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    THE DUTERTE PRESIDENCY:  A TWO-YEAR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION Edwin P. Santiago      2   The Duterte Presidency: A Two Year Performance Evaluation 2018 THE DUTERTE PRESIDENCY: A TWO-YEAR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION By Edwin P. Santiago “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”     –  John F. Kennedy, US President (1961-1963) “Being President…is entirely about character.”     –  Andrew Shepherd fictional US President in the movie “The American President”   Introduction  It has been customary to assess presidential performance in the first 100 days  –  also called the honeymoon period  –  at the end of each year of his term and, finally, at the end of the presidential term. While President Rodrigo Duterte does not seem to like this, he is no exception. Like many of his predecessors, he has been a controversial if not a polarizing figure in the country (and even, internationally), even before his presidency begun. Because of this highly politicized situation, the question of whether President Duterte is being a good president to date becomes more pronounced in the national consciousness. There are, perhaps, as many performance scorecards as there are scorekeepers when it comes to evaluating presidential performance. The exercise remains highly subjective despite scholarly attempts to introduce objectivity. One major factor that leads to this proliferation is, presumably, the vested interest of the president, the drumbeaters, and other stakeholders, each with an agenda to make the president look good or bad, depending on their political    3   The Duterte Presidency: A Two Year Performance Evaluation 2018 affiliation. This observation, however, is not to discount the presence and the efforts of those who aim to be neutral and as objective as scientifically possible. To make the situation even more difficult is that these opinions may eventually change. Smith (2009, as cited in Knowledge@Wharton, 2009) said that “history’s take on presidential performance is subject to change,” though he offered the following 10 rules for presidential evaluations that, according to him, stand the test of time: 1. History rewards risk-takers 2. A president who actively campaigns for his historical place is engaged in a self-defeating exercise 3. There is no single theory of presidential success 4. Presidents can only be understood within the context, conventions and limitations of their time 5. If presidents are governed by any law beyond the Constitution, it is the law of unintended consequences 6. Presidential power, although awesome on paper, is based largely on moral authority 7. The president requires a talent for making useful enemies 8. Every great president marches to the beat of his own drummer 9. The challenge posed by any crisis is equaled by the opportunity for leaders to forge an emotional bond with the people they lead to gain moral authority and expanded powers 10. Greatness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder While Smith’s rules may sound definitive, some people may consider them merely as broad leadership advice. If anything, it must be pointed out that his last rule  –  greatness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder  –  lends credibility to the assertion that determining presidential success is, indeed, subjective.    4   The Duterte Presidency: A Two Year Performance Evaluation 2018 Some models of evaluation Even with such pronounced subjectivity, the tendency to compare and rank presidents remains high, primarily to lay claim to a successful presidency or a more successful one than the others, the criteria used are, generally, personal and, therefore, varied (Lindren, 2001, as cited in Sharif, 2006). And, for these evaluations to have more meaning, a high sense of comparability must be achieved. However, such is only possible by having consistency in how we evaluate the presidencies or the presidents. Sharif (2006) deemed that it is necessary to establish a set of criteria for presidential success. Simply put, we should determine what the standards of performance against which actual performance will be measured. The question is, what are those criteria and how much does each one contribute to the final result? Sharif (2006), went on to use three factors to determine presidential success: (1) response to external factors and crisis, (2) public opinion, and (3) legislative success in implementing campaign promises. But, as she acknowledged in her conclusion, her model comes short at it does not consider the historical perspective. The value of the evaluation may differ depending on when it is made, as Lonnstrom and Kelly (2003, as cited in Sharif, 2006) affirmed when they said that a president’s ranking will change with the passage of time. This also supports the observation of Smith, as described above. And, not surprisingly, each and every presidential performance model may suffer from some form of limitation. Smith (2009, as cited in Knowledge@Wharton, 2009) believes that there is no single rule for assessing presidential performance and each presidency is ultimately weighed against his successors. Some of the widely-used performance evaluations include the presidential style  that revolves around the idea that there is a need to take into consideration the character of presidents, which is deemed important in deducing their effectiveness (Thompson, 2014).    5   The Duterte Presidency: A Two Year Performance Evaluation 2018 The Business Mirror (2015), in one of its editorials, expressed that there have been many studies made around the world of those individuals who are considered long after they left office of being “great”  at the job of being a nation’s  leader. The nature of their accomplishments was not the determining factor of “greatness”  but the similarity of characteristics that shaped the leadership. In other words, those who share the stage of greatness also share a particular constellation of personal characteristics. Famous screenplay writer Aaron Sorkin seems to believe this too when he wrote into the 1995 movie “The  American President,”  a line delivered by fictional US President Andrew Shepherd that “being   President…is  entirely about character.”  But, what exactly constitutes character? For Princeton University professor Fred Greenstein (2000), an effective president is one who possesses skills in six particular areas: (1) public communication, (2) organizational capacity, (3) political skill, (4) vision, (5) cognitive style, and (6) emotional intelligence. It is important for the president to be effective in public communication  –  eloquent in order to be able to persuade the general public. Harvard professor Richard Neustadt emphasized the concept of presidential power, which he defined mainly as the power and ability to persuade the members of Congress, the general electorate and the masses, as well as the leaders from other countries (Barnes, 2017). The president also needs to build and organize a team and maximize the potential of his or her subordinates, as well as to “cre ate effective institutional arrangements”  (Greenstein, 2000). As the chief executive of the state, the president must also be able to “use  the powers of his office assertively, build and maintain public support, and establish a reputation among fellow policy makers as a skilled, determined political operator”  (Neustadt, 1960, as cited in Greenstein, 2000).
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