Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has finally thrown his hat into the ring and run
for president. Hi s loyal supporters plus many voters dissatisfied with
the current crop of candidates are quite elated. Duterte's urong-sulong
(on-again-off-again) presidential bid caused many to suspect that the
Davao Mayor really didn't have his heart in the race. Some of his
detractors on the other hand said he was hiding something that might be
exposed if he ran.
Duterte has rid Davao
City of numerous lawless elements that plague most Philippine cities. He
is rabidly against illegal drugs and made his mark early on as mayor by
going after drug dealers and pushers with a vengeance. The result is
that over the years, drug use in Davao has all but disappeared.
Other criminal elements
such as swindlers, racketeers, cat burglars, and scam artists have
received personal dressing-downs by Duterte after they are apprehended,
sometimes accompanied by public ridiculing to make sure they got the
mayor's message loud and clear.
No offense is too small
for Duterte who this year personally confronted a visitor to Davao who
insisted on smoking inside a restaurant despite repeated warnings.
Duterte showed up, and in typical fashion made the man swallow his
prepared to go head-to-head with powerful criminal syndicates who have
local politicians and police in their pockets. Corrupt government
officials will likely find life difficult under a Duterte
administration. He appears to be the iron-handed, yet honest leader,
that many Filipinos want.
Duterte appears to have
little patience for the law and appears more willing to take matters
into his own hands to achieve his own ends, noble though they may be.
He is rumored to have
connections to vigilante groups in Davao responsible for the spate of
killings of those involved with illegal drugs. Some of those killed were
barely in their teens. Ties to vigilante groups should be a big red flag
to any law-abiding citizen. At best it shows a cavalier attitude towards
the law and at worst a complete disregard for it.
Like Vice President
Duterte has skirted the country's term limits law by having a relative
serve as a "placeholder" for a single term, thereby allowing him to run
again for three consecutive terms. It is not against the law to do that
but it certainly violates the spirit of the law. If you're a mayor or
governor in the Philippines, you might get away with it, but if you
aspire for the highest office in the land, that kind of sly behavior
should be totally unacceptable. There is a lack of statesmanship and
fair play from politicians who resort to this underhanded tactic.
Lastly, It's not just
Duterte but the people around him that voters must also take into
account. in 2011 Duterte's daughter Sara who was Davao's "placeholder"
mayor at the time, had the temerity to punch Sheriff Abe Andres several
times in the face for doing his job and enforcing a lawful court order.
If Duterte becomes president will his daughter and those vigilante
groups close to him feel they now have the blessing to run roughshod all
over the country. During Martial Law, it was those around Ferdinand
Marcos, like his wife Imelda, his relatives, his in-laws, and members of
his trusted inner circle who often abused their power. They were thus
responsible for many of the excesses during martial law. With Duterte
likely to rule with an iron hand like Marcos, there is a danger that
similar abuses may reoccur in his administration.
advantages outweigh his disadvantages or vice versa, it will ultimately
be up to the Filipino voters to decide. Published 11/28/2015