The para­dox of pres­i­den­tial pop­u­lar­ity

The Freeman - - OPINION -

Many are sur­prised by the lat­est Pulse Asia sur­vey show­ing a very high ap­proval and trust rat­ing of Pres­i­dent Duterte de­spite his abra­sive, con­fronta­tional, and an­tag­o­nis­tic di­a­tribes against the Church, hu­man rights ad­vo­cates, and Amer­ica. Filipinos all over the coun­try have ex­pressed ap­proval of what he has done, is cur­rently do­ing, and what he in­tends to do. This is a para­dox. His crit­ics are ex­as­per­ated and at a loss why this “foul-mouthed” pres­i­dent con­tin­ues to be loved by the peo­ple.

I am not sur­prised at all. I know the score, I un­der­stand the pres­i­dent, and I am one of the mil­lions of Filipinos who con­tinue to be­lieve that un­der the ve­neer of his many an­tics and vul­gar lan­guage, is a really hon­est man who truly loves his coun­try and cares for the peo­ple. Be­hind his abra­sive­ness is a truly ami­able guy with sim­ple out­looks and unadul­ter­ated dreams for the na­tion. He is also an an­gry man who hates drugs, is an­gry at cor­rup­tion, and sneers at the pre­ten­sions and hypocrisy of some Church lead­ers. He is also in­tol­er­ant of lazy, dis­hon­est, and in­ept pub­lic of­fi­cials.

Duterte ended 2018 with a rat­ing of 81%, a leap from his Sep­tem­ber score of 75%. Min­danao re­spon­dents gave him a rat­ing of 91%. Across the coun­try, all Class E (poor­est of the poor) peo­ple rated him 82%. The rat­ings were the re­sult of in­ter­views of 1,800 Filipinos from all walks of life. His rat­ings are way ahead of Vice Pres­i­dent Ro­bredo who only got 62%, Se­nate Pres­i­dent Sotto with 74%, and House Speaker GMA with a measly 27%. No other pres­i­dent re­mained pop­u­lar after three years into his/her term.

This ap­pears to be a para­dox be­cause he never stopped lam­bast­ing the Church which claims no less than 87 mil­lion among the 107 mil­lion Filipinos. It is also an enigma be­cause Digong has al­ways crit­i­cized the US, UN, and hu­man rights groups that at­tack his war against drugs. It has al­ways been as­sumed that the Church is in­vin­ci­ble and that the US is the most pow­er­ful na­tion on earth, and that the Philip­pines is al­ways de­pen­dent on Amer­i­cans for its na­tional de­fense. This pop­u­lar­ity could not be un­der­stood by pro­gres­sive el­e­ments of civil so­ci­ety, and the partylist NGOs who hate his propen­sity to ut­ter such state­ments as “I will kill you” or “you will die.”

But those who really know him un­der­stand that all such fig­ures of speech, sar­casm, hy­per­bole, or sim­ile are just de­fense mech­a­nisms of a head of state whose heart truly bleeds for the poor, the op­pressed, and the marginal­ized. His anger is just a re­flec­tion of the peo­ples' ha­tred of all forms of evils in the strug­gles of the na­tion. The few crit­ics are the usual elite, cor­rupt, and hyp­o­crit­i­cal ivory tower blog­gers and filthy rich suck­ers of the na­tion's wealth who fear their days are num­bered.

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