“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” SUN TZU
More than 100 days into his presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte remains an enigma to many people. A man of many contradictions, his style of governance, his methods and more so his language deliver a mix message both to his constituency and foreigners.
As early as the campaign period, Duterte already confounded not only the opposition but even his own troops. Cursing the pope, a tasteless joke about a murdered missionary, volunteering his loose lifestyle and swearing worse than a sailor, few people saw through the mind that was as brilliant as it it was irreverent.
Even his arch-enemy, then Liberal Party senatorial candidate Leila de Lima was led to wonder: “is he serious (about his candidacy?)”
While candidates normally promise the moon and the stars, Duterte warned of a bloodbath that sent unsuspecting supporters scrambling for damage control spins.
It seemed Duterte was his own worse enemy, but he won convincingly despite having no funds, no party and no machinery. In fact, the margin could have been bigger were it not for the special operations that succeeded only to slice his lead.
Those who thought he would loosen up after he became president thought wrong.
Even before he could assume office, thousands of bodies turned up dead – most victims of internal cleansing by drug and crime syndicates, others by rogue cops desperate to silence potential whistle-blowers.
Hundreds of thousands more turned up in various local government units to confess their addiction to drugs, as they did opening a can of worms about the involvement of people in high places.
More than that, it is causing headaches to both public and private agencies who have no template on dealing with such a big number of drug surrenderers.
As if this were not enough, Duterte refused to back down in the face of an orchestrated campaign to unseat him featuring no less than US President Barack Obama, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon, the European Union, international and domestic media and the disgrace business and political elite.
Duterte, however, seems to have weathered the storm. The constant barrage hardly left a dent in his popularity as recent surveys show he even scored better than nearly all his predecessors. Considering that the media normally gave the incumbent the traditional honeymoon, something they denied Duterte, he is a cut above the rest.
As he embarked on his most-awaited visit to China, supporters are hoping Duterte will bring home the bacon which is the much needed investments to pump-prime an economy which his critics said took a hit because of his tiffs with the superpowers.
With giant media outfits no longer as influential in shaping public opinion, with coup rumors dying a natural death and desperate political critics no longer singing praises to their erstwhile star, the disgraced Leila de Lima, Duterte is composed – for now.
One thing going for Duterte is his nonchalant attitude towards the presidency. While others would kill and die for it, Duterte made it clear he is more concerned about his quest to win the war against drugs, fix government and leave a better nation to the next generation.
The man who once said he does not care if he burns in hell for as long as the people he
serves live in heaven is not about to be denied the victory he seeks out of fear that it will jeopardize his position.
“In this quest, I will put at stake my honor, my life, my presidency,” he emphatically declared during his first state of the nation address.
Duterte has declared he leaves his life and his fate in God’s hands, a reaffirmation not only of his quest but also his faith.
The president does not lose sleep over what people think or say of him, plodding on with what he thinks is to the nation’s best interest.
“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom,” the famous philosopher and military strategist once postulated.
Whether Sun Tzu was prophesying about the future, or Duterte heeded his counsel, the point is clear: Duterte is on course to be one such jewel.