Damn the torpedoes, Duterte all the way!

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Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not the same as you and me. He is as Filipino as can be – in words and deeds, not to mention looks – while you and I are an amalgam of assorted influences that have managed to dilute our Filipino-ness. I can draw a list of traits that are, today, no longer present in the Filipino’s ordinary scheme of things. But just ask your child how much he loves his country, if at all. His answer might confound you. Patriotism? What is that? Blame globalization.

Then along comes the erstwhile Mayor of Davao City who took the country by storm and launched a massive change in mindset among Filipinos who have been laboring under the governance of those foisted by the so-called ruling class and their ilk. For far too long, we have been subjected to the dictum that only one particular group of people are entitled to rule over us, indios and sacadas – not unlike the colonial-era Filipinos subjugated for centuries by their imperial masters.

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No other President of the Philippines in recent memory was able to arouse love of country among the great many who seemed to have fallen in deep slumber as far as nationalistic fervor is concerned than this one has. Rightfully, the country’s colors are back to red, white and blue –the despicable yellow ribbon has overstepped its welcome and has been relegated as one of history’s insufferable moments. (Pray tell, which proud Filipino ever wore that yellow crap on their chest except the Mother’s Son and his now-negligible minions?)

I will not dwell on why a miniscule number of Filipinos hate President Duterte with unmitigated venom in their hearts. Miniscule because they consist of the elite and the elite represents only 1% of the population, counting the so-called elitists (bless their pompous souls) and the displaced politicians (sanctify their insatiable tummies) who could not accept the loss of entitlement and power. Their negativity is not good for the crinkles, so I leave them to their own self-annihilation.

The Opposition? Legitimate dissent, though smattering in number, is essential in a democracy and they are not being stifled by the man they like to call a (budding?) dictator. The nation’s second highest official is free to broadcast her disdain in front of the international community (while noticeably smiling and beaming as she spoke about killings) – perhaps to her eternal damnation. The self-described “political prisoner” can dish out post-dated handwritten statements from her detention cell imploring the public to puh-lease not forget her. And former mutineers turned mercenaries are at liberty to rant and accuse the President of every crime in the book, file an impeachment complaint, and make the rounds of jaundiced media to peddle their alternate reality.

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No, they are not destabilizing the government. They are only exposing their dark facades, tainted by greed and tarnished by lust. Greed for riches amassed without breaking a sweat and lust for power that they can’t let go. So, let them have their cake and eat it stale. Stupid is as stupid does, too.

Rather, I will focus on the things that endeared PRRD to the millions of average Filipinos who have finally found their voice and elected one of them to the highest post in the land. The qualities that make him stand a world away from those pretending to serve the people but all the while just helping themselves.

Of course, PRRD has flaws. Plenty of them. And he owned up to many of those flaws during the campaign. But he won, in spite of. Overwhelmingly at that. And he still enjoys high approval ratings nine months into his term despite being pictured by the “silent majority-cum-silent no more” as the devil incarnate. Try harder, peeps. The man seems to be indestructible, beloved as he is by Filipinos here and abroad. Just watch the crowds roar and scream and jostle to get near him wherever he goes. Have you ever seen anything like that before?

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Because he is a man with a mission, right from the get-go. A mission to take on and take out the scourge of drugs that has enveloped our country like a plague. He dares to do battle where others simply succumbed to the temptation of unimaginable wealth at the expense of the young and the poor. Yes, the poor whom critics say are the sole victims of Duterte’s war against drugs. The same critics who apparently don’t have the nerve to condemn the drug lords and “ninja cops” who made addicts and pushers out of the vulnerable poor in the first place.

If he is single-minded in his mission, it is because the man is a visionary. He envisions a country safe from the horrors of drug addiction, and succeeding generations of Filipinos emancipated from its shackles. It might go down as a quixotic quest, who knows, but he can’t be faulted for not trying. Where others before him were simply apathetic to the people’s travails and concerns (hello, BS!), Duterte walks his coarse and curse-laden talk. He doesn’t care whether he loses the presidency, even his life, he says; but he will fulfill his promises, mark his words.

He speaks the truth about us as a people – inconvenient and beyond the pale though it may be. Who was it who said that in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act? President Duterte is waging a revolution that will forever change the Filipino psyche. He is taking us out of slavery. Slavery to the mentality that we cannot do things on our own – that we are permanently dependent on dole outs from Big Brother even if they be scraps and tokens and leftovers.

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Slavery to the reality that oligarchs have been presiding over our lives with impunity – paying us wages that will never lift us out of poverty while exploiting our country’s minerals until they run barren and dry, and buying off politicians to legalize their rapaciousness. He is taking us out of the slavery to terrorism brought by differences in ideology and religion, but really just as covert means to make money in exchange for lives.

