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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What the clamor for a Duterte run tells about us Filipinos

Permission to post: Veronica Uy, The online news portal of TV5 For the upcoming elections, I will not be overwhelmed by disappointment and frustration.

 Instead, this attitude:

No one and nothing’s perfect.

Not the candidates, not the Philippine political and electoral system, and least of all, not us, the citizenry, the voters.

So the 60-minute Happy Hour with Mayor Duterte was a feeble attempt to get to know the man, his motivations, and his flaws.

How do his failings as a person balance with his ambitions for the nation?

I asked him how many people he has killed because I wanted to satisfy a curiosity about people with that capability.

When I was a police reporter many years ago, I encountered two such men shortly after they’d done the deed.

First was the triggerman in the killing of alleged big-time drug lord Don Pepe Oyson.

No other reporter was in the newsroom so I was told to go get details of the story.

The men were seated alongside the walls of the anteroom to the office of then NBI chief Alfredo Lim.

I was breathless because I had come from the Western Police District headquarters, where editors wrongfully instructed me to go interview the lawmen responsible for gunning down an allegedly escaping Oyson.

I politely asked which one shot and killed Oyson. I went to him and asked him how he did it and why.

He gave me his version of what happened -- in a voice that uncontrollably shook.

It felt like it was his initiation into the elite fraternity of men who kill. Second was during a hostage-taking in Dasmarinas Village in Makati.

It was past our 3 p.m. deadline, and we were all simply shooting the breeze in the Makati Press Office when somebody got a call about a developing crime story.

The photographers crammed into the jeep of a radio reporter.

I went with the rest of the other reporters in a cab.

We ran from a gate of the posh village.

The presence of police and village security vehicles pointed us to the crime site.

 I rushed to the passenger side of a white AUV parked outside the mansion of the man who was being held hostage.

One man was slumped dead in the front seat, blood oozing out of his head.

I did not know that the hostage-taking incident had concluded.

The sight of the body and smell of fresh blood shocked me.

I retreated to the vehicle behind the AUV. Three village security guards in blue overalls were in front of their vehicle, with one of them -- a hulkish man -- vomiting.

Turns out he was the one who shot dead one of the hostage-takers.

 That’s why I suppose it’s not easy to kill. One of the Ten Commandments, this prohibition against taking another’s life, is where I have always drawn the line, primarily because resurrection has not yet been successfully replicated in big enough numbers outside high-tech labs so as not to be considered a miracle.

At the height of the plunder accusations against former President GMA, I would tell rabidly anti-GMA friends,

“Stolen funds can be returned, unlike snuffed lives.” Although now I know: Stealing, especially obscenely huge amounts intended to feed, clothe, shelter, educate les miserables, does kill -- just as stupidity, indifference, and greed (definitely) kills.

 Duterte was not coy. His response felt like he was inside a confessional bragging. It was surreal. “I counted to three and that was it,” he said of the kidnappers that took a “Chinese girl” when she was released.

“Babarilin ko ang dalawang bayag niya(I will shoot both his testicles),” he said of the cigarette-smoking tourist in tobacco-free Davao City.

And unrelated to the question of whether or not he’s running for the presidency, Papatayin kita pag pumunta ka sa Davao (I will kill you if you go to Davao).”

Talking about the interview with a friend, we agreed that the bluster might be a case of myth-making.

And you can’t argue with Duterte about how the justice system is nowhere near being just.

A former prosecutor, he enumerated the pillars of the Philippine judicial system and their failures. Of the rehabilitation pillar:

“What can they do? Jail me? In jail, one can have so many women, have or trade in drugs, get a Patek Philippe watch.

” For me, this is the story: A lot of Filipinos like the swagger.

His rage, directed mainly at the continuing lording over of illegal drug traffickers, resonated with many.

Our amateur social psychological conclusion: People cheer Duterte on because he projects the “Justice League” persona.

He is katarungan personified. People bear the weight of social injustice every day.

He is a superhero.

They know that might and money are the only law.

Not right.

 And who has not felt homicidal over the homeless babies on the streets being used as pity capital in exchange for our guilt-filled coins?

The corruption that exacerbate this inhumanity of poverty?

The floods?

The traffic?

Every putang ina, babarilin ko ang bayag or papatayin kita is meant more than to shock, but to echo everyman’s and everywoman’s indignation and to shake off some of their frustration.

They agree that Duterte’s motivation -- to make his city safe for his constituents -- justifies his means.

 Unlike FPJ, Duterte has captured the imagination of Mindanaoans (and quite a number of people elsewhere) with real-life toughness of talk and action.

He has accepted that politics and governance can be so dirty he developed a capacity for the killing that it sometimes requires.

People’s reaction to him is similar to former policemen Alfredo Lim and Panfilo Lacson.

 While Duterte’s strongman’s governance style leaves me a little terrorized, four positive things in a Duterte presidency came out of the interview:

  1. He is from Mindanao -- and everything that stems from that fact. Duterte asserts that Mindanao is his home, and because it is home, he won’t let it continue being “the country’s battleground.
” Even as he recognizes that he is a migrant to the island, he is pro-Moro, and not only because a relative is married to one.
According to him, his going around the country promoting federalism -- in place of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the likelihood that it doesn't pass Congress -- is what people interpreted as his pre-election campaign.

  2. He knows his history. The first part of the interview was mostly about history -- as viewed from Mindanao: how the island has always fought against colonizers and for self-determination.

He claims to understand the island’s and its unconquered peoples’ “idiosyncracies.”

  3. His concern for patrimony. He argues: China may have all the billions to buy parts of our land, but we cannot agree to sell them because where else would Filipinos go?

This is our land. He is also anti-mining.

  4. He gets things done. Tobacco is a big enemy. And Duterte took it on, and seems to be winning that war -- in his cowboy style.

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