WHY RODY DUTERTE?



...This man, despite his dirty mouth, draws voters and indigenous activists like me. Along with his new "loveteam partner" Miriam Santiago, he is the first among the presidential candidates to notice and denounce the latest atrocity committed against the Lumad: the burning of their evacuation center. He has always championed the rights of the Lumad and has always matched rhetoric with action.

He is a self-confessed killer of people he self-righteously and arbitrarily judged as rapists, murderers, kidnappers, or drug lords, but he has not killed a single activist in the struggle to dismantle structural/national oppression or a single indigenous person protecting ancestral domains. In fact, he has been providing shelter to internally displaced IPs. The other candidates consider IPs invisible - we haven't heard them say anything about the issue even if it is burning right before their very eyes. Two candidates are said to be using the private planes of people connected to abusive mining in IP territory. Any candidate who supports corporate mining on indigenous land is automatically off my list.

So do not judge me, a human rights lawyer and activist before anything else, for gravitating towards this foul-mouthed, dirty old man named Rody Duterte even if my husband, Leandro B. YaƱgot, is committed to campaigning for Mar Roxas. With the exception of Grace Poe and Santiago, your candidates have meaner, harsher, and dirtier human rights records. Human rights violations are not just about killing without due process. They are also about neglecting to do your job well or looking at your job as a way to upgrade your burning presidential ambition, resulting in the death of thousands of people in a storm. They are about keeping quiet as a Cabinet official, even if you could have spoken out while DSWD was hoarding and later burying food worth millions of pesos meant for disaster victims. They are about stealing from government coffers millions or billions of pesos that could have gone to alleviating the economic tribulation of the poor. Poverty, hunger, and lack of security in times of disaster are human rights violations, too, as serious as death. At least, death ends suffering but how about those who remain alive? 

Friends, if your main criterion in choosing a candidate is his/her position on who should or should not get buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, that to me is not enough. Besides, the other candidates may be anti-Marcos and spewing anti-Marcos rhetroic but where were they and their families during the anti-Marcos days? When they got to the helm of power, what did they do to reverse the after-effects of the Marcos presidency? One pandered quite solicitously to foreign interests, and indefatigably worked for the same Marcosian solutions to economic ills - the solutions friendly to hacienderos, abusive domestic and foreign corporations, the elite. One claims to be indigenous but what has he done for indigenous peoples? He ruled a city that benefits immensely from the oppression by corporations of indigenous communities. The big corporations wantonly plunder ancestral domains and pay taxes as residents of his city. His city gets a large share from the Internal Revenue Allotment. His city is rich because of indigenous sacrifices and unabated suffering, among others. The resource-rich LGUs where the IPs are remain to be this country's poorest and they deal with the environmental degradation wrought by corporate pillage. Very Marcosian situation. You are anti-Marcos? How can you support these candidates who continue the same anti-people policies of Marcos?

I am indigenous and I look at the world with indigenous eyes. I am engaged in development work and work with communities. I hold office in my shoes and where they take me, and not in some posh four-cornered room. I look at the world from that vantage. For that matter, I look at the elections with the same eyes. I will vote for a candidate who has been kind to the most oppressed people in this country, who are fighting to protect the country's last living lung (even if he is condescending at times. I have not forgotten that he said, "Let an Ifugao or Badjao run, but please... not an American." I wish I could force him to gargle with the strongest laundry soap.).

And he is not "epal". In fact, he seems to be destroying his own campaign. He exaggerates his flaws and does not talk about the Samaritan acts he did for people in distress. But actions speak louder than words.

So, please stop asking why I, a human rights lawyer, am supporting Duterte who supports a Marcos burial in Libingan  ng mga Bayani and I will stop asking why you are supporting one I perceive to be anti-people.  With the exception of Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago, the candidates are all killers, all human rights violators, all evil.

I chose the least evil.
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