Bully and boss
President Rodrigo Duterte himself acknowledged one of the most frequent criticisms hurled at him by his fiercest critics during last Monday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) — that he is, in fact, a bully.
But he qualified his statement by saying thus: “I am really a bully especially to the enemies of the state.” Still, President Duterte didn’t mince words like he promised.
And he counted off those he considered the enemies of the state like the Maute terrorists who have lain siege and continue to hold some parts of Marawi City hostage, and the communist rebels who signified their position in the peace talks by killing police and soldiers while demanding conditions.
More than that though, President Duterte wanted to remind critics that he is in charge. That he is, as Inquirer columnist Manolo Quezon III accurately described, “The Boss” who will not suffer fools gladly and not tolerate opposition to any programs or initiatives that his administration had lain out, such as the war on illegal drugs.
While his tirades against critics of his bloody war on drugs were expected, the President’s extended harangue against mining companies was a consolation to his former Environment secretary Gina Lopez, who fought for accountability and responsibility from these firms in extracting the country’s mineral wealth.
As both boss and bully, President Duterte’s verbal tirades were meant to emphasize his administration’s determined push for his programs and intolerance for anything that he deems will weaken these initiatives.
Thus, his attacks on news website Rappler, whom he accused of being foreign owned, and the US, whom he called on to return the Balangiga bells that the American troops took as war bounty in the battle against Filipino rebels in 1901 in Balangiga, Eastern Samar province.
We get that the President wants to convey to the public his leadership’s tough, no-nonsense stance against crime, illegal drugs, corruption, red tape and wanton destruction of the environment.
Thus, his promises of building on a massive infrastructure program, along with expanding Wi-Fi accessibility to the public and his appeals to the Supreme Court to stop issuing temporary restraining orders (TRO) against projects were a marked contrast and a welcome respite from the insultsand extended “sermonizing” that he made as a detour to his Sona.
What the Filipino people needs now more than just a relentless, uncompromising war against illegal drugs is for the President to also build not just infrastructure but an economy that shows some considerable growth and whose benefits reach the greater majority of the people.
It’s too late in the day to expect him to cut down on his cursing and bullying, but President Duterte should also make good on the theme and promise of his Sona last Monday: to ensure a comfortable life for Filipinos.
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