Malilong: Duterte showed he is no pushover

HAVE you watched the video of that press conference where President Duterte referred to U.S. President Barack Obama as a son of a whore? I have and my impression was that Obama was not really the object of Duterte's ire. The American leader was collateral damage.

This is no defense for Duterte. He has millions who will do and are doing that. But in fairness to the President, his harangue was actually directed at newspaper columnists whom Duterte did not name but who obviously incurred his ire for writing about the unsolved killings that have attended his war against illegal drugs. Unfortunately, as in previous instances where he made controversial statements, Duterte could no longer stop once he got started. That was when the sorry reference to Obama's ancestry was made.

So many things have been written about Duterte's outburst, mostly critical of him. The observations range from his being foul-mouthed to his having allegedly put in jeopardy the special relations between the United States and the Philippines.

We already know about Duterte’s propensity to curse when he’s provoked. He showed it during the campaign but if it did not bother us then, why should it matter now? Would his people love him as much if he reinvented himself and turn into a timid deer instead of a raging bull?

In fact, while Duterte may have indeed embarrassed himself and the nation when he shamed Obama, he also accomplished something that all his predecessors failed to do, which was to show the whole world that he is no pushover nor anybody’s fool. The international community is now sufficiently warned to exercise more caution in dealing with him if they don’t want to suffer his Obama treatment.

As to the fear that Duterte may have unnecessarily strained our friendship with the U.S., we need only to remind ourselves that a nation's foreign policy is anchored solely on its domestic interests. The Americans will continue to work closely with us, regardless of whether they like our president or not, because they need our friendship as much as we need theirs.

***

The word, according to the President's men:

"I thought the President is bright. Why did he do that? Maybe, he remembered that President Obama is already a lame-duck president. In a few months, he will leave his office." -- Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

"Even when there was no traffic, people say there was. A state of mind adds to the problem of traffic. Let's stop blaming traffic. If you're late, that's that." -- Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

"Emotions and the feelings of victims have no relevance to the issue" of a Marcos burial in the cemetery reserved for heroes because it is a political issue. -- Solicitor General Jose Calida.

A lame duck in politics is one whose influence in government affairs is on the wane because his term of office is ending. Bello therefore spoke the truth about Obama but aren't some truths better left unsaid?

Traffic in Manila was a campaign issue in the May elections. It now turns out that it was and is in fact a state of mind. The next time you get stuck in a horrendous bottleneck for hours, just keep telling yourself that it's not real and is only in the mind.

If you were raped, tortured or your loved one killed during martial law, don't look for sympathy from the SolGen. Your feelings are immaterial, impertinent and irrelevant. Sorry na lang.

(fmmalilong@gmail.com)
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