Media — local and international — have gone wild with reports about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s cursing allegedly directed at United States President Barack Obama. Did he really call Obama a son of a bitch?
Journalist Lala Rimando posted a transcript of what Duterte said during the forum when the cursing was said to have taken place. It is a transcript, not cherry-picked quotes that media just love to sensationalize, and it is a mix of English and Filipino. International media which rely on translators and which have no inkling about common expressions got it wrong big time.
Personally, I gave Duterte a silent standing ovation when he said, “You know, the Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. Alam mo, marami diyan, sa mga kolumnista, they look upon Obama and the United States as if we are the lap dogs of this country… You write kung ano nasa isip — the lap dogs of this American. Who is he to confront me? As a matter of fact, he has too many –America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country. Hanggang ngayon hindi pa tayo nakatikim ng apology niyan. That is the reason why Mindanao continues to boil.”
It was the second standing ovation I gave him — the first time was when he called out the United Nations for its hypocrisy.
A first, in both cases. Every Philippine president before Duterte has licked the proverbial American ass to beg for aid, investment and military support. If MAR Roxas had won the presidency, would he have the balls to say what Duterte said in defiance of American intervention? Would Grace Poe, if she had won, sound believable if she asserted Philippine sovereignty in the face of criticism coming from America considering that, as an adult, she chose American citizenship over Filipino citizenship?
Duterte’s refusal to behave like a brown slave begging for crumbs from his white master should please people who fancy themselves progressives / liberals / leftists but they are silent on this particular issue. At least one faction is too busy rubbing elbows with Vice President Leni Robredo. Praising Duterte, even in instances where it is deserved, just won’t look good when the lone agendum is to boot him out and install Robredo, Cory Aquino-style if legal measures like impeachment aren’t practicable.
What is it about Duterte that is so unacceptable?
Class and style. Duterte has no style, and he acts and talks like a street toughie. And he has a dirty mouth too. To the mind of the elite (many of them like to think they’re intellectuals), there is a certain mould that a Philippine President must conform to to be acceptable — he must act and talk like their idea of what an educated person is. In fact, the names of Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada as the epitome of real statesmen have been bandied around a bit.
And I thought… Where is it written that a president has to have a certain kind of personality? Where does it say that the prejudice of the elite is the standard for measuring the capacity and capability of a president?
Yes, Duterte’s propensity for breaking into expletives at the most inopportune moments can be bothersome. Even to me — and, goodness gracious, my language is just as colorful as his, “colorful” being a polite term under the circumstances. I sometimes wince listening to him — never has there been a Philippine president so uncaring about “picking the right words” to please.
Yet, in essence, honesty is a good thing. And the lack of pretension is honesty. But when honesty and good intentions are buried in a ton of expletives, stupid people tend to hear only the latter. And when I say “stupid” in this case, I am not referring to the uneducated masses but to the educated elite who had been made stupid by the biases and prejudices that they grew up with, coddled as they were with the sense of entitlement that they feel they were born with. They tend to ignore the positive but choose to dwell instead on how “uncouth” Duterte is.
Should Duterte go in the direction of “circumspect” just so his intentions won’t be lost in the myriad of expletives?
Unlike his predecessors (along with most elected officials in this country) who only appeared in public like neatly packaged morsels oozing with feel-good words to please and placate, this president acts and talks as though it is an insult to ask him to try to live two lives — the public Duterte who speaks and moves in accordance with what is perceived to be the ideal demeanor of a statesman, and the private Duterte who can do and say as he pleases.
It has often been said that, in politics, perception is everything. That’s the marketing line of PR firms so they can get hired. I just feel that there is something inherently wrong if all we see of elected officials are carefully crafted personas.
So why am I still not a fan of Duterte?
Because he is wishy-washy.
You know, Mr. Duterte, if you call out the United Nations for being a rubber-stamp of the First World, don’t say it’s a joke the next day.
If you take a tough stand against criticisms uttered by a former colonizer when they tend to meddle with domestic affairs and belittle Philippine sovereignty, don’t back off afterwards.
The courage to say what you mean and mean what you say is an admirable quality.
Yes, I read your statement about how you are against extrajudicial killings but do you really mean it?