EXCEPT for the stragglers of the dying Yellow cult, I don’t think there’s any doubt that most people think that Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency has been successful. This is despite the worst natural disaster ever to have hit the country, the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought to their knees even the most developed countries in the world, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and even Germany.
“Successful” is even an understatement since Duterte has undertaken, as I have discussed last Wednesday, seven breakthroughs that will change the trajectory of our nation. These are his furious wars against the communist insurgency and illegal drugs; his efforts to weaken the exploitative Philippine oligarchy personified by the Lopez clan as well as these oligarchs’ (and mini-oligarchs, like the Philippine Daily Inquirer owners) weapon, their media outfits; his ending our vassalage to the US; his drive to finally build, what should have been built since our independence, modern infrastructure; and last, his bold resistance to the most elaborate scam ever foisted on the nation, the arbitration suit against China that was the project of a triad of oligarchs.
The masses have felt Duterte’s accomplishments, reflected in his record ratings by pollsters. Pulse Asia’s last survey gave him a 91 percent rating, the Social Weather Stations 72 percent. Compare these to the late President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s ratings at the start of his last year in office: 38 percent in PulseAsia’s poll and 32 percent in SWS.
It is easy to understand why Aquino’s political support plunged in the last phase of his presidency, while that of Duterte has remained at its high levels.
When Aquino delivered his last SONA in 2015, his presidency had already been condemned by most people because of his hijacking of the budget in 2011 through the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program to bribe the Congress to remove the chief justice of the Supreme Court for the sake of his clan’s Hacienda Luisita, his government’s bungling in 2013 of the disaster and relief operations following the Yolanda super typhoon disaster that killed over 6,000 Filipino, and the Mamasapano massacre in 2015 of 44 elite police commandos because he refused to order his troops to rescue them.
A vivid representation of his kind of government hit the headlines, even in newspapers that supported him: commuters disembarking from an MRT train that broke down, essentially due to corruption.
There have been no such DAPs, Mamasapanos, Yolandas, MRTs breaking down in the past five years of the Duterte regime.
Even criticism from media still run by Yellow stragglers have been muted, pathetic or even hilariously stupid.
The editor in chief of the Philippine Star claimed that Duterte will only be remembered for “deaths.”
She was referring first to the 7,000 killed in Duterte’s anti-drug war – which however most Filipinos have supported. They understand such casualties because they live in the real world unlike that Star editor in her gated village. Second, she was referring to the 27,000 killed by the pandemic. By this lady’s logic, all of the heads of over 100 countries with, say, at least 1,000 deaths will be remembered for the Covid deaths during their terms. Because of her Yellow brain, this lady can’t even see that the Philippines’ number of 27,000 Covid deaths is small compared, say, to the US’ 628,000, the UK’s 129,000 and even our neighbor Indonesia’s 89,000.
Two SONA columns of two other Star columnists take the cake though, in terms of bizarreness and hilarity. One columnist, perhaps with age overtaking him, wrote a piece titled: “See the true SONA, look at your kids…”
What? Speak for yourself, man. My kids are doing well and fine. So are the kids of my friends. Kids, say, of poor families in urban slums have been looking at their kids, happy that the drug-dealer next door is in jail or worse.
Another would have made one of the Star’s founders the late Max Soliven, an idol of mine in column-writing, turn in his grave: the columnist narrated Duterte’s four jokes, two on rape and his several profanities. You rate a president based on his jokes? I suspect the lady writer deep in heart enjoyed the jokes so much she put them in print years after Duterte cracked them.
Why has the Star replaced the Inquirer as the foremost Duterte basher?
My thesis is that its editors have received the bash-Duterte order since its owner, the First Pacific conglomerate, is angry at Duterte’s refusal to pressure China to allow its gas-extraction project at Recto Bank, which the superpower blocked in March 2011, and triggered the Aquino regime’s belligerent stance against it.
It was Aquino’s foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario who has been in the board of over a dozen First Pacific companies since the 1990s, who was even chairman of the PLDT’s “Beneficial Trust Fund” when it funded in 2002 the establishment of MediaQuest, the mother company of the Star, and several other media outfits such as Channel 5. The Star’s chairman is Ray Espinosa, First Pacific CEO Manuel Pangilinan’s main counsel.
Rather than arguing point by point what Duterte’s failures have been, Duterte’s critics among columnists in other newspapers have merely resorted to old cliches (one in this newspaper claims there were “unfulfilled promises,” what these are she doesn’t really say) or boast of the corny “memes” they posted in their Facebook page.
An indicator of how things under Duterte have changed, the SONA coverage of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, once Duterte’s most vociferous, even delirious critics, has been muted. Its headline on SONA day June 26 was a supportive and surprising “Duterte’s final Sona: A ‘legacy of change’.” However, it was back in its old Yellow form the next day headlining, out of the many things Duterte said, its banner story: “Duterte taunts ICC, orders more ‘kills.’ That’s like reporting what the bible says with the headline: “You can kill a woman if she seizes a man’s private parts without his permission.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-1)
That times have changed is even reflected in an article in rappler.com, the US-funded and American-run outfit which even fabricated facts before – it spread the claim that 27,000 people were killed in Duterte’s war against drugs – to put down the President.
“After five years of controversies that may have felled any other political career, Duterte is on track to becoming the country’s most popular post-Marcos president, a huge asset for his last year in power,” an article last month said.
The piece’s headline though demonstrated how childish the anti-Duterte’s editors were: “Duterte may cap term as most popular Philippine president. So what?”
The piece though didn’t expound on that “So what” question. I’ll answer the question.
So what? It means a very enfeebled opposition with, in fact, no openly anti-Duterte opposition leader appearing in the political stage to challenge his anointed, 10 months to elections.
So what? All this means that most likely there will be a second Duterte regime.
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