President Rodrigo Duterte’s self-proclaimed “epiphany” from what he thought came from God on a flight back home shouldn’t be taken as iron clad assurance by the Americans or the US and other countries who were the unwilling and unwanted beneficiaries of his tongue-lashing of a positive change in his ways – more so his political enemies like his favorite Sen. Leila de Lima.
The President recounted to media, no doubt tongue-in-cheek, that he was told by God that he would crash the plane he was riding on that time if he doesn’t repent and quit insulting people and speaking cuss words all the time.
By now, a lot of people have heard the story. When he was applauded, President Duterte cautioned them not to applaud too loudly lest he’s unable to fulfill his vow. But then he’s made these promises before and had even vowed to bill himself P5,000 for every cuss word he speaks in public.
Anyone making a recording of all his public speeches in which he uttered the “P” word—translated in English as “son of a whore” and liberally spoken against US President Barack Obama and other world leaders who dare question his war on drugs—would have realized that he already had a lot to pay for literally speaking if we go by his previous announcement.
That said, his pronouncement whether true or not may be welcome news to the US, whose top diplomat for Asia, said President Duterte’s remarks have unsettled them and their allies in the Asia Pacific.
Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was quoted as saying that the President’s controversial statements about breaking away from economic and military partnerships with the US as well as his cursing have created a climate of uncertainty in Asia for them and their allies.
While Russel’s statements may serve to bolster the President’s ego and his allies, Mr. Duterte’s provocations are calibrated as he said in order to redefine the country’s foreign policy.
But this can be done without the President’s propensity for gutter language which he uses as a form of social defense and as an excuse to hit his ardent critics most of whom are the intelligentsia and the elite.
It is his gutter language and folksy mannerisms that have supposedly connected with the masses who voted him to power last May. But it’s not just the masses that dominate this country even if they comprise the greater majority of the population.
And it’s not just the elite either who, despite their minority, control most of the country’s resources. It is the middle class, the linchpin of society, some of whom voted for Duterte while others didn’t, that questioned the President’s disposition and found his cursing tiresome and threatening.
President Duterte promised for the nth time that he will stop cursing, but again it remains to be seen if he can do it.
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