Many are wondering why, despite the roughness, rawness and vulgarity of the President, he remains popular and enjoys very good net satisfaction ratings, even as his critics struggle in eroding his legitimacy.
The answer is simple. President Duterte is a work of art in authenticity while his critics stumble and fall in their hypocrisy.
Filipinos hate hypocrites. To be called a “plastic” is a label that automatically carries with it the consequence of being avoided. People regarded as hypocrites and “plastics” are never accorded trust or “tiwala.” They may appear amiable. They could be over-solicitous and extra-caring. They mask their hypocrisy with a façade that subsists on rehearsed, even contrived images. They appear “disente” and self-righteous.
Their evil and deception, their flaws and pretensions, lie beneath these pleasant surfaces.
On the other hand, someone who is considered as “totoong tao” is well respected, and is accorded full trust and confidence. People considered as such are recognized for their authenticity. Their inner selves are the ones that overcome whatever external flaws they may have. To an ordinary Pinoy, to be a “totoong tao” does not preclude one to have rough edges. Character flaws do not necessarily diminish the authenticity of someone, for this is one that is cultivated in the context of engaged relationships and “pakikipagkapwa.” Authenticity lies deep into the being of the person.
Thus, the goodness of a “totoong tao” or an authentic person’s is not eroded by flawed appearances and conduct. This is because there is no deception. Transparency and truthfulness prevail over pretensions and lie-telling.
This is what distinguishes the narrative of President Duterte from those of his critics.
And this is precisely the reason why, despite his vulgar mouth, offensive speech, confrontational stance vis-à-vis our international allies, and brutal war on drugs, the President remains popular. He still maintains very good net satisfaction ratings, with three out of four Filipinos expressing satisfaction. The President’s authenticity, with all his rawness and roughness, is able to overcome his negatives.
Ranged against the President is a diverse group of people, some of whom are sincerely concerned about the problems and are well-meant citizens. However, the sincerity of some is drowned out by a sea of dominantly hypocritical voices.
Critics, from civil society groups, to members of academe, to media, take aim at any misstep of the Duterte Administration. Yet these people are easily exposed for their being partisan groups, and are seriously compromised when one calls to attention their complicity with, or silence about the sins of the past Administration.
They attack the war on drugs, when the Administration they supported either actively, or through their silences, did not do anything to address it, and under whose watch the drug trade proliferated even inside the national penitentiary.
The President is also pilloried by his critics for his undiplomatic demeanor. He is being painted as irresponsible, untrained in diplomatic niceties. His reckless declarations, from cursing heads of states to threatening to pull out of the UN, is seen by his critics as seriously undermining our foreign standing in the community of nations.
Yet, these criticisms of the President lose their valence when they come from people who are either complicit or failed to act on the issues that are now gripes of the President, or are, in fact, anti-US themselves. It is pure and unadulterated hypocrisy for those who accepted and pushed unfair agreements with the US to criticize the President for fighting for fairer terms.
But the worst hypocrisy rests on those who in their youth fought against US domination, rallied against US interference, and branded themselves as critical of US presence. These former activists unfurled anti-US banners and burned effigies of Uncle Sam, and yet now have instantly turned critical of the acts of the President. They are scandalized by the vulgarity of the President’s words attacking the US, when before, they were critical of the vulgarity of the structures of violence that US hegemony has brought upon us.
In this pretentious discursive universe we find women activists who already have problems with beauty contests, who then petition the organizers of the Miss Universe Pageant to pull out of the country and make it appear that it is in protest against the President’s vulgarity and human rights abuses.
Found here is Leila de Lima. She tries so hard to take the moral high ground, and appears as a victim. Yet the memory of her being an attack dog of the previous Administration who helped in the political lynching of Chief Justice Renato Corona is still just too recent for her to overcome.
Also found here is Risa Hontiveros who was silent when de Lima violated a Court order and prevented Gloria Arroyo from leaving the country, but now protests de Lima’s inclusion in a look-out list.
These people should be reminded that in the discursive universe of the “totoong tao,” the raw and vulgar, but authentic, will always win.