Well, what would one expect of a character like Rodrigo Duterte? A man with his character would, indeed, reflect the character of his constituents. Mga balasubas.
My colleague Paul Farol earlier wrote about the plight of a certain Jack Labang who had the “audacity” to post a disapproving comment about Duterte’s recent announcement of his candidacy in the coming 2016 presidential elections and how this guy was thrashed in various Facebook forums infested with Duterte supporters.
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Now that Paul had published his work on GRP, supporters of Duterte who are subscribed to the GRP Facebook Page are also now out in full force slamming the article, Paul himself, and the overall GRP site and its Admins as well! It’s good in a way. It’s an opportunity to purge our page of people following us for the wrong reason.
Thing is, I myself have written quite a bit about Duterte and will have to admit that I wrote these without bias — neither for nor against him. I admired his boldness and pointed assertions but, at the same time, noted the slippery slope that is his shortcut approach to law enforcement and justice delivery. I wrote about Duterte because he facinated me. He was someone to watch because Duterte, unlike the other wishy-washy no-substance presidential candidates in the running, did not equivocate in his views, made bold and categorical assertions, and had a clear vision around how to go about changing things. Most important of all, he had a track record of delivering results (flawed or questionable the means to achieving these may be).
Unfortunately, it is not Duterte himself that does him in. It is his supporters. A disturbing alarm bell about his supporters (or, for that matter, any tardic supporter of any politician) is a quickness to permanently shut out any view they perceive to be critical of their bet. That’s a sure recipe for the sort of goosestepping type of blind following that asks for trouble once such a politician siezes power. When a leader gets surrounded by blind followers who consciously and deliberately close their minds to even the slightest criticism, the outcome becomes predictable.
This is a specially dangerous cocktail for a man such as Duterte who has openly threatened to kill people who cross his path (consistent with his self-avowed record in his former role as Mayor of Davao City). Duterte’s followers have as early as now proven to be of the blind sort with a penchant for Taliban-like behaviour. They will likely take the vigilante attitude of their leader to heart and, themselves, propagate Duterte’s dangerous fundamentalism. The sense of superiority in how they regard the way things are run in Davao is practically reminiscent of the way German Nazis regarded their homeland when they set out to blitz the rest of Europe.
Perhaps Duterte does not intend to have his supporters behave this way. That simply means, just days into his candidacy, Duterte already suffers from a monumental public relations problem of his own followers’ doing. He needs to get his act together if he is to mature into a leader of presidential calibre and get his supporters under control to mitigate any further risk of damage to his campaign.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.