Mind da News: Duterte: Should He Run?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, July 10, 2015 – Is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte running for President? He speaks in riddles. He is just back from a countrywide speaking tour testing public pulse re-federalism, he claimed. But, on the side, he entertained people with his political antics. He twitted human rights advocates and dared the Human Rights Commission chief to charge him in court in relation to the so-called “death squad” in Davao City. If elected president, he has a novel plan to rid the country of drug lords.

His “helehele bago querre” (the Chabacano for “ayaw raw pero may gusto rin pala”; in English, “No, no — ah, okay, yes”) gesture is a way of flirting for “political suitors”. If the opportunity is right, we think he will run. He has his own political antics to entertain the voters.

Of Entertainment: To digress, entertainment has always been the spice of political campaigns. The changes through the decades could have something to do with or is reflected in the shift from emphasis on issues and party platform of government to popularity by voters in choosing their candidates. We have witnessed the changes.

Until 1940, political campaigns were done by teams. An advance team of speakers entertained with fiery speeches the audience in one town while the main team with the candidates was in the adjacent town. Tirades on issues “for” and “against” flavored with truths and half-truths and venom held the audience the more fiery the speaker, the wilder the applause. Speaker after speaker, the advance team gradually moved to the next town as the main team gradually arrived.

In the 1950s, movie personalities started “gracing” political campaigns – entertaining the audience between speeches. As they gradually moved out with the advance team to the next town, the overflowing audience gradually thinned out. Evidently, people came to see movie stars, not to listen to speeches on issues and platform of government. Taking the cue, movie personalities entered politics. With their fellow movie stars as entertainers and their campaign managers, they handily won.

Later, not only movie personalities but local stage performers entertained. Candidates themselves had to sing, dance, or show whatever talent they had. With the advances in media technology and electronics communications, campaign gimmicks have changed going beyond entertainment.

Back to Duterte: The major national media must have been attracted by Duterte’s antics – his “helehele bago querre” flirting, his warning to the country of what to expect should he become president — including feeding the fishes of Manila Bay with thousands of incorrigible law-breakers, exiling drug lords in a ship in the middle the ocean with just rice for meals, etc. — were front page and prime time fares. His popularity rating poll surveys went up respectably.

Should Duterte run for president? If he has enough financier-suitors who will agree to his terms, we think he should run. His antics are just the icing. Beneath that is the cake that he is capable of offering – and making good his offers – to the Filipinos.

Prospective candidates like Vice President Jejomar Binay will surely campaign along old, well-trodden path of corruption and poverty. No one in the past has run on the issue of criminality especially the involvement of syndicates and other incorrigible law breakers. These are the roots of corruption and poverty.

Should Duterte run, will he dare run along this path past presidential candidates have avoided? Of course, if he makes good his ideas of “feeding the fishes of Manila Bay” and “exiling drug lords” he will get in trouble with the human rights advocates. If he touches syndicates in and out of government with strong congressional connections, he can get impeached. Will he dare to? Don’t bet your money against it.

Regarding human rights, this can be a novel political issue for a presidential candidate to run on. Directly or indirectly, human rights advocates – not excluding the Commission on Human Rights – protect the “human rights” of criminals and would-be criminals at the sacrifice or prejudice of the human rights of their victims or would-be victims. This must be corrected – the inordinate advocacy of principles regardless of ill-consequences.

What, if he wins and closes all the firecrackers factories in Bulacan and tries to make the country like Davao City on Christmas and New Year’s days? Will he not be inciting an uprising?

We think the advocates of federalism should raise campaign funds and rally behind Duterte on the proposition to federalize the country. Federalism is the remedy for the social, economic and political inequalities in the country today.

Why should economic development be concentrated in Manila and Luzon?

Why should 19 of the 24 senators come from Luzon and Metro Manila with the siblings Cayetano and Estrada – just two from Mindanao without any Muslim and three from the Visayas? There must be equal representation in the Senate irrespective of population and state of economy in the regions as federal states.

Davao City is proof of Duterte’s political leadership, one, that the country needs today.

(Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at [email protected].)