To Duterte, the would-have-been president, I will miss

I am dismayed by the news of Mayor Rodrigo (The Punisher) Duterte’s decision not to run for president. The thought of him running for the highest post of the land rekindled my hope for a better country. This time, guided by the hands of a no-nonsense and incorruptible leader. (READ: Duterte: I am not running for president)

Unfortunately, that hope is now gone. Perhaps, it is not meant to be. I told myself, c’est la vie, but it is of no comfort to me. In fact, I hate this French expression every time friends unthinkingly invoke it and I always protest: “I hope not!”

I think what weighs me down the most is not only losing hope, but also losing a possible resolution to our old lousy political story. That is, finally having not only a different leader but a different narrative to our political consciousness antithetical to the politics of “been there, done that.”
NOT RUNNING. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte says he is no longer seeking the presidency. File photo by Vince Bascos/Rappler
NOT RUNNING. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte says he is no longer seeking the presidency. File photo by Vince Bascos/Rappler

You see, I was looking forward to watching Mr Punisher duke it out in the national arena against his most formidable foe – the ever-mutating, 3-headed political monster of Mr Kleptoman, Mr Hugis Burgis, and Ms Berdeng Hilaw.

This political beast has always been lurking deep in our political psyche and tormenting us for quite sometime with no relief in sight. When it marches, it wreaks havoc along the way. And now, with its host of minions waving branches and shouting hosannas, it is threatening to continue its destructive path once more.

The story is not new. So far, how many kleptomaniacs and corrupt leaders have we kicked out of office? How many privileged, entitled, and incompetent leaders have we voted in office to change our political condition for the better? How many inexperienced and wimpy leaders have we entrusted with power to bring about meaningful change to our political life? Need I say more?

And from all our past calculations or miscalculations, isn’t it weird that we still expect a better outcome? What is it in us? Why haven’t we learned our lessons? What makes us behave this way? Is it because we take pleasure in hurting ourselves? Are we mentally sick, culturally damaged, or simply politically naïve? I am stupefied!

For once, let’s be serious and give ourselves a break. Our dire situation can no longer be alleviated by a cosmetic-covered and skin-deep political propaganda being peddled to our people.

Consider this. There is trouble brewing in the South as the MILF prepares for war because the BBL version it wants won’t pass in Congress; we are unable to plan and develop certain parts of the country because communist insurgents have strong roots where they operate and have proven themselves hard to defeat; and the drug problem remains unabated that validates our country’s unique distinction as the highest drug user in East Asia according to a United Nations report, just to name a few.

No one among the likes of Jejomar Binay, Grace Poe, or Mar Roxas, et cetera can solve the Mindanao rebellion, the communist insurgency, the drug problem, and criminality except Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Yes, he has been a drastic leader who initiated reforms to fight the lawless elements of society, but he has also been a pragmatic leader who dealt with the various ideological sectors of society in an inclusive way.

But most of all, he is a peaceful man who will not hesitate to use the force of discipline to defend and protect his place of abode when threatened by the deviants of society. That is why I admire him and the quality of his leadership. And yet, he does not covet the position or power for its own sake like the many pretenders to the throne do, so to speak.

I will sorely miss you, my would-be president, and wish you well in your journey. –

Efren Padilla is a full-time professor at California State University, East Bay. His areas of specialization are urban sociology, urban planning, and social