What if President Duterte goes?

Ricardo Saludo

Ricardo Saludo

Do you want President Rodrigo Duterte out?

Despite Christmas cheer, many a partygoer worried about the 6,000-and-rising body count in the anti-drug campaign. People also griped about Duterte’s foul language, lately labeling the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights an idiot, along with three out of every five Americans. Oh, and he threatened to “burn down” the UN headquarters in New York.

Of graver concern was his express wish for martial law minus congressional and judicial review now mandated by the Constitution.

Leading critic Sen. Leila de Lima claimed that President Duterte was showing the mental effects of taking Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller normally prescribed to cancer patients. She then urged the Cabinet to declare him unfit for the presidency.

De Lima’s ouster call came two weeks after Vice-President Leni Robredo quit the Cabinet, claiming a plot to oust her as VP, and her Liberal Party allies organized protests over anti-drug killings and the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes).

The latest report of possible regime change came two days ago in this newspaper. The Manila Times chairman Dr. Dante A. Ang cited material from an unnamed source alleging a US plan to remove Duterte, drafted by former Ambassador Philip Goldberg < http://www.manilatimes.net/us-ex-envoy-plotting-duterte-fall-source/303868/ >.

Why all the ouster talk now? Maybe because the election protest of losing VP candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is finally coming up in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, after undue delay. If it prospers, it would derail plans for a Robredo presidency. Which may be why a usually prescient astrologer said that if Duterte rules till after March, he’s safe.

Undoing six months of Digong
But what if he bows out, and the Liberal Party regains power under Robredo? What do we lose by losing him?

Saturday marks six months of Duterte’s rule. In that time, he slashed crime and drugs, and recast relations with America, China and Russia. He also exposed hundreds of officials and police allegedly in cahoots with hoods, including two fraternity brothers just fired after receiving P50 million from a gambling lord.

All that could be undone if Duterte goes.

That would please drug kingpins and their millions of minions and clients, plus thousands of corrupt officials and police protecting narcotics. Also foreign leaders, nations and organizations unhappy with Duterte’s invectives and initiatives, especially the suspect killings and the swing to Russia and China.

What about Filipinos? They elected Duterte mainly to fight crime, and statistics show his campaign has achieved big gains and high approval.

Last week the Philippine National Police reported that total crime was down by 12.4 percent in July-November, compared with the same months in 2015. Index crimes dropped by almost one-third, and nearly all types of crimes against persons and property by double-digits, except killings.

Crimes against property plunged 42.5 percent; also down were rapes (-11.6 percent) and physical injury (-25.7 percent). But with more than 6,000 drug-related deaths, murders surged by half, while homicides dipped only by 1.6 percent.

Assuming the PNP has fixed its crime data mess (see < http://www.manilatimes.net/duterte-must-clean-pnp-crime-data-mess/290583/ >), it seems President Duterte has delivered much of his pledge to eradicate crime.

That performance contrasts with the tripling of incidents under then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd, from 324,083 in 2010 to more than 1 million a year in 2013 and 2014, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Now, imagine if an Aquino-backed leader takes over the presidency, restoring many of his policies and appointees. Would it curb crime?

And contraband, too: Smuggling also tripled to $26.6 billion by 2014, from $7.9 billion in 2009, based on International Monetary Fund trade data.

As Aquino himself admitted in his 2013 State of the Nation Address, guns and drugs flooded in among the thousands of untaxed, uninspected containers, including 2,000-plus vanished in 2011. How do you think recently busted shabu labs got in?

Back to Uncle Sam
Also back to square one if Duterte exits is foreign relations. Aquino’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allows US forces to escalate deployment and use bases in the country, would be fully implemented.

EDCA would make the Philippines a strategic threat to China, with the Seventh Fleet’s nuclear-armed ships, subs, and planes in our territory able to hit most of the mainland. The US Army-funded RAND think-tank believes American and Chinese forces have much incentive to strike first, with bases serving US forces among China’s top targets.

Plus: Aquino’s policy of prodding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take on China, would resume. That Asean tack and the EDCA threat would end the goodwill and assistance recently won in Beijing.

No $50 billion in Chinese projects, and no Filipino fishermen back at Scarborough Shoal. Instead, the People’s Liberation Army would probably start building military-capable facilities at the disputed lagoon 200 km from Subic.

Also resuming would be US-Philippines sea patrols and combat exercises provocative to China. And forget arms deals with Moscow and Beijing. We’ll continue to buy only Western armaments, whose ammunition and spare parts supplies are reportedly now restricted by Washington.

Protected by the President
Of course, Aquino-era politicos would be back in business, including those protecting narco-gangs, and engaging in sleaze, like the airport’s tanim-bala crooks. Investigations of anomalies in the past regime would stop.

Instead of being fired, as Duterte’s fraternity brods were over the P50-million immigration bribery, presidential allies would again enjoy Palace protection, like Aquino’s shooting buddies and partymates. So would shady police: Not the ones burying drug lords, but those backing them.

Now, if adversaries of Duterte’s reforms succeed in taking him out, would the next leaders have the daring, drive and determination to continue his law enforcement, foreign relations, and anti-graft initiatives? Or would they conclude that opponents of change are too tough to beat?

Bottom line: If President Duterte loses to the crime syndicates, corrupt officialdom, and Western powers that want him out, backed by defenders of verbal decorum and funeral propriety — so does the Philippines.


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  1. looking back, what did the Aquino (mother and son) really did to our country? Yes they made us believe democracy really exist BUT the country was thrown into the wolves! From Cory Aquino down to his Son, all the country did was spiral to the abyss.. the common people are suffering the few elites are getting richer. Every Filipino was simply contented and have accepted everything. The idea of a better Philippines was put on the backseat. Then came Duterte..The idea of a better Philippines was suddenly relevant. If you have not lived the life of the common Filipino, you have no right to deny us the change that we want.

  2. The only time Leni Robredo can be President is when ex-President Aquino III plans to assassinate Duterte becomes a success. Then ex-President Aquino III will move to have her ousted too — so that he can make good his boast that he can be a President for life.

    We cannot do anything to stop ex-President Aquino III’s paranoia, but we can certainly pray for the good health and safety of our President.

  3. If PDgong goes and Leni takes over, it will be the end of every Filipino’s dream of change. For sure Leni will be controlled from the outside. She will be a yes-woman to all her masters’ commands, all for their own good. She should have realized from the start that she was just being used. Now she is neck-deep in gratitude to her puppet masters. No matter what she does to flee from the clutch of these manipulative and selfish handlers of her, there is just no escape. And it is already too late for regrets.

  4. “Now, if adversaries of Duterte’s reforms succeed in taking him out, would the next leaders have the daring, drive and determination to continue his law enforcement, foreign relations, and anti-graft initiatives?”

    The answer to your question is “yes”.

    There are more than 100 Million Filipinos.

    Duterte is insane and a communist. How soon can you believe that?

    • Statements like yours make me want to laugh. I read this often in the remarks of anti-Duterte supporters. You label, call him this and that, (insane, communist, mass murderer, etc.) but never go to enough lengths to present your argument in a way that will make any reasonable Duterte supporter at the least, listen to what you have to say. The article presents the arguments backed by facts, so, if you must respond, rise to the level of discourse instead of just shouting labels and prodding the other side into believing an argument that you never bother to build and defend PLEASE!

    • This coming from a man who’s name is taken from the leader of the Nazi’s, a man who’s claim to fame was the annihilation of the Jews? And you think that 100 million Filipino’s want another retard from a line of family who’s only claim to fame was that her husband, who was already fore warned about an assassination plot, who’s wife was whoring around with her cabinet members, who’s daughter is not only a media whore but also a whore in real life, relatives who haven’t done anything but protect their interests, a VP who claims to love her country yet obviously went out of in when an impending storm was coming hitting her own province because the trip was already “scheduled advanced”, a political party who’s only clear intent is to serve their party and the Aquino family… irregardless of what happens to the country. Duterte is the best President to have come out of the shadows ever since Marcos. HANDS DOWN! Get your head out your ass and stop eating your own shit

  5. Oh most definitely, but cheer up :- he definitely has some plans set in motion since his most ardent plea is to protect the next generation. Its The A-holes obviously and not-so-obviously in league with Delima thats the problem.

  6. I feel that of all the Presidents we have had from Emilio Aguinaldo to the Present President, President Digong Duterte, President Duterte is the best of them all. And I hope more Digong Duterte will follow after him.

    God blessed under President Duterte and I hope he will stay for the rest of his tenure. Lets joined him to make country prosper. MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS.

  7. In a perfect world, safeguards would be in place, not only against the possibility of martial law abuse, but also to preempt military adventurism.
    Graduates of the premiere business school in the Phils. the Philippine Millionaire’s Academy should be unable to use military/government logistics to create any disturbance and very strict penalties expected, no push ups, no reintegration, loss of voting rights unless of course, the death penalty is reintroduced.
    Then we will not have grandstanding politicians with messianic and nepotistic tendencies.

  8. Its the Noynoying effect and the Hyatt 10 that actually run this country during Pnoys term. Priority was to put in prison his political enemies. You cannot run a country effectively if you have a president like him. I’d rather have a president a controversial president like Digong running our country with guts and braveness and decisiveness period!

  9. Minus the foul-mouth, I believe President Duterte is still the best to lead and establish the foundation to a better Philippines. In my opinion. the Aquinos have done more harm to the Philippines than strongman FM. The Aquinos’ stench were not exposed because the biggest media outlets were protecting them. Anyone not aligned to the Aquinos were demonized by their ever willing partners in the media which is the most effective way to destroy someone without confirming the veracity of the accusations.

    Among my wish for early 2017 is for PET to tackle FM Jr’s election protest immediately to put an end to the speculations that VP Robredo benefited from the SmartMatic machines’ buggy code.