Duterte’s seeming gambit

The collective sighs and exasperated sentiments all over the Philippine social media scene are so loud and palpable you could practically see the actual people pulling their hairs and slumping in the corner in a resigned manner.

Whatever mojo Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte has with him in terms of public appeal and likability, all three confirmed presidentiables can only dream of having.

For the nth time, the notorious statesman declared, once and for all, that he has no intention of being commander in chief of this wretched hive called the Philippines, complete with teary-eyed and apologetic rhetoric. Who can blame him? Anyone in his right mind would balk at the idea of handling people in the first place, much less a whole country. Leadership ought to be relegated as a sadomasochistic activity. There’s just too much headache associated with the role. That is, if you really take the job seriously. Duterte is old, in his prime retirement years, and looking forward to a little rest and recreation so the man can be forgiven for having second thoughts about handling an immense responsibility.

Using the position as a leverage for self-serving interests, however, can have the opposite effect. As with all other cliched representation of “leaders” the Philippines have had in the last few years, one just needs to look at the epilogue of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Duterte Admits Davao Death Squad

And that is the scenario and visual representation present in every average citizen’s head associated with candidates hoping to run for public service. Politicians are not to be trusted by default. Where, during every election season, people are simply coming to the polls to choose the lesser evil of the lot as there are no actual choices to begin with. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Apparently Duterte’s no holds barred policies—questionable as they are—and his uncompromising stance in governance has been viewed as a fresh take deviating from the traditional kiss-ass politicking that has been the norm in Philippine-style politics. People are so desperate to have someone who’s completely the opposite of what they have right now that they are willing to take the risk of a potential dictatorship just to break free of the abysmal conditions currently suffered from the current administration’s lack of concern and competence for the task.

On one hand you have three choices that are practically carbon copies (and possibly worse) of the present administration and on the other, someone who built his name under the banner of unconformity, stern management, and unyielding conviction to his principles. Said principles can be questionable, but will, decisiveness, and the cojones to act on them and taking total accountability—right or wrong—are the selling points that practically fueled the self-perpetuating campaign/calls for his presidency.

People have repeatedly called out, and the mayor repeatedly refused. He had said all the excuses, reasons, short of badmouthing himself from the position but still the clamor remained. One would be inclined to think the guy was being overtly humble or totally indifferent about things but there’s something about the stance that’s looking suspiciously phoney. Like the guy was a matador or a chess player baiting and feeling his opponents long enough to determine their moves before he delivers the killing blow.

There are still several days until the deadline for filing the COC. The mayor is probably telling the truth, and that maybe, the seeming ‘strategy’ in his about-to-be-declared candidacy is nothing but a wishful pipe dream borne out of desperation for some type of variety in terms of presidential candidates. Whatever the outcome will surely make for a very interesting week on how people will react when the finality of the deadline has fallen.

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