WHILE his public confession that he has killed at least 1,700 “criminals” has not landed Davao City’s “The Punisher” in jail, one wonders how he can expect Filipinos to follow the Constitution by his example, with his extra-constitutional deeds?
Although Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is said to be a vocal advocate of reproductive health and gender-sensitivity issues, the unrepentant womanizer disrespects women, treating them as sex objects, such as those who would settle for a P1,500 monthly allowance for room rent in exchange for occasional sex.
I cannot understand how activist groups like Gabriela could consider him an ideal presidential candidate who could represent gender-sensitivity issues, given the marked dissonance in many things he does.
After months of indecision, Duterte changed his mind into joining the 2016 presidential race because, he said, he believes that the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling dismissing the disqualification case against Senator Grace Poe is unconstitutional.
From his statements in media interviews, I don’t think Duterte fully understood that the SET’s 5-4 voting on the Grace Poe case was not about her presidential bid, but about keeping her senatorial seat.
Five of Poe’s colleagues in the SET voted to allow her to keep her Senate seat, a position she can reclaim if she loses in her presidential bid. That is, if she manages to get a reversal of the decisions of two divisions of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel her certificate of candidacy (CoC) for President.
The central issue in the SET case was her citizenship. Five senators voted in favor of her being a natural-born Filipino while the three Supreme Court justices and an opposition senator believed otherwise.
At the Comelec, the focal issue was her residency. She failed to meet the minimum 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.
For Duterte, Grace Poe is an American – as simple as that. Being an American citizen, she is not qualified to be Philippine president. He said in one interview that he did not compute the number of years of her residency.
If Duterte believes that allowing Grace Poe to run for President is unconstitutional, where in the Constitution can he find a provision allowing him to kill criminals without due process? What provision gave him the idea that it is all right to keep more than one wife and several girlfriends?
The tone and language Duterte uses when he speaks make for good sound bites for media’s consumption. But we have yet to hear him speak at length and in substance about his platform of governance.
“I really hate crime. The only way to fight crime is to be a criminal,” he said before a cheering crowd of supporters a few days ago. “The reason people want me to run is because of what I did in Davao City. This much I can say. Crime has to go. Drugs must be stopped at all cost.” But how would he do it?
Aside from getting rid of crime and drugs, Duterte promised, too, that he would eliminate corruption in government, fix the bureaucracy and dissolve paramilitary units. How?
Would he kill the so-called big fish facing massive corruption charges for allegedly pocketing hundreds of millions of pesos in pork barrel funds? Would the long investigation and litigation processes at the Office of the Ombudsman, the Sandiganbayan and the courts be a thing of the past because criminals would just be killed?
I agree that the wheels of justice in the Philippines are grinding exceedingly slow. A simple libel case filed against me many years ago took almost 12 years to be decided. In that case, I was the only one accused because my two bosses had died while the case was in court. The prosecution presented only four witnesses on the defense side.
Given that pace, how long would cases like the 2009 Maguindanao massacre take, with 58 victims, 69 suspects, more than 150 witnesses and thousands of pieces of evidence?
Duterte also vowed to push amendments to the Constitution to allow a change in the form of government to a federal system. How would he make it work given that most of the country’s 81 provinces are controlled by political families?
The November 26-28 Duterte-commissioned survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showing the tough-talking mayor of Davao City leading the pack of presidential aspirants should make other contenders realize what people see in Duterte that they don’t have, instead of dismissing the result as biased.
It has become obvious that Duterte has managed to titillate the curiosity of the people who have been seeking radical changes in politics from the traditional way of showing only the good, sometimes exaggerated, traits of candidates.
Duterte comes across as a fearless, honest, frank and determined leader who delivers. He is amusing, but not when he cursed the revered Pope Francis over traffic congestion during his Manila visit last January. But people who were initially dismayed would easily forget that, and probably take a second look at him as a better alternative to the trapos.
It is expected that the Catholic Church would frown at Duterte’s popularity as a presidential candidate, and may even campaign against him. As Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said: “Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people.”
But first things first: Duterte has to hurdle the disqualification case before the Comelec. Will the Comelec allow him to substitute for a candidate who had withdrawn from the race before he could be declared a nuisance and who erroneously filed his CoC as mayor of Pasay City?
If Duterte questions the constitutionality of allowing Grace Poe to keep her Senate seat, as the SET had decided, how will he justify his actions that obviously defy constitutional provisions on the bill of rights and respect for human rights?
Duterte said he would change the Constitution, abolish Congress, and give more powers to the military and police. These are easier said than done. Perhaps that is why he said in another interview that a six-year term is not enough for a president to resolve all the problems of the Philippines, especially those issues pertaining to informal settlers.
“You must elect a President for at least 12 years. Six years is nothing… We should choose a President and he can plan and he can borrow [money]without losing it to graft and spend it for the correct purpose,” he said in an interview with radio dzMM.
Oh, isn’t that kinda scary? What would the Philippines be like with a Rodrigo Duterte as President and Bongbong Marcos as vice president?