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The last elections perhaps were the most divisive one that I ever experienced. I was but a toddler when the snap elections and EDSA happened but I was conscious and discerning we elected Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Aquino, and Duterte. Never have I witnessed friends, acquaintances, and stranger slug it out in both defense of and offense for their candidates. Or perhaps that was social media that brought those opinions more to light.

Months into the new administration and my social media feeds are still rife and ripe with people calling each other Yellowtards and Dutertards. Nothing in between. Speak out in support of the administration and you’re a Dutertard. Speak out otherwise and you’re a paid hack of the previous one. It’s getting tiring. It’s getting old (or maybe I am). And there’s no sign it’s going to die down anytime soon. At this point, the only “-tard” I want in my life is custard. Rich, creamy, and sweet.

I’ve always pegged Duterte as that one uncle you have that a great drinking buddy. He says the most outrageous and offensive things and you don’t really mind because a) the session’s private, b) he’s family (and probably helped your family out at one point so you got to give him that). Boy, I would love to hear him run his mouth in an informal setting.  Unfortunately, that drunk uncle’s set loose in the world and it really depends on your personal stance and moral compass if you’re going to be proud of that or cringe.

My friends who knew him better as mayor swear that he gets the job done and I am inclined not to challenge that. In fact, I am hopeful in seeing how well he could accelerate the much-needed reforms in areas like agriculture, social services, and infrastructure. But he ran on a platform of crime reduction and three months in and it all seems to be the end-all-and-be-all of the government today. Friends in government hint of a rather slow pace of progress since the turnover. I sure hope things would pick up.

There are things with previous administrations with which I agree and disagree and I expect the same with this one. The FOI order and emergency services, yea. The state of lawlessness, the lack of diplomacy and statesmanship, the burial issue, and the war on drugs, nay.

It’s not that I dismiss the issue of drugs and its negative effects on people. You only need to watch The Wire to be made aware of the influence drugs and the trade could have. But what I am challenging is the methods employed in trying to solve these problems. In today’s day and age when we have so tools for studies and analyses, can’t we explore more sophisticated models and solutions. Trying to beat a modern day problem with a huge stick is so… primitive. If there’s a method to this madness it surely isn’t apparent. I just hope this wouldn’t be the case for the next five and a half years.

Does the end really justifies the means? And does putting value to how things are done a loser’s mindset? Can’t we just even try to do the right things the right way?

I am for due process. I am for human rights. I am for justice. Do these mean that I am defending crime, criminals, and violence? No. But not according to many Duterte supporters. Why isn’t Love is a Fallacy a required reading in schools today?

I’m sure that by writing this, the members of his cult of personality have already dismissed me as a paid Yellowtard hack and wannabe political analyst. That’s the consequence of being the devil’s advocate these days. Just take Sen. De Lima’s ouster as committee chair on justice in the Senate where the leading dissenting voice gets snuffed out. Great leaders don’t take yes for an answer.

And this is exactly my beef with what’s happening in the political discourse of the country. Whatever happened to multiplicity of perspectives? Why can’t it be possible to challenge ideas and not people? Why are both actions and discourse today about pandering to the lowest common denominator and compromising as much as we can? Whatever happened to holding ourselves to a higher standard?

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