The Duterte phenomenon


“If you can bear to hear the
truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make
a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you give
your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up
with worn out tools.”
— From “If” by Rudyard Kipling

You’ll probably ask me why it’s Kipling again. The answer is very simple – he is one of my friends on the level of the heart and the mind; just like Robert and John Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Zhou-en-Lai, Vladimir Ilyich known as Lenin, David Ben Gurion, Leon Trotsky, Moammar Khadaffi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Ho Chi Minh, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, Vo Nguyen Giap and Moshe Dayan, Andres Bonifacio and Luis Taruc,

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Robert Frost, Frank Sinatra and Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman and Barbra Striesand, Evita Peron and Margaret Thatcher, Michael Crawford and, of course, the eternal women – Marilyn Monroe and Maria Sharapova, Winston Churchill and Napoleon, and a lot many more.

Every time I read Kipling, Frost and the Kennedys; hear Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand sing my favorite and undying songs; see Marilyn Monroe in the movies and Maria Sharapova playing exciting tennis, my mind and heart vibrate, and the world vibrates with me, singing hosannas to my dreams and their unfolding realization from Diliman Way to the inevitable gateway of the Philippines of tomorrow.

And now to Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte who is a phenomenon in Philippine national politics. He is fresh wind in an environment of graft and corruption, and uncontrolled stupidity. It is just natural that he would catch national attention. But he would have been a perfect nobody were it not for the fact that he is mayor of Davao City. His followers claim that Davao is the most peaceful city in the Philippines because of his mailed fist policy in running after criminals and they want this brought to the national scene to get rid of criminals in high places.

I did not want to write about Duterte yet because he is a fellow Mindanaoan. Besides that, of what I hear of him in radio and from mouth to mouth, not lips to lips; see of him in television; and read of him in the newspapers, he is just not my idea of a man or a national leader. As a matter of fact, if I permanently decide to settle in the old somnolent home town of my father – Catarman, Camiguin – he is the last person on earth, if I have my say, who could be mayor of the town of my choice.

Besides, writing about Duterte, factually and making analysis that possibly could be interpreted by Duterte and his followers as a lot of negatives, constitutes serious danger to life and limb of the analyst because Duterte is known to be a violent vindictive person. With his death squad which many people in Davao City claim to exist and his gutter, vulgar, and bum brown language, which everybody hears the moment he opens his mouth, certainly almost everyone will be afraid of Duterte. But the fact that one is afraid of him is no reason for one not to write about him, unless one wants to be a monk or an idiot. And I have no desire to be either or both!

In the words of one of my most admired writers, Ernest Hemingway, for the crystal simplicity and beautiful and infectious style of his writings: “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is grace under pressure.” When you are trembling in paroxysms of fear with an almost irresistible desire to run away, courage is what tells your heart and mind to stay and fight. And fight you do! That is courage.

Duterte’s contradictions
These past few weeks in the papers and in public speeches, Duterte has become a bundle of contradictions.

In page A7, 2015 issue of the Manila Times, there appears this story with the head, “Duterte will not run for president in 2016.” The pertinent part of the story, reported from Cotabato City, Mindanao states: “Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will not seek the presidency in the elections next year…he denied that he is seeking a higher position.”

The story continues: “In an interview, Duterte said he has several reasons to support his answer. He said members of the Duterte family have vehemently opposed his plan to run for president. He also cited old age as one of the reasons saying, ‘ matanda na ako at tapos na ang aking panahon.’ (I am old already and my time is up.) He also said that he doubts whether he can sustain a massive nationwide campaign that entails billions of pesos of expenses.”

The news report further stated: “When Duterte was asked whether there is a chance that he would change his mind, Duterte politely said, ‘No it is final and my official stand I will not be running anymore for president in 2016.’

In a headline of a Manila daily (not the Manila Times) a few days ago, Duterte said he would implement his plan to organize a revolutionary government the moment he gets elected President.

In page A5 of August 29 of the same Manila Daily, there is a story with the head stating: “Duterte to seek ‘God’s guidance’ on presidential bid.” In the body of the news report, Duterte is quoted to have said before many of his followers: “I have to seek God’s guidance because at the end of the day, it (his presidential bid) will be God’s decision,” the mayor told Dutertistas…”

I was in Camiguin about two weeks ago and I was told by my informant that Duterte was feeling expansive as usual in Bonbon, Catarman, Camiguin, declaring that he would kill and bury the crooks and grafters in the sunken cemetery the moment he becomes President of the Philippines, to the applause of a big crowd of Camiguin voters who have always been voting for the crooks and the grafters in Camiguin. He even mentioned about the certainty of getting elected because he has GOLD BARS WORTH 15 BILLION PESOS which he has yet to liquefy and SENATOR BONGBONG MARCOS HAS EIGHT BILLION PESOS IN CASH.

