Duterte’s time running out — monumental failures TMT

Duterte’s time running out — monumental failures Featured

THIS regime ends in 15 months. Before that, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) becomes a lame duck unless he is perceived as still powerful and influential in shaping the next administration, either as a “surrogate president” under the harebrained proposals his sycophants are pushing, or for him to run as vice president to daughter Sara or become an outright dictator under an even more outré idea of a revolutionary government or revgov. PRRD’s intention to retire and cautioning daughter Sara not to run for the presidency, has the DDS — diehard Duterte supporters — in panic. Losing their sinecures in government, forced to abandon their corrupt ways once his presidency ends, is simply unconscionable.
 
Repairing his legacy
Duterte barely has enough time “to dot the I’s and cross the T’s” writing a lively finish to his legacy. At 75 years old, going 76, I suppose this is what should preoccupy him. There comes a time when old men facing the twilight of their lives, the judgment of their creator and the verdict of history must take stock of what they have done for their people. Or at least what each one leaves behind for his own family. These are not mutually exclusive.
Historical figures are celebrated not so much for commonplace successes, but for grand failures inevitably invalidated as in MacArthur’s debacle in Bataan, later to exalt him with his “I shall return.” The Deegong is no MacArthur, but Davaoeños want him to be remembered as a Davao mayor-president who did great for the Filipino people. I take pride as a Davaoeño myself and for a time the mayor’s neighbor in one of his residences. He has never invited me to his house, nor have I ever invited him to mine. But when he retires, we may both find time to be neighborly — and perhaps discuss, as two old men are wont to do, what good was done instead of what could have been done.
 
Politician’s promises
On this note, I now gently remind Duterte of his promises that motivated Filipinos to gift him the presidency. I distinctly remember his “Change is Coming — Ang Pagbabago”: war on illegal drugs, elimination of corruption in government, and federalism and charter change. This column is not meant to award his administration a simple pass/fail report card but a critique to fill in the gap before his time is up.
 
Eradicating forbidden drugs, averting the country’s slide to a narco-state, controlled by drug lords is his top priority. He estimated 4 million drug- impaired Filipinos, while the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) listed 1.7 million nationwide. The president’s position was technically inaccurate in the imprecise delineation of drug abuser, addict and drug dependent. This loose distinction contrasted with the DDB’s data led to fatal public policies.
 
Human rights violations
One such is “Operation Tokhang,” the high-profile campaign against illegal drugs that projected Duterte as “a strong-man, an alpha male, with street-cred and an iron political will,” a role he played to the hilt to the delight of his admirers but painted a negative image to the world as the bodies began to pile up. Human Rights Watch began to count the dead accusing him of violations while conducting “…vigilante-style killings perpetrated by police officers themselves or by killers linked to the authorities.” Authorities admitted to 7,000 deaths at the height of the operation (2019) while critics claim at least 30,000 killed.
 
He could be indicted by the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity” after his term. His contempt for the law is betrayed by his “calls on the police to ‘massacre’ drug suspects and not to worry if they are accused of abuses since he will pardon them.”
 
Yet the regime is opaque as to the magnitude of this operation — its conduct, result, and effects. Rumor has it that the drug lords and their allies in government are biding their time until he leaves office.
 
In conjunction with his war on drugs is the concomitant hiring of approximately four dozen star-ranked retired military officers seconded into the cabinet and bureaucracy. Ostensibly knowledgeable on the workings of syndicates, their mandate was to apply their competencies to their respective civilian offices not only to avert the influx of prohibited drugs but to instill discipline, organization and logistics — for which they have been trained. It is unfortunate that some were in cahoots with syndicates smuggling banned drugs in.
 
Whiff of corruption
Months into his administration, Duterte proclaimed in his signature expletive-laden language that he will “…not tolerate any corruption in his administration and he will dismiss from office any of his men (women) who are tainted even by a ‘whiff of corruption’; and he is ready to sack any public officials even on a basis of false allegations of corruption.” This was an electrifying and welcome declaration. But his words proved to ring hollow, incongruent with his subsequent actions. His own people involved in shady dealings have gone scot-free with nary an investigation and a mere slap on the wrist. Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan mockingly refer to them as the “corrupt and incompetent untouchables” starting with Secretaries Francisco Duque 3rd and Mark Villar (“so rich he won’t steal”) and a veritable rogues’ gallery of PRRD’s subalterns: Nicanor Faeldon kicked out from the Bureau of Customs then reappointed as Bureau of Corrections Chief; Customs Commissioner Lapeña; National Food Authority head Jason Aquino; PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde; all implicated in alleged irregularities in their respective agencies but were simply shuffled around. These are sample cases whose “whiff of corruption” never did disturb the presidential nostrils.
 
Federalism and Charter revisions
But the one big issue that launched his presidential bid and fired up his base in Mindanao and those in the periphery was his battle cry — federalism, a catchword for freedom from the clutches of “Imperial Manila.” He was conversant with the arguments for systemic structural changes that would address the centuries-old dominance of the national central government, where power and authority are concentrated, over the regional and local governments.
 
He had to go through a charade of forming the 2018 Consultative Committee to recommend revisions to the 1987 Constitution, which he subsequently allowed his dominant congressional allies to quash. PRRD simply dropped the ball.
 
The pandemic
The recounting of Duterte’s three major pledges is meant to refocus the shaping of his legacy. At this juncture a debate on the successes and failures of this government would almost be moot, as both partisans, the DDS and the “yellows” will most certainly argue till hell freezes over. History will still be the final arbiter. But we can’t wait that long. There is the CD or Centrist Democratic nonpartisan side. We care less for who wins or loses the debate than how the debate is shaped and conducted, producing positive results. I suggest therefore looking at PRRD’s legacy through the prism of the greatest threat today — the contagion; helping him see his way clear. And our survival will not be a matter of debate. He solves the pandemic, and he leaves the Filipino a much better legacy. One we could even be all proud of.
 
Next week: A case for repairing his legacy

 

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Read 311 times Last modified on Wednesday, 10 February 2021 11:42
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