I’M JUST so happy that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has so far insisted on keeping to his decision not to run for president in the 2016 elections.
His latest declaration, made in a local Davao TV show last Sunday, sounded final enough: “Nothing has changed my position about it,” he said, adding that “I don’t have the stomach for it.”
“It” is a run for the presidency, about which he explained earlier that all the attacks that came his way had turned him off the possibility of exposing himself and his loved ones to further humiliation.
This is funny, given Duterte’s macho image and his public statements about wielding a strong hand against criminals and insurgents in his city. This has led to speculation that he may be the hidden sponsor of “death squads” that sowed fear and loathing in Davao, but which residents and visitors both credit for the city’s “peace and order” situation.
Indeed, the “old” Duterte surfaced anew in the wake of reports about airport personnel allegedly planting bullets in the baggage of departing passengers in local airports. One such victim was a 60-year-old engineer arrested at the Davao airport after two bullets were allegedly found in his bag.
In reaction, Duterte told the media in pretty graphic terms that “if I were president I would force you to swallow (the) bullets. I do not care if you will die. If it will get stuck in your anus then I will have you undergo medical operation to enlarge its opening.”
So far as I know, none of the airport security personnel or the arresting police have been forced to ingest the bullets found in the traveler’s luggage. But the ongoing investigation has not stopped the mayor from declaring that he believes a “syndicate” is behind the planting of bullets. He issued this warning: “If you are in Davao I will kill you all. If I were president you would all be exterminated. I would order your execution within 48 hours.”
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WHEW. Erring airport personnel and their cohorts, not to mention criminals of all stripes, must be heaving a sigh of relief that, despite all the bluff and bluster, Duterte doesn’t have the stomach for national politics and all its intrigues.
Despite our shared anger at the shenanigans taking place in airports, it is certainly a relief that current leaders, despite initially denying and then downplaying the bullet entrapment scam, have vowed a “serious” investigation into the matter and decided to keep within the legal parameters. It’s infuriating that such a scam has been allowed to proliferate as long as it did, and that officials at first insisted that the passengers were guilty, using the bullets as amulets.
But a swift, serious and public probe, resulting in prosecution, should undoubtedly be the preferred response to this blatant abuse of authority through entrapment. I don’t exactly relish the “Duterte approach” to the airport scammers, no matter how much they frighten a frequent traveler. If we cheer on such a heavy-handed approach to correcting erring personnel, what is to stop a Duterte and Duterte-wannabes from meting out their own bizarre brand of punishment for far less serious offenses?
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ANOTHER reason for heaving a sigh of relief in the wake of Duterte’s latest denial of a possible presidential run is the prospect, now set aside it is hoped, of a “first family” in residence in Malacañang composed entirely of baldies.
Sure, if Duterte does become a candidate there is still time for the hair of his daughter Sara and son Sebastian who had their skulls shaven clean, and of his son Vice Mayor Paolo who now sports a Mohawk, to grow back and be restored to more respectable appearances.
The mayor himself explained that his children’s decision to shave their heads was a form of “protest” addressed to those still working on convincing him to run for national office despite his lack of money and machinery.
Well, at best it sounds like the lamest of excuses. It also doesn’t speak well of the maturity of the Duterte siblings, particularly their loss or lack of emotional control. Adult children who would shave off their tresses at the least bit provocation could only hold the country to international embarrassment in the future. Another whew!
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STILL, the intrigues around Duterte and the PDP-Laban, which has named the Davao mayor as the “substitute” for Martin Diño who filed a certificate of candidacy for president but later withdrew, continue to keep us guessing.
Will he or won’t he? TV ads and posters proclaiming a Duterte-Cayetano tandem, apparently funded by vice presidential candidate and Duterte wooer Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, continue to befuddle us. The seemingly pointless campaign hits hard with its denunciation of rising criminality. Although it seems that Cayetano so far would be content with an endorsement from the Davao mayor whom many voters like for his staunch anticriminality stand.
But I do wish Duterte could just once and for all put an end to all the speculation and leave the already overcrowded field of aspirants. We could then concentrate on studying the qualifications of all candidates and making the right choices for the slew of positions waiting for our vote.
It’s such a distraction, waiting for the Davao mayor to change his mind, when we should focus instead on making our votes count because they’re based on the judicious weighing of pros and cons, pluses and minuses, qualifications and weaknesses, and the plans and platforms the candidates have for our future and our country. That’s the least we can do as responsible voters.
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