“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;”
– From IF by Rudyard Kipling
IF you judge Mayor Rody Duterte now as President, you are committing a very serious error as he is not yet President. He only assumes office on June 30. That is the time to start judging him, initially but not completely, since that is just the beginning.
Levels of judging Mayor Duterte
To be accurate on your judgment, you must judge him on four levels—as mayor of Davao City, as a presidential campaigner, as President-elect and, later, as President of the Philippines. On two levels—as mayor of Davao City and as presidential campaigner—no one should bother about these levels: the people have already rendered their judgment. In a democracy, the judgment of the people prevails. Vox populi, vox Dei—The voice of the people is the voice of God. Within the context of a democratic system, in an election—what the people want, they get. Just like the lines on Lola in a fabled song.
As President-elect, you must judge Mayor Duterte on his promises during the election campaign against the expectations of the people. They are either congruent or opposite each other. The congruency or differences are measured in terms of his words and actions as President-elect.
Promises: He promised the people a strong government. In words, he has successfully delivered on this. His initial statement that he will impose curfew and liquor ban in Metro Manila, for the young at certain hours, deserves congratulations. This should have been done a long time ago. This will make parents happy, most especially the mothers with wayward husbands. This will visibly reduce criminality in Metro Manila to the lowest levels.
On Pastor Quiboloy: Mayor Duterte’s statement that Pastor Quiboloy should not be complaining about not having been consulted on his choice of cabinet ministers is a correct decision for a leader with a political will. This is the realization of President Erap’s declaration that walang kaibigan, walang kamag-anak (no friends, no relatives) in his decision-making on appointments and all matters involving the country and his office as President. Of course, the rest is history—Erap miserably failed to observe his presidential promise. However, there is a whale of a difference between Mayor Duterte and Mayor Erap. Erap is a softie while Mayor Duterte is a man with an iron fist.
This Duterte reminder for Quiboloy should place all his friends in their proper places. If the President knows his onions, and Mayor Duterte gives the impression that he does, he should not be consulting anyone on appointments and policies. As mayor he knew what to do. As President, based on his experience on the micro level, he should do better.
Mayor Duterte, in publicly telling off Pastor Quiboloy in his belly-aching, must have been reminded of the established President Manuel Luis Quezon’s statement, saying: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” In effect, by way of resurrecting this Quezonian formula, he is telling Quiboloy, “My loyalty to my friends ends where my loyalty to my country begins.” Quiboloy and Duterte’s friends should learn a lesson from this presidential declaration.
On Bishop Oscar Cruz: I like this bishop. I like his intelligence and raw courage. This time, however, he and the Catholic Church deserve Mayor Duterte’s admonition. Duterte is telling the truth—the Catholic Church is one of the most hypocritical institutions in this country. It is all mouth and no delivery system. If the Catholic Church does not like the Mayor, they should have campaigned against him so he would not be elected President. Now it is too late in the day. They should be praying that Duterte does not get to be President. But that is also too late for now unless they mount a revolution. But who will follow them—the priests and the nuns? That’s a lot of nonsense.
It is about time someone tells the bishops and the Catholic Church to stop nitpicking because they all live in a glasshouse. The bishops and the Catholic Church were total failures in opposing Mayor Duterte in the elections. All they could do was issue a lame statement tending to oppose Duterte. They miserably failed, failed, failed, and absolutely failed.
Since they could not put up, they should shut up!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Muslim or Iglesia ni Cristo or an evangelical of the El Shaddai or Jesus Is Lord variety. I am a devout Roman Catholic—by baptism, by loyalty and commitment. I have read more books of the Church than most priests combined—from St. Thomas to Gustavo Gutierrez, from Hans Kung to St. Augustine, from Thomas Merton to St. Thomas More. You might say that I am arrogant but there is nothing arrogant about telling the truth. Maybe you might say pedantic but there is nothing pedantic about the aristocracy of the mind.
On the Iglesia ni Duterte: May be the suggestion of Mayor Duterte came as a joke but there is a grain of truth in it. Almost all the churches in this country have their share of graft and corruption. There is hardly any exception. Skin most of the church leaders in this country and you will inevitably find a crook just like most of the traditional politicians.
So I totally agree with Mayor Duterte, he should organize the Iglesia ni Duterte—meaning a government freed from graft and corruption and criminals of all kinds. If he does it, he will have critics like me joining him in droves. The country deserves nothing less.
On bringing his Davao City team to Malacañang: This is a laudable move. It is the team that succeeded in doing what was needed in Davao City. This is the micro level of governance. This was the experience as presented by his team that made the country admire him and led to an inevitable avalanche in the elections. Not to bring this team to Malacañang would be a crime. Nothing succeeds more than success. This team succeeded in Davao City and in the national campaign. It is interesting how they could succeed in a macro level environment.
Critic of Presidents
Don’t get me wrong, I have not suddenly become an admirer of Duterte simply because he got elected President. I am just a citizen observer who states what I think I see is right. Not that it makes any difference to him or the country. My opinion is of no importance to them; it is important to me and me alone since I want to document the events of my time. But it may be interesting to anyone who wants to probe what goes on in my mind by reading Fe B. Zamora’s essay on me titled “The Mysteries That Hound an Eternal Oppositionist, Then and Now,” published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept. 25, 2005, when the editors of that paper still knew the meaning of truth and fairness.
This is me. If you read me and my writings I must congratulate you for having excellent taste. If you don’t, I really don’t give a damn as Rhett Butler in the person of Clark Gable told Scarlett O’hara played by Vivien Leigh in Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind.”