I do not wish to compound Duterte’s problem. All I can say is res ipsa loquitor – the thing speaks for itself. In a capsule, all these contradictions define Duterte as a possible candidate as President of the Philippines.

Duterte and other presidential wannabes are sources of worry for the citizen.

I am not worried about my analysis of the national situation and the reaction of the presidential wannabes. I am worried about the citizen and this country because the wannabes treat this country as though it is a psychiatric ward and the citizens are a bunch of fools.

Just examine the statements of these presidential wannabes. Not so long ago, Mar Roxas told the mayor of Tacloban City that the mayor should remember that he is only a Romualdez and the President of the Philippines is an Aquino. What distorted thinking so representative of traditional politicians and members of the luxuriating upper classes. To rub wounds of the typhoon victims, Mar Roxas had the effrontery to reply (like his boss BS Aquino) to a complaining Yolanda victim that after all, he should be glad that he is still alive.

This is the kind of thinking that renders Mar Roxas unfit to be President of the Philippines.

Take the case of VP Jojo Binay. He is a lawyer and a UP College of Law graduate yet he had the effrontery to defend political dynasties even it is mandated by the Constitution that political dynasties are anathema to a democratic society and a law should be passed erasing the practice and the concept. Just a few days ago, in an effort to get the support of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) in the coming May 2016 elections, if it comes, he said that the INC members were correct in demonstrating by maintaining that the investigation of the complaint of an INC leader is a case of interference of the State in religious affairs because there is separation of church and state. VP Binay should be grateful that the great comedian, DOLPHY, is dead because if DOLPHY were alive he would tell Jojo Binay straight on his face, “Dassa lot of nonsense!”

On top of these, Jojo Binay has a Mount Everest of charges against him for plunder involving graft and corruption. Of what I have heard and seen of the evidence against him in the Senate hearings, he should be spending his next fifty years in jail.

These render Jojo Binay unfit to be President of the Philippines!

There is Senator Grace Poe. She has admitted she is yet preparing to handle the presidency of the Philippines – meaning she is not prepared but still making the rounds hoping a miracle to be produced by Social Weather Station (owned by her uncle) and Pulse Asia with the aid of mainstream media. Besides, she is not a natural born citizen because she became an American citizen and then acquired Philippine citizenship. There is a world of difference between a natural born citizen and a naturalized citizen. Unfortunately for Grace, the Constitution requires as qualification to run for President is that one must be a natural born Filipino citizen.

Based on her own admissions, she is unfit, for now, to be President of the Philippines. She should undergo a seminar for six years on how to be President.

Let us talk about Senator Bongbong Marcos. He wants to ride to the presidency on the name of his father and on his version of the BBL. Well, Bongbong is not even the shadow of his father and his version of the BBL is nothing new and different from the Buang Buang Law. Bongbong should undergo, like Grace Poe, a seminar for six years on how to become President of the Philippines. But by then, both of them would have become moot and academic.

And going back to Rodrigo Duterte — Well, let the man speak for himself. At the rate he is ranting on a revolutionary government, using vulgar and gangster language, involving himself in a lot of contradictions, except for his fanatical followers, in my assessment, the man, like all the other wannabes, is unfit to be President.

Then, what is the alternative? A Constitutional Transition Government which I will explain in full one of these days. For the moment you are just getting snippets, with my accompanying apology to my readers that I have, for the moment, put aside my continuing column on Ninoy Aquino to give way to more important matters.


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  1. Ano ba hanap nyo sa isang LIDER ngayon? PABEBE? Given the situation of our country we have.. Ano naman ang kayang ipagmalaki ng mga PABEBENG WANNABE LIDERS dyan compare to more than 20 YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE ni Duterte? Tested and proven he converted the notorious Davao City into safest city of the world.. Davao lang ang may 911 rescue team at kumpleto pa sa gamit at may high tech facility with CCTV Monitoring round-the-clock.. Kaya kung may pangyayari nakuha sa CCTV agad2x naaksyonan dahil may police visibilty din.. DON’T JUDGE DUTERTE ACCORDING TO ABOUT HIS CHARACTER.. JUDGE HIM ACCORDING TO HIS WILL AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.. “Never send a SHEEP to kill a WOLF, send a LION instead..”

