I am now a Canadian resident but I felt obliged to share a little of piece of my thoughts about the coming elections. I am particularly interested about Digong Duterte whose candidacy is being trumpeted by his supporters as “para sa tunay na pagbabago!”
I am not a Davaoeno, much less a “Bisaya” but I had the chance to live, work, and breathe in Davao for almost 4 years, with Digong at the helm. Just to validate that “residency” and preclude Digong supporters from attacking me as a fake Davao resident, let me say this. I was there when Davao opened its first Jollibee branch in the early 90s, near U of M. I used to shop at Gaisano Mall and do my groceries at NCCC and Datu Complex. Back then, I lived in the GSIS area but transferred later in El Rio Grande. I hope this backgrounder stamps my credibility as a former Davao resident.
I used to read in social media the phrase “go to Davao so that you will understand why people there love Duterte.”
As a former resident, I am curious what they are trying to project – do they mean “how great the man did for their dear Davao” or they simply lack a valid reason to justify their support of Duterte. In the latter premise, were they just swayed by the “bandwagon” phenomenon created the man who offers something new, something different, albeit a radical one.
Having had the chance to be in Davao for several years, I saw up close the place, the people, the politics, and the man! Here is my own “Duterte story”; not necessarily a personal account but a narrative of what went there when I was there.
The “dynamics” of Davao politics is a unique one. Duterte’s assumption to the mayor’s post is largely brought about by the success of the Alsa Masa against the hit squads of the Left. As you might recall, there was a time when Davao was deemed as the “laboratory” of the NPA death squads. The “wild and deadly” Davao and the people who were used to indiscriminate killings suddenly woke up to a lesser case of it when the Alsa Masa jumped in and drove these death squads off the city. While Digong doesn’t publicly admit his role in this episode, Davao’s “transformation” brought out his myth and created a cult of personality. He is credited for bringing peace in Davao, but in my opinion, just a semblance of peace. This relative peace, however, has an ugly side to it. While there, I regularly read in the local papers or hear news about “disappearances”, “summary killings”, and dug up bodies here and there (mostly in the hinterlands of Calinan and Mintal).
These supposed victims later turned out to be petty criminals and drug personalities (as per a DOJ report). I am not pointing a finger at Digong, but his tacit approval by not condemning these crimes is a telltale of a sinister personality.
For all of these, did Davao folks raise a howl? NO, I never saw any any protest rally, any critical commentary in the papers about these crimes. Davao folks must have been consumed by the fact that they are now better off under Digong’s rule than the “killing fields” era of the 70s and 80s. They unwittingly bestowed in him the role of a judge, jury, and executioner. Simply put, Davao people submitted to the rule of the wilds – in order to survive you should be the predator, not the prey!
Now expand the perspective beyond Davao. Picture the whole Philipines under the same man! His platform of burying crime in “3-6 months” is laudable, but is it doable!?
My answer is a screaming NO, because the “dynamics” in Davao is not the same as the entire country and Davao folks doesn’t represent the tame and submissive character of the entire Filipinos. Davao media and Manila-based media are very different either. While the former turned a blind eye to the atrocities in their midst, the latter will feast on every bit and piece of human rights abuse; let alone killings. Records (DILG) even show that in 2014, at least a third of Davao’s 180-plus barangays are still drug infested, already two decades under Digong’s watch. How then can we expect him to deliver on that commitment?
The “dynamics” of Davao is not the same as the whole of Philippines. Where Digong succeeded doesn’t necessarily translate to him succeeding in the entire country. His is a test case of anti-venom. Is he the answer to the stinging bite of national issues and problems or just another radical who will bomb a house just to kill a mouse!? He definitely appears to me as the latter! I would never entrust the Presidency to someone with a “murky” background! A big NO to Duterte!