Losing touch with the people – the media and its role in Duterte’s anti-crime crusade

Losing touch with the people – the media and its role in Duterte’s anti-crime crusade

- in Opinion

Unsurprisingly, the media, the so-called “human rights” activists, and that idiot Leila de Lima still don’t get it. Despite clear evidence that practically the whole country is rallying behind President Duterte’s anti-crime crusade, they still continue to insist that they are right and everyone else is delusional.

Instead of arguing with the majority and dismissing Duterte as some sort of homicidal madman, those who are against him should instead ask why so many Filipinos now support his extreme views on crime. And charismatic as the President is, it would be a lazy and inaccurate argument to say that the public attitude can be attributed solely on his pronouncements. There was already something there even before he come along, he was just the first to tap into it.

By failing to dig deeper, provide meaning, communicate as equals, and build bridges with the people, the anti-Duterte groups have lost touch with the community they insist that they are trying to save. They have been pushed to irrelevancy, not because what they say has no value, but because they stubbornly insist that they have an exclusive hold on righteousness. And anyone who does not hold the same position as they do must be evil.

The thing is, there is actually a lot of room for dialogue — on both sides of the fence. Even as a full-fledged, durian-eating, Philippine Eagle-loving, Mt. Apo-climbing, illegal drug-hating Duterte supporter, I can see that fully realizing the President’s dream of a crime free Philippines means finding other methods than simply killing criminals. It’s a good start, but it is a dead end as far as being a sustainable long term program.

But while I am open to having discussions even with those who disagree with me, all such conversations must start with both sides (myself included) agreeing that there is a possibility that they could be wrong. Otherwise, if both parties insist on only seeing the right that is on their side, then it is pointless even to talk.

And here is where the media and all the others I enumerated earlier have failed. In seeing “human rights” as an objective fact, and themselves as its absolute guardians, they fail to see that we are all actually fighting about the same thing.

Yes, criminals — proven, suspected, or falsely accused — have rights. But so do the victims and their families. But these are not as widely discussed in the media. Mostly we hear or read about the hundreds of criminals — proven or otherwise — that have so far been killed. There is little mention about the hundreds of thousands of crime victims or their families. Where is the tally that would give people a sense that the media is also able to see it from their side?

The media, et al should understand that it is fear that drives people to support Duterte’s anti-crime crusade. They are afraid for themselves and their loved ones. They are afraid of being robbed, raped, murdered. They are afraid to walk their streets and neighborhoods after dark.

They are afraid, and because they are, they have also become angry. Very angry. They are angry with the drug lords and crime bosses who prey on the weak. They are angry with the police who have turned their backs on the people they have sworn to serve and protect. They are angry with the government officials and politicians who coddled and partied with the criminals. They are angry with those who allowed the problem to grow to epidemic proportions. They are angry that we now have no other choice but to embrace extreme measures in order to solve our extreme problems.

So unless the media, et al are willing to get off their high horse and see reality from the perspective of those who disagree with them — who also happens to be the majority of the population — then the divide is bound to grow wider, the disagreements more acrimonious, and the solutions harder to come by.

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