Life after #DuterteSerye
The Filipinos may be ready for Rodrigo Duterte, but he is not ready for the Filipinos. His reluctance to run for the presidency drives home that point. (READ: Duterte not running for president)
We are notorious whiners. We can hardly appreciate the long-term consequences of today's policies. We complain at the slightest inconvenience that we experience. We are a nation of scofflaw, according to Rene Saguisag. We nitpick over small things that only waste our time. We engage in matters that only polarize our country.
Worse, we tend to think small and do small. Until we dare to think big and do big, the National Artist Nick Joaquin said, “we had best stop talking about 'our heritage of greatness' for the national heritage is – let’s face it – a heritage of smallness.”
Duterte cited old age for refusing to give in to the popular call. But I think, it is these flaws in our collective attitude that discourage him.
One may argue that Duterte was able to discipline Davao. He sure can do the same thing in the entire Philippines.
But that is easier said than done. The Philippines is far more unwieldy than Davao City. To replicate the Davao miracle in the entire country is impossible because there was no miracle in the first place. What Davao has accomplished today is an offshoot of a long and painful process, a process that didn't just happen in a span of 6 years – the term of a president.
When Duterte started implementing reforms many years ago, Davaoeños did complain at first.
Consider the firecracker ban. When it was implemented, many called the mayor KJ (killjoy), or the Grinch who stole the Christmas. But after a while, we saw why Duterte is doing what he's been doing to Davao City. Every Christmas and New Year, the casualty in Davao City is almost nil. Now we are every city’s envy.
Consider, too, the criminality in Davao City. According to the list released by Numbeo.com, Davao City was perceived to be the 5th safest city in the world. I swear it’s somehow true. I usually go home late at night, but never have I experienced being robbed or mauled. People can roam around the city anytime, secure in the thought that nothing bad will happen to them. If crime does occur, it is the exception rather than the rule.
Davaoeños attribute all these achievements to Duterte.
At the 17th Founding Anniversary of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in July, Duterte was asked how to effectively fight crime.“Ang plano ko, magiging madugo 'yan, kaya 'wag na lang ako, magiging madugo (My plan is that that will be bloody, so I just won’t be bloody),” he replied.
This is classic Duterte. He’s a no-nonsense person. In his world, it’s either you obey him or not. If not, he said, you will leave this world either horizontally or vertically.
I doubt if the Filipinos are ready for that kind of leadership. If Duterte did not run, it’s because, beyond his old age, he is so wise as to see that he would be met with the same resistance that the previous presidents had. He knew that what he did in Davao could not be done in the Philippines within 6 years. It took a long time to transform Davao.
On the last day of filing of certificate of candidacy, many were still hoping that Duterte would change his mind. But he stood by his decision. It crushed not a few people’s hearts. People expressed dismay in social media for being #Dutertezoned, which means Duterte just saw the people’s clamor but didn’t bother to respond.
As the #Duterteserye ends, there’s no reason to be hopeless. Let's not be devastated as if our country is already doomed. Let's not pin so much high hopes on a president, let alone on Duterte.
The president may be the country's leader, and with the immense power and influence that he wields, he can steer this country for better or worse. But he's just one of the actors in the story of our democracy.
I refuse to believe that Duterte is this country’s last best hope. We also play a big role in making this story come to life, for to borrow Jose P. Laurel’s words, each one of us is “a particle of popular sovereignty” and “the ultimate source of established authority.” – Rappler.com
Arvin Antonio OrtizI is a full-time high school teacher at the Basic Education Department of Holy Cross of Davao College. He is also a senior law student at the University of Mindanao College of Legal Education.