THE Rodrigo Duterte Administration’s credibility and popularity locally have started to decline.

(Mr. Duterte has been unpopular outside the Philippines because of extrajudicial killings of some 13,000 poor suspects associated with his brutal and bloody anti-drug campaign.)

There are observed and expressed wide disappointments and disgust among the Filipino people as demonstrated by the thousands who went to the anti-Duterte rallies in three places in Metro Manila compared to the hundreds (according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer) who attended the pro-Duterte demonstration on Sept. 21.

Comments from Filipinos that express anger and sarcasm in social media, especially in Facebook, are all over the Internet daily.

Even some former supporters of Mr. Duterte are now criticizing their former idol.

The sentiments expressed by Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes as told to the Filipino Reporter in an exclusive interview over the weekend represent the above observations.

The same is true with earlier statements by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other prelates against the killings under the Duterte rule.

As a counter move, the Duterte camp has organized a group aimed against the Duterte Administration’s legitimate critics, as well as illegal groups operating in the country.


The group, called Citizen National Guard (CNG)/Save the Nation Movement, branded the Duterte critics as “enemies of the state” whose imagined goal is to oust President Duterte.

(It may be recalled the last time the Duterte camp resorted to this wrong branding, it fell on their face. Mr. Duterte, no less, apologized to those they accused of destabilizing the government. The main accuser of the group, Martin Andanar, was, since then, prohibited from speaking in Malacañang’s microphones.)

Supported this time by the widely-disliked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, we see CNG as another wrong solution to a serious problem, like the killing solution to the drug problem.

Aguirre and company bundled together under one group both illegal groups (like NPA and Maute) and legitimate groups like the political opposition that criticize the Duterte Administration as “destabilizers” and “enemies of the state.

They even implicated the CIA, per news reports.

Wild imaginations!

As secretary of justice, Aguirre should recognize that criticism of government is part of democratic institution and practice allowed by the Philippine Constitution.

President Duterte has to stop behaving like a 5-year-old boy whose playmate used his toy against his will if he wants to restore the trust of his people.

Coercion and frightening people to get even are wrong approaches.

These will hasten his rule’s downward slide.

He should stop messing up the institutions of government.

He should respect the Constitution and the constitutional offices established by the framers.

He should stop the EJK’s.

A professor at the University of the Philippines commented after the anti-Duterte Sept. 21 rally in Manila, “His (Duterte’s) regime rests less on active popular support and more on coercion; he is better at having people killed than inspiring and mobilizing them to defend him. It is no longer a question of *if* but when his regime will fall — and what will replace it.”


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