Refuting the disreputable Duterte!

In my pre-election blog entitled “Digong is not the answer,” (http://definitelyfilipino.com/blog/digong-is-not-the-answer-full-version/)

I gave my reasons why I did not join the Duterte bandwagon sweeping the country at that time. Well, into his first 100 days in office and controversies and many issues after, I still maintain that position that he is not the answer – and that he will never be!

The Duterte administration is arguably the most contentious in the history of Philippine politics. Digong’s unorthodox leadership style, arrogance, vulgarity, and downright disregard of protocols have produced many critics but at the same time won the hearts of his minions. These have created a great divide between the pros and cons – the Dutertards and Yellowtards as these groups bitterly refer to each other. Much as there is a divide between these groups, there is also one between the man and his job – that of Digong and the Presidency!

But what really makes Digong as the unlikely man for the job, and for that matter why he can’t be the answer to cure the ills of his nation? Here are his attributes that make him less than equal to his calling:

  1. He is a man of many lies and contradictions. Digong is a braggart of the highest order. He will mince no words to brag who he is but when confronted with dire consequence, he readily transforms to a bold-faced liar. Before his presidential run, he boasted that “I am the Death Squad” (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/693373/duterte-confirms-ties-with-davao-death-squad). He once said “If by chance, God will place me there, the 1,000 will become 100,000” referring to the victims of the Davao Death Squad and the possibility of him becoming a President. He however, made a complete turnaround when he became one and subjected to public scrutiny through a recent Senate investigation on the DDS (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/09/23/1626561/duterte-denies-involvement-davao-death-squad).

Digong’s campaign promise to eradicate crime in 3-6 months endeared him to many voters. He even vowed to resign if he fails to meet this promise. One can even argue that this may have sealed his fate as the next President of the country. Several months into his term, however, he downgraded the word “eradicate” into “suppress” and asked for another “six months” to fulfill his promise. By this time, the consequence of resignation is no longer in his pronouncements.

If the increasing number of deaths (more than 4,000 thus far) is the measure of success in Digong’s war on drugs, the campaign may be perceived as doing well enough. But the numbers provide something that more than meets the eye. Those killed are generally the lowly users and small-time drug peddlers. The more high-profile personalities with drug links are either allowed to walk away (http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/574017/news/nation/why-duterte-let-cebu-businessman-peter-lim-walk-away-alive), on Digong’s narco list but still unnamed (http://www.rappler.com/nation/142210-duterte-list-lgu-police-officials-linked-drugs), and named but still awaits trial (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/06/1600040/5-narco-generals-named). What is clear in this pattern is that the rich and powerful are afforded due process, the poor with drug links are not! This fully refutes a Palace statement quoting Digong that his “adherence to due process and rule of law is uncompromising (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/815325/palace-slams-un-duterte-a-respecter-of-human-rights).

Digong’s many contradictions are not only confined to his war on drugs but to a host of other issues – from LGBTs to women to corruption (http://news.abs-cbn.com/blogs/opinions/04/17/16/blog-dutertes-troubling-contradictions). His person is an epitome of contrast between the words and the acts.

  1. He betrays his convictions. Digong rose up to the presidency on a campaign promise of no-nonsense approach to drugs, crime, and corruption. He showed his political will when just weeks after his inauguration, he publicly named five active and non-active police generals as “narco generals.” He was fearless in declaring “rich or poor, I do not give a shit” in reference to his anti-drugs campaign.

However, 100 days into this campaign and several thousand deaths later, his war on drugs revealed a disturbing pattern – it is generally focused on poor communities and most victims are its helpless and hapless residents. One congressman summed up the emerging reality that “the rich and powerful are given time to surrender and be investigated”…. “the poor simply gets the bullet.” He may have a valid point as daily news regularly flashed stories of poor urban dwellers killed in police anti-drug operations ostensibly because they “fought back.” This is in sheer contrast to the case Mayor Espinosa who was even housed at Gen. Bato Dela Rosa’s White House when he surrendered and Digong’s public apology to Congressman Amado Espino for wrongly including him in the drug matrix. For many, ex-Governor and now Congressman Espino’s link to drugs and other illegal activities is a given (http://thestandard.com.ph/news/-main-stories/top-stories/214381/ex-gov-built-p4-b-fortune-on-illegal-acts.html) and Digong’s move to absolve him highlighted the hypocrisy and double standard of his crusade against drugs and crime.

Digong’s war on corruption did not fare any better as just some weeks after he assumed the presidency, GMA was released after the SC tribunal junked her plunder case. It was the SC who decided on GMA’s fate but it is clear early on what Digong is up to in regards to ex-President Arroyo (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/762270/duterte-if-elected-i-will-release-gloria-macapagal-arroyo). The timing was also suspect as Arroyo was under hospital arrest all throughout Aquino’s term only to be released at the onset of Digong’s term.

And if he is indeed an advocate against corruption, why is there silence in the case of ex-VP Binay who is his former colleague in the Mayor’s League of the Philippines. Also, why is Digong hell bent on burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani when the ex-President, to many Filipinos, is the embodiment of corruption?

  1. He is irreverent. Digong’s curses and profanity has become a staple of his official functions as head of state. His acidic tongue knows no boundaries and exempts no one even to a point of blasphemy (http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/26/16/duterte-asks-what-if-there-is-no-god). No Filipino will ever forget how he set a new low in diplomacy when he addressed President Obama as “son of a whore” with matching middle-finger gesture only to unabashedly deny a little later that he did (http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2016/09/09/duterte-i-never-cursed-obama.html). President Obama surely can find company at the receiving end of Digong’s irreverence with the EU and UN who were also cursed and insulted at for no apparent reason except their disapproving comments on EJKs and Digong’s non-respect of human rights.

