MANILA, Philippines – If there's one Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte admires, it’s former president Ferdinand Marcos, said the presidential candidate during his proclamation rally on Tuesday, February 9.
“Kung balikan ko ang panahon, noon at ngayon, kung hindi lang siya tumagal ng pagkapresidente, kung hindi lang siya naging diktator na matagal, pinaka the best na presidenteng dumaan, Marcos,” said Duterte onstage in front of a thousand supporters.
(If I turn back time, before and now, if he did not stay long as president, if he did not become a dictator, the best president was Marcos.)
His statement was greeted by cheers from the crowd.
The Davao City mayor particularly admired Marcos’ economic programs in agriculture and fisheries.
“Yung Biyayang Dagat niya pati yung Masagana 99, that was the time na hindi tayo nag-import talaga ng pagkain,” he said.
(The Biyayang Dagat and Masagana 99, that was the time when we didn’t import food.)
Biyaya ng Dagat was a program of the Marcos government that allowed small fisherfolk to take out loans. To help them pay back the loan, the program sought to widen the market for fish products and improve the fisheries sector as a whole.
The Masagana 99 program spread the use of a high-yielding rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The goal was to increase the productivity of rice land in the country.
The program is credited for launching the Philippine Green Revolution, making the nation self-sufficient in rice and allowing it to export rice for the first time.
'I'll borrow material'
Duterte, who has said agriculture and food security will be among his priorities if elected, doesn’t mind borrowing ideas if they are good ones. (READ: Duterte, Cayetano platform focuses on crime, economy)
He said he is not like other politicians who try to reinvent the wheel so as not to be accused of copying.
“‘Yung iba naman diyan, ‘Huwag na natin sundin ‘yan kasi baka sabihin sunod-sunod lang tayo. Tinitingnan ako, naghihiram ako ng materyal,” he told voters. (The others there say, ‘Let’s not follow that because people will say we just copied.’ I look into it, I borrow material.)
His openness to lifting a page from Marcos’ book will likely reinforce comparisons between him and the former dictator.
Duterte’s strong-man type of leadership is credited for instilling discipline and order in Davao City.
Before deciding to run for president, he also told Rappler’s Maria Ressa that if corrupt politicians were to block his initiatives, he would declare a dictatorship.
But he has since clarified that he is a “hardliner” on crime and corruption but would “allow the people all their democratic freedom.”
His primary example of this is Davao City where he said people are disciplined but still enjoy privileges of a democratic society.
Duterte has been associated with Marcos in another way. Marcos’ only son, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, had offered to be Duterte’s running mate.
During his campaign kick-off, Duterte also endorsed the senatorial candidacy of Marcos’ nephew, Martin Romualdez, currently 1st District Representative of Leyte.
Duterte's statements come two weeks before the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution which toppled the Marcos dictatorship. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.