OPINION: The Filipino people will survive Duterte

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Sep 27 2016 05:08 AM

In the traditional first 100 days assessment of a President’s performance one does not really expect concrete results knowing the complexities of governance but within the first three months, the public should have an idea the direction that the president is leading the country to.

Duterte has made clear what the public can expect in the coming months: there will be more killings.

The numbers vary and are difficult to ascertain but the figure being mentioned in news reports of illegal drugs related deaths under Duterte’s rule range from 1,500 to 300,000. The numbers continue to increase every day.

Duterte himself has revised his figures of drug suspects from 700,000 to four million.

He said, “Iyong 700,000, it’s going up, it’s gonna reach a million mark by the end of this month. 1 million drug addicts plus 3 million noong sinabi ng PDEA, ilan iyan, di 4 million. “

He asked for another six months to fulfill his promise of stopping crime, drugs, and corruption because he said, “I never realized the problem is this big.”

It should be recalled that he anchored his campaign on the promise that he will eliminate illegal drugs, crime and corruption in three to six months. If he fails, he said during the campaign in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, he will resign and turn over the presidency to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who was running for vice president under a different ticket.

Marcos didn’t win.

Dutrerte slammed those skeptical about his self-imposed deadline saying that if he couldn’t do it within three months,” I really cannot do it even if you give me 10 years of rule.”

The numbers and deadlines are changed but not the style of governance. He will continue to curse and gain notoriety in the international scene.

He sees no reason to change: “Hindi naman ako nag-apply ng position na statesman. Nag-apply ako ng posisyong presidente. Nagpa-elect ako statesman, I do not know how he would dress. I do not even know how he would open a statement. But what I know is that I have to serve the greater interest of the Filipino people.”
 
A statesman is defined as “an experienced politician, especially one who is respected for making good judgments. “
 
Social anthropologist Melba Padilla Maggay’s incisive analysis of Duterte’s style of governance in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is very helpful in coping with the toxic situation.

Maggay said, “Many in this country mistake President Duterte’s unswerving use of force as political will, when what is really before us is an alarming drift toward an authoritarian barbarism, where the full apparatus of power—formal or nonformal—are used to savage those who stand in his way, without regard for law or the niceties of civility.”

She warned of the insidious effect of what Duterte is doing: 

“These historic reversals, overshadowed by the spectacle of vigilante killings, are in fact more dangerous. While there is blustering talk about fighting corruption and an unjust system, we are in fact experiencing an increasing moral rot in the very fabric of our society. There is a subtle overturning of our values, a corrosion of our civic sense of what is just and decent and acceptable. As a sign of this creeping contamination, we just need to take a look at how those once honorable senators voted to oust De Lima as justice committee chair.”

Maggay said some may romanticize Duterte as “a lovable rake with a soft heart.”

But, she said, the testimony of Edgar Matobato, who claims to be a member of the Davao Death Squad, reveals a very dark underside of Duterte. “It validates the fear that at the center of power in this country is a man who is morally obtuse. The coarse language, the recklessly compulsive outbursts directed at the Pope, the US ambassador and the US president himself are but the tip of the iceberg. Scripture tells us that ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ What this means is that speech mirrors our state of heart, a verbal reflex of what is inside, displaying the quality of our soul. Bad language is not just bad manners.”

Given the dizzying happening these past three months, many ask,”Can Duterte finish his six year term? “ I consider that a politically incorrect question. The more appropriate question is “Can we last six years of Duterte”
 
I believe in the Filipino people. We will survive.

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