A Doctor Speaks Why You Should Not Call Dutertards Stupid, Must Read!

Why You Should Not Call Dutertards Stupid

A physician, writer, medical anthropologist and a certified Duterte supporter has already broke his silence on labeling Dutertards (Duterte supporters) as stupid.

Gideon Lasco took on his Facebook account to speak up and defend Duterte’s supporters.

He insisted not to generalize all supporters and avoid calling them as stupid.

Your first mistake was to call us stupid. Your second was to underestimate how many of us there are in our country."
This was his introduction in his lengthy post.

We - the people you call ‘Dutertards’ - come from all walks of life. Many of us are professionals: doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers among many others. Many of us are from the provinces, but there are also many of us in Metro Manila - or living and working abroad. Contrary to your belief, we are not ignoramuses who believe every word that comes out of Mocha Uson’s blog. Contrary to your presumptions, we do not see the president as an infallible god.

What we have in common is our love for the country, our frustration over the way things have been in the government, and our hope that with better - stronger - leadership, change is possible.

Yes, we love our country, and will not allow anyone to betray us and our territory in favor of China. This is why like you, and like the rest of our countrymen, we cheered the UNCLOS decision that affirmed our rights in the West Philippine Sea - and thanked President Aquino for embarking on the campaign that led to this symbolic triumph.

But while we appreciate P-Noy for some of his deeds, we were very much frustrated with his shortcomings. In their first place, he was vindictive, using his very first SONA to lambast the Arroyo government. He declared war against Chief Justice Renato Corona, and got a rubber-stamp Senate to impeach him, allegedly with no small incentives. Come to think of it, compared to Aquino’s efforts to undermine the judiciary, Duterte’s remarks on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno - for which he has since apologized - pale in comparison.

This apparent vindictiveness tainted his anti-corruption drive, and so did his unwillingness to hold his men to account. This became clear when he defended his cabinet members’ every move - even when it was obvious that they had shortcomings. This intransigence was best exemplified with his repeated defense of Jun Abaya, even as the “world’s worst airport” crumbled, the MRT failed, and the traffic worsened.

Furthermore, what we hated was the self-righteousness - and self-proclaimed “decency” with which the past administration has painted itself. They insisted on trumpeting the GDP growth, insensitive to the people who never felt that growth. They downplayed the casualties in Yolanda, insensitive to the people who suffered it. The “Daang Matuwid”, alas, never saw empathy as part of the road to progress, and when our brave men died in Mamasapano, the commander-in-chief was to be found not honoring their bodies, but in a Sta. Rosa plant of Mitsubishi Motors.

In the May elections, we voted for the person who best represented the change we wanted to see in our lifetimes. Mar Roxas was a good man, but he was hopelessly out of touch with the electorate - and too associated with the past, not just the immediate past but our long struggle with self-serving elites (his grandfather, Manuel Roxas, was a Filipino president who kowtowed to American interests).

Jojo Binay, for his part, was already exposed for his corruption - thankfully early enough to avert his election as president (which at some point seemed inevitable). As for Grace Poe, her candidacy was the last sigh of the fading brand of celebrity politics: some admired her but thought she was not yet ready (or not yet eligible) for the highest office of the land. We had hoped for someone better: someone who understood the depth of our problems - and possessed the will to solve them.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, with his many years of executive experience and his decades-long advocacy of federalism, was a breathe of fresh air. He, a native Cebuano speaker, carried with him the banner of Mindanao, and thus the chance of bringing back the “land of promise” to the fold of national discourse. We knew, of course, that he was no political outsider, being a second-generation dynast in his own right. But Davao City was a living testimony of man who cut red tape and instilled discipline (i.e. no smoking, no unholy-hour videoke, among others). Best of all, his constituents vouched for his integrity and good character - something that the constituents of other presidential candidates were not as quick or eager to do.

Did we wince when he made that infamous rape joke? Yes of course. And so too, did we cringe at his cursing Pope Francis. But for all his faults, Duterte was not self-righteous. He owned up to his mistakes, and we accepted him for who he is. It was not that joking about women wasn’t bad, but actually betraying our country’s interests was much worse. The national and international media, we felt, was quick to highlight his faults and provoke him into saying scandalous remarks - even as they were slow to point out his sensible - even revolutionary - statements. Tired of being told what to think by the media, the Church, and the so-called “civil society”, we gravitated towards Digong.

