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#DuterteEffect, the amazing new State of the Nation |

Sunday Lifestyle

#DuterteEffect, the amazing new State of the Nation

WILL SOON FLOURISH - The Philippine Star

I must confess that I have been a late convert to the Rody Duterte fan club. However, since his stunning May 9 presidential win, the blitzkrieg series of changes have shocked and awed admirers, and even his critics. All these even have a popular social media hashtag: #DuterteEffect.

President Duterte is no saint and I do not expect him to be free of shortcomings, but genuine positive changes are coming! Petty crimes have gone down, the chaotic streets of our metropolis like those in Divisoria have been cleared, the private jet hangars of big businesses have vacated our congested airports, boisterous late-night drunken parties have stopped, government officials  have a “no extravagance” new norm, and “anti-corruption” is no longer just rhetoric.

On July 15, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said nearly 60,000 drug addicts and pushers had surrendered. On July 21 at 12:41 a.m. past midnight, I got a text message from the Pampanga provincial government inviting me to go four hours later, at 5 a.m., to Bren Z. Guiao Sports Complex in San Fernando City to witness the surrender of 10,200 drug pushers and users from 505 barangays. Wow!

I admire Duterte’s dream of a good life for all citizens and a quick afterlife for all crooks. The hundreds of illegal drug pushers and users killed in the new Duterte era have indeed struck fear among crooks who have reportedly destroyed three million lives through the insidious narcotics epidemic, but I am still in principle not in favor of vigilantism or extra-judicial killings.

Welcome to Dutertisms

What never ceases to amaze me is Rody Duterte’s combination of wry humor and folksy, rhetorical eloquence; in fact, I like to refer to his unforgettable lines as “Dutertisms.” He has a good, sometimes brutally frank, sometimes self-deprecating style of humor, delivered with impeccable timing and a poker face. Digong is also very good at storytelling.

One of the most refreshing changes under the Duterte dispensation is his policy of a no-frills lifestyle for public officials, with no fancy SUVs, luxury sports cars or limousines. There were no lavish parties during his presidential inaugural. I think Duterte’s edict is gutsy, because it goes against our age-old tradition of expecting our leaders since pre-colonial era to put on a big show, like datus with gold earrings, slaves and special privileges. Duterte has given substance to the democratic ideal of leadership as service, and not self-service!

Duterte has also discouraged fashion shows at his State of the Nation Address (SONA) event in Congress, but I don’t think he is anti-fashion. Some of the possible new fads could be Duterte-inspired rugged boots for politicos and the elite, wearing barong Tagalog with long sleeves rolled up, wearing blue jeans with barong shirts, women wearing business-like yet no-less-elegant attire.

Thank goodness, the loquacious President Rody Duterte has departed from the incorrigible bad habits of past national politicians who tend to inflict kilometric speeches on hapless citizens. During Duterte’s inaugural speech, he had a short and straight-to-the point speech,  so I trust that we won’t have to endure any three-hour SONAs under this president!

I think President Duterte knows that, in politics as in life, actions speak louder than words. Former US President Bill Clinton once said: “Being president is like running a cemetery: you’ve got a lot of people under you, and nobody’s listening.”

Other improvements under Rody Duterte:

• No more private jets’ hangars at our congested NAIA. Next, he plans to ease traffic jams.

• No more long waits for car license plates or driver’s licenses. Next, he’ll cut red tape.

• No more flying MRT trains. The nation also awaits Duterte’s plans for high-speed trains.

• No more planting bullets — plant more rice, please. Farmers and fishermen are now hopeful.

• “Change is coming.” I’ve heard that, as a Davao City mayor who quietly drove a taxi late at night, incognito, to observe the lives of ordinary people, Digong Duterte was known to have always given exact barya or change. Remind all retailers and taxi drivers: Give us exact change!

• Tax reforms on junk foods and sugared drinks. Can we add gossiping, name-dropping, littering, doing istambay (stand-by or doing nothing), social climbing, taking left turns (nangangaliwa or philandering), doing social media during work hours, turncoatism, etc.?

• Con-Con shouldn’t become worse than Comic-Con. Let us elect good Constitutional Convention delegates fast and from diverse sectors to draft our new constitution, not just traditional politicos or not just too many lawyers. 

• We should abolish Congress and replace it with a parliamentary system. Jon Stewart said, “If con is the opposite of pro, then isn’t Congress the opposite of progress?” Yes, indeed!

• A smarter, independent and pro-Philippines foreign policy. The nationalist and strategic-minded President Duterte is expected to be a real statesman who will make the Philippines a good friend of all major powers and countries, without unnecessarily entangling the country with anyone. We should learn from the 19th century English statesman Lord Palmerston, who wisely said: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” America’s brilliant former State Secretary Henry Kissinger also echoed this mindset: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” French leader Charles de Gaulle also said: “France has no friends, only interests.” The literary work The Count of Monte Cristo also has these lines: “In politics, my dear fellow, you know, as well as I do, there are no men, but ideas — no feelings, but interests.”

• Beware the other “Lords” of the Philippines. After targetting notorious illegal drug lords and shaming them in public, including their alleged cohorts, the five generals, and promising to expose numerous mayors, will Duterte next unmask and thwart the nefarious activities of the gambling lords, warlords, and even some illegitimate and sanctimonious Praise the Lords? Amen!

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