SOURCES of power can sometimes emanate from objects that you can quickly get your hands on. For instance, money. Two clichés come to mind with regard to money. Putting them side by side, I will say though that money is not the root of all evil, but if money is used to gain power without accountability, then “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Take the case of the proposed confidential funds of the Department of Education. Secretary Sara Duterte, who happens to be the vice president whose office is also asking for confidential funds, is condescending in her attempt to justify her request by saying that (1) education is accordingly “intertwined” with national security, and (2) at the turn, she says however that she cannot provide specifics on how the P150-million would be spent because accordingly it is “confidential.”
Madam Vice President, how stupid do you think we are to accept your line of reasoning that hundreds of millions in confidential funds will be used solely to teach learners about “patriotism, love of country, and defense of the country?” As secretary of education, you know that you could not even talk down to a child in this manner.
What is more, to us Filipinos this is infantilization and to patronize us further by saying that it is up to Congress to determine the allocation of your confidential funds is an insult. Knowing confidently that you have the ruling majority behind you, they can just rubber-stamp your money into your coffers for all the frivolous reasons you can think of.
What is not confidential however is the campaign promise to lower the cost of a kilo of rice to twenty pesos, or the inflationary impact of rising gas prices, or the ever-widening poverty index, or even the clear and present threat to national security with China’s saber-rattling at the West Philippine Sea.
To say that the government has a system to liquidate its expenditures is a settled matter. It is standard especially given one’s position and stature to document expenses with receipts. One can even say that receipts can be tampered with, falsified, or forged. But assuming that government accountants declare these receipts to be in order, the question then becomes: Is the expense justified?
This is the reason why the particulars of these “confidential funds” are being sought. To say that the specifics cannot be disclosed because of the confidential nature of the request is not only unconscionable, but it is also abusive and does not merit any consideration from either a moral or legal standpoint.
The Beatles were not referring to a firearm when they sang “Happiness is a Warm Gun” but that will be for another discussion. For this discussion on power, I refer to the cold, hard steel of a pistol felt on one’s grip. For sure that was on the mind of Wilfredo Gonzales when he pulled a gun on an unarmed cyclist during one of those instances of traffic altercation and road rage caught on cellphone video.
Gonzales’ excuse does not bear repeating here. What is telling, however, is the fact that he was a former police officer, albeit dismissed. Regardless of the pretext of his previous career, as a (former) cop he should know only to draw his firearm if there is an imminent threat. In fact, their training prescribes that the retaining strap of the gun holster will only be unsnapped if the danger from a belligerent party is ascertained.
But as seen from the viral footage, Gonzales alighted from his vehicle with his firearm already drawn, clearly intending to threaten, intimidate, or shoot at the cyclist who was riding within the assigned bicycle lane, but perniciously drew the ire of Gonzales because he tapped on his vehicle in an attempt to assert his right of way.
But even if the cyclist slammed on the vehicle, what Gonzales had demonstrated was unjustifiable. He had delusions of power and grandeur occasioned by the thought that he can just conveniently take a life simply by pulling the trigger of a gun that he had already cocked. Or perhaps he thinks a gun can compensate for the fact that he was a disgraced former police officer.
And if his delusion is determined to be a disorder then he is not psychologically fit to own a firearm, let alone four. A person in his right mind would know that only self-defense can justify an armed retaliation. The cyclist was not provocative. On the contrary, it was Gonzales who smacked the guy who went on to decide not to pursue any charges against Gonzales out of fear for his life.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which is the foremost advocate for the constitutional right to bear arms in the United States, always blames access to firearms by those who are mentally unfit for the proliferation of gun violence in America. Given comparatively more stringent gun laws in the Philippines which require those who want to obtain permits to carry firearms to undertake a battery of psychological evaluations, why is an apparently disturbed person like Gonzales able to slip through the system?
Whether one blames social media for the perceived vilification of his person, or an education secretary professing patriotism, and love and defense of the country to justify the grant of concealed funds, these are the refuge of the delusional, and it is about time we all come instead, to the defense of the defenseless rather than make excuses for thugs and kingpins in our society.