One of the highly rated TV shows today is “The Walking Dead.” What reason should viewers enjoy watching a group of survivors who remain free of infection fight their way out by shooting, hacking, stabbing, clubbing the so-called zombies escapes me.
It could be that the viewers look at zombies as a representation of their own struggle in life and that they need to fight whatever problems they have, be it sickness, financial difficulties, poverty, unemployment, strained family relationships, frustration and melancholy.
And now comes a campaign of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to finally put to an end to the spate of crimes in the country, especially the unabated proliferation of illegal drugs and acts of terrorism. When confronted with the growing number of people killed, the President said that drug lords, drug pushers and even heavy drug users who can no longer be rehabilitated are not humans.
While the statement elicited a plethora of critical comments and reactions, the President appears to have found an ally in Russian President Vladimir Putin who shared the view of the fiery former mayor of Davao City that human rights are for humans, not for animals. Both leaders refer to drug lords, drug pushers and terrorists as animals.
But will the strategy of Duterte finally rid the Philippines of the scourge that is illegal drugs? Is it also right to meet the terroristic force of the Abu Sayyaf Group with equal or superior force?
While human rights advocates and even Human Rights Watch deplore the spate of killings in the Philippines, a Pulso ng Pilipino survey conducted by the Issues and Advocacy Center from August 29 to September 4, 2016 shows Duterte continues to enjoy a very high trust rating of +92%, a net total of 96% of the 1,200 survey respondents who said they still trust the President, compared to only 4% who said they don’t trust the President.
The high rating of Duterte is by far the highest ever recorded by a newly elected President. Not even former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III who also won by a landslide in 2010 scored this high during his presidency. In fact, Noynoy Aquino left the presidency with much hate on his back than accolades, and this stems from the public outrage over his insensitivity to the death of 44 Special Action Forces troops in Mindanao as well as graft and corruption and the never-ending traffic problem in Metro Manila.
Duterte’s high rating could have also been the result of the perception by the respondents of the most pressing problems prevailing. They could have considered Duterte as the only leader on whom they can pin their hopes for a better life.
The Pulso ng Pilipino also asked the 1,200 respondents an open-ended, unaided question on what they perceive as the most serious problems in the country. The responses were: 44% said the most serious problem is the proliferation of crimes (inclusive of illegal drugs, crimes against persons and property, killings, terrorism and rebellion); 19% said it is graft and corruption (inclusive of issues on morality, unexplained wealth and bribery); 16%, poverty, unemployment, contractualization, low wages, unaffordable commodity prices;13%, social services (inclusive of health, education and basic services); 5%, transportation and traffic; and 3%, environmental problems such as pollution and illegal mining.
A rider in the Pulso ng Pilipino survey is the planned burial of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). Notwithstanding the rallies and protests to stop the burial, 67% said they favor the burial of the late President at LNMB as ordered by Duterte on the basis that Marcos was a former president and a soldier — two of the requirements provided in the rules and regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
It is clear from the instruction of President Duterte who is exercising his power as Commander in Chief of the AFP to allow the burial of the remains of Marcos who was former President, senator and soldier.
The survey shows that 67% of the respondents are in favor of the planned burial of the remains of Marcos at LNMB, 28% says they are not in favor; and 5% say they don’t know.
While there have been protest rallies in Metro Manila by groups opposed to the planned burial of the late strongman, these are by no means reflective of the sentiment prevailing in other parts of the country as evidenced by the results of the Pulso ng Pilipino survey.
At the end of the day, what we are seeing in these events not only in the Philippines but also elsewhere is merely the result of what I may call as a declining level of spirituality. As we become immersed in the concerns of daily living, we tend to forgot that true joy lies not in the accumulation of wealth or power but in the peace offered by the One who created all things.