RABID supporters of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte may not be very enthusiastic with his declaration that he would undergo a metamorphosis after he takes his oath on June 30.
Duterte’s irreverence and profanities have endeared him to the masses that have lost confidence in politicians, who are good in oratory but poor in performance, and who try to mask their true sentiments and real character just to gain votes. His hordes of fans may find him a complete stranger after June 30 should he suddenly be mouthing politically correct words and become polite even on persons or things that irritate him.
One popular description of Duterte is “palaban.” He’s most willing to take on all comers—the Catholic Church, the media, and even the United Nations. Now, I don’t know how the UN came in while he was fulminating against the call of Reporters Without Borders for the media to boycott his presscons. This Paris-based media group has no connection to the UN, but what the heck! What he really matters is that he won’t back down from any fight against those who dare to criticize him or misquote him, or write reports without considering the context and his body language.
It’s no wonder then that Duterte was given the supreme compliment of being called the “Donald Trump of the Philippines.” Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party in the US, has waged an unorthodox campaign that included using colorful language against his rivals, Mexicans, and Muslims. It’s this refreshing style that has strengthened Trump’s standing in his party and among those who are against the establishment.
Duterte is known to speak non-stop—during the campaign, in his radio program in Davao City and in his presscons. Manila-based reporters have had difficulty distinguishing his jokes from policies, the preposterous from the plausible. Since they are not from Davao, they might even find it easier to put a sock on an octopus than to make such a distinction. They must envy their colleagues in Davao a lot!
Oh well, the nomination of lawyer Salvador Panelo as presidential spokesman must be heaven-sent for reporters. Panelo reportedly speaks the same language as Mr. Duterte, so he’s a very good bridge to the media. When Mr. Duterte is pissed with the reporters, Salvador expresses this to them with equally strong language. Now, that’s what a spokesman should be!
Incidentally, I learned that Panelo used to host a radio program over dzEC, the radio station of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. (His co-host was the late Cerge Remonde, but that was years before Cerge became press secretary.) His years of hosting a radio program might have given him the belief that he knows how to deal with the media, and how news should be written or handled.
Soon, Panelo will be handing out nothing but press releases to Malacañang reporters.
There’ll be no presscons where reporters could misquote Duterte, remember? Or, enterprising reporters could just listen to interviews of the President over the government television station PTV-4 or the government radio station “Radyo ng Bayan.” Oh, but won’t this make Malacañang reporters mere mouthpieces of the Duterte government?
The rabid supporters of Duterte believe that what they call the “bias media” had it coming.
They say the media had lost its credibility by misquoting and criticizing him and that the only credible one now is social media. Indeed, social media is now popular because it needs no training, no appropriate education in expressing one’s sentiment. That’s why many insult reporters and columnists who call Duterte “presumptive President-elect” before his declaration by the National Board of Canvassers as the duly elected President.
That’s why many use photos without giving credit as to who took them.
Ah, but I digress. Going back to Duterte’s metamorphosis, I don’t know how long he could act out of character. I say he must not do so or else he would appear insincere, vacillating.
So far, what you see in him is what you get. He says what he feels, unless he’s joking or uses preposterous words, in which case his words must be interpreted by the media so these will be placed in their proper context.
His rabid supporters relate to his profanity-laced language. Why, they don’t even see anything wrong when he whistles in public at a beautiful girl, or threatens to hang criminals. He must not change for their sake. His metamorphosis will be a betrayal of their faith in him.