Due to a foul-up in Internet connection between editor and columnist, the Times could not publish the second part of my column last Saturday (“Take your pick: Trump’s “truthful hyperbole” or Duterte’s “in-your- face” expletives, Times, Nov. 12, 2016).
This left my argument hanging, and cut off entirely the conclusion.
I reproduce below the missing sections, which deal mainly with President Duterte’s use of expletives and his sometimes disjointed reasoning.
I describe Duterte‘s expletives as “in your face” because they are insolent and confrontational, and directed invariably at personages in high office.
Unlike President-elect Donald Trump, President Rodrigo Duterte does not have a problem of ghost authorship in regard to the expletives and vulgarisms that he has issued freely since he acceded to office on June 30.
To every vulgarism, profanity and curse that has escaped his mouth, he can claim untrammeled paternity. No one in his right mind will contest their DNA.
Catalogue of Duterte expletives
In a column I wrote last August (“Time to parse the words of Talk Duterte,” Times, August 18, 2016), I catalogued the expletives and vulgarisms that President Duterte has used since taking office, starting from when the saga began. I wrote then:
“The Filipino public and the media got their first big helping of Talk Duterte during his proclamation as the presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban political party in November 2015 at Century Park Hotel.
“What was supposed to be the maiden speech of his campaign turned out to be a tirade of epic dimensions, as he railed against everything and everyone:
1. He called Pope Francis a “son of a whore”, for causing a traffic gridlock in Manila.
2. He cursed the rapists and killers of an Australian missionary at the Davao penitentiary in 1989, because he said he as mayor should have been first because she was so pretty.
That speech shocked many in the country and abroad. But the people were not paying close attention. They found Talk-Duterte refreshing and exhilarating. They elected him with 38 percent of the vote.
You would think that having won the presidency, he would let up and turn presidential. But no, he kept adding to the lexicon. This is who he is. The world must also hear and listen.
When the American and Australian ambassadors criticized Duterte for his rape joke, he threatened to break off diplomatic relations with those countries.
On May 26, 2016, during a press conference in Davao City, then president-elect Duterte launched a series of obscenity-filled attacks on the Catholic Church, branding local bishops corrupt and sons of whores, who are to be blamed for the nation’s fast-growing population. On August 5, 2016, as he addressed troops at the country’s Armed Forces Central Command Headquarters, Duterte recounted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country, and recalled in Filipino that he was feuding with U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. He called the US ambassador “a gay son of bitch.”
“When a United Nations taskforce criticized Duterte for the extrajudicial killings during the war on drugs, he attacked the UN for its failures in the Middle East, and called UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon a fool.” The European Union came next, when its ministers criticized the drug war.
“When the White House announced that President Obama might take up the human rights issue with Duterte during the Asean summit in Vientiane, Duterte flew off the handle. He called Obama ”a son of a whore” and then attacked the US government for a Moro massacre committed in 1906, while the country was under US colonial control.
“When Obama cancelled a bilateral meeting with Duterte at the summit, Duterte issued a statement saying that he did not mean to call Obama names. But this seeming retraction was soon retracted also.
“The rift has not been repaired; instead it has worsened. When Duterte visited Beijing in October, he made his dramatic declaration of ‘his separation from America.’ ”
So many to kill, so little time
Apart from freely using expletives to attack critics, Duterte shows disjointed reasoning in making the case for the drug war.
He frequently cites the figure of three to four million to quantify the number of drug suspects (drug lords, traffickers, pushers, coddlers, and users) in the country. But no government agency – not the Philippine Drug enforcement agency ( PDEA) , and not the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) —has validated this count. It’s unnerving because DU30 has declared that the drug war will not stop until the last suspect is killed. The President has lately taken to bemoaning the fact that there are so many to kill, and he has so little time to do the job.
Grotesquely, Duterte finds himself here in the same quandary the Nazis faced when they had to implement their final solution – the extermination of Europe’s Jews. The immensity of the task nearly overwhelmed them. The English historian Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote: “It needed something like genius to organize in the middle of war… and in fierce competition for the essential resources, the transport, concentration and murder of millions of people.”
The Nazis, of course, found a way.
Duterte worries that he would have a hard time neutralizing over 3,000 local and police officials as well as judges allegedly involved in drugs, because of the alarm bells that might be raised by human rights groups.
“If I use the contemporary rules, the Constitution, I really can’t do it. Because you want to kill them all (but) you will not have enough time,” he said.
“And, you know, if you do that, whether it is justified or not, the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations will always be there.”
This is why he has lately threatened to suspend the writ of habeas corpus – so that police can effect warrantless arrests.
Who will blink first?
Trump and Duterte are interestingly in a similar quandary. While Duterte frets about the enormous problem of killing some three million drug suspects in his drug war, Trump must confront the analogous challenge of deporting in quick time some three million illegal immigrants in the US.
What would happen when the truthful hyperbole meets the in-your–face expletive?
News of Trump‘s resounding victory has sobered President Duterte on his iconoclastic view of Filipino-American relations. He has declared that he will stop quarreling with Washington. He now looks forward to a cooperative relationship with the new tenant at the White House. In a rare show of modesty, DU30 says he is a molecule in comparison with Trump.
Some have speculated that when Trump and Duterte meet each other eyeball-to- eyeball, it will be like a Manny Pacquiao prizefight.
That meeting will happen in Manila next year, when the Philippines hosts the 2017 Asean meetings.
Who do you think will blink first?