If recent poll surveys are any indicator, Davao City mayor and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) presidential bet Rody Duterte might very well be the next occupant of Malacañang. And if that becomes a reality, Duterte has PNoy to thank for his victory.
Duterte’s oft-repeated campaign promise to stop corruption, criminality and the proliferation of drugs within six months, even if highly improbable, has resonated loudly with many Filipinos who are angry, disenchanted and frustrated at PNoy’s vindictive, callous, and self-righteous governance.
After six years in power, PNoy leaves no real legacy. His anti-corruption campaign has had little impact on corruption rates because it targeted mainly opposition leaders while most of his political allies enjoyed relative immunity from prosecution. PNoy’s “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” campaign promise has not curbed widespread corruption or significantly reduced poverty numbers.
The much-touted economic growth and remarkable credit rating upgrades during PNoy’s term has not translated into a better life for most Filipinos. In fact, for many ordinary folks, things have remained the same, if not taken a turn for the worse.
The gap between the have and have-nots, for instance, has continued to widen such that the country now has the highest income inequality rate among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). An Asian Development Bank study showed that the richest 10 percent of Filipino families were “raking in more than a third of the country’s total income.”
Based on the Forbes’ 2014 billionaire list, the combined wealth of the country’s 50 richest individuals ($74.2 billion) accounts for 25.7 percent of the country’s full year GDP for the same year ($288.7 billion). Collectively, the richest Filipinos earned $8.45 billion, which equivalent to 51 percent of the country’s GDP growth ($16.6 billion).
Meanwhile, the poorest 20 percent of the population only had a 4.45 percent share of the national income. Transposed into pesos, the poorest 20 percent earned P14,022 while the richest 20 percent made P176,863.
Even as PNoy boasts of having transformed the Philippines into Asia’s rising tiger, the number of poor Filipinos has continued to swell. According to Ibon Foundation’s executive director, “since the start of the Aquino administration, the number of poor Filipinos has likely increased by some 2.5 million to reach 25.8 million poor in 2014, using the very low official poverty thresholds. This is despite P178-billion being spent on the 4Ps CCT program over the period 2010-2014.”
Many Filipinos blame this pervasive poverty and inequality on rampant corruption in government, both national and local. PNoy’s “daang matuwid” has proven to be no more than a slogan and a mere front for a political power play to demolish his perceived enemies. In a sign of worsening corruption, the country ranked 95th out of 186 countries, together with Armenia, Mali and Mexico, in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, 10 notches lower than last year.
Moreover, despite police statistics showing a significant decline in the crime rate, many Filipinos still feel very unsafe in their communities. In the last Social Weather Station poll on crime victimization, some six out of 10 Filipinos fear robbers breaking into their houses while almost one of every two Filipinos is afraid of walking in the streets at night. The survey also revealed that one out of two Filipinos is afraid of drug addicts roaming in their neighborhood.
These “neighborhood fears” are not entirely unfounded, especially with the admission by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) that 92 percent of Metro Manila’s barangays are drug-affected (i.e., has a drug user, pusher, manufacturer, marijuana cultivator or other drug personality in the area) and more than 8,000 out of the 42,065 barangays in the country (around 20 percent) are affected by the drug menace.
Ordinary folks we’ve talked to say PDEA’s figures are far from the reality on the ground. They claim that even far-flung barangays in their provinces have now been invaded by druggies.
So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Duterte has gained major traction on such a simple anti-corruption, anti-crime and anti-drug message. Whether by design or not, Duterte has struck a chord with a lot of people. The fact is many Filipinos feel betrayed by PNoy and ordinary citizens are pissed off at being neglected by their government for the past six years.
It is obvious that our countrymen hate the Aquino administration enough to embrace Duterte. Right or wrong, common folks don’t really care what Duterte says or who he offends. The more the feisty Davao mayor highlights the ways in which Filipinos have been screwed, blued and tattooed by their leaders, the more supporters love him for his straight talk.
So far, personal attacks on Duterte haven’t done much damage, and have even backfired sometimes. Negative publicity hasn’t made much of a dent against him.
Duterte is clearly the product of the angry backlash created by a divisive, vengeful and sanctimonious President. A President who pretended to stand for uniting Filipinos for good governance but instead divided Filipinos with his “political trials” and his “you’re either you’re with us or against us” policy.
There would be no Duterte dominating the political scene today if it were not for PNoy. This is why Duterte is turning out to be PNoy’s only real legacy.