Evaluating presidential performance: The good, the bad and the ugly
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 5, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the midpoint between 2016 when a provinciano from Davao, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, ascended to Malacañan and June 2022, when he is scheduled to descend from the palace, perhaps to be replaced by Inday Sara Duterte Carpio. I am not sure of that though. What is clear to me is that Manong Digong has done many good things never been done before by any president, from Aguinaldo to PNoy. It is not easy to be a president of 110 million people, 12 million of whom are scattered in 200 countries all over the world. It is a punishing task for a 72-year-old, the oldest ever to assume the presidency in the millennial era.

Indeed, it is not a joke to lead and defend a country of 7,100 islands, whose coastline when measured altogether is the longest in the whole planet. It is a very formidable challenge to be expected to defend a nation which is not really a group of islands surrounded by seas, oceans, and all bodies of waters. It is really a giant area of water sprinkled with islands, islets, coves, and marshlands, and with millions of inhabitants with varying cultures, languages, religions, and economic strata. It is very difficult to be both the head of state and the head of government of a people who have become too demanding and too impatient.

Let us start with the good things that the president has done: First, he addresses the number one social cancer, the drug malady, with a sense of urgency, of firm determination and political will, unaffected by criticisms and denunciations both local and international. Second, he pursues a truly independent foreign policy, unmindful of US propensity to bully and to condescend. Third, he pursues a lasting solution to the Mindanao problem by the Bangsamoro autonomous government. Fourth, he takes good care of the military and the police and avoided a coup d'etat suffered seven times by then President Cory Aquino.

Fifth, he fights corruption and even fired his friends and allies who are entangled in graft. Sixth, the economy prospers under his watch. And seventh, he ordered that tuition be free in public universities, the passports be extended to 10 years, the drivers' license to five years, and that graduates should not pay for NBI and other clearances. And lastly, Manong Digong remains a hands-on executive who lives a very simple, austere, and unadorned life, not given to too much ceremony, protocol, and frivolity.

Then the bad and the not-so-good ones: First, it is not good for the president to be too soft on China while he is too hard on the US. If he was poised to declare war against Canada on the issue of garbage, he should be a little stern on China on the issue of territorial integrity. If he is afraid of an attack from China, he should not broadcast his fear via national TV and captured by CNN. Second, it is not good for the president to limit his appointments to characters from Davao, San Beda, and military generals. He should expand his horizons with talents from other sectors and regions. Third is his propensity to curse in public, which scandalizes the young and the old alike.

Fourth, he should go slow on his antagonism of the Catholic Church. He should have more dialogue with the CBCP head who is his close friend, and he should visit the Pope and engage him in friendly banter. The truth is President Rody is really a nice man trying his best to look bad and terrify his enemies. Duterte is much better than the bad man who tried his best to look good.

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