POSTSCRIPT / January 8, 2019 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Duterte campaigns for his favorite trio

DISMAYED by the failure of his favored senatorial candidates to make it into the Magic 12 in surveys, President Duterte has thrown caution to the wind and openly endorsed them in what looks like premature campaigning.

Comelec Resolution 10429 sets Election Day on May 13, 2019, and the campaign period for senatorial candidates and party-list groups from Feb. 12 to May 11. Many candidates and endorsers, however, have been campaigning prematurely via TV ads, billboards, tarpaulins, and such paraphernalia.

During a briefing Friday in Camarines Sur on the damage wrought by typhon “Usman,” Duterte took the opportunity to appeal to Bicolanos to vote for his candidates Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go and Francis Tolentino who have lagged in the surveys.

And he reminded the crowd: “After this election, three years pa ako. Kung hindi tayo magkaintindihan, bahala kayo.” That sounded threatening to some listeners.

The day before, Duterte also rooted for his three candidates during the birthday celebration of Tolentino in Tagaytay. The trio are among those contributed by PDP-Laban to the administration ticket.

Duterte told the crowd: “Nagkamali lang ‘yung tao pero I do not have to, you know, derogate others. Pero ‘yung — nasa ano mo ‘yun. Iyong nangunguna sasurvey. Susmaryosep. Eh may mga tao dito na dedicated, may alam, abogado. (The people made a mistake but I don’t have to derogate others. But these survey frontrunners, my goodness. We have people who are dedicated, knowledgeable, lawyers).

Pagdating sa survey, nakita mo (When you see the survey), you can only shake your head and say ‘tsk’. Well, ‘yan talaga ang gusto ninyo (that’s what you want) then you deserve the kind of government that you elect.”

Duterte must have been reacting to the last Social Weather Stations survey showing senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe hogging the top slots with other reelectionist senators. De la Rosa was No. 10; Tolentino, 15; and Go, 16.

In the top 12 winning positions were Villar, Poe, Pia Cayetano, Koko Pimentel, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, Mar Roxas, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Bato dela Rosa, Serge Osmeña and Imee Marcos.

An irony was that the survey, conducted Sept 15-23, was commissioned by Tolentino himself. In the 2016 election, he ran with the Duterte senatorial ticket, but lost.

The SWS field interviewers asked 1,500 adults nationwide (600 in Balance Luzon, and 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao): “Kung ang eleksiyon ay gaganapin ngayon, sino ang pinakamalamang ninyong iboboto bilang mga Senador ng Pilipinas? Narito po ang listahan ng mga pangalan ng mga kandidato. Maaari po kayong pumili ng hanggang 12 pangalan.”

Duterte said: “Gusto ko talagang ma-senador si FrancisWala kayong lugi dito. Honest worker tapos may credential, abogado. Ano pa ba hanapin mo? Silent worker. Hindi mayabang. Hindi kagaya ng iba diyan. I am endorsing to you, not because he is a friend but of proven integrity.”

He also vouched for the integrity of Dela Rosa: “He’s fundamentally honest.Maniwala kayo. Hindi ‘yan maghingi-hingi.” Of Go, he mentioned that he was a management graduate from De La Salle University.

 Filipinos still pray for the President

MANY Filipinos do pray for the President, presumably as ardently as they do for their country and for the common weal.

We gleaned this impression from an online survey being conducted by Yahoo Philippines asking its general audience a specific question: “Have you prayed for President Duterte?”

As of 5 p.m. yesterday when we last checked, the tally was Yes — 60 percent; No – 27 percent; I Don’t Pray – 6 percent; and I Have Another Answer – 7 percent.

While respondents are limited to those who have Yahoo internet connection, which the masa may not have, we think the survey still approximates how the general population regards President Duterte and his administration.

After all, more thorough surveys, including the fourth-quarter nationwide polling done Dec. 6-11 by the Social Weather Stations, show that seven out of every 10 Filipino adults are satisfied with the way Duterte is running state affairs.

The question of whether Filipinos pray for President Duterte raises the related matter of why people pray for (or against) him. Social media is peppered with calls to prayer – from those asking the Lord to take him now (kunin na siya, please) to the opposite pole wishing him more power to carry out his programs.

It has been a week since Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma called on the faithful to pray for President Duterte despite the latter’s recent attacks on the Church and its prelates. The archbishop said he supports some of the administration’s programs, including the war on drugs.

“I do believe the grace of God will touch him and also all of us. For us, we cooperate and support in his good projects, especially drug rehabilitation,” he said. “Above all, we pray for him.”

Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign has raised touchy issues, including the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug pushers and users. He refuses to see that trimming the leaves without digging out the roots will not kill the blighted tree.

Drug lords and smugglers continue to ply their trade and flaunt their influence. The big ones who get caught are eventually set free, oftentimes for supposed insufficient evidence. Why did they arrest them if there was no evidence?

Against the ruthless enforcement pales the unimpressive drug rehabilitation that archbishop Palma supports. Aside from him, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines should press for a holistic program that goes beyond enforcement to real rehabilitation.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 8, 2019)

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