And apparently, our sentiments were shared by many Filipinos. Which is why, on May 9, 2016 he won by a landslide.

***

Today, with Duterte in power, we have had the chance to see what his presidency looks like - but our perspectives remain very different. His boldness you see as recklessness, his candor you see as offensive, his attempts at unity you see as divisive. Once again, you in your frustration call us stupid - for not seeing the dark future that you think is upon us.


But even as we object to the name-calling, there are many of us who would proudly wear the label of ‘Dutertard’ if only the show the world that we stand with our countrymen and understand where they are coming from; if only to show our willingness to support the good that the present administration has committed to undertake; and if only to avert the disunity that may once again undermine our best hopes.

We remain hopeful, and we have reasons to be:

The drug war, though marred by rightful concerns over vigilante killings, is for the first time uncovering the extent of the drug problem. In my hometown in Laguna, the naming of the mayor as a drug protector is no small victory for the people who have always lived with the reality of drug-related violence. (Even the UN concedes that supply reduction is part of the drug control - just as even the PNP believes that demand reduction - through rehabilitation - should also be pursued) The crime rate has gone down by over 30% - a remarkable achievement if it is sustained.

The peace talks with the Communists, meanwhile, are underway - they had began even before Duterte took office. Despite Digong’s occasionally-heated remarks aimed at the rebels, actions still speak louder than words, and the release of the NDF consultants and the declaration of a truce has given the CPP leadership enough reason to be hopeful. And with the popularity Digong has among our Muslim brothers and sisters, there is also reason to hope that he can help usher in peace in the Bangsamoro region and the rest of Mindanao.

As for Duterte’s environmental policies, they are nothing short of revolutionary. While the media was quick to highlight his prononcement of not honoring the Paris agreement, little attention has been paid to the actual steps he’s taking to save our natural heritage - and in doing so, mitigate global warming. The powerful mining lobby has met its match with DENR Secretary Gina Lopez - who has the president’s full backing. Already, many mining firms’ operations have been suspended. If you have seen areas such as Surigao and Compostela Valley that have been devastated by mining, you will appreciate the fact that Digong’s political will is really the only thing that stands in the way of environmental destruction in many parts of the Philippines. I do not doubt that the trees would vote for him if they can.

Meanwhile, the economy continues to grow, and investor confidence remains high. At this point, it is largely thanks to the Aquino administration - that much has to be conceded. But the fact that Duterte has pledged to continue the past administration’s macroeconomic policies shows that he can rise above petty politics when national interest calls for it.

And finally, even when we have yet to enjoy the corruption-free, efficient government that Digong has repeatedly promised - there are already signs of change. Inspired by his call for sensible rules, members of Congress have already filed bills to extend the validity of licenses and passports. Officials - including VP Leni Robredo - have already pledged cut down on red tape in their respective agencies. Of course, the President himself has vowed to shake up the bureaucracy by firing corrupt officials.

As in any position, there are some areas that need improvement. Or, to be more proactive: We all have work to do. When it comes to foreign affairs, the President may profit from these words from Isaac Goldberg: “Diplomacy is to do and say the nastiest things in the nicest way.” With its enormous political support right now, being open to the possibility that there are indeed innocent lives affected by the war on drugs will not hurt the Presidency - and we do join the call for rule of law to reign.

And of course, the proposed Marcos burial is turning out to be an unncessarily-divisive issue that can, in the words of Duterte ally Rafael Alunan III, cost the administration “political capital”. We hope that he will change his mind on this. Some, of course, will support the President even to the point of Martial Law, but there are also many of us who do not think highly of Martial Law - either of the past or for the future. Just like you, there are lines we will not cross, and we may yet find each other holding the same placards.

In any case, can we not wait for the new administration to do its work, and show results, for a year - even half a year? Can we not look beyond the issues that divide us and see the many other issues where we can work together, even if critically?

Because if you take away Duterte’s provocative speeches and foul language (to which many of us object), give his war on the drugs the benefit of a doubt, and look at his overall philosophy of governance, I think that you will at least be willing to give him a chance.

And perhaps you will also be willing to suspend the unhelpful notion that all those who support him are stupid.
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