Duterte and Failed Promises


Image: from The New York Times


This was part of the statement made by President Duterte when he addressed the Filipino community in Myanmar last Sunday, March 19, 2017, which have greatly disappointed the Filipino LGBT community who were hoping that he will fulfill the promise he made during the election campaign.
What's more even grating was when Duterte said:
First of all, Mr. President, when you represented your office and the country as you addressed the Filipino community in Myanmar, you also do not represent any particular religion.  The Philippines does not have a state religion.  Saying "we are Catholics" is a claim that the Philippines as a country is Catholic as a whole, which in itself is a discrimination against the various religious practices and the absence of religious beliefs.  It is clear from our Constitution (Article II, Section 6) that the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.
Also, claiming that the "LGBT culture" is a separate entity ("'Yan ang kultura nila.  Kayo lang.") promotes isolation, instead of propagating an inclusive society where there is a safe space for everyone of various gender norms and expressions.  Apparently, the President is in need of SOGIE seminar and learn that he should not discriminate based on biological sex.  And by saying ""Saan ka pinuwinesto ng Diyos, diyan ka lang. Huwag mong haluin kaming lahat," Duterte further promotes exclusion based on a religious belief.  Which god is it that you are referring to, Mr. President?  The Catholic god?  What made you think he is the one true god?  Does the Islamic god think the same?  How about the thousands of Hindu gods?  What made you think that your version of Catholic god should be the one followed by the whole country?  
The President also seems to have the habit of invoking god at times that are convenient for him or for his purposes.  Last May 2016, he claimed that he believes in god, but not in organized religion.  And yet here, he invokes a particular Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  Perhaps, like Pope Francis, President Duterte is also a master of manipulating audiences, only that Duterte is more crass.  What Duterte says depends on who he is talking to.  During the elections, he pandered to the right groups.  And now he flip-flops like crazy, plus a hefty dose of doublespeak.
I feel sorry for my LGBT friends who have held their hopes high upon the election of Rodrigo Duterte as President.  Some may have compromised non-negotiables (I'm looking at you, Representative Geraldine Roman and your vote for the Death Penalty).  Unfortunately, I think this won't be the last time that he'll change his stand on important issues.  The only issues perhaps that he made a firm stand are on the issues of Death Penalty, Drugs, and Marcos burial.
President Duterte campaigned on the promises of bringing "change" to the Filipino people and I understand how some have been easily swayed by such a promise.  Duterte, in his crassness, possess a certain charm and can easily persuade.  And due to years of poverty and suffering under the administration of many presidents,  Filipinos are tired of the usual crop of politicians and Duterte was able to present himself as a fresh choice.  
However, a lot of us also conveniently forgot that Duterte is also a product of traditional politics: he came from a political dynasty and held a government position for several terms, often just switching to vice-mayor to congressman to mayor again.  He was mayor of Davao city for almost 2 decades and his daughter, Sara, and son, Paolo, have taken the reins too.  International Human Rights Watch group has been monitoring the probable existence of "Davao Death Squad" since 2009.  Duterte may also have resented the persistence of Leila de Lima who was, then, chairperson of the Commission, and the plan to enlist the NBI and the PNP in aid of investigation.  Duterte may have signed the landmark order, Freedom of Information Act that would require all government offices under the executive branch to disclose details of their transactions as a show that he is for a transparent government.  Yet, in all his so-called effort to promote "transparency", Duterte cannot be convinced to be more transparent regarding his so-called "narco-list" and his basis for such a list.  How can we also expect changes when our dear leader refuses to see that there are better alternative solutions to the drug war, despite advices from the European Union and even a former Colombian president?
I think, by this time, Filipinos should realize that the change we wanted will never come from a messiah.  We should make these changes ourselves and never pledge loyalty to just one person.  Things can go downhill fast and desperation can ensue.  But we should never compromise and sacrifice our humanity for promises that are too good to be true.


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