We could be Singapore
By Manny Piñol
“In judging policies we should consider the results that have been achieved through them rather than the means by which they have been executed.”
This message sent by Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli to Florence moderate statesman Pierro Soderini in the 14th century was a landmark view on political realism which is contained in a shorter Machiavellian line “The end justifies the means.”
Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, the strongman of Asia who transformed a sleepy city state at the tip of Malay Peninsula into one of the world’s bustling economy with a very low crime rate, was one of Machiavelli’s followers.
His political measures were considered harsh and tough and his position on certain matters was beyond compromise but as the world looks back at what Lee Kuan Yew, who died recently at the age of 91, had achieved for Singapore, everybody agrees that indeed the end justified the means.
“I’m very determined. If i decide that something is worth doing, then I’ll put my heart and soul to it. The whole ground can be against me, but if I know it is right, I’ll do it. That’s the business of a leader,” Lee once said.
I know of only two political personalities in the country today who have the same view on leadership, Panfilo Lacson and Rody Duterte.
Here is what Duterte says about leadership:
“I am not a messiah. I am the garbage man. I do what nobody else would like to do. I take care of the garbage, including the human garbage.”
Yes, but look at Davao City now. From a killing fields of Communist assassins three decades ago, it is now ranked No. 4 among the World’s Safest Cities.
You will be arrested if you smoke in public, if you explode firecrackers during Christmas and New Year, if you sell alcohol to customers beyond 1 a.m., and if you drive beyond the 30 KPH speed limit in the city’s downtown streets.
Duterte warns “you” will die if you sell drugs or kidnap people, especially children, or if you abuse children, in his city.
By “you,” it means everybody is subject to the law.
In fact Duterte’s own daughter, Sarah Duterte-Carpio, herself a former Mayor of the City was arrested and fined for overspeeding.
Living in Davao City is such a great relief knowing that almost everybody follows the law and the residents are empowered to implement the law.
Try smoking in a public place and the person next to you will immediately tap your shoulder to remind you of the ban or summon the police to arrest you.
The question is: Can Davao City be the microcosm of the Philippines?
Could the sense of discipline, the fear and respect for the majesty of the law be embraced by Filipinos elsewhere in the country?
I believe it could be done.
Take a look at how Filipinos move and act whenever they are abroad where the laws are strictly implemented. They follow.
Let’s not go far. Why do Filipinos follow traffic rules inside Clark, Subic or Camp John Hay in Baguio City? It is because they know they will be arrested.
The Filipinos are by nature honest, mild-mannered and obedient.
All that we need to bring back these virtues is a leader who epitomizes discipline.
You cannot expect Filipinos in government to be honest and decent if the President, the Senators and the Congressmen are corrupt.
The Philippines could be Asia’s next Singapore.
We can achieve that by electing a President who is not a thief and who is both feared and respected.
Rody Duterte could be the Lee Kuan Yew of our age.
(Composite image of Lee Kuan Yew and Rody Duterte created by Eliazar Philip Pontino Ditchon.)