Dissecting the Duterte phenomenon

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Despite several boo-boos during his campaign, presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte still saw a phenomenal rise, thanks to three factors that other candidates did not possess, an analyst said Friday.

University of the Philippines professor Ranjit Rye has summarized the 'Duterte phenomenon' into three factors: persona, ethnic and regional vote, and protest vote.

"We have so many candidates who have claimed in the past to be ‘men of the masses’ but this guy is different. He’s a man of the masses but he’s anti-establishment. He critiques not just the oligarchy openly, he also critiques the institutions that we have. He’s promising federalism, structural changes," said Rye on ANC's Headstart.

PROFILE: Rodrigo Duterte

Rye also noted that a brusque Duterte is "very different from your regular politico who talks nicely, who’s politically correct."

Rye said it also helps that Duterte comes not from the Philippine capital but from a region far from the seat of power.

He said Duterte, currently mayor of Davao city, enjoys strong support from Visayan and Mindanaoan people, who are eager to show that they are "all consolidating around their champion, their group’s ‘ambag’ to this whole electoral, democratic process."

"He represents the possibility of the first president coming from Mindanao—a place that has been left behind by governance," he said.

Duterte is also the top choice for people who shun continuity, a manifestation of public discontent on the Aquino administration and political elite.

"There’s a palpable decline in respect, as far as the traditional elite is concerned. The present is still wildly popular, but his program ‘Daang Matuwid’ [has its] legitimacy questioned," Rye said.

"They don’t want another Cacique in MalacaƱang; they want a leader who’s decisive, who can talk like the regular ‘common tao,’ and is not scared to show his bias for the poor."

When push comes to shove, Rye said people will still vote for Duterte because they believe "this guy is going to fight for the common tao; he’s going to fight for the Juan dela Cruz."

This is also exactly why the campaign of Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas III is not working: his platform may be the most coherent and most sober, but "everyday experience of governance here [show that] people suffer," added Rye.

READ: Mar Roxas' image problem

"People are questioning ‘Daang Matuwid’; they’re not questioning the president, they’re questioning the program. It’s not working for them, for some segment of them," he said.

Although there were reforms initiated by the Aquino administration, Rye said 'Daang Matuwid' was not felt by all.

In Duterte's case, however, some disbelievers also express fear in his leadership because "he’s all persona, but no blueprint."

"It’s great to have somebody who’s an authentic man of the masses; but we’re scared, we’re not sure where he’s going," Rye said.

He said that Duterte has a blueprint, but has so far failed in articulating it. With election day fast approaching, Duterte needs to reassure the nation and the world that he has a plan for the Philippines, he added.

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