“Congratulations to all of us”, a high school friend commented on my Facebook post in which I congratulated and expressed my best wishes to friends who supported the new president-elect of the Republic, Rodrigo Duterte. My reply to him was, “I wish I could readily say the same thing. Let’s see how things will develop, and I hope I’m proven wrong (in my assessment of him).”


You see, I had serious misgivings about the man, and I still do. I wish I also saw the things that those friends of mine saw in him, but I did not.


My misgivings are borne by the character he had already shown even before he filed his candidacy for president that became more evident in the course of his campaign, which I am sure everyone had witnessed including those who supported him and which put to serious question his fitness to lead the nation. He was asked to answer many things about himself, his statements and his actions—to which answer the entire nation was entitled—but he did not. Instead, he even simply dismissed them derisively.


Having been elected by majority of voters, many are now saying that the Filipinos should support him. Well, No and Yes to this statement.


No, he was not elected by the majority of the enfranchised Filipinos. The last time we truly had that kind of president was way back in 1969. All succeeding ones, including him, were just minority presidents, having been elected only by simple plurality of votes. It must be realized that he only obtained 39% of the votes cast for the presidency last Monday, which means 61% of those who cast their votes did not vote for him. Add to this the 19% of the total number of registered voters who did not cast their vote and it is clear that more or less 80% of Filipino voters did not vote for him.


But, yes, we need to support him now because the fact is that he is the next president of the Republic, whether or not he really intended to be one, or whether or not the majority wanted him to become one.


Just the same, it is imperative for him, or any president who is elected under the present set up, to get the support not only of the minority who voted him into office but, more importantly, those who did not. “Politics is addition”, said Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, hence he has to have the support of the substantial majority of the entire populace, if he wants to govern effectively. His attitude of, “I don’t give a damn if I lose the presidency”, or that of, “This is me, take it or leave it”, does not cut it anymore.


Hence, the two must begin learning to dance together to the same tune. Leadership, after all, is more than just obtaining the most number of votes. It entails the building of close relationship between the leader and his followers that is based on trust and confidence that could only be acquired and developed through clear showing of wisdom, talent, commitment and transparency. Trust begets trust, just as love begets love.


The present Aquino administration is said to have enjoyed a relatively good transparency rating but lacked commitment by way of responsive, forceful and swift action, for which it was made to account and to pay dearly. The majority of the Filipino people will definitely measure the incoming president with the same yardstick with which they scaled the outgoing one, especially on matter of transparency.


Thus, apart from learning how to speak and to act in a presidential manner, the president-elect must also definitely learn how to be square with his constituency, especially concerning the issue of his alleged hidden wealth and bank accounts – a baggage that he would surely be bringing with him to his presidency unless he provides a clear closure to it. If change is what his supporters demanded, for which they revolted against the present system, then so be it. But, then, that demand for a new breed of leader and a changed system must be applied uniformly, especially to him who promised to lead it.


The incoming president confidently expressed his commitment to institute the supposed sweeping changes that he promised his followers. He could try to implement them in the manner he swore to do so but, in the end, only the moral integrity that he would bestow upon himself and his actions will spell the difference between his being able to get either the spirited support or the grudging tolerance of the rest of the nation.


I am not closing my door to the possibility that Duterte may yet prove himself to be the better president. For sure, though, at the end of the day, one way or the other, the Filipino people would realize that there is truth to the saying that, “sometimes, people meet their destiny along the very road they took to avoid it”, and I definitely hope and pray that the surprise would be a pleasant one for us all.


Like I told my friend: Let’s see.

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