It is difficult to be neutral when it comes to President Rodrigo Duterte.
To most of the 16 million Filipinos who overwhelmingly voted for him, President Duterte is just the kind of leader the country needs at this juncture.
Many of his supporters do not hide their admiration for the man they see as the only one standing in the way of a narco-nation.
Wherever he goes, President Duterte is swarmed by appreciative Filipinos who know better than believe know-it-all-journalists, self-righteous religious leaders, detached academicians and hypocritical politicians.
And it is not only Filipinos who express their admiration for him. In all his foreign travels, foreign nationals jockey for position with OFWs hoping to get a chance for a selfie with the emerging ASEAN political rockstar.
And yes, even foreign leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, among others, have shown interest in the man who shunned attention when he was mayor of Davao.
Of course, we all know it is virtually impossible to get a unanimous verdict in a nation of 101 million people. Not if you consider the fact that money is coming in from abroad to finance a destabilization plot that would unseat President Duterte and install an overly ambitious next-in-rank.
And so you have 10 percent who are vehemently opposed to him and a smaller percentage who either can’t make up their minds or simply don’t care at all.
Still, for all the wide disparity in perspective between the 80 percent who gave President Duterte an “excellent” approval rating and those who abhor him, there are two things that definitely can’t be said about him.
One, no one can say with a straight face that President Duterte is lazy. No one. And we don’t need to prove that.
In case you didn’t notice, he is not yet through with his 11th month in office but the 16th President has already visited 16 countries excluding his current trip to Cambodia.
Of course, the critic who is conditioned to think ill of him at times has more than enough problems to wail against. Still, that does not take away those that he already dealt with firmly and decisively like the laglag-bala scam.
Secondly, no one can call President Duterte a stereotype.
Call him all sorts of names and he won’t care. But even his most virulent hater cannot categorize him.
President Duterte identifies himself with the left but surrounds himself with a “military junta” in his Cabinet.
And while he has engaged in a dialogue with prominent leftist leaders, he also does not mince words in criticizing them when the situation calls for it.
He allowed the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but has already started compensation of Martial Law victims which his predecessor failed to do.
President Duterte has opened communication lines with China and Russia but his phone conversation with President Trump indicates his willingness to improve relations with the man who replaced his pet peeve.
One moment, President Duterte can go ballistics against oligarchs and business giants, the next moment he is a man on the street conversing with demonstrators and hobnobbing with college students.
Definitely, there are other seeming contradictions, but let’s stop here for brevity’s sake.
There are people, the “I’ve-seen-it-all” types who claim they know the real President Duterte. Nice try. But the man is simply to deep for anyone to decipher.
People can add to this list, but for the moment they will suffice.
Filipinos, and even foreigners, have a lot to say about the man.
But these are two things that cannot be said about President Duterte.