I have lived long enough to see presidents come and go in this country but I have never seen the likes of President Rodrigo Duterte who hit the ground running at a considerable speed upon assumption of office.
While Duterte may have been ready with his administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda that included among other things the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices and family planning, he, however, entrusted the execution of all these to his social and economic mangers while he took it upon himself to lead his much vaunted campaign promise to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs , corruption and criminality.
As an unconventional politician whose approach to solving problem has been described as ‘out-of-the-box’, not to mention the colorful language he uses especially when piqued, is what has endeared him to the Filipinos which is why he was overwhelmingly voted to the presidency.
I am not going to discuss here Duterte’s defining moments individually which includes among other things his running after and eventually putting Sen. Leila de Lima in police custody for using drug money to finance her senatorial bid, his alleged killings and human rights violation stemming from his bloody war on drugs that has been harshly criticize here and abroad by international human rights agencies and advocates, his antagonistic stance towards the U.S., his shift from a U.S. dictated foreign policy to an independent foreign policy, his open arms policy towards China despite the latter’s incursion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea, his diplomatic sortie to Russia, and last but not least of his controversial decisions is the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
For me what is important in Duterte’s 365 days in office is putting into context how the country and the Filipino people are today having Duterte as our president.
I do not know about you, but it makes me wonder, if not guessing, how it would have been for the Philippines and the Filipinos had we had Roxas, Poe or Binay as the president.
Knowing what we know now about the wide-ranging prevalence and gravity of illegal drug use in the country, could any of the other presidential aspirants, had they won, had the political will or the gumption to declare war against it, as Duterte has done, knowing that you are up against ruffians and monsters?
Could they have had the guts to discover and say that we are now a narco-political country?
Would talking to just the MILF, passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and establishing a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, prevented the Islamic State-inspired Maute group from storming and creating havoc in Marawi City.
Would they have the potency to declare martial law?
Perhaps Divine Providence determined the course that Duterte be president, warts and all, for he has what it takes to lead and fight for the Filipinos in preserving the integrity of the country and having it respected.
This in essence is what is Duterte’s presidency about one year after and in the next 5 years, God willing.