IF I did not have concepts of human rights and violations, abuse and killings, in the back of my head, and I watched Rodrigo Duterte for the first time on November 30, I would think it refreshing how this man did his proclamation speech.
It was all extemporaneous – even seemed to lack an outline really – and was without any of the motherhood statements and clichés that we’ve heard from the slew of presidential wanna-bes we’ve been faced with thus far.
The speech was real and honest. Speaking like no other candidate before him, speaking of everything from his womanizing to his killings, revealing how he would converse with people on a regular basis, and cussing and cursing ‘til kingdom come.
We keep complaining about spin, and how we don’t get a sense of who these candidates really are. And now faced with someone like Duterte, we don’t know what to do either.
But maybe we start by deciding to listen, beyond the putanginas that were in that speech, and beyond the offense we might have taken against his rhetoric.
Because for one thing, this proclamation speech spoke about the more important issues of nation more than any other proclamation across Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, and Jejomar Binay. Instead of talking about a platform of government that we all know does not work, i.e., Roxas’s matuwid na daan, and a proclamation that just sounded too good to be true and devoid of real concrete plans, i.e., Poe, and one that was pegged to Makati City that is, of course, already equated with corruption and dynasty allegations making it more difficult to believe, i.e., Binay, Duterte delivered a plan for the nation that to him would mean not being a part of the “exercise in inutility” that is the presidencies of the recent past.
Beyond the cursing, Duterte actually spoke about solving the crisis of Mindanao, and that of the West Philippine Sea. He talked about the problems with the Pinoy Catholic Church and the need for family planning to solve over-population. He talked about the systemic problem of corruption in government. He talked about criminality and drugs as enemies, and the need to reclaim the streets for our citizens, especially our women.
Ultimately he spoke about more issues, and spoke more concretely about what would happen once he is President than any of the other three presidential candidates. He also spoke with a very clear sense of history, and what exactly is happening on the ground, and how the more dominant, Manila-centric stand that we are all manipulated into believing, just does not – cannot – apply to the rest of the country. Especially not to Mindanao.
He spoke about our history as a subjugated people, about colonialism and oppression, and it became clear in the course of the speech that it is continued subjugation that he is putting into question, and it is the struggle against it that he stands for.
“Alam mo we were subjugated for 400 years, repressed, at tiniis natin ‘yun mga Pilipino. Then we were given to the Americans by the Treaty Of Paris when Spain lost the American-Spanish War. And we had another set of rulers. Masakit ‘yan. Masakit ‘yan. Maybe the younger generation might not have really felt the dimensions of being a subjugated people.”
Mindanao, BBL, federalism
Duterte gave a rundown of Philippine history and the Muslim question and provided a very clear sense of what it is that’s wrong with the Bangsamoro Basic Law and how it cannot succeed.
“When the draft of the proposed BBL law was distributed in Mindanao… and I read it… sinabi ko sa sarili ko: hindi ito lulusot. Aside from the intrusions to the Constitution given the bigotry and idiosycracies of some people outside of Mindanao – the usual characterization of the Moro – huramentado, mainit ang ulo, palaaway, madumi – these are the bigotry [and]prejudice nila sa Moro.
“So when I read the BBL, hindi talaga lulusot ‘to. And until now, if ever, if at all, it will be a watered down version of what is signed by the MILF and government. We have had several wars in Mindanao. Kung hindi tayo nagkakaintindihan, then Mindanao becomes the battleground.
“You know ‘yung BBL takes care of the Moro sa Mindanao island. Now I give you a visual of what it is all about. If you look at the map of the Philippines. Yung right side is the East, your left is the West, papuntang Palawan doon sa Spratleys. Itong mga Maguindanao, Maranaw, Iranon, sub-tribes nila diyan, tapos ang Sama of Davao City, isang ano ito, Moro nation. Yung sa Westward, Zamboanga archipelago going down to Basilan and Jolo, yung mga Tausug, mga Yakan, yung mga sea gypsies, ibang grupo rin ‘yon. And they cannot mix. And we tried it before.”
He then went on to talk about Nur Misuari, and how he continues to have an ace in the Tripoli Agreement which cannot be dismissed and ignored. He talked about the steoretypes against the Moro, the American handbooks on guns that talked about how the .45 calibre guns and bullets made specially for killing the Moros of Mindanao. He talked about how the Moros of Mindanao refused to work for the Americans, which kept the Americans from using the ancestral lands of Mindanao.
“I’m just telling you the historical hurt,” Duterte said. Which of course could also only lead to PDP-Laban’s push for federalism, which now also makes more sense to me, not that I agree with it.
Beyond the cursing
In fact listening to Duterte beyond the cursing, he was actually making sense. He does not promise transparency, he talks about how he will rid government of corruption, how he will stop the enterprise of long processes that allow too many employees to get extra fees. Instead of promising no more corrupt officials, he promises to change the system that cradles corruption. He does not promise a better life, but promises one where we can all walk the streets, and no woman will be harassed in the big bad world.
He is the only presidential candidate who has talked about America’s meddling in our affairs, especially in the way that we have insisted on multilateral talks with China instead of bilateral talks. “‘Yang South China Sea, we cannot go to war. I’d rather talk to them. Gusto kase ng Amerikano, pati itong Pilipino, multilateral. Eh the Chinese have been insisting on bilateral talks. And if it could mean peace, bakit marami pang drama. Sige tayong dalawa ang magusap.”
He insists that Scarborough Shoal is our economic zone, and demands of China that they leave our fishermen alone.
Of course, he also admits to having two families, and to loving four women. He admits to having P6 million pesos in savings, some from his father and the rest from his own savings as public official.
He admits to killing kidnappers three months into being mayor of Davao City, “Pumorma pa ‘ko talaga, ‘yung parang Fernando Poe,” he said. “Tapos kinarga ko sila doon sa kotse nila. Binuksan ko ‘yung tangke. Sinunog ko. To show my brutality.”
“Lahat tayo we have our dark side. We have our good deeds. But do not ever ever think that you monopolize evil in this country. Kung anong kaya mong gawin, kaya ko 10 times over. Kung kaya mong kainin yang tao sa harap ko, I can slash open your body and eat your heart in front of you. Kapital ko lang asin. Kakainin ko talaga ang bituka mo.”
Yeah, we ask for honesty. Sometimes we get what we wish for.