Its hard to believe that it’s just been a little more than a year that talk was rife about Noynoy Aquino being nominated for the Nobel peace prize for his pursuit of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
But because he bungled a police operation that resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force troopers, the immediate fallout scuttled any chance of a final peace agreement before his term ended. And pffft went Aquino’s dreams for a Nobel prize.
But the dreams of a peaceful Philippines lives on. And with the coming of President Rodrigo Duterte, the peace talks — not just with the Muslim rebels, but even with the Communist Party of the Philippines — have gotten a much needed shot in the arm.
Just recently, Duterte hosted a dinner — a first in Philippine history dinner — with the government and CPP negotiators in Malacañan Palace. More than just a meeting over a meal, this signified the government’s sincere efforts to come to terms with a rebellion that has claimed thousands of Filipino lives from both sides.
Yet despite all his efforts to bring peace and unity to the Philippines after decades conflict, there is very little mention in the local and international mainstream media. It’s as if peace does not matter when it is connected with Duterte. When it comes to news about the President, it is only the allegations of government-sponsored killings that hog the headlines.
This skewed sense of priorities typifies the uphill battle Duterte has to wage in the face of determined resistance from the displaced gatekeepers of political power. The oligarchs, the elite, the rich and powerful politicians who have been pushed aside by Duterte’s ascendancy continue to fight tooth and nail to just to keep him from the credit he rightly deserves.
And while their numbers are few, their resources are quite extensive. They own media companies, they are in positions of power, their corporations span the whole country — and their scruples wont fill a thimble. This is why the country’s conversations has been dominated by the negatives. This is why Duterte is not getting the praise that he deserves for working his 71-year-old ass off for to quite the guns in the countryside.
But still the people know. Those who supported him with their votes, and those who have been converted after seeing how hard he works. They know. Ultimately this is the true test of a leader’s impact — not in awards or recognitions — but in the love of his countrymen. In this, President Duterte is already a hands down winner. And whether or not he gets nominated for the Peace Prize is no longer important, so long as he has the love, respect, and admiration of the greater majority of Filipinos.