ROUGH CUTS| How Duterte will redeem himself

IT’S HISTORY repeating itself. Only, this time the event that could have been recorded in the country’s history books happened only lately and is repeated much earlier.

     We believe it is what is happening to the case of the candidacy for President of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

     Remember that early on before the mayor filed his certificate of candidacy for the highest position in the land through substitution he was touted as a non-entity being a “provinciano.” In fact his name was not even included in the earlier surveys of presidential aspirants. Nevertheless, when it was clear that his name cannot anymore be ignored, the survey firms like the Social Weather Station and the Pulse Asia, Inc. were convinced to put him in the list of choices by respondents.

     And lo and behold, towards the deadline of the substitution of candidates set by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Duterte came out on top among the presidentiables that people would vote for president of the Philippines if elections were held during those times.

     While Duterte’s supporters were basking on his survey performance, on the very day that he was declared the new official candidate for President of the PDP-Laban Party, characteristically he used cuss words and even made the Pope’s presence in Manila as object of his cursing because of his getting stranded in humongous traffic while on his way to an appointment in the capital city.

     That verbal lapses as we already know, led to the netizens’ cyber revolt of sort to the candidate who at that point in time was enjoying the strong support from the cyber community. And naturally, there was the religious sector led by some members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) joining the fray.

     And that was it. His number in the succeeding surveys started to regress. There was even a point that he was in the fourth place closely following then third placer LP standard bearer Mar Roxas. But Duterte, without clearly noticeable changes in his personal style and dealings with the people, has managed to keep himself afloat and lately moved back to the lead in the presidential preference surveys. And his lead did not just come up in surveys conducted by the less acknowledged research entities. The results of the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys had the Davao City mayor leading the pack with a comfortable margin over second placer Sen. Grace Poe.

     Last Tuesday Pulse Asia released the results of its latest survey conducted on the people’s presidential preference and Duterte still is on the top spot.

     But reminiscent of the result of the survey conducted the week before he finally substituted the candidacy of Dino for the Presidency, the latest Pulse Asia survey was conducted more than a week before Duterte made his controversial narration of the bloody hostage taking incident inside the rehabilitation center at Camp Domingo Leonor in Davao City.

     His statement, a narration of what he said and did during that fateful day in August 1989 was in order except his having strayed into saying that “The mayor should have been first,” an apparent reference to the alleged rape of the Australian lay missionary by some of the hostage takers.

     The rest is now very recent history. It is “water under the bridge,” so to say. But it is boiling at more than 350 degree celcius with its evaporation creating firestorm of negative reactions from various sectors. And again, the cyber world has been used to the maximum by those who are bashing the candidate from Mindanao. The controversial statement labeled as a joke by Duterte supporters and taken by those who feel slighted as an affront and blatant disrespect for women, has become fodder for his presidential adversaries to attack him from all angles.

     Clearly, any observant Filipino can be reminded of what happened after Duterte’s proclamation speech that embroiled him with the deeply catholic Filipinos. And it is likely that the same thing could happen to his survey figures barely three weeks left in the campaign.

     But then, again, Duterte’s proclamation speech blunder came from his mouth. And it is the same mouth that has redeemed himself several weeks after that inappropriate diatribe against the Pope’s visit. And we are expecting that he will again be using to the maximum his very mouth in preventing his possible slide in the rating in the remaining days prior to the May 9 polls.

     In fact we have already observed that Duterte will be using the rape story as his defense base. And he will capitalize on this during the final presidential debate on Sunday, April 24. The candidate for President from Mindanao already knows that his opponents will gang up on him on the rape joke issue and they will portray him as unfit for the presidency because of his lack of finesse in his language and his lack of respect for women.

     However, we strongly believe that Duterte’s response would be to offer the Filipinos a choice. That is elect in him a president who would not allow himself to be plastic to the point of using even gutter language, and take the risk of the consequences in ordering the killing of criminals including rapists, and be killed himself in the performance of his sworn duties. Or elect other candidates who in their pronouncements abhor rape but are in fact raping and will continue to rape the system of government, the country’s finances and natural resources, and do nothing to stop the rampage of criminals in the country including rapists masquerading as taxi drivers.

     The Davao City mayor may also be asking during the debate if the people will vote into the Presidency candidates who promise everything to uplift the lot of the poor and the down-trodden but who are afraid to talk in their (the poor’s) language because that is not what they are and that doing such is contrary to their breeding.

     Duterte can even zero in on Roxas for allowing his close friends in wantonly raping the mineral resources of Mindanao, specifically in the Agusan provinces. And he can counter VP Binay as the “rapist” of Makati City’s financés.

     On Senators Poe and Santiago, since both are women, Duterte can twit them on their claim of his disrespect for women by simply citing Davao City as the only local government with a Women’s Code well in place.

     And Duterte did the right thing in warning Australia to stay out of Philippine elections. We are a sovereign country and no other country has the right to intervene in our political affairs.

     The PDP-Laban candidate may, during the debate, confront the issue raised by the CBCP (if any of the other contenders bring it up) by just invoking a gospel written in the Bible that says no one has the right to judge a person, not even by what he says or do.

     So, the final presidential debate really is worth watching. How the candidates will comport themselves and how they will react to the issues presented will have bearing in their final performance in the May 9 elections.

     Duterte will definitely be the focus of the public’s attention. His shot at redemption depends on how he uses his mouth as dictated by his mind.

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