It had to take a woman with balls to say it. But actress Agot Isidro did and called President Rodrigo Duterte a “psychopath” for wanting to scrap foreign aid and bragging that the Philippines can survive without it. The actress has been getting a lot of flak from bashers who are obviously Digong’s diehard supporters.
In a message posted in her Facebook, Ms. Isidro asked: “Ano, ang dami-dami na nga ang hindi nakakain, dagdagan mo ang bilang ng nagugutom (What, there are plenty who are starving and you want to add to that number?)” She added that if Digong wants to starve, he should be left to starve alone—others need not join him.
Senator Panfilo Lacson agrees with Isidro, saying the actress talks sense. On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has warned the Duterte administration that the Philippines risks losing $3 billion in Official Development Assistance alone from the USAID if Duterte keeps insulting friendly countries. Foreign assistance, which the Philippines sorely needs, includes loans, military aid and contract grants but not the condonation or forgiveness of debts.
The first from the entertainment world to speak out against Duterte’s excesses and rants against biggest foreign aid donor the US, Isidro gave some unsolicited advice to the President: “You are more than bipolar, you’re a psychopath. I have a well-known psychiatrist friend whom you can see for some professional help.”
Careful, Agot. The Davao Death Squad might change your name from Agot to “Lagot.” Lagot is Filipino slang for dead.
But in fairness to Duterte, he reacted in a most unusual presidential manner and simply told the actress: “You’re free to express your opinion under your constitutional right.” He did not call her a whore nor the child of one as he often does with people who get his goat. Digong in one of his tirades against US President Barack Obama called him “a son of a bitch.”
For her guts and gumption, Isidro is our nominee as “woman of the year” for being able to say what some of us have been wanting to say after the President’s first 100 days.
While the President must be credited for his war on drugs, although heavy-handed, he also gets a plus for working out a ceasefire agreement with the New People’s Army when he brought Jose Ma. Sison’s Communist Party of the Philippines and Satur Ocampo’s National Democratic Front for peace talks in Oslo, Norway. The on-and-off peace negotiations under the auspices of the Norwegian government which has been acting as a friendly broker might finally come to a fruitful conclusion after several years.
While I’m in a positive mood, I might as well welcome President Duterte’s decision to move the New Bilibid Prison from Muntinlupa to Laur, Nueva Ecija. Doing so would decongest traffic a bit in Metro Manila. Transferring high-profile inmates would also lessen the heavy drug trafficking and movement of cold hard cash at the NBP in Muntinlupa. The Bureau of Corrections state penitentiary was built to accommodate 9,000 convicts but is now bursting at the seams with 24,000 inmates. This has led to high-profile inmates being allowed to build their “kubols” or private residences with all the comforts of life within the prison compound. Such arrangements of course have spawned connivance and corruption among prison officials who let the drug convicts run their lucrative business as usual through cellphones and connections outside the prison walls.
The new prison facility in Nueva Ecija is estimated to cost P50 billion to P150 billion, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre who has been ordered by Duterte to start bidding for the project on November 24 this year.
Former Nueva Ecija Rep. Renato Diaz, one of the early proponents of building a new prison facility in his province, welcomed this development. He said the prison facility poses no security problem to the community near the area as it is located near military Camp Laur which can easily respond to any crisis in the prison.
The new prison complex is expected to be bigger with modern facilities, So far, only three groups have expressed interest in the project, an undertaking under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.. The bidders are required to submit a plan for an administration building, an area for sports, work and religious activities. Related projects like sewage disposal, catering and power generation may be bid out separately.
This is a big-money project. Let us hope those in charge of it are not charged with graft and will not join the prison population if found guilty.