Why Duterte should run

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Before anything else, it’s important to stress that this article is not arguing for anyone to become president. Just in case the title isn’t clear, this column gives reasons for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to contest the presidency, and not necessarily to win it.

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Let this writer also stress that one is not in the service of any candidate. Nor has one decided which presidentiable to support, for the simple reason that those contending for the top post won’t be known until after the October 16 deadline for filing certificates of candidacy. More important: one cannot decide whom to support without studying candidates’ platforms and listening to their pronouncements.

Still, there are some pluses for the nation if Mayor Duterte contests the most powerful position in the land, whether or not he wins.

First, he would be the first Mindanaoan to contest the presidency, judging from reported lists of candidates since the Third Philippine Republic in 1946. If there may be one or two southerners missed in the lists, Duterte would still be the first serious contender from the island, ranking third or fourth in recent surveys.

Since Mindanao has long been largely neglected, if not disadvantaged in national governance, Duterte’s candidacy would give the region and its concerns and interests long-overdue national prominence. For one thing, media cannot but talk about Mindanao in the course of profiling Duterte and covering his campaign.

Duterte would, of course, raise Mindanao issues in his campaign. So must his rivals, if only to avoid conceding to the Davao leader those southern voters who would tend to support one of their own. Moreover, if Duterte is the only one with comprehensive and solid initiatives for the south, he could take the region by default.

One more plus in having a Mindanao presidentiable: Seeing one of its stalwarts aspire for leadership of the nation would boost the island’s feeling of being part of the Philippines. And given the current unhappiness of Mindanaoans, whether Christian, Lumad or Muslim, toward the government, national unity gains from enhancing the region’s sense of belonging to the Republic through a viable candidate from the south.

Federalism deserves a national voice
Reason No. 2 for a Duterte candidacy: He would present the case for federalism on the national stage. Normally, constitutional change of any sort isn’t an advocacy to turn voters’ heads. But packaged with a slew of policies and initiatives to channel more power and resources from so-called Imperial Manila to less endowed and empowered provinces and regions, it can get Filipinos at least thinking seriously about federalism.

That would be a plus. Among various charter change proposals, it may be one of the most worthwhile. By reducing the national government’s control over power and resources, it would help lessen the abuse, corruption, and electioneering at the top, especially by the Executive and Legislative branches.

This has been the bane of Philippine politics: the massive power and money at the national level, which prods political parties to conduct no-holds-barred, money-no-object campaigns to snare the presidency and all the spoils that go with it, including the flocking of opportunistic politicians to the winner’s party.

Those excesses have reached post-EDSA record levels under President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Smuggling trebled from $7.9 billion in 2009 to $26.6 billion last year, based on International Monetary Fund trade data, and exceeded P4 trillion since 2010, with revenue losses topping P760 billion.

Pork barrel also leapt from about P9 billion in 2009 to more than P20 billion a year under Aquino. Plus billions of pesos in dubious contracts and programs in the Metro Rail Transit, military helicopters, police rifles, and others.

With the Aquino regime having shown how to rob the people blind and still keep high survey ratings, finding a way to reduce presidential and congressional clout is a must. Federalism would help do that, while giving more control and cash to regional leaders, who know better about and can be held more accountable by their constituencies.

Duterte is arguably the best advocate for federalism at this time. His success in running and building up Davao City, which is actually the size of a province, shows that given ample clout, regional leaders can govern well. His Mindanao roots also highlight how federalism could advance peace with Muslim rebels, whose demand for more autonomy may be more acceptable under a federal system.

Give voters a wider choice
A third reason to wish for a Duterte candidacy is choice. Voters’ choice, to be exact. Stretching the range of candidates beyond big family names and traditional politicos is good for democracy, especially if the newcomers give the establishment a good run for their ballots.

Duterte looks set to do that, and even if he loses, he would encourage future would-be national leaders to challenge the old guard thriving on name recognition, nationwide networks of longstanding loyalties, and massive campaign spending.

