Filipinos are happy for a “strongman” to lead them and have redefined the term to mean a GOOD thing

It still remains no mystery why current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte enjoys the full support of a majority of Filipino voters. Duterte comes across as strong. He acts and decides and does not dither in his messaging. He has exhibited this character from Day One of his campaign in the lead up to the 2016 elections and has remained consistently in character throughout his presidency since then. That sort of consistency can only be sustained when one is bent on real leadership and not just on mere politics. And, as is evident thus far, Duterte has not deferred to the politics of the status quo and, instead, has steered off-course from that status quo to a degree never seen before.

In the process of going about his business, Duterte has steamrolled his way over many sacred political cows notable of which are our deference to Western-styled “liberalism” and the one-way relationship with Western Europe Filipinos have been subject to for so long. We can see the effects of this in the way the Philippine Opposition now helplessly cries out for a lifeline from their Western European “allies”. That quaint separation anxiety that is now inducing those bratty shrill cries from the Opposition had already become an overtold story thanks to the dramatics of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. However, it should be highlighted that the key feature of this divergence from the edict of Western liberals is a redefinition of the notion of “strongman”.

The term “strongman” has, until now, been regarded as a bad thing from the perspective of Western liberals. That notion had been deeply-ingrained in Filipinos’ minds over the several decades that the “yellow” narrative of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan enjoyed a virtual monopoly over the national discourse. That narrative equated being strong and decisive as “tyrannical” and being soft and forgiving as “democratic”. It seems it wasn’t enough that the ascent to power of Duterte proved that Filipinos had finally gotten sick of all that traditional thinking. Perhaps that recent cover feature published by TIME Magazine and the opposite-to-the-expected effect it had on Filipinos proves it again. To the consternation of the Opposition, many Filipinos regarded the “strongman” label TIME slapped on Duterte as a source of pride — pride in being supporters of a strong leader.

What is interesting is how many “thought leaders” of the Opposition derided Duterte supporters for not “getting” the message TIME cover was trying to convey. In reality it is the Opposition that had, once again, failed to get it and continue to miss what is really going on today. The reality is, Filipinos don’t see Duterte’s “strongman” leadership as a bad thing.

That Filipinos find safety and security in his strong leadership and continue to validate it in survey after survey is already legend by itself. Looking beyond that and beyond affirmations of approval and popularity delivered by survey firms, Duterte actually clearly demonstrates what strong leadership is in the way he manages his staff. In stark contrast to the manner with which his predecessor, former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III coddled and even took falls for his buddies in his administration, Duterte has shown a wherewithal to take strong administrative measures to deal with sub-standard performance amongst his leadership team. While Aquino allowed the scandals of massive pork barrel thievery, tragic military and police operation failures, and wholesale mismanagement of key transport infrastructure assets to roll-off the well-oiled hides of his kabarkadas and kamaganaks, Duterte had so far overseen the swift relief of errant public officials and Cabinet members from of their duties.

Most important of all, it takes a true strongman to take the helm and turn his ship towards a completely different course. That, again, the Opposition are lurching noisily as the ship they once sloppily-captained lists and groans as it turns towards a new horizon simply validates that real change is currently in effect. Real change that reforms, after all, often costs the once-powerful. These are people who have the power to churn up the most noise in any process of reform. Suffice to say, the noisiest of the lot are, in fact, the increasingly disenfranchised cliques of once-comfy oligarchs (and their hangers-on) who are left outside of the comfort zone of the court they once held in the halls of power.

The best thing Filipinos can do for now is hang on while the ship that is their country settles into its new course and accelerates to cruising speed. In the hands of a strongman, that in itself, is a challenging maneuver. In the hands of a weakman, practically an impossibility — which is why it is only now, after a long time, that Filipinos are seeing that real change. Again, they just need to hang. The ride won’t be smooth, but it is well worth the journey.

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16 Comments on “Filipinos are happy for a “strongman” to lead them and have redefined the term to mean a GOOD thing”

  1. Pilipinos are Happy to do the ERAD=Eradication Rehabilitation ABNOY Drug of Marcial Bonifacio aka Ninoy Aquino Son Madpnoy kulangkulang99 Creator of a million pilipino addicts(approximately four million according to Philippine Statistic

  2. A self-hallucinating article. 16 million voters die hard fanactics like you out of the total 54 million voters are not the majority. 1,200 respondents out of 100 million Filipinos surveyed by survey firms are not the majority.

