Up until the noon of June 30, 2022, Mr. President is still President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, PRRD, or Digong to his contemporaries, forever Mayor to Davaoeños, the endearing Tatay to his fans and followers, and post-EDSA’s most popular outgoing president if referring to the surveys done during the tail end of an administration. Whatever the side of a coin, fans and foes alike will agree that Duterte is a consequential president, the one who lifted us from crashing into becoming a narco state and who sailed us through the scourge of a once-in-a-lifetime health pandemic.
The 16th president of the Philippines entered the presidency on his own terms, bringing his own style, and carrying his own “baggage.” People expected him to change with all the trappings, privileges, and power of the position; instead, he forever changed what a president could be to his people — a servant of the highest order, who only has the good of the Filipino people in mind, no matter the criticism from foreigners who have seen his ferocious side when they tried to interfere with the affairs of the state, particularly his war on drugs, which for Duterte is ultimately to safeguard the youth.
In six years, no one — even kings or emperors, or even superpowers — could touch Duterte when it comes to protecting the nation. After all, he has repeatedly said that he is only answerable to the Filipino people.
With six years of accomplishments, media outlets and online sites have recently devoted pages on what a Duterte legacy looks like. It is a veritable one, which experts have said would impact not only the present but the generations to come. Among them include tax reforms, the “Build, Build, Build” projects, free public education, increase in salary of teachers and soldiers, Marawi rehab, among others. There is also his legacy on pandemic response, which IATF member Dr. Edsel Salvana described in a post as “good job” — “Whatever political differences we may have and even now (who) doesn’t always agree with some of its policies, I have to give credit where credit is due. Good job, PRRD.”
In his self-proclaimed last political speech during the oathtaking of his son Sebastian Duterte as Davao City mayor early this week, Duterte didn’t seem nostalgic about his accomplishments, but kept on saying that he did his best with the time he was given. He was not boastful but sounded apologetic, saying that he tried to weed out corruption, stamp out the drug problem, and loosen the grip of the oligarchs on the nation — “That’s just it, the best that my efforts can achieve. If it is still not enough, I’m sorry, I can no longer do it.” And he nudges the youth to continue what he has boldly started.
As Duterte bows, literally as he always does in front of the Filipino audience and figuratively in a matter of hours as the nation’s chief executive, words of gratitude come from his heart instead, as said during a Salamat PRRD concert held in his honor — “Sa sambayanang Pilipino, maraming salamat sa inyo.” And we, too, say “thank you PRRD!” May history judge him kindly and may private citizen Digong feel fulfilled in his life, which he devoted to the service of the nation.