Digong’s bloated ego sometimes go beyond his consciousness that in his vain attempt to hurl insults to his perceived enemies, he unwittingly insults and demeans himself. On separate occasions, he declared that the US, EU, and UN “can’t be brighter than me” when it is already a public knowledge that he is just a mediocre student who marginally passed the Bar and who spent 7 years to finish high school (http://kickerdaily.com/posts/2016/06/duterte-finished-high-school-in-7-years-long-time-friend-reveals/).

  1. Digong is indecisive. His tough image notwithstanding, Digong is known for his indecisiveness and flip-flopping ways. This was evident early on when he repeatedly declared that he is NOT running for president because “the country does not need me” and that “not even a sign from God nor a million people” will make him change his mind. (http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2015/10/12/rodrido-duterte-presidency-2016-elections-wild-dream.html). Some weeks after the filing of candidacy for national posts, purportedly in protest for having an American (Grace Poe) running for President, he made a complete turnaround and declared himself a presidential aspirant as a substitute candidate. At that time, however, it is more likely that he was pressured by the so-called “patriotic businessmen” and succumbed to their pledge of P1B for his presidential run (http://www.interaksyon.com/article/118465/duterte-under-pressure-from-patriotic-bizmen-group-to-run-for-president).

His flip-flops continued well into his presidency. At one point, he called the UN chief “stupid” and threatened to pull Philippines out of UN in response to their criticism of his approach to the country’s drug problem. Just days after, he backtracked and sheepishly responded “can’t you take a joke” on his UN threat. If this is a kind of normal thing to any person, take note that here is a head of state declaring an irresponsible statement on a perceived policy of national relevance.

To ice the cake on his flip-flops, he recently announced before his Chinese hosts his “separation from the US” only to clarify upon his return from the China visit that “separation” is NOT “severance of ties.” He continued “it’s in the best interest of my countrymen to maintain that relationship” with the US. Clearly, he played with words but it is more apparent that his words played with his thinking. One couldn’t help but think is this “para sa tunay na pagbabago” or para sa tunay na pabago-bago!?

  1. He lacks empathy. Digong’s pronouncements that he doesn’t care about human rights and due process validates his egocentric personality. His war on drugs has already resulted to the loss of innocent lives, or collateral damages as Digong would like to put it. Being collateral damages, he maintained that killing of innocent people in the country’s war on drugs is neither a crime, negligence nor recklessness (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/18/duterte-has-a-name-for-innocent-people-killed-in-the-philippines-drug-war-collateral-damage/).

Digong has shown no sign of letting up on his war on drugs. He even likened himself to Hitler and proudly declared “I’ll be happy to slaughter them all” referring to the estimated 3 million Filipinos hooked on drugs. He arrogantly uttered this without regard to the families of the millions hit by Hitler’s purge who might be slighted by his comment.

With all these posturing, more killings are sure to follow and more cries of anguish will be heard from their loved ones. But Digong has none of it as their grief is “all drama” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y91eFqAJGY). He sees those junkies anyway as “not humans”, and thus deserved no human rights!

  1. He is a friend to his country’s foe but a foe to his country’s friend. Digong’s tirades against US and his pivot towards China makes him a misrepresentation of the country’s interests not only economically but on the security aspect as well. Digong knows for a fact that the Philippines has a territorial claim against China and it is only the US that deters China from imposing its will against that claim. He knows as well that the US is the biggest source of remittance from overseas Filipinos which helps the economy afloat and the biggest market of the country’s exports. It is beyond comprehension then why he wants to go with China at the expense of US.

China is also a major factor in his war on drugs. In the recent House inquiry, China appeared as the primary source of illegal drugs in the country. Some known high-level drug personalities (e.g., Peter Lim, Peter Co) are of Chinese origin. It is very disturbing then that while Digong pursues a relentless campaign against drugs, he at the same time pivots towards China where the bulk of illegal drugs in the country comes from.

It has been a roller coaster ride thus far for the Duterte administration. For the pros and cons, the ride is giving them a different experience and the difference is growing by the day. For those in favor, it’s been an exhilarating experience seeing a steady rise of drug dependents being eliminated but for those against, Digong’s methodology and indifference to human life puts them close to throwing up.

In closing, I wish to emphasize that this article is not only to provide a glimpse of Digong as an unsuitable leader but also as an incapable President to cure the ills of his country. He may succeed in reducing the menace on drugs but he will be far from eradicating it. He may produce results, but the damages will be far greater.  He may leave a legacy, but the wound of his deeds will be far deeper.

Down the road, we might see a generation of bullies who are intolerant to others’ views. We might see a generation who sees humility as a sign of weakness; a generation who regards cussing and profanity as a figure of speech and the middle-finger as a social gesture; a generation who looks at women as plain objects and for whom catcalls and public acts of lasciviousness are tolerable; a generation who sees constructive criticism as utter disrespect; a generation who looks at themselves with conceit and view their peers simply as their underlings; a generation who lives by insults to drive their point; a generation who is ready to peddle lies just to bring down a perceived enemy; a generation who doubts the existence of God and swears on His vicar on earth; and a generation who will look at violence as a cultural norm. These are the twisted values that all God-fearing and decent Filipinos detest, and the same are the kind of values that Digong is now implicitly imposing in the minds of the young!

 

About icvaldez

Born in Pura, Tarlac, studied in Manila, spent several years in Davao, and now a Canadian resident. This is my own "Duterte Story."
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