Having Duterte on the ballot would also afford an alternative choice for citizens who may want to choose Senator Grace Poe, but might lose that option to disqualification. Those voters presumably are not keen on Vice-President Jejomar Binay or Aquino man Mar Roxas, and prefer a candidate other than those two.

With Duterte and even without Poe, the electorate would not be left with the longtime head of what is allegedly an immensely corrupt city government, and the standard bearer of the ruling administration marred by unprecedented sleaze (details above under the Federalism subheading), crime (triple 2009 levels to 1 million-plus incidents a year), and insensitivity to the plight of the people (just ask Metro Rail Transit commuters burdened by MRT anomalies, Yolanda victims still homeless after two years, and the bereaved families of 44 police commandos killed on Aquino’s botched Mamasapano mission).

Come May, will Duterte stand for Mindanao, federalism, and electoral choice? Let’s hope the mayor and his family ponder the decision well, and choose the best course for the nation and democracy.

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38 Comments

  1. Whatever Duterte’s plethora of reasons for not running for President has to be respected by everyone. Let us move on and accept the inescapable reality that there are few options left for us to choose in earnest the lesser evil….GOD BLESS the Philippines….!

  2. Micoy Madocdoc on

    Nakakahinayang naman… Gustong – gusto ko pa naman ang tambalang duterte-cayetano! Sana magbago pa isip mo duterte… para sa tunay na pagbabago!

  3. CarlhenJoy Perez on

    Hays. Naeexcite pa naman ako pareng duterte sa pagtakbo mo!
    Bet ko pa naman ang tambalang Duterte-Cayetano for 2016!
    Hays. Sana matuloy pa. Maghihintay kame hanggang Oct. 15! God bless po

  4. John Mark Timay on

    Let’s still vote him by writing his name on that ballot. We don’t care if it will not be recognized by the machine but well… let’s see what will happen. This will be awesome.

  5. Duterte should run because he can walk the talk. He does his job.
    He can talk from poor to rich. From rigllht to left. In short, he can unite people while doing his job. He is not selective, not a bigot.
    Mar and LP are selective. He opted for aquino than helping us, the yolanda victims.
    Poe can talk and can talk only. She didn’t know the problems of PH because she grew up and live most of her life in US, that’s why she said she needs to research and ask advisors.
    Binay has always been corrupt.

    Duterte has a simple lifestyle that’s why he can feel most of the Filipinos. We’ve seen it when he opened his house to us through rappler. He is compassionate and helps the needy even w/out the camera. I am a yolanda victim, and the rest of leyte will never forget what he did for us. We are still hopeful for him to run.

  6. Your Excellency President Rody Duterte
    Please save the Filipino People from losing the following Money to corruption:
    Approved 2016 budget is 3 trillion- 3,000,000,000,000

    If 20% goes to Corruption= 600 Billion
    If 30% goes to Corruption=900 Billion
    If 40% goes to Corruption= 1.2 trillion
    Multiply these By 6 years
    Please do the Math
    This is the reason why all these trapos are dyeing to to run for any Public office.
    Please make Up your mind.
    COC filing is 3 days away.

  7. I’m planning to register here in UAE to vote but if Duterte will not run it’s better not to vote this coming election….

  8. My problem with Federalism is that it is another western idea lifted from a political science textbook. Can you name one western political idea that has worked wonders for the Philippines? We don’t have the experience for it, and those countries who have adopted it started by having existing states first, then these states decided to federate to form one country. How will we go about it, by forming the states first, or by federating first then forming the states later, or to do both simultaneously? Won’t we look like amateurs experimenting with the unfamiliar, or worse, chimps trying to run the zoo which is what our country already looks like today? We have an institution that is indigenous to us, something we already had long before the West brought its poison to our shores, and that is the barangay. There is nothing more grassroots than the barangay, therefore nothing can be more democratic and representative of the people. Our political system must be based on it. Of course the present elitist, aristocratic based system cannot be expected to adopt its own poison, so therefore this must be imposed by force. As your colleague Bobby Tiglao said a few days ago, no nation state was ever formed without the use of violence. But first, we need the right kind of leader. Sino sa mga tumatakbo ngayon ang merong DIBDIB para sa ganitong laban? Si Binay kaya meron?

