Three days before the national elections and things are really heating up. Just last night (May 5, 2016), an anti-Duterte ad was broadcasted nationwide by two of the country’s biggest TV networks–ABS-CBN and GMA–causing more bedlam in the already chaotic Philippine elections. A lot has been going on with the news now: accusations of ill-gotten wealth, of secret bank accounts with billions of dollars, of allegiance to the NPA, and many more. But what amazes me most is that despite all the negative news, millions of people are still staunchly defending Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City’s mayor and one of the presidential candidates for this year’s national elections.
I first encountered the name Rodrigo Duterte after being tasked to write a lengthy article about the booming cities of Mindanao, namely: Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos. Although I haven’t been to Davao City yet, I have already heard how amazing and orderly the city is, but since this was not enough, I still had to do more research on Davao City. While reading some of the resources, I discovered that the past image of the city of Davao was very far from its current status.
Davao City may be known today as one of the world’s safest cities and among the country’s most progressive cities, but what we don’t know is that before the city came to be that way, Davao was once dubbed as the “Murder Capital of the Philippines.” The city only became peaceful and started to enjoy progress when Rodrigo Duterte came into the scene as Vice Mayor in 1986 and then Mayor in 1988. Today, Davao City is the country’s model city where people, especially women, are protected. It is a city where people are disciplined and everyone follows the rules. It has been declared by several tourism organizations as the “most harmonious city in Southeast Asia.”
The Country’s Hope?
To know that a place like Davao City exists in a country filled with crimes, corruption, and poverty, millions of Filipinos came to see Rodrigo Duterte as the hope that the Philippines have waited for so long. Even in Cagayan de Oro, a lot of people really believe that he is the one who can help change the country’s crooked society. Who wouldn’t want to live in a peaceful country? Who wouldn’t want to live in a country where justice is served hot and criminals (no matter how powerful) get their just desserts? Who wouldn’t want to live in a country where women and children can walk home safe and sound?
Who wouldn’t want a president that all religions respect (Muslim, Christians, Catholics) and even leftist groups admire? Who wouldn’t want to have a government that is not corrupt and is quick to respond to the citizens’ needs? Having heard of how Duterte led Davao, Filipinos rushed to support him because he has given us hope that it is possible for our country to be as peaceful, as rich, and as united as other countries. Duterte has given the people hope that change is really possible for our country.
The Country’s Downfall?
Despite the fact that Duterte is surrounded by countless supporters, there are still many who are not impressed with the mayor’s track record. Some are even scared that instead of the promised change, the Philippines will become worst when Duterte holds the highest position in the land. Duterte has promised that once elected, he will eliminate the country’s crimes within 3 to 6 months. But how can he do that when it took him decades to totally transform one city?
A self-confessed womanizer, Duterte also got a lot of the country’s women alarmed and anxious about what will happen with their rights once the mayor is elected president. The mayor has also shown himself to the public as a man with a short temper and who swears a lot, will he be a good role model to our children? Once he is President, will he declare martial law and end the democracy that our fathers and mothers fought hard to reclaim from the Marcoses? Is he really the hope of the country or the start of our downfall?
Since we all have the right to choose our own candidates, I won’t tell you whether you should vote for Digong or not. But let me just remind you to vote wisely because the next president will be the one to guide the country to progress or to poverty. Don’t vote for someone just because everyone else is voting for him/her. Do your research, weigh the candidate’s good and bad side. Get your facts from reliable sources before deciding who to vote for this coming May 9. Lastly, also consider that no human is perfect, and that includes all the presidential candidates. Whoever wins this year’s election, let us support our new president. Change needs to start from us, so let us not depend on one person to do it all. Be the change!