Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Ben
it or not the Philippines will have a new president by the end of the
month. As French philosopher, writer and lawyer Joseph de Maistre so
aptly put it over 200 years ago "In a democracy people get the leaders
they deserve." So thus Filipinos will soon get a taste of what it will
be like to live under a Rodrigo Duterte presidency.
victory in last May's elections showed that an overwhelming majority of
Filipino voters chose him despite all his "negatives." Some of those
negatives, Duterte chose to revealed himself such as his cursing and use
of foul language in public. His many detractors also say he even
admitted to having ties to individuals and groups that operate outside
the law, like the dreaded Davao Death Squad—a group accused of
vigilante-type killings in Davao City while Duterte served as its mayor.
During the campaign
Duterte promised to rid the country of illegal drugs in a span of 3 to 6
months. He would sometimes qualify that statement by stating that some
changes might take longer. In general however, Duterte promised quick
results as president. And quick results are what Filipinos have long
hoped for. Immediately apparent to anyone coming to the Philippines is
the slow pace at which things get done here. And if it involves the
courts, the pace is nothing short of glacial! So it is no wonder that
Pinoys from all walks of life voted for Duterte—warts and all.
So now it's a waiting
game. With bated breath, Filipinos who did not vote for Duterte—as well
as some who now regret that they did—will have to wait and see how the
country's new president performs. Being a lawyer, one can assume that he
has a good grasp of what's right and what's wrong. But then again, this
is the Philippines where it oftentimes is difficult to assume anything.
Like many others, we may
have been concerned by some of Duterte's statements, but given that he
has been elected president, he should now be given the benefit of the
doubt, and the chance to prove himself. If he ends up being a great
president, than kudos to the Filipino people for making an excellent
choice. If he fails, than in addition to Joseph de Maistre's words
above, we might add those of American comedian, and social critic George
Carlin who once noted that: "ignorant citizens elect ignorant leaders,
it's as simple as that."