Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Duterte and the Presidency

By Jun Ledesma

I HAVE friends here and there in this little planet.
And because nearly all of them are Filipinos, it is their nature that this early they’d smell politics in the air and proceed to ask questions like “who is in the running” and how come Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte keeps dodging the challenge for him to run? Time and again the mayor has explained why but the nagging and the egging are only developing to a louder and a more organized movement. 
What places Duterte into a tight fix is that he is leading an equally serious and organized crusade for Federalism. As we all knew, while Duterte is an original pillar of the Federal System of government being a core member of Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP), he emerges to be the most credible, untainted and as a political leader –intelligently courageous. Thus the fading, aging but still visibly influential business and political leaders in Mindanao, Visayas and, interestingly, some from Luzon and Metro Manila assembled one day in Davao City and pleaded to him to spearhead the relaunch of Federal Movement.
Having laid that predicate, it should not be a surprise anymore why he is on a super roadshow for Federalism starting first in Mindanao then Visayas and, from an unimpeachable source, on to Luzon and the heartland of Metro Manila.
His initial audience is with the Ateneo Students in Davao City after which he proceeded to Butuan City.
He was later met by a tumultuous crowd met him in Zamboanga City. In all encounters Duterte laboriously explained why we should shift to a Federal System. By all indications he got himself across. He asked and pleaded for support. In an open forum in Butuan, someone from the youth sector prefaced his question by saying that there is no question about their support for his crusade for Federalism but then how good will the system be if Duterte refuses to run for President?
That was an extremely difficult question to answer and Mayor Duterte gave a clever but meaningful answer: “I will start to listen. I will wait for a Divine signal.” The response was good enough for the audience to roar in approval. From there on his forays has been dubbed “Listening Tour.”
The short remark of Duterte was loud enough to send signals to media establishments all over and for the first time even Vice President Jejomar Binay acknowledged by saying that he is ready for a faceoff with Rody Duterte (and Joseph Estrada) in a presidential derby. That, coming from Binay himself, would thrust the name of Duterte in the next survey for the presidential wannabes. But this is strictly my personal perception.
Admittedly, Binay still leads in the latest Pulse Asia survey but his popularity plummeted along with his satisfaction rating. From 31% he slid further down to 26% while Grace Poe is closing in with 18%.
What many Mindanaowons are not aware of is that Binay is drawing his strength from the survey respondents from Mindanao and Visayas. He was thrashed by Poe in Metro Manila. Simply said, if Duterte considers these survey statistics as a Divine guiding light he has no other recourse but to answer the call for him to run for President.
Furthermore there is this saying which says that “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” The challenge therefore is thrown back to the Mindanaowons to go for Duterte and to totally forget Binay. I am therefore inclined to prognosticate that when this happens Binay will join the rank of Mar Roxas who is No. 6 in the tally sheet of Pulse Asia.
I do not think that VP Binay will still be able to extricate himself from the quagmire of corruption issues. The more he defends himself the more he sinks deeper and even if he remains quiet the corruption charges are like temblors that can really make the quagmire swallow him in deep shit. But again his precarious lead can only be sustained if Mindanao would prefer Binay over Duterte. In the past surveys, the Davao City Mayor was never in contention because as he had said he lacks the wherewithal to run a campaign and that he is not endowed with the gift of speech like those of announced presidentiables. 
When he is angry at criminals, he cannot help but come out with a flurry of expletives which irate and irritate the sensitivities of the likes of Human Rights Commissioner Chairman Etta Rosales and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. But those invectives have become music to the ears of Dabawenyos. 
Like the strict enforcements of laws and regulations, among them the ban on smoking, over-speeding, firecrackers, liquor and noise pollution among others, Dabawenyos have lived with that and imbibed these as their norms of discipline. We cannot stop some quarters from criticizing Dabawenyos for their obedience to these laws, the swift and sure justice and punishment imposed on violators under the administration of Duterte. 
But they have lived with that because under the aegis of the uncompromising leadership of the Mayor, truly Dabawenyos live in an atmosphere of peace and security. No one can argue against that because not only is Davao City safe these standards of discipline, clarity of purpose, swift and sure justice have become beacons for investors not to mention the fact that these too earned Davao the distinction as among the most livable cities in Asia.
Because Duterte is now in the political radar screen, there is now a compelling motivation to write about this enigmatic political figure as some friends would say. But he is actually as simple as his frugal lifestyle. On the matter of his legendary leadership style, his answer is brief and blunt: “It’s just by plain common sense.”

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