Dear Mayor Duterte,
With your recent controversial statements, you have managed to annoy, antagonize and even enrage a lot of people. Anti-Duterte campaigns are being launched in an effort to discredit you to your supporters. They want to depict you as a blabbering “bruskong berdugo”.
In a personal attempt to really get to know you beyond your media persona, I poked around, rummaged through the internet, and dug deeper. I watched numerous videos and read countless articles about you. And the following is what I learned about the man that Filipinos either love to hate or hate to love.
Incredible. People’s reaction to your candidacy from the moment you filed your COC in December was swift, solid and intense. It was, undeniably, their way of letting the present administration know that they have had enough. They are fed up with the widespread corruption and the seemingly lack of effective and timely action in addressing the most basic problems that Filipinos face on a daily basis. Four months (and countless of blunders on your part) after, your support base is more intact than ever. They have grown in number, in strength and in intensity. And they have become blind to your faults.
Reluctant. It took a while for you to finally be convinced to join the presidential race. You said that you lack enthusiasm for the job. In every opportunity you get, you don’t fail to remind us that you’re just doing it to answer the people’s urgent clamor for change. You make us – me – feel indebted to you. Your exact words then? “If you want me to do it, then I’ll do it. But in my way.”
Charming. Talking to you is never boring. During campaign sorties, public debates or interviews, you always manage to entertain your audience with your poker-faced humor, flippant remarks, witty one-liners, snappy comebacks, and animated stories. And if you happen to be on the right mood, you even treat them to steamy shows just like what you did in Pampanga.
Fair. You believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and protected at all times. And if that right is violated by common law criminals, you feel the need to eradicate the perpetrator of the crime – without the benefit of the legal due process. You said that the way to stop violence is to use violence. It’s just ironic to have to hear that coming straight from the mouth of a lawyer, who is supposedly the agent of the administration of justice.
Authentic. Unlike most politicians, you are brutally frank. You mean what you say and you say what you mean. No beating around the bush, no frills and gimmicks, caution usually thrown to the wind. You really are a breath of fresh air, Mayor Digong! (Or a PR nightmare to your team, depending on one’s perspective). Your accusation that Mar did not really graduate from Wharton triggered a childish word ward and slapping challenge between the two of you. Your insinuation that you, along with other boys, were sexually abused by priests during your years at the Ateneo de Davao High School created quite a stir among the Jesuit community. Your pronouncement before the Ilocanos that you are in favour of giving the late President Marcos a hero’s burial did not sit well with your anti-Marcos supporters. Your declaration before the Kapampangans that you will release CGMA if you’re elected president was, likewise, not acceptable to your anti-Arroyo followers.
Photo credit: http://wethepvblic.com/
Passionate. Moderation is not in your vocabulary. Do you still remember the warning you issued during your interview with Maria Ressa? “If my efforts to improve the country were to be blocked by a corrupt Congress, I would declare a revolutionary government and close down Congress.” On the issue of the disputed West Philippines Sea, meanwhile, you said that it would be futile to engage China in a war because we don’t have a chance of winning. What you will do, instead, is to ask the Navy to bring you to the nearest point [in the sea] that is tolerable to them and you will ride a jet ski. “I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?” Hay naku, Mayor.
Exciting. Because you have a big, bad mouth (“bastos na bibig” was how you aptly put it), people are always waiting in rapt attention for your next controversial, explosive and, often, scandalous confessions and revelations. Let me see if I get this right, okay? No other politician uses expletives and swear words with such alarming frequency. No other politician publicly curses the beloved Pope. No other politician disparagingly uses the word “bayot” (gay) to refer to a political opponent. No other politician regales his audience with a story that is insulting to the kasambahay. No other politician openly admits that he is a flirt and a womanizer. No other politician wants to make a candidate from another party his Assistant President “because she is beautiful”. No other politician has made a joke about a deceased rape victim. No other politician, Sir. Just you. Are you sure you don’t have a political death wish?
Generous. Also on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, you said that if China will offer to build vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the Philippines, you will shut up for the entire duration of your presidency. That is, indeed, very generous of you, Mayor. But what happens to your campaign lines, “I am Rodrigo Duterte. I am a Filipino and I love my country, the Philippines. It is the land of my birth, it is the home of my people.”? You are planning to abandon the country’s long-standing claim to the territory for a few trains!
Eager. One of your many campaign promises is getting rid of corruption, drugs and criminality in about three to six months after you assume the presidency. Of course, that statement earned cheers from your supporters, but jeers and raised eyebrows from your critics. Personally, I don’t think that’s achievable. Unless you declare another Martial Law and become another Marcos.
Appreciative. Your team, friends, family and supporters will do virtually anything for you. I’ve heard numerous times how your running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, would appeal to the electorate. “If you don’t want to vote for me, okay lang po. But, please, vote for Mayor Duterte.” Commendable, right? But how did you repay such thoughtful and unselfish gesture? When you were in Ilocos, you said that if you are not able to stamp out crime in 3-6 months, you “will step down and give the presidency to Bongbong.” (As if the presidency is a cheap toy that a child can easily give or share with his playmate!) BBM, for his part, exploited that carelessly-thrown statement to mock Cayetano during their public debate. That was, after all, an opportunity too golden to pass up. When your daughter said that she herself was a rape victim, apparently in an effort to help you get out of the rut you effortlessly put yourself in with your repulsive remarks on rape, how did you show her your appreciation? You publicly announced that you don’t believe her claim. You even called her a drama queen! If that’s how you treat the people who show you love and concern, Mayor, I don’t want to think how you deal with those who openly antagonize you.
You have to admit, you don’t fit the mold of the typical politician, Mayor Digong.
I would like you to know, though, that I can accept and forgive you your insensitivity, your indiscretion and your indecency. I can even try to develop an appreciation for your unique brand of humor. I can also pretend to like your extra-judicial plans of action to battle crimes.
What I can NOT do is to willingly entrust in your hands the great responsibility of holding the reins of my country and its future. I will make sure of that when I cast my vote.
Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)