    Duterte is yet to fire mocha uson and the other PCOO secretary for their “substandard performance” as you said and the incompetence and for wasting taxpayers’ money for delivering fake news time and again. BOC and BIR still remain to be the top leading corrupt bureaus in the government.

    Duterte is yet to protest China for the militarization in the South China Sea (at least diplomatically) which is very hard for him to do in constrast to his posture as you said “strong man” (which Duterte doesn’t want to be called by the way) unlike Vietnam which currently issued strong statement of protest against China on their missiles. The sovereignty of the Philippines is questionable since Duterte is in power. Where is that jet ski thing to show his bravado? And the 6months peace and order, etc.? Oh, I forget, they are just his mighty hyperboles anyways.

    And the list goes on…how can Filipinos be proud of him. Not much else has positively changed.

    1. Your rant seems to wish that Duterte is some god who can fix corruption in the most corrupt offices in spite of the systemic and ingrained culture of corruption, who can “blow China away” in spite of the massive disparity of power between the two countries. You have serious issues if you really think anyone can fix that in a single term. Looks like you’re the one hallucinating if you think several surveys over a period of time composed of random samples selected by an unsympathetic firm seems to somehow stand for a “majority” and not a “representative sample.” If you think that way, you’re even more incompetent than Mocha Us on who deserves to keep her job anyway.

    2. I dunno why but are you telling me that the people who voted for Mar Roxas and Grace Poe are not die hard fanatics? Even survey firms are also questionable because they can be biased to the core.

      Duterte is yet to fire mocha uson and the other PCOO secretary for their “substandard performance” as you said and the incompetence and for wasting taxpayers’ money for delivering fake news time and again. BOC and BIR still remain to be the top leading corrupt bureaus in the government.

      And yet you still want to focus on her rather than issues? Hey, you’re wasting your time. If you think people like Florin Hilbay and Jover Laurio would be a good replacement and see them as ‘competent’, then you’re hallucinating. Speaking of those corrupt bureaus, you should know that the SYSTEM is the problem, not necessarily the people in it.

      Duterte is yet to protest China for the militarization in the South China Sea…….

      You failed the “so what” test. Not just you’re commonly grasping on straws but you also take things too literally. Unfortunately, that’s what Yellowtards do.

      Your last sentence doesn’t make sense either way.

  3. The author once (or maybe even more than once) wrote that the Philippine society is a dysfunctional society. Personally, I dont think any government, president, parliament cant change that. So I wonder, what will Duterte acheive after his term that we will all remember? I cant help it but I wont forget all those killings. He may not (or may) be involved in it but for sure he didnt do anything to stop it AND capture (arrest) those who did it.
    The author also once claimed that the Philippines is now ready to stand on its own 2 feet (independent and souvereign). Then pls explain all the stuff with China. Mind you, a communist country.
    So after 2 years, I cant come up with anything beneficial for the country that will stick to my mind.

    PS: I am not a fan of the Philippine liberal party. Even if I was a pinoy, I would and will never vote for them for the simple fact that the Philippine liberal party is in no way liberal.

    1. Ironically even if you are not fan of the Liberal Party, you seem to fall on Liberal Party’s tactic on making the public especially outside the country view Duterte as a cold blooded killer while during the reign of Liberal Party the killings are much worse including also the media killings or arrested and missing persons from the media.

      1. Ronald,
        My interest in the Philippines started from 2009 onwards. And during each of my visits, I never encountered/encounter any violence of any kind. What does that mean? I always was at the right time at the right place? But since 2016, the killings started visibly and noticeably.
        In no way, the Philippine liberal party is showing any liberal motions and ideas. At least, I dont see them.
        Regarding Duterte: I dont see him do anything to stop (the killings) it. So even when he himself never pulled the trigger, for me he is an accomplice. And – as important – by killing people is not a way to solve a problem. But hey, he seems to have done that when he was still a mayor. Must feel familair for him.

        1. “And – as important – by killing people is not a way to solve a problem”.

          True. But then again, you should know by now that also those drug addicts that were killed did also their share of killing innocent people. Or maybe you don’t know? Or maybe you wouldn’t consider that option too.

          From what is happening back there, I would say it seems the cleaning up the mess has gained traction and helped to stop the drug problem (a bit, but not 100% of course, which country was able to do that, look at US and Mexico with its bloody drug war, do tell?). But I’m not saying the government did this (but I have no proof even with my doubts, but of course with no real evidence the courts of law will just not accept speculations as evidence, do you understand?). Could be someone else or some people… we don’t know.

