Why Rodrigo Duterte is the intelligent choice for 2016Posted: January 3, 2016
Given his proclivity for profanity, his rather thick Bisaya accent, the very crude views of his that get into headlines (in his characteristic blunt wording) and his tendency to brag openly about his philandering, it is hardly surprising that many find Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte a rather rough and uncultured candidate for President of the Philippines.
It can be recalled that, among his many spats with the Commission on Human Rights, former CHR chair Eta Rosales described Duterte as being ‘not mayor-like’ when he gave a shoot-to-kill order for rice smugglers. More recently, he earned flak from the CBCP for cursing Pope Francis, and former President Erap Estrada discribed him as having ‘no finesse.’
Many of the people criticizing Duterte for his perceived crudeness are dismissing his candidacy, saying he isn’t ‘statesman-like’ enough, that such barbarity has no place in Malacanang. Ultimately they dismiss him as nothing but fireworks, completely without any intellectual substance, and his followers ‘delusional and lazy.’
These people who judge Duterte’s substance by what they see are usually the same people who go around complaining how shallow and stupid the unwashed masses are in choosing their candidates. ‘Sinayawan lang, kinantahan lang, bobotohin na.’ ‘Por que gwapo/maganda, por que artista, bobotohin na.’ ‘Mga BOBOtante!’How they lament that voters don’t ‘vote wisely.’
And what, we may ask, are their standards for choosing their candidates? ‘Yung mapagkakatiwalaan!’ ‘Yung may malasakit!” ‘Yung tapat at walang bahid ng katiwalian!’
Lovely ideals, but how on earth do they ascertain if a candidate is trustworthy, compassionate, and upright? By image of course! If the candidate looks trustworthy, compassionate, upright.
By image, which can easily be, and usually are manipulated by spin doctors and a good photo angle.
These same people who criticize Duterte-supporters and the masses for being ‘BOBOtantes’ are equally guilty of being shallow. What makes them different is they’re tech-savvy and fluent in English (well, at least many of them are). But when it boils down to it, they’re just as stupid as the balut vendor who votes for the candidate with the most danceable jingle. They’re idiots with Macbooks, thinking their Starbucks frappucinos make them intelligent.
Because true ‘intelligent voting’ is not concerned with subjective vagueries like ‘integrity’ and ‘compassion,’ intelligent voting deals with the stuff of intelligence: ideas. The intelligent voter chooses a candidate for the ideas – and more concretely the policies – he/she stands up for.
And among all the candidates running this 2016, Duterte is the most ideological.
Most prominently, he stands for tough action on crime. I don’t need to link you to articles about his reactions to instances of weak law enforcement, they made headlines already: the luxury of convicted drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison, the rice smuggling in Mindanao, the laglag-bala issue. His track record in Davao shows that he walks his talk: again, I don’t need to link you to articles of criminals dying in Davao, but just recall the successful rescue of that business woman from Quezon City. She was kidnapped in Metro Manila, and she was rescued in Davao. I think nothing paints the picture clearer.
This tough message is very effectively conveyed by the ‘barbaric’ things he often says: kill 5 criminals a week; send death row convicts to the pacific and let them use their sex organs as bait for fish. He even does some of these dreadful things just to send a message: remember that man he made to eat the fake land title he was using to swindle?
Perfect PR, if you ask me.
But any concrete policies, you ask? Well, most concretely, he has been calling for the return of the death penalty. Critics of this view continue to insist that the death penalty is not a good enough deterrent against crime, but not only is that contrary to what can be observed (look at Saudi and Singapore), they don’t even bother giving an alternative solution to decreasing crime (education? wow, beauty pageant lang).
He also wants to revise the Juvenile Justice law, observing that many criminals below the age of majority are allowed to go scot-free because of the law (this is a view he has held consistently for over a decade now).
On a related note, Duterte is the candidate that stands up most for peace. This is made particularly poignant by the fact that he is from Mindanao, where most of the country’s insurgencies are still fought. In fact he has first hand experience in dealing with many of these insurgent groups: he is famously close to the NPA (with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison even endorsing his presidential bid), and he has a good working relationship with both MILF and MNLF. When he calls on the country to vote for peace, he is talking as a Mindanawon who has seen turmoil first hand, and he is not just campaigning, he is talking for us Mindanawons.
And Duterte also consequently embodies hope and chance for the marginalized Mindanawon. For over a century now we in Mindanao have had to be last priority as Imperial Manila continues to hog all the progress while failing miserably at governing even itself (just look at their traffic!). So when we saw how all those senators fawned over him like groupies during the Senate Hearing on Rice Smuggling in 2014 (Jinggoy looks like he’s about to have his panties signed!), Mindanawons swelled up with a pride we were not accustomed to.
With Duterte, it’s Mindanao’s time to shine.
And again, this is backed by concrete policy: Federalism. Duterte is the candidate proposing the most radical reforms, and most radical among them is charter change to shift our country to the federal model. This proposal will decentralize government, devolving many key powers to regional administrations (Justice and Internal Revenue Allocation being most crucial). It is a proposal that accomplishes two things: it lets different locales address their problems immediately with their own resources without waiting for Manila; and it gives the fiercely independent Moro population the self-determination they’ve been fighting for for decades. It’s a brilliant solution that really should have been obvious enough for successive generations. (I will try to write more about this in a later post)
He also has less grand, but equally novel, proposals related to this. He has given his backing on the Mindanao Railway System, what is perhaps going to be the biggest infrastructure undertaking in Mindanao. He also proposes to spread out industries across the country and decongest Metro Manila. Right now almost all the industries are headquartered in Metro Manila. Moving them out across the country will spread economic growth throughout the archipelago, and it will ease the heavy traffic and overpopulation in the capital in the long term.
Duterte is the presidential candidate that stands for decentralization and Mindanao empowerment.
He had already said his stands on many other issues even before the election fever started.
He did not bother supporting the RH Bill when it was fiercely debated because Davao has had a Reproductive Health Ordinance for years.
He has been an unusually progressive champion of equality, with Davao also having an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, which penalizes any public discrimination in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age, or social standing. Duterte was Vice Mayor when it was passed, and there are anecdotes that he initiated the ordinance when he heard some subdivisions refused to sell property to Muslims.
On a related note, he is a champion of LGBT rights: he is the only candidate who has publicly supported Same-Sex Marriage.
For foreign policy, he has called for bilateral talks but toughness in dealing with China. Among the candidates he is most wary of Islamic extremism (again hardly a surprise considering he’s from Mindanao).
He already stands up for all these things before the official campaign period has started! This is because among all the candidates, Duterte’s candidacy is the most principled, in the truest sense of the word: he is running not just on personality (though he certainly has that), but on principles.
This is why supporters of other candidates can understand why Duterte supporters support him, but we who support Duterte cannot understand the supporters of other candidates. We will vote for him because we stand up for these things. What about you?
What does Mar Roxas stand up for? Continuity? We can argue that Duterte and Poe are also successors to ‘Daang Matuwid’ because the Liberals endorsed them when they ran for Mayor and Senator respectively in the 2010 election. And Among these three, Duterte’s time since then has been the most successful.
What does Grace Poe stand up for? Her father’s legacy?
The rights of foundlings? The she should set up a foundation. The Presidency is much more than that. Inclusive growth? How does she intend to do that?
What does Jejomar Binay stand up for? Cakes for old people?
And what does Miriam stand up for? Pick-up lines?