things that she has yet to make clear to a nation weary of the culture of impunity that has pervaded the administration of her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte.
As an offspring of a dynasty that has tirelessly stamped its authoritarian mark upon the country, Duterte now seems to be relishing being in her father’s shadow, perpetuating his legacy of unwieldy secrecy and utmost contempt for transparency.
In her quest to be granted confidential funds in the name of “peace and security,” Duterte has exhibited a remarkable affinity for the cloak and dagger, treating the Filipino people as mere pawns in what she perceives to be solely a political chess match. The same people who once yearned for a breath of fresh democratic air in a nation stifled by two decades of oppression have found now themselves again gasping for the reinstatement of transparency and accountability—the very principles upon which this fragile democracy of ours stands upon.
Despite having been on the receiving end of mounting criticism over her insistence of the necessity of these confidential and intelligence funds, Duterte, initially branded by her supporters as a “breath of fresh air” from her father’s thuggery makes one thing clear: the apple, it seems, has not fallen far from the oppressive tree. The whispers of “change” and “hope” have been drowned out by the cacophony of clandestine dealings, hidden agendas, and ever-elusive accountability.
Duterte’s appeal for confidential funding is a page straight out of her father’s authoritarian playbook. It is a chapter in the ongoing saga of undermining the democratic spirit. It is a stark reminder that the Duterte regime remains relentless in its mission to quash legitimate democratic spaces, to silence the voices that dare to question the status quo.
In a nation yearning for progress after a harrowing pandemic ordeal, this request for secrecy and hidden budgets only drags us deeper into the abyss of uncertainty. It is an affront to the very essence of our young and fledgling democracy, which was supposed to thrive on openness, honesty, and the collective well-being of its citizens.
The culture of impunity, nurtured under her father’s regime, now finds a comfortable home in Duterte’s bid for confidential funds. The family’s penchant for the disregard of democratic values continues to erode the foundations of our nation, leaving us with a government that thrives in the shadows, hidden from the scrutinizing eyes of the people, much like the Marcos Sr. dictatorship.
So, as we navigate this “labyrinth” of secrecy, let us not forget that true democracy can only flourish in the beaming light of transparency. Let us not be content with half-truths and veiled intentions. And, above all else, let us not be complicit in the undermining of the very principles that should guide our nation.
This whole mess threatens to plunge this nation into darkness, where accountability is all but a distant memory. It is a mess that we must confront, dissect, and expose if we are to salvage the democratic spaces that are slipping through our fingers.
In the face of this ordeal, we must not simply let things be left unsaid. We must raise our voices, shine a light on the darkness, and demand the transparency and accountability that are the lifeblood of democracy. The nation’s children deserve nothing less.