Follow the leader

Yes.  This is an opinion regarding the “rumours” on the health of the President.  Even before he was elected into office, the wagging tongues claimed that “reliable sources revealed” that the president was not “physically fit” for office.

Politics, after all, has no greater friend than envy.

I get that. For someone like him who has practically lived a more laid back political life as Mayor in Davao, the presidency does NOT provide the same “stress” condition as a city official. I don’t think the president even thought that this was going to be a very, very, very difficult job.

For the record, I am not a fan of any president.  I believe that each and every government official – voted or appointed – should serve the public well.  I may be an optimistic fool, but that’s my take.  Every person sitting, breathing, working and living from the money paid by taxpayers, owe the people their unrelenting allegiance to serve the people well. Your accountability is greater.  And because you’re a public official, everyone has the right to call out the inadequacies of those in government.  Those in government should not be onion-skinned about the right of people to voice their opinion on matters that count.  Or on what is real from fake news. Those who follow the leader, should keep an open mind that the world does not revolve around them alone, their political affiliations or their personal agendas.

While we give everyone the “benefit of the doubt” or try to “see the good” in everyone, accountability is an issue that cannot be simply looked at the other way. The truth, after all, is essential to all government officials.

For months on end, there’s been speculation after speculation of the health of the president.  From the colour of his skin, to the way he walks. From the increased girth of the abdomen, to his holding up his right chin.  From those visits to the hospital at the odd hours of the morning, to the unscheduled trips abroad.  People wonder – is he really sick?

Unlike the previous presidents, where a medical bulletin is provided by the attending physicians regarding the health of the president(s), this sitting president leaves all to speculation.  Perhaps for personal reasons, he would rather keep his health issues to himself.  And while we respect that, it so happens that he is, after all, the president of the Republic of the Philippines now.  Where the consequences of his health will definitely affect a nation, the political scenario, and those surrounding him.  Any bad news would make him a lame duck and will definitely shake up the political environment, considering that the rightful constitutional successor, is (A) a woman, (B) a “yellow”, and (C) was bullied beyond recognition by the “boys” in the circle of the president.

It’s “friends” like these who destroy his name that make him feel so alone today.  I am willing to bet that if he reveals his true medical condition, prognosis and all, the political landscape will change overnight.

But this is how politics plays out.  A total circus in every sense of the word.

And there’s no turning back at this political point in his life.  He was duly elected.  Sworn.  And cannot just say, “I quit. I’ve had enough”.

At 73, you’d really wonder what we’d want out of life.  I get the fact that his intentions are pure.  And will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants to solve the country’s problems.  The dream of a better nation, after all, isn’t his alone.  It’s the dream of 106,512,074 (as of this writing) Filipinos.  And we’re all depending on one man to lead us to the Promised Land.  And that’s a lot of weight to carry.

The issue here is that we can’t all be at the Promised Land.  Like every journey, there will be people who won’t make it with the herd.  There will be squabbles along the way.  There will be those who will get lost because the road was rough and difficult to follow.  But that only happens when there is division in the ranks.  When there are people during the journey that would want take advantage because they want to be there ahead of others.  This journey is not about colour or creed or sex.  It is about a race that has been wanting to have a better life for the longest time.  It is about the people of a nation that wants to move out from the shame of being called “sick man of Asia”.

But it is the role of the President, as head of the herd, to try to make sure that no one is left behind.  That division among its people because of friends and those he owes election debts to is kept to a minimum if not nil.  Mr. President, you owe nothing to anyone.

You see, we are all following the President’s path.   We, the people, are tag-alongs.  Some of us may not be as close up front as to where the President is.  There are those that are just a “selfie” away from him. Critics will need to understand where the question of the health of the president is coming from.  It is because the current living and economic conditions have become more difficult to bear for every ordinary Juan. Those who are lugging behind, would want to have a quick peak at the leader of the pack.  Asking, where on Earth are we headed for?

And that’s the reason for asking about his health.  We get that.  Everyone gets sick. We all will die eventually.  The leader of the pack must show transparency.  There is no shame in saying whether you are sick or not.  After all, with modern medicine, every disease has better prognosis nowadays.  And when truth is revealed, people tend to be more understanding and sympathetic. It puts all speculations to rest.

At 73, he’s lived a great life.  Family.  Friends.  An industrious city built from scratch.  He has a lot to be proud of.  When health lets you know that it’s time to slow down, it’s a sign.  To reflect on who and what matters most in life.  Regrets are only for fools.  Remember, it’s not only your family that worries about you. In reality, 106 million Filipinos are banking on you to leave them with a better Philippines. That’s the political agenda every President should be committed to. No more. No less.

It is time to show that the administration takes more effort an leaving a legacy worth remembering.

Especially for the last, the least, and the lost.

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