And the slavery to corruption that has systematically gnawed at every fiber of our existence as a nation it has become the norm instead of the aberration.

Decades of indifference by our leaders have made us slaves to false prophets and fake icons – and these forces of greed and lust are now furiously at work spreading falsehoods and painting a grim picture of the Philippines using foreign media and transnational organizations. With the sole motive of unseating President Duterte by all means dirty and foul in order to get back the power they lost by popular election.

They are taking their crooked movement outside the country because the Filipino people won’t listen to them anymore. Quite a jolt it must be to these pretenders. Enemies of change whose time is past. They are not freedom-loving Filipinos who will die for the Homeland, nope. Just puny slave masters whose sense of supremacy has been smashed to the ground, demolished as myth by one man. And that’s what rankles them to the marrows of their blackened bones.
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Image and statesmanship

 

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So, has the stock market crashed yet? Has the United States severed relations with the Philippines and withdrawn from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) thus far? Have we already been treated as pariah in the community of nations? Because of the President’s vulgar, uncouth, dirty, foul, coarse language? Because the Philippines does not have a “statesman” as President?

Read the dailies these days and much of what you will see are some politicians’ and media persons’ concern over the “image” that the country is projecting to the outside world. Like, have we become one huge killing field where thousands are murdered every day on orders of the Commander-in-Chief? Or a genocide is happening and we are blissfully unaware of it?

In the first place, why do we care so much what other nationalities think of us? Do we live and breathe for the Americans who largely refer to us as their “little brown brothers”, or the Europeans many of whom do not even know we exist, or the rest of the civilized biosphere who only recognize us for the throng of skilled and domestic workers that we export to their shores?

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So what if our President is not a “statesman”? Neither is he the embodiment of phony. How many phony characters have we elected as mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, presidents since elections in the Philippines became the norm by which we choose our leaders? And most of them have passed the standard of “statesman” in public comportment even as, all the while, their hands have been digging deep into the country’s coffers; but this President is an aberration because he says things that hit close to home?

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte won the election overwhelmingly on the strength of his genuineness and authenticity in contrast to the other candidates’ phoniness, to put it plainly. All they offered were images of themselves as so-called champions of the poor and vanquishers of the corrupt. On the other hand, Candidate Duterte spoke to the people eye-to-eye, in ordinary man’s terms, offering his life to flag and country – and Filipinos, in huge numbers, believed him. He only had to be himself – including the “abominable” cursing and cussing – not an image of himself, nor an image of the usual. The usual being that of the traditional politician who has been populating the Philippine political landscape for generations. Pray tell, what have those long succession of office-bearers and their respective dynasties done for the betterment of a Philippines led by “statesmen”?

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Before Duterte came along, the whole archipelago – for all of the Filipinos’ fondness for things Western and, yep, colonial – had no working national emergency number like the US’ famous 911, let alone a citizens’ hotline where they can report on and complain about things that bedevil them. Barely a month in office and 911 and 8888 were instituted – which, according to those who have tried each, are functioning and effective.

More importantly, hardly a few days into the new administration and the drug scourge was exposed for what it has been since God knows when – a huge conspiracy among rouge policemen, insatiable police generals, greedy local government officials, corrupt trial court judges and other men and women in power (“statesmen”, indeed) – all of them protecting drug lords and criminals, in the process fostering the drug trade that has been eating at the country’s youth since methamphetamine hydrochloride was invented. Shabu could be the new plague but everyone preferred to look the other way – out of fear, maybe? Or just plain indifference, which is worse.

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In the course of fulfilling his campaign promise, President Duterte ordered a “relentless and sustained” war on drugs – a bloody one at that, as he declared it would be at the outset. Before long, loud cries of “human rights” and “extrajudicial killings” rang out in unison like the sound of an orchestra being steered by an unseen conductor, painting the grim picture of a country wilting under the control of a madman, with cherry-picked information being fed to foreign media and human rights organizations making out the country as a new Darfur, Aleppo or Kabul.

Did President Duterte ever threaten, much less issue an order, to kill law abiding citizens? Right from his inaugural speech, he said: “As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine.”

If that was not clear enough, in his visits at police and military camps all over the country, he kept repeating the same message: “Go after the drug addicts, pushers and dealers, the rapists, kidnappers, murderers and other criminals. Hunt them down and arrest them. But if they offer violent resistance, if you feel that your life is in danger, then shoot them.”

So, what to do with this leader whose “ugly mouth” and “boorish behavior” rankles the remnants of “civil society” who cannot seem to accept the fact that he is not one of their own, who cannot be “controlled” into bowing to them like he bows to the masses, and whose popularity baffles the mind in spite of his flaws and mistakes?

