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Duterte’s 16 M voters ‘stupid’? How not to be fooled next time

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2021 - 12:00am

A meme revives the 2016 presidential campaign leaflet, “Platform of Government Rodrigo Roa Duterte”. It detailed his “15-Point Legacy Agenda”. No doubt it convinced voters that he’s their man.

But the meme grades each item with a bold red “X” and a comment “2021 na!”:

1. Ending criminalities in 2016,

2. Ending corruption in 2016,

3. Ending illegal drugs and human trafficking in 2016,

4. Ending social injustice in 2017,

5. Judicial reforms in 2017,

6. Global connectivity in 2017,

7. Adapting to climate change by 2017,

8. Ending political turncoat-ism in 2018,

9. Ending insurgency in 2018,

10. Ending political dynasties in 2018,

11. National reconciliation in 2018,

12. Ending poverty in 2018,

13. Ending traffic congestion in the metropolitan areas in 2019,

14. Shift to new form of government in 2019,

15. Economic power in Asia in 2019.

The meme concludes, “-9.5% GDP decline pa!”

His Cabinet may need to explain to President Duterte the 15 flops. Then again, the answer might be with Duterte himself. Did he take those seriously at all?

On TV last Monday Duterte reiterated that his 2016 “jet ski promise” to confront China was a “pure campaign joke” and those who believed him were “stupid.” His words: “Panahon ‘yan sa kampanya ‘yan. At saka ‘yung biro na ‘yun, ‘yung bravado ko, it was a pure campaign joke, at kung naniniwala kayo sa kabila, I would say you are really stupid.”

China’s reef-grabbing was a hot election issue then. Its coastguards were menacing Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. Damage was evident in the concreting into island-fortresses. Expecting action, voters asked candidates their stand. Duterte dramatized that he’d jet ski to Chinese-occupied Scarborough Shoal, plant the Filipino flag, and declare, “This is ours, so do what you want with me.”

Sixteen million voters believed Duterte’s 15-point plan and toughness against bully-China. They gave him a plurality win over four rivals. Now he calls them dolts.

Duterte hails China as best friend and protector. Yet China still bars tens of thousands of Ilocos, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales and Bataan folk from their traditional Scarborough fishing ground.

Fisherman Carlo Montehermozo of Infanta, Pangasinan, took offense at Duterte’s words. Not only was he among Duterte’s electors. It was also he who asked the five presidential aspirants, during their last of three public debates in 2016, about the Chinese harassment. On Wednesday he told reporters: “Kaming mga mangingisda dito, masama ang loob namin. Ba’t ganoon lang, joke joke lang ‘yong sinabi niya sa akin noon?”

Montehermozo was one of several questioners picked by debate organizers from the audience. His query was not coached, he said. It came from the heart, for he and barrio-mates had experienced being chased away by Chinese gunboats. “Nagpangako siya ng gan’un, tapos hindi niya tinupad.”

“Hindi ako istupidong tao,” Montehermozo said about Duterte’s term for his believers. “Kahit ‘yong hindi nakakapunta ng Scarborough, kahit ‘yong hindi pa nakarating, sinasabi sa akin, ‘Wala na, nag-uulyanin na talaga ‘yong Presidente natin’.”

“Joke joke lang din siya naging presidente natin,” Montehermozo added. Perhaps a new leader in 2022 can help: “Pag-isipan na lang mabuti kung sino talaga ‘yong makakatulong sa atin, sa ating mga kababayan.”

Lawmakers caution Duterte against making light of campaign vows. Magdalo Party Rep. Manuel Cabochan III remarked: “The Filipino people are not stupid. The 16M who voted for Duterte were deceived big time. Duterte intentionally lied to the people. He betrayed their trust. So please do not insult them by calling them stupid. Magaling lang manloko ng tao si Duterte. Nahihirapan na nga ang taumbayan, niloko na, kukutyain pa. Sobra na.”

It’s only on matters of great principle that some people can lie with a clear conscience.

*      *      *

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Voters must avoid being hoodwinked in 2022. Commonsense is key. Discern deeper meanings from a candidate’s words. Examples:

• When a candidate cusses a visiting pope for traffic, it may mean he has no respect for people’s faiths. A curser of any religious leader is a godless bigot.

• If a candidate says he should have been first to gang rape an attractive murdered missionary, it can come from depravity, disrespect for women and disregard for human life and dignity.

• When a candidate incites citizens to “kill criminals”, it may mean distrust in the justice system, good policing and the right to due process.

Choosing the right leader can be made tougher by the more than five candidates for president. For some, it becomes a guessing game like in a beauty or singing contest of who will win, not of who can best serve. The new democratic, patriotic coalition 1Sambayan proposes the acclamation of only one candidate to stand for change. Requiring neuropsychiatric tests would also help; also for candidates to sign their published platforms.

*      *      *

Paperback copies of “Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” can be delivered to you by 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing. To order:https://shopee.ph/GOTCHA-by-Jarius-Bondoc-i.264837039.3870254862

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