President Rodrigo Duterte campaigning in 2016. INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON
n the Philippines,
President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy the trust and support of
the vast majority of Filipinos. According to the Social Weather Station
(SWS), the country’s leading polling entity, their fourth quarter
survey, done on December 3-6, 2016, showed that 81% of adult Filipinos
gave Duterte much trust, 10% were undecided, and only 9% gave the
President little trust. That gave Duterte an “excellent” net trust
rating of +72.
So, what explains this
phenomenon? We believe two major factors play an important role in
Impotent Judicial System
The Philippines is a
place where justice seems to take forever. In many instances, litigants
pass away before verdicts are rendered in their cases. And many are just
never are resolved: the Plaza Miranda Bombing; the Ninoy Aquino
assassination; and the Dacer-Corbito double murder—to name just three
well-known cases. If
you’re seeking justice from Philippine courts, chances are you’re in for
a very long wait.
Then here comes
Duterte who promises to solve the drug epidemic, end corruption, and
give the Philippine economy a boost—all in a matter of months, and the
public goes ecstatic. To see results in such a short time (or to see
results at all) is unprecedented as far as Filipinos are concerned.
So when dead bodies
begin piling up in the streets, macabre as that may be, the Philippine
population views it as tangible results that Duterte is getting things
Unlike people in
developed Western countries who have properly functioning legal systems where court cases are
promptly adjudicated and thus view extrajudicial killing (EJK) as
barbaric and unnecessary, Filipinos instead see it as tangible proof
that justice is being served—something Philippine courts and politicians
are usually unable to provide.
Culture of Getting Things Done the Easy Way
Another factor that
may explain Duterte’s continuing popularity is our “Juan Tamad”
attitude. As a people, we seem to always want to get things done the quick and
easy way. Nothing wrong with that except when it impinges on someone
else’s rights. In the case of EJKs, law enforcement agents become
judge, jury, and executioner, and violate the human rights of their
victims who are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa tells the press, his job
will be easier without the writ of habeas corpus.
For example, when Duterte was
flirting with suspending the writ habeas corpus in November of last
year, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa stated in a media briefing that
such suspension would “make our job easier.” Of course it would! The
writ of habeas corpus was created centuries ago precisely to make it
difficult for a sovereign to lock up an accused indefinitely.
Because of such writ, a king could no longer send an accused to the
dungeon and keep him or her there for as long as he pleased.
civilized world is intentionally complicated because it tries to prevent
abuse by the powerful while insuring the rights and privileges of
everyone else. It’s called equal rights, and due process, and
these impose heavy restrictions on
those in authority to insure that that the power they wield is not
abused. This is all part of our evolution as a species and what
differentiates us from savages.
In closing, we believe
the two factors we list above go a long way in explaining Duterte’s
consistently high poll numbers. Filipinos however need to realize that
when we turn to expedient “extrajudicial” methods to solve things,
we trample on other Filipino’s rights and eventually the law of the
jungle takes hold… and that would be a bad thing for everyone. Published 1/8/2017