Nobody fit to be president

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - March 6, 2020 - 12:00am

President Rodrigo Duterte, who in two years will have to step down from office, believes there is no one fit to be president after him. Of course, if we go by the extreme measure by which he judges any potential successor, there will indeed be no one fit to become the next leader. In fact, going by the same measure, no one would be willing to be president even if given the chance.

The Duterte measure? The next president must be willing to kill or get killed in the performance of his duties. That is how he imagines the problems the next president will have to face, that it is a life-taxing experience. His enemies will be quick to put one and one together, that any reference to killing points to only one direction --his bloody war on illegal drugs.

I would like to give it a more serious and sober connotation, that the presidency after Duterte has indeed become such a tough job one indeed has to kill or be killed, not in the literal sense, but by the extreme difficulty it entails. The "kill" references here mean the job "kills" and that to do it even only half successfully, one has to almost quite literally bleed.

Interestingly, it is Duterte himself who is responsible for making the six-year presidency a virtual "killing time" for anyone upon whose lap falls the awesome responsibility. It was Duterte who seized the country's twin problems of illegal drugs and corruption by the horns. No other president has. All the others did with respect to drugs and corruption had been perfunctory, if not for show.

It was Duterte who, winning on the promise of toughness, did exactly what was according to his mandate. The Filipino people wanted somebody to get tough on drugs and corruption. Unfortunately, human nature is such that what one secretly wants is not exactly what one would willingly admit before the public.

That is why in the ballot, which was secretly cast, Duterte won overwhelmingly. It is also why, in survey after survey, which is done in anonymity, the numbers of Duterte remain high. But in the public forums and in the media platforms, you see Duterte getting a scrubbing. Again, what one wants is not what one openly admits.

But Duterte, sticking to his mandate after correctly reading the real, if unspoken, national sentiment, has taken his earnest pursuit of an end to the problems of corruption and drugs to where there is no going back to the soft doughnut days of his predecessors. Duterte has made the presidential lunch a heap of nails.

And that is why there is no one fit to be president after Duterte. Forget the Duterte measure of killing and getting killed. That is too open to interpretation. Let us just say that after Duterte, there is no one willing to take political risks the way he did. Duterte lived his life as if he had nothing to lose. Everybody else looks at the presidency as if there is everything to gain. In so doing they take no risks. In the measure of presidents, they don't fit.

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