Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
assuming office on June 30, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has now been in
Malacańang for over a hundred days. And for most Filipinos, what a
hundred days they have been. Without doubt, Duterte has shaken up the
local establishment and ruffled feathers all across the globe.
Even before Duterte
took office, young men by the hundreds were already turning up dead in
the streets all over the Philippines. Supposed victims of vigilante
killings by death squads who take their marching orders, rumor has it,
from Duterte or his assistants. These extrajudicial killings of
suspected drug dealers and addicts who were never given their day in
court but simply executed, has placed a damper on the otherwise positive
reputation the Philippines has built with international agencies,
development banks and foreign governments.
And Duterte’s crude
remarks, defensive stance, and flip-flopping statements, have certainly
not helped matters. In retaliation, Duterte now appears to be moving
away from the “West” because of its “meddling” in his country’s internal
affairs, and is cozying –up to the Chinese and the Russians.
The question some
Filipinos are now asking—including Duterte himself is whether he will
even get to complete his six-year term. More and more Filipinos now
wonder whether voting him into office was a mistake. Agot Isidro, a
Filipina show-business personality tweeted that Duterte was a
psychopath. More recently former President Fidel Ramos, whom Duterte
chose as his special emissary to China, is now wondering whether Duterte
for president was a mistake. Recently, even the International Criminal
Court has weighed in and warned Duterte that he can be changed by the
court if he is indeed involved in the killing of thousands.
But despite all the
negative publicity, Duterte still retains the support of the majority of
Filipinos according to local surveys. The question is will this support
continue or will it fizzle out as more and more Filipinos eventually
begin to realize the extensive, and long-lasting, damage Duterte could
do to the country.
As we noted in an
earlier editorial: “two wrongs do not make a right.” If Duterte wants to
rid the country of drug pushers and drug addicts, he must do it the
right way. And the right way is usually a lot harder than the easy way.
Taking short-cuts at the expense of suspected drug pushers some of whom
might not even be guilty is just plain wrong. It is what a lazy, weak
and incapable leader would do.
Just as you can’t create
a strong edifice that will last for ages by taking shortcuts in its
construction, so too will Duterte be unable to build a strong and
prosperous Philippines if he continues to condone extra-judicial
killings of drug suspects by vigilante groups. If Duterte truly wants to
do good for the country, he must start doing things the right way.