OPINION: Is Duterte his own worst enemy?

Buddy Gomez

Posted at May 26 2016 10:24 AM

From a wide swath of the population who did not vote for a Duterte Presidency, there immediately flowed expressions of best wishes for successful governance, wishes for every opportunity to make it so. Not without reservations, however, but with sincere hopes nonetheless. This was in humble acceptance of the people’s will displayed in a fair and credible democratic elections.

That is civic maturity. It is likewise dearly desired that a lingering fear will not occur to hamper his success or, at least, will not be happening this early--even before he is inaugurated. Because the question now arises: Has the President-elect exhibited behavior indicating that he is his own worst enemy?

Unfortunately, not quite three weeks when gifted by a 38% plurality towards the Presidency, already there are hints that the heady excitement and jubilation over Duterte’s populist victory is beginning to wane, even fray. Obvious pay-back Cabinet appointments, questionable pasts possessed by many prospective appointees, off-the-cuff imprudent statements provide some such hints. From many respectable quarters, stirrings of unpopularity begin to resonate.

READ: The Duterte Cabinet: All the President's men

We reiterate our good wishes, pro patria, for the success of the Duterte Presidency. However, the much touted and alluring ‘Tunay na Pagbabago,’--the ‘Change”—has yet to become apparent.

Furthermore, change must begin with himself. A President Duterte may just himself be his worst enemy and cause unwelcome diminution, even waste, of his popularity and political capital. His campaign’s populist placebo that he has regaled and entranced his supporters with during the campaign now requires substantiation into a certifiable cure of the ills for which he is imagined to be messiah and savior.

Circumspection, tact and sensitivity are very helpful ingredients in a leadership persona, lest this Presidency in time is reduced to a caricature. Towards that direction, it has become obvious that Duterte is not marking time. And may not even care! But he will have to, even as an unwanted epiphany.

It is inevitable that the last seventeen days have provided the prism through which we can glean what is in store for this administration. The picture is foggy and blurry.


Sure, the Catholic Church leadership has alluded to him, as a candidate during the campaign, as “morally reprehensible.” All must remember, that is not without reason. Such concern, caution and guidance was disregarded and beaten overwhelmingly by Duterteic populist rhetoric.

Be that as it may, immediately after elections, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) loudly accepted the people’s will and publicly expressed its congratulations and felicitations, declaring “vigilant collaboration.” Picking a fight with the Bishops and assailing the Catholic Church is not only pointless. It is ungallant and vindictive. What is Duterte still trying to prove? He has been elected President. Why behave unPresidential! Unless, of course, he is simply unable!


The former lawyer of the infamous Ampatuans, one Salvador Panelo, has been appointed Presidential Spokesperson and pointman who will daily represent the Office of the President before media.

Not to ever be forgotten, the Ampatuan warlords of Maguindanao are the accused perpetrators of the worst incidence of political violence in the country’s history. By gunfire, the Ampatuans mowed down and with heavy equipment back-hoed over, 58 unarmed and hapless victims, 34 of whom were journalists. It is the single bloodiest wholesale murder of journalists in the world! And this Panelo is on record to have referred to the carnage as a ”fabrication.” He claimed that the Ampatuans were “framed to seize political power.”

READ: Journalists blast Panelo appointment as Duterte spokesman

What was the President-elect thinking, foisting this character before journalists? Had he given such an appointment some thoughtful concern, he would have avoided such in-your-face absence of sensitivity and tact. To me, it is tauntingly heartless. [Duterte now says, Panelo as spokesman is a temporary posting!]


When Duterte announced that he will allow the burial of the dictator Marcos’s long uninterred cadaver in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Heroes), he says “not because he is a hero…but he served as a soldier” and that such burial will “erase a hatred.”

READ: Duterte: Marcos burial in Libingan to 'erase hatred'

Can Duterte be really that oblivious of the history of Marcos Martial Law, its rapacity and gore? Is he playing dumb or just sucking up some more to the Marcoses as he did during the campaign? One is led to wonder what level of sanity prods him to think and talk in that matter.

When confronted by journalists who queried how the thousands upon thousands of Martial Law victims will regard his decision, he nonchalantly dismissed the sentiment as simply a matter of collecting monetary compensation. That Duterte’s Human Rights quotient is near nil is not surprising. Just remember that he even boasted of his direct participation in Davao’s extrajudicial executions!

Ardent and passionate boosters, talker-uppers, supporters and idolaters of Duterte have an obligation to the country to correct, tame and rein in this individual they collectively made President and endowed with vast powers. For the sake of the country and our children’s future, there is much work waiting to ascertain that our President is sensibly moored in his leadership, endowed with sensible counsel and that he will listen well and heed, as called for and not exclusively listening to his own pre-conceived notions that he alone knows what is best, as he seems to have stubbornly positioned himself.

But, I will not be surprised if it may have begun to dawn upon many of them that Duterte is not only a loose cannon but a bull in a china, as well! Anyone, sorry yet?


When the reality of governance descends upon our new President, we hope it will not seem like a ton of bricks falling on his head. There could be very serious psychological consequences, the seeds of which we can only hope were not previously sowed in his psyche waiting for a trigger. Mayor Duterte will surely wake up to a Malacanang which is not a City Hall fiefdom, a mental condition and attitude to which he has been accustomed. We hope that breaking his City Hall habit does not break him, too.

And for curtain raisers, we can expect the fight against drugs and crime to be dramatically at the forefront of an orchestrated media barrage. After all, this was campaign promise No. 1. We can expect a lot of attendant drum beating. Let us hope it is not bloody.

The President-elect has also promised action on the Freedom of Information front. Do you think he will allow disclosure of all deposit and withdrawal transactions in his Bank of the Philippine Islands accounts from the time of their inception?

The first 100 days will witness a lot of motion and noise. Would that they all signify beneficial progress!

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