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.

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