The new President of the Philippines was elected in a landslide victory and sworn in on June 30, 2016. Rodrigo Duterte is the new president and former mayor of Davao City. During his campaign, he talked about criminality and corruption. His words had a positive effect on the country even before he became the president.
The problems that plague the Philippines have a lot to do with population growth without the corresponding infrastructure. They also have a lot to do with where the country sits in southeast Asia (also called the Far East). China and North Korea are only a couple of the countries a few hours away.
President Duterte has made it abundantly clear he is going after drug dealers and drug lords (those at the top of the food chain). He knows the source of those particular problems involve government officials. He’s already forced the Philippine National Police to undergo drug testing.
I’ve already seen the effect in my neighborhood. Every night, there were people going to and from some area down the trail on the other side of the creek that runs along my property. For the last few nights, I’ve heard no one. The drug addicts can’t get their fixes because the drug dealer is already in hiding.
In the Kalaklan barangay (subdivision), where one of my sisters-in-law and her family lives, people have started disappearing. Some have been arrested and some have been killed. While the president isn’t directly involved, the local authorities have taken his message to heart.
Perhaps the choice of Duterte as a president is a signal. Perhaps people have learned that electing actors and family members of actors, as well as sports heroes, isn’t a good idea for the future of the country.
Perhaps people no longer want to choose members of dynasties (Marcos, Aquino, Gordon, etc.), whether they’re true dynasties or not. Perhaps Duterte is the president the Philippines needs even if he isn’t the one they want. Kind of like the “dark knight” of politics.
Duterte has experience as an attorney and as a politician. He may be rough around the edges and not prone to political correctness but he gets the job done. His track record in Davao City speaks volumes. In the United States, people are also tired of establishment politicians and political correctness, which explains the rise in popularity of Donald Trump.
This may sound like a propaganda piece but I assure you, I have no dog in this fight. I’m a permanent resident, not a citizen. I can’t vote in this country.
What effect will Duterte being the president have on expats in the Philippines? It’s too soon to say, but I believe the effect will be positive.
When I mention infrastructure, I’m mainly talking about roads and airports. The Philippines has roughly a third of the population of the United States, but it doesn’t have a third of the airports.
The largest population center is the National Capital Region, which includes metro Manila and where I live, Olongapo City. There are more people living in this region than Los Angeles in the United States, but Los Angeles isn’t limited by a single expressway – all of the expressways on Luzon are connected as one, with separate tollways. It will take years before a second, independent expressway is started.
There’s one airport in metro Manila and another in the Clark Economic Zone (Pampanga). The airport at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone is only used for cargo. The traffic surrounding the Manila airport is congested beyond belief.
Duterte may not be able to speed the process of building infrastructure, but he can keep corruption and criminality from slowing it down. I hope, for the sake of all Filipinos and residents of the Philippines, he’s more successful than his predecessors.