PRESUMPTIVE President-elect Rodrigo Duterte drew a lot of praises when he said he was offering his hand of friendship to all those who had opposed him.
That was a gallant gesture from a run-away winner. There was no gloating from the tough-talking Duterte. It showed that he was most willing to unite the nation behind his leadership after a very divisive presidential campaign.
Where is that Duterte?
We are not seeing today a Duterte who is humble and gentle in victory. Instead, we see a victor who couldn’t forget critics and makes this known through his now famous acerbic tongue. How soon could he forget his offer of friendship to his critics?
Duterte’s inability to forget the past is shown by his harsh words against the Catholic Church and its bishops. It didn’t matter to him that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had congratulated him and declared their “vigilant cooperation.”
I guess their call against voting for him still rankles. How long will this resentment last? Or will he start his promise to unite the nation only when he starts his term as President? Will he start acting presidential only after June 30? In the meantime, will he continue cursing as ingrained in his nature?
The attitude of Duterte against critics and criticisms is vital to us in the Fourth Estate. A very harsh and long-lasting tirade by Duterte against critics is certain to foster unhealthy dialogues between them.
We, in the media, will never waver from our duty to present the truth. And if the truth is inconvenient or unflattering to the administration, so be it. As Manong Max Soliven used to write, the role of media is “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Duterte started on the right foot in offering his hand of friendship to enemies. He shouldn’t digress from this and start right away even before June 30.
One of his main selling points in the campaign was his vow to turn Manila Bay red with the blood of criminals. I hope his ascent to Malacañang will moderate this promise. We loathe to see the day when those who want to rid society of monsters become monsters themselves.
Incidentally, Duterte is correctly labeled as “presumptive President-elect.” He can’t be called “President-elect” until Congress, convened as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaims him as the duly-elected President. He becomes President only after taking his oath at noon of June 30.
Personal note: I want to greet a good friend, Mat Vicencio, on his birthday today. We covered the House together before he became editor and, now, ghost writer. Oh yes, he was very active in the campaign of Sen. Grace Poe, but I never got to write a favorable column about her despite our friendship.
Mat and I may be on different sides of the political fence but we never let this ruin our friendship.
The same goes with other old hands in media like Joe Javier and Bobby Capco, who supported Mar Roxas; Bert de Guzman and Mel Velasco, who were for Poe; and Rolly Carandang and Jess Matubis, of the Duterte camp.
Oh yes, I still believe that Miriam was the best candidate but now that Duterte is the incoming President, we should all set aside our political leanings and hope for the best under his administration.