Though I am not a fan and I won’t vote for him this coming May, I smell the dawning of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.
Violence is predominantly felt every day and everywhere in so many different forms and levels in our social interactions: abuse of power, crime, corruption and exploitation. The Filipino people are sick and tired of this chaotic reality happening right before our very eyes. Knowing the Filipino psyche, the word “Peace” is only confined to absence of violence as conveyed to us by both the mainstream and social media. Criminals with their vicious acts, both in the private and public spheres, continue to flourish as we see in the news sensationalizing the very details of the case to the point that they bring irritating negative vibrations even in our supposedly most solemn or joyful moments. These news, the way they are presented, are giving us anxieties and even irrational fears or paranoia. Many of us are now suspicious of every stranger we meet in the streets, workplaces and even the people in our own neighborhood and homes. The criminals,- the kidnappers, hold-uppers, rapists, carnappers, etc., continue to draw blood from the hapless, innocent victims no doubt.
It is in this dreadful background that Rodrigo Duterte offered himself to the position for the nation’s top post which is the presidency. The former mayor of the then crime-infested Davao City succeeded in projecting himself as the crime busting messiah that is why, as of this writing, he continuous to gain support from the people and get high ratings from many surveys. To those who are behind him in his campaign and to millions who hope that criminality could be ended by using the iron fist approach in leadership, it is okay to employ brute force or even maim or kill in the name of peace and justice. Here lies the reality that generally, we Filipinos have very distorted concept of Peace and Justice.
Peace, to a genuine peacekeeper, is creatively and non-violently dealing with conflicts. True peacekeeping, over and above, is a way of developing alternatives to violence as means to resolving criminality. There can be no peace without justice. Justice in plain words is “giving what is legally and morally due to a person”. Indeed, we are true peacemakers only if we give what is due to somebody, his/her rights as human being to fully achieve his/her full potential and full development. The right to due process is foremost. Given the very alarming level of criminality in our society, presidential aspirants and all the candidates in general, must be committed to the defense of life and its sacredness in all its states and dimensions. The life of the suspects included. There is no room for extra-judicial killings or summary executions but on the other hand, many Filipinos today out of desperation, believe that such brutal actions are the only way to combat criminality. It is alleged that when Duterte was the local chief executive of his city, he formed death squads killing drug pushers and other criminals. We love men of action both in reel and real life. We are bombarded with movies depicting screen heroes radiating with fearlessness in the past thus this idolatry. But to follow the thoughts of Pope Francis, who am I to judge them?
Meantime, Duterte is scheduled for a campaign here in Occidental Mindoro on April 15, 2016 and a huge crowd from all over the province is expected to come. Well, even in the internationally acclaimed Google News and Al Jazeera before me put articles saying that Duterte’s presidency is inevitable. Except for this hardline way of achieving peace and order, his other stand on certain issues, say federalism, are mostly commendable. But it is sad to note that it is not the issue of federalism or his sound development agenda that moved people to support him but his street smart personality, his machismo and his scheme of how to ultimately end criminality.
The present generation clamor for punishers. We as voters and as citizens lack good voting judgment as it was shown in the past. As I sense that the Duterte presidency is expected, I also expect that our immaturity as voters and the patron-client relationship in our political culture will remain, so is our regressive electoral systems.
People do not care if Duterte has close friendly links with some top officials of the CPP-NPA-NDF which was classified as terrorist group by many of the Philippines’ ally nations. His supporters are mum over his pronouncement that it is okay to pay revolutionary taxes to armed communist groups. They do not care if Duterte’s stand is not to continue our legal quest against China over territorial disputes. They do not care if Duterte is a womanizer. Plain and simple, we thirst for the blood of heinous, hardened criminals, and corrupt officials except of course if that felonious individual is one of our loved ones, or perhaps, our own president.
The only thing uncertain is how his supporters will sustain to back him up and participate in eradicating and annihilating criminals in this part of the earth in just 6 months (or even after his term). Participatory governance is essential in every president’s agenda and program. Are they willing to participate in every drastic action to attain a peaceful and just society that they and their candidate are aspiring for or trying to imagine?
Ironically, of all the presidentiables, only Duterte is assured of prayers by the Pope after the former personally sent the pontiff a letter of apology. Prayers of the pope are still prayers of the pope no matter what made him do it. Under Duterte’s watch, we must now learn how to pray more for our nation. God, please, have mercy on us!
As the support for Duterte continues to swell, so do my sinuses. Due to acute perennial or seasonal rhinitis, my EENT doctor told me that I would occasionally suffer from olfactory disorder. Over and above, all communicators have reserve privilege to change their minds…
(Photo: Cebu Daily News)