By Jun Ledesma
You cannot suppress the truth, neither can you twist it. Even ABS-CBN has to buckle down from being the lead institution that bedevils the Duterte administration, given its sheer dominance of the radio and broadcast industry, and came out with its assessment of the first two-year reign of the much belittled leader from the boondocks of Mindanao. His street and undiplomatic language, kinky jokes and rambling speeches are not what the civilized and proper class expected and later demand from a President but his Approval and Trust ratings remain unprecedented.
The latest survey however speaks for Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The network came out with a litanny of achievements of the former Mayor of Davao City devoid worthless sensationalism of a kiss, the myth of the Davao Death Squad and the tale of extrajudicial killings conjured by a woman who is now in jail for her own frailties. Even if the report skips other vital achievements that Duterte accomplished, coming from the critical network, the brief review is fair enough.
Duterte’s speeches makes some sectors cringe, but it earned for the country the respect of powerful world leaders. US Pres. Barack Obama attempted to chatise Duterte believing the opposition’s belittlement of this man who hails from the mountains of Mindanao. Before Obama could further lecture Duterte on the issue of human rights violation, he got a mouthful in return. On the sidelines Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping were clapping their hands. When the G20 Hangzhou Summit took place later, Duterte was accorded a red carpet reception while Obama was to contend with the plane’s steps. Duterte’s style “lacks finesse” and vulgar as his predecessors Presidents Estrada and Ramos described but any which way you look at it, Digong’s foreign affairs successes make the two ‘has beens” puny.
It is now an incontrovertible fact that the contested islets in the West ChinaSea were abandoned by the Aquino government with former Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario smarting from the issue and Sen. Antonio Trillanes playing possum about his role on the fiasco. Duterte’s bilateral talks with Xi may lead to some happy compromises but for now we should be happy that the tension had subsided. In November the Chinese leader will likely visit Davao City, and, like Japan’s Shinzo Abe, might have a look at the frugal home and lifestyle of President Duterte. For those who make an issue of China’s aircraft landing in Davao, this should explain to them the reason why. In the meantime cheap money from Japan and China are for the Philippines to tap.
It Is also amazing how Duterte won the respect and friendship of US Pres. Donald Trump. They click because they have similarities in leadership style. In fact Trump is not hiding his admiration for Duterte he virtually copied the templates of how his Filipino counterpart in dealing with drug and criminality in the US of A. Trump declared his own war against drugs calling the drug menace a national emergency.
If Duterte is deadbent in his campaign against drugs and syndicated crime, so is he courageous in crushing terrorists to the finish as shown in the virtual annihilation of Maute ISIS in Marawi. He has cut direct communications link to Joma Sison of the the CPP/NPA/NDF (CNN) after government intelligence uncovered the “Oust-Duterte” plot hatched by a cabal of oppositions and some religious groups wherein Joma even admittedly confirmed his participation. The local peace negotiations are gaining more meaningful results as hundreds of NPA combatants have given up their futile adventurism for a productive and normal life with the help of the government. Under Duterte, the AFP is better-armed, its airpower well-equipped and the soldiers well-motivated under its Commander in Chief.
The approval of Bangsa Moro Basic law sets a new pace and dynamism in the search for a lasting and stable peace in Mindanao. In fact the Armed Forces of the Philippines immediately felt the effect of this as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has joined the AFP in eliminating the last bastion and vestiges of the ISIS in lair of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Let us not moreover forget that the centerpiece of Duterte’s government platform was to shift to Federalism. The draft constitution is done and the information drive is on. Contrary to what critics contrive about the Pulse Asia survey on the people’s take on Federalism, a very large segment says YES now and YES later than those who say absolutely NO. Which simply means there is a dire need to inform and educate the people on what Federalism is all about. Unfortunately, NEDA’s Ernesto Pernia’s “will wreck havoc on the Philippine economy” and Speaker Alvarez “NoEl” scenarios are the formidable impediments which Pres. Duterte has to hurdle himself. So far the duo provided cannon fodders to shot down Federalism.