I CALL him the Filipino Spence,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, referring to Trade & Industry Ramon Lopez and GOP candidate for vice president Mike Spence.
That was after Lopez explained President Duterte’s stunning Oct. 20 announcement in Beijing about “separating” from the US. Lopez, like some of his colleagues in the Cabinet, walked back a controversial statement of Duterte.
Spence would’ve done the same thing for standard bearer Trump.
Odious as comparisons turn out, the Americans have seen some similarity of the verbal habits of the Philippine president and the wannabe US president. The disagreement, some say, is over who makes worse wreckage.
Duterte and Trump, both highly visible in media radar of their respective countries, have been mired in disputes caused by rhetoric: Trump in his bitter fight with Democratic contender Hillary Clinton and Duterte in his war on illegal drugs.
Duterte undervalues what come out of his mouth: his mouth is insignificant, he said. Trump places top premium on what he talks about: they’ve propelled him through the primaries to the homestretch of the US elections.
What may put them on some common level is the furor or confusion that their utterances create, which often send Trump surrogates or Duterte spokespersons identically scrambling to explain, rectify or damage-control.
Trump’s surrogates include Spence. Among Duterte’s spokespersons in Beijing was DTI Chief Lopez.
If for nothing else, a Filipino Cabinet secretary got White House attention. The incident also tells us that confounding others is not the monopoly of our president--and there are always aides who rush to take out the foot from the offending mouth and minimize the harm done.
Not an unusual situation in governance except that when it happens so often, you might ask how they got, or why they should be, in office.