(This essay describes Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s leadership. It discusses Duterte’s public management in the context of moral entrepreneurship, social deviance, and deviance dance in politics.)
One of the primary charms of influential or powerful people is their capability to influence a group of people or the general public for the common good toward social transformation. Moral entrepreneurs are those people who “manufacture public morality” by way of bringing the problem to public awareness and who facilitate “moral conversion” that affects moral codes and normative assumptions (Ehret, 23 September 2020).
Most media networks play a significant role in the forefront of politics. Thus, irresponsible media people become a cohort of corrupt political leaders. In this sense, the local media and unknowledgeable international media labelled President Rodrigo Duterte a crazy and psychopath leader in global politics. But then, I view him as an exceptional moral entrepreneur, whose influence touches not only the lives of Filipinos but that of the neighbouring nations.
In the past three decades, the Philippines has been on a political and economic uncertainty brought by corruptions of public officials, rampant illegal drugs, and poverty, among other things. Such social conditions become a common situation within the government bureaucracy. Duterte is very much aware of all these, even when he was in local politics. His candidacy for the country’s highest political position, the presidency, was Duterte’s most excellent chance to bring those social snags to public awareness. His courage to publicly disclose those social problems by “manufacturing public morality” is one of a moral entrepreneur’s characteristics (Ehret 23 September 2020). To facilitate “public moral conversion,” which is the second characteristic of an influential people (Ehret 23 October 2020), Duterte started it during his campaign trail nationwide, promising the Filipino people to change the political landscape for a better Philippines. His exemplary leadership in the local government, profound knowledge of the social problems, and his strong-willed platforms of solutions to impartially implement the laws put him to power as President in 2016. From then on, Duterte continues to lead the moral recovery he envisioned for his country.
The latest Pulse Asia survey results show that President Duterte’s high trust rating of 91% from 83% and an approval rating of 91% from 87% in December 2019 and September 2020, respectively (Calonzo, 2020). The survey result merely reveals that nine out of ten Filipinos approve of the President’s performance (Esguerra, 2020). Indeed, this is an extraordinary performance rating for a politician.
The question is, how did he maintain those high ratings? In his administration, Duterte painstakingly leads the government to fight corruption, street crimes, and illegal drugs. He prioritizes environmental rehabilitation and ambitious infrastructure projects, particularly roads and bridges, which boost the country’s tourism industry and create employment for the people to alleviate poverty.
President Duterte, as a moral entrepreneur, engaged in a deviance dance to realize his dream for his countrymen. Deviance dance describes as the process of interactions, negotiations, and debates, between groups with different views, whether behaviour or characteristic is considerable deviant that needs social control; if it so, what approach to regulate it (Ehret 23 September 2020).
Duterte, being a tough man on discipline by imposing the laws, “mosh pit or combative” dance is his style in dealing with his political detractors and other opposing groups. This type of deviance dance is categorized to have completely different ideas on how to proceed and with the strong imposition of his thoughts on others (Ehret 23 September 2020). Duterte, to his tune, dances with other politicians, media personalities, business people, previous administrations, even in the international sphere of influence. The dance continues with weakening resistance because the people are experiencing changes in their perception of good leadership towards a better life and the public moral conversion in day-to-day living, as they embrace their leader’s working vision.
Reflectively, there are two ways of looking at Duterte, as a moral entrepreneur, in the context of deviance and social control. First, the leaders before him, thirty years before his leadership, were deviants, who created a culture of corruption in the government, let illegal drugs and crimes become rampant, exploited the environment, and drown the people to impoverish them. Hence, they failed to be moral entrepreneurs because they ignored the underlying social problems and did not employ social control. Second, Duterte is both a deviant and an ethical entrepreneur. Interestingly, he started as a deviant of the culture and normative assumptions instituted by his predecessors in the past three decades, before his term as President. Duterte’s journey to the more extraordinary moral entrepreneurship task started when he led the City of Davao as his training ground for more than twenty years. Since his inception to office as the Republic’s highest leader, an ambitious dream changed the Philippines’ political landscape, and the moral fortitude of the Filipinos set alight again.
Ehret, Stephanie (23 September 2020). “Contextualizing Deviance and Social Control.” SOCI2610: Deviance and Social Control [lecture]. Trent University.
Esguerra, D. J. (2020, 05 October). 9 out of 10 Filipinos approve of Duterte’s performance amid pandemic — Pulse Asia. Inquirer.Net. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1343755/9-out-of-10-filipinos-approve-of-dutertes-performance-amid-covid-19-pandemic-pulse-asia#ixzz6aEAzfJcS
Calonzo, A. (2020, 04 October). Duterte’s Trust Rating Rises to 91% Amid Region’s WorstOutbreak. Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10- 05/duterte-s-trust-rating-rises-to-91-amid-region-s-worst-outbreak