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Duterte: Why Most Filipinos Love Him

Updated on November 15, 2017

The Filipinos have spoken . . .

The Republic of the Philippines is a constitutional democracy, and, as such, the Filipino people are sovereign or the supreme authority.

In May 2016, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a local politician, emerged as the elected Philippine president. The then maverick candidate won by six million plus votes over his closest rival. That was not an easy feat both for him and for the people who supported him. It was a victory of, by and for the masses who wanted a genuine change . . . badly!

"Filipinos appeal to your fairness, citizens of the world, to hold Duterte in high esteem. Many vested interest groups (druglords, political opposition, oligarchs, Catholic church, mainstream media- local/foreign, rebel groups) are undermining him by making you hate him. He is NOT a killer. There's no policy of arbitrary killings in the Philippines. His drug war is done under a lawful and humane regime. For once, please give Filipinos a chance to live in prosperity under his decisive leadership.

Hordes of passionate Filipinos rallying for Duterte as their leader.
Hordes of passionate Filipinos rallying for Duterte as their leader.

A Controversial Leader

To say that Rodrigo Roa Duterte is a controversial leader, is actually an understatement. Within his less than two years administration, President Duterte has singularly earned himself some sort of fame in the global stage because of many reasons, but foremost of which is his fierce war on drugs and his foul seething mouth.

President Duterte does not mince words, not even sparing the high and the mighty leaders of the West, such as, former US President Obama, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and with some members of the European Parliament. They earned his ire because of their very critical and vocal stance against his war on illegal drugs. The human rights issue was at the center stage. And for his candor and unorthodox style, President Duterte has been heavily maligned and criticized.

"It's not the critic that counts. It's the man who is actually in the arena." - T. Roosevelt

For President Duterte, who's so keen on history, the unsolicited advice by these foreigners borders on infringing on the sovereignty of his country. He maintains that the Philippines is a sovereign state. As such, he wanted other world leaders to treat his country with respect and on an equal footing; not a vassal to anyone.

True enough, and without delay, President Duterte shaped a new foreign policy for his country, one that is more independent and in compliance with the Constitutional mandate for a truly sovereign and a democratic state. He veered slightly away from the Philippines' traditional ally, the US, and moved closer toward China and Russia.

As the Chair of ASEAN 2017, President Duterte visited his regional neighbors to forge closer ties and to consult especially in matters pertaining to security, trade and economics. The ASEAN 2017 summit and its 50th year anniversary were held in Manila, Philippines in November 2017. In attendance were ASEAN leaders and several dialogue partners including President Trump of the US whom Duterte has made a more friendly and cordial relationship. ASEAN2017 has been a resounding success.

The Marawi seige- a huge crisis that challenged Duterte's fresh leadearship

On 23 May 2017, the Philippine President declared martial law in the whole of Mindanao (one of the three major group of islands in the Philippine archipelago) when the ISIS inspired local group Maute sow terror in Marawi. The retaking of Marawi resulted into a tough urban warfare never seen before in the land. It caused forced evacuation and displacement of hundreds of families and the physical destruction of Marawi City, the premier Muslim city in the country and in the whole of Mindanao. After almost five months of fierce fightings, and with the killing of the terrorist leaders, the war in Marawi is finally winding down. Endless thanks to the bravery and determination of the Armed Forces Philippines troops, soldiers and policemen. The President declared the liberation of Marawi from the terrorists group in 17 October 2017.

There are times when President Duterte seemed to self-berate his own capability and demeanor as a statesman, so lacking in form and a departure from what the usual diplomacy that the term and role would normally require; but his astute and decisive leadership has been tested and has clearly revealed more depth and substance and especially seen in most challenging of times. And to the around 80% of Filipinos in and out of the country all over the globe, what they've seen, is more than enough. Indeed, and finally, they have a leader, someone who speaks their language, one who understands, and someone who will stand up for and with them come hell or high water.

Duterte: "I am Here because I Love My Country" "Trust me!"

A Populist Leader

So much has been said about President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, both good and bad, mostly bad as usually portrayed by the international press. But to the Filipino people, he is their strong leader and their hero. He is far from perfect (no one is), but his commitment to do what is best for his people is genuine, sincere, and is deeply felt by at least 80% of the population who as the survey says, gives him such a very high approval rating (released October 2017 by Pulse Asia). Within a span of only 15 months of administration, President Duterte and his team have already accomplished much in office of no mean feat, and they are continuing to do more.

