An Open Letter to President Duterte

By Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

Dear President Duterte,

How are you, Sir? I hope you are healthy and well.

I was not able to vote in 2016 but my husband and I rooted for you. We heard so many things about you from our friends in Davao. We thought that you would be different from the past leaders we had who were traditional politicians. We had a lot of friends from our university who were against you but we wanted to give you a chance. Your plans for the country were promising. We were expectant that the Philippines would be a better place to live in with you as its leader.

As Filipinos living overseas, we had high hopes that you will be true to the promises that you uttered when you were still running for presidency. As years passed, we have seen how you have handled the situations that our country has faced and are still facing. You had decisions that were good; you had actions that had fatal consequences.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to invade our country, we were hopeful that you would be on top of everything. But as we watched you address your countrymen in light of the situation, our hearts sank. We expected better from you. Must it be your age, or maybe your health? Or perhaps the people surrounding you? We do not know. But we still kept on believing and hoping. We continued to trust and respect you because we believe that we are called to honor our leaders.

But heartbreaking news, one after another, bombarded our social media walls. Aside from the growing number of COVID-19 positive cases in the Philippines, the many Filipinos not being able to receive support from the government, the frontliners not having enough personal protective equipment, POGOs still operating, and ordinary citizens being put to jail for violating quarantine measures while the rich doing the same are free to do so, so many more things made us pray earnestly for the country.

Add to all these are the ABS-CBN shutdown, the BIR planning to tax all online sellers, the Anti-Terror Bill and so much more. There are many moments my husband and I would cry as we pray for the Philippines. Our thoughts go out, not just for our families, but also for the many Filipino people suffering at these dark and trying times.

It must be very difficult, especially at your age, to lead a country of more than seven thousand islands and more than a hundred million people. I understand that it’s a very difficult season, not just for our country but also for the whole world. But I hope that you will remember the promises that you have spoken before you took the oath to lead our country. I pray that you will look at the faces of the many Filipino people who voted, trusted and rooted for you.

We believed in you. We still do. And we will continue to believe and respect you; even if there are many times, we disagree with you. We will pray for you, that you will have wisdom as you make decisions. We will pray that you will lead in righteousness and justice. We pray for renewed passion for the nation and compassion towards your people. We pray for grace to wake up each day, knowing that you have been given the privilege to make a great impact to the nation you are leading. We also declare perfect health upon you.

Several Philippine Presidents have been ousted because they failed to lead the country well, and they chose to pursue their selfish ambitions before the needs of their people. This is not my wish for you. It is my prayer that you will redeem yourself, that you will prove your enemies wrong, including those whose trust in you are waning. I hope that you will finish your term with flying colors, even if what’s before you are gloomy and dark.

President Duterte, many people think and speak ill of you. I understand them. People are hurting. People are suffering. But to speak ill of you, even if you have broken my heart many times, is the last thing I will do because I know that you love your people and you want what’s best for them. Will you prove me right? I’m rooting for you.

A concerned citizen,

Seneca, a mom of two, a Filipina who lives in South Korea

Opinions, advice, or statements contained in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle editorial board and staff.

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