THE difference between Mr. Aquino and Mr. Duterte and their paths to the presidency are all too clear. Mr. Aquino was elevated from a lightweight to presidential material by his mother’s unexpected death. From a lackluster senator who basically dealt with redefining LGU status, his ascent to the presidency was essentially a spur-of-the-moment thing, the death of a popular mother-president. It had nothing to do with himself or his dynamism and competence as a leader. Because he had none.
Mr. Duterte is a different story. He owes nobody for his over six-million vote lead over his nearest rival. It was the sheer force of his message and his outsider image— plus his irreverent campaign—that catapulted him to power. The fact that Mr. Duterte lusted least after the presidency—it was true that he did not care whether he won or lost—was another attraction. Those disillusioned by politics as usual provided the sturdy backs that Mr. Duterte climbed on his way to the presidency.
So many now find it anomalous (some find it comic), that for every instance of criticism against Mr. Duterte, a coterie of choir boys, professing to be more Duterte than the real Duterte, rise up to the occasion and slam at the Duterte critic of the moment. No small slight is let go by these slavish choir boys. As if Mr. Duterte is a wobbly leader who can’t defend himself and needs all these paroxysms of mendicancy.
Many have this feeling that Mr. Duterte himself is just amused by this blatant display of satrap mentality from his defenders. Who seem to forget that the man they have been defending is tougher than tough and does not need any help.
Take the case of the NYT article that criticized the supposed authoritarian ways and bent of Mr. Duterte.
I will not quote what a congressman from Mr. Duterte’s own city said about the NYT article.
“New York Times owes our country, our people and our President an explanation and an apology.
“The spin doctors are on an overtime to put in disrepute the President of our republic to take over. They are getting international because they know that our people know better and nobody would believe them
“This is obviously a calibrated and calculated move to by enemies of the State to force themselves into power in an undemocratic manner. Only rich and powerful enemies have the means to operate in this manner.”
Wow. If you were an outsider, you would think that the supposed destabilizers are now at the gates of the Palace and the Duterte government is under siege.
The truth is Mr. Duterte, right now, does not need all these sorts of verbal alarums, which seem to find destabilizers under every food bin of the caterers at the Batasang Pambansa, the seat of the House of Representatives. His popularity and trust ratings are between excellent and good. Pinoy communities in the countries he has been visiting have been giving him a warm welcome, befitting his status as a popular leader back home. Just look at the unabashed enthusiasm of the Pinoy communities in Thailand.
He has the backing of the PNP, the AFP, the Senate and the HOR.
Yet, the satraps won’t pass every single chance to display slavish loyalty to the President, who probably find these antics bordering on the comical.
On the display of slavishness, nothing can beat the HOR’s resolve to file an impeachment case against VP Leni Robredo. On the basis of a video presentation on EJKs supposedly shown to the UN by Ms Robredo. The decision of the HOR’s leadership to file an impeachment complaint was made after the Magdalo party-list filed a hopeless impeachment case against Mr. Duterte.
The HOR’s leadership knows that the Magdalo complaint will get nowhere. And that the Magdalo party-list is a party of former mutineers who really do not care about the strategic value of their actions. They just act, period.
The HOR’s leadership won’t let that joke of a complaint pass without a tit-for-tat resolve. By filing an impeachment against Ms Robredo, they are giving undue weight to the Magdalo action. Even a word of caution from Pimentel Sr., a veteran of insurrection and dissent, that the UN video does not constitute a ground for impeachment, sige pa rin.
Man, if you are serious students of character, this thing would be obvious by now. Ms Robredo may have deep presidential ambitions but she has neither the capacity nor inclination to plot or scheme for a power grab. She lacks the spine, the resolve, the strategic mind necessary for plotting and scheming.
Ms Robredo can’t even fake rage as an emotion. She comes off as light and weightless even during the moments that require her to talk tough and look tougher.
Mr. Duterte has a match in the areas of grit and resolve. She would probably lead the opposition in the next presidential elections. Right now, however, she can’t do much. Leila de Lima is in jail.