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BRUTALLY FRANK: The many meanings of DDS

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By Francis Baraan IV

The original meaning of DDS is Davao Death Squad, the alleged vigilante group of President Rodrigo Duterte back when he was still Mayor of Davao. Today, however, DDS is generally accepted as the abbreviation for Duterte Diehard Supporters, the term coined and popularized by Duterte ally and celebrity blogger Mocha Uson, who initially used it as a term of endearment for her millions of followers, who are incidentally also her fellow Duterte supporters (mga ka-DDS). It was a subtle yet effective way to make people forget of the negative, murderous associations of the three letters to Duterte’s alleged history of human rights abuses during his time as local chief executive of Davao City.

The gimmicky, catchy political strategy was a resounding success. The days when DDS was tantamount to nefarious activities and vigilante killings carried out by Duterte’s secret police against crime and drug suspects are long gone. Today, DDS has become the identifying tag for the collective millions, who see no evil and hear no evil—a badge of honor for card-carrying members of the “Duterte is the best President in the Solar System” Political Tribe.

It doesn’t matter if you or I know that it’s a diversionary tactic, and it doesn’t matter whether you or I think that being branded as a DDS is derogatory and a pejorative for hyperpartisan “Dudirty” politics. What matters is that most have forgotten, and some don’t even know, that the original meaning of DDS is Davao Death Squad, and that Duterte used to be referred to as THE DEATH SQUAD PRESIDENT.

They have managed to turn DDS, for Davao Death Squad, into an insignificant footnote in history; DDS, for Duterte Diehard Supporters, is now the trending topic, the headline, the present, and the significant, ALL CAPS future.

And that, my (D)EAREST (D)EMOCRACY (S)UPPORTERS, is how a simple and subtle play with words could rehabilitate the reputation of some bloodthirsty, authoritarian monster into this salt-of-the-earth, authoritative father of the nation. That is how is how those (D)ICTATOR (D)UTERTE (S)PIN-DOCTORS overhauled—seemingly revamped overnight—the image of a reviled and feared human rights trampler and cold-blooded killer into a beloved and revered crime-busting, “My-God-I-Hate-Drugs” national figure. They wrapped Duterte inside this box of non-threatening, profanity-laced, ribbon-tied neat package; promoted him vigorously; and sold him into what we know as “TATAY DIGONG,” the man who could do no wrong.

If you ask any Filipino to name some people who rabidly defend Duterte, you would most likely get the most expected and obvious choices: Harry Roque, Salvador Panelo, Teddy Boy Locsin, Jose Calida, and of course, Mocha Uson. They are THE top alter egos of the President–all major Duterte government appointees.

You would probably also get names like Larry Gadon, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, Ferdinand Topacio, Thinking Pinoy, Sass Sasot, Banat By, Robin Padilla, and Vivian Velez — the usual suspects of media personalities, whose vigorous, dogged, unwavering vote of confidence and impassioned, vocal defenses for Duterte never cease to amaze and appall me.

They are not just your garden-variety fanatical online trolls, or your run-of-the-mill Duterte Diehard Supporters. They are the real DDS – (D)IVERT and (D)EFLECT (S)TRATEGISTS.

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