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2 Presidents

A TALE of two Presidents. One in barong tagalog, the other in T-shirt, checks or plaids. One in Malacañang, the other in Davao City. One calling a press conference at odd hours, the other giving exclusive interviews and tours of the palace he will be exiting by month’s end. One coming in, the other going out.

Twenty-six days before he gives up his “comfort zone” to run the affairs of state from whatever suite in Malacañang that he has yet to choose for his office, Rodrigo Duterte’s words are already defining his presidency, as good as if he were no longer the incoming but the incumbent Chief Executive of the land.

Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s “No more wang wang!” did not resonate like a battle cry until after he had delivered his first state of the nation address. This early, Mayor Duterte is receiving more coverage than the sitting President, as if his word is law and he’s calling the shots, column centimeter by centimeter, sound bite by sound bite. Sure, 39 percent of voters were for him, but he has also ruffled enough feathers – Church, women, conservatives, and now media plus one incensed husband. Is he about to temper his language, modulate his voice, mellow down?

Whatever for? Raids on drug dens and labs are a daily occurrence, dealers (including cops) killed or arrested or run out of town. Late into the night, vagrants, loiterers, idlers, drunks, potential troublemakers and victims rounded up and sent home, some to their surprised parents – who knew the curfew has been in effect for 10 years now?

The laws are old, the enforcers are the same force, they just needed a jolt of energy to kick ass. Suddenly PNP has found the guts to warn drug lords that “they will be crushed in six months,” same timetable as the soon-to-be commander-in-chief’s.

Not quite Mr. President yet, the one in short sleeves occupies center stage and plays the role of presiding officer, to the hilt. The audience loudly applaud. It’s theater that goes to the gut. (Jullie Y. Daza)