Filipinos may finally see true ‘unity’ under a Duterte presidency


It no longer needs highlighting that Filipinos are now doing the right thing and embracing the leadership of President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte with open minds and a renewed hope in real change being implemented over the next six years. The reason Filipinos seem more inclined to take the journey together this time is that Duterte had marked his campaign not just with mere symbols of that call for unity but with hard evidence that he has walked in the shoes of Filipinos from all sectors of society. Just by being from Mindanao provides him a fresh lens with which to regard the no-win politics that infest Imperial Manila. Mindanao and the Visayas, after all, is where much of the internal strife amongst the Philippines’ various ethnic and cultural groups emanate and having been in the thick of all that makes Duterte all the more qualified to talk about “unity”.

In that sense, the unity that Duterte represents can be considered to be different from the notion of “unity” espoused by the traditional politicians that came to rule Manila before him. Traditional “unity”, to most, had more to do with unity across partisan camps. I’d like to think Duterte’s unity takes the partisan out of its equation and focuses on the Nation.

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Key to this renewed sense of unity is the eradication of all symbols and relics of the old political order that fragmented the nation. Standing out amongst those relics is the Yellow brand. At no time in the Philippines’ history has its politics been as polarised as it was in the last 30 years since that “revolution” in 1986. The notion that the EDSA “people power” revolt that “toppled” the regime of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos was a revolution to begin with has all but been debunked.

In a short Facebook post, Netizen Kris Andres handily summed up the Philippines’ collective Eureka! moment that diagnosed the national delusion of the last 30 years and explains why, after billions of pesos “invested” by the Liberal Party in the candidacy of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo, only a colossal loss and a mere tie with a Marcos respectively could be mustered:

Apparently, the numerous Cory and Ninoy monuments, the pre-school books glorifying the Aquino name, the annual People Power anniversary, the Cory musical, and the P500 bill are not enough to remind the Filipinos about Martial Law.

But maybe that’s the problem. The Aquinos made it all about them.

And so now, Filipinos know: there was no revolution in 1986 — only the spectacle of a richly-landed Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan seizing and holding hostage a big chunk of the national consciousness and colouring it Yellow. The result of this was a deep crack forming across the Philippines’ political landscape dividing the discourse between the Yellow folks and their-self ascribed “civil society” and that of all the rest. This is the legacy that outgoing President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III leaves his country who, for much if not all of his term as President, upheld the Yellow colours of his party over and above the national colours. Thus, the Aquinos and the Liberal Party leave a deeply-divided society that Duterte is, we all hope, cut out for the role of unifying.

Back in 2011, there already had been a call for President BS Aquino and his ilk to ditch that Yellow symbolism and adopt the national colours. He was than as he remains now, after all, the president of all Filipinos. The call, as we now see, was unheeded and was, like many other things about the Second Aquino Administration, a victim of BS Aquino’s stubborn devotion to an obsolete philosophy.

VP candidate Leni Robredo flashes the 'Laban' sign while wearing a Yellow shirt.

VP candidate Leni Robredo flashes the ‘Laban’ sign while wearing a Yellow shirt.

Thus the healing begins. Yellow has come to symbolise a national cancer that Filipinos now see as potentially curable. The cure to what has been called the “jaundiced” national politics of the last 30 years has, even this early, taken effect. Observers have even noticed Liberal Party Vice Presidential candidate Leni Robredo starting to distance herself from the Yellow brand and start wearing more neutral colours.

Having provided a new path of thinking, the task at hand is clear for the new president. The main challenge for Duterte is to apply his no-nonsense style of governance as mayor to a scale and strategic level befitting that of a Chief Executive. This challenge can be encapsulated in the following truism:

Mayors go after snatchers and pickpockets. Presidents go after pork barrel thieves and election cheats.

Likewise, as president, unity is now all about what is good for all Filipinos. There are bigger fish to fry and less time to cook them. But that is what Duterte, presumably, signed up for.

10 Replies to “Filipinos may finally see true ‘unity’ under a Duterte presidency”

  1. We may have a new president that will no longer apply the “Daang Matuwid” mantra, but the Yellows will still dominate the political scenario with Rep. Leni Robredo copping the VP position. Their influence might override Pres. Rody Duterte’s plan for change since the yellow legislature, yellow supreme court and possibly yellow VP will ensure The Punisher will not last his mandate. The only solution to quash whatever the LP trapos plan to oust Duterte is to ensure Sen. Bongbong Marcos wins the second-highest office in the land no less. Digong must use all his powers to ensure this becasue everything that the Filipinos worked hard for will go down the drain and we will hear The Yellows sing “Happy days are here again”.

