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Duterte’s ‘acoustics war on drugs’

/ 12:09 AM October 17, 2016

At the end of President Duterte’s first 100 days, the Social Weather Stations released results of a survey showing that President Duterte maintained an “excellent” trust rating in his first three months in office.

The poll, taken Sept. 24-27 and published by BusinessWorld, showed that 83 percent of the respondents have “much trust” in Mr. Duterte, 9 percent “undecided” and 8 percent with “little trust,” yielding an excellent +76 net trust rating. Under the SWS scheme of ratings, it classifies at least a +70-percent net trust rating as “excellent.”

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But the poll noted a politically significant finding—that is, the latest rating of Mr. Duterte is three percentage points less than his “excellent” +79 in June. The drop signaled what appeared to be the beginning of the end or “meltdown” of Mr. Duterte’s “reign of terror” through extrajudicial executions in a brutal drug war.

Nonetheless, the results sent the Duterte administration into delirious euphoric mood, with the exuberant claim that “validated the people’s overwhelming support for the President’s policy of change in government.’’ According to Malacañang’s drumbeaters, the excellent trust ratings would “further motivate his administration to continue fighting illegal drugs and crime, curbing corruption and sustaining the momentum of economic growth.”

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The ratings not only brought relief to the embattled Duterte regime, they also came amid the tempestuous explosion of outrage from the United Nations, the United States and other Western democracies, and from human rights oversight organizations, which were alarmed by the unabated rise in the number of drug-related deaths (at least 3,500 Filipinos, at the latest count) since Mr. Duterte took power last June 30.

In the past few weeks, the Duterte administration has come under fire over the abuse of power and gross violation of human rights. In the face of this global backlash, the President fanned the flames of outrage by giving himself a “modest” rating for his performance in his first 100 days in office: “On a scale of 1-10, I give myself a 6,” he said. “To me, it is a modest achievement. I’m not ambitious, in scoring myself. I only deal with reality. Success to me is something else.” He did not elaborate. Did he mean that 3,500 dead bodies were a “modest achievement”?

Despite his self-rated “modest achievement,” his popularity soared in the polls during his first three months in an apparent endorsement by Filipinos of his brutal crackdown on crime. He appeared to be stoking the lust for more bloodletting to gain popular favor.

Yet, the first three months have been marked by uncertainty and instability over the direction of his administration in foreign and economic affairs. He has embroiled himself in controversies with the United Nations and foreign leaders, pouring scorn and insults on them for calling for a stop to the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte has declared his administration at war not only with the drug syndicates but more so—in the guise of pursuing an independent foreign policy—with international leaders and groups for their act of calling attention to the human rights violations in his crackdown. And each time the President, in this xenophobic posturing, unleashes from his foul mouth expletives, not heard in civilized discourse and international conferences, to abuse them, the government creates enemies. He has become a center of attention of other state heads because of his mercurial volatility and outbursts.

This brawling and confrontational behavior is driven by his obsession with a single issue—killing citizens without the rule of law; and whose ideology can be summed up in one word—DEATH. Truly, Mr. Duterte has declared a state of lawless violence in presenting himself as the savior of the country from the scourge of illegal drugs.

This has reverberated around the world with the sound and fury of an “acoustics war on drugs.”

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Amando Doronila was a regular columnist of the Inquirer from 1994 to May 2016.

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TAGS: Commentary, drugs, opinion, President Rodrigo Duterte, Social Weather Stations
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