[OPINION] A response to the President's request for euthanasia
In a recent speech in Taguig City, President Duterte made a plea for someone to kill him so he could be enshrined in the country’s pantheon of national heroes. This is the man’s most recent public request for assisted suicide or euthanasia so he can join the immortals.
The first time the country heard it was during the third presidential debate in 2016, when he said he would jet ski alone to our islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying that he wouldn't mind being killed by the Chinese since he always dreamt of dying a hero’s death.
We dismissed that as histrionics then. But he has made this remark several times since then, and I would not be surprised if we will hear it again at the upcoming DDS rally on November 30, Bonifacio Day.
The man obviously has a death wish, and this is not unusual coming from someone responsible for the murder of several thousand people since, as psychotherapists will tell you, just as depression is the twin of mania, so is masochism the other face of sadism. Some people obsessed with their death, however, don’t have the courage to kill themselves. Thus their request for assistance to dispatch them to the afterlife.
Were the President to request this favor of me, I’m afraid I’d have to refuse him since euthanasia is against the law and I'm a law-abiding citizen. And no one in the opposition, not even the irrepressible Mr Sonny Trillanes, would be foolish enough to oblige him.
But since the President seems to be desperate and since providing counsel is all perfectly legal, I'd like to offer some unsolicited advice on how to go about suicide or euthanasia properly, drawing on the examples of heads of states and others who have gone through the process.
Go sooner rather than later
The first person to come to mind is, of course, Adolf Hitler, who committed suicide along with his partner Eva Braun as Soviet troops closed in on his Berlin bunker in April 1945. However, I don't think Hitler is a good model, for had he decided to leave for Valhalla earlier, thousands of people would not have lost their lives in the doomed effort to preserve his Third Reich.
Timing is everything, Mr President. If you want to go, go sooner rather than later, since so many lives would be saved by your early departure.
Perhaps the most dramatic suicide of a head of state was that of Brazilian President Getulio Vargas. In the midst of a political crisis in 1954, he shot himself, leaving a suicide note to Brazilians which read: “Nothing remains except my blood. I gave you my life, now I give you my death. I choose this way to defend you, for my soul will be with you, my name shall be a flag for your struggle.”
It concluded: “I take the first step to eternity. I leave life to enter history.” Vargas was no angel, but coming from him, such words moved a great many Brazilians.
Coming from Duterte, however, such a note would probably be dismissed as just another exercise in hyperbole by Filipinos fed up with a congenital hyperbolero.
Closer to home was the suicide of former Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun, who jumped to his death in 2009 after members of his family were charged with receiving bribes from a Korean businessman. Roh was reacting to accusations of hypocrisy since he had run for president on an anti-corruption platform.
Apparently, suicide was for Roh the only honorable way out. His suicide statement read: “What I have to do now is bow to the nation and apologize. From now on, the name Roh cannot be a symbol of the values you pursue. I'm no longer qualified to speak about democracy and justice....You should abandon me.”
Now, that would be the kind of contrite message I would like Duterte to leave behind. I doubt, however, if such a note would be enough to evoke forgiveness from the loved ones of those subjected to EJK.
One might also advise the president on how not to depart. The best example I can think of in this regard is Japan's wartime prime minister, General Hideki Tojo. Apparently convinced that the victorious Americans were going to make him the scapegoat for Japan’s imperial war so they could absolve the Emperor Hirohito of guilt and use him to legitimize the allied occupation of Japan, Tojo shot himself in the chest.
He made a mess of it. Now, in the Japanese military's bushido culture, nothing was worse than a suicide attempt that failed because it was done unprofessionally, with egregious violations of sacrosanct ritual. Having become an object of ridicule and suspected of not really wanting to kill himself, Tojo died an ignominious death, being hanged for war crimes in 1948. So the lesson for our dear President: don't mess it up or folks will think you weren't really serious.
A model suicide cum euthanasia
For a model suicide, however, one must look beyond the ranks of chiefs of state. The President cannot have a better example than the enormously talented Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima. In November 1970, the right-wing writer walked into the Tokyo headquarters of Japan’s Eastern Self Defense Force, hogtied the commanding general, then proceeded to harangue some 1000 troops from a balcony, encouraging them to stage a coup.
When the troops heckled him instead, he stabbed himself with a dagger and, according to the New York Times, “cut a straight line across his abdomen while a student slashed off his head with a Japanese sword [which was] part of the ritual practice of hara kiri, in which a man asks his best friend to stand behind and deliver the coup de grace.”
This was, in other words, suicide cum euthanasia to ensure that Mishima really, really joined his ancestors. Or as butchers at the Cubao wet market would put it, sinigurado na siya'y dobolded.
Now, whether Duterte will actually join the immortals after a glorious suicide cum euthanasia like Mishima's is another question. Being responsible for killing 13,000 Filipinos is not exactly something that would make Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, or Greg del Pilar welcome you to their company. In fact, even on earth, it is unlikely that the management of the Libingan ng mga Bayani could be persuaded to take his remains for fear of provoking daily protests against the interment in its grounds of a mass murderer.
But not to worry: We can probably persuade Duterte’s right-wing buddy and admirer, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, to reserve a plot for him in the section of the Yasukuni Shrine that is reserved for the Class A War Criminals. For after all, Duterte qualifies as a war criminal, being the mastermind of the so-called “war on drugs”, and as a war criminal, he is definitely Class A. – Rappler.com
*A member of the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2015, Walden Bello made the only recorded resignation-on-principle in the history of the Congress of the Philippines owing to principled differences with the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.