Filipinos do not know what they want. In 1986, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos took to the streets to rally against the late strongman, former President Ferdinand Marcos. The three-day protest eventually led to the ousting of the so-called “dictator” and alleged human rights violator. Twenty five years later, Filipinos from the Mindanao region of Davao are lauding the Duterte family for their style of leadership that is reminiscent of the Marcos years. They love the Duterte Mayors particularly former Mayor who is now the Vice Mayor to his daughter Sara, gun-toting Rodrigo for their Wild-West-style no-nonsense leadership.
Most Filipinos from Davao or the Davaoeños are quite aware of the hired mercenaries — what they dub the “Davao Death Squads” (DDS) — and are even proud to say that the phantom team is largely responsible for keeping the peace and the order in their beloved city. They say that since the people cannot rely on the justice system, these death squads at least keep the criminals off the streets, which in turn makes it safer for regular people to walk about. Full disclosure: these are all based on anecdotal statements and not on an official study.
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Most vocal Davaoeños would readily admit that the improvised system works for them. One commentator even asked the question, “If an iron-fisted Machiavellian approach is preferable to enforce peace & order, are you saying that [we were] better off not having the Edsa revolution in the first place?” Indeed, ruling Filipinos with an iron fist seems more effective than the softly-softly approach that has been used since Marcos left. I even received a lot of hostility from Duterte supporters for my article criticizing Mayor Sara’s use of violence to get her way. So, I thought, hmmm…there must be something that people from other regions in the Philippines are missing…
The evidence, in fact, seems to speaks for itself. The Department of Tourism awarded Davao the distinction of being the “Most Livable City in the Philippines in 2008” and, according to reports, the Foreign Direct Investment Magazine had even highlighted Davao as “the 10th Asian City of the Future”. The importance of Davao as a regional trade hub is highlighted by its transport infrastructure. Davao’s airport is the busiest in Mindanao, and the city also boasts two government and nine private seaports. Construction of more roads and bridges is underway according to their website. Now that is something to think about.
As the fifth largest city in the Philippines, Davao’s economy has grown steadily in the last two decades. There is no shortage of investors in the city of 1.5 million and most people there attribute all this to the efforts of their beloved mayor whose efforts at cleaning up the city and introducing economic reforms, which include dismantling of protection for “infant industries” and the breakdown of industries with monopolistic or cartel tendencies, seem to have paid off. It’s been said that Davao contributed significantly to making the Philippines the world’s top exporter of papaya, mangosteen, and even flowers. The annual income of Davao City in 2010 is said to have reached 4 billion pesos, the richest city in the country outside of Metro Manila.
So I now wonder: wouldn’t the rest of the Philippines be better off electing Rodrigo Duterte clones to their respective local governments to effect the same level of discipline we see in Davao? Just imagine if the image and likeness of “the man” together with his brand of “leadership” is put in place in every city in the country. The result might see the entire country being more than eligible for “The Most Livable Place on Earth” award. That scenario would be just short of amazing.
I guess all that is needed is for us to turn a blind eye to the activities of the hired mercenaries, which if the rumor is true, goes hand in hand with a Duterte-styled management. And if one commentator (an avid Duterte supporter) is correct, for as long as you are not a drug pusher or do not engage in criminal activities, you can be assured that you won’t get any visits from any “death squad” any time soon. In short, if we take the word of a Davaoeño who has for some time enjoyed relative peace and order, it’s all good. Apparently, even the human rights advocates have not been very vocal about their complaints either.
Who wouldn’t want a curfew on minors observed in the city? Under the Duterte rule, all business establishments, in particular bars and discos, would be mandated by a city ordinance to refrain from selling alcoholic drinks beyond 2:00 am. That would certainly reduce the number of casualties that result from public brawls and drink driving accidents.
The roads would be a lot safer too because motorists will be forced to observe road rules and regulations. Regular checkpoints in key parts of City and at the city boundaries will be in place round the clock to ensure strict implementation of traffic rules. And just like in Davao, motorcycle drivers with no helmets and motorists with defective lights will not be allowed to enter or drive in any city in Luzon and the Visayas.
The use of fireworks and other pyrotechnics, as well as smoking, would be strictly prohibited in the entire country. We will have more people with complete sets of fingers if illegal fireworks traditionally lit on New Year’s Eve are banned. Smoking will be banned too — even outdoors, if you are under a roof of any kind. Violators will be made to pay hefty fines, perform community service, serve jail time, or a combination of the three. President Noynoy Aquino will most likely be forced to quit smoking. And while we are at it, we can extend similar penalties to people who love singing in the wee hours of the morning.
But this will be the most shocking rule for all Filipinos in Luzon and Visayas: Littering would be prohibited. I don’t know how Filipinos would be able to adjust to this. The death squad will be likely to have their hands full implementing this rule alone considering how most Filipinos can’t seem to kick their tossing habit. There will definitely be a mother of a withdrawal period as Filipinos quit cold turkey throwing their trash wherever they please.
Just think about it. For almost three decades, Filipinos have enjoyed their so-called freedom to lay waste over the entire country. Isn’t it time that someone with an iron fist instill discipline on all of us? Or are individual rights and civil liberties more important than a clean and safe environment? You decide what you want.
In life, things are not always what they seem.