What voting for Duterte says about Filipinos
by Zach Albia
Let me get two things straight:
- Duterte is allegedly (and very quite possibly) an excellent interior/local government official.
- Duterte is a horrible choice for the presidency.
No one will probably change their votes (or abstain from voting as I have) for having read this. At this point, it is very much beside the point as I have realized that Duterte has grown into a public figure wildly beyond his supporters’ skeptical faculties.
Since I’m obviously against a Duterte presidency, a stance that, being a Bisaya from Mindanao, has probably befuddled, annoyed, or even angered even some of my closest friends and relatives, they will wonder who I would vote for. For the record, my order of lesser evils would be as follows, from least to worst:
EDIT: I believe I have been very unfair to Mar with regards to his accomplishments as DILG secretary. To me, he is actually a better candidate than Duterte or Binay (and maybe even Poe) for the reason that he has walked the walk when it comes to the executive on the national level, propaganda against him, his campaign’s unscrupulousness, and the ruling admin’s total blunders of the Quirino Grandstand, Mamasapano, and Zamboanga incidents aside. I still reserve more than the average number of doubts about his character however, as we all do with all candidates - something that secures Santiago on the top spot for me.
I don’t even bother with Binay anymore because to me it has become a given that he’s on a whole other level of unscrupulousness and that a vote for them would just be on a whole other level of bad (or bought) decision making.
However, given the chance to vote in the US Presidential Elections, I would vote for Bernie Sanders. On the other hand, all this talk about other choices is a different story and explaining my choices is not what I set out to convey in this piece.
To thoroughly understand why Duterte is a horrible choice, we as Filipinos should reflect and realize the following about ourselves:
1. We don’t get crime.
Crime is a very complex subject that I understand I am not even marginally qualified to tackle. Then again, the same goes for most of us.
What I do understand is that you can't kill crime by killing criminals.
Studies around the world suggest that the amount of crime is largely a function of income inequality. You want to solve crime, start with income inequality. Hell, some countries even give their prisoners a full education and respectable living conditions, eventually allowing for their full reintegration into society. I just might be gravely mistaken, but I have not heard one iota of a solid plan from his campaign as to how he intends to lessen our national embarrassment of a strong economy vis-à-vis gross income inequality.
From the get-go, Duterte's intractable plan to ‘solve crime in 3-6 months’ is a horrible pipe dream (nightmare?) and he is a horrible choice for president.
2. We don’t get drugs.
Experts worldwide have discovered and declared ‘war on drugs’ campaigns worldwide to be utter failures. The only approach that is being found to succeed is to treat abusive drug usage as a medical condition within a context where those who suffer from them can receive medical attention without the stigma attached being an ‘addict’, something Filipinos are very guilty of casually throwing around as an insult or even as some twisted term of endearment in the form of ‘adik’.
He has mentioned drug dealers and users as targets in his 3-6 month crime eradication campaign promise. His ignorance or just plain indifference of these trends are glaring red flags that he is not fit to be in a position to represent the Philippines as a whole with regards to the globally-relevant issue of narcotic substances.
As far as the highly stigmatized, marginalized demographic who suffer from drug addiction is concerned or just peacefully use drugs recreationally with absolutely no harm done towards his fellow man, he is a horrible choice for president.
3. We don’t get math.
His admonishment (and the wave of nods of agreement from many of his supporters) of calculus or algebra or whatever branch of basic mathematics speaks volumes about our collective distrust or indifference towards intellectual pursuits that build a nation.
For fuck’s sake, this is the 21st century. Anyone who looks down on math (and in extension, the sciences) should be labelled weird and out of touch. And what is to be said of this very particular choice of “business math”? Simple. He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. Ask anyone who’s ever taken units in "business math" and they'll tell you it involves statistics, algebra, calculus and all that good stuff.
You can't build a 21st century nation around "business math". You can't build a 21st century nation with Duterte. He is a horrible choice for president.
4. We are prone to cults of personality.
We are such a desperate people. We have grown so jaded, forever assuming the worst about our public officials. Then this guys comes along who's planning to kill all the bad guys, in glamorous black and white morality. Such is the perilous, prevailing premise espoused by Duterte supporters.
But it works! Davao is crime free! Better them than me!
Is this a good thing, though? Can we even allow for the pretense of civility and rationality in the Duterte movement as a whole when a vast majority of it just rushes head on, apologizing for every single gaffe, every single horrible pronouncement he makes? What has the movement done to them? Or have they always been this way, their bravado amplified by that of their “Dear Leader”? How has an entire group of supporters given PR firms, televangelists, and religious apologists a run for their money?
I haven't heard of supporters from other camps supporting their candidate with the same unrelenting vitriol towards detractors than they do with Duterte. They seem to have forgotten that they can and should disagree with a lot of what Duterte is saying or planning to do.
Why do Duterte supporters even feel like the man needs their defending?