  2. After the 3 to 6 months expect wildfire mobstyle criticisms from Yellow Army, and their PLAN B. Better watch out Drilon, De Lima and the House of Representatives.

  3. I guess we need a Duterte who can threaten us before we discipline ourselves. I come to think that the problem is not the people we elect. the problem is the society.

    I hope that under his leadership education and discipline will be elevated further up though I believe that it should be the parent’s responsibility to teach their children. this will pave the way for enlightenment and will produce human beings like Miriam Santiago.

  4. I believe the flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.

  5. It is not Pres. Duterte, that can do the job alone. A leader’s job is only to Lead his people. If the people will not change their wrong/evil ways. There is nothing, the leader can do.

    There was no 1986 Revolution. It was a coup d’ etat by the U.S./C.I.A. The Aquinos/Cojuangcos and the Feudal Oligarchs; along with the political opportunists of all kinds helped overthrew Marcos Sr.

    In America; I have observed that Filipino- Americans observe Laws; become Law abiding citizens; and are mostly responsible people.
    It is because; they go to Jail; if they have a little infractions of the Law and municipal ordinances.

    I think, the root of our problem is: we do not ENFORCE the LAW. If the law breaker is tied or is an “asungot” of a powerful politician. He/she is never prosecuted. A powerful politician will never be prosecuted. Much more, go to Jail. Even, if he/she violated the law in a glaring manner.

    Look at what happened in our recent election.
    Aquino, Mar Roxas, Porky Drilon, the Liberal Party; Conspired with the COMELEC, the SMARTMATIC people, to CHEAT in the election.
    Will there be a thorough investigation? Will the culprits be prosecuted? Will they go to jail? Will we improve our electoral system, to prevent this from happening again?

    It remains to be seen! I cross my fingers, and be thankful to God, if this will happen!

  6. The UK, USA, France, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and many other progressive highly nationalistic nations of the free world limit the colors of their flag to red, white, and blue.

    Once Filipinos mature to overcome their inherent self-centered mentality, we may be able to remove YELLOW from our banner.

    What has unified us all these years is the common mindset and attitude of selfishness and greed – for which a more appropriate version of the flag is proposed to highlight our crab mentality

    Hopefully Du30 with his genuine love of country and the people may bring about the first signs of real change…

  7. But Duterte is rekindling divisiveness by way of GMA. How long before our nation crumbles. How we hope for the best, and that Duterte do the right thing. Drop GMA.

  8. The multi-party system that now prevails, and dominates our political and electoral process isn’t doing anything but sow confusion among the electorate. With some seventeen parties now, this  system just roils an already murky pool of candidates so that, not just the ‘low-information’ voters, but the better informed, as well, are so befuddled; they revert to name recall.. resort to settling for ‘rewards’ in exchange for their votes.. or, simply stay away. For some two generations now, we’ve seen names like Osmena, Marcos, Gordon, Sotto, Binay, (and family), Estrada, (and sons).. turning up like bad coins. It really is no surprise that we are still stuck in the same old ‘shit creek’ without a paddle. To add further injury to this insult, clueless athletes and air-headed and fading actors and actresses are also found in the mix. This multi-party and multi-personality ‘zarzuela’ can only guarantee a dowwnward trajectory for the country.
    However, there might be some light in the horizon. With the newly elected President and, his avowed program of ‘change’, the country might yet see..and feel something different.

    Sent from my iPad

  9. Inadvertently, i seem to have left out the name..’Aquino’.. from that wall of ‘fame’. “Mea maxima culpa.”

  10. T
    Without a doubt, Mr. Benign0 has written critical blogs far more brilliant than this. The many assorted contributors, as well, have heaped everything on this administration but the kitchen sink, and still have missed the mark. This article, however, funnels down the issues to one focal point.. the delibrate and calculated attempt of the Pnoy dispensation to be exclusive.. in all  aspects and meanings of the word. Given this mindset, it is easy to understand the detachment and seeming aloofness of this administration to the problems that impact on the ‘common tao’. To name a few more glaring examples, there was the refusal to make amends for the tourist massacre at the Luneta; the reluctance to assuage and ease the feelings of the families of the casualties in the Mamasapano incident; the utter disregard for the commuters on the LRT/MRT lines by not addressing and solving this problem directly and forcefully; and, of course, the insistence in the signature ‘Aquino’ color.. eschewing the country’s ‘red, thite and blue’.
    If only the President were more inclusive in his programs, (and in his attitude), the people might even have given him a pass for riding the crest of GM Arroyo’s policies.. and claiming full credit for them.

    Sent from my ipad

    Sent from my iPad

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