          “And during each of my visits, I never encountered/encounter any violence of any kind. What does that mean? I always was at the right time at the right place? But since 2016, the killings started visibly and noticeably.”

          Ow wow. You generalized too early how killings just started by 2016. Really now? You are just one of those naive non-Filipinos who haven’t really seen and felt like one of us. Take note, my cousin was killed (not even drug related) way back in 2012 – bullet ridden – along with his wife and another compatriot in their van by unknown assailants. And that’s just one of those “violence” that started way back before 2016 for God knows when. You can have your “opinion” about feeling that the killings started by 2016 (understand that you are “just a naive foreigner”) but that is not the factual life back home. Past administrations did nothing and were just the same fangless to stop countless killings that have happened multiple times in the country (drug related or not).

        2. Okay, sp lets fight fire with fire, right? Is that your idea to solve problems?
          And what about corruption within the government? Just firing (pun intended) them without any trial and without any investigation?

        3. And you generalize that it’s all about killing while again even those pushers or drug addicts can still resist or not cooperate to surrender leading them to be killed by the police, also there are much numbers of pushers or drug addicts who surrenders and arrested(which rarely reported by mainstream or biased media)so your generalization of killings is not totally true.

  4. Filipinos have long given up on hope that their government will someday work for them. Substandard living condition and poor government, even private services have been the way of life, corruption and criminalities have been the norm. Filipinos adjusted their way of life to minimize the effect of all these in their personal life, but one can only take as much. We have been waiting for the right man/woman. The exposure of OFWs to life in another country might have been a factor.We have been taken advantage of by our own leaders for so long. The right (strongman) man has come, Filipinos are not going to let this chance slip. Hopefully, Filipino voters will be smarter in the next elections. And hopefully, Duterte will inspire future leaders.

  5. I would not class him as a strong man. He has not touched the crooked ruling class, nor will he. Ok he has taken the easy path and done nothing while druggies were murdered. If he was a strongman he would sort out the inherent difficulties and structural issues faced by the country. I am guessing by the end of his term he will be labeled as yet another disappointment. I am awaiting the coming peso collapse ????

    1. Yo u are rooting for the economy to collapse that will mean hardship to many Filipinos just to prove that your dislike of Duterte is justified. So much for patriotism.

  6. We have thiry ( 30 ) years of unstable leadership. Two terms of mother and son , Aquinos failed leadership. Now, we have different kind of leadership. Filipinos noticed the little improvement and change. It is different “ballgame” under Pres. Duterte. We know that, it will take many years to eradicate all the evils and incompetence in our government.

    The crooks are still there. They are just taking their time. Some “hold outs” of the Aquino era, are still there. Waiting for the ” good old days” to come back .

    Filipinos really need a strong leader. Filipinos are hard to follow rules and regulations. Most of us are hard headed.

    The asset of Pres. Duterte, is his years of experience as Davao Mayor. That Leadership experience helped him in managing this unmanageable country. We hope that future Filipino leaders, will follow his trend of leadership.

    We cannot have it all, like change overnight, or change in a span of six (6) years. We know that incompetence, failed leadership, corruption and feudal oligarchy , have been with us ever since. It will take many many years, to dismantle all these kinds of evils. However, we are optimistic for our future.

  7. I for one am glad for the breath of fresh air with Duterte. Sure he made and continues to make some lame faux pas here and there, which can be rightfully criticized, though seems to resonate with the common folk to separate degrees.

    It’s great to see political will and initiative being followed through, compared to the lackadaisical approach to a corrupt and self-interested leadership approach following Marcos — and I think Marcos showed them the way, so the family dynasties just followed his example without bothering about the whole leadership and planning for the future stuff.

    Now we have Duterte from Mindanao, a completely different kind of leadership compared to imperial Manila/Luzon leaders, and no one can deny he is rocking the boat.

    Having Duterte swap out leadership is a telling sign in my opinion. He joined the national level sewers of politics only to be surrounded by connected individuals frothing at the mouth for appointments. I think recently he is starting to examine the fruit of the trees (agencies/departments/bureaucracies etc.) and is now switching out leadership to people coming from the ranks that he doesn’t know — with as little contamination as possible from political family relations because it seems like he is getting tired of the BS.

    P.S. – Duterte is still a politician so he does say things about him being anti-corruption on one hand, then says something else saying he has a list of who is corrupt but is giving them a chance to stop.

  8. The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.

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