More than anything, this smacks to me as a sign of a downward spiral of arguments from their side, even coming up with spurious, contrived platitudes such as the following:
A bad joke is way better than a bad life.
Never mind that the joke in question is about rape coming from a presidential candidate, or that he flip-flops on the issue of China, among many other utterly distateful words. Is this all the Duterte camp has to offer?
Show us your figures. Show us your boring, exhaustive detailed plans for the economy, food security, education, science and technology, if any at all.
Show us you are not just a cult of personality.
Duterte has single-handedly brought out and amplified his supporters’ collective inner demons. Such a mentality is an indictment of the cult of personality around him and an indictment of Filipinos supporting him. It is evidence enough that he is a horrible choice for president.
5. We gamble our human rights.
Human rights advocates have been getting a bad rap from Filipinos lately. A lot of it has to do with crime. Then again, Filipinos don’t get crime. The argument goes that the Commission on Human Rights is selective with their human rights watch, allegedly “deferring to the rights of criminals”. Unless there’s any proof of it, the immediate logical dismissal of this argument would be that of a selection bias.
What's even more alarming is that his gung-ho campaign for the erosion of human rights and liberties is an insidious disease. It started out very subtle, with ordinances against underage curfews, alcohol, even fireworks when appropriate for the occasion, progressing into violent episodes of extrajudicial killings and unexplained disappearances. They would even go so far as to claim him to be advocates for women because Davao put up a misguided “women’s code” that prudishly “prohibits women wearing bathing suits during beauty contests.” All of it may fester and eventually just end up getting back to us in the form of utter lack of due process. Such is the lesson of history. Such should not happen to the Philippines again and again.
Because his supporters don’t get crime, they also don’t get that criminals (guilty and falsely accused) have and are deserving of the same human rights as them. We also don’t get that the death penalty doesn’t do what it’s set out to do and that it’s a frivolous waste of life. Duterte and his supporters don’t get crime, and they don’t get human rights either.
Just imagine the international sanctions, rows and international embarrassment that would ensue should he push forward with his plan of violating a huge number of Filipinos’ rights within 3-to-6 months! With his admission of being involved with the Davao Death Squad, it is safe to say that his irreverence of human rights and due process makes him a horrible choice for president.
6. We don’t get presidency.
All points 1-5 would be partially irrelevant if he weren’t running for president. I say partially because I still have to give Duterte the benefit of the doubt for what appears to be the general consensus that Davao is a wonderful, bustling metropolis that is the envy of the rest of the Philippines.
I have heard stories upon stories of the discipline of the Davaoeño and I highly applaud Duterte and Davao for it. I would love for Iligan to be like Davao in all these aspects. Frankly, I fucking hate the general lack of discipline of the Iliganon and would love for there to be strict ordinances regarding smoking, littering, garbage disposal, traffic. I would probably vote for him for mayor should circumstances allow it.
This is what mayors do. They act as the direct, local arms of government. Someone people should directly go to, or blame for, their problems and grievances about their city in general.
Now I won’t even pretend to know Davao because I've only been there one to two times in my childhood. But I will say that being mayor and being president are two wholly different beasts.
A president’s job is to represent our country in as best a manner as possible. A president takes care of national security, economy, inter-state relations, and last but not the least, exemplify the Filipino people in one person.
Would you like for the whole Filipino people to be represented by a man who doesn’t get crime, drugs, the maths and sciences, and mostly doesn’t give a fuck about human rights? I wouldn’t wish it upon ISIS.
What about federalism? He supports federalism but he doesn't own it. To my knowledge, both Poe and Binay agree with the idea. Fuck both Poe and Binay too though.
He’s an excellent mayor, and by extension, would probably make an excellent local government secretary at the national level but would be a horrible would-be president. I hope his supporters get it.
Duterte for Mayor or DILG secretary, 20xx!
What are our other options?
Frankly, all our presidential candidates just aren't up to snuff. But if you must vote, vote for Miriam. She has all the presidential qualities of grit, intellect, political and economic savvy, and of course, love for the Philippines.
Where did all the mostly online enthusiasm for Miriam go which appeared to be in full swing a few months back? It probably got split and went to Duterte and his ploy to be the last to declare his bid, very regrettably.
But Miriam isn't going to win! A vote for Miriam is a vote for Binay!
Fuck what the polls and the retards who believe them say, it doesn’t matter! What matters is that your conscience is clear on who the best officials are! This is just a very sad feature of Philippine politics, it’s not your fault. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we should even have polls. In some countries, polls just don’t exist because of the jarring, deceptive “winnability” factor they impose on the general voting populace.
Barring the fact that she’s crazy for picking a Marcos for VP and that she has cancer, she’s the only honest-to-goodness candidate. Hell, vote for the best possible vice-presidential candidate which to me appears to be a toss-up between Cayetano and Robredo. Whichever sad excuse of a president might just end up being replaced by either of the two VP candidates, which just might be a good thing.
Or we could just, ‘ya know, vote with our feet and leave the circus that is Philippine politics behind.