    • Thank you for your comment, Amnata Pundit. Neither am I a pundit. So let me just refer those interested in federalism as proposed for the Philippines to these studies by true experts in the subject:
      1) “Some Advantages of Federalism and Parliamentary Government for the Philippines,” by former University of the Philippines President Jose Abueva, available at:
      http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/Abueva-Federalism.pdf
      2) “Federalism Initiatives in the Philippines”, by Elyzabeth F. Cureg and Jennifer F. Matunding of the U.P. Center for Local Governance.
      Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment, Amnata Pundit. Neither am I a pundit. So let me just refer those interested in federalism as proposed for the Philippines to these studies by true experts in the subject:
      1) “Some Advantages of Federalism and Parliamentary Government for the Philippines,” by former University of the Philippines President Jose Abueva, available at:
      http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/Abueva-Federalism.pdf
      2) “Federalism Initiatives in the Philippines”, by Elyzabeth F. Cureg and Jennifer F. Matunding of the U.P. Center for Local Governance, available at:
      http://localgov.up.edu.ph/uploads/1/4/0/0/14001967/cureg_and_matunding_federalism_initiatives_in_the_philippines.pdf
      Thank you.

  9. Mr. Saludo, I can understand where you are coming from knowing the articles you have written. You’re right most Filipinos are not aware of the candidates genuine platforms and their pronouncements. The question should be, “When will the media push for a debate of these candidates for president”? The purpose is really to see their competence and to see the results after the debate. There are a number of issues on the table and we Filipinos need to know what their answers or solutions will be.

    I am sure the country will move on without Duterte not to belittle his capability. The clamor for Duterte to run or even to bring the Marcoses back to power is as a result of frustrations amongst the population because of a number of issues that were brought about by corruption which I believe can’t be blame on one administration alone as this will just invite endless debate and rhetoric without solution.

    I would like to see the candidates present their solutions in improving the economy, tourism, light, medium and heavy industries, central bank reserve, banking institutions report on economy, transparency rating of the country, governance, business communities pulse, strengthening of the institutions such as BIR, customs, justice, strengthening armed forces to counter enemies, more efficient and effective deployment of OFWs, social welfare, road and railway infrastructures, efficient transportations, airports and ports improvement, PPP projects, education, weather forecasting, safety and quality programs for various industries, environment, etc.

    Hope to hear your answer and/or comments.

    • Thank you for your comments, JRT. There are planned debates among presidential candidates; hopefully all will join. In 2010, all major contenders did, and former Secretary and Congressman Gilbert Teodoro topped most polls done right after the debates.
      However, campaign platforms are just one criterion in choosing for whom to vote. A solid record of governance is perhaps more important: platforms can be churned out by experts, but not years or decades of exemplary public service.
      A final note: governance platform and record tend to matter little in Philippine election outcomes. Media projection, grassroots campaigning, and since 2010, the black box of automated elections far outweigh policy issues. President Benigno Aquino 3rd avoided campaign debates, but won by a landslide. Thank you.

  10. the clamor from all walks of life for Mayor Duterte to run is overwhelming. He must run for President. Metro Manila is already crowded. With Federalism, there will be balance of power to all regions and people will get employed in their respective regions instead of crowding Metro Manila. #Duterte2016

  11. With Duterte’s final decision not to seek the presidency this 2016, the Filipinos’ choice is being reduced to three strong bets and what is sure is Roxas can’t win because of his mediocre leadership. His preference to support the incumbent local officials as LP standard bearers will ultimately backfire and will damage his credibility further. Unless of course if Hocus-PCOS machinery will have its way. Whether Binay or Grace P. Llamanzares will get elected, I believe they will not finish their term. Binay might be impeached or in the case for Llamanzares, she will eventually be disqualified. The vice presidency is a toss up between Escudero and Bongbong Marcos. I have a hunch that Bongbong will win a closely contested VP race. It will be a revival of Marcos family’s political destiny as he will succeed the presidency. His term will be crucial since there is a feared global political and financial turmoil in the next decade which therefore needs a strong presidency. A strong presidency is very difficult for a sitting president without clear political mandate in both houses of Congress and in the local oficialdom. Take note Bongbong has no political line-up down to the municipal level. In this case he should exercise gritty negotiating acumen and lots of charisma to sway people to his side.

