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If only our nine-year old daughter Isabella could vote, she would have voted for Grace Poe only because she came from the same school as Poe, Assumption. But kidding aside, we just witnessed the most engaging and talked-about election period in our history. With more fora, debates, and rallies mounted, plus the power of social media, where everyone have a voice real-time, this election was exciting.
In fact, we often hear the phrase, “Change is coming.” While we still do not have the official announcement, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be our next president. Major candidates have conceded and our admiration goes to Sec. Mar and Sen. Grace for an act of statesmanship.
Mayor Duterte may have started from the bottom of the list, but his clear and strong proposition for change attracted many to his side. Of course he has the track record in Davao to prove he can do it, although I was wondering why he rarely referred to this track record whenever doubts arose. Maybe he is that confident the record speaks for itself. As we all heard, he was the only one who would often say that if you don’t like him, don’t vote for him; that he is not too keen to win. But the Presidency is a destiny. With the support of the Filipino mass-based voters, and frankly many in the ABC voters, he gained the big numbers. The desire for change is too strong.
Duterte is a tough talker, a non-conformist, and not the typical candidate. Compared to all the other candidates, he is street-smart, unorthodox, and as his supporters say, has a strong political will to get things done.
He gets things done effectively and quietly without fanfare. We now see a progressive Davao, with all the necessary infrastructures, favorable business environment, and of course, peace and order. He delivers whatever is good for the welfare of his constituents. He is consistent in his promise to focus on the fight against corruption, drugs and criminality. As he said before, if these issues were addressed, everything will follow.
We talked to some friends and entrepreneurs in Davao who shared with us how Duterte has made Davao to what it is today. During the campaign, he was often criticized as the one who is relatively silent on his economic platforms, but in certain fora, like in our Go Negosyo: Meet the Presidentiables, he mentioned his clear plans to promote the micro SMEs, to enhance fair trade, industry and agriculture, education health and social services. He was silent on tax reforms as he said he needs to study the matter carefully and he was advised not to commit yet.
But from what Duterte has done in Davao, we will see continued economic progress. He also said he would continue the good programs set in place and even promised to copy the good part of the economic platform of the other presidentiables; a statement that sounded funny, but highlighted either his humility or his simply being a non-conformist in giving answers. What he did in Davao is worth noting, especially in simply providing an enabling environment, free from red tape, that drastically improved its rank in ease of doing business criterion under the competitiveness report. He built hard infrastructures (bridges, roads, and highways) and soft infrastructures (training workforce, management, software, and technology support). He has set the stage and the business growth follows.
The part I like and expect from a Duterte leadership is the return of discipline among the Filipinos. I know many would have this, but this dimension of our culture will surely be enhanced. Rules and laws will be followed. Reduction or elimination of corruption. Discipline and efficiencies in the delivery of government services. We have heard stories about how he can not tolerate inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in government. He promised to remove erring and ineffective officials. This we would love to see.
Like many out there, we are all concerned that a very strong leader might develop into a very authoritarian leader or even a dictator. But I now take comfort with what he said during our forum with him last February, when we directly asked about the tendency to abuse power to which he answered, “There is no dictator who died happy. I will not be one. If you are a law-abiding citizen, a God-fearing Filipino… I will die for you.”
According also to our friends in Davao, he is the humblest public official there is. Contrary to the tough image that he has been portraying for the past months, his approach to leadership is that of being a servant leader. He bows to many people he meets or will ask for a hand blessing. Again, he does things quietly.
His recent visit to the grave of his parents may have shown a different Rodrigo Duterte. He is a tough guy with a soft heart, for family and children, and for the poor and needy.
I guess many like him too because despite the black propagandas and issues hurled against him, he seems to be not vindictive. He’s a guy who can say, “Let’s move past these trivial issues and focus instead on the problems that we need to face.”
Amidst the election fever, as we selected the new leaders of our country, I believe in the end that the change we want to see must start from within us. The leaders just need to inspire and create the enabling environment. Our success and happiness depend on our own mindset, resourcefulness, perseverance, and hard work, and service to others. We just need an environment that will attract opportunities and encourage everyone to be the best they can be.
These Duterte programs are promising. It will also bring the right values that we want to instill in our children. Positive values such as passion, obedience, God-fearing, and many more must be promoted as well congruent to these programs. As mentioned in my previous column, we are entrusting the life of our children to the next leaders of this country so they must be good examples to our children.
Yes, there was the usual election jitters from the market, but we now see a quick rebound. As the next administration settles down, I’m sure business confidence will go back to where it was or even better once they see the policies and programs laid out.
We have a healing new president. Post-election unity is needed and we all must do our share in nation-building. We have one country, one great nation, where everyone will be destined to move up in life.
Change is definitely coming.