August 17, 2016 at 12:01 am
Segueing from our “Tapang at Malasakit” article on then-candidate Duterte in 2015, a tandem television ad when Duterte had already announced a team-up with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. This time, the tagline, reinforced in tarpaulins and stickers, was “Matapang na Solusyon; Mabilis na Aksyon.”
The main competition, this time narrowed down to Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Jojo Binay and Miriam Santiago, seemed unable to capture the mood of the voting public at the starting line. Mar Roxas and his yellow brigade kept touting “continuity” and the old “tuwid na daan” promise that had seen better times, washed off the public consciousness by six years of less-than-satisfactory governance. VP Binay kept repeating the once-saleable narrative about being born poor, this time by acting poor —in boodle fights, in commercials about sensitivity to the plight of the poor. It only served to reinforce the argument of those who had questioned him for more than a year on unexplained wealth close to being “Imeldific.”
Senator Grace Poe on the other hand, rode on the legend that was her adoptive father, FPJ, but people’s memories are short, and we seriously doubted if the millennials still remember watching FPJ movies, vainly propagandized by ABS-CBN through their re-make of “Ang Probinsyano” starring the new telenovela hero Coco Martin, ably supported by no less than the gracious Susan Roces. That worried us enough, but constant tracking in internal surveys and qualitative research told us that the “instant magic” could, and would wear off.
Senadora Miriam was hobbled from the very beginning by health problems.
Sure, the competition tried to attach similar health questions about Duterte, who turned 71 by the time the campaign was midstream. Duterte wisely admitted certain “esoteric” illnesses that the masa did not really comprehend. But standing in hours-long motorcades and delivering hours-long speeches convinced the masa that the candidate was not nearly as sick as some propagandists from the competition claimed.
Only he was “matapang” enough. Only he proposed “matapang na solusyon.” Not mincing words about the gravity of the illegal drug menace, he said his solutions would be “bloody.” And he boldly promised a big difference in three to six months. It has been less than 50 days. Now the human rights activists are seeing too much blood, and Bishop Soc winces. Duterte, after all, never promised a picnic in the war on drugs.
Yet Duterte was true to his promises to the 16.6 million who voted overwhelmingly for him across the nation and throughout the world in OFW-voting centers. The competition did not read the public pulse well enough. They could not see through the seething and pent-up anger borne by years of frustration about governance so indifferent and so insensitive to their woes. And so unable to solve problems quickly enough.
For Duterte showed purpose, grim though some perceived such to be. Duterte showed decisiveness, an element unseen over the past six years, not only from what Binay called the “analysis-paralysis” team, but from the president endorsing the team as well.
As for Senator Poe, the main competitor until just weeks before May 9, the “decisiveness” did not show; the long litany of promises punctuated by so many proposed solutions to myriad problems fell flat. And of course, the citizenship and corollary loyalty issues ran smack against a little perceived, but numbers-demonstrated slow wave of nationalism, particularly among the millennials.
Now fast forward to the 50th day of the Duterte presidency, which will be tomorrow.
Even before the Davao City mayor was formally installed in Malacanang, the “matapang na aksyon” was operationalized by police officials wanting to impress the new commander-in-chief, or in some cases, perhaps to cover their tracks. But Duterte named a field marshall in his war on drugs, a guy so colorful, but with sincerity brimming from his folksy persona, so very much like his “boss” Digong. From the hick parts of Davao del Sur to quick-on-the-draw poster boy of the fight against crime, Gen. Ronaldo de la Rosa, aptly nicknamed “Bato” has shown both “tapang” and “bilis.”
Don’t count the body bags. Focus instead on how many heretofore untouchable drug lords and pushers beneath the radar of the last six years have been brought to the public limelight. At break-neck speed. If you were an ordinary Juan de la Cruz with no links to drugs, and bedeviled in your neighborhood and on your way to work or school by drug-crazed criminals young and old, wouldn’t you say “Wow…finally!”
Look at Art Tugade’s proposed solutions to the traffic and mass transport mess that Duterte inherited. Some of them are so simple, so common-sensical, one would ask, “bakit hindi ito naisip ni Abaya, o ni Mar”?
So many have wondered why general aviation hogged so much airport terminal space, and took some 12 percent to 15 percent of air traffic away from commercial airlines, but their lessees were just too “powerful” to be touched. Now Duterte, through Tugade, wants the rich to move out, to Sangley or wherever else, and take their choppers from Makati rooftops to their private planes.
Tanim-bala, which became a major election issue—quick solution? Just confiscate the live bullet, let the perpetrator go to wherever. Why bother about a single bullet, unless you want to extort in exchange for non-prosecution? Common sense, di bala?
Driving licenses, from three years to five years, and soon car plates as well. Ditto for passports, all so that the hassle (and petty corruption) would bedevil the ordinary Filipino no longer.
On a more abstract plane, Speaker Bebot Alvarez pushing for a shift to a federal system, mindful that if left at the back-burner while mundane issues hog the limelight, rewriting the Constitution would be perceived as self-serving. So this early, the wheels of constitutional revision, both to address politico-socio-economic imbalances and festering secessionist issues, are rolling. Sure there will be debatable issues in such a massive and historic endeavor, but the purpose is clear, the solution is courageous, and the action is quick.There are many more fronts where the new administration demonstrated “matapang na solusyon; mabilis na aksyon” in its first 50 days. And clearly more to come. The peace initiatives, both with the leftist insurgents and with our Muslim secessionists, with Jess Dureza and Bebot Bello moving at a pace and resolve heretofore unseen. Tax reform initiatives, many of them unthinkable to the ratings-conscious ancien regime.
People get the sense that finally, government is in charge. And in control. Finally, there will be meaningful change.
Revolutionary, if you may.