[Newspoint] The Duterte show goes on
The Duterte show is back on the road after a Christmas break. It was mounted last week on its home stage, in Davao City, in Marco Polo, the hotel owned by Duterte's finance secretary.
I caught a good part of it on television. I don't recall any president coming on TV half as often as Duterte, but the more singular distinction is he manages to do it saying and showing scarcely anything new. And, true enough, nothing notably fresh was added to his act this time around; it was the same old song and dance.
But why change anything? The original has regaled national audiences all these first six months of its run, registering a 73% approbation, which is "very good" by pollsters' standards, the equivalent, I suppose, of four thumbs up.
There was some ad-libbing here and there, but it was merely flavoring, which Duterte, I'm sure, the sensitive performer that he is, puts in as he goes along.
Still, nothing special about it, just one and the same phrase, but I saw from the reaction of his formal-dress-dinner audience in Davao that it was a hit, such a hit it inspired a crisper delivery from Duterte with each utterance, and he sprinkled his speech with it generously that night.
It was his favorite – everyone's favorite – motherhood cuss phrase.
Perhaps being a largely home crowd, the audience also got a not-so-routine treat from Duterte – a mention of "the wife, the mistress, and the other mistress" in that mockingly confessional tone that always works with a Duterte crowd.
But lest Duterte be presumed to have nothing else to say, he is less benign than that. He seems to me more like Winston Churchill's fanatic: ". . . someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
The nature itself of Duterte's subjects – his war on drugs, his tolerant view of authoritarianism, his rabid espousal of federalism – serve as a warning that we should not be incautiously presumptuous. In merely six months his war on drugs has left 6,000 dealers and addicts dead.
The number is shocking enough by itself, but, put yet in the context of Duterte's count of the drugged population of four million, it inspires unspeakable dread. And what has Duterte to show for justification? A probably 10-pound directory of names and pictures, his own Yellow Pages, which he lugs around to frighten his audiences. And who wouldn't be fightened of such mortal efficiency!
Authoritarianism is here
As for authoritarianism, which we've seen before and somehow beaten and survived after its 14 years of murder and plunder, and federalism, which we are in the dark about, these are watery graves we traumatized, blind mice are being led to by the pied piper Rodrigo.
Authoritarianism is betrayed not only in his strongman rhetoric and express idolatry of Ferdinand Marcos but in his ways – in his coddling of the police and the military, in his flouting of the universal norms of civility and diplomacy, in his constant challenge to the rule of law.
Authoritarianism is in fact observed to obtain now, effectively. But Duterte wishes it yet set down in the Constitution as a more readily available emergency recourse, something that can be seized and implemented without the legislative and judicial checks that stand in the President's way today.
A federal union of autonomous states is meanwhile promoted simplistically as a political system made precisely for an archipelago like us. Ignored altogether is the danger of the local dynasties – like Duterte's own – further consolidating power and the culture of patronage perpetuating itself.
No red flags are raised at all. All there is, for now, is a harmless song and dance. – Rappler.com