Today is not a good day for me to write. Since I do not write for a living but have always done so in order to share a point of view derived from decades of unique experiences, I do carry a hope that I can contribute towards a better future for our people and fledging nation. Yes, I have been distracted several times while writing 52 articles a year for 17 straight years. At times, anger and frustration got the better of me and I dished out my share of negativity – contrary to my original intent. But I always manage to return quickly to the mission I embraced and that includes being driven by persistent optimism.
A classmate from college died today, unable to survive a surgery performed on him last Monday afternoon. We were not unusually close, but he was always on the periphery of my social life in his gentle way and smiling face. He sang, too, in the college Glee Club and never let go of that activity until he passed away. And he loved Volkswagens, became an expert and lifelong enthusiast of that vehicle brand. I last saw him a week ago together with other Glee Club members of yore who are set to perform in the golden wedding anniversary of one of them.
He is not the only one that has gone ahead among my circle of family and friends. There have been others that have deeply pained me, and many more are coming if I do not go ahead of them. I belong to that era when we seem to know many of those getting sick and dying, people our age giving way to the younger generations. The cycle of birth and death is preordained. We learn to accept it when our own parents and older relatives passed on, intuitively being reminded that our turn will come. And, believe me, our own deaths are easier to accept rather than the untimely deaths of those younger than us, the generation of our children and grandchildren. These hurt more deeply.
Deadly diseases and deaths are unavoidable, so we make preparations for that eventuality. Businesses have insurance, not anymore just for life but for illnesses and accidents. Insurance is a huge industry that must know about of so much information about the economics of health and death. Once in a while, politics has its dose of concern about illnesses and death beyond the occasional violence that kills public officials. There has been a lot being reported in the last year alone. Since politics is an even bigger industry, I guess the equivalent of insurance is also applicable to its players.
Much has been said and will continue to be said, about the state of health of President Duterte. In fact, most Filipino adults are aware that there has been a continuing controversy about what that state of health really is. Because they do not know the answer or do not believe the changing stories about what really is the ailment of the President, speculations will remain active, especially when he is not seen in a day or two. Almost as fast and furious as the rumors follow the denials. Recently, people who often speak for the President have been embarrassed by their denials after the President himself admits that he had gone to the hospital. Even his trips abroad are suspected to include his health concerns. Many people opine that he goes to see specialists and/or get treatment for whatever illness he has.
The issue of President Duterte’s health takes on special significance, as I mentioned earlier, when he is conspicuously absent in events where he is expected to go, or when he simply goes missing for days on end. But the President himself brings attention to his state of health and its seriousness when he speaks about the Vice-President or Bongbong Marcos in the light of succession should he be disabled from functioning as President or dies in office. The more he exclaims his distaste of being succeeded by Leni Robredo for either being too weak or ill-suited for the presidency, the more it is assumed that even he is concerned about his capacity to survive his term. Or when he emphatically tells the public that his enemies want to remove him, when they have no capacity to do so, it is easier to conclude that he actually means his own premature death. In other words, death from a yet unidentified illness appears more plausible than removal by the Communists or the Liberal Party.
If there is a concern, officially admitted or not, about the possibility of an untimely death for health reasons, concerned parties in the political world must be in various degrees of preparation just like the insurance business. There is an existing Constitution that has anticipated the unexpected deaths of serving public officials with fixed terms. The laws and regulations that govern such transitory procedures are in place. That is the insurance of a nation with regard to their elected public officials, including and especially the President. Presidents have actually died in office and their successors were quickly and smoothly installed. Except for Joseph “Erap” Estrada. His removal was messy and so was his succession, mitigated only because the highest military command chose to install his Vice-President.
The Philippines must move forward. We need our leaders actively leading for us to succeed, and our support is vital for this to happen. Those elected must serve out their term, their election respected and followed. I pray for their good health and good governance. But should the worst happen, our nation must not remain widowed, our people must not be orphaned. Even as sorrow grips them, they must not be in fear one minute more than necessary. The smooth succession according to our Constitution is our national insurance. That, then, must be respected and followed.