ROUGH CUTS| Will P-Rody be RP’s Evo Morales?

THIRTY (30) days from today, the so-called “kanto boy” but is so “de buena familia” (per Philippine Daily Inquirer contributor Gavin Sanson Bagares, May 29, 2016 issue) presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte from Davao and Cebu, will be sworn in as the Philippines’ 16th chief executive of the country. He was expected to be officially proclaimed by Congress yesterday assuming that everything went in order. As to the venue of his oath-taking it is not yet ascertained as the “mayor of the Philippines” seems to frown upon the Quirino Grandstand as the site of his swearing in. There are talks that the incoming president would rather have the ceremony held at the Malacanang grounds or in any of the Palace’s cavernous function halls without much fanfare.

     Well, many really cannot second guess what is in the mind of the 16th President of the republic. It is not even certain who he will like to take his oath with; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the highest official of the Liga ng mga Barangay, or one of the street sweepers in Metro Manila picked at random.

     Yes, the mind of the incoming chief executive of the land can think of a lot of the unexpected and people cannot overrule the possibility that he must be playing with something that will stun the Filipinos when he raises his right hand and “repeat after…whoever.”

     But whatever is Duterte’s plan on how, where and with whom will he take his oath we’d rather give it to him. That is what he is and loves to do – surprise every one even to the point of derailing the people’s expectations.

     To us the most important is how the 16th President of the country deals with the gargantuan problems besetting the nation and at the same time ensuring that no one sector of the population is isolated to the point of feeling  alienated from the his administration.

     From our knowledge of the next President’s unconventional entry into politics way back in 1987 as appointive Vice Mayor of Davao City during the revolutionary government of the late President Cory Aquino up to the night of May 9 when he was already the sure leader in the vote count for the Presidency, we see in him the Philippine version of the Bolivian socialist President Evo Morales.

     If indeed President-elect Duterte’s genealogy emanated from the high and mighty, the Dons and Donas of Cebu dating as far back as the 18th century, then that separates him from Bolivia’s Morales. The Bolivian leader who won his first term as president, according to Martin Sevak, an Argentine journalist and author of a book “Evo Morales,” the socialist president was a poor youngster herding llamas on the shores of Lake Poopo on Bolivia’s high plains.

    Sevak in his book tells of Evo as a young llamas herder learning three basic Andean rules of life: ama sua (be not a thief), ama quella (be not lazy) and ama llulla (be not a liar). As Morales grew into adulthood, Sevak wrote in his book, the Bolivian Amerindian leader learnt one more Andean rule; ama llunk’u (do not be servile), the latter maxim serving the first indigenous Bolivian leader well because he portrays best as the people’s servant instead of demanding service from them.

     Morales’ rise to power has spurred hopes of radical change among the common man, peasant farmers, unions and urban migrants who are his political base.

     Like Morales, Duterte’s ascent to the highest leadership position of the country is also perceived to have come from a strong support of the masses – the people who only heard or read about the economic gains of the country but have not felt it trickling down to their level. And with Duterte’s campaign promise of “Change is coming” they expect that it is not just any change but one that is radical and will change their lives for the better.

     And perhaps, what is more interestingly similar between the two leaders is that both arrived at the Presidency  amidst high expectation of creating  buoyant economies, yet they are humble enough to admit that they do not even know what is inflation and what generates it.

     Like Morales too, the newly elected Philippine President is known to be mouthing anti-capitalist rhetoric even during the height of the campaign. Yet the business sector has been vocal of their support to the non-Manilan incoming president. And this support was clearly manifested in the pre-election surveys showing the incoming president topping the surveys in the ABC classes. Of course the ABC members are the country’s elite, the captains of industries.

     For now we cannot fully read his mind insofar as his macroeconomic and fiscal policies. These have not yet been disclosed in detail. But we can only imagine that these policies are geared towards improving relations with the country’s private business sector.

     Also, with Duterte’s proposal to have a coalition government with the leftist-socialist groups he may likely be veering towards adopting some “redistributionist policies”. These may be hoped by many to improve the living standards in one of Asia’s poorest countries.

     These Morales’ policies have melted away Bolivia’s secessionist calls and the incoming President can possibly adopt or take some lessons from here.  May be these will make Duterte’s administration succeed in melting down secessionist calls in some pockets of Mindanao as well as the decades old war of attrition waged by the communist rebels in certain provinces in the country.

     There is no doubt that the Promdi next president of the Philippines has the making of an Evo Morales.

And he is about to assume as head of a government that looks like it is in control, despite democratic failures.

     How Duterte will be able to keep a steady hand steering the government to attain a highly acceptable level of stability will depend on the people’s willingness to sacrifice some perks of democracy for more economic independence.

     Yes, the “Mayor of the Philippines” will, in the next six years, be doing the most difficult balancing act so as not to alienate any one sector of the constituencies that were all rooting for him for the presidency.

     And he must be aware of the very high expectations of all those who put him in Malacañang.

Posted in Opinion