8 Things That Make Us
Optimistic About the Duterte Administration
By Tim Henares
It hasn’t even been two weeks yet, and already, President Duterte has made good on his main promise: change is indeed coming, both good and bad.
While we’ve all had our apprehensions about what President Digong might do once he is in power, it does appear that for the most part, he is on the right track with the changes he’s enacted since he was inaugurated. Here are just 8 of these positive signs.
8. We have a president who can hopefully curb regionalism.
Our very own version of racism, regionalism, has taken a huge hit with Digong’s win. Imperial Manila bull aside, it’s pretty clear plenty of people from so-called Imperial Manila voted for the man themselves. Anyone who has to resort to calling Mindanao media “langaw” is just being bitter at this point. Our president hails from Mindanao. This doesn’t make him more special or less special than anyone who is from Luzon or Visayas: it just means he’s also a Filipino. Like the rest of us.
Points for further improvement: A less confrontational tone when addressing regionalism might help. People don’t like it when their privilege gets rubbed in their faces and they realize the uncomfortable truth that certain things they take for granted are not the case for other people elsewhere.
7. Criminals are indeed deterred somewhat.
A lot of criminals have been voluntarily surrendering to the authorities to head off what was promised by Digong himself to be a “bloody” administration. Voluntary surrender? Since when have we heard that happening en masse in this country?
Points for further improvement: Find a way to do this without the implicit threat of death and we’re golden. Ultimately, an all-out war on drugs sounds like a good idea until the drug lords start fighting back, and they definitely don’t play nice.
6. PTV-4 is relevant again.
Maybe shutting out mainstream media wasn’t the best way to go about this, but PTV-4 as a government TV station should not have been as irrelevant as it was until recently. It should be there to offer a valid counterpoint to mainstream media, and the current emphasis on it by the administration means that it is getting its due regard.
Points for further improvement: Keep modernizing PTV-4, but give equal access to mainstream media. The state network should not function as the only network with access to the president. Also, bring back Bara-Bara on the air, but that’s obviously a biased recommendation.
5. There is no attempt to dwell on the “nakaraang administrasyon.”
One of the biggest shortcomings of the Aquino administration was its inability to move on from blaming the Arroyo administration for everything. This relentlessly vindictive campaign bordered between laughable and pitiful, as it seemed you could set your watch by PNoy blaming GMA for something or some other.
This current administration isn’t bothering to do any of that (so far), and is instead minding its own backyard. We could really use more of that.
Points for further improvement: The less said about PNoy and company, but the more the good stuff they did is given continuity, the better. We have to wait for this month’s SONA to see if that’s where we’re headed.
4. Mocha isn’t on his cabinet.
If you needed proof that our president is still sane and not an idiot, there is zero truth to the rumors that Mocha Uson was offered a cabinet post. Our president may be many things, but he still has enough wits about him to not do something as catastrophic as this.
Points for further improvement: Keep this up for the next six years. Or forever.
3. Leni Robredo is now on the cabinet.
This just in! After weeks of saying he didn’t want to hurt Bongbong’s feelings, President Duterte went ahead and offered a cabinet position to VP Robredo for the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. While some would be quick to point out that housing is normally the cabinet position you give to a VP you want to keep out of your hair (what was Noli’s cabinet position under the GMA admin?), this is still a huge leap over the initial impression that the President and VP were going to be pit against each other. Clearly, both had better things to do than to play that game.
But they won’t quit playing games with our hearts.
Points for further improvement: Honestly, short of them dating each other, this is as good as it gets for them. We do expect them to have civilized disagreements on issues, and we expect them to clash from time to time, but so long as it doesn’t become an endless deluge of squabbling, it seems they will be accomplishing a lot of things together. This is especially true now that VP Leni has turned down a leadership position in the LP.
2. The FOI Act.
Digong probably will sign the EO that makes Freedom Of Information a thing this Friday. Remember that? Remember that PNoy promised that before he was elected well over six years ago, and here we are with a new president who’s actually doing it on his first week alone? Say what you want about the new President, but he is definitely a man of action.
Points for further improvement: Divorce. Marriage equality. Legalization of medical marijuana. Anti-discrimination laws on a national level. There are so many more kickass laws that the Duterte administration could railroad if they so wanted to. Make it so.
1. He’s gaining some self-awareness.
Sounds ironic? Indeed it does. Despite that, it makes all the sense in the world that the new sitting president would slightly backpedal from outright encouraging citizens to kill drug dealers to thinking that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t such a hot idea.
And you know why that’s a good thing? It means that we might finally have a government capable of recognizing its mistakes and fixing them accordingly: something we haven’t really had since heaven knows when.
Points for further improvement: Backtrack completely and show equal disdain for people who take the law into their hands. Make due process work for us, instead of circumventing it. You know, changing your mind on the importance of asking questions before shooting people in the face doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
What are the other things that make you optimistic about the Duterte admin? Share your thoughts in the comments below!