The emergence of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as a viable presidential contender speaks volumes of the people’s desperation over the increasing incidence of unsolved crimes all over the country. This also highlights the failure of the government as an institution to address the peace and order (or lack of it) issue all over the country. In fairness to the current Pnoy administration, these pent up emotions did not just build up recently. This has continuously built up over different presidents since the Cory administration.
The Marcos regime has to be separated since after his ouster, the country and its people went into a “reset” mode. The majority of the Filipinos gave themselves some respite from the problems during the Marcos administration and have set themselves new expectations with the restoration of democracy in the country.
With Duterte’s personality and his track record in Davao City, the people see in him a movie-style hero out to seek vigilante justice for everyone. Think of him as Stingray. The character Nick Mancuso played in the 80’s movie series of the same name. Google it.
Now the questions is, is Duterte the answer to this straight-to-the-gut issue of crime prevalence in our society? Keep in mind that peace and order is only one facet that needs attention. We have issues of poverty, joblessness, corruption, deteriorating social services etc as legitimate issues that demand equal attention as peace and order. One can say that they are interrelated. Yes, it may be, but only up to a certain extent. Solving crime cannot directly solve all the other problems. But surely it can enable other societal actions to work to solve other issues. But that’s just it. It is just one spoke of a wheel of governance.
Also, being president only rules over one branch of government—the executive. For crime fighting to be a success, it is not enough that we have a professional police organization. We need an effective justice system. For what use is it that our police round up criminals only to be released by corrupt prosecutors and judges hiding under the cloak of giving “due process” to the innocent until they are proven guilty.
And with the size of the bureaucracy, I doubt it that Duterte will be able to fully professionalize our police organization which serves thousands of LGUs most having chief executives with warlord-like mentalities.
With all these arguments on crime fighting, we haven’t even touched on the corruption in the different levels of government in ALL of its three branches! Case in point, will a Duterte cause the “elimination” of politicians involved in graft and corruption? Going by his standards, Binay, Enrile, Jinggoy, and Bong shall all have been 6 ft under by now.
So what’s my point?
For Duterte to fully take advantage of this phenomenon he has gained, he has to evolve from a one dimensional character in the presidential saga to a multi-faceted personality able to balance his macho, brusque, vigilante-type leader with insights that would define his stance on issues on job creation, foreign relations, commerce and reform. This would further enrich the coming presidential derby thereby giving a more inclusive debate of issues from different levels of society. Ultimately, the people, all of us voters and the future generation, will be the better for it.