PRESIDENT Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte might be the antithesis of what a Traditional President should be. 

But to the tens of millions of his adoring supporters, he is their hero and they have complete trust in him. 

The kind of adulation that President Duterte receives from the people is truly amazing almost bordering to obsessive idolization.

A traditional leader comes dressed in elegant clothes and cultivates an almost immaculate public image while talking in carefully chosen words.

Digong in complete contrast comes wearing ordinary clothing and has no qualms cursing those who he believes are against his program of governance especially in his way of solving the problem of illegal drugs menace.


Knows What He Does

Just like the millions of people who believe in him, many senators also believe that he knows what he is doing and that even his recent absence from the public eye should not be taken against him.

In fact, Pres. Duterte received passing and even high performance ratings from some senators, even from those who have been vocal in calling his attention on his use of foul language or manner of speaking in public.


Hardworking President

PDP-Laban and party president, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was generous in giving Duterte 8.5 to 9 rating with 10 being the highest.

"Yung slogan ni Pres. Duterte (na) ‘Change’, ang dami nating naramdaman na pagbabago. Sa foreign relations na lang, kitang-kita na ngayon na the world believes that we have an independent foreign policy. Hindi po tayo dinidiktahan ng kahit anong bansa. We determine our own course in international affairs,” he said.

Despite making himself scarce from the public eye lately, Koko is still convinced that Digong is a very hardworking President.

Given his age, he said, the President still manage to make visits all over the country, if needed.


Improved Peace and Order Situation

“Yung mga pagpapahinga, natural lang sa akin iyon. Tanggap ko rin po iyon. So sa Presidente po natin, keep on doing what you have been doing he said. 

“Iyong mga surveys nagsasasabi na the people appreciate what you have been doing. Mayroong mga negative statement pero demokrasya ito eh,” he stressed.

He added that reports of unabated killings do not hide the fact that the overall peace and order situation now is far better than the previous years.

He, however, urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to improve on the matter of solving the overall incidence of crime, particularly on murder and homicide cases.

“Sana mabasa ko na that the PNP (on the second year of the Duterte administration) is able to solve a lot of these crimes and to read the identification of the perpetrators and the filing of cases against these people,” he said.

“Pagdating po sa war on drugs, alam na ng tao na priority ito. Kung bumaba man ang overall incidence ng crime, let us look at the murders, baka tumataas ito,” he added.


Still Learning

“Definitely it is passing grade,” said Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

He likened the President to a colleague student who is still in the first two semesters and in the adjustment period.

“He’s learning certain things and we’re learning certain things. He’s getting used to certain things and we are getting used to certain things with him. We’re trying to get used to him and he’s trying to get used to the office as well,” he said.

Despite giving him passing marks, Escudero however wants Digong to go slow with his trademark cuss words when making announcements before the public since he is now the President and not just a mayor anymore.

"Because whatever he says now is considered a policy and anything that flows from his mouth is actually not only national but international news as well. So he should get used to that. (But) we have to get used to his brass rhetoric. For the past few months, he does mellow down a little bit. So I think, as we get used to him, he’s getting used to it as well,” Sen. Escudero added.


Drug War

The President’s assumption to office, since day one, has been hounded by the issue of killings of drug personalities, coupled with the allegations of human rights abuses by law enforcers out on a mission to carry out his war on drugs.

"It is what endears him to the public, I supposed,” Sen. Richard Gordon said, referring to the public perception created by the President that he’s really out to go after those engaged in illegal drugs trade.

Sen. Gordon said he could relate to the attitude of the President as he was once a mayor too, insofar as getting things done.

“(But) we have to stand up when we think he’s wrong,” the senator said, adding that he had actually warned the President in the past against falling on his own sword.

“I think he’s out to inspire a culture that the law will be Draconian, that they will go against people who harm our people by way of the (illegal) drugs and he’s gonna do everything even if it’s against the law – he makes it sound to be against the law – but that is a message to law enforcement to get your acts together,” he said.


No Salesman

“This guy is not even a salesman. He’s a direct talker so his communications by himself is outstanding as far as I’m concerned. It may be not agreeable to me and I say so, but he knows his job. He knows how to communicate to the public,” Gordon said.

The senator refused to give a rating on Duterte’s performance in his first year in office saying that it’s the President himself who has to rate himself.

“To my mind, if the people are not out in the streets (protesting against him) and the people are saying ‘well I think somebody’s doing finally about drugs or somebody’s finally doing about corruption’ (then he’s doing fine) and you know (former Pres. Benigno) Noynoy (Aqunio), did that but apparently hindi nag sell eh,” he said.

“I don’t look at the (survey) ratings as justification. It’s just that, kung totoo yung sinasabi nila na nagagalit yung tao, then the public should know, should act not, just be a watcher,  a spectator,” he pointed out.


Human Rights Issue

But as far as human rights abuses being committed under the Duterte administration, the senator said no assessments can be made at this point in time as the matter has not actually passed human rights’ scrutiny.

Gordon, however, admits that he does not agree with the kind of “language” that the President uses especially if it’s seen by many as tantamount to promoting impunity among the law enforcers.

“I don’t agree that he should say that. I say ‘don’t fall on your sword, the kids are listening’, I say that. But as a former mayor, that’s his style,” he said.


Trillanes’ Views

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a known Duterte critic as expected has described Digong’s first year as an “epic fail.”

For Sen. Trillanes, the President was nothing but bad news as he has not managed to improve the lives of the Filipinos or introduce changes just as he had promised during the campaign period.

“Lagapak. Talagang massive failure ito. Epic failure itong administration ni Duterte on all fronts huh? Maraming nalinlang nga mga kababayan natin na ito daw si Duterte may political will, ito daw mag aayos ng mga basic problems natin,” he said.

Hindi, pinalala nya. Sabi nya mag re-restore sya ng law and order or peace and order. Ngayon ba peaceful ba sa bansa? Sabi nga ni (Foreign Affairs) Sec. (Alan Peter) Cayetano para na tayong Singapore. Para na ba tayong Singapore? Ginulo nya eh. Ginulo nya yung bansa. Lahat ng aspeto ngayon,” he lamented.

“Definitely (bagsak sya), simula nung nagpapatay sya ng mga Pilipino, doon pa lang, zero na sya. Hindi pwede yun eh. President ka ng bansa eh. Dapat pino-proteksyunan mo sila. Kung nalihis man sila sa landas. Ikaw ang nagututwid eh. Aalagan mo sila dapat eh. Hindi mo sila papatayin,” he pointed out.

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