PLM Discussion Paper [English version]
Prepared by Sonny Melencio, Chairperson, PLM
THE DUTERTE PHENOMENON AND OUR ATTITUDE TO IT
[This discussion paper aims to examine the phenomenal showing of Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign for presidency. It sets out our attitude to his campaign, especially the call of his forces for a "Duterte revolution" against the massiveelectoral fraud being prepared by the administration party on May 9. The author argues that we must campaign against the Liberal party administration’s electoral fraud and join the protests against it. He suggests that we can march side by side with the Duterte camp against electoral fraud, without merging with them. By intervening in this way we can also put forward demands that do not call for his installation as president, but around the need to establish a government of the masses to replace the rotten governing system. The paper outlines some of the scenarios that the Left and progressive forces have to prepare for during the possible eruption of protests on election day and thereafter.]
1. Like it or not, Rodrigo Duterte has been leading the presidential polls in successive surveys. The latest non-commissioned survey under the "Pulso ng Bayan," placed Duterte in a 35% lead over the far distant figures of 23%, 17% and 16% for Grace Poe, Mar Roxas and JojoBinay, accordingly. Duterte led the votes in all socioeconomic classes: 43% of Classes ABC (upper and middle classes), 32% in Class D (poor) and 40% in Class E (poorest).
2. Apart from the surveys that can be manipulated, the demonstration of Duterte’s surge in the campaign is the growing number of spontaneous masses pouring into his sorties. This is not only in Mindanao and the Visayas, but also in Luzon and Metro Manila. In Alabang, an upper and middle class enclave, thousands waited to hear his talk. In Hong Kong and in many other places with OFWs, the sorties overflowed even without Duterte’s presence.
How to explain this phenomenon?
1. First, it is a clear sign that the people were fed up with the old trapo and elite forces which have long ruled the government since the overthrow of Marcos in 1986. There has been a growing disenchantment to succeeding regimes that many believe are worse than before.
2. In particular, it represents the frustration and the disgust that the masses feel under the leadership of the “Yellow forces,” from the mother Cory to the son. Its target now is President Noynoy Aquino and the bunch of his ineffectual Cabinet members. In the elections, it is marked by LP bet Mar Roxas’ always tailing behind in the surveys. Duterte’s surge in the campaign is a sign of the rejection of the masses, including of the middle class, of the Yellow leaders and government forces.
3. There is a negative fallout in the rejection of the yellow forces. For some, it means supporting Bongbong Marcos as vice-president. Although both are labeled "strongman,” the difference between the two is that Bongbong, who’s an integral part of the Marcos dictatorship, still waxes ecstatic over the so-called golden years of martial law and has been active in blocking every effort to retrieve the spoils of wealth they’ve stolen from the people.
4. Compared to the weak, incompetent, and spineless Aquino government and the previous Yellow administration, Duterte has fostered an image of a no-nonsense leader. This is the character of the president that the masses long for today – not a clueless and spineless character who cannot be trusted to solve the problems confronting the people, from corruption to traffic congestion and crimes.
5. The worsening criminality in the country, which is a main issue in the Duterte campaign, strikes at the heart of the people, from the well-off to the poor, and from the call center agents to the OFWs and their families victimized by drug addiction, theft, rape and other heinous crimes in the country.
6. The people have long lost their trust in government to provide them with jobs or protect their lives. For those who toil hard abroad just to provide for their families, it is most tragic to know that the fruits of their labor can easily be stolen, and the families they left behind will be victims of crimes that the government has no power to control. Here comes the aspiration for a ‘strongman leader’ who rules with an iron hand that can effectively strike at drug and criminal syndicates, like what they perceived Duterte has done in Davao City.
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