“CHANGE IS COMING” – a tagline used by the newly elected President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, throughout his campaign and now by roughly three fourths of the country’s population. These words have become the rhetoric of today.
Is change really coming, or has change already come with Duterte’s election as the most powerful man in the country? Will this so-called change bring about change in the country’s economic system, with the country’s people and their morale, and with the country’s peace, order and security? Will this change help with the country’s reconciliation and unison? Would it eradicate poverty, or even curb the drug menace? Or will this change just bring change to the lives of few people?
It has been six weeks since Duterte took his oath in front of millions of Filipinos where he reiterated his promises to open his office to the masses, to help people who are hapless and in need, to protect the nation from invasion, to stop corruption and the ‘Padrino’ system at all costs, and to curb drugs. I can vividly recall the islands of faces who trusted and joined him in his crusade towards the presidency. I still can remember the month of May where netizens all over the country defended their favored candidate on all forms of social media. How can I forget the usage of vulgar and ignoble words by his believers and fanatics? These words have flooded my social media account as well as others’ where young people and even children can see and read them.
I wasn’t able to vote, not because I didn’t want to, but rather because my name was deleted from the registration system of the Ministry of Elections. How saddening it was on my part. If given the chance to vote, I would have favored another candidate who I believed was more deserving and witty than Duterte. But I have to accept the fact that a majority president has won, and it was the people’s decision. I have to abide by it whether I like it or not.
Based on the last six weeks, I can say that he is a “Man of Action” who has done quite a lot of things, and for the next six years, I am expecting a lot and have high hopes for him. However, there is one matter which makes me doubtful and afraid, and that is how he handles drug cases. Yes, all of us want to live in a drug-free country, but also a country that is responsible and humane in treating all kinds of people whether criminal, alleged, suspected or not.
I want to live in a drug-free country, a drug free Philippines. President Duterte’s campaign against drugs is galvanizing, but I am completely against the killings. I want to live in a country where some of its resources are used to build rehabilitation centers which can be used by drugs addicts as havens and centers of chance. I want to live in a country where its Congress advocates for stricter penalties for drug pushers, as without them, drugs will not proliferate. I want there to be a system of forgiveness in a country that supports humanity. I hope and pray that the rule of law and court of laws will work to stop these killings. Let’s be positive and hope that the 16th President of the Philippines will give “CHANGE a CHANCE”.
Angeli Eclevia is a One Young World Ambassador representing the Philippines. She works as a Community Relations Officer for Emerging Power Inc, a renewable energy company, assisting in developing and implementing community plans. Her primary beneficiaries are the Aeta Indigenous Peoples. Passionate about human rights, she previously worked in the Education Department of PREDA Foundation, where she conducted community-based preventive seminars about sexual abuse, targeting pupils in elementary and high school.