Cabaero: Strongman

THERE were people who cheered when President Rodrigo Duterte landed in the cover of Time magazine. They congratulated the President, and they said his opponents would surely be jealous.

What these people missed was that the tag of being one of the world’s strongmen, which was how Duterte was described in the magazine cover, was not something to be proud of but was a label of the worst kind for a nation’s leader.

Duterte, in fact, said just hours after the magazine report went online that he was not a strongman because he never abused his presidential powers and he never sent a critic to jail.

The cover story to appear in the Time issue of May 14, 2018 is titled “Rise of the Strongman” and placed Duterte in the same category as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. All four were described as tough-talking populists who promise to protect “us” from “them.”

“Depending on who’s talking, ‘them’ can mean the corrupt elite or the grasping poor; foreigners or members of racial, ethnic or religious minorities. Or disloyal politicians, bureaucrats, bankers or judges. Or lying reporters. Out of this divide, a new archetype of leader has emerged. We’re now in the strongman era.”

The article described Duterte as someone who “talked more like a mob boss than a President, on his promises to wipe out the drug trade with his own brand of justice.”

Duterte, in reacting to the report, said he is not a strongman because he respects the people’s right to free expression.

“When did I act like a king in the Philippines? I won the presidency by six-million (edge over rivals). For most of the people, I was the only one carrying the message appropriate for the time,” Duterte said in a SunStar Philippines report.

“I have never sent anybody to jail for criticizing me. (You) can criticize me and bulls***t me to no end. I will take that. You know why? You are my employer. I am an employee. I am just a government worker,” he said.

Duterte’s reaction to the “strongman” tag was different from the way it was welcomed and celebrated by some netizens.

Maybe it was because Filipinos are not native English speakers that the “strongman” definition is taken differently or it could be that they didn’t bother to read and understand. That is one reason for the spread of fake news or fake understanding of the news. People only saw how Duterte made it to the Time magazine cover but not why he was there or how “strongman” was a sign of ignominy.

Read before you react. This was an advice given by media organizations in last week’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day. It is good advice, especially to people quick to react with little or no discernment.

As to Duterte’s “strongman” tag, it is not an international news magazine but the Filipino people who, in the end, will decide based on track record whether or not Duterte was like Putin and the rest who disregarded civil rights.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.