By Manny Piñol
A columnist has likened Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte to Arizona’s legendary law-enforcer Wyatt Earp.
In an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer titled “Fate, Hope and Grace Poe,” Dean De la Paz, who claimed to be an investment banker and consultant to foreign corporations, said Duterte, 70, mayor of Davao City for 23 years and Congressman for 3 years, has no national platform and “does not have the experience to tackle critical global security and economic issues.”
Aside from the fireworks of colourful language which I thought were really intended to impress readers of the writer’s deep grasp of the English language, the article was hollow because it did not really look deeply into who Duterte is compared to the other candidates.
Let us start with Vice President Jejomar Binay. What is his national platform?
If we analyze the slogans of the Binay camp – “Kay Jojo Binay, Gaganda ang Buhay” and “Ganito Kami sa Makati…” apparently referring to the free birthday cakes, free movies for senior citizens, hospitalisation privileges, and scholarship grants – Binay’s national platform would be no different than what is being done by this government today – giving out cash coupons to the poor of this country as if this was the answer to the massive poverty, insecurity and joblessness.
I remember only one distinctive position that Vice President Binay made and this was on the question of China’s occupation of the islets within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the country.
Binay said that China has so much money and the Philippines has no chance going head to head against the economic and military giant and that it would be best to allow China to stay in the islands for as long as they invest in the country.
We go to Mar Roxas.
Honestly, until today, over four years after he was appointed as member of President Aquino’s cabinet, I still could not make heads and tails of what it is that Mar Roxas would do if by God’s will he takes over the Presidency.
And finally, Grace Poe, who by the way, like Duterte has consistently denied that she is interested in running for President.
I like Grace Poe but if we look at her performance in the Senate as a basis to at least get an idea of her national platform, we will find no clue as to what it is that she would do if she were President.
Beyond the Mamasapano Report, the MRT investigation and the PNP Chief Allan Purisima corruption investigation, Grace Poe has not been tested by more critical problems like “What would she do if China insisted on occupying the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea?”
Duterte, the man described by De la Paz as the gun-toting and hip-shooting Wyatt Earp, in contrast to the three other presidential prospects, has clearly outlined his position on critical issues.
On corruption, Duterte proposes a two-pronged approach: the re-imposition of death penalty for those found guilty of plunder and the re-introduction of values formation in the elementary grades and high schools in the country.
On drugs and criminality, Duterte says the penal code must be revisited to make drug dealers and criminals realise that it does not pay to commit a crime.
On the China issue, Duterte supports President Aquino’s move to bring the matter for arbitration in the United Nations but adds that there should be efforts to initiate bilateral talks. If everything else fails, he believes the Philippines should turn to its old ally, the United States in addressing the problem.
On the Communist Insurgency, Duterte says negotiations must be re-started and the new President must welcome members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who would like to join a unity government while those who choose to continue the insurgency must be pursued without let-up.
On Agriculture, Duterte says that there must be a radical overhaul of the agriculture program to make sure that everybody in government understands that the primary obligation of government is to provide “Available and Affordable Food” for the Filipinos. It will be an agriculture program which would rely mainly on the capability of the Filipino farmers to produce the needs of the country rather than depend on imports.
Duterte’s agriculture advocacy of providing a ready market for the Filipino farmers’ produce is borne out of his experience as Mayor of a City which is one of the biggest producers of agricultural products for the market.
On the Mindanao Problem and neglect of the Regions, Duterte has been moving around the country proposing a shift from Unitary Presidential to Federal Parliamentary form of government which would result in the establishment of highly-autonomous Federal States. This he said is the best option to the endangered Bangsamoro Basic Law and would also lead to the development of the poor regions thus creating jobs in the countryside.
On Sabah, Duterte says the Philippine government must not abandon the proprietary claims of the Sultanate of Sulu over Sabah but at the same ensure that this is done in a diplomatic manner.
Honestly, I believe that Dean de la Paz has not heard of these issues being addressed by Duterte in his many sorties all over the country.
This is where the problem lies. We have a problem when investment bankers who have never been to the countryside assume the role of experts who teach the Filipino who should be the next President based on what they read in the comforts of their luxurious and air-conditioned offices.
Had these people ventured to places where others would fear to tread, they would have met leaders like Rodrigo Duterte.
Then, they would have realized that Duterte is not Wyatt Earp.
He is Rodrigo Duterte, Mayor of the 4th Safest City in the World, a strict enforcer of the law, and a man who has a deep understanding of diplomacy and geopolitics.
Known for his no-nonsense policy toward peace and order issues, Duterte has proven to be the strongest presidential contender from the south. He has repeatedly shot down calls to throw his hat in the 2016 Malacañang race, but his popularity hasn’t wavered.
In fact, he came in tied for third place in the last survey conducted by independent pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) concerning potential presidential candidates.