THE presidential elections may still be far off next year but several names have cropped up such as neophyte senators and local leaders sounding off the electorate about their possible candidacies. One of them is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has said he’s being asked by several sectors to run for president based on his allegedly stellar performance in enforcing the law in Davao and his tough, no-nonsense attitude toward governance, especially peace and order.

Known for his iron fist against criminality and communism—he’s said to run his own vigilante squad to carry out extra-judicial killings, which he does not deny—the 70-year-old mayor has debuted in the March 2015 Pulse Asia survey on presidential aspirants, ranking third!

No one can blame poll respondents for pinning their hopes on Duterte despite his bloody record of judicial shortcuts. Their preference for Duterte speaks of people’s desperation. They look at Duterte and his Davao City as paragons of good government. The city is considered one of the safest cities in the world, although some media commentators question whether this is because people are actually afraid to disobey the law or because the violators are summarily executed.

But because of the rather lackluster presidential lineup—Vice President Jejomar Binay, who’s seeking to succeed President Aquino’s (who’s a lameduck), is facing serious plunder raps, while PresidentAquino’s perceived choice to succeed him, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, is considered unimpressive and bland—Duterte has made inroads in surveys.

This writer herself has overheard people in conversation who said they could condone his “methods” if they could bring about peace and order. It would seem that Duterte’s iron fist is a tempting oasis amid the lack of viable presidential candidates and the languid justice system in the country. The sorry state of Philippine governance has led people to prefer a country run like law-abiding Davao City instead of the business district Makati, a political quagmire. Right now, “Ganito kami sa Davao” sounds more appealing than “Ganito kami sa Makati.”

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But Duterte’s defiant stance of daring Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to indict him for his extra-judicial ways may turn off people. It may in fact scare people away. It’s one thing to employ underhanded ways to check criminality, but it’s another to flaunt one’s lawless ways and dare authorities to come and get him. After all, Duterte may employ the same tactic on innocent people once he becomes president.

In fact, Duterte may be testing the limits of lawlessness by declaring he would declare a revolutionary government once he became president, which means he would use emergency measures, such as hanging perceived criminals and enemies of the state. It’s the same excuse used by Marcos to proclaim martial law and look where that brought us?


It is a curious case for us humans that we invest our emotions on temporary things when very few of us are remembered. In three years’ time, maybe even one or two, my name will just be a combination of letters in a campus paper. My graduation photo posted on the desk of our news section would not mean anything to anyone. New staffers would be replacing the outgoing ones like I, who was once like them when I was a writer—curious and inexperienced with a penchant for rash and fearless naiveté.

I have a habit of distancing myself from feelings, blocking every point of emotional vulnerability, and looking forward to the impending end. It was not as if I was not aware I would be leaving The Varsitarian. The first day I walked into our office in Tan Yan Kee, I have already told myself that I would be leaving this place in two years. Even before I was accepted in the ‘V,’ as I held a copy of the “Amihan” magazine when I was a sophomore, I made a promise that I would become an Amihan (term that pertains to alumni of the Varsitarian), not even saying I want to be a staffer first. I specifically said I wanted to be an Amihan.

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But regardless of whatever internal preparation I thought I have undergone, I find myself rather desolate that I am leaving. I made the decision to exit with my 2013 batch mates the doors of the ‘V,’ even though I will only be transferring from Arts and Letters to Civil Law.

But in retrospect, perhaps it is not always about leaving a mark, but merely passing by and moving on that makes the temporal both wonderful and painful. That is why I like that ‘V’ alumni are called the northeast monsoon Amihan. What the ‘V’ has given me these past two years is more important than the ephemeral glory many of us desire. The Varsitarian may not remember me as I think of her with endless adoration and reverence, but I will remain forever grateful for everything she has taught me, and for the people I met along the way.


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