A letter to my friends and family in the US and elsewhere:
Thank you for the concern, but you're being misled. (Now, I really want to know who that Filipina is in this group. She looks like the odd person out in a sea of kids. Was she the organizer? Very interesting.)
If the President is forcibly removed, please know that you will be doing our country more harm than good. Not only will you leave us a fragmented country, you will also leave us at the mercy of drug cartels which have run this country, and which are so powerful that they have on their payroll judges, politicians, and as investigations are being done now, allegedly the ex-Secretary of the Department of Justice (now Senator) herself.
There is also a chance that Mindanao, the second largest archipelago, will secede, and all peace negotiations that have been started between the government and the Communists in our country (the longest insurgency ever), will be halted. There will be little pockets of rebellion, and you will be fomenting resentment for the US among our previously US-loving citizens. We've been staunchly pro US all these years. If you meddle, not a few Filipinos will suddenly find themselves sympathizing, justified or not, with the countries the US has invaded to "save"; to question the wisdom of forcing a foreigner's ethnocentric view on a sovereign state.
You don't understand the depth of desperation until you've lived here. The things you hear in the news do not even scratch the surface.
We are angry, desperate, and frustrated, and we hope you can see that.
It will be back to Third World, most-corrupt-country-ever status for us. Forget about visiting this country too. Right now, there are improvements being done in our airports, only a few years ago considered the World's Worst.
You dont want terrorists? Please leave our country alone. Drug money fuels terrorism, and we haven't had a President who could talk to the militants and the rebels like this one could. Some parts of Mindanao have become training ground for future ISIS rebels. To stop this President's war against drug lords and terrorists is to sign your agreement that more powerful terrorist organizations can come to poor, disorganized, US-hating Philippines to harvest more willing bodies.
You don't know the scope. No news article has ever summed it up so you could understand the depth and breadth of the Philippines' problems.
Please don't let yourselves be used by those who want to wrestle power away from the President of our country, the only man with cojones big enough to take on not just the
ruling elite of the Philippines but also international drug cartels.
The TL/DR version of why you're being manipulated is this:
Rodrigo Roa Duterte was a mayor of Davao City for 20 years.
This is significant because Davao City, situated in the middle of volatile Mindanao, surrounded by areas (some just on the fringes of the city) that were war torn, impressively thrived and progressed despite its geopolitical landscape. It is also one of the safest cities in the Philippines, if not the world. Again, despite its location. Healthcare is excellent; crimes are almost non-existent; and citizens have access to the most basic of necessities. It was a better-run city than any other area in the Philippines. And anyone from Davao only had good words to say about their mayor, the best endorsement any one could ask for.
The rest of the Philippines wanted this, and Duterte was forced to run for President by the Filipino people because the choices were dismal. Apart from an alleged corrupt vice president and a newbie senator, he ran against the anointed one named Mar Roxas, who was the previous administration's bet. While the previous administration has its fans, the overwhelming support for Duterte--91 percent--means most people are crying for change.
You remember his predecessor? Benigno Aquino III was the President when Typhoon Haiyan happened. Do you remember asking where your donations went? Do you remember hostages from Hong Kong dying in that bus because of bungled operations? Or the news of our country's Special Action Forces dying in battle due to botched, ill-organized operations?
That's not even half of it. If you don't know that, I'm sure you know how notorious Manila traffic is. The chief who handled that told us Filipinos not to worry because traffic isn't fatal anyway. (A Japanese firm did say that while we aren't dying, our economy is, as we lose about 3 billion dollars EVERY DAY in the gridlock.)
You understand why people did not want Mar Roxas, who by the way, as the interior secretary, was "on top" of the failed Haiyan relief operations.
When Duterte came into power, he sought to dismantle the organized crime and corruption that have been the most prominent features of this country. The Philippines is run on patronage politics, and because Duterte was not an insider--he was just a mayor of a far away city, after all--he stepped on as many toes as liberally and with as much impunity, shocking for toes that have never been stepped on. He went after the most untouchable of our leaders: generals, priests, mayors, cabinet secretaries. He also has a dirty mouth--but if you made us Filipinos choose between his dirty mouth, and his rivals' dirty hands, we'd let out a string of curses.
And this is why you hear so much bad press about Duterte. Who was it that said, history is written by the victor? In our case, our story is being written by those who have the access and the resources to alter the truth. WHO STANDS TO GAIN MOST FROM DUTERTE BEING IMPEACHED?
91 percent of us can only hope to reach you this way.
This guy is 71 years old. He has nothing to lose (except his life, which apparently does not bother him) and everything to gain. He is fighting for the legacy, the bragging rights to say, "I cleaned up the Philippines."
What you see in the news, the killings on the streets, is not the handiwork of the government alone. As the President often says, what we're dealing with is not a crisis, but a war. And there will be blood. There is blood not just because of legal police apprehensions, but because the drug cartels are cleaning up after their own.
Our policemen are not provided their own bullets--do you think at a salary of 300-400 usd a month, they can afford to go on a killing rampage? Someone is bankrolling it, and it's not the government.
I agree that the President needs to make a tougher stand on the killings--he did condemn them but apparently not emphatically enough--and I agree that he needs to be harsher, but if those were his only shortcomings, to call for his impeachment, when he has done so much for the ordinary Filipino, is taking it too far.
Here's something to think about:
While we are a poor country, Filipinos are known to be a strong, united people. We are not ignorant, we are not stupid, we are highly literate. We have unhampered access to social media, we have scholars and students everywhere. The only times we ever needed saving are the times when our leaders couldnt do it for us, like Haiyan.
Since 1986, when we successfully ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in EDSA 1, the Filipino has believed in his freedom and his capacity to change the government.
Our bloodless revolutions have become iconic. We ousted one more President after: Joseph Estrada, for charges of graft and corruption in EDSA 2. We also sent one President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to "jail."
EDSA is a symbol of our freedom and our capacity to THINK FOR OURSELVES.
We are highly capable of OUSTING LEADERS we do not want.
So if we wanted to oust Duterte, we would be VERY CAPABLE to do it on our own. And it would be hell of a lot easier too. We would have disgruntled oligarchs on our side, and I am sure the drug cartels would even happily fund those who are corrupt in our military to stage coup d' etats.
BUT WE DONT. SO MANY OF US DONT! 91 percent of us dont! Because we understand our own internal struggles more than any of you do.
To meddle in our affairs is akin to saying you do not trust us to govern for ourselves, which smacks so hard of colonialism.
Please, thank you for your concern, and for the aid, but allow us to build our nation the way we think best.
There are dissenters,some trolls, but others very brilliant, in our midst. We have oppositions in both Houses, in the Senate and Congress. There is an ongoing Senate hearing on the killings, led quite ironically, by the woman charged of coddling drug protectors herself.
WE DO NOT LACK FOR DISSENT. PEOPLE ARE NOT DYING HERE FOR ATTACKING DUTERTE. There is NO dictatorship.
The original plan is to impeach Duterte, but because they could not find the support from the Filipino public--actually the opposition is very much reviled in this country, to put it mildly--the threat is to have Duterte dragged to the International Crimes Court, which means a regime change. One that we do not want and will heavily protest.
And you have become unwitting characters in a stage that has been set to make this happen.
YOU ARE BEING USED IN AN ELABORATE POWER PLAY AND YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW IT.
When and if we are ready to oust Duterte, you will hear about it. As I've said, we can do it on our own.
But until then, please respect, and please, please LISTEN to the voices of the majority of the Filipino people.