Why does President Rody Duterte remain popular?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Despite all the efforts to undermine him, notwithstanding the unrelenting attacks against his person, his rather colorful tongue, and his sartorial idiosyncrasies, the president's popularity ratings did an astounding rebound in the third quarter of 2018. In totality, most of the Filipinos still hold him in high regard, respect his decisions, and support his policies. Yes, he had made mistakes in decisions and choices of people. He uttered very unpresidential phrases and did many unbecoming acts in public that raised the eyebrows of social elites. He disregarded protocols and behaved in the manner that pleases him. He did not bother to appear prim and proper or sound nice. Despite all of these (or perhaps precisely because of all these), the people continue to love him.

Of course, there is no love lost between the president and the vice president. VP Leni, in the beginning, attempted to give her best to appear amiable and respectful to President Rody. But the latter continued to ignore her, even directly saying negative things about her, especially her lack of readiness to assume the presidency in case something terrible happens. Within hearing distance of the vice president, the president would even extol the competence and readiness of former senator Bongbong Marcos, and admire the qualifications of Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano, who both ran against VP Leni. All these notwithstanding, his supporters stuck to rallying behind his presidency.

The president has angered a lot of people, both here and overseas. The international human rights groups have denounced him in the war against drugs. The local yellows and reds, oranges, and tangerines have attacked him for many things, including his attitude toward women, his intermittent attacks against the Church, his human rights records, his appointment of generals into civilian agencies, and again, his unrestrained gifts of the tongue, his invectives and unprintable diatribes, his rather confrontational and adversarial approach to people, events and circumstances, all these are hardly endearing to the people. And yet, his popularity ratings remain stable and seemingly impregnable.

What are the causes of this phenomenon? In my analysis, the people love him because he has no pretensions. He is frank, brutally frank, at times. He does not make “bola” with you just so that you may feel good. He is very natural. He has no effort to adorn his words the way PNoy used purist Tagalog to hide any insecurity under the flowery Balagtas literary language. President Rody speaks his mind and pushes protocol out the window. He does not attempt to wear clothing that makes him uncomfortable. He is very casual, spontaneous, he does not follow scripts or choreography. You get what you see, no masks, no packaging. He is just a simple provinciano who accidentally became president.

President Duterte is a very good copy for reporters and media professionals. He is as colorful as the old Amang Rodriguez and Mayor Arsenio Lacson combined. He is a joker too and a patient storyteller. The people do love him because his looks, his language, and even his demeanor are just like any other guy in the street. He makes no effort to please people. And most often, he tells the truth, even the ugly and harsh truth. He has no fear, and he has no inhibitions. He does not care whether you love him or you hate him. He remains to be himself. And for that, the people hold him in high esteem.

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