Lacson’s New Year wish for Duterte: Discard old habits

Pia Ranada
Lacson’s New Year wish for Duterte: Discard old habits
The senator also hopes Duterte doesn't just focus on his drug war in 2017: 'I believe it’s time for the President to become multi-dimensional'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson believes that 2017 can be the year of change for President Rodrigo Duterte who in previous speeches insists he can no longer modify his character. 

The new year can be Duterte’s chance to focus on issues other than the drug war and become a “real statesman,” said the lawmaker in his New Year message sent to media on Saturday, December 31.

“I believe it’s time for the President to become multi-dimensional, not later, but starting New Year’s Day. Anyway, the anti-drug war is being addressed with more than enough vigor by our law enforcement agencies,” said Lacson.

He urged Duterte to change some of his ways so that he can be a better leader, perhaps even the best Philippine president. 

“[Duterte] could very well be the best president we’ve ever had if he learns to discard some old habits of a mayor and develop some good traits of a national leader,” said Lacson.

The senator even gave Duterte a tip: “For a start, he can ‘Google’ how to become a real statesman.”

Duterte, though he sports an Apple Watch, admits he is not tech-savvy. He has also said he is no statesman and has no plans of being one. Criticized both in and outside the country for his foul mouth and undiplomatic ways, Duterte says his flaws are part of his identity.

‘Focus on fighting corruption’

Lacson said one area Duterte can focus on in 2017 is his campaign against corruption, one of his major promises to voters in the last elections.

“Corruption in government is one area where he can really make a difference, owing to his political will and resoluteness in getting things done. Once corruption is eradicated, many great things can happen to our country as a matter of course,” said Lacson.

In an interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa, Duterte has said his fight against corruption is his biggest accomplishment in his first 6 months as president. 

During these months, he made public accusations of corruption against government officials, including Lacson’s colleague in the Senate, Senator Leila De Lima.

Duterte also fired several officials and personnel, including two fraternity brothers of his who he appointed to the Bureau of Immigration.

Though critical of Duterte, Lacson said he wants him “to succeed because like him and most Filipinos, I also love my country.”

If Duterte is able to change his ways and improve as a leader, Lacson said their generation might just be able to hand over to younger generations “a proud Filipino nation worthy of respect from all the other countries in the world.”

Duterte, he said, should aspire for a Philippines that is like “Singapore sans dictatorial rule.”  

Duterte’s iron-fist leadership style has led some to compare him to Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew. 

But his statements about being “tempted” to declare martial law and wanting a Constitution that makes it easier for presidents to declare martial law have led some to fear a Duterte dictatorship.  

The President gave his own New Year message, wishing Filipinos a happy celebration and hoping for a reinvigorating 2017. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.