Controversial Rodrigo Duterte can help Philippines ride the country out of the storm

Even though newly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is viewed by his critics as being controversial, I believe the country needs a firm leader who can bring the Filipinos out of the poverty cycle and reduce crime in the country (“Region watches controversial Duterte”, Saturday; The Straits Times, May 21st, 2016).

As the Mayor of Davao city, Mr Duterte has kept this city that once was filled with crime to one of the safest and most business friendly cities in the Philippines.

Mr Duterte has mellowed after winning the elections – offering to personally apologise to the Pope whom he insulted during the presidential campaign, and having a cordial meeting with the Chinese and Japanese ambassadors. However, this tough-talking politician has to be mindful that tensions with China or western countries will not be helpful for bi-lateral relations and to his countrymen whom he is very protective of. To this end, leaders in ASEAN of which the Philippines is a member country, although must not interfere with the country’s politics, could as fellow ASEAN member countries, advise and give guidance to Mr Duterte so that there is mutual cooperation, growth and stability in the region where everyone benefits. Our Singapore leaders who have excellent bi-lateral relations with several countries worldwide including the US and Australia, can play a leading role towards this objective. This is the spirit of ASEAN solidarity.

The Philippines has a rich culture and beautiful exotic beaches that attracts thousands of tourists to her colorful festivals every year. With its rich culture and sandy beaches, Mr Duterte can ride on the government’s programme towards attracting people in first world countries to invest in the Philippines – like building retirement homes for those who want a more relaxed lifestyle.

It is encouraging that Mr Duterte has promised to give more support for the provinces that will be empowered to do more for the Filipinos, many of whom have to struggle with poverty and hardship and to wipe out corruption in the Philippines.

What moved me deeply was when I read about how Mr Duterte cried at his parent’s tomb and prayed for his mother’s guidance to lead the country to greater heights. This emotional outburst clearly demonstrates that this leader has compassion and love for another human being, and one example was when he offered to give a sack of rice to the poorest citizens.

RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO

PROFILE OF THE WRITER

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Raymond Anthony Fernando is a motivational speaker, poet, author, trainer, songwriter, freelance television actor, ghostwriter, media celebrity, regular newspaper forum page writer and an advocate for the mentally ill.

He is a volunteer with the Institute of Mental Health. The author of 32 books was married to Doris Lau Siew Lang, herself an author of 8 books. Doris was called to the Lord in April 2014. This Model Caregiver 2007 and Mental Health Champion 2010, who is born on Valentine’s Day, has contributed 31 years of service to the public sector, 15 years of experience in public relations work, and received several awards and commendations from government organisations.

Raymond attributes his success to his beloved wife, Doris, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

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