Duterte Is It
Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo
It’s a foregone conclusion. Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor of southern city of Davao, will be the next president of the Philippines. The tough talking Duterte is leading his closest rival, Manuel Roxas II, the candidate of the current administration, by 6 million with 88 percent of the votes counted.
It’s an incredible feat for an outsider and somebody who doesn’t belong to the well-entrenched elite. If anything, it’s a resounding vote against the status quo.
Duterte projects a strong man persona. For those longing for the martial law years, he might be the one to bring them back. He’s a loose cannon, making Donald Trump look like an angel. He did what even Kim Jong-un of North Korea wouldn’t dare in public. He had cursed Pope Francis and offended foreign diplomats and women’s groups for making a sick joke about an Australian missionary who was held hostage, gang raped, and killed in his city.
In a country where law enforcement is weak and the wheels of justice grind ever slowly, the Filipinos are getting desperate for change. They are willing to embrace a leader who will give them hope. At the moment, Duterte is it. In an interview, he pledged to wipe out crime and corruption within six months in office. That’s a tall order, for sure, even for a man who has been called “The Punisher” and “Dirty Harry” by the media.
While visiting the Kapurpurawan rock formation in Ilocos Norte, I came across this statue of Lam-ang who could be seen subduing what looks like a a crocodile. He was the main character in the epic poem, The Life of Lam-ang, written by Pedro Bucaneg around 1640.
In the poem, Lam-ang was devoured by a sea monster. After his wife covered his bones with a piece of cloth, he came back to life with the help of his magical rooster and dog.
Would Duterte be like his predecessors who tried to fight a corrupt system only to be swallowed by it and become tainted like them? Unlike Lam-ang, he doesn’t have magical pets to rescue him from any bad situation. He has to rely on his gut instincts and political acumen to survive. As the people’s choice, I wish him well.