WE are seeing, rather hearing, a different Digong Duterte nowadays. It is not that I miss the trash-talking mayor of Davao City curse and cuss and pull away ladies to force his mouth into theirs.
Now that the word “President” is appended to his name, Duterte is expected to act presidential. After partial and unofficial tally of the votes cast in the May 9 balloting showed him clearly winning the five-person presidential race, Duterte has apparently transformed, at least that’s what we see on television.
The video of Duterte weeping before his mother’s grave was probably intended to show his human side, far from the persona of one who has admitted to killing criminals and who had cursed the amiable Pope Francis just because he was caught in traffic jams on his way to the airport.
He must have wept because he was overwhelmed with the wide lead he enjoyed early in the unofficial counting of the votes. Or he must have implored upon them for guidance as he embarks on his new role as the father of the country.
Stories that came out in the last few days about Duterte being a strict but caring father was different from the Digong who dismissed his daughter’s claim of having been a victim of rape and called her a “drama queen.”
An interview of his soft-spoken common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña describing Duterte as the spoiler to their 11-year-old daughter Veronica is far from the tough and trash-talking mayor of Davao City who did not mince words in warning drug traders when he wins.
I did not vote for Duterte. I did not want him to become president. I even tried to convince some relatives, friends, and his other supporters to take a second look at their choice and consider my choice for president.
But then, although the official tally by Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers has yet to begin on May 23, Duterte’s rivals have already conceded the race to him based on the PPCRV’s unofficial count. He has clearly emerged as the winner in last Monday’s balloting.
The best thing to do now is to accept defeat, accept that more Filipinos prefer him to be the country’s leader, and cooperate where we can to bring about the change that everybody wants to have.
Let us give Duterte a chance to prove his projection as a doer, and the nemesis of criminals and drug traders.
However, accepting Duterte’s victory in the elections does not automatically mean agreeing to whatever he does as President. While supporting his initiatives, we should remain vigilant against abuses and still question policies and unfit appointments.
It seems that people have raised too high expectations on the incoming President. Just like in 2010, we had hoped that the Aquino presidency would, as his campaign slogan promised, put an end to poverty and stomp out corruption. “Walang mahirap kung walang corrupt” and the Daang Matuwid mantra raised too much hopes and, with the exposes on the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, we ended up disgruntled in spite of the performance of the economy that has earned praises from international agencies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, as well as reputable international business magazines like The Economist and Time.
This time, the image of the Philippines before the international community is not as welcoming as in 2010 because of Duterte’s links with the vigilante group Davao Death Squad, as well as his admission of immoral acts like womanizing, cursing at almost every sentence, and a cheater.
As his six-year term begins at noon on June 30, we can only hope that Duterte will show his real self, he who honors his word and says what he means, without having to explain or clarify later on.
Duterte should start this with a truthful declaration of what he has in his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) in the last elections that he has to submit to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) by June 9, and his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) on June 30.
Duterte must convince us in his SOCE and SALN that he is indeed an honest public servant who did not cheat the government and the people. He should convincingly debunk the claim of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that he has unexplained wealth stashed in his joint bank accounts with his daughter Sara, the mayor of Davao City.
Rodrigo Duterte is no longer the mayor of Davao City’s 1.9 million people. He is now President of the 110 million Filipinos.
He could no longer afford to be seen as a narcissist or a psychopath, but a decisive leader who gets things done.
His success is our success as a country and as Filipinos. We ought to engage and do our part as responsible citizens. As I have often said, we ought to start change from ourselves.