COMMENTARY: We accept you for who you are, Bai Digong

by TINA TESORO-LORENZANA

CALIFORNIA (MindaNews/18 April) — The furor regarding the statement of Davao City Mayor and Presidential candidate Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte on the rape and subsequent killing of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill could not have come at a most auspicious time. His ratings in various surveys have gone up. His three opponents are panicking and have been tied to attacking him simply because they are unable to present a viable program of governance. But lo and behold Digong has ostensibly given his opponents an armament to once more viciously attack him for what he is — a-not-so-finesse political animal and for what he is not — a cold blooded murderer.

Far from what his detractors would like to portray Mayor Digong Duterte, his solid 22 years as a public servant speak clearly of who he really is — a man who takes the interest of the greatly impoverished and downtrodden masses at heart.

Digong lived and grew up during his formative years among the poverty-stricken and what Roxas, Poe and Binay may call “wretched of the earth”. He lived a life diametrically opposed to the aristocratic upbringing and lifestyle of the other three rich and famous presidential candidates.

His integration, interaction and experience with people living in squalor in Davao City and its environs have definitely molded him into an unapologetic, feisty and loud-mouthed Mayor. His 22 years as a public servant did nothing but only further exacerbated his uncharacteristic style of leadership and his not-so-finesse approach to nuances of daily governance. “Putang ina mo”, “letse ka”, “patayin nyo lahat”, and “maayo pa sila naunahan ang Mayor” are definitely bad words. Words that are embedded in his consciousness from living with the “wretched”. The “wretched” that the three other “holier-than-thou” presidential candidates so despised. But whom they love and adore every 6 years during election time.

But it is also the life of Digong lived among the destitute, semi-proletariats living in squalor and the exploited and oppressed that taught him early and profoundly the value of serving those who have less in life. A life lived in the service of the interests of the workers, peasants, lumads, women, teachers, students, street hawkers, prostitutes and even government adversaries – the MILF, MNLF, and NPA.

He stood up against corruption, drugs and criminality with overzealousness in the same way he stood up for the Philippines’ territorial integrity and our national sovereignty.

The man only has the interests of the masses at heart.

He spits out expletives that offend the sensibilities of the elite, yet he is consumed with fire in his heart to serve the exploited and oppressed. We all can criticize him for his demerits but we all need to appreciate his competence and achievements—something the three presidential candidates undoubtedly and exceedingly lack.

We can only hope should he win the presidency, he will learn the nuances of a national position. But certainly Bai Digong, we accept you for who you are. [MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Tina Tesoro-Lorenzana is coordinator for the Digong Dutere Supporters-California (DDS-California). DDS-California is the unit in in charge of overseeing the campaign for Duterte’s presidency in California]

  • Miguel Cabrera

    Great sadness came over me upon reading this article. Most of all because someone is once again dismissive of the serious consequences of opening the wounds from Duterte’s statement on the rape of Jacqueline Hamill. Duterte is the one erring in this case, but view of the author is now he is the victim. She blames the other candidates, and yet it has been Duterte who has had a pattern of making thoughtless statements about women and others and has had to apologize or been asked to apologize several times now.

    I also find it hard to believe that the author can claim that Duterte lived a life diametrically opposed to the other candidates. While it may be a matter of degrees, Duterte is from one of the Philippines famous families and political dynasties, being the son of a Governor and in an extended family of political figures.

    It is also sad to see that his behavior is attributable to living among the “wretched” of the earth. I have known many faithful and faith-filled people who have lived with and among the poor whose character of love, compassion and mercy was only strengthen by their experience. I, too, have lived with and among the “wretched of the earth” in different parts of the world, and they, too, were people living lives of compassion and behaving in noble and humble ways.

    If Duterte had really absorbed the spirit of the dispossessed, then he would recognize that violence and killing only leads to a downward spiral of further violence and killings, and that extrajudicial killings, even if only supported in words, is a dangerous path on which we all tread.