Dear President Duterte: “Ummmm, any chance you could up your game?”
By Joe America
Decisions have consequences, Mr. President. For example, if others see Filipinos as rude, OFWs have a harder time getting jobs. If the nation is considered a dangerous bastion of killer cops with no respect for international conventions, then investors don’t want to bring their money here.
I think you would agree that Filipinos from Mindanao to Batanes are wonderfully friendly and welcoming people. Take the loud and happy local fiestas. Fiestas represent the rich heritage of the nation’s tribal upbringing, and the open arms every Filipino extends to guests. Why would we want to project to other peoples that Filipinos are rude and crude rather than genuine and warm?
Now, it may be useful to you, I will give you that. Bad language and rash decisions may enable you to keep others off balance. That makes them easier to push around. You can open up new paths through the thick conventional woods. But, eventually, people tire of it, see through it, and start to turn away. Perhaps it is useful, in the short term, as a way to drive stakes through the heart of convention, but it cannot prevail as the way of the leadership of a dignified nation.
People DO want dignity, after all. They want to be thought of as modern, as being able to stand side by side with any other peoples on earth . . . and feel no shame.
You botched it big time by making improper remarks about Vice President Robredo in a public forum. Even the women who support you must certainly have found their respect for you shrinking just a little. Their own dignity as a woman in a man’s world was undermined.
It adds up, you know? Enthusiastic support becomes something else. FVR is a vivid illustration. It’s not opposition, exactly. People want you to succeed. But it’s disappointment, or dismay, and who knows where that leads.
As for the drug war, may I suggest that you have made your point already? Drugs are bad and the State has no patience, no room whatsoever, for them. We get it. Most agree with you. But I believe . . . for Filipinos here and around the world . . . you need to find a way to end the killings. They are inspiring too much damage, to families, to Filipino integrity, to local communities, to your own reputation and ability to lead, and to the nation in the eyes of those who could help make the Philippines stronger and richer.
The pace of killings is jaw-dropping. What, 40 per day or so? The guilty and innocent without checking, without proof.
You know that human rights laws represent an effort of the global community to guarantee that people around the world will be treated fairly. It is an effort to end the brutal ways of our inbred human unkindness, the physical or psychological harms fueled by bigotry, ignorance and emotional needs.
Human rights initiatives represent a global effort like the climate change initiatives, an entire world striving to better itself. What does it serve the Philippines to be seen working AGAINST global well-being? Against the best efforts of people to be kind and fair?
Declare a cease fire against drug users, peddlers and suppliers. Raise the fines for violations to high levels, and start building jails with the money. Put them to work at hard labor building something. Build a few rehab centers for those needing help.
But bodies in the street?
Not a good presentation at all.
Not good for you, or for Filipinos who have to explain the killings to their friends, their prospective employers, or their God.
You are an action man, I give you that. Lots of credit to you for that. You have shaken up the establishment royally.
We needed that.
Keep shaking things up, but remember there is a difference between construction and destruction, and at some point, the emphasis needs to get to the building part.
Take it on as a challenge maybe. That’s my suggestion. Are you a big enough man to INSPIRE allegiance? Or can you only get it by threat and violence? That’s the cheap way, and ultimately destructive way. I mean, these trolls on the internet casting their poisons in your name. Is that really YOU? What you want to be remembered for? THAT kind of thing? They are trying to force allegiance rather than earn it.
It never truly works except at a superficial level, for a short time.
The building way is to earn admiration, given willingly. That way lasts, and grows. It’s hard to do, yes, but it’s something your mother would understand, and be proud of. And so would the nation.
Perhaps you should challenge yourself more, eh? Rather than getting cheap praise from all the sycophants around you, maybe aim for something more difficult. Aim to gain the respect . . . not necessarily the agreement . . . of those who today are not on your side.
Aim to build the nation rather than carve it into pieces.
Any old yahoo can stoke divisions and anger and order people about. Trolls and pissants are a dime a dozen, blowhard malcontents who get their jollies by pissing people off.
It takes a truly big man to build the kind of unity and respect that people want to participate in. That honors them.
Honor the Filipino, eh, Mr. President?
That’s the main idea of this note. I’m sorry I babbled a bit to set the context.
Put honor for the Filipino at the core of all that you do, and you will . . . with your ability to get things done . . . awaken the Philippines from its eternal slumber and shoot her directly into global prominence.
Not the ignominy we see today, the shame so many feel.
Best wishes on crafting success, should you choose to do it the hard way. Success the easy way will inevitably lead to failure, so you might give that a thought or two. History tells us that over and over again, and I don’t think you are a slow learner.