Duterte’s holy war” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on December 3, 2016.

Why are Filipinos across the country’s breadth and beyond back in the streets?

PRRD assumed power at a time of great hope, with public morale at a record high. The economy was robust. Crime and poverty rates were trending down. The campaign against corruption among the powerful was proceeding. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague recognized our rights in the West Philippine Sea, vindicating our commitment to the rule of law, for which we had won the respect of democratic nations.

A contentious presidential election notwithstanding, the succession proceeded peacefully. PRRD’s decisive victory delivered Congress into his hands and the political levers to accelerate the growth momentum. The public gave him a great deal of slack, accepting without much comment appointments awarded to classmates, province-mates and friends—despite the questionable credentials of some appointees and the people’s general unfamiliarity with the track record of many others.

PRRD was blessed at the starting gate with advantages none of his predecessors enjoyed. But these clashed with his campaign premise that depicted the Philippines as a country in crisis and himself as the appointed savior. Post-election pronouncements and policies reinforced and validated the campaign narrative.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.