Libre: Referendum

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte can either be the best president of the Philippines ever had or the worst leader of this nation since it became a republic.

To admirers and supporters, Duterte has accomplished so much for the country. They point out his relentless war against illegal drugs that has resulted in the incarceration of personalities (including arch enemy Sen. Leila de Lima), shaming of public officials in his blacklist and the piling up of bodies of those linked to the illegal drug trade.

The “Build, Build, Build” program has resulted in infrastructure projects that seeks to modernize the Philippines. The $180 billion infrastructure spending covers 75 flagship projects including six airports, nine railways, three bus rapid transits, 32 roads and bridges, and four seaports.

He has fired corrupt public officials including those he had appointed. He has taken an extraordinary policy towards China in the West Philippine Sea dispute that has gained the respect among the leaders of China. Yet even with all these achievements, he remains a humble and down-to-earth. “So why the mudslinging from the opposition and critics?” is the question asked by Duterte believers.

On the other side of the fence, we hear the harsh attacks in all forms of media. Human rights advocates call him a murderer. He is a dictator in the making, not only by declaring martial law in Mindanao but also in going after those whom he perceives as enemies.

Others think he is the devil incarnate by disrespecting the Pope, attacking the teachings of the Catholic Church and making accusations against the religious. He spews invective without feeling any guilt. With all his adult children running for public office, he is establishing a political dynasty much like the Marcoses, whom he has close relations with.

Most of his appointees are either classmates, close friends and patrons with a good number of them proven to be incompetent, if not corrupt. He is a traitor by surrendering to China’s whims. And the list goes on and on.

In my book, a good political leader is one who inspires, unites and moves the citizenry towards one vision. President Duterte has a vision for the Philippines as one that is modern, progressive and whose people live in a safe and peaceful environment. Every Filipino can agree to that.

But it is in the strategy and the action towards attaining the goal that has divided not only people in politics but also the everyman in the street. Even families have been torn apart by this President.

The 2019 mid-term election can serve as a referendum for President Duterte. While most politicians have joined the administration, it is the voters who must make their voices heard. There hangs the question, “Is President Duterte doing good for the Philippines and its people?”


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