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Wednesday, 03 February 2016 11:06

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Los Angeles, CA. — When he finally decided to run for the highest political position in the country after a series of denials, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte spread HOPE in the air that by creating an atmosphere that’s crime-liberated he would catalyze the development of a sagging nation corrupted by dirty politicians and enhance the quality of life of the people. Almost two months after his monumental announcement, all the superlatives about the country’s economic gains the last five years fizzled out just like that. Mr. Duterte unfolded his proposed program of government anchored on law and order and security — better than ‘Daan Matuwid’. His daily face on social media and his bold admission that he has killed criminals in provoked gunfights, ala Wyatt Earp, and will continue to blow the criminals’ heads clean off if they resisted arrest, ala Harry Callaghan, have forged a significant impact both regionally and globally.

Given the scope of his Mission: Impossible — reduce, if not eliminate, criminality in six months if elected into office, create an atmosphere suited for increased foreign investments, explore new methods to generate jobs, to improve the quality of human life, and to resolve the most serious challenge facing our country: CORRUPTION — he might generate hope among the old and new voters. No one yet among the presidential hopefuls is talking about implementing stricter immigration laws. In the past decade, hundreds of Chinese from mainland China and South Koreans have entered the country, either as businessmen or as students. Most of them have married Filipinas and have established permanent residences in cities in the Visayas and Mindanao. Some of them are engaged in drug trafficking, smuggling and other nefarious activities using their legal establishments as fronts. Mr. Duterte knows this.

Are his pronouncements, pledges and promises enough to convince the voters to carry him to power? All the candidates have similar platforms. Nothing new. NO HAY. We’ve always elected a president based on who he was, not what he can do or promises he will do for God, the people and country. Exhibit A: Corazon C. Aquino (champion of the EDSA revolt); Exhibit B: Fidel V. Ramos (one of the heroes of the EDSA revolt); Exhibit C: Joseph Estrada (movie actor); Exhibit D: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (daughter of Pres. Diosdado Macapagal); Exhibit E: Benigno Aquino III (son of Cory). The next president?

Mr. Duterte’s handlers and hesitant campaign donors press that their candidate can build a country of the future: functional and leaning toward a wonderful tomorrow, a kind of hope that we’ve never had — free of crimes, terrorists, drug dealers, gambling lords, prostitutes, loan sharks, the list is long. Really? I’d like to see that. In my kind of work, I’ve come to know people who are successful movers in many fields. But their forecast of the Philippines from the vantage point of the ’70s, we’re still living in the past. From our present vantage point, it looks like we have progressed, but not so much as to be compared to some of our ASEAN neighbors.

As a reporter, I have covered major elections, interesting people like Duterte, and exciting events. I hated covering violent incidents that included the ugly assassination of Cesar C. Climaco, drug-crazed youngsters streaking naked through the streets, and bombings of department stores and movie houses that killed dozens of our very own people. Very disgusting. But Zamboanga survived all that. We moved on, despite losing the capital of Region 9 to Pagadian City. Three highly-respected lawyers and I fought vigorously for its retention. We had the transfer order stayed for at least six years until an angry Gloria ordered the full implementation of Executive Order No. 429, an edict issued by Madam Cory.

Today, nobody can predict what the future of the Philippines will bring. China is encroaching on our seas. Because we allowed them to stay here and plant their businesses in Visayas and Mindanao, they will take over our economy in 15 years. Methinks that the candidate who presents a blueprint on waste disposal to reduce carbon pollution and resolutions on climate change should be voted upon. But because Zamboanga is not a swing-vote city, we’d be left behind AGAIN by whoever wins the presidency.

Duterte promises to face head-on these pressing and important issues: law and order, terrorism, corruption, drug addiction, income inequality, economy, job creation and, above all, poverty. What’s in your bucket list?