Issue of January 15, 2017
Mt. Province

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Here to stay

After being elected as the 16th president of the country, President Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity was unprecedented. He started with an approval rating of 92 percent. After several months in office, it dipped to 82 percent, still very high by any standard. By the end of 2016, it went down to 73 percent. Although statistically, it remains “very good,” public satisfaction with the Duterte administration is on a slow downtrend. If the trend continues, he will lose about 50 percent of his approval rating by the end of 2017.

But, the President made no reservations in saying that he does not believe in surveys. Neither his followers, the so-called “Dutertards.” It does not matter to him whether the people approve of his methods or not. He does it on his own merits. What is important is he is administering the county on the crest of what he promised to do when he was still on the campaign trail – kill all the drug lords, kill all the graft and corrupters, kill all the bad elements of society. If, therefore, those who are hopeful that the President will be influenced by surveys in changing his tact and methods, they are mistaken. This will not work to deter a man like President Duterte from imposing his will short of being a dictator.

Yet, his popularity, survey and all, remains on the rise because specifically of what he is doing. It is precisely because he said he would kill all drug lords, including all graft and corrupters and the bad elements of society. After all, none of the previous leaders had the unwavering courage to carry out a master plan as dangerous as his, the public arrogance to say it all and the political will to do it. Only President Duterte has the paternal instinct to change this country to the dismay of his critics.

True, in some instances, the public executions are going out of hand. The extrajudicial killing is taking its toll on the lives of our citizens. The brazenness of those who liquidate suspected drug lords is becoming alarming. But, it is working to the delight of peace loving citizens. Apparently, those who do not approve of such method are encouraging the masses to rise and make known their dissent to it much like what is contained in the so-called “Leni leaks.”

I had the occasion to browse the Leni leaks via the Internet and indeed, it is alarming. To a certain extent, it encourages mass actions against the Duterte administration, it builds up the reputation of Vice President Leni Robredo as a viable substitute to the current leadership. It diminishes the accomplishments of the current dispensation by concluding that it has nothing more to offer except killings and violence. It is thence associated with the alleged conspiracy to oust the President. It is now under investigation and those found responsible will certainly be charged with sedition (enticing the people to rise in rebellion against a duly constituted government).

One name that stands out as an alleged prime mover of and a supporter to the “oust Duterte movement” is Filipino-American philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who earlier voiced her displeasure for the President by urging him to resign for failing to meet his self-imposed six months deadline in eradicating the drug menace.

If her name had not been mentioned, ordinary Filipinos will not know that she exists. In the first place, she has no business meddling in the affairs of the country because she is no longer a Filipino. I doubt if she even voted during the May 2016 Philippine elections. Second, the overwhelming majority who voted for the President is in unison in wanting him to remain. Duterte can easily relate to the ordinary Filipinos. He can feel like them, talk like them and be like them. He, in fact, is one of them. It is precisely of elite people like Lewis, who is closely associated with the Liberal Party that Duterte won via landslide.

Can’t they see that it is in the demolition of the oligarchy that a person like Duterte thrives? Can’t they feel the pulse of the people that they no longer want to reinstate the elite to be their leaders because they are only concerned with their interest? They are weak, while Duterte is strong. His small actions like taking the economy class of a commercial airplane in traveling, undergoing the same process as all other passengers before boarding, eating in carinderias, using simple clothes in formal occasions, wearing no socks with maong pants, refusing to be called “His Excellency” or “Your Honor.” These are what draws him near the people and make him a folk hero.

Regardless of what the survey says or the trend it takes, regardless of all the moves to oust him, barring any illness or accident, Lewis and her ilk must brace themselves for more Duterte antics. The President will be here to stay.

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