June 20, 2024

Lest the Filipinos forget Rodrigo R. Duterte, the President is stepping down from office in two weeks. Because of the many issues besetting the transition from the Duterte administration to the Marcos government, the passing of the torch from the former to the latter seems unnoticed. Yet, we have to bid him farewell and congratulate him for a job well done.
The apt word to use in the retirement of Duterte from the Office of the President is farewell and not goodbye.
Goodbye connotes permanent departure from something significant while farewell is a lighter term that implies a temporary cessation of an activity.
Example, we say goodbye to a dearly departed who dies but we bid him/her farewell if they just go on a vacation. It is the same in the case of Duterte. His stepping down from office is merely a vacation which does not prohibit him from being included as part of the new administration perhaps, in a different capacity. In fact, he is being offered one. Let’s pray he accepts it if only to see the continuity of the work ethic he brought into the government.
Regardless of what happens after Duterte vacates the presidency, he has left a lasting legacy that will remain imprinted in our memory. Without a doubt, he is arguably one of the most trusted, if not the most trusted presidents the country ever had.
His uncanny ability to humor the people and his unorthodox way of communicating his ideas make him a modern-day Robin Hood of sorts. He was for the people, by the people, and of the people.
What made Duterte loved and adored by Filipinos is his ability to relate with them. He brought their language to the highest level of debates, told their jokes with no apologies and showed them what their deepest fears looked like.
He was not afraid to unfold their plight. He was brutally honest and at times, innocently uncivilized that he looked more like a commoner than a president. He did not care how he dressed nor did he abide by the protocols of diplomacy. He slept under a mosquito net and gladly showed that being a president does not make a person more privileged than others.
These, by itself, made it easier for all to relate with the highest official of the land unlike before when we perceived those who occupied public positions as elites. Duterte erased this and brought the government closer to the people. He removed the line that separates the oligarchs and ordinary mortals, making them equal in the eyes of society. His concept of social justice is equitable. For this, he remained trusted and loved all throughout his reign. Indeed, a president like him comes only once in a lifetime.
True, there were the critics, the oppositionists, and the pragmatics who did not want Duterte to succeed. They challenged his policies, called him a “Chinese sympathizer” because of his stand on the West Philippine Sea and even encouraged his prosecution in the International Criminal Court due to his alleged participation in the numerous deaths brought about by his war on drugs.
Still, the reputation of President Duterte remains unscathed and undeterred. His policies are so much in accord with what the people want. Towards the finish line, he stands tall knowing that he delivered on his promise, not necessarily according to what he said during his inaugural speech but, in a substantial and an acceptable way. This is more than enough. He has more than discharged his function. He went beyond the call of his duty. If only he can stay a little longer.
As Duterte goes back to private life in his native Davao, we, Filipinos who supported him and believed in him, bid him farewell. He has nothing to be ashamed of neither does he have anything to apologize.
He did a job well done and for this, we shall be eternally thankful.