By James Veloso

PRESIDENT Rodrigo “Digong” Roa Duterte is an “anger President”.

His landslide win came from Filipinos angry at the system and at a dysfunctional government. He is a product of an “angry vote” by people who had lost hope on PNoy’s paralyzed leadership.

Duterte sparked hope on people looking for a miracle. In one issue of OpinYon, we wrote of him as the Solution Man (OpinYon Vo.—No.--) and sixteen million Filipinos likewise believed that he can turn around the society that was suffering from social decay.

He is a product of a strong and deep passion for change from a weary citizenry thus making his challenge even more difficult.


He made convincing promises and made people dream. He mastered the art of making people dream the impossible and believe in him.

He did these by being different from the traditional political leaders the Filipinos got very weary and wary of.

He cursed everyone and anyone, projecting the image of a rebel to a “rotten” system.

Even the Pope and the Catholic faith were not spared from his expletives.

He vowed to protect the poor and the powerless and is even willing to die if necessary just to emancipate them from poverty.

He pledged to kill the “untouchable criminals” in our society, especially the drug lords and the corrupt government officials.


For a citizenry long suffering from inept government that was practically in paralysis, Duterte’s words were songs of hope, even when he was cursing and threatening.

He was the equalizer every Filipino was praying for to bring relief to his suffering.

Now sworn to office as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, his problem, nay his biggest challenge is how to fulfill his promise of making the country a heaven for the Filipinos.

The way to heaven is paved with traps if not treacheries and, like PNoy, Duterte will rise and fall on how people reckon with day to day life, from food, jobs, peace and order, mass transport system, government bureaucracy and all other issues that made the poor and the oppressed pin their hope on him.


It seems, however, that the Duterte magic is really working especially on his campaign against crimes and illegal drugs.

Since May 9 to June 20, at least 59 drug suspects were killed in a series of drug raids conducted by the Philippine National Police around the country, with 23 more killed since June 30.

And that does not include the wholesale surrender of drug users and pushers who voluntarily gave up for fear of being hunted and liquidated by anti-drugs cops.


In the wake of sudden spike in the number of dead suspected drug dealers Duterte has promised to moderate his anti-drugs campaign, declaring in his inaugural speech his “uncompromising” adherence to due process and the rule of law.

But many are still uneasy that Duterte’s policies of giving bounties for the capture of drug lords and drug suspects might trigger a full scale drug war among rival gangs and law enforcers similar to those in Latin American countries.

The campaign against illegal drugs is so effective that authorities failed to foresee that there would be a problem of the lack of rehabilitation centers around the country.

At present, there are 45 residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in the country, 18 of which are government-run while 27 are privately owned.


Alongside the drive vs. illegal drugs and criminality is Duterte’s promise to stop the widespread corruption, red tape and inefficiency in the government.

During the campaign, the tough-talking president announced his plans to cleanse traditional graft ridden offices like the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and Land Transportation Office.

He also warned corrupt members of the judiciary who have the habit of issuing temporary restraining orders in exchange for a fee, a practice that he said had been contributing to the delay in the implementation of important government projects.

In his inauguration speech, he directed government agencies to reduce requirements and processing time for all public transactions especially those securing birth certificates, passports, licenses and the likes.

This early, it seems like Duterte is making good on many of his campaign promises even as he is reported to be determined to issue an executive order that would pave the way for the implementation of the much-delayed Freedom of Information (FOI).


While Duterte’s pro-people stance is gaining approval among many sectors some of his initiatives and policies appear to be headed to an eventual clash between the poor and the rich particularly the business owners and the workers especially those concerning the end of contract policy and salary raise of P100 daily.

Philippine Exporters Confederation president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. although supportive of many of Duterte’s programs has cautioned that such policies could do more harm to the economy than good.

“What we need is a foundation for a stable relationship between business owners and their workers “he said.

Yet a storm may be brewing between labor and business after leftist members of Duterte’s cabinet suggested policies that are deemed unacceptable by the business community such as the “endo” system, which he vowed to abolish in his term.

It is good that Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III refused to be swayed by emotions and was sensible enough not to scrap contractualization outright.

He noted that it would be impossible to regularize all employees after six months as required by the Labor Code, as some establishments need only extra hands on a seasonal or project basis.

Instead, Bello proposed an “80-20” where 80% of a company’s workforce will immediately be regularized. But, Ortiz-Luis has warned, it might only result in creating more loopholes in the system.

“When you force employers to regularize employees at tinanggalan mo ng flexibility, they will be minimalist. Pipiliin nila ang pinakamaliit ang number (of employees) that they have to (maintain) because they cannot afford to make everybody regular," Ortiz-Luis said in an interview.


Also, Duterte’s push for a P100 across-the-board wage hike does not sit well with Ortiz-Luis, who has repeatedly pointed out that minimum wages are the biggest binding constraints to job creation and economic growth.

Ortiz warned that if the government insists on the P100 wage increase, it would only result in the proverbial Pyrrhic victory and would not bode well for the economy in the long run.

He pointed that with a wage hike like that, manufacturers and service providers would pass the extra costs to consumers which eventually would result to high prices of end products in the market.

Ortiz-Luis likewise explained that their research showed that only 16% of the country’s labor force belonged to the so-called formal economy and they’re the only ones who will benefit from the wage increase.

The rest or 84% of the labor force are not covered by labor laws because they are mostly small self-employed entrepreneurs and workers in the so-called underground economy.


This early, Duterte is showing signs that he would be a great and decisive leader.

However he must do a careful balancing act so as not to antagonize any particular class of the society because he needs everybody’s help and cooperation to ensure his success as a leader of our country.

As he stated in his inaugural speech which he quoted from the late United States President Abraham Lincoln : “you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; you cannot help the poor by discouraging the rich; you cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer; you cannot further the brotherhood by inciting class hatred among men”.

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Thursday, 05 December 2019
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