Public intellectuals give their opinions so the people can decide which side to take. The “esteemed” Philippine Star writer Joel Pablo Salud likes to think of himself as being at par with top national artist F. Sionil Jose in a rant he posts on Facebook where he writes of Jose…
His influence as national artist extends well beyond the four walls of his bookshop. Thus, any piece emboldening murderers should be challenged. Truth to tell, it saddens me to no end that this is happening. But these are terrible, terrible times. Choosing to be silent–out of courtesy or out of fear–when you have something to say is a crime against one’s conscience and the collective psyche of a people whose loved ones have been snuffed by Duterte’s bloodlust.
Salud refers to Jose’s recent PhilStar piece “Independence” where Jose likens Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the late former president Ramon Magsaysay in stature. On top of this, Jose goes on to write other things certain members of today’s Opposition find “offensive”…
Now, here is a forecast worth betting on. It may turn out that for all his vulgar language, Rodrigo Roa Duterte may yet be, next to Magsaysay, the best president we ever had. All the criticisms considered, just remember this – the country is far safer now than at any other time. And inspite of the poverty, the economy is sure to recover; our foreign reserves are the highest ever. So much infrastructure has been built to hasten development – and this, too, is coming as more and more landlords are becoming producers. The Moro rebellion, I hope, will now wind down as the Moros themselves realize development will assure them peace. As for the communists, their terrorist front, the New People’s Army, is now under attack. I hope it is demolished soon.
Salud vs Jose? Consider that Salud’s body of work and reputation speak for itself. He has not won accolades and it doesn’t look like he is on the same path as the National Artist for Literature. The very nature of public discourse is you have the freedom to agree or disagree with expressed opinions. Not all men are created equal. Some are smarter than others.
What Jose brings to the table is his experience. He has lived through all Presidents from Manuel Quezon to Duterte. Magsaysay was largely a creation of Edward Lansdale and his sidekick, Napoleon Valeriano. At that time, then President Elpidio Quirino lost favor with the Americans paving the way for Magsaysay’s rise to power. But when Magsaysay got too big for America’s britches by showing an independent streak, what happened next? He ended up dead in a plane crash.
Jose has written about his discussions with his friend Onofre D Corpuz who was one of former President Ferdinand Marcos’ bright boys. You may love or hate Marcos but you have to admit that he was the first President who harnessed the collective brain power of the technocrats. Some of them, like Boy Morales, who was Corpuz’s protégé opted to go with the Left. Were they able to bring about fundamental change? No.
Salud also brings up the issue of ABS-CBN railing about how Jose “wrote about the ABS-CBN shutdown, justifying the closure all because it was owned by an oligarch he hated.” Salud then boasts, “I wrote a long letter to him and sent it by email, one I decided to later publish online after he refused to dignify my criticism with a reply.”
Was Salud already alive at the height of the Lopez’s power? Marcos cut the Lopez’s down at the legs. They were back with a vengeance after Marcos was deposed. Media has a strong influence on society. Look at what happened to the vaunted English proficiency of Pinoys? Why is it now that even trying hard “society matron activists” on socmed use Beki speak?
Jose once wrote about how journalists have become mercenaries. This is true. The advent of social media has led reporters to become public personalities in their own right. They now sign contracts as anchors unlike before when they received a fixed monthly salary. When Duterte decided to run, he didn’t have the backing of the major oligarchs because they were done picking their horses for the presidential race. We all know which horses ABS-CBN was running. When you play politics and get burned, you should be ready for the consequences. The Yellows and the Reds never admit that Gabby Lopez’s rift with former President Noynoy Aquino was the reason why the franchise wasn’t renewed. ABS-CBN has always been a willing participant in the Yellows’ destabilization plots. Former presidents Joseph “Wrap” Estrada’s and Gloria Arroyo’a cases are proof of this.
Salud and his Opposition ilk are up in arms about Jose’s column because he hit the Yellows and the Reds hard. But you have to remember that Jose sided with them on the issue of the Marcos burial and began criticizing Duterte. Why Jose is praising Duterte again, only he knows. But if you want to refute his claim, you have to do so with facts.
Salud writes about Duterte’s bloodlust in his war on drugs and now, his war against the Communist Party of the Philippines, its terrorist arm, the New People’s Army and its front organisations (CPP/NPA/NDF). Both are necessary and those who are enemies of the State should be prepared for the consequences of their actions. Salud makes it appear that he and his leftist-militant brethren are patriots. No they are not.
The May 2022 election will determine how the public views the Duterte Presidency. Instead of bellyaching, the Opposition should work harder to put out an alternative platform and let the people decide. This is what democracy is all about.