IT TOOK Sen. Richard Gordon some time before coming out with his full sense of his nemesis. And it’s a brave and sweeping one.
“No nation”, he bemoans, bewails, berates in his latest broadside against President Duterte, deserves him”.
His use of the present tense may be a belated realization, like Saul’s ‘Road to Damascus’ experience, or a little mea culpa confession of how the past was under the small-town authoritarian, where many think he was a part of in a way. The modern word is ‘enabler’. After all, once upon a time , when the war on drugs was raging , and countless, hapless innocent people were waylaid in the streets, dragged brutishly from their homes, and lured to death even in some police custody , Gordon was flatly dismissive that there were violations of human rights.
None at all. His soul was alright then, as those of many who knew what better thing to say or do. It was a time of political politeness, political correctness for expediency or profit for many in the corridors of power, except in the opposition largely reduced to a whining , decimated minority.
There was no obvious grammatical hiccup, then, in his unflattering remark today, maybe some difficult bridging of the historical gap between the past and the present. A man instinctively finally spits out what’s toxic rather than swallows it, or vomits it. So that should explain the tentative clumsiness in Gordon’s tenses.
Did we deserve him then? Obviously, that was the unverbalized flipside to Gordon’s commentary, with his historical litany of Duterte’s egregious behavior, from blatant disrespect of the Pope to vulgar disrespect of women, from arrogant blasphemy to dehumanizing violence.
What drove Gordon to bang his gavel, differently, as it were? Despite his unmistakable feature, Duterte insists Gordon may not be an American at all, or that perception is not reality. Duterte has also made clear to all and sundry that Gordon isn’t fit to be senator, despite being the head of the most powerful Senate committee. If Duterte sees red at the blue ribbon committee investigating alleged overpriced purchase of medical supplies, it’s because there are dark arrows that point to where the road is leading. The award –winning American novelist Robert Caro once described it as ‘the locus of corruption”.
Duterte has since ranted against not only Gordon and his prime committee’s ongoing probe into the alleged anomaly but on the Senate as whole which he dumped as one, unproductive legislative factory. Never mind that only recently he endorsed with banal encomium the legislative body’s president as a good vice presidential material. He forgot, probably intentionally, Tito Sotto’s partner, Sen. Ping Lacson who’s into an unedifying back- and -forth with Duterte.
Try as he might, Lacson seems to lack the blunt forthrightness of Gordon about Duterte’s value as a leader: zero.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed?” an aggrieved Shylock, the Venetian Jewish moneylender, asked in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.” If you wrong us, shall we not revenge? The villainy you teach me I will execute and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction”.
Gordon has raised the ante with his latest tirade on Duterte. If he isn’t fit to be a senator as Duterte degraded him to be, Duterte is less fit to be Gordon’s campaign manager, much less a leader of a nation, any nation for that matter.
The veteran senator obviously has had enough. Duterte had belittled him in the past, at one time telling the public, specifically his favorite audience, that something had gone wrong with Gordon’s brain it was flowing down his bloated pouch. Gordon apparently just turned the other cheek. But now, the other cheek is getting more abused. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore,” the actor Peter Finch screamed in his role in the movie ‘The Network’.
Duterte is yet to top Gordon’s latest indictment. He must be conferring with his slew of advisers and horse whisperers what to say about the escalating “word war” and, how to win it. He should have the final word. His favorite spokesman, Harry Roque, may still be licking his wounds after being ganged up by various sectors to resign after his ‘unauthorized” recording of his dressing down of the country’s doctors in a meeting.
And it could only get worse from here.
Observers say that,at this point, what is needed is a massive but non-violent massive protest the likes of EDSA People Power in 1986, and the Duterte Administration will crumble like a rickety brick house. This is the time for presidential wannabes like Vice President Leni Robredo, or Sen. Ping Lacson, even Sen. Manny Pacquiao to seize the opportunity. What are they waiting for? Carpe diem, they say.
What looks like, at the moment, though is the Senate aiming at the jugular. The President’s men are all over the place, outdoing each other to refute Gordon’s findings so far and so much, trying to downgrade it as a witch hunt in aid of election or politics.
At this stage , Gordon may have already put his quarry in a cul de sac, which is trying to stave off the inevitable by resorting to harm the ‘hunter’ every which way, fair and foul. It may just be a matter of time. But a Senate observer studiously warned that it wouldn’t be that easy. And he didn’t mean only about the present but about the future.
Gordon, who’s done that, said this, been there, knew whereof he spoke. It’s probably the best message he’s spoken to the nation, or for any nation for that matter in a long while.