DAVAO CITY Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is taking the high ground in presenting himself as a candidate that is miles apart from the rest of the Philippines presidential election contenders.
After the initial furor of his Pope Francis gaffe, Duterte is again maintaining his tough stance amid a barrage of criticism. In his first public appearance this year in Cebu, he came out strongly against critics who are zeroing on his â€˜foul languageâ€™ â€“ not by apologizing but by giving substance and meaning to his cussing and cursing.
Behind his colorful language, he said, is the agony and tragedy of the Filipino people.
That should put a stop to those who blindly believe the maverick â€˜small townâ€™ mayor is uncouth and unworthy of the trust of the Filipino people.
His frontal assault against the attacks coming his way shows his character as a man of steely conviction who will not back down from a challenge for the sake of political convenience and expediency.
Another unrefined and not-so-subtle attack against Duterte is that, until lately, he was an outsider on the national political circuit.
Opponents and their lapdogs are painting him as a â€˜provincialâ€™ executive who may be successful on his own turf but wonâ€™t make a dent in re-configuring ta country long confined and restricted to a Manila-centric development framework.
One even subtly derided him for trying to emulate Singaporeâ€™s Lee Kuan Yew.
Big or small, it takes political will to turn one sleepy and forsaken town into a bustling metropolis given the right environment and support from the people.
While Lee Kuan Yew indeed led Singapore to prosperity, it was also at the expense of fundamental freedoms â€“ freedom of the press, to petition for redress of grievances, and to organize and peaceably assemble.
Davao proved that it can be done without trampling on dissent and denying people these basic political rights.
And while people dismiss Duterte as a small town executive who should not be taken seriously, they are unconsciously comparing him with â€˜statesmenâ€™ from other countries to belittle his track record. Heck, they have even compared him to Hitler.
Their comparisons are ironic and inconsistent, and if I may add, illogical.
A cursory look at the virulent offensives against Duterte will reveal that his critics are basically focusing on his status as an outsider.
And they are helped by the fact that some have ignored what Duterte has been saying. Maybe even deliberately.
For one, Duterte is espousing the development of our steel industry, which was abruptly disrupted and stopped during Marcosâ€™ martial law reign. Indeed, not one Asian country became industrialized without developing its steel industry.
You canâ€™t accuse Duterte of paying lip service to the basic approach towards industrialization because already in place in Davao City is Steel Asia.
One can assume that once Duterte becomes president, the countryâ€™s steel industry will rise at the very heart of his city â€“ Davao.
After all, the nickel mines and other iron ore deposits abound in eastern Mindanao.
This is one of the many agendas that other candidates are missing out on. Duterte is not just about peace and order, crime and corruption. He has in his heart a template for the countryâ€™s future development.
All he needs is for us to place him in Malacanang.http://asiancorrespondent.com/2016/01/no-apologies-philippines-presidential-hopeful-rodrigo-duterte-rises-above-his-critics/