THIS is how we and the whole world will call Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte starting from today.
What will he tell us in his televised inauguration speech—which only 500 people of his choosing will witness and hear in person?
It will most likely no longer be punctuated with cuss words but instead soothe us with words of inspiration, urging us to be with him in curing the problems of our society and the sicknesses of our economy, and in repairing the flaws in our social structures.
He has promised to end the dominance of criminals and drug lords within six months. And soon after he got elected last May, our country’s police units—without waiting for Mr. Duterte to assume office as President—went to work and finished off or arrested more than 200 drug lords and street gang members. One can imagine how drug- and crime-free the Philippines will be, earning a shining reputation throughout the world, within the first year of the Duterte presidency.
We pray for similar results in the fight against smugglers and corrupt officials. Corruption and smuggling must be greatly diminished if the Duterte administration will have the funds to make a dent in the most painful of our social problems—massive poverty. The fact that 26 percent of our population are really so poor as to miss meals and to have no medicine for their many and poverty-caused illnesses is not only embarrassing for a supposedly Christian-majority country. It is also a reason for our failure to become more productive and efficient in overcoming poverty itself.
We expect a Duterte administration to pursue policies that will encourage more Filipinos to venture into honest entrepreneurship and prod existing companies to greater business and industrial productivity. We are cheered to hear from the people he has chosen to take charge of economic policy that, at last, the national government will do something about reviving our agriculture, nourishing agribusiness and resurrecting plans for Philippine industrialization. It is these departments of the economy that create real, numerous and substantial jobs and make long-lasting contributions to Philippine economic strength.
We have learned from his chosen Agrarian Reform Secretary that true and authentic changes will be introduced. We foresee this correct way of addressing our peasantry’s centuries-old oppression to be painful to the landlords. But we see that, at last, the just solution to the land problem that South Korea and Taiwan applied, and which our former Presidents—especially the late Ramon Magsaysay—attempted, will now become a reality in our country. It may be a bit too late—as our peasants are old and have no more sons who are willing to farm the land that agrarian reform will make theirs—for these sons are now happily earning money abroad as OFWs.
Still, giving the peasants real ownership of the land they farm will give them the morale boost needed by our republic to experience a new surge of enthusiasm for its existence. And besides, with titles to their land, farmers will no longer be so easy for landlords to cheat when they form agricultural corporations without having the farmer-tillers as co-owners.
We do not expect President Duterte’s speech to be a piece destined to become a classic for its beauty. We hope he will clearly spell out for us as to where he will lead us. And how he will, with our willing and enthusiastic participation, correct all the social inequities that six years of BS Aquino’s presidency—and Liberal Party control of both Houses of Congress—have added to the old injustices we have been enduring for years and years.
We expect him to recommit us, Filipinos, to the ideals of a free, sovereign, well-governed, corruption-free Republic of the Philippines. And we will most happily make that recommitment.