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Is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ready to be president?

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

BY GREG CASTILLA –   IN ONE of my articles in the Bikol Mail before Rodrigo Duterte announced his presidential candidacy, I wrote, “If before Duterte struck me as an intransigent politician prone to dictatorial ways, now I see him as a person who wants to do the things that others would not dare to do.”

It’s a statement giving Rodrigo Duterte, the current mayor of Davao City, the benefit of my doubt if he runs for president. I happen to agree with his position on certain issues like his support for gay marriage and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). His openness to dialogue with the CPP/NDF/NPA continues to amaze me.

I am aware that he has been accused of using extrajudicial means in his crusade against lawlessness in Davao City. But since he has not yet been officially charged – and found guilty – of taking the law into his own hands, I am willing to consider him as a potential president of the Philippines.

Like many of his supporters, I, too, am fascinated by his tough reputation as a crime-buster. He is a master at seizing upon public sentiments with flashy declarations of what he has done to capture drug dealers and other criminals.

I may sound naïve, but I am not alone. That certain sectors of society are supportive of Duterte’s presidential candidacy can be attributed to the marked inefficiency of many of our leaders in government who have failed miserably in curbing criminality and corruption.

As a result, frustration has reached a point where the people are willing to embrace a person like Duterte, a self-proclaimed killer.  His mailed fist attitude is needed in facing the long-festering problems of criminality, drug problems, and corruption, claim his avid followers.

However, ever since Duterte joined the presidential derby and as he began to introduce himself to the voters outside of Davao City, questions have arisen about who he is, specifically about his character, integrity, and temper.

I may not be a psychologist, but what I can infer based on his actuations and pronouncements  is a man who will do anything to satisfy his big ego, with utter disregard for social and legal conventions, all for the purpose of getting what he wants.

He savors and takes pride in publicly admitting that he is a womanizer. He has recently made headlines by suggesting in a macho-like fashion that he has two wives and two girlfriends. The arrogance is shocking, to say the least.  He appears to project himself as the male counterpart of Tlazolteotl, the goddess of lust, carnality, and sexual misdeeds.

He trumpets his sexual conquests with no shame, just like when he was quoted in one of the local papers that he is manlier than everybody because he has three balls: “Hindi ako nagyayabang, tatlo itong akin.” What’s the point? How does this make him presidential, even if it were true?

Granted that his claim is biologically true, this is the kind of rhetoric that does not bode well for someone who wants to be a president of a nation. Where is the man’s sense of decency?

Duterte also has an acid tongue that rubs people the wrong way. He is tactless, rude and talks without any consideration for others.  When criticized, he barks like a mad dog, ready to devour you, giving the impression that he is in control and you better get out of his way. His behavior smacks of insensibility.

When his attention was called early this year by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) regarding his role in the killings allegedly committed by a death squad in Davao, he bitterly attacked the human rights group saying, “What?!!!??!! US- based human rights wants me investigated?! Bullshit!! You are all hypocrites! You cannot even protect the human rights in your own country the American-Africans and other minorities, not to mention your inutility in dealing with the genocide going on in Africa and other countries.”

As I write this piece, Facebook is teeming with posts criticizing Duterte for his inflammatory statement, cursing Pope Francis for the traffic he had caused during his Papal visit this year. He said, “I wanted to call him and say Pope, you son of a ….., why don’t you go home? Don’t visit us again.”

Instead of admitting his mistakes, he fights back and threatens to “destroy the Church and the present status of so many priests and what they are doing.”  He continued, “You priests, bishops, you condemn me and suggest I withdraw, but then I will start to open my mouth. There are so many secrets that we kept as children. Do not force (me to speak) because this religion is not so sacred.”

True, the Church has made mistakes.  But why is he criticizing the Church only now? The answer is simple. He wants to get back at the Church because he was criticized by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for cussing Pope Francis.

It’s this eye for an eye mentality, coupled by his lack of respect and sensitivity toward others, that makes Duterte a potential president much more ruthless than the dictator Marcos.

When I used to hire staff in my previous work, I was advised by my supervisor, that with all things considered equal, to hire applicants with a good attitude. The rationale is it’s easier to train an employee to acquire certain skills, but it’s much more difficult to train an employee to develop a good attitude.

So, if Duterte applies for work under my watch, I am not going to hire him. I am glad I get to know him this early.