Malacañang may describe former president Fidel V. Ramos’s grim assessment of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first 100 days in office as “fatherly advice,” but it doesn’t reduce the sting of the elder statesman’s words that the country “is losing badly” so far under the former Davao City mayor’s watch.
Simply put, Mr. Ramos sees “no long-term strategic vision” in President Duterte’s administration, and that he is calling on Mr. Duterte to take into consideration the other concerns of the Filipinos, like poverty and unemployment.
To be fair though, the President has been speaking out on contractualization or “endo” (end of contract), reducing government bureaucratic red tape, the turtle-like pace of the country’s internet services, his administration’s stance on mining and so on.
But his words on these issues are too few and far between as far as his public speaking engagements are concerned because President Duterte has been, to put it bluntly, so anal in his pronouncements in his war against illegal drugs.
It’s this “tunnel vision” that former president Ramos is referring to, this nearly fanatical, obsessive commitment to the campaign that has dominated his every public discourse, including his not-too-secret goal to destroy his arch critic, Sen. Leila De Lima.
In one of his speeches, President Duterte asked the Filipino public to give him another six-month extension to his campaign pledge to rid the country of the drug menace. No surprise there, given the enormity of the drug menace.
So can we realistically expect that he would hunker down and address the other pressing problems of the country by that time, or are we in for another six-month extension?
Regardless of what he says, President Duterte may have given us the answer when he said in one of his speeches that it won’t matter to him if his only presidential legacy is to get rid the country of the drug menace once and for all.
But as Mr. Ramos pointed out in his assessment of the first 100 days of the Age of Duterte in a column in another daily, that should not be the end-all of President Duterte’s governance.
As a former Davao City mayor, President Duterte may have appointed people to attend to other concerns, and he merely supervises them. That may be the case with his presidency, as he himself said that he will give his Cabinet secretaries and everyone else under his administration enough leeway and room to act on his “vision” for the country.
But so far the President’s vision for development as seen mostly by Filipinos has been focused on his relentless anti-drugs campaign. Everything else, it seems, has been relegated to the background or, worse, sacrificed to the altar that is the President’s obsessive war against illegal drugs.
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