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A leader who is not afraid to own up to his shortcomings and ask for forgiveness (“I take full responsibility”, “Wala akong pride chicken,” “Fair is fair”), whose loyalty is to the flag, not to a political party (“I am willing to give up my life, my honor and the presidency”), and who does not care what “image” is attributed to his person every time he opens his mouth (“I have many mistakes and faults in life. I am not perfect. But I will not change my character”).

This is also the same leader who has the political will to include the Left in national governance for the first time in the communist rebellion’s 47-year existence, impose an indefinite unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA and release political prisoners who are ranking members of the NDF to enable them to participate in the ongoing peace talks. Not to mention the similar peace talks with both MNLF and MILF. Which “statesman” has done that in recent memory?

If the media in general worries that much about the country’s image abroad, aren’t there enough accomplishments of the Duterte Administration to spread the word around, even as it has still to mark its 100th day? To improve the country’s “image”? Then again, good news does not sell. “Man bites dog” is more soundbites-worthy, while “Dog bites man” stories are panakip-butas lang. There goes the rub.

So. If push comes to shove, I’ll take the ramblings of a trash-talking septuagenarian – anytime, all the time – whose message is clear to me in spite of and/or due to constant repetitions, than the posturing of a so-called statesman who stares down at typhoon victims and tells them to their face: “Buhay ka pa naman, ‘di ba?”

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Instilling fear

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The presidential (and vice presidential) candidates and their cabals are picking on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise to eradicate crime within six months if he wins. They insist that it is impossible, improbable, it is a bluff and it cannot be done. Well, it’s Duterte’s problem, not theirs, right? That is his campaign promise, and he rises or falls on that promise, right? So, what is their problem?

The problem is, his opponents are now realizing from the huge crowds who flock to his rallies and motorcades that people actually believe he can do it. Spouting motherhood statements just won’t hack it anymore, ladies and gentlemen. Filipinos can only be complacent, indifferent and apathetic towards their leaders, not to mention their situation in life, to a certain degree. Comes the time – belatedly or not – that they reach the proverbial point of no return.

We removed a dictator 30 years ago – which was impossible to do, but People Power did it, remember?

What the candidates and their spinners are doing is promoting the MINDSET that things cannot be done because they are difficult to do. They won’t do it because it is not doable. Have they tried doing it before saying they can’t do it? Because that is the justification of the LAZY, to put it rather bluntly.

Which is what has been wrong about this country since the so-called Edsa Revolution. Filipinos have reverted back to the culture of waiting for the guava fruit to fall from the tree, and the kind of leaders that we’ve had upheld that attitude for their own vested ends. It might come as a surprise, if not downright shock, to find out what we have accomplished as a people since we became the toast of the democratic world. Tell me about it and maybe I won’t say it was all such a waste.

And so, here comes Mayor Duterte offering change. In the real sense of the word, perhaps.

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He speaks the language of the masses, replete with the mindless curses that ordinary folk utter in the ordinary course of their ordinary lives. The ‘cultured’ and ‘polite’ elite be damned if they get offended. They represent not even 10% of the population. Their wealth won’t be diminished by the volume of expletives thrown their way every time the working classes discuss land reform, labor ‘contractualization’ or wanton exploitation of natural resources among themselves.

He speaks of specific things to do in clear terms, straight from the shoulder, no ifs or buts, and has repeatedly stated that he won’t resort to extrajudicial killings in order to keep his self-imposed deadline. Why did he impose that deadline, in the first place, when nobody asked him to? I would surmise that he has a plan and he will use the goodwill that a newly elected President is imbued with to get things done in as short a time as possible – in the same way that President Aquino used his bravado to eliminate, ta dah, wang wang.

True, ‘thou shalt not kill’. But why do policemen kill criminals? Why do soldiers kill in the name of country? Why did God order the Israelites to kill their enemies and take their lands and belongings? Why did He say, “Now, as for those enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and kill them in my presence” (Luke 19:27)? But of course, God also reserved punishment for those who commit murder against their own people.

The point being that instilling fear in the hearts of evildoers is the name of the game, and criminals today have absolutely no fear. The type of crimes being committed are so horrible that even the angel of death would cringe in horror. Who among the present crap, I mean crop, of candidates can implant the seed of dread among hardened crooks? None but the one who has been there, done that.

Mayor Duterte might use the goodwill and bravado of a newly elected President to tick off the first item on his agenda. How he will do it he is keeping close to his chest. Otherwise, he must honor his other word and allow whoever is elected as Vice President to take over.

(Photos taken from Mayor Duterte’s Facebook page)