#SONA2021: Duterte’s last 5 years as Philippine president, in video

President Rodrigo Duterte is tired.

At least that’s what he said in his address to the people on March 29, 2021, when he talked about how his government is handling the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines. 

“I just want to cry in front of all of you,” he said. “But I have run out of tears.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most challenging issue that the Duterte administration has faced, so challenging that he called the virus an “idiot” that he wants to slap in the face.

Filipinos are already used to his foul mouth and macho bravado, a trait that many say makes him “relatable” to ordinary people compared to his predecessors in Malacañang.

Rappler's video production team had the unenviable task of reviewing five years' worth of rants – and it was like jumping into a junkyard of foul, violent, and crass thoughts.

But they're not "just words." In this administration, his unfiltered statements often pass for policy.

Bloody drug war

Duterte ordered thousands of drug addicts killed, waging a war that left bodies of men cold on the pavement, under an old bridge, in a dark alley, or floating with bound arms and legs in the Pasig River. 

In many instances, the victims were shot dead inside their homes after a “knock” or tokhang from police officers, leaving wives and children in fear as they cleaned their husband’s or father’s blood from the floor. 

Sexism and mysogyny

Duterte ordered soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina, and instead of disgust, he got laughter and cheers from the men. Rape jokes are the norm for him, and in a video during his recent birthday, he was caught on cam attempting to touch a woman’s private parts.

He kissed women who were practically strangers while he was on stage giving a speech, never mind that children were watching him on television. In one of his speeches, Duterte also said that women have no balls to lead a nation.

Love affair with China

Duterte also called The Hague ruling that cemented the Philippines’ claim of the West Philippine Sea against China a “piece of paper” that he could throw in a trash bin. This, despite the documented harassment of Chinese authorities against Filipino fishermen in Philippine waters.

China is a friend, he said, and his love for Chinese President Xi Jinping is so immense that he called those who believed his campaign promise to ride a jet ski while waving the Philippine flag to assert Philippine sovereign rights “stupid.”

Erosion of press freedom

Then there are the threats to journalists and media organizations who are brave enough to call him out. Duterte calls the press “fake news,” a fraud, and accuses them of tax evasion, corruption, among other things. 

He said he would see to it that ABS-CBN, the largest news organization in the Philippines, is out – and that's exactly what happened. Just a year later, the network would stop broadcasting on free TV, resulting in the retrenchment of thousands of media workers, never mind that the job market was already in a slump due to the pandemic. 

He also attacked other news organizations such as Rappler and the Inquirer for critical reporting, further weakening the press in a country where democracy is already diminished by disinformation.

A dark future for the education sector

Under the Duterte administration, the school year in 2020 opened with quiet and empty classrooms as the Department of Education shifted to distance learning due to coronavirus restrictions. Issues such as inaccurate or erroneous learning modules, connectivity issues, and students’ diminished learning capacity hounded the education sector.

Duterte blames the Philippines’ status as a third world country for its dismal global performance in education. His education secretary Leonor Briones would rather attack the World Bank than own up to her agency's failures.

Red-tagging activists

The President has made it clear: communists are the state’s enemy. But the red-tagging more often targets critics, activists, human rights defenders, and progressive organizations.

One of Duterte's lasting legacies – one that would be felt long after his term – is the passage of legislation widely seen as anti-people and anti-human rights called the anti-terror law. It's seen by many as the nail on the coffin of democracy because it will facilitate the arrest, prolonged detention, and seizure of assets of perceived enemies and critics.

Last year in office

Despite the legacy of a crippled health system, a limping economy, curtailed freedoms, and historical highs in human rights abuses, Duterte still hints at running for the vice presidency in the 2022 elections. He himself admits it will give him immunity from prosecution for his sins.

And the more tragic aspect of this is that he could win. A recent Pulse Asia survey puts him as the frontrunner for the vice presidency, while his daughter Sara leads possible presidential candidates.

It is less than a year before Duterte steps down from Malacañang, and this administration is not even attempting to fix things. Instead, it has gone into campaign mode. 

In his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26, will Duterte even bother to answer the question: Where is the Philippines now, five years into his presidency?

Watch this compilation of Duterte's most controversial moments in the last five years. But that's not all – next to his words, we also give you a glimpse of what Filipinos from these sectors say about Duterte's legacy. – Rappler.com