Sociologist and media commentator Randy David writes about the “The Duterte method” in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last April 22.
While mildly entertaining in its litany of reasons why he believes Duterte is a downright fascist, he shows us a figurative gallery of personalities who he believes the president hates. He also narrates the “institutions” he claims Duterte undermines, from the Chief Justice, Rappler and the yellow media, to certain senators, and even the Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox.
Despite these, the supposedly learned David failed to share with his readers this fact: that all those characters he named symbolize the various factions of the Philippine elite that have, over the last 30 years, tried their best to keep the Philippine presidency inside their pockets and under their feet.
It is these elites that have mangled our institutions and morphed them into arenas they can game, where their interests are served above others. This is the essence of “elite capture.”
Name any center of power in Manila's political landscape and its talons often try to grab a sitting president by the neck. Worse, this elite capture has created a narrow sense of democracy, where freedom of expression seems to be the only qualifier, and that only those who can afford to express themselves, such as the elites, enjoy this democracy. Every one else without the means to express falls in line to say things that will never be heard.
Here's David in his own words:
"Mr. Duterte has silenced most of the political opposition." But if that were true, how explain the unfettered, unfiltered volume of hate posts on social media on a daily, nay hourly basis, comments and brickbats against the President and his policies? And what does one call Sen. Drilon et al, not to mention Mr. Gascon and Etta Rosales?
"He (Duterte) has tamed mainstream media..." But if that were true, how and why is Rappler, which has been alleged by the SEC to have violated the law, still online, going about its business? And, too, why is he, Randy David, instead of being locked up, still freely churning out criticism against the President?
"He (Duterte) has intimidated the entire business community..." But if this were true, why did the Asian Development Bank recently describe this "period in the country’s history as the 'Golden Age' of economic growth, while a survey of the global investment community described the Philippines as the best place to invest in," according to the country's finance officials?
For once, a Philippine president has the gall to challenge these gamers and players, unabashedly and with fervor. And the masses, whom he has vowed to serve, applaud whenever he slays the dragons. Perhaps David would do well to revert to the academe to better understand the "method" in Duterte's "madness."
President Duterte interacts with supporters on the sidelines of the Maguindanao Balik-Baril Program launching at the Buluan Municipal Gymnasium in Maguindanao on April 25. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO