Election Musings: Dissecting Duterte’s Popularity

So if you haven’t been living under a rock these past few days, you already know that Mayor Duterte has apparently surpassed former frontrunner Grace Poe in the latest SWS and Pulse Asia presidential survey. With less than four weeks before the May 09 elections, are we finally going to have a president coming from Mindanao?

Duterte’s soar to fame came hardly as a surprise. First, he’s got this tough-talking, no-nonsense bravado going on. For most, he acts and sounds like your typical Filipino father figure in movies and TV shows with his fearless banters, crude quips and frank one-liners. His leadership in Davao City and his simple lifestyle endeared him to the masses in a way traditional politicians didn’t quite expect.

He’s not my candidate, though he supports Federalism which I’m a firm advocate of and I also grew up in a city where discipline is part of the city’s tagline. I have decided to vote Miriam and that’s it. Still, that didn’t stop me from speculating how and why Mayor Duterte seemed to be this election’s choice of the masses. Here’s my tw0-centavos:

Back in 2010, Filipinos were tired of countless corruption cases hounding ex-President GMA’s term which is a whirlwind of electoral scandal, shady helicopter dealings and basically her family’s questionable acts (especially that of her husband’s) When PNOY came along, looking pristine and fresh, with his ‘Tuwid na Daan’ platform where he promised to get rid of corrupt officials from the government, many of us bought it. I, myself admit it was promising, and if PNOY had have an illustrious political experience and achievements as Mar Roxas have, I would have voted for him too.

But when Tuwid na Daan failed to answer the problems regarding transportation, traffic, sub-standard Yolanda rehabilitation shacks, the massacre of 44 SAF in Mamasapano and the latest Kidapawan massacre of farmers, the Filipinos now want a leader who embodies all the traits PNOY don’t have, do all things PNOY couldn’t or wouldn’t.

And that’s what Duterte apparently represents. Decisiveness. Experience. Unafraid to get his hands dirty. If this is a comic book universe and if Philippines is Gotham City, Filipinos view Duterte as the frickin Batman and elect him as their mayor despite how grossly “unsuitable” Batman is for the job.

I guess that’s my take with Duterte. While his critics talk and rave about the extrajudicial killings he masterminded in Davao, how immoral he is, how his crude speech and lack of tact can be a source of national embarrassment later on, how he views Marcos as the best president of the Philippines, etc., I’m all past that. What I’m most concerned about his brand of leadership most Filipinos aren’t prepared of, one I will talk about more about in a separate post.

I’m not judging his supporters though. In fact, most of my relatives and friends are voting for him in this coming elections and even after I try to convince them to vote for Miriam, them sticking to their original choice is fine with me. I just remind them that you can’t expect Duterte to be this messianic figure who will suddenly uproot the ‘system’ and make our country a better place to live. Change is a process that requires the cooperation of all entities and if you remain as an irresponsible, undisciplined citizen you are, even the great Duterte himself can’t change anything.