By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
BEFORE President Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), I posted on FB, my own characterization of his previous speeches: “Sonambulism: reporting while sleeping, digressing from the official report and talking only about one thing, obsessively.”
Sonambulism is not a word in the dictionary. It is a coined word, from SONA (State of the Nation Address, delivered by the President of the Philippines) and somnambulism (sleepwalking). It is a word that characterized the President’s earlier speeches that deviated from the prepared reports and focused only on drugs, instead of a comprehensive report of the status of the country.
Surprisingly, the President’s third SONA did not contain any curses or threats. He read the full text of his speech, without interjecting his usual curses and threats, to the inner protest of his real proclivity. Spokesperson Harry Roque was right, they needed a change of Director, one that the President can take directions from, so that he will not reduce the speech into an adlib. Director Joyce Bernal was indeed a good choice.
While this is so, Carina Evangelista believes that his statement, “I do not care for human rights. I care for human life” is chilling. On the same vein, Lan Mercado thinks that the statement is the most manipulative in Duterte’s SONA because, “In making the false dichotomy between human rights and human lives, Duterte was being facile about the killings he instigates. He is misleading the public to think that human rights are not important compared to the human lives he says he protects through the war against drugs.”
This reminds me of the film “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw” (Season of the Devil), a folk opera directed by Lav Diaz, where Chairman Narciso, “the figurehead of the atrocities committed in the movie, “delivers fiery unintelligible speeches in the cadence of the Philippines’ current President Rodrigo Duterte” and Hitlerian harangues reminiscent of former President Marcos, to a crowd devoid of full comprehension of what he really meant.
What the President laid out unmistakably in the SONA is an overarching policy on his war on drugs. The impact of what he means will unfold as his administration unleashes an enhanced war against drugs, where he dichotomizes between “human rights” and “human lives”, despite the fact that the two concepts are inextricably intertwined and upheld by the Philippine Constitution.
It is for every citizen to be vigilant so as to avoid the numbing of our senses to the killings, and prevent the realm of a nightmare, as in the scene where the lead character Lorena in the film “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw” was drugged and raped in the hands of the military, while the bitterly-discordant lamentation ‘Talampunay Blues’ (referring to a plant with narcotic properties) was being sung, a capella.
House of Gnome
the cloud wrote in haste
and drew images of swords
where I used to see flowers
might I to see still
dropping from my bosom
a blossom, after I birthed
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