The thing about polarizing characters like Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is that they often conjure passionate emotions from people. Often in the most extreme, opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s either passionate disgust or fanatical adoration. But never dismissive indifference. Black or white, no gray areas.
But as with most polarizing topics, it is best to look at all possible perspectives in order to give a more rounded observation and rationalization of things to arrive at a more concrete frame of one’s opinions.
As countless articles have already pointed out, and not more than a few of them here in GRP, the man is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant political landscape populated by the same morons from different parties who act and move in a predictable pattern that people with an IQ of over 15 can consider very insulting to the intelligence. That these clowns continue to do the same depressing routine and still get elected to key positions and get paid ridiculous amounts of taxpayers’ money while jerking off make the indignity of it all the more painful.
Every election season, different cast, the same stupid rhetoric and impossible promises not grounded in reality.
Along comes a ‘Bisaya’ underdog from a non-Metro Manila territory challenging the big names in politics for the presidency. The audacity of the ambition alone is enough to stop everyone dead on their tracks. But the man himself is another story.
That Duterte’s notoriety in terms of the Davao Death squad and his candid statements about certain issues, especially on summary executions of supposed criminals without the benefit of proper legal procedures have left a sour taste in most political analysts and observers’ mouths. And significantly so: The implications of the sort of lawless, instant ‘justice’ that Duterte projects and vowed to enforce should he become in-charge of the whole country is more frightening than one cares to admit.
There is no denying that method may actually have worked on Davao, as what many Davaeños and visitors of the city have attested to in terms of general safety and order of the place. But even if we assume Duterte is an angel and has nothing but good intentions for everyone despite the shortcut version of delivering justice, Davao is arguably easier to monitor and manage compared to the rest of the country. A big factor for sure, when the mayor kept refusing and insisting that he was old and all he wanted to do was serve the city one last time and then retire. At least there, he had a relatively easier time monitoring not just the criminal activities of the place but also the behavior of his own enforcers.
Applying that method to a larger territory—an archipelago to boot—becomes a bit more problematic, especially when you remove safeguards like due process from the equation. What most people do not realize about that now-reviled concept—no small thanks to the incessant yapping of so-called human rights groups—is that it is there not to protect the guilty criminal. It is there to protect the average citizen from potential abuse of criminals in positions of power. Even a leader with the best of intentions cannot hope to monitor ALL of his underlings’ shenanigans when a free-for-all type of system is in play.
All a corrupt law enforcer/official has to do is point a finger at someone and it’s all downhill from there. Of course things like that are happening now. But with the kind of system Duterte is planning to enforce should he win the presidency, the ‘Wild West’ tag which many writers have fondly attached to his ruling style just might take a turn to the literal where people are forced to become outlaws just to fight for their rights. Paranoid? Sure. Doesn’t hurt to look at worst case scenarios in order to make preparations to adapt to potential possibilities and outcomes.
Having said all that and looking at the current crop of presidentiables, Duterte is still the one who looks like he can sit in that position and actually effect a semblance of change in sense that is the total opposite of the one the Philippines is currently subjected to. At least with the mayor, a tangible gauge for performance like Davao city—if we are to take the many testimonials of people who live and visited there—gives credibility to his intent in that people can actually see the results of his management in the LGU sector.
Contrast that output with the rest of the candidates who have nothing but piles upon piles of bullshit coming out of every orifice of their bodies with zero results to show for, and one can immediately understand why the brash mayor got hold of public sensibility with little or probably no effort at all. Even to the point of actually provoking his audience (that infamous speech that transformed just about everyone into prude, PC police) and employing reverse psychology to drive his point harder.
Politics is a dirty game and everyone in it is a player. The hard question is which one of these hopeful SOBs will you risk giving the rod to drive in your ass and hold it there for the next six years.