Some leader are effective managers, others are effective communicators and others yet are merely placeholders for others who do their job behind the scenes. But Rodrigo Duterte is a leader with a clear, all-encompassing vision for the future of his country. He is a man who built his political career through offering effective ideas that are implemented with sincerity and fairness. Duterte has already led a Filipino revolution, but it has been a peaceful revolution of ideas, not a violent revolution built on the blood of others.
Like any genuine revolutionary, Duterte has won the support of the vast majority of his people and he has done this without implement drastic changes to the Constitution of the country, let alone in implementing a legal device called Proclamation No. 3 that was last used by Corey Aquino in 1986 to form a legally defined “Revolutionary Government”.
While Duterte looks to give his country a brighter future, his opposition continue to be stuck in the past in more ways than one. They’re mentally stuck in a time when the post-Marcos (neo) Liberal consensus had no real challenges. They are stuck in a past where they were in charge along with their unassailable corporate oligarch allies. They are stuck in a past where a post-Marcos colonial mentality expressed itself in ways that were often more extreme than in the Marcos years. They are stuck in a past where Philippines looked only to the United States rather than to fellow ASEAN countries, to China, to Russia and beyond.
Because of this, Duterte’s opposition from failed Vice Presidential Candidate Antonio Trillanes IV continues to be framed around personal attacks rather than any true substantive debate. Trillanes continues to beat a much worn drum, saying that President Duterte and his daughter Sara, who succeeded her father as Mayor of Davao, have been the beneficiaries of “ill-gotten wealth”.
While Trillanes has never produced any tangible evidence to back up his increasingly wild accusations against the President’s family, Duterte’s Presidential administration has produced results for the people in areas as wide ranging from security issues, to the related war against drugs, to economic improvement, attracting international investment in Philippines, forming new partnerships, and providing plans to federalise the country which will more fairly distribute health and improve the quality of health and education for millions. Because the political ‘ideas’ of Trillanes have failed to capture the imagination of the public, he is resorting to the cheap US style personal attacks against political opponents that have made American politics the laughing stock of the world.
In challenging the ethical record of the Duterte family, Trillanes is insulting the dignity of his own nation and distracting members of the public from what really matters: an open debate on the big issues of the day – first and foremost – Duterte’s proposals to federalise the country. Adding insult to injury, it is Trillanes himself whose career has been filled with controversies and legally questionable acts.
While Trillanes and his ilk hide behind personal attacks, Duterte continues to lead his country forward to a bright future at home that is fuelled by cooperative inter-connectivity abroad. The political divide in Philippines is increasingly becoming one of looking forward versus one of looking back. International history books will remember Duterte as a man who changed his country for the better. By that time, the personal attacks of Trillanes will be long forgotten.