Duterte proposals show ‘small-town thinking’ – analysts
Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Setting aside his broad eight-point economic agenda some say are similar to that of the Aquino administration, incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s early policy proposals showed elements of what analysts call “small-town thinking.”

Ahead by over six million votes in partial and unofficial tally, Duterte bared last week his plans to ban the drinking of liquor in public and institute a 10 p.m. curfew on minors. He also wanted to ban smoking in public areas.

While his supporters cheered the fulfilment of what some see as part of his election promises, some were not as impressed. Maria Fe Mendoza, dean of the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance, was one of them.

“These are all local in nature. The problem I am seeing here is that he cannot implement it himself alone. He needs legal basis for this,” Mendoza said by phone.

“To a certain extent, this shows his being a local manager and micro management, which are way different in the national setting,” she added.

To be fair, he did say he would consult various stakeholders before coming out with the measures, but going by present laws, such policies may no longer be necessary.

For instance, Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Law enacted in 2013, penalizes people driving under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Before that, there was RA 9211 of 2003, which designated smoking areas in public spaces. Implementing the law lies with the local government units, not with the national government.

“There are some bundle of rights that may be affected if he decides to expand on these. He needs to carefully study it,” Mendoza said.

Considerations

Historian Jose Victor Torres, meanwhile, was not surprised. He said the incoming Duterte administration is showing similarities to that of former president Joseph Estrada, whose public appeal came also from his strongman image and his being close to the poor.

Back then, “Erap Para sa Mahirap” became almost a household tag. His public statement of not condoning corruption even of his friends and relatives also became his battlecry until he was toppled from office after being accused of plunder in 2001.

Estrada was later convicted for plunder but was swiftly pardoned by his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Erap tried to do a (Ramon) Magsaysay to get close to the people who voted for him. What did they ask for? Financial assistance, job, housing, and food. These are things a mayor can pull out of his pocket,” Torres said in an email.

“Take a look now at Duterte’s early statements: curfew for minors and liquor bans. These are practically laws passed by local government officials... These are not national policy statements,” he added.

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