OPINION: Change will come, it begins with Duterte himself

Buddy Gomez

Posted at May 11 2016 11:24 PM

The arithmetic held, better than predicted. The elections for the greatest part, perhaps unprecedented in a Philippine setting, were outstandingly clean and credible. In fact, less bloody and violent than usual. Democracy is joyfully alive, well and vibrant. 

The 60%+ of the electorate whose votes were not cast for candidate Duterte must accept a plurality President, even with guarded trepidation and more so, with sincere and critical collaboration. 

Congratulations, “Duts!” Henceforth, may the force of our better angels guide you always. You are now our President! Help is on the way…..from all of us!

Electoral victory does not erase President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte’s litany of hoi polloi-patronizing campaign shit, said and done, too sordid to repeat here. While such antics have become much too indelible as to be part of his image, Duterte’s undisputed victory, however, now affords him the opportunity to rinse his foul mouth and clean up his thuggish behavior. 

Sincere public expression of humility is always endearing. The characteristic GMRC/gentility (good manners and right conduct) of his very close Davao associates, the Dominguezes and the Alcantaras ought to rub off on him. (Sonny, Paul and Tommy--please work on him. Not only does Duterte need it, the country does! And more so.) Social graces are never harmful, you know. After all, the world community a President Duterte will be facing is very largely a polite society, civil and proper. A Filipino President cannot be otherwise.

A makeover and perhaps, even some overhaul, let us call it by his own battle cry: “Pagbabago,” is urgently called for. But it has to be “Change” in himself, by himself absolutely, before anything else. We do not call for contrition nor atonement but the gift of an epiphany, the goodly sweet fruits of introspection. It is now the Presidency, the moral stewardship of a nation. Change in himself will go a long, long way towards healthy respectability, without which leadership is lame, limp and effete. The campaign for votes is over. The election has been won. Theatrics must now be retired. 


Change has trickled in. 

The photo-op by the tomb of his parents, head bowed and with tears, seeking Mama’s guidance is an effectively commendable first step. And has he not said that he will now control his trash- talking and cursing, (“Duterte swears he won’t swear again”) and that he will ‘behave’ once he has taken his oath? And the planned pilgrimage to the Vatican to personally apologize to the Pontiff? All these gestures are pieces of evidence that the President-elect possesses the requisite awareness that he will soon be speaking for the entire country, at least 60% of whose civility he has wantonly assailed with irreverent hostility. 

It just might turn out as it is beginning to be apparent, all that bluster is political zarzuela intended to tickle the funnybones and whet the passion and exuberance of responsive partisans. In other words, Duterte can no longer afford to remain the man his supporters idolized him to be! Let the charm offensive begin!

In order for “Duts” to effectively make critics like me eat crow and earn the respect his exalted position rightfully demands and deserves, change must descend upon the much adulated, brass- knuckled style he has regaled his audiences with, during sorties on the stump.

That oath of office by which President Duterte will raise his right hand and will solemnly swear, contains revered phrases such as: ”faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties”……..”to execute its laws, do justice to everyone.” That means the macho braggadocio rhetorics such as “Forget Rights, I’ll butcher criminals!” has absolutely no space in a Christian and civilized community. We are a country of laws and not of men! 


When President Duterte steps down on June 30, 2022, there will have been a marked improvement in the country’s peace order climate. That is a key commitment that he has staked his leadership upon. The odds of fulfillment are brighter. A significant change is reasonably doable within six years. It is foreseen.

Unless the decongestion, population redistribution, and de-imperialization of Metro Manila, sine qua non, as a matter of national policy is effectively implemented as soon as possible, President Duterte will disembark from a challenging incumbency with Metro Manila in even greater suffocation and chaotic immobility. Today’s Metro Manila exemplifies neglect and an absence of foresight that began a generation ago.

READ: More on the malaise and 'malas' of Metro Manila

Unfortunately, poverty and corruption will have been dented somewhat but will largely remain unvanquished. This twin aspects of Philippine life is so profoundly culturally embedded. A consistently positive and successful onslaught lasting at least three administrations will be required just to even the keel. The incumbent Presidency has launched the first stage of a slow incremental process. And it is true, the journey has been overly vilified as the ride was erratic and bumpy, attended by errors of judgment. But never of intent. 

It would be folly for Duterte to seek new byways and stray from a path, already trail-blazed. There already exist genuinely salutary gains regardless of the bitter and successful denigration launched by the malevolence of misinformation and spiteful propaganda of President Aquino’s haters and ill-wishers, stoking a population’s reasonable and understandable frustration and impatience. But those who expect a quick fix within Duterte’s six, are in for a disappointment.


Let us be clear about this. Daang Matuwid (the straight path) is NOT President Aquino! Neither would it have been Mar Roxas. Much less, just the Liberal Party. Daang Matuwid is truly a people’s subconscious yearning to be good, because man is essentially good. 

Beyond the forcefully debauched and much maligned slogan, Daang Matuwid is very simply both a moral and an ethical road map. Moral as to one’s persona and ethical as to a system of governance, or one’s lifestyle, if you please. Basically, doing good and avoiding evil. It will always be an ardous trek but can never, must never be forsaken. Nay, “Daang Matuwid” is the impossible dream! It is the North Star! We will never get there but it will always be the very crux of man’s moral compass. Such is humanity. As a goal of good governance, by whatever wordy construction it is rephrased, the spirit behind “Daang Matuwid” remains cogent, relevant and a required viability for good governance. President Duterte cannot afford to stray!


Good news is trickling in, too.

Too early not to call it a knee jerk! But a welcome knee jerk, nonetheless. That is because the peso has rebounded, the stock market has perked up and the Makati Business Club encouragingly enthused. 

Mainly due to the mature and responsible conduct of the elections and the absence of political disturbance: an accolade richly deserving of the Aquino administration, let us not forget. And for “Duts” himself, not bad, really, for pre-inaugural prelims. Good Luck, Mr. Duterte. Thank you, Philippines!

(Disclaimer: The views of the author are his own and are not necessarily the views of ABS-CBN Corp.) 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.