This late into his presidency, Rodrigo Roa Duterte remains an enigma.
He is such a mysterious puzzle to everyone, including an opposition who seemingly doesn’t know how to handle a loquacious talker like him.
They’ve called him names, the most serious of course is that of being a tyrant. He has often been described as pikon or someone who is overly sensitive to criticisms. He has shown that he won’t hesitate to use profane language to avenge a deep, personal grudge.
Yet, in spite of all his seemingly maverick ways, President Duterte, over the last five years, has remained extremely popular. He doesn’t need to be a statesman since he knows pretty well that many of his admirers applaud his candor as yet another manifestation of his authenticity. They swallow everything he dishes out hook, line and sinker.
Such is the puzzle presented by this President to his critics that even the opposition has been running like headless chickens not knowing how to handle such a controversial figure. He has been very hard to read.
With next year’s national elections in the horizon and the opposition still unable to make heads or tails of a viable game plan against the incumbent, it looks like they have to try harder other than painting Duterte as a tyrant and his administration no different from past corrupt regimes.
Savvy as he is politically, Duterte is a known strategist who has yet to lose a political battle. Despite his advancing age, the President is well aware of the show being staged at the Senate. The ongoing probe on the Department of Health’s alleged misuse of the P67-billion pandemic fund sadly has degenerated into mudslinging in the midst of a national health crisis.
This, as we know him well, won’t be taken sitting down by that man at the Palace. He has taken the cudgels for his men, and berated the “nosy, portly” solon handling the Senate hearing as one who has used his position at a humanitarian organization to fund his political ambitions.
Mr. Duterte said it would have been more productive for the lawmakers to focus on budget realignments, an activity more attuned to their job description. He also accused senators of not being able to wait for the Commission on Audit to finalize its findings because of a pressing need to exploit every opportunity to sabotage the administration.
More hearings, more brownie points.
Critics have slammed Duterte for overreach, describing him as, you guessed it, a tyrant. In cahoots with the opposition, they want to paint him as black as they can so they will look white.
For over 30 years now, they have been using the same old, tired strategy against their political enemies. They’ve used that against Erap Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who were both discredited with corruption issues. The good vs evil narrative has been a tired old refrain, that even the Catholic church may have lost its clout aligning itself with the yellow brand. There is no such thing now as a Catholic vote despite it being the predominant religion in the country.
If Duterte is a tyrant that his detractors paint him to be, the question being asked is why is he still popular nine months into his exit next year?
The truth of the matter is, Duterte, the “tyrant” has his finger on the public pulse. He knows what they want to hear and doesn’t impose.
Why, he even lets his political enemies make a fool of themselves on the national stage. He can even command his admirers not to vote for a certain personality.
That’s Duterte for you. He will tell you something and do the opposite the next. Will he run for vice president? Your guess is as good as ours. He keeps his cards close to his chest as if it’s a
high-stakes poker game.
That’s Duterte for you. You’ll never know what will hit you until the poker guru shows his gut-shot straight.