Divining Duterte | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Divining Duterte

/ 05:06 AM January 14, 2019

What does the near future hold for us under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD)?

Divining is guessing the future using magical or occult powers, to give us a peek into what to hope for — either good or bad fortune.


Not having either magical powers or powers of the occult, we will use what has been reported about him and his famed “iron fist” policies on many things, especially on his “wars” against illegal drugs and corruption. Think of his “I hate drugs” and “I hate corruption” lines.

Divining PRRD could be challenging. His own mouthpiece, Salvador Panelo, admits that “reading” PRRD and what he says in any public gathering can be difficult sometimes. This is so, despite Panelo’s dexterity in making euphemistic spins on PRRD’s vulgarities and shocking disclosures.


Here are some “easy” predictions.

PRRD has promised to rid this country (referring to it as “my country,” as if it is his personal property) of illegal drugs just before he steps down as president in 2022. So expect more of the same contentious tactics of getting rid of addicts and pushers: extrajudicial killings (EJKs). Thus, the number of EJK victims, mostly coming from poor urban communities, will rise in the next three years.

In his war against corruption, some friends and associates will fall out of grace when allegations of corrupt practices against them build up in the coming months. Of course, there are “holy cows” within this circle, and they will continue reaping the fruits of their rent-seeking behavior.

But there will also be more sacrificial lambs in the near future, especially when the going gets rougher; when crisis after crisis will befall this benighted presidency, in this blighted country.

Mr. Duterte’s rants on the Catholic Church and its hierarchy will continue; so will his threats to “slit the throats” of drug lords. He will go on behaving like a drug-crazed, imperious leader of a street gang or the biggest bully among bullies.

On the Bangsamoro, PRRD has been Janus-faced: his campaign pitch was heavy on “addressing historical injustice of the Bangsamoro.” Yet, less than a year into his presidency, he was quick to order the “carpet bombing” of 26 barangays in downtown Marawi, and this lasted for five excruciating months.

This added to the long list of historical injustices inflicted on the Maranaw, one of the most numerous ethnic groups of the Bangsamoro.


He claims he is partly Maranaw by blood and alludes to it when expressing how he wants to “fix” Marawi. At the same time, his directives and actions on the Marawi rehabilitation belie his claims of Maranaw affinity. Until now, Marawi rehabilitation is still in limbo; and survivors of the siege have become restive in their tattered temporary shelters.

The condition of the shelters is emblematic of the Maranaw evacuees’ lives: shattered, torn and very much insecure of the future.

Next week, almost 2 million voters in the region are expected to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Ratification of the BOL is a litmus test of PRRD’s avowed support for it. But supporting its ratification is not enough. He needs to mobilize relevant national government resources to ensure success of the fledgling region’s governance journey.

“In sha Allah” (By God’s will), this and other positive, life-changing things not only in the Bangsamoro, but also throughout the country, will happen.

When all these happen or when PRRD stops behaving like a “national” bully, we may stop divining or portending evil from his actions in the coming years.

And however far-fetched, we may start using the word “divine” as an adjective for him.

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TAGS: drug killings, EJKs, extrajudicial killings, Kris-Crossing Mindanano, Rodrigo Duterte, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, war on drugs
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