Of As­sump­tions and Sup­port

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

IN re­ac­tion to last week’s col­umn, an ac­quain­tance of mine, who is a harsh critic of the pres­i­dent, wrote to me say­ing: I am in­ter­ested to know why you still sup­port Duterte up to this point even if he wants CHR de­funded (which just hap­pened ear­lier, along with other two agen­cies). Even his rhetoric is mur­der­ous, etc... I am re­ally cu­ri­ous as to why a seem­ingly smart, ed­u­cated, ra­tio­nal, and eth­i­cal per­son like you still sup­ports Digong.

Just to be clear about con­text, the per­son seemed to ask this with sin­cer­ity to un­der­stand, not sim­ply for the sake of ar­gu­ment or con­fronta­tion. Be­fore I an­swer the main ques­tion, let me ad­dress two as­sump­tions in these state­ments that hin­der pro­duc­tive di­a­logue be­tween sup­port­ers and crit­ics.

The first as­sump­tion is found in the phrase, “why you still sup­port Duterte up to this point even if he wants CHR de­funded.”

The orig­i­nal text stat­ing my con­tin­ued sup­port came out over three weeks ago and the fol­low-up ar­ti­cles I wrote were in ref­er­ence to those. Why would you as­sume that sup­port con­tin­ues “up to this point” when I have made no state­ments re­gard­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion? In fact, I saw the ques­tion only a few min­utes af­ter I glanced at some head­lines about what congress did to CHR.

Is there now this ex­pec­ta­tion that I give my opinion on so­cial me­dia on what­ever bit of news comes out, in or­der to judge my sup­port or non-sup­port? In fact, there seems to be an ex­pec­ta­tion that I sound off every now and then about pol­i­tics, other­wise I am “silent.” Is that not a tad un­re­al­is­tic, not to men­tion un­fair? Life is not so­cial me­dia, and there are other venues of ex­pres­sion af­ter all, with some even more pro­duc­tive.

The sec­ond as­sump­tion is found in the sec­ond sen­tence and while seem­ing in­no­cent is ac­tu­ally a veiled in­sult, as if the only peo­ple who would sup­port Digong are not smart, not ed­u­cated, and are nei­ther ra­tio­nal or eth­i­cal. This is sim­i­lar to the mis­taken gen­er­al­iza­tions of some athe­ists that re­li­gious peo­ple are un­in­tel­li­gent and ir­ra­tional, which is far from the case. About 96 per­cent of Davao City vot­ers sup­ported the pres­i­dent last elec­tions. Are you im­ply­ing then, that 96 per­cent of Davao City vot­ers are ir­ra­tional, stupid or un­eth­i­cal?

Any­way, mov­ing for­ward and re­mov­ing these as­sump­tions, I would re­phrase your ques­tion to the fol­low­ing: 1) Why DID I sup­port the pres­i­dent? 2) Does he still have my con­tin­ued sup­port?

The first ques­tion has ac­tu­ally been an­swered in a few ar­ti­cles I have writ­ten pre­vi­ously. To sum­ma­rize, we in Davao have felt Digong’s lead­er­ship most in­ti­mately, and de­spite his mouth, he has shown him­self to be a lov­ing, car­ing fa­ther to the city. Un­like most politi­cians, he nei­ther de­mands nor ex­pects spe­cial treat­ment. I per­son­ally know at least three peo­ple whom he him­self has res­cued from dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions -- two of them kid­nap-for-ran­som and the other was a hostage sit­u­a­tion by a drug-crazed per­son. This is apart from less sen­sa­tional sto­ries swapped around by fam­ily and friends. In other words, the per­son whom you know only through his TV ap­pear­ances and me­dia sto­ries, is some­one who is more real to us. He is a friend’s ni­nong. He is my for­mer teacher’s neigh­bor. He is my cousin’s school­mate, and so on and so forth.

Now you may roll eyes at this, and dis­miss it as an­other per­son has dis­missed the sto­ries as merely be­ing “idol wor­ship” sim­i­lar to Cavitenos’ love for the

Revil­las or Ilo­cos’ love for the Mar­coses, and per­haps there is some truth to that but it is what it is and that would be my hon­est an­swer to #1 -- that we sup­ported him be­cause we know him, or think we know him bet­ter than any­one else not from here (I am of course speak­ing for those who share sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and view­points as mine -- not nec­es­sar­ily for those who are ex­press­ing blind sup­port but do not share sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences).

Let’s now go to #2, does he still have my con­tin­ued sup­port? I look at the ques­tion of sup­port not sim­ply as a black or white ques­tion. It’s as if I have an in­ter­nal scale that is ever-chang­ing de­pend­ing on how the pres­i­dent is act­ing or re­act­ing to cer­tain is­sues, so while the sup­port may be at 80 per­cent at a cer­tain time, it can also drop down to 60 per­cent at other times.

I had hoped for the best in elect­ing Digong as pres­i­dent. I thought that he would mostly reign in his tongue and not make grossly care­less state­ments. I thought that he would show swift and just ac­tions to­wards erring po­lice­men in­stead of seem­ingly cod­dling them. I had hoped that his love af­fair with the Mar­coses would end once he got the body buried. I be­lieved that was merely an elec­tion strat­egy and now it seems I be­lieved wrong.

One of my long­time read­ers emailed me say­ing, “Isn’t it be­gin­ning to look as if the role of Pres­i­dent Duterte is the same as that played by John the Bap­tist over two thou­sand years ago - to pre­pare the way for the Com­ing of Bong­bong, the Son of the Fa­ther?” And it trag­i­cally does in­deed seem that way.

I had hoped he would fight for those he ap­pointed that seemed to be per­form­ing well -- Gina Lopez, Judy Tagui­walo -- and not throw them un­der the bus.

I had hoped that he would show his best side -- a side wit­nessed by so many peo­ple I know -- but to my eyes at least, it seems that I am chalk­ing up more and more X’es rather than checks.

Does he still have my sup­port? Per­haps. Maybe. Barely. I don’t know.

Again, that an­swer may not sat­isfy you, but it is what it is for now. Ask me again af­ter some time, per­haps there will be more clar­ity then.

Email me at andy@free­think­ing.me. View pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles at www. free­think­ing.me.

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