[OPINION] Disappointment, exhaustion, fear: An incoming freshman on Duterte's 3 years
This word perfectly encapsulates President Duterte and his administration for the past 3 years.
For starters, the President prides himself as a defender of human lives while failing to recognize that they are inseparable from human rights. He once kissed the Philippine flag to express his "love" for the nation, but 3 years later, we find him cozying up to China as it continues to violate our sovereignty. He also claims to abhor corruption, but turns a blind eye whenever his allies are the ones involved.
Still, I tried time and again to search for common ground. The President's die-hard supporters would always point out that the opposition does nothing but degrade and pinpoint flaws from every angle possible. I sought to prove them wrong by striving to be objective whenever I convey my opinions. When the Maute Group beseiged Marawi City, I expressed support for President Duterte's initial declaration of Martial Law in the area. During the height of his efforts to rehabilitate Boracay, I was pleased that concrete action was finally being done to save the island! For some brief moments there, I actually approved of President Duterte's performance.
Unfortunately, his administration's problematic nature quickly reared its ugly head.
In Marawi's case, the motives behind the prolonged declaration of Martial Law, which had extended to the entirety of Mindanao, became more suspicious as time passed by. The influx of Chinese businesses and even reports of a casino to be built in Boracay left me extremely disappointed, exhausted, and even afraid.
Thus, the first 3 years of the Duterte administration was marked by feelings of disappointment, exhaustion, and fear on my part. As a kid, I was already used to headlines detailing various cases of corruption and the ineffectiveness of government as administrations came and went. But what sets President Duterte apart is his boldness to redefine standards concerning the presidency, and his capability to dismantle democracy itself.
The President, after all, is part of a wave of populism that swept the world back in 2016, which also catapulted the likes of Donald Trump to power. This class of leaders exhibit tendencies of strongmen which, some argue, are nothing short of Hitler-like. Further, they seem to defy the force of political gravity that would have ended the careers of mainstream politicians.
We can see this manifested in many aspects. First is the President's penchant for profanity, chronic lethargy, and habit of giving away kisses in the middle of a speech. Such acts would have horrified a majority of the people if done by former presidents, but not in the case of Mr Duterte.
Second, President Duterte's bloody war on drugs has proven to be nothing more than a mere purging of the poor. He promised us 3 to 6 months, but the mass killing masqueraded as a necessary evil continues to wreak havoc today. (READ: Why are Filipinos supporting Duterte's drug war?)
Next is his resolve to weaken constitutional institutions and militarize the executive office. I can still remember how I, who once swore never to participate in any political rally, felt compelled to join the calls of dissent in front of the Supreme Court on the day of CJ Sereno's ouster.
Finally, there is the well-documented preference of President Duterte's fiercest defenders to propagate false information, which has poisoned the minds of many. In my case, I have always tried to reach out to Facebook friends who have been unfortunately forming opinions based on lies. In the beginning, I thought I was making progress. But as their spreading of false information became more relentless and careless, I ended up pressing the unfriend button.
These are just some of the most troubling issues we had to contend with for the past 3 years. Now, the question is: How do we recover from the festering hatred and division in our nation and the world? I believe that we can pick up some answers from the very controversial 2019 midterm elections.
On one hand, we saw the opposition getting crushed, with no candidate managing to secure a seat in the Senate. On the other, local politics saw the fall of multiple dynasties and the rise of a new generation of public servants. (READ: [OPINION] A message to the englightened Filipinos)
The Senate election results sent a message that the opposition's Duterte-centered messaging failed to resonate. The latter provided examples of messages that will. We need leaders now who are able to appeal to the best of our identity as Filipinos, put forward concrete solutions to our shared problems and rise above the notion of "DDS vs dilawan."
As we approach 2022, I am still hounded by disappointment, exhaustion, and fear. Much more can happen in the coming years. But as the saying goes, hope springs eternal, and we must unite so as not to crumble from within.
Being admitted to UP's Political Science program is a dream come true for me. I recognize that along with that is a responsibility to fearlessly defend the truth and serve the nation, and I am ready to do so. – Rappler.com
Enzo De Borja is a senior high school graduate of Pasig Catholic College and is now an incoming freshman at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where he will pursue a degree in Political Science. He first began writing opinion essays at the age of 15.