Small change

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RODRIGO DUTERTE begins his six-year term as the 16th president of the Philippines today, having been borne to that post by mass discontent with the Aquino administration and his own incessant theme of putting an end to both corruption and criminality within months.

Duterte was elected by some 16 million voters among a field of five candidates, and defeated his closest rival by five million votes. But for some sectors and individuals — among whom he was not particularly popular in the first place — his assuming the country’s highest office isn’t an occasion for celebration but a cause for worry because of what he’s been saying during the campaign as well as during the past seven weeks since the May 9 elections, and for what he is widely thought to have done while mayor of Davao City.

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IT should be obvious by now that the failure of the Philippines to keep pace with the development of such of its neighbors as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and even Indonesia can primarily be attributed to the poor quality of its political leadership.

Some analysts blame the country’s laggard status on its damaged culture, its fraudulent and violence-ridden elections, or on “too much democracy” — even the quality of its human resources. As valid as some or all of these claims may be, rather than the root causes of stagnation and even retrogression, they seem to be mere reflections of Philippine society and governance as these have evolved under the erratic watch of a flawed leadership.

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