Had he spoken and acted the way others did, he would just have been among them. But he stood out because he did what he can do best and most candidly — be himself.
Now that all the national surveys are singing his name, the people, including those most critical of him, are claiming Duterte’s surge is phenomenal. Early in the race, dismissed by media bigwigs as comic saying his peace and order platform is too local, paling in comparison to the economic stability and sustainability proposals of the others, Duterte has now become the people’s last card for this terminally ill nation.
And he played his card well.
Unknown to his elite rivals, Duterte was not only acting crass neither talking rude or merely speaking the people’s language. He was engaging the entire Filipino nation on public and people’s issues that matter.
During the entire tenure of the incumbent President, people in the Metro were already complaining about traffic congestion and non-functioning railway stations. In fact, this was one of the issues raised in the last debate. When it takes two and a half hours from terminal 2 of the Manila airport to right across Newport street, surely, this nation is in hell.
It took a cursing of Duterte for traffic and MRT to enjoy nationwide attention. When back then , people were made to bear the pain of waiting in line and for hours at the MRT stations and when others were provided the palliative of a free wifi while stuck in traffic, Duterte cussed so the public could feel what it should have felt a long time ago- the problem of public transport. Immediately right after, there were no longer whispers but loud voices of complaints of corruption that characterized the transactions involving the railway station.
At his opening salvo, he threatened to kill union members. It sent chills in the workers’ spines. The day following, not just union and workers reacted but the entire nation. I bet the employers were pleased, but sadly they do not know Digong that well. Not long after, Duterte declared he will ensure and respect the right of the laborers to organize and vowed to end contractualization if he wins the presidency.
What the big capitalists and the entire bourgoisie have tried so hard to restrict and treat as an intra-factory, intra-corporate issue, Duterte was able to unfold with his striking “kill all the unionists”.
His sound bite reverberated so well, even the other elite presidentiables belatedly echoed his call of stopping endo. Other skeptics claim, the no to contractualization is plain propaganda. But did you not wonder why Duterte refused to receive donations from big companies and why the Makati Business Club claims Duterte does not have a clear economic platform?
In all his rallies, he either starts or ends it with a kiss on the Philippine flag . A few were overheard asking, “bagong laba ba yan?” (is it newly washed?) or “anong gimmick yan?” It was a ritual alright, but a very strong one hitting two birds-one a naturalized American. Without directly attacking Poe and her supporter, Duterte’s kiss was as fatal as it was able to instill in the majority’s hearts and minds that a President must be a Filipino –who is loyal to his “land of (my) birth”.
And the latest rape remark.
Admit it or not, it is happening and by the second. Rape is not only a serious crime but a major issue of women as it continually hounds victims, who have lost hope in the judicial system or because of the absence of support of government institutions. Undeniably, there are countless and nameless women whose stories remain untold because the police and law enforcement still blame them for their fate, parents deny these incidents ever happened, academic institutions which expel them because they are a disgrace and government institutions which provide intermittent if not ineffective support system to all the victims.
Women activists who have struggled for women’s and peoples rights protection for decades and without fail cringe at the claim of some groups surfacing only now condemning Duterte for the rape remark. The statistics in the police stations has been there longest but rape has been discussed only when government prepares its MDG goals assessment and mostly in air-conditioned hotel ballrooms Pray tell, when was the last time that rape enjoyed national coverage as a women’s issue? In the past decades (and correct me if I’m wrong), not one President ever spoke it or even discussed women’s issues in their SONAs, not even when An American soldier raped a Filipina and eluded our jurisdiction. While it is painful to the victims and even survivors, it took a sexist/macho Duterte for RAPE to land in the papers and hug the headlines.
Duterte is indeed phenomenal, not because he captured facebook and social media and diminished the value of most powerful tv networks, he was able to stir the minds and interests even of the indifferent, regardless of whether the end point would be to agree with or criticize him. He succeeded in mobilizing citizens for a cause that is greater than his presidency.
True to his trademark, he never campaigned for himself but for change. While the change that is being espoused is still being speculated upon, one thing is absolute, the people have accepted the challenge and are willing to work for it even after elections.
And now that the campaign is nearly over, to the ruling elite and the Presidentiables who shamelessly represent it, it is not too late to admit that Duterte is way, way, ahead. It might be harsh but it is real, you have been played.
And the people? They are Duterte’s accomplices.