Why Ordinary Filipinos Love President Duterte?

By Vic Odarve

For almost three decades, the Philippines is struggling in pain over the crippling culture of corruption, illegal drug trades, and crimes that bankrupted an already poor country which appears impossible to remedy. They are very much tired of the sweet talking politicians who often promise heavens and earth for an exchange of government elected positions yet failed to perform. To many ordinary Filipinos, they are looking for a man who can give hope to leap the country to a better tomorrow. Duterte, whose unorthodox behaviour and outrageous statements are often highlighted in media forum, appeared to be their only hope to challenge and can deliver result!

     Thousands of OFW at the Dubai Airport

It is common knowledge that the country is mired by graft and corruption, illegal drug trades, and street criminals. There are rampant graft and corruptions in almost all government offices. Diversion of budgets, awarding of contracts, and various government transactions from ordinary people such as getting a medical card, passport, drivers licence, etc., take several weeks are among the few.  For several decades, the same political clans have dominated Filipino politics and businesses; worst, some of these oligarchs did not pay proper taxes amounting to significant billions of pesos. Illegal drugs are spiralling and out of control. The success of De Lima in politics and accumulation of wealth of the Espinosas in the province of Leyte were associated with the illegal drugs network.  The mayor of Ozamis city, despite the history of crime, had gained trust and admiration by the residents for sharing the loot from illegal drugs. For several decades, the elected presidents are always after popularity. They want to be seen in a good light and they don’t want to affect the relationships with the oligarchs who control the country’s economy.

    Poor neighborhood in Metro Manila

Unlike any sweet talking politicians, Duterte promises a change is definitely coming during his term. Ordinary Filipinos feel that Duterte will stand his ground when oligarchs try to influence him. That is, after a few months at Malacanang office and because of his political will, the government earned around P 6B from Lucio Tan from tax evasion, 1.7B w/o Tax from Mile Long Property, and 25B from Mighty Cigarettes.  Senator De Lima, once the most sought-after lawyers and powerful government officials, is now imprisoned for alleged involvement in illegal drugs. Several cabinet secretaries and government officers’ were fired out after found enriching themselves while holding a position. Such were the case of Peter Lavina, former National Irrigation Administration chief, Ismael Sueno, former interior secretary, and the several others. Nowadays, medical card, passport, business permits, etc., that takes several weeks before can be available within three days or less.  Enforcement agencies are more active in monitoring and in implementing rules; hence, drug lords and users are afraid of resulting to a safer environment.

Demonstrations and rallies are the same old songs as in past regimes

To many ordinary Filipinos, they are looking for a man who can give hope to leap the country to a better tomorrow. They feel that Duterte will not be swayed by the oligarchs for what is best for the Filipinos. His sincerity to fight graft and corruption rises investor confidence. People think they are now safer due to illegal drugs. Street crimes related to drugs are now reduced. Despite all the shortcomings of his unorthodox behaviour, ordinary Filipinos welcomed the development as shown by his high-performance rating. Although it provokes outrage in some quarters, most ordinary Filipinos are unfazed but love Duterte!

For several decades the past presidents have tried almost all possible strategies to improve our country but failed. Filipinos feel they have been voting for liars and cheaters and for political dynasties for too long. Because of the poor job opportunity at home, most able bodied Filipinos have to work abroad as OFW. The outrage in the American and European media over the extrajudicial killings or Duterte’s more inflammatory statements on the Catholic church about God still keep the Filipinos unfazed on their faith in his leadership. They believed that the time for a change has come. The Bible puts it;

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

 That is why the ordinary Filipinos love Duterte for the time to change has come.

 

 

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Duterte’s Iron-fisted Rule

             By Vic Odarve

Simply, there are those who criticized and appreciated this brand of leadership. Supporters consider this style as strong and decisive leadership…an effective response to rising number of street crimes, illegal drug trade, and rampant corruptions. While on the opposite flank, critics claimed that the authoritarian rule is a recipe to a dictatorship form of governance. But whether we like it or not, historian reminds us that the iron-fisted rule has its positive as well as negative impact. So, who would like the iron-fisted rule by Duterte?

Duterte as one of the world’s strongman

Supporters of the president consider the Philippines as a sick man in Asia. This country needs to be overhauled. Graft and corruptions blanketed any government transactions, bureaucracy in most government posts, and monopoly in some of our businesses are rampant in almost all sectors of our society. Worst, politicians and some government officials are involved in drug trade. The Philippines is becoming a trans-shipment point for the global illegal drug trade, where a high number of approximately 1.8 million are drug users.  Majority of the people live in poverty coupled with a poor peace and order situation. Hence, they consider Duterte’s fisted rule style as an effective response.

People who also supported this governance are really fed up with the sweet talking politicians. They also think that the previous presidents have turned a blind eye to these problems. In a country where politicians attain a position of authority after the election, they tend to be blinded by power and intoxicated by the perks and privileges attached to the position. Typical examples are the recent issue of the diversion of P10.6 billion fund for PhilHealth intended for the benefits of senior citizens for CY 2015 to the DOH. To most senior citizens, it is a heinous act three times cruel than the Dengvaxia fiasco. It is an act that is utterly heartless and insensitive to the condition of our senior citizens. Lately, Duterte replaces PhilHealth chief mired in travel and leadership issues.  COA flagged Dela Serna for spending P627, 000 for travels and hotels in 2017 despite Phil health’s loss of P8.92 billion. In addition, there were several government heads that were fired and replaced due to ineffective in office. Hence, these citizens favor the iron-fisted rule.

              Leading oppositions

On the other hand, critics claimed that this type of leadership is killing democracy. It is a dictator in the making.The war on illegal drugs which they described as brutal has claimed lives of thousands, mostly urban-poor dwellers. The suspects were killed rather than jailed, sometimes with very little supporting evidence of their involvement in the drug trade…alleged crimes against humanity according to ICC. Allegations of planted evidence are rife so it is not surprising that there is growing concern that the war on drugs may be used as a political tool. That is what happened to Ozamis city mayor Parojinog and Leyte’s Espinosa. Then there were tax evasion cases; the Mighty cigarettes, Lucio Tan, and other oligarchs who run big businesses. Human rights, leftists, and some religious groups described Duterte as a dictator. Even the leaders of the Catholic Church joined the condemnation. They sponsor rallies decrying the death of democracy.

 With all these condemnations and rhetoric from the various critics and well supported by the opposition, one thing is clear… the president is gaining support from the people. “Except in September 2017, Pres. Duterte’s net trust rating has been excellent since he became President,” SWS said. The First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey, conducted from March 23-27, 2018, found 70% of adult Filipinos satisfied, 17% undecided, and 14% dissatisfied.

       A picture of unbecoming a statesman

But when it comes to his behavior, people come to terms and agreement that the president lacks refinement in his attire and his manners. His English is colorful and far from cultured. He talks without carefully considering the consequences. He tends to over-talk and has a big mouth. In his visit to South Korea, he kissed an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on the lips – a move that drew cheers from the audience but disgust from some netizens… manner which many folks don’t like.

This country has been ruled for a long time by people with their own interests at heart, not to mention pocketing government money into their own pockets. It is the failure of democracy. It is a nation broken by failed democratic policies, mismanagement, and corruption. The people have spoken, and this is their last cards. The majority have shown that iron-fisted rule offers the alternative towards the fulfillment of their aspirations for better life. It is a painful process but must be done.