PRESIDENT-elect Rodrigo Duterte visited Cebu this week to thank those who helped him win in the contest for the highest office of the land. But unlike during the campaign period, he confined his appearances in private functions to the dismay of the masa who wanted to see their idol in person.
Still, he made his way to greet some of them outside, complaining that his moves were limited upon instruction of the Presidential Security Group and that his public statements needed to be distilled as he has earned more negative points than positive with quotable quotes picked up by media. He told them to send his message of gratitude to all who supported him, and that they can expect changes as soon as he is officially sworn into office.
Security and media access are significant developments in the lead-up to the inauguration of the new president.
There are already rumors about the safety of Duterte in response to his threat to kill drug lords who continue in their illegal trade. The bounty on the president-elect's head as well as that of incoming Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa has allegedly been increased from P10 million each to P50 million each.
Like his boss, de la Rosa is vocal in challenging criminals to “Bring it on.” Surely, de la Rosa won’t tell us where the information came from, and probably this could be true. On the other hand, he may just be laying the groundwork. When the bloodbath begins, he can simply say, “I told you so.”
Unlike the drug cartels in Mexico that have turned violent against public officials and police pursuing them, the drug lords in the Philippines pursue their trade quietly under the protection of politicians, if not police or military officials. Duterte and de la Rosa seem to know who these are, and surely those whose names are in the hit list won’t be sitting ducks.
Three things may happen: (1) They will stop their illegal activities voluntarily; (2) They will end up dead; or (3) they will become true criminals without government patrons. The latter two options will see bodies piling up if Duterte and de la Rosa really act on their threat.
On media access, Duterte’s press team must have finally convinced the president-elect that media want to bait him to speak his mind out and catch him with his foot in his mouth. They’ve done that successfully, thereby putting out the image of a tough-talking leader who is unafraid to kill criminals, jokes about rape and befriends communists, among others. Duterte loves to talk but his handlers know that the days of campaigning is over and action need to be planned out to deliver the promises made.
Starting July 1, Duterte has to walk his talk. Welcome to the “Duterte Reality Show.” Parental guidance required.