DUTERTE may be considered the most enigmatic president the Philippines has ever have. Sometimes he is predictable, other times he is unfathomable, but many times he is simply Duterte, the man with many faces, tricks and communicative arts.
He makes moves no one knows whether it’s for real or not, whether he will make them good or not, or simply making a ruse to meet his hidden tactical objective.
He promised to end the menace of illegal drugs in few months. When pressed for his failure to meet his own self-imposed deadline and brutal campaign, he turned to local government officials and police officers drug protectors as the ones sabotaging his campaign. Then he offered the post of anti-drug czar to VP Leni Robredo which excited some quarters. Then he terminated Robredo’s services. Since then Duterte is silent on this matter making friends and foes guess what’s next. Meanwhile, the campaign continues.
He promised to end armed conflict with the reds in his term. Yet his state security forces and psy ops experts waged ferocious attacks in all fronts against them, while he keep on offering and cancelling peace talks with the reds.
Right now, no one knows from either party, whether the latest peace talks he offered will be pursued or not.
He promised to end corruption in government, yet he also fires appointees in various positions faster than he recycle and hire them. He created the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission yet nobody knows how many are being investigated and are already in the pipeline of officials for firing.
Nobody knows how he is proceeding with this campaign against crooks because he doesn’t lay bare his cards and stratagem. All we can expect is that somehow, sometime and somewhere he will again announce list of officials he will fire for corruption or even just a whiff of it.
He has all along been throwing stingy criticisms on the US and at the same time, opening his other cards to US strategic enemies, China and Russia.
Lately, he made true his threat to terminate Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) without Senate concurrence. His foreign secretary has already served the notice of termination to US and wait for 180 days to take effect.
Meantime, senators and House of Representatives are caught flat footed with Duterte’s move, making them look stupid whether to pursue the VFA review or not.
Panelo has repeatedly affirmed Duterte’s move, even giving it a big hand for his firmness and decisiveness.
Whether or not the US will renegotiate or whatever within 180 days, nobody really knows. But it is not also impossible for Duterte to reconsider his decision and on his own terms regardless whether it strengthens national sovereignty or diminishes it.
The Amboy military generals can use the VFA termination issue to demand bigger stakes in whatever negotiation may take place. The reds and the left movement could also make use of the issue to drum beat their anti-US protest campaigns and put a broad anti-imperialist united front, or whatever.
Meanwhile, Duterte continues to rally the common folks to his various commitments, projects, promises, tricks and even coronavirus and Taal eruption issues - using the language of the streets, language of the masa, to keep him and the country popular on the global map.
It takes to decipher the many faces, tricks and communicative skills of Duterte to understand and even predict where he is bringing this country to.
Others call him this and that. To me I find it amazing to call him the enigmatic Duterte.