Saturday, October 8, 2016

PH President Duterte - 100 days later...

PH President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(Screencap: RTVM)

Since he assumed post as the President of the Philippines since the end of June, 2016, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the once notable Davao City Mayor at his moment in time before this, wanted to achieve a greater change Filipinos are hoping for, but with possible consequences not just here but across the globe.

One of the most noteworthy examples in President Duterte's platform is the ongoing war on drugs. Using his iron-fist approach during his three-decade career as a politician, Duterte's widespread crackdown on illegal drugs has single-handedly defined his early days in the presidency. His threats to kill criminals, even drug dealers, prompted the nation's crime rate to drop sharply and the recent survey showed by the Social Weather Station revealed that 84% of the Filipinos are happy with Duterte's performance.

Although his anti-crime and anti-drug platform, which prompted the surrender of 732,000 addicts and dealers, is proven rather well, there are some condemned to his anti-drug approach, most infamously the extra-judicial killings which, as of now, over 3,600 were killed. 1,300 of the suspects were killed by policemen while some are killed by vigilantes similar to the infamous Davao Death Squad years ago. An average of 36 killings a day since he took office on June 30. The international community have condemned this kind of killings but President Duterte lashed on those, especially the US, the European Union, and even the United Nations. He even threatened to leave the United Nations, but later told that he was sarcastic.

Another controversial remark from Duterte is he compared himself to the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, who killed over a million Jews during the Second World War, and he reckons he will happily do the same on the drug addicts. Such remarks angered the Jewish community and Duterte apologized to them for such behavior.

Apart from Duterte giving the Western nations some "hellish" remarks, Duterte threatened to sever the six-and-a-half decade long alliance with the United States. From putting the end of the joint military drills to verbally damaging US President Barack Obama, it seems that the Duterte administration is doing its best to tarnish the US government's alliance with the Philippines and he may reconsider alliances with China and Russia, which are key opponents to the United States in economy and global security. Although despite Duterte's hatred to the United States, which benefitted China amidst the tribunal ruling on the South China Sea, the US has generally downplayed the effect of Duterte's comments and underscored the Filipino's decades-long ties with the USA, although some officials are concerned about where the two nations' alliances are heading to.

I'm pretty sure that Duterte's hatred to the American government, in reaction to their ugly view to the Philippines over the so-called "state-sponsored violence", won't go away but as officials trying to debunk his rhetorics, it will go on until this whole drug-induced problem is solved and I believe that his opposition against the US government was just a game just so China won't wage tensions between them in the disputed waters...or so I thought.

Although his hatred against the Western powers, mostly the US and the EU, is still a classic Duterte, I think he still has ties with other Asian countries, even Japan and the ASEAN countries, and it's kinda odd that if these Asian countries are giving Duterte what he deserved, he's going to teach them a lesson they will never forget, I presume. If he's going to sacrifice the withstanding relationship between the US and the Philippines in favor for more countries collaborating with the Philippines, even China and Russia, that could open up for more opportunities for the Duterte administration within the next six years.

In the dawn of the 20th century, the Philippines, following its win against the Spaniards, was under American control. They were enemies at that time but they became allies. The Second World War demonstrated that the US-PH ties are in full swing and with the war ended, their partnership still lingers on, although some believed that the Philippines is slowly becoming the original Vietnam for the Americans. I said "original Vietnam" because this was way before the Americans poured fire in Vietnamese soil. I wonder why Duterte strongly condemned against the American government for such purpose? To think that the Philippines is too dependent on America for its defense? Economy? That depends but whatever it is, this is something worth checking on and with the US facing a critical choice between the two possible leaders, I'm guessing Duterte still has his own views no matter which presidential candidate ended up in the White House. No matter the outcome in America, Duterte is still Duterte when it comes to the now-worsening ties following their condemnation against his war on drugs.

In terms of easing down longstanding conflicts, it seems that Duterte has done a pretty good job in his first 100 days as the new leader. His efforts to resume peace talks with communist insurgents prompted for cease-fire declarations by both sides. With the ceasefire agreement in placed alongside one of the largest Muslim rebel group under his predecessor, things are finally settling in.

Although Duterte's strategy which led the Abu Sayyaf Group freed some of its hostages, it was still a test to his counter-terrorism platform. The deadly bombing in Davao last month, which killed 15 people, is just another one of the examples that the Duterte administration is dead serious about beefing up security and being prepared for any threats it may come across.

In conclusion, when he took office last June, he wasn't really joking about "change is coming" and if I had the chance to see what is like to live in the Philippines that is now run by a powerful politician who despises the Western powers and unleashed a deadly war on drugs, it's anyone's guess because they've asked for Duterte to become their leader since the elections and they've got what they wanted; a modern-day crony who's going to be the next Ferdinand Marcos. I'd better not say more about his 100 days for now because it's going to get dirty and if I had to say to him, read my words;

Duterte can still change and even though his plans for ridding the nation from drugs and crime are proclaimed to be working, he still has to take responsibility on those extra-judicial killings that are becoming rampant. Even if he has strong hatred against the western powers for condemning his drug war campaign, which is similar to what happened to Colombia and Thailand years ago with strong liking from its citizens, he should rather tone down or face dire consequences to the international community and if things get any rough, Duterte should clean the mess he made before his term ends in the next decade, 2022 to be exact, so he can entrust the future of the Filipinos to the next generation. Seeing how defiant Duterte can be no matter how harsh the consequences will be from the international community, even the US and the European Union alike, looks like this game will go on until its over.

The real hunt is on for PDU30 and the whole world is on his back. Let's see if he can rise or fall from his presidential tenure...

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