Why are we still talking about Duterte?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - May 14, 2021 - 12:00am

Almost every politician or politically-inclined person with an eye for a national elective position in the next election is finding it very convenient to use President Duterte as a springboard for political self-promotion. I say very convenient because Duterte is certainly controversial. He is probably the most controversial president we ever had, next only to Ferdinand Marcos.

It is so tempting to use the controversies hounding others that many make the fatal mistake of forgetting to introduce themselves, to sell their qualities, to convince the public of their own viabilities. It is their mistaken understanding that just focusing on the shortcomings of others eliminates the need to shine the light on their own selves.

In a year's time we will be electing a new leader. The president we elect in May 2022 will be this generation's most important president. In fact, with the exception of the liberation/reconstruction president who inherited a ravaged nation after World War II, our next leader could be the most important leader we will ever elect in a long long time.

Who we elect as president in May 2022 will take charge of a country not yet out of the woods of this global pandemic. He or she will have to deal with recession, sweeping joblessness, skewed school calendars and methods of teaching, the leftover problems of illegal drugs and corruption, and maybe do a sweeping review of Duterte's foreign policy and see if it truly needs fixing, as some are heatedly insisting.

With such a full plate awaiting the next president, and those who are supposed to help him in nation-fixing and nation-building, I truly find it amazing that we are still talking about Duterte. Why are we still talking about him? He will not be the president after 2022. He will not be the one to lead this nation for the next six years of what could be the most trying and challenging futures any country could ever face.

Duterte has done some truly great things for this country. And he has done some terrible things as well. But it is no longer up to us to judge him. That is the responsibility of history. What we can say about Duterte, in praise or in criticism, will no longer affect the greater course of our national life but remain our own personal appreciation of the man. And that can only either make us happy or make us sick.

What we truly deserve at this time is to be given the chance to know and appreciate who our next leaders will be, who our next president might be. At no time in our lives do we need to really make a good and careful choice. At no time in our lives is that choice going to be more crucial and vital. It is a choice we must not err in making.

And so why are we still talking about Duterte? Former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, for example, is still fixated on Duterte. Riding on the controversies of Duterte may help Carpio turn in the votes. But they will not be informed ones. We know almost nothing about him. It is time the focus shifts to Carpio and whether he can carry the weight of 110 million Filipinos and their baggage on his back.

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