  2. How can anyone vote for a president who carries a gun and threatens to (illegally) shoot a man in the balls for breaking a smoking ban? You cannot be serious!!!

  3. We all have to understand that what we immediately need right now, i mean ASAP is a man with enormous political will to change & discipline the public and no one from presidentiables has the biodata like Rody Duterte. Let’s vote & put him in the palace and allow him to clean the government & at the same time instill discipline among the Filipinos.
    Mar Roxas – kulang ang experience sa pamumuno at ugaling elitista!
    Grace Poe – obvious naman na hilaw na hilaw pa. kwestyunable pa ang citizenship.
    Jojo Binay – sus grabe naman kung ito pa ang maging presidente. baka Bankrupt na agad tayo.
    Bongbong M – may experience bilang kongresista at gobernador. hinog na rin ito pero parang malambot at kulang sa political will.
    Rody Duterte – kung ikumpara natin sya sa lahat sa itaas, walang tatapat talaga kay Digong. may kahinaan at pagkakamali din ito syempre pero sya yung may talento na mas kailanganin ng taongbayan ngayon!

  4. Everyone of us (that includes me) is rooting for a change. Lets face it. Yes, the Marcos Dictatorship put a major impact on us that we need freedom. After the dictator, we got all the freedom we need. Infact, robbing our country was put into the law. I am talking about the PDAF. Courts said that that is unconstitutional… When??? Last year? isnt that PDAF was been in existence from the very beginning and the main reason why more and more congressman are dying on that position because of the “pork barrel”

    Now, on the candidates, we all have issues on them. But I think the most logical choice (i think) is Duterte. Why?

    We are craving for “change” i mean REAL CHANGE. Its funny though that we escaped on the dictator, now it seems like Fillipinos needs to have a very strict leader. I think it is something to do with the “pasaway”. From the government down to the citizen.

    I have been in Davao and saw how a place can be super progressive by making the “LAW and ORDER” is on top of every priority of a politician.

    I have been sent to a seminar and fined because of the “anti-smoking ban”, come to think of it, i am in an open space (major road) with no people but was caught by their CCTV. It was devastating and humiliating but it felt like i deserve it and it changed the way i understand what “LAW” is all about.

    I cannot explain why or how but somehow, you start to understand that you are free but you need to abide and RESPECT the law.

    Here in Manila, i can easily get away with swerving by bribing MMDA’s because you see it in their body languages that they need to be bribed. In fairness, they are courteous enough to say “Salamat Sir. Ingat kayo sir”. After they got what they want.

    As long as “WE” know that we can easily get away with these laws, we can do anything and besides, “WE” Filipinos are compassionate enough to each other and settle with the “win-win” situation. In common language, MONEY MATTERS.

    As long as the Filipino people can challenge the law without the LAW being strictly implemented and toothless. We are still be the same undisciplined Filipino as we used to be. We are all being

    So going back to the Presidentiables:

    Binay – full of graft and corruption allegations.
    Poe – Citizenship issue and is too soft.
    Mar – So excited to be the President of the RP since the last presidential elections that he must have to go for Mr. Palengke, Pedicab Driver, Carpintero, Traffic enforcer etc. Now, he put himself in the situation that he has this “image issue” plus the fact that he is a “Royal Araneta Blood” or “Rich” in nature. From there comes the entrance of the “TRAPO” style image.

    Duterte – his image is a killer or a vigilante to the criminals. A tough talking Mayor who swears right infront of public, and he is close to the leftist. But his certificate or proof of his character is DAVAO CITY. Which is very different on the Makati of Binay that he claims that “he made makati rich”. Makati is rich because of the Ayalas. Everybody knows that. Unlike DAVAO, a former killing field place in Mindanao and now the central business district in Mindanao.

    This reminds me of the great Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. How he transformed Singapore from a 3rd world country swamps and mudflat to the central hub of Southeast Asia.

    For me, what do they have in common?
    – Conviction
    – believer of the LAW and ORDER
    – Bilingual (Lee can speak Chinese, Malay and English while Duterte can speak Visayan, tagalog and English) which translates to communication and negotiation whether locally or internationally.
    – supports the ideology of the left
    – Political will
    – RESULTS.

