EDITORIAL - The out-Duterteing of Duterte continues

The Freeman

There is one thing and one thing only that is preventing the country from challenging the rash of killings that has characterized the government's iron-fisted campaign against illegal drugs - the vast political capital of the president. With an 87 percent trust rating on top of more than 16 million votes cast knowingly for a man who vowed to do what he is now doing, President Duterte enjoys a mandate that is almost complete and unassailable at the moment.

That is why whatever critics there may be are few and may be so for a long time. The only critic of note to surface is Senator Leila de Lima. But her history of antagonism toward Duterte has lopped off more of her credibility than add to her legitimacy. Even certain bishops whose noise before the election added to the din of the campaign have seen it more prudent to lower the holy decibels lest the silent majority may turn up some of their most benevolent supporters.

But the political capital of Duterte is non-transferable, contrary to what some of his most ardent followers may have erroneously believed. When the Filipino nation made Duterte president, that meant only one thing - that the Filipino people approved of his methods and, uncannily, even his language as well. He warned them not to vote for him if they did not approve, didn't he?

Alas, some of his men seem to have assumed that the mandate of Duterte extended to them, that they can talk, act, and otherwise be like Duterte. Worse, some even try to out-DuterteDuterte himself. One very prominent example is no less than the Philippine National Police chief, Ronald "Bato" de la Rosa. He mouths words that, while seemingly entertaining, engaging and cute when uttered by Duterte, are actually grating, threatening and bad for the PNP chief to say.

To put it bluntly, de la Rosa is not Duterte, far from it. Duterte can do and say what he wants because, with a 16-million-vote mandate and an 87 percent trust rating, it is clear the people love him.

As to de la Rosa, perhaps only six people love him, and one of them is already Duterte. Before he was plunked onto the PNP chief's chair, he was a relatively obscure cop in Davao City.

Therefore, as a mere functionary in the Duterte administration, de la Rosa needs to be careful with his words and his actions. He must tailor them to make his principal look good always. He needs to know his proper place in the national scheme of things. When Duterte says he will kill somebody, the people tacitly accept it because he is Duterte. When de la Rosa says the same thing, it grates against the sensibilities of an entire nation. De la Rosa just ain't Duterte.

While he may be a good soldier and a loyal follower, that does not allow him certain excesses that, if allowed to go on, will eventually create a chink in the armor of Duterte. What a pity if the huge political capital enjoyed by Duterte gets squandered not in doing what he promised to do but as a result of having to pay the tremendous cost of inexcusable follies committed by insensitive underlings.



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