Duterte will lead a ‘stirring’ presidency
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2016 - 12:00am

If there is one thing that keeps him abreast with public sentiments, incoming President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has a tried and tested formula. If he wants to test any idea or proposal, the outgoing Davao City Mayor revealed his favorite strategy: Stir public opinion.

To get the sense of the people on an idea or proposal that comes to his mind, Mayor Duterte himself would throw it on air and make off-the-cuff remarks or statements. Purposively, he discusses his ideas with advisers, or talks about it in speeches, and especially, through media. This way, he pointed out, he could gauge and determine whether his idea or proposal would receive popular support or negative reaction.

Apparently, this formula worked for him through his stint as a local government executive starting as vice mayor in 1986 when he was first appointed, then as mayor for almost 28 years, and later as one-term congressman.

So when Duterte hit the campaign trail, he dished out a lot of his bright but controversial ideas and proposals – including quotable quotes and cussing to punctuate his points. While the presidential standard bearer of the PDP-Laban came in late as the last candidate to join the presidential race, Duterte’s bid obviously gained so much traction using the same technique.

Duterte shared with us his governance techniques during The STAR presidential roundtable last May 5.

“I like to stir people with ideas that come to my mind,” Duterte quipped, with his right forefinger making a stirring gesture.

Indeed, Duterte’s “stir” is a rabble-rousing technique that makes him a good copy for media. To “stir” means to excite or arouse strong feeling, to agitate, to cool, or dissolve by stirring.

Many of his statements during the 90-day campaign period were controversial. In fact, Duterte’s pronouncements became fodder for national debate. His stirring campaign speeches elicited rebuttals not only from his rivals but also vehement reaction from no less than outgoing President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III.

During the campaign for his anointed administration bet, former interior secretary Mar Roxas II, President Aquino presented the Liberal Party presidential standard bearer as the best candidate to elect as new leader of the country. In his strongest pitch for Roxas, P-Noy warned against voting Duterte whose strongman style of leadership, he said, may return the country to dictatorship.

Duterte rightfully chose to ignore the tirades against him by P-Noy. He engaged with Roxas, being the presidential candidate-rival he was up with.

True to his campaign pronouncements, the incoming President reiterated during his first press conference last Monday his stand in favor of restoring death penalty as part of his all out war against crimes and illegal drugs. He even tweaked his stand to add more shock to its intended audience: the hardened criminals and drug lords.

Aside from “shoot-to-kill” orders at criminals who fight back at law enforcers, Duterte vowed to ask Congress to bring back the capital punishment. But unlike the previous death by lethal injection, Duterte wants it done by hanging.

For criminals convicted of double major crimes, he wanted them hanged twice.

While it drew snickers from a mixed audience of media and his allies and supporters, Duterte’s remarks generated immediate adverse reactions from the Commission on Human Rights and leaders of human rights groups.

During The STAR roundtable, Duterte admitted he indulges himself to some degree of exaggeration if only to achieve his desired response or results. “How can I instill fear to criminals if I will be soft with my words?” he pointed out.

But, he explained, he has to keep this public persona of a tough talking “Mayor of the Philippines,” if that is how he would like to be addressed. He promised to speak though without any more cusses to befit and honor the Office of the President that he would soon assume. At least, that is in his public speaking.

In an exclusive interview with TV5 on Friday night, Duterte confessed he is “doubly pressured” by his own campaign promises now that he is definitely the winner of the May 9 presidential election. One of his most controversial campaign promises is to dramatically reduce crime incidence within the first three to six months in office. He staked his own presidency, saying he will step down and give way to his Vice President if he fails to deliver this campaign promise.

“But with the mandate, to me, I am under intense pressure to produce results immediately,” Duterte said.

He assured the public he knows his limits under the laws of the land and the country’s Constitution. He, being a lawyer by profession and served for several years as Davao City prosecutor, Duterte is aware how he would do it within the requirements of due process.

It would be much worse, he warned, if men in uniform commit crimes, especially if they get involved in illegal drugs. He vowed to apply the full force of the laws, not only to Filipinos but also to foreigners who would violate our country’s laws, especially on illegal drug trafficking.

“I have to say they have to follow the law, due process and all the things that are contained in the Constitution, and according to criminal laws, will be followed. But I will be harsh actually. As I have said, I would pursue you to the end of the world,” Duterte said.

The 16th Congress will resume sessions on Monday, May 23, to convene as the National Board of Canvassers to officially proclaim the winners in the presidential and vice presidential elections.  Duterte is due to be sworn into office on June 30.

Between now and then, the incoming President indicated his every intention to be as transparent as possible as he forms his new Cabinet and administration even while still in transition. And that transparency includes his constant, if not regular, conduct of press conferences and news briefings with media as platform to stir public opinion.

It goes without saying the “Mayor of the Philippines” intends to lead a “stirring” presidency in the next six years.

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