Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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FIRING LINE: And the joke’s on us

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By Robert B. Roque, jr.

“Licensed fool” was the… err… dignified term used to refer to a court jester in Renaissance England. Talented and funny, they entertained royal guests and exited when important matters were in order.

Here in our country, we call such a joker the President. And while he intends to entertain, his formula of mixing humor with public policy is the least amusing.

He has a knack for delivering his jokes in a straight face and quite disturbingly right in the middle of national policy briefings on a deadly pandemic. I mean, who would laugh at his last-Monday declaration that citizens who refuse vaccination against COVID-19 would be jailed?

Not funny, I know, but that was a joke. If you didn’t recognize it to be one, refer to the previous-Monday declaration that face shields are not required outdoors and only mandatory inside hospitals. Senate President Tito Sotto made the mistake of taking that joke seriously, and now he’s barking up at the DOH like he never was a showbiz funnyman himself.

Many blood pressures are rising because they fail to remember what a joker they elected to Malacanang. Or maybe because they thought his campaign promise to ride a jetski off to the South China Sea and plant the Philippine flag on our share of the Spratly Islands was not a joke.

Apparently, many things about the Duterte administration are a joke. We’re guilty as hell at one point of laughing at them in huddles as if saying “that’s a new one!” Of course, that’s until the punchlines had finally gone stale and we’ve realized how these antics are a drag to our economy and a bane to our dealings with the international community.

But if there’s something our court jester, our licensed fool, our beloved joker of a President can’t poke fun about… it’s the International Criminal Court. I’m betting my marbles that the ICC would proceed with its investigation on Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity over the bloody and deadly war on drugs, with or without the Philippine government’s approval. Now, wouldn’t that be funny!

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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