    As Lee Kuan Yew once said to the Philippines:

    “This was a pity because they had so many able people, educated in the Philippines and the United States. Their workers were English-speaking, at least in Manila. There was no reason why the Philippines should not have been one of the more successful of the ASEAN countries. ”

    “In November 1992, I visited [Ramos]. In a speech to the 18th Philippine Business Conference, I said, ‘I do not believe democracy necessarily leads to development. I believe what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy.’ In private, President Ramos said he agreed with me that British parliamentary-type constitutions worked better because the majority party in the legislature was also the government. Publicly, Ramos had to differ. ”

    My bottomline is that Filipinos must be ruled by a person whom they can respect and follow. That is where only change will happen in this country.

    They always say to: “Vote Wisely”.

    I say: VOTE FOR YOUR FUTURE and VOTE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. That i think is more on a long term basis.

    • I beg to disagree with you Mr. eyemhike, that Duterte is a believer of the LAW and order. He puts the law into his own hands, openly. Duterte is the law in Davao City. Can he still do the same in the entire country?

  5. Napakaling bagay ang peace and order at disiplina para umunlad ang isang lugar or bansa. Ito ay napatunayan na ni Duterte sa Davao. Dapat natin siyang suportahan na manalo sa 2016 Presidential eleksiyon kung gusto nating umahon sa kahirapan.

    • Bonifacio Claudio on

      Peace & order at disiplina was put into place during the New Society. But alas, Marcos got bedridden due to fatal disease. It was then that there came about the thug of war of power play that led to the sliding back of the country to the ways of the Old Society where the poor gets poorer and the rich richer. The elites have their best of times and the poor the worst of times. The elites have installed False Heroes and the poor were made to renounce their very own True Hero. Indeed, this Yellow Regime is the best of times and the worst of times.

  6. I share the view of the brilliant writer and lawyer, Atty. Homobono Adaza. I will never vote for Rody Duterte base from the statements of Duterte himself. Res ipsa loquitor

  7. Attorney, how can we even begin to talk about who to vote for when the very process of voting is uncertain, in shambles? Are we willing to vote using the PCOS system again without the safeguards of law being followed? By this column are you not implicitly saying that our current voting system/process is credible?

  8. From what i understand in one of his interview. According to him (Duterte),his opt for ‘revolutionary government’ (if he will be president) is with a condition that only if traditional politician will stand in his way for his govt. reforms, including calling for ConCon. But those pronouncements are not guarantees, said he.

    Sir i am interested and i will be waiting for your explanation regarding your alternative of a ‘Constitutional Transition Government’.

  9. Atty. Bono ur correct with ur assessment but do we have other choice? then you are proposing a constitutional transition gov’t but who do you think will still be there? believe me or not sila sila pa rin or maybe you are referring to evil society groups. IT’S A SAME EVIL!!!. in view of we have no choice because all of them are EVIL we have to choose the lesser evil but capable of leading this country to genuine development. from the presidential wannabe I have only two assessment

    Glamour, puro porma but lesser evil (no political will and actions)

    Roxas and Poe

    with political will, act accordingly but evil

    Binay and Duterte

    So whom you will choose now? wag mo ng ipagpilitan yung proposal mo dahil baka lalo pang lumala ang sitwasyon ng Pilipinas…

  10. If you want prison standard, then vote for Binay.
    If you want OJT standard, then vote for Poe.
    If you want PNoy standard, then vote for Roxas.
    If you want international standard, then vote for Duterte.

  11. May the best man win.. none of them is perfect for president, choose the one who is closest to perfect.. I know you had..

  12. Dear Atty. Adaza,

    I respect your opinion, but you seemed to be too idealistic on who will be the next president. You are like wishing for an angel to be our next president. Let us use our instinct to decide on who we should vote because intelligence like what you have may not be enough. First, why i am going to cast my vote to an angel but have no chance to win on election? and who among those winnable has the better ways of leading the country? I’m sure you will say its Roxas (my second choice),but he is like following the old system of government that does not suit for our country. Duterte offers a new form of government, a hope for a change and has the balls to implement. No one among those winnables has the strong image like duterte.

