2016 – One overcast afternoon. I was standing in the crowd in Plaza Independencia during the height of Duterte’s campaign rally here in Cebu. I was there among the crowd together with several of my friends. We shouted ‘Duterteee..” and then a loud and thunderous applause. He stood in the crowd and made his ‘straight to the point’ speech. Here is a man with such simplicity and offers a very simple ‘solutions’ to all our problems. ‘His iron-fist rule is expected to spread terror and fear to his enemies.
True enough. It all started with a ‘promise‘ to fulfill the ultimate and seemingly unattainable goal of totally curbing criminality, corruption, and drugs within three to six months. The shouts and cheers in the crowd is an indication that most of our countrymen’s great thirst for change and progress.
Duterte’s strategy was very simple. Bring ‘change’ through ‘strong-man’ style politics and uniting many of the countries political factions except one — ‘Dilawan’ or those part of the previously reigning political party (‘The Liberal Party of the Philippines’) whom he accused as being ‘incompetent’.
Duterte also promised a violent crackdown against drug syndicates and criminals alike. Threatening to mercilessly liquidate them all through his infamous Davao Death Squads. Many admired this upfront approach and calls him ‘God sent’ figure of the Philippine political landscape.
Despite a country of predominantly Catholic faith with a great emphasis on human rights as well as a country known to have a much more cultured upbringing compared to our Asian cousins which is why most companies prefers a OFW’s.
Duterte promised ‘blood‘. The people responded by voting ‘Yes‘ ‘ to him. And so he did.
Duterte’s war on drugs lurched forward. Thereby slaughtering thousands of Filipinos all across the archipelago. Many of them are fathers, mothers, children, sisters, and brothers. All murdered under legitimate police operations or masked men allegedly gun-for-hires by competing drug syndicates.
I for one, have experienced this when I myself have witnessed ‘extra-judicial’ killing right in front of our doorstep. A neighbor I know. A trisikad driver. Was killed by an unknown assailant as he went out to buy medicines for his sick 3 months old child. His live-in partner wept all throughout the night. She screamed of his name until the police dragged his body away. Her screams ring through my ears up until this day. It was a terrible sight. I long to forget.
My parents have always been a practical Catholic. We always say our morning and evening prayers. Goes to church every Sundays. We’ve been constantly reminded many times by our teachers about being rude, indecent and violent behavior to be ‘wrong’ and ‘inappropriate’ in the society. We know this well. From kindergarten to my college years.
Sunday masses also reaffirms the value of life and how sacred it is — no man can deprive another of his right to live not even ourselves. Since life came from the divine creator and it is not in our sole prerogative to take it.
I have seen this to be completely contrary to the man — most of my Catholic and Christian friends rooted for back then.
Vengeful, murderous and grossly indecent.
And so yes. He won. Voted in by more than 16 Million votes.
Fast forward, in the last two years. We’ve seen so much. Yes, a hell lot of them. Most of them were pretty horrifying that any average Westerner would consider it to be too much to fathom and perhaps made very uneasy. It is as if the country is heading to a full-blown dictatorship and things could go very chaotic from there.
Rampant corruption in most of Duterte’s loyal appointees and political allies caused a sudden nosedive of Philippine rankings in the Corruption Index.
According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) the Philippines placed 111th out of 180 countries surveyed in 2017, with a score of 34 out of 100.
The last time the country scored as low was in 2012. In 2016, the country ranked 101st with a score of 35.
The country lost more than 565 Billion Pesos out of opaque and questionable transactions. In short ‘corruption’. Heres Senator Ping Lacson’s statement regarding this.
Ping Lacson was right. It was not just a small change. What could 565 Billion Pesos do? It could fund anti-poverty campaigns, beef up our military hardware or perhaps invest in the education sector. There are so many things we could spend our taxpayer money on rather than letting corrupt officials or loyal appointees of the President steals them in their pockets.
Also, despite Duterte’s relentless efforts in eradicating drugs and criminality within 3 to 6 months plus another 6 months extension. He failed.
Or did he expect he can’t fulfill them in the first place? If that is true — then he’s a total sham. If he were from other countries like Japan or South Korea. The people would have already taken the streets and demanded his ouster. But sadly, things are different around here in the Philippines.
When Duterte passed TRAIN Law. He just added an extra burden in the already weary people asking for change. He just slapped them right out on their faces. Despite tax breaks — many Filipinos aren’t paying salary-based taxes so that means many of them are not covered by TRAIN Law’s promised perks. We’re talking about 17.2 million or three out of four (76%) of Filipino families with oil and other consumption taxes without giving them compensatory personal income tax cuts.
Inflation highest in almost 10 years.
The economy in doldrums. And I say this to be true. Here’s a an infographic by IBON Org
Jobs crisis getting worse under Duterte gov’t – IBON
The number of employed Filipinos has fallen by 295,000 from 40.95 million in July 2016 to just 40.67 million in July 2018. This is largely due to a huge 1.8 million drop in agricultural employment over that period. Job losses and expensive food characterize the crisis in the agricultural sector.
The current jobs crisis consists of the millions of jobless Filipinos including those who are no longer officially counted as unemployed and the millions of Filipinos who have jobs but suffer poor quality work that is not enough to live securely and decently.
Add the massive surge of prices brought about by incompentent economic policies and high taxation. Many Filipinos will seriously be affected and are close to starvation. You may not be affected now but soon will be.
As the govt is slowly tightening its grip and consolidating all branches of the government to bend after the will of the executive branch is an alarming wake-up call to all of us. His attack on the institutions guaranteed to investigate and hold our public officials accountable such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Audit – is completely unheard of in almost any civilized democratic state in the world.
The Philippines under Duterte has deteriorated in terms of economy, decency, common-sense and of course conscience. Time will tell. Will we ever break free from the grasp of this abusive ruler. Or will we succumb to his dictatorial powers — ushering yet another age of authoritarian rule.
I, for one. Voted for Duterte and supported him. I, for one, is to blame. But believe me. I sincerely regretted that decision. And God please — in your power protect our country from this evil madman.
It’s up to you to decide. Speak now. Share this post so everyone can read it. 🙂