(I’m re-posting this commentary I wrote on my Facebook ‘notes’ just when President Duterte took office. Almost immediately I tasted the administration’s unjustified wrath when this pseudonym Facebook account was reported and blocked by Duterte’s people just few days after.)
President Duterte comes in vowing to accomplish what he has accomplished in Davao City at the national level. Here comes the big problem: local government is vastly different from the national one. First, at the local level, mayors or governors run their bailiwick as their virtual fiefdom doing what they please often even engaging in illegal activites without much problem. Why? nobody dares to oppose the local dictators because of possible retaliation from which he has no protection and from which his lords can get away most of the time, making these local gods almost untouchable. Even the local press is tame and timid with nobody to protect them (when even at the national level media people are virtually defenseless, what more at the local level, right?). Even the victims of salvaging have no choice but to keep quiet and accept their fate whether they were real criminals or just victims of mistaken identity, especially where almost all of them are poor.
But the situation is almost completely different at the national level. There are many powerful figures, including the shadowy power-brokers, who will not let anyone, even the President, interfere with their activities – legal or otherwise. They even manipulate presidents for their selfish interests. Even the legislature is different from the local councils and boards. Yes, to some extent the President can manipulate the lower house; but even here they will support him only if he can keep them happy. But the senate is a different story. Made up of better materials and with the eyes of the general public on them, they tend to act with more responsibility than their lower-house counterparts and are harder to appease or please. And there are many special interest groups and organizations, the so-called civil societies, unions, and all sort of activists’ organizations especially the most noisy and numerous communist front organizations under various nice-sounding names, and unlike their provincial counterparts, they are much bolder and fond of going to streets and sometimes, even to courts when their interests are threatened or when it suits their propaganda purposes. And of course, the corrupt military and police officials whose loyalty lie where money and power lie.
Under these circumstances, how will ‘The Mayor’ Duterte fare as a president? The answer is simple: it will depend on how dictatorial he will be or from another angle, how much he is willing to please those powerful entities. If he becomes too dictatorial and unwilling to compromise he will face a big wall and would probably accomplish not much because he will meet opposition at every corner, from the courts, at the streets and in the congress. But Duterte is different in one important aspect; he has a strong base of fanatical support from his often blind fans. As long as he can keep them happy, these people will act to protect him in times of trouble. But these supporters can be very fickle and Digong has made lots of impossible promises and if he fails to fulfill them he might alienate some of them. Let us not forget that President P-noy won the elections with a larger percentage than Digong but this popular president’s endorsed candidate was soundly rejected despite the huge fund and the whole government machinery at his disposal. But even if Digong loses many of his supporters, there will still be a large base of his most loyal and fanatical supporters that can turn things really ugly in times when things turn bad for The Mayor. At the congress, just give the congressmen their candy and Digong can keep them happy. But at the senate, things would be different. With different interests and bigger egos, not to mention that some of them have presidential ambition, it would be harder for the President to keep them happy and satisfied. In courts, with some crooks behind them, if the president tries to make some drastic reforms, he will be met with resistance from the people affected, with TRO’s they get from their favorite judges. Of course, the President can ‘sample’ some of them and try to see if he can scare them; but again at the national level with a strong network of support system, it will be much more difficult to scare his opponents that way than at the local level.
So at this point of time, how will he probably fare? At first, he will start without much hindrance as it will still be a honeymoon period. But at some point, disillusionment will set in and resistance will start to develop until it becomes a dam full of water and starts to burst.
“So at this point of time, how will he probably fare? At first, he will start without much hindrance as it will still be a honeymoon period. But at some point, disillusionment will set in and resistance will start to develop until it becomes a dam full of water and starts to burst.”
When this happens he will become frustrated and will turn into either a meek lamb or more probably a fierce wolf that will fight back and when he does that, trouble will start to brew in our beloved land. So the ultimate question is: will he successfully finish his term? I have strong doubts, or at least I can say for sure that if he acts in the way he said he will during the campaign, he will not last his full term. I will not be surprised if he himself gives up if he gets frustrated and resign – I have seen him getting easily frustrated. And don’t forget he is pretty old for a president, being one of the oldest, if not the oldest, and the rigors of the office can turn out to be just too much for him. Only one thing is sure for now, he can’t do what he did in Davao in the whole Philippines.
“Only one thing is sure for now, he can’t do what he did in Davao in the whole Philippines.”
So in the end, he will turn either into a meek lamb, or a fierce wolf who will fight it out with his guns fully loaded. Which one? take your pick and watch out – abangan! and enjoy the fireworks… or a dud – supot…
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(For the article itself click):