  13. I agree with your writing about Duterte, Atty Adaza. I hope and pray for Filipinos to wake up and make the right choice for our next leader. Duterte’s gangster and criminal acts and ways will make the situation of our country worse. Will he be able to represent the Philippines internationally? I don’t think so. All he has is guts but he’s intellectually low. Many admire Duterte because the people are so sick of the injustice, corruption, and crimes that are going on. Electing Duterte as president or even as VP would be the biggest mistake the FIlipinos would commit… imagine from a president who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome to someone who is a gangster who openly talks of his killing and inhumane acts. May God bless the Philippines!

    • From my view, To question duterte’s intelligence is absurd and ridiculous. Mind you ms. Abbymil, he is a lawyer by profession and had been a prosecutor for 10 years. He spit fiery words because this country needs a reformer who have fire in his belly.

  14. chuckles…
    Bono is campaigning for something else, hence, from his perspective no one neither Roxas, nor Binay, nor Poe, nor Duterte fits to be elected President

    • because he thinks only one who is fit to become the President of the Philippines. HIMSELF!!!. hay mga tao dito sa Pilipinas puro self interest ang nasa isip.

  15. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Atty. Bono is a UPian, his pen in red ink. Mar and Grace do not deserve the presidency. In as far as Binay is concerned, the evidences presented so far in the senate have been contradictory and a pigment of the mind of those wanting to put him down. They have to substantiate their allegations of anomalies by way of coming out with those they claim as partners or dummies of Binay. As piles and piles of garbage , in as far as documents and information are concerned and power pointed the more people may lean back to him. If the investigators have good evidences, present them in court so that due process is observed. Not trial by publicity. God bless the Philipppines.

  16. Antonio Abanco on

    People who want to discover who Duterte is may go out and dig the following issues: (1) Ampatuan Connection. An Amaptuan killed the grandson of a former Davao city treasurer, an Ampatuan figured in a slapping incident, and the Ampatuans managed to enter high-powered arms to the city. NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT THESE. (2) Before becoming vice-mayor, PAOLO Duterte was jobless but he managed to build two big houses, had bodyguards, flashy cars, etc. He is a good friend of the famous BAKTIN nga kuno giwanted sa iyang amahan (may bounty pa!) and in the past was publicly known, although in hush-hush, as dumping drugs at Palm Drive. Sa dihang nakigbulag siya kang Lovelie Sangkola, ang iyang unang asawa, gihatag niya ang tanang hangyo sa babaye kay gihulga sya nga isuka ang tanang nahibaw-an sa iyang kanhing asawa. (3) Gidaot ni Duterte si kanhi city mayor Ben de Guzman tungod sa Artica Dome nga kuno kini anomalos. Pagkahuman sa imbestigasyon, walay nakitang sayop. Mao kini ang usa ka ehemploy sa iyang pagka-bengatibo. (4) Kapin usa kalibo ka tawo ang namatay sa street shooting sa Davao sulod sa napulo ka tuig apan wala gayod hatagig kinig hustisya. (5)Kabahin siya sa daghang mga monopolya sa syudad nga iyang gipadala sa dummies. Morag Binay pud. PIPILA LANG NI SA MGA BUTANG dapag masayran sa Filipino voters.

  17. Justaskingseriously on

    Grace is not a natural born citizen. She should take a six-year seminar on how to be president. “Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…” A fish is caught by its own mouth. Beware, Grace, of the fisherman who wants to hook you for the vice presidency. Every fish is a potential fool. Duterte is not fit to be president. Junior Marcos should likewise take a six-year seminar on how to be president. Your “Buang Buang Law” has made the Maranaos buang buang too. The fisherman is also hooking you to be Duterte’s VP. The thing about knaves is that it can easily be another thing by replacing “a” with the egotistic “I”. It wasn’t Ernie Maceda who cannot be trusted with a secret, because the secret is outed by someone else.

  18. george del rosario on

    Hi mr.adaza,
    your comments about these presidential wannabes is nothing new. … perhaps a continuing column on ninoy aquino is more interesting. thanks and best regards.

  19. Atty. Bono, I will forgive you for not dwelling on Sen. Aquino as you promised last time. I have been waiting with intense interest on the sequel of your story. Please tell us some more. These are gems of history never have been, and will never be published in any book. More power!

    • I, too, am waiting with eager anticipation Bono’s continuation of his column on Ninoy Aquino. Incidentally you might find the following interesting which touched on the Sabah issue during a forum conducted by Hermes Dorado, former head, National Territory Division, DFA: