Luczon: Communication: Duterte's Achilles' Heel?

FROM the election campaign to present, President Rodrigo Duterte is marred with communication gaps and gaffes.

His "colourful" personality and no-holds barred perspectives that were channeled through his statements or pronouncements only adds up to the already confounding layers after layers of meanings and interpretations.

He said it before many times, that to alter his personality to "fit" with the norms would become a grave mistake because, as he said, would only make him a different person - deviating from the real him.

Then so be it, that is why the communications team of Duterte have been rambling heaven and earth to explain the things "under the context" and premises. But doing it many times over seem to become a bad habit to the extent that other people are starting to doubt the president and the critics are waiting for the pounding.

And this reminds us, a number of professionals subtly belittle degrees in "communication," as it is almost next to uselessness in industrial practice. But who's the president now? A man of layered communication patterns that you need to deconstruct the messages first before taking everything, "hook, line and sinker."

This is when communication studies and practice are not only anchored based on actual field practice, but also it requires a certain degree of - and some "practitioners" are allergic to it - "academic" discourse.

However, there remains an apparent tragedy about to happen: the communications team, more so to those who were designated and even those who claimed themselves as mouthpieces of the president.

The recent gaffe is Secretary Martin Andanar's report on 18-man delegation from the United Nations to visit the country to investigate extrajudicial killings, but this was later clarified by Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay that there was no official news yet, at least for this week. He promised not to make mistakes is it not? But... human as we are.

Meanwhile, in the social media sphere, former Davao City councilor and then campaign information officer Peter LaviƱa drew flak after posting a photo of a dead rape victim, citing the need to push Duterte agenda. The problem is that the photo is not from the Philippines but somewhere in a country in Latin America.

Now recently, he is taking the bait again by reposting a "news" article about African presidents "praising" Duterte. Again the problem? The website where it comes from,, is obviously a fake news site.

Why it's fake? Looking at the website's content, it was obviously banking on Duterte's popularity for contents and lure online users to visit the sites. The more visitors, the more revenues for the website's owner/s and web traffic, the higher of possibility if clicking website advertisements - and it's money, many websites do this.

At least some would put a disclaimer that they are satire news sites, but even satire news can lure unsuspecting users and mistook the information they read online to be true, and they share it in social media and it will create a "viral" implication.

It is time Duterte needs to straighten up his communications, and the basic pattern in communicating is two-way: one receives, the other sends the messages and vice versa.

Duterte may need to reflect on this, he should. The political opposition is obviously desperate to unseat him, and the critics who are passionately against every existing of him sitting in MalacaƱang are feasting by flaws made by his alter-egos.

It is only a matter of time.

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