Opinion

Joe America's Temporary Goodbye

At the beginning of President Duterte's term, blogger Joe America bade a temporary goodbye to his readers, as a statement on behalf of decency.
ILLUSTRATOR Frantz Arno Salvador
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Thank you to all who have expressed their understanding and best wishes for me and my family.

There are a number of reasons for suspension of the blog. At the root, as many supposed, is a concern for my family’s well-being, cast against the unkindness inspired by a leader who seems to want to use threat to remake the Philippines in his own image, which, as far as I can tell, is without remorse or respect for the values of civility and laws that bind diverse peoples to one community for the well-being of all.

I am not a citizen and am not afforded the protections of citizenship. Indeed, there are obligations under my visa that I must respect. I also have an increasingly hard time staying connected because of Globe’s deteriorating service. It is hard to do research or respond to comments. I can’t maintain the quality of the blog I envisioned.

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The tenor of the discussions is turning to crap with the arrival of Duterte agents who don’t come to discuss, but to flame the blog by challenging my personal integrity, seeking to restrain the blog’s voice, and demanding that we give the president time to show us the promise of his decisions. I grow disheartened with the arrival of this caliber of character and intellect, one that refuses to respect the elegance of the blog’s discussion format. It’s a disease I don’t want in my brain or blog. It is not an accident. It is the way the Duterte Internet bosses run things.

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Under President Duterte, I suspect that there will be a good many big winners and many, many, many big losers, and of the latter we already have over 1,000 plus their grieving family members. With more on the way. I get angry, too much, too often. We are losers, too, those of us who want nothing more than sincere, honest, earnest debate stripped of the gameplaying.

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This government is unkind, is it not? On some days it seems a veritable ship of fools.

I say “ship of fools” with a wince, knowing that the motto of the blog is concocted from some long-lost literary chemistry with Edgar Lores: “O’ rise ye land of happy fools!” It is meant fondly to cheer the rise of the nation and grant respect for the travails foisted upon resilient, fun-loving, fiesta-warm Filipinos bound in poverty and struggle by a class of entitled, self-involved barons.

By way of example, I cite Senators Pimentel and Cayetano, grown-up, adult men smart enough to pass the bar exam but not smart enough to figure out that a candidate who challenges a reporter by questioning how smelly his wife’s vagina is just might not be in tune with modern standards of compassion and care found in human rights principles. Well, they excuse it and spin it as a joke and thereby hold no one accountable for one of the most gross verbal abuses I’ve witnessed in my rather lengthy life. And then there were others, many others, to follow. All excused. Rationalized away by a set of people who deny that civility is important. Thus, we see the entitlements of the class of impunity. They say they have to kill people because the courts are slow, but they are escape artists themselves. And they help their fellow con men escape, too. They built the laws that make the courts work badly.

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And so, as the bodies roll in, and these two characters hold to their positions, denying any respect for the integrity of democracy and decency, quite willing to enable the abuses of the Duterte-inspired thugs who threaten us and demand that we forgo our free speech rights so the President can execute his killings without anyone saying, “Hey, STOP! That’s not RIGHT!”

The number of intelligent, powerful people who are quite all right with things is astounding. And discouraging.

These people have control over the ship of fools. They are leaders or they are enablers.

My advice, my opinion, is so simple that I feel like an idiot having to tell any modern man or woman this: Stop the abuses. Stop the nonsense. Understand and LIVE right over wrong, not “What’s in it for me?”

Drugs are a problem. Agreed. But exterminating a slice of Filipino humanity to justify a ruthless one-man rule... well, it’s a game we’ve seen played out in history time and time again, and it’s one game too far for this sailor.

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...

Thank you all. Every single person who made this blog tick.

Thank you.

Spectacular.

I’ll be around. I’m not abandoning ship. Just pursuing a needed change to take care of my family, getting some rest and exercise, and being true to the terms of my visa. I will miss our eloquent, elegant arguments. But we graduate, you know? There are new ways to contribute...we can find them.

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