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With Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines Got the President It Deserves

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

ike 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.

Duterte's landslide 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." Published 6/21/2016

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