- Loyalty and ‘utang na loob’ in the Duterte administration

23 October 2020

By Arnulfo M. Edralin |

The editorial (“Mockery upon mockery,” 10/20/20) illustrated unmistakably how political appointees behave when push comes to shove. They defy all principles of law and common sense just to please the one who put them in such positions of power. It has always been an “utang na loob” thing, more egregiously in the current regime.

What has just happened in the Commission on Elections, dominated by Duterte appointees, who rammed down everyone’s throat Ducielle Cardema’s proclamation as representative of the party list group Duterte Youth (“marginalized” sector, seriously?) despite all legal impediments, can very well be deemed a given in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), which is about to resolve losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos’ protest against sitting Vice President Leni Robredo, who now must do a lot of “Hail Marys.”

In his column (“Accommodating Bongbong Marcos,” 10/20/20), John Nery explained succinctly why, under its own rules, the PET should have long dismissed that pesky protest and upheld Robredo’s election. Alas, dominated also by appointees of President Duterte, the PET (aka the Supreme Court en banc) has kept that protest alive—obviously, in deference to the President’s preference.

Two political influencers are now in positions of great power, and perceived as totally beholden to Mr. Duterte and best typifying that utmost loyalty: Socorro Inting in the Comelec and Henri Jean Paul Inting (her brother) in the Supreme Court (PET)—both from Davao City. The Americans cringe at the mere thought of “packing” the Supreme Court with “friendlies.” Mr. Duterte has mastered that practice to perfection.

Arnulfo M. Edralin