Becoming a "real southeast Asian country": Is the Duterte Way the right way?

I don’t think foreign media got a sudden interest in the country because they found a bogeyman in Pres. Duterte. The country attracts attention from foreign media because we have, to say the least, an unconventional and controversial president.

The smoke of the 2016 campaign has been gone after the last tally of the result was announced. Not a whimper of protest came from those who lost the election. But there is an emerging feeling even before he was declared the election winner that controversies will hound Duterte not because of his enemies but because of his character and his fly-off-the-handle kind of temper.

Just look at some of the issues he made since becoming a national figure.

1. Joking about an Australian national who was raped and killed

2. Calling the Pope a “son of a whore”

3. Calling the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines a “gay son of a whore”

4. Cursing US Pres. Obama (“son of a whore” again!)

5. CallingU.N. chief Ban ki-Moon ‘fool’

6. Telling senior Catholic figures: “Don’t f*** with me”

7. Boasting about having two wives and two girlfriends, etc., etc., etc.

The sudden media interest in the country? With those statements from our president, everybody will surely agree that the media will surely be interested. Who wants to refuse a scoop?

I credit the ascension of Duterte to power on the following factors.

a. Pres. Noynoy Aquino is soft and weak not only on criminality but also in projection of manliness. Filipinos like their leader to be a ‘macho man’. Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada embodies the Filipino veneration of machismo culture. Let’s not also forget FPJ who, according to his followers, was cheated by Gloria Arroyo. Had Garcillano (Garci tapes) not intervened, we could have had the premier macho of them all as president: FPJ.

Lining up former Pres. Noynoy Aquino along those men (Fidel, Erap, FPJ, etc.) thumbs up, Noynoy suffers in comparison.

b. Pres. Noynoy’s ‘soft’ image was further supported by his weak and lame approach on the issue of criminality. It’s obvious the campaign against drug problem was not vigorously pursued by the Aquino administration unlike what’s being done at present. And people were thirsty for concrete result which Duterte was able to address (although the means and degree of which I have reservation of).

c. The administration candidate, Mar Roxas, was also seen to be in the same mold of Aquino: lame, soft and weak. Whatever your standard of what lame, soft and weak is, there is no doubt that Roxas, through optics, really project those qualities. Now, he could be the opposite of the impression and had he became president he could have showed us his tough side. But that’s beside the point now. Too late for being too weak.

d. The uncontrollable ambition of Grace Poe made Duterte’s dream possible. Had she agreed on Aquino’s offer to run as vice-president for Roxas, they could have combined their forces to comfortably overcome Duterte’s numbers. That didn’t happen because Grace, in spite of her being green opted to listen to her own ambitious voice. And the rest is history.

I don’t know what “real southeast asian country” really means. Was there a fake one? Those countries cited (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia) including Vietnam who is now cozying fast with the US did not develop themselves by going anti-US. And I don’t think strong men such as Lee Kwan Yew, Suharto, among others started their leadership mouthing insults and tirades against anyone much less the leader of the United States.

If being the Real Southeast Asian Country means we do it the Duterte-way, then, we’re unique in the sense that no neighbors of ours have done what Duterte did. In a way, we are an original of something even the majority of us have no idea what’s going to end up to.

Possibly, with the way things are going, we could be the Real Southeast Asian Jerk of a Country.

This is a GRP Featured Comment. Join the discussion!


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