My first musing on President Rodrigo Duterte of The Philippines was an eye-opener for my conscience on how some leaders continue to stay relevant and capture the hearts of many through their unselfish acts. I find it obligatory to pen my second on this emerging great leader. In my first article, I have coined the term ‘Dutertenism’ mainly profiling his unorthodox, but successful methods in dealing with the maladies rampaging The Philippines for the past 40 years, as a result impeding its progress, unable to keep up the pace with the other South-east Asian nations. The Philippines, with all its resources, both natural and human, deserves better. It has a hardworking workforce and the Diaspora, a learned one and well-proficient in the English Language, had contributed handsomely to its economy. They were deprived of ‘sunshine’ by previous ineffective, incompetent and selfish leaders. I took it upon my social responsibility to highlight to the world that some leaders, of his pedigree, are indeed rare in today’s flight of capitalism.
Dutertenism is about finding a cure for these maladies. It is about one man’s quest to weed out the ‘parasites’ hindering the growth potential of his country. Holistic development of a nation is not only confined to economic growth but also the strength of its safety net for its people. Once safety is concreted, the rest will fall in place. It is an ideology based on what is best ‘for one’s own country’. His priorities encapsulate his focus on the ‘wants and needs’ of the majority rather than the ‘loud painful punishment plight’ of the few. Take the US, which has its own gun laws under its proud cries of respecting human rights, though, in my view, flawed to the core. It is the right of its citizens to own guns for self-protection. However, the free allowance to gun ownership had triggered massacres and ‘trigger-happy’ individuals, endangering the lives of innocent people. Where are the rights for people who just want to stay safe? Where are the rights for the school children who were killed at random by some maniacs and psychopaths? Does the right to own guns come accompanied with the right to shoot indiscriminately as well?
Human rights movements, especially from the EU and the United States disapprove the hard hand tactics employed by the authorities in dealing with the drug menace in the country, calling them ‘barbaric’. What could be more barbaric than witnessing innocent people being lured into the drug scourge that possesses everlasting devastation on youths and adults alike, crippling the entire country into oblivion? Aren’t the youths the pillars of a country?
The Davao experience, an exemplary experience indeed on how a city should be managed, had left the people of The Philippines with only one choice -Rodrigo Duterte. They view him as Godly sent, a savior, and a messiah to save the nation from further quandary. Dutertenism, the way I see it, is an ideology blended into the blood genes of the leader himself, who sees nothing but the need for a total revamp of a mediocre system that had ingrained in every sphere of law enforcement and administration, through identifying the root causes that had caused his beloved country dearly for the past 40 years.
Dutertenism is about being fearless, honest in actions and words and confident. It is an ideology that simply reads – “nation first, self last”. Only through stricter laws and commendable habitual tuning had transformed a tiny nation like Singapore, often known as the red dot below Malaysia, into a world hub for business, commerce and education. In his memoir, the late Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew had mentioned how the Japanese occupation in Singapore had laid the foundation for his opting to stricter laws for modern day Singapore in order to continuously thrive in a competitive world. Shops left open during the Japanese occupation were untouched as the common man feared to his teeth the hefty, barbaric punishments meted out by Japanese authorities for theft. Theft was unheard of during the Japanese occupation in Malaya (Malaysia) and Singapore. The ‘cleansing’ of vice via fear tactics surely worked. People’s safety was guaranteed; the country survived and look where it is today. Extreme punishments are a prerequisite for a nation to prosper, to reduce crime or to be crime-free.
It is also about being observant yet non-submissive to modern worldly temptations. Modern day temptations, beside the usual wealth, power and greed, also include the disgraceful humble act of kneeling down to dictating superpowers, and being forced, unwillingly, to accord special treatment to them. The Philippines inherited this temptation from time immemorial, constantly pleasing people in power, people in control and people who are submerged in the sea of wealth, be it internally or externally. Duterte had moved away from this status-quo, this lopsided alignment and had embarked on a new quest for his country in order to stay relevant in a globalised world.
Dutertenism is about being hypersensitive towards neighbourly territories – ASEAN, in which The Philippines is an active member. To ensure the safety of its waters and its coexistence, the President despises short-term benefits, and had opted for a more telescopic view, altering short-terms goals for a more holistic, long-term gain mainly in sustainable development, security and peace. The new cordial friendship forged with the awakened giant of Asia – China is an encouraging start, an eye-opener as well. Establishing diplomatic and economic ties with the world’s second largest economy is a boon to The Philippines. The proposed investment between the two countries will spur economic growth for this island nation, strengthening its coffers and provide massive job opportunities for its people.
Arrogance is also part of this ideology. I would term this arrogance as ‘positive arrogance’. Positive arrogance stems from the President who has deep-rooted patriotism and love for his country. This form of arrogance is a direct implication from the heavy responsibilities that he is shouldering at the moment to drive a nation which has long been subdued due to oppression and dictation by his unscrupulous predecessors. His drastic actions are not a result of he being impulsive, but are rather based on his observations. His actions are well-calculated, well-deliberated and planned. These attributes are ready to unleash a massive assault on the previous ineffective system which had long dwarfed the development of this resourceful nation.
It is my humble wish that Dutertenism be made into parts of higher-learning syllabus in The Philippines and in other parts of the world, to be studied and researched for students to master the art of political science and political management. It has to be a research-based discipline made compulsory. In this way, The Philippines will be able to churn out more disciplined leaders in the future hence assured of a constant supply of highly trained individuals who will put the nation first and self-last. We need to dwell deeper into Dutertenism. He is a bundle of emotions and a thorough research ought to be carried out to determine why such emotions had manifested in him. My take would be simple -‘mere love for his people and country’.
Dutertenism is parallel to humanity, the cause for sustaining humanity, the reason to love life, to love others, to love the family, to love the community, to love the society and the icing on the cake would be to have unconditional, unmatched love for one’s country. It is a matter of valuing humanity.