TO say that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has his predecessor President Rodrigo Duterte’s huge shoes to fill in, is a big understatement.
Duterte’s approval ratings throughout his term have been the highest among his predecessors, ending at a remarkable 87 percent in June just before he stepped down from office, according to a recent Pulse Asia report. That news, I was shocked, appears to have been suppressed, reported only in a Facebook post, a demonstration of the continuing hold of the Yellows of media.
There is another aspect that emphasizes how phenomenal has been the Filipinos’ nearly universal support for their most recent president. Duterte’s 87 percent is the highest among nine “global” leaders of major countries in the world and four heads of Asean countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom one poll claimed has been the best prime minister of India next to Indira Gandhi, is 10 points below Duterte. Much more behind are Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and Andres Obrador. Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, and Justin Trudeau — whose governments have vociferously bashed Duterte as a bloody authoritarian — are in the bottom of the list. Ironic, isn’t it: the Nobel Committee, manipulated by the US State Department, gave the Peace Prize to a fraud whose claim to fame has been to allege that Duterte has been one of the worst leaders of the country ever.
If we use the survey for April 2022 by the other polling organization, Social Weather Stations, Duterte’s 65 percent net satisfaction (satisfied minus unsatisfied) is miles ahead for the equivalent months of Benigno Aquino 3rd (27 percent), Arroyo (-17), Estrada (+7 in December 2000), Ramos (+19), and Corazon Aquino (+7). No other president even got close to Duterte’s popular support.
What is astonishing in Duterte’s high ratings is that from Day One of his administration the majority of mainstream media have been attacking him, in a frenzy I suspect because of their expectation that, with US help, he would not finish his presidency, so Vice President Leni Robredo would take over and usher in another Yellow era. The Yellow oligarchs had continued their vicious propaganda to paint him as a human rights violator who should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.
Indeed, Duterte has been the most hated Philippine president ever by the US and its media, with even New York-based journalists like Columbia School of Journalism professor Sheila Coronel writing scathing but false articles against him, like the one entitled, “A presidency bathed in blood.” Rappler, funded by US entities, as well as Vice President Robredo waged a campaign that lasted five years to demonize Duterte in the world. They even got prosecutors of the International Court of Justice to believe their now totally debunked claims of 27,000 Filipinos killed in his historic war against illegal drugs.
Filipinos have rejected these vicious black propaganda.
For the first time in our history, a Philippine president has defied the US, and has not only survived, and with flying colors. This is one of Duterte’s important legacies: He demonstrated that we can be free of the American eagle’s clutches, and survive.
With Duterte’s presidency, his concrete achievements, and Filipinos’ nearly landslide support for him, I am wondering why Marcos in his first 30 days in office has acted as if there had been no spectacularly successful administration before him, from which he and his government should learn much.
His executive secretary on his first day in office issued a directive for all Duterte appointees co-terminus with his term to immediately step down. The last time that occurred was during the first days of the Cory administration. That order demonstrated, it seemed to me, a frame of mind of the new government’s (or the executive secretary’s alone) that the previous administration was not an ally. Why else would you hurry to cleanse the bureaucracy of all remnants of the previous administration? Did those Duterte appointees have nothing to share in terms of experience with BBM’s new people? Now the executive secretary would have to burn tons of midnight oil to fill in quickly these 8,000 posts vacated, risking unqualified, corrupt, or diehard Yellows sneaking into the new government.
A rational transition from a successful administration, I would think, should have involved letting Duterte’s appointees — even Cabinet secretaries — remain at their posts for, say, three months. Their replacements could then have been “understudies,” to be briefed comprehensively by the past administration’s men to ensure a smooth transition. The rush to clear the house of everybody found there will inevitably lead to mistakes.
Why on earth would the Presidential Management Staff (which I once headed), one of whose many tasks is to provide the President valuable information through what Fidel Ramos called “complete staff work,” take over the Radio Television Malacañang [which was once technically under me when I was press secretary].
I found it curious and interesting that among others, the APO Production Unit, the National Printing Office and the People’s Television Network have been put directly under the Office of the Press Secretary.
These have been the most problematic, but potentially “money-making” units — if you know what I mean — in Malacañang’s media apparatus, APO is in a joint venture with a private firm that has been printing our passports; the National Printing Office has had a long history of corruption, as it’s easy to contract out the printing orders it gets from government units; and PTV is practically a huge corporation, which has its supply and equipment needs. I hope the press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles placed these under her direct supervision to keep close tabs on them.
Indeed, one serious problem of our Republic is that each administration acts as if there had not been any previous administration. As a result, we haven’t built up a bureaucracy with institutional memory, a succeeding administration embracing the valuable lessons of the previous one.
Of course, BBM, as all presidents have been, would have their own fixed idea of how the Republic should be run. But it is also rational to continue the past administration’s successful undertakings. Not everything needs to be reinvented.
The think-tank and pollster PUBLiCUS has given valuable input to the new administration when it undertook a survey asking its respondents what issues the Duterte administration tackled they would want to be continued by the incumbent administration. These were ranked in the intensity of their approval, with the top five as follows: 1) continuation of the Build, Build, Build program, 79 percent of respondents; 2) continuation of the war on illegal drugs, 78 percent; 3) continuation of independent foreign policy, 68 percent; 4) provision of subsidies and incentives to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, 66 percent; 5) continuation of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict, 56 percent.
Of course, government policy is not dictated by popularity. But at the very least, this list shows how much Filipinos have valued these things that Duterte had undertaken, which partly explains his popularity.
Even as BBM creates and undertakes his own route he thinks will bring us to prosperity, he should continue to address these issues that Duterte had tackled, so successfully he has become the country’s best president, with support from his people unmatched by any other leader in the world.
It’s a good feeling to find that you’ve been proven right, especially if you had changed your mind. In the 2016 elections, I batted for Jejomar Binay and wrote vociferous columns against Duterte. Why did I change my mind|? I’ll point to as the famous economist Paul Samuelson’s famous quote, ” When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Book orders: www.rigobertotiglao.com/shop
International Book Orders, buy from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3wE7AFV
Sales and Order Inquiries: email@example.com