  12. In his heart, Mayor Duterte wants to run for the presidency. But he is also pragmatic and discerning, as he fully understood what is at stake if he decides to run. First, he (the Duterte’s) may very well lose the mayoral position in Davao City being Sara Duterte hesitant to re-enter politics at present. Second, his son, the vice mayor Paolo Duterte is not capable to win as mayor of the city, he is expected to lose vs. Karlo Nograles if they run against each other. Third, his financial backers in the city is also against him running as president. They said he dont need the presidency. They are content operating their businesses in the locality.

    • The only chance that the mayor will gun the presidency is to make sure that Sara will accept the mayoralty, this may be as sacrificed to her part for the common good, but will pave the way for her father to served the whole country. The mayor knows he may loss the Presidency but he is prepared to accept that. But losing Davao city in the process to another uncleaned hands is never an option to him.

      That is the gig-saw puzzle that he needs to solved before the deadline of filing the COC. Sara Duterte is the big rock at the center of the tunnel, making impossible to glimpse even an ounce of light.

  13. Damn!!!Only Duterte can make radical change in this country. Sabi nga ni Heneral Luna “kung magiging isang bansa man tayo ay kaylangan natin ng radical na paabago”…

  14. Correct ! If only to make the distasteful fare being offered on the Presidential plate, people like DU30 should run for the Presidency. Roxas ? Binay ? Poe ? Pamatong ? Syjuco ? Sus naman ! Sabi nga ni Achilles in the movie Troy, “Is there no one else ?” Tanong ng maraming Pinoy, “Wala na bang ibang matino naman ?”

    • adonis b. rocha on

      Meron naman, bukod kay Duterte, note folks Dogong Duterte has no monopoly of ideas for the Philippines, not his federalism, it is not the one size fits all, its more of a delusion. Take a closer look at the neighbor Malaysia, a federation of states, forced down their throats by the British empire. The poor states becomes more poorer and the power and money is concentrated with the central government still. The Filipinos mindset being of the same Malay race wont be any different.

      Duterte’s program is but a poor hodgepodge taken from Ping Lacson’s advocacy sans federalism. Long before Digong have been trumpeting such agenda, Ping Lacson has been doing it already at the government service, PNP and the senate, aside fighting and exposing corruption to the highest levels of government, that in the end Ping Lacson became the most hated of the Arroyo regime and even the Ramos administration. Another advocate for reform is none other than Miriam Santiago. All the wannabes are but “little mice”, no balls all airs.

  15. With Duterte track record in Davao, that is what we need in the Philippines. 30 years ago, Davao is not a peaceful place, now it is one of the safest city to live. Even my friend who was born in Davao does not to live there. Unfortunately we Pilipinos are not disciplined people. Look at the crime, drugs, traffic shootings. Very scary place to live.

  16. There’s no one worth voting for if Duterte won’t run so I’ll probably skip voting altogether.

    • Then that is not a good decision. What will happen to our country if Binay wins? The more we will be in chaos with his corrupt government. The best solution is to choose the lesser evil. And that is Roxas! At least he will continue Daang Matuwid of PNoy though it’s really not a fully tuwid na daan. But at least do not vote for Poe which I’m sure her government will be ran by the same politicians behind FPJ…..the trapos.

  17. People behind federalism in Mindanao have the 3Gs.
    People who have the 3Gs are the power elite.
    The power elite have the great need to perpetuate themselves.