A Hardworking President

Among President Duterte's notable accomplishments so far includes the following:

1. Increasing the pension of SSS pensioners by P2,000 in two tranches (vetoed by previous administration)

2. Signed a law providing free education up to college level in all public schools (free tuition used to be up to secondary level only)

3. While crime and illegal drugs still persist a year into the presidency, Duterte was able to bring down the number of crimes by 10 percent in the first 11 months of his administration, data from the Philippine National Police show. To bring down criminality was the centerpiece of his campaign platform. (Source: GMA online)

President Duterte’s war on drugs has netted 1.3 million surrenderers in one year, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP). These drug victims are undergoing various levels of rehabilitation depending on the extent of their drug contamination, either they stay in closed-in facilities (rehabilitation centers) or only being monitored at the barangay level.

Contrary to what may be peddled elsewhere, the Philippines is a very humane society. Fact is, despite budget constraints, its people and the government lend needed support to drug surrenderers who are willing to undergo rehabilitation.
Contrary to what may be peddled elsewhere, the Philippines is a very humane society. Fact is, despite budget constraints, its people and the government lend needed support to drug surrenderers who are willing to undergo rehabilitation.

4. He signed an executive order converting the Philippine Postal Savings Bank into a bank that will deliver microfinance and micro-insurance products and services for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)

5.Duterte approved a 10-year passport validity (used to be five); and the Land Transportation Office is set to roll out plastic driver's license with 5-year validity (used to be three).

6. The terror threats in the South has been successfully mitigated by the military and the police with the death of the terrorists' notorious ringleaders. The actual battle has ended, thus, the rebuilding of a better Marawi is underway.

Sec. of Dept of Public Works & Highway Mark Villar is shown on ground zero to assess damages on infrastructure, road network. Following President Duterte's mandate, he's gearing up to do his share of the work to rebuild a better Marawi.
Sec. of Dept of Public Works & Highway Mark Villar is shown on ground zero to assess damages on infrastructure, road network. Following President Duterte's mandate, he's gearing up to do his share of the work to rebuild a better Marawi.

7. The possible switch by the Philippines to a federal form of government is being carefully and seriously considered by Congress and being discussed in various fora.

8. Poverty is aimed to be reduced from 21.6% in 2015 to 13% - 15% by 2022.

Despite enormous challenges. the economy retains its growth at 6.2%, one of the highest performing economy in Asia.

The Duterte economic team has launched the Build Build Build program which will undertake massive infrastructure projects that will connect entrepreneurs to their market. Public spending on infrastructures is among Duterte's priority, targeting 8-9% trillion pesos from 2017-2022 (used to be only 3% of GDP or even lesser under the previous administration; it will be doubled during Duterte's term of office).

So much is happening, so much more has yet to be done. This is a nation re-building and and this is just the beginning.

The Golden Age of Infrastructure - "Build Build Build"

An intimidating but a very effective tax collector and policy maker

9. From the tax administration aspect- Definitely a very effective and highly intimidating tax collector, Duterte accepted a tax settlement offer of an erring huge corporate taxpayer amounting to P26B, the highest tax settlement case in Philippine history.

Another milestone tax collection victory: The Prieto family owned Sunvar Realty Development Corporation has been ordered by a Makati Court to pay P478.2 million in back rent. This is precisely the reason why tax evading elites are doing all they can to bring down Duterte simply because they can no longer circumvent the law. Duterte makes sure they pay the correct taxes due the government now.

From the tax policy formulation aspect- The Duterte government has proposed a Tax Reform Package which is now under deliberation in the Senate. The reform package contains an economic acceleration and inclusion aspects to favor the poor while encouraging private business. It has five main salient features up for consideration:

a. Lowering of personal income taxes, except for high income earners

b. Higher taxes on diesel, petroleum, and other oil products

c. Removal of certain VAT Exemptions

d. New Excise Taxes on Cars and Automobiles

e. Tax on Sugary Drinks

Support the Tax Reform Program!

The Philippines is supposed to be an agricultural country. But the farmers have been utterly neglected by previous dispensations. This time,Duterte is making extra effort to do more for them. At least, agricultural growth rate is now positive.
The Philippines is supposed to be an agricultural country. But the farmers have been utterly neglected by previous dispensations. This time,Duterte is making extra effort to do more for them. At least, agricultural growth rate is now positive.
Boracay, Cebu and Palawan ranked as the three best island destinations in the world in a survey released by an international travel magazine.-Facebook. com/FlyingKetchup
Boracay, Cebu and Palawan ranked as the three best island destinations in the world in a survey released by an international travel magazine.-Facebook. com/FlyingKetchup

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