SOME people just don’t do well with apologies. The sincerity just doesn’t come across well. When someone says ‘sorry’ for hurting you, but without really regretting the substance of the remark that offended you, you wonder if the offender is really sorry.
President Rodrigo Duterte is apparently building up his record for being the sorriest Philippine President. He has barely warmed his seat in power but he already had said ‘sorry’ to a number of people. He had apologized for the foul language that had come out of his mouth. He had admitted to having a bad mouth.
His bad mouth spares no one.
On the day PDP-Laban declared him on Nov. 30, 2015 as its standard bearer for the May 9, 2016 elections, Duterte made the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics the object of an expletive.
As he was wrapping up his extemporaneous speech, he narrated to his audience that he got stuck in a traffic jam during the visit of Pope Francis in January 2015 and that it took him five hours to reach his destination, a mall, from his hotel in Metro Manila.
He said that when he learned that the road was closed because the Pope — who is well-loved not just by Filipino Catholics but everywhere else around the world — was passing by, he told the crowd: “Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope putangina ka, umuwi ka na. ‘Wag ka nang magbisita dito. (Pope, you son of a bitch, go home. Don’t ever visit us here again.)”
Some people in the audience found it funny, but netizens were less forgiving.
“It’s my style. It’s my mouth,” he said, explaining his characteristic cursing.
Duterte explained that his anger was not directed at the Pope but at the government for its failure to ease traffic and for causing too much disruption to the public. “I was expressing my exasperation with the government. It’s okay to receive visitors but you don’t impose hardships on the people,” he said.
When he was close to winning the presidency, Duterte said he was planning to visit the Vatican to personally convey his apology to Pope Francis. Perhaps it was also his way of extending a hand of friendship to the local Catholic leaders who had campaigned against candidates they did not name, but whose description fit that of Duterte.
During the campaign, Duterte’s joke that he should have been first before inmates at the Davao penal colony gang-raped a beautiful Australian missionary in 1989 caused a stir in the diplomatic community.
The ambassadors of the US and Australia – two of the Philippines’ closest allies – criticized Duterte’s remarks as uncalled for and that rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized.
It was the same joke for which Duterte recently said he harbored a grudge against US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, and called him “bakla.”
Even after the US government had expressed its utter displeasure over what it considered as “inappropriate and unacceptable comments” made about Goldberg, Duterte said he would not apologize.
“Hindi nga siya nag-apologize sa akin, why would I apologize to him? Siya mismo ang nag-una,” the President said when interviewed after a speech in Camp Teodolfo Baustista in Jolo, Sulu last Friday.
During the campaign, Duterte told the US and Australia ambassadors to “shut their mouth” and even said he was prepared to cut diplomatic ties with both countries after their ambassadors criticized his joke about the rape of the Australian missionary. Days later, he blamed the media for reporting his statement.
At times Duterte would say sorry for having a bad mouth but, at the same time, he’d say he’s not sorry because that’s just the way he expresses himself.
Sometimes when he says sorry, his apology does not sound convincing. It makes one think that perhaps because he’s not really sorry but that he has been advised to apologize.
But there are other people who could give professional actors and actresses a run for their money when they say sorry.
Remember the June 27, 2005 “I am sorry” televised message of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Didn’t she sound and look sincerely sorry? She looked humble and meek. But then it came out later that she was not sorry at all. That her Cabinet members, who later came out and resigned en masse, only prodded her to go on national broadcast to apologize about the wiretapping controversy that hounded her presidency with serious accusations of conspiracy with election officials to rig the results of the 2004 presidential elections.
Arroyo admitted making a telephone call to a Comelec official but said it was never meant to influence the election results. She merely said ‘sorry’ because making the call was a “lapse in judgment.”
She had to say sorry because the call for her impeachment and public protests were gaining ground. But she was sorry for having to say sorry.
Under the current presidency, how many more times would we hear bad jokes and foul remarks from someone whom we should be looking up to for decisive leadership and moral guidance? Up to what extent should we allow him to assault the dignity of women, and disregard human rights and due process, yet utter offensive, distasteful and unacceptable words against anyone who criticizes him?
He promised to be prim and proper once he assumes the presidency. He has been in office for the seventh week now and the only time he behaved properly was when he read in full a prepared speech on his inauguration on June 30.
In a speech at the graduation rites of the Lyceum University in April, Duterte explained he was taking “the posture of a radical” when speaking in a brutally frank manner to challenge the ruling class and the public officials who seem to only care for the elite.
“Sinasadya ko talaga iyang bunganga ko. I am testing the elite in this country because, historically, we are fundamentally a feudal country,” he said. “I am testing the waters of radicalism. (I act) as if I am irreverent, (but) it’s not really true. I pray to God always,” he said.
Should he be sorry for it later? Or just be sorry for not being sorry after all?