Philippines

LETTERS FROM DAVAO: Duterte a lame duck?

LETTERS FROM DAVAO

By Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency

Duterte a lame duck?

PIA Ranada of Rappler did an interview with Ana Tabunda of Pulse Asia. It is obvious that this is part of the pre-SONA (State of the Nation Address) and also a pre-election agenda that Rappler had plotted. Pia came prepared with her questions which were liberally laced with opinions but she failed to drag and cajole Ms. Tabunda into her hidden traps. 

Rappler wanted to know why President Rodrigo R. Duterte maintains his Trust and Approval ratings in spite of alleged human rights violations brought about by his drug war, the pandemic, and (recently) the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s midnight recommendation to investigate the alleged extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.  

The Pulse Asia’s analysis which was sought for by Rappler was quite revealing. 

On Ranada’s query why Duterte maintains his trust and popularity rating among class C, D, and E when many of the victims in the ‘bloody and violent war against drugs are from the poor sector, Tabunda’s unequivocal response was that those who approved of Duterte’s war were the larger part of the poor community who were relieved when the drug syndicates and crimes related to the illegal drug had disappeared. 

On the issue of the pandemic which Pia hinted should have brought down the ratings of Duterte,  Ana explained that the poor and the rich are satisfied with the way the government is handling the problem. The poor are getting “ayuda” while those in business and employees knew that the pandemic is not unique in the Philippines. It is global, even worse in advanced economies.

Ms. Ranada went further trying vainly to claim that it could be the fear factor that forced survey respondents to trust and approve of Duterte. Ms. Tabunda did not buy the oxymoronic assertion of Pia. She said during the face-to-face survey no one was coerced and the responses were straightforward. 

Whether it was intentional or not, Pia Ranada skipped the various infrastructure projects – roads and bridges, skyways and byways, classrooms, airports, hospitals, trains and railways, irrigation projects, and seaports accomplished under the ‘BUILD BUILD BUILD’ program of Duterte. No mention of free education, salary increases, pensions, the investment grade, and stable credit rating of the country prior to the pandemic to name a few. And she is confused about why Duterte is popular.

Apparently the interview was to validate whether after his last year in office  Duterte will not be a lame-duck President. Ranada correctly pointed out that the popularity ratings of past  Presidents go down drastically making them “lame ducks”.

A lame-duck is often referred to as an outgoing elected politician. It’s either his or her successor is soon to be elected or has already been elected. That being the case the official loses influence with little time left in office. 

But this is not seen in the case of President Duterte despite what Rappler expected to happen. Pulse Asia stressed to the disbelief of Ranada that while the trust and approval ratings of the previous President plummets, Duterte’s ratings remain at an all-time high. 

This translates to the high preference for Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte to succeed her father as President in addition to her own merit as a local city executive of Davao City. Ana Tabunda cited previous surveys done on “presidentiables” wherein Mayor Inday always landed comfortably at the top while the opposition-perceived candidate, VP Leni Robredo, could only manage a single-digit score. 

What does this tell us? President Duterte will dictate the outcome of the elections in 2022. 

By the way, thank you Ms. Ranada for the interview. Did I hear Spox Harry Roque saying, “At least now you know”? 

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