    Food for thought lang po, Mr. Saludo.

  18. But Mr Duterte has said categorically that he will NOT be running. If he changes his mind as he seems prone to, I guess that will provide us with another choice: Elect a game player.

  19. Here in Cagayan, everybody loves to talk about Duterte-Marcos tandem. If Duterte runs, all Ilocanos will surely carry him along with Bongbong Marcos. We are already tired of Daang Matuwid lies even if proofs of incompetency are all over our land from national to local governance since day one of Aquino regime.

  20. I think we need to move on and I thank God he is not running because this is his will and he knows fully well that it will be difficult for him to win. He is also a good friend of many presidential candidates and it’s best that he’ll not run against them.

  21. adonis b. rocha on

    Since Ping Lacson opted instead to run as independent for a senate seat in 2016 and Digong Duterte still playing coy of running for president coz of his close friendship with Mar Roxas, its a great pity that the Philippines is again losing the opportunity to be led by a man of action and political will to usher the country into the new era of inclusive politics and economic growth.Unless, Duterte sense that Mar Roxas ascend to the presidency is in peril coz of Nognog Binay (sans arrest without bail) or Grace Llamanzares (sans disqualification) edging Mar at the finish line, Digong Duterte will throw his hat in the ring to stop further the decline of the Philippines in the hands of either the alledgedly demonstrably corrupt Binay by the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee and the novato in Grace Llamanzares.

    As for Ping Lacson, come 2022 would be his swan song from politics and public service if he make a pass again at running for the presidency. If the PCOS machine ” wont do decide” the outcome of the 2016 polls, expect Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to emerged with the highest number of votes for senator in the history of senate elections.

    Lets hope Digong Duterte make a run for the presidency, it would be a disservice to the country if he wont answer this call of the many Fiolipinos sick and tired of inept and stinking politics the traditional way.

  22. i have a question for everybody that has a knowledge of the constitution and for you as well mr. saludo: given that mayor duterte said that he will not run for the presidency, thus his name not included on the ballot, is there something in the constitution that says, that a person who did not file for candidacy nor ran for the office, and yet voted by the people and then won, be allowed to hold the office in which he was elected? i am asking this because this might be the only way to bring mayor duterte to the palace.

    • Under the PCOS automated election system, only those who filed certificates of candidacy and are not disqualified would appear on the computerized ballot, with spaces next to each candidate’s name for voters to shade. So if Mayor Duterte does not file a COC on or before October 16, his name will not be on the ballot, and there is no way the PCOS vote-counting computers would tally votes for him. He has this week to get his name on the ballot. Thank you.

  23. laguatanlawzen.com on

    Mayor Duterte, we have heard your speech that you are not running for President in 2016. The people are disappointed. You left a vacuum that the people has no other choice but to be contented with with the 3 presidentiables who are unworthy of our trust.
    It is a BIG NO NO for the following:
    Roxas
    Binay
    Poe-Llamanzares
    Our choice is YOU MAYOR DUTERTE. Please reconsider your final decision and declare that you have CHANGE YOUR MIND for the sake of the Philippines you love so much. Use your charisma to rally the nationwide support behind you and you will surely win as the next President of the Philippines. I pray to the good LORD to soften up your heart and enlighten your mind that you have changed your mind. PLEASE! PLEASE!

    • You’re right, I prefer Duterte! Yeah I changed my mind, I want Duterte’s governance….hear our wishes! I am praying to have a good LEADER, the real concern and compassion for the Philippines wonderful future ahead! The MASA are the real benefactor of all the platforms that not just simply designed because it will all be implemented and manifested.

    • I would only take time to register if Duterte will run for presidency. He is the man of the country who is worth voting for.
      “Doing the wrong thing is a sin and not doing the right thing is also a sin.”

    • I would only take time to register if Duterte will run for presidency. He is the man of the country who is worth voting for.
      For Duterte:
      “Doing the wrong thing is a sin and not doing the right thing is also a sin.”