Of Assumptions and Support

Photo Credit: Leonard J Matthews Flickr via Compfight cc

In reaction to last week’s column, an acquaintance of mine, who is a harsh critic of the president, wrote to me saying:

I am interested to know why you still support Duterte up to this point even if he wants CHR defunded (which just happened earlier, along with other 2 agencies)? Even his rhetoric is murderous? etc… I am really curious as to why a seemingly smart, educated, rational, and ethical person like you still supports Digong.

Just to be clear about context, the person seemed to ask this with sincerity to understand, not simply for the sake of argument or confrontation. Before I answer the main question, let me address two assumptions in these statements that hinder productive dialogue between supporters and critics.

The first assumption is found in the phrase, “why you still support Duterte up to this point even if he wants CHR defunded.”

The original text stating my continued support came out over 3 weeks ago and the follow-up articles I wrote were in reference to those. Why would you assume that support continues “up to this point” when I have made no statements regarding the current situation? In fact, I saw the question only a few minutes after I glanced at some headlines about what congress did to CHR.

Is there now this expectation that I give my opinion on social media on whatever bit of news comes out, in order to judge my support or non-support? In fact, there seems to be an expectation that I sound off every now and then about politics, otherwise I am “silent.” Is that not a tad unrealistic, not to mention unfair? Life is not social media, and there are other venues of expression after all, with some even more productive.

The second assumption is found in the second sentence and while seeming innocent is actually a veiled insult, as if the only people who would support Digong are not smart, not educated, and are neither rational or ethical. This is similar to the mistaken generalizations of some atheists that religious people are unintelligent and irrational, which is far from the case. 96% of Davao City voters supported the president last elections. Are you implying then, that 96% of Davao City voters are irrational, stupid or unethical?

Anyway, moving forward and removing these assumptions, I would rephrase your question to the following: 1) Why DID I support the president? 2) Does he still have my continued support?

The first question has actually been answered in a few articles I have written previously. To summarize, we in Davao have felt Digong’s leadership most intimately, and despite his mouth, he has shown himself to be a loving, caring father to the city. Unlike most politicians, he neither demands nor expects special treatment. I personally know at least three people whom he himself has rescued from dangerous situations — two of them kidnap-for-ransom and the other was a hostage situation by a drug-crazed person. This is apart from less sensational stories swapped around by family and friends. In other words, the person whom you know only through his TV appearances and media stories, is someone who is more real to us. He is a friend’s ninong. He is my former teacher’s neighbor. He is my cousin’s schoolmate, and so on and so forth.

Now you may roll eyes at this, and dismiss it as another person has dismissed the stories as merely being “idol worship” similar to Cavitenos love for the Revillas or Ilocos’ love for the Marcoses, and perhaps there is some truth to that but it is what it is and that would be my honest answer to #1 — that we supported him because we know him, or think we know him better than anyone else not from here (I am of course speaking for those who share similar experiences and viewpoints as mine — not necessarily for those who are expressing blind support but do not share similar experiences).

Let’s now go to #2, does he still have my continued support? I look at the question of support not simply as a black or white question. It’s as if I have an internal scale that is ever-changing depending on how the president is acting or reacting to certain issues, so while the support may be at 80% at a certain time, it can also drop down to 60% at other times.

I had hoped for the best in electing Digong as president. I thought that he would mostly reign in his tongue and not make grossly careless statements. I thought that he would show swift and just actions towards erring policemen instead of seemingly coddling them.  I had hoped that his love affair with the Marcoses would end once he got the body buried. I believed that was merely an election strategy and now it seems I believed wrong.

One of my longtime readers emailed me saying, “Isn’t it beginning to look as if the role of President Duterte is the same as that played by John the Baptist over two thousand years ago – to prepare the way for the Coming of Bongbong, the Son of the Father?” And it tragically does indeed seem that way.

I had hoped he would fight for those he appointed that seemed to be performing well — Gina Lopez, Judy Taguiwalo — and not throw them under the bus.

I had hoped that he would show his best side — a side witnessed by so many people I know — but to my eyes at least, it seems that I am chalking up more and more X’es rather than checks.

Does he still have my support? Perhaps. Maybe. Barely. I don’t know.

Again, that answer may not satisfy you, but it is what it is for now. Ask me again after some time, perhaps there will be more clarity then.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

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