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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Duterte for President: What Went Wrong?

What went wrong?


By Manny Piñol

How do I begin?

Perhaps, it is best that I first bow my head and beg for your forgiveness for taking you on a ride and making you believe in a beautiful dream.

We all dreamed of a President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, The Punisher, Incorruptible, All-Embracing and Inclusive Leader, Federalism Advocate, Tough Enforcer of the Law, and Compassionate Father.

He would neutralize drug dealers and criminals, send to the execution room the plunderers, kidnappers, rapists, create millions of jobs with the development of the countryside through a Federal system of government and lift the farmers from poverty through a market-oriented agricultural program.

In many instances, Duterte made all of us believe that the dream could be real with his hypothetical "If I were President..." statements.

Yesterday, however, the dream ended in a surprising twist.

For the third time, which I believe could also be the last time, Duterte again said he wanted a quiet life and the Presidency was not for him.

Shock and disappointment are both understatements to describe what I and millions of other Filipinos who believed in him felt yesterday.

It was an unexpected turn of events because earlier, we, who belonged to the small group of Duterte friends, had already prepared a plan on what to do before and on Oct. 15 when he would file his Certificate of Candidacy before the COMELEC in Manila.

Of course, the thought that he would decide not to run for President was considered in the planning, although it was categorised as a remote possibility.

I had my reasons to really believe that he had been swayed by the people's call for him to run for President because a week earlier I volunteered to write a draft his acceptance speech.

About two hours before the press conference yesterday, I emailed a copy of the draft to his trusted aide Christopher "Bong" Go and I had a hardcopy in my hand going to the press conference.

Seeing a one-page statement in his hand as he sat in the centre table for the press conference, I felt I was stabbed in the heart.

I knew there was not going to be an acceptance speech.

What brought about the unexpected turn of events yesterday?

I believe it was influenced by the temerity of some people who assumed they could influence and pressure Duterte into making a decision.

In an earlier interview with DWIZ's Karambola hosts, I said that the possibility of Duterte backing off was still there especially so since some people were jumping the gun on him and pre-empting his moves.

Even before he could formally announce his decision on whether to run or not, tarpaulin streamers announcing his partnership with a Vice Presidential candidate were seen all over Metro Manila.

At a time when he was telling the people that he was still going through the painful process of making a decision, a self-proclaimed political adviser issued an "official" statement that Duterte was definitely running.

While we all believed he was running, a statement that he was running coming from a "political adviser" made Duterte look foolish and a liar.

Knowing Duterte, he does not like to be influenced into making a decision and I know he was bothered by the "official" announcement that he was running because he issued a press statement denying it.

He seldom does that especially when the press statements are products of people who really understand him and whom he trusts.

Duterte, who zealously protects his reputation as an independent-minded individual, was actually faced with serious predicaments.

There is the problem on how to finance a national campaign without submitting himself to the dictates of the traditional political funders.

He also talks about his age and his health problems caused by a motorcycle fall several years ago.

And there is the worry on what would become Davao City should he leave it to run for a national position.

"I might be like a plane who takes off and comes back finding that he has no more airport to land in," he told TV5's Mia Reyes.

There are reports that he failed to convince his daughter, former Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio, to take over the mayorship of the City.

The premature announcement apparently served as the last straw that broke the camel's back.

So this is where are now. The beautiful dream ends.

Is there still a glimmer of hope that Duterte would change his mind at the last minute?

"Only when there is Divine intervention," I told media people who asked me that question yesterday.

Just like millions of Filipinos, I grieve over the decision of Duterte not to run for President.

It is not because I wanted my friend to become President but simply because Duterte offered hope of a better life for the Filipino people.

That is now a far-fetched dream, even more remotely possible than a Duterte Presidency.

I deeply apologize to all the followers and readers of this page for raising false hopes and for trying to weave a beautiful dream that we all wished would come true.

I will continue writing in this page and sharing with you my thoughts on issues involving our daily lives.

Honestly, I really thought this page would be part of history with the making of a President who changed the country and made it one of the greatest nations on earth.

It is not going to be. I am sorry.

(Photo downloaded from Peter Tiu Laviña's Facebook page. We were all in blue - Mayor Duterte, Bong Go, Peter Laviña and myself. My shirt was the bluest blue.)

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