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Digong, a poet

With barely six months before the election on 9 May 2022, a mini crisis has emerged with a potential to turn into a full blown one should family ties fail to prevail.



As early as the campaign for the Presidency in 2016, I discerned poetry in the words and ways of Rodrigo Duterte.

“I will go to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on a Jet Ski to assert our rights in the disputed waters.”

At the approach of the election season when the political breeze started to blow warm across the sea, Manny Pacquiao quickly challenged Digong on his campaign promise “to Jet Ski” to the WPS to assert Philippine sovereignty against the Chinese. Pacquiao was followed by die-hard opposition stalwarts.

From thereon, I knew Digong was the better person. Digong was laughing when he said it was a campaign joke. Those who believe and were serious about it were stupid. It was bravado, he said.

Bravado is a figure of speech, an expression of boldness to impress and intimidate. Digong’s special talent of intimidating his opponent and make them look funny was effective during the debates.

President Duterte is an expert in using figures of speech, hyperbole, simile and metaphor. He has the talent in sizing up people, of determining capability, strength, weakness, talent, patience and values.

I suspect he must have read or even memorized Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Psalm of Life. especially the following two of its nine stanzas:

“In the world’s broad field of battle./ In the bivouac of Life,/ Be not like dumb, driven cattle!/ Be a hero in the strife!

“Let us, then, be up and doing,/ With a heart for any fate;/ Still achieving, still pursuing,/ Learn to labor and to wait.”

Do not be like dumb cattle, fight and be a hero.

Continue to be patient, learn to work, and be achieving.

Digong communicates by hints, analogies, examples, reminders, comparisons, contrasts, suggestions and body language.

Then I got struck with my friend Taro Talegatos’ observations.

“You know Art, remember when Digong said, he was willing to give way to Martin Romualdez to take his place as candidate for vice president?”

“Yes,” I said.

“On the part of Sara, remember when Rolando Andaya came to make some sort of a deal for former Secretary of Defense Gibo Teodoro as Sara’s running mate for vice president?”

“In Duterte’s legacy showcasing his trillions worth of infrastructure, ‘Build, Build, Build,’ was Bongbong ever a part of the celebrations?”

“What are you driving at Taro?” I asked.

“When you are not included, needless to say, you are excluded,” he added.

Last 11 November 2021, the Duterte legacy caravan was launched in Tagbilaran, Bohol City, attended by President Duterte himself, accompanied by Senator Bong Go, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar and local officials in the province.

Showcased were the Bohol Panglao International Airport that remained a dream for 30 years until Digong came to realize it through his “Build” program; new capitol building, seven sea ports, 71 kilometers of roads, and bridges that interconnected towns; free irrigation water, free universal health care and Malasakit Center.

Why is Digong doing all these? He wants continuity.

“Go for continuity of my projects. Go for ‘Build, Build, Build.’ Go for continuity of the Malasakit Centers,” Duterte said, emphasizing the projects they have envisioned and done together.

At no other time in the history of our country has a government been enjoying this trust of the people, despite the pandemic.

The President still enjoying very good acceptability rating, and his entire Cabinet establishing an enviable record of performance and competence.

What matters most now is continuity of success in the record of the Duterte administration in infrastructure projects, poverty reduction and economic inclusion; the campaign against drug;
sanctioning of abusive utilities; breaking up of oligarchies; success in fiscal management despite the global health crisis; strengthening of police and military capabilities; and containment of communist insurgency and the Muslim separatist movement.

With barely six months before the election on 9 May 2022, a mini crisis has emerged with a potential to turn into a full blown one should family ties fail to prevail.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, however, is in control, with the people behind him and the support of the Constitution.