If a landslide vote catapulted now-President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to power, that same landslide vote did not influence the composition of Congress which remains utterly dominated by Liberal Party stalwarts. Indeed, amazingly enough, Franklin Drilon is set to keep his seat in the Senate despite being one of the most rabid of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III’s attack dogs long suspected of being a major beneficiary of Aquino’s pork-barrel-funded pet “projects”. So whilst there is cause to congratulate the awesome success of the grassroots-led campaign behind Duterte’s win, the inconsistent expression of that support in the legislature leaves much to be desired.
One thing remains consistent in the behaviour of the vote in these elections — Filipino voters continue to overestimate the power of a president to institute change. My colleague MidwayHaven wrote a while back how Voting For President Is Pointless If You Forget the Legislative Branch…
Legislative numbers are in this writer’s opinion much more important than whoever we elect as President or Vice President. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been speaking to me about who they’ll be voting for the top two Executive positions, but I have yet to encounter anyone who would talk clearly about their picks for Senators or even Congressman. Also, there’s what I’d like to call the “Chop Suey Phenomena”: people seem to know all too well who they’d vote for the top positions, but seem to be vague and inconsistent with their senatorial picks.
This is something to seriously think about when one considers that Duterte rose to prominence on the back of a public clamour for deep and radical change, more so considering that this desire for change emanates from a widespread anger over the failure of the “EDSA Spirit” that underpinned the last 30 years of governance. Unfortunately, the composition of Congress still reflects that “spirit” — politicians who were either allied to the clans that propped up the Yellow brand or rode upon the bakla sentiment that saw the stupid political doctrines of widow politics, pedigree politics, “sacrifice” politics, and necropolitics dominate thinking over the last three decades since 1986.
In Duterte is a completely different back-to-basics guy who will likely run a testosterone-fueled administration — the sort of ethic (we hope) that built the awesome imperial societies in Europe and North Asia that were the foundations of the strong, prosperous, enterprising, and adventurous civilisations that dominate the planet today. In Congress, unfortunately, lies its antithesis — the same soft-bellied Showbiz Government bozos that saw the degeneration of Philippine politics into the adolescent victim-pandering joke that is now widely-reviled today.
Ironically, Duterte’s government has much to learn from the administration it is replacing. If there was one thing President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III achieved, it was to create a template strategy with which the Executive branch of the Philippine government could again apply to totally dominate its “co-equal” branches, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Indeed, Executive power will come to be the guiding legacy that will cap 30 years of “EDSA Spirit” rhetoric that has come to an end this year. Duterte enjoys an awesome enough well of political capital to further develop the Aquino model of Executive power. That Aquino model of wielding executive power was an effective one. It saw the crushing of a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice, the unlawful incarceration of a former President, the pardoning of a military adventurist who endangered thousands of Filipino lives, the wanton plunder of an entire national budget, and a bald usurpation of an entire military and police chain of command.
Perhaps Duterte’s detractors who include the old mouthpieces of the now-obsolete “EDSA Spirit”, the toothless “champions” of “human rights”, and the cliques of Martial Law Crybabies who led a campaign of fear-mongering in what turned out to be a vain attempt to quash a Duterte presidency were right about Rodrigo Duterte. He is a man who wields power that Filipinos should be afraid of. And this power will be based on a model that none other than President BS Aquino created.
Thus, fear of President Duterte’s government is a legitimate one to harbour. But that fear should be regarded — and faced — within the context of a deep understanding of real change; because…
Our embrace of change can only be deemed real when we do so with fear.
The idea that advocating change cannot be done without being afraid is, indeed, ludicrous. This is because real change is always uncomfortable and its implementation necessarily unsettling — even painful. What sets apart the men from the boys is the ability to face the fear of change and overcome the pain of its implementation with courage. That courage can only be mustered when Filipinos as a people keep their eye on a clear vision of what they will be as a nation by the time President Duterte steps down in 2022.