Is showing off as a vulgar and profane man of the masses now a tool in a politician’s play kit?
Let us try this angle. One man’s ‘conspiracy theory.’ Mine. There is an undeniably unequivocal audio-visual TV film clip of Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte saying: “Pope, putang ina KA. Umuwi KA na!” (Pope, you S.O.B. Go Home!) There is absolutely no way of misinterpreting the harsh disrespectfulness of that utterance. He spoke before a partisan rally last Friday in reference to a traffic jam he was caught in last January during the visit of Pope Francis.
READ AND WATCH:
Duterte under fire for cursing Pope Francis
But I do not believe he actually said that in January. There is no evidence that, in fact, he did. Except that last Friday he seemed inspired to remember (or concoct). For political histrionics, he was supposedly reminiscing, imagining, trying to be funny, bragging irreverently, playing up to the gallery, showing off a degree of vulgarity that he calculated will endear him some more to his chorus.
So there! It backfired. That Friday moment …PPIKUKN….has self-ensnared him. An affliction diagnosed as “foot-in-mouth” disease. Chastised by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for his display of gross uncouth effrontery, he denies being disrespectful to “my Pope.”
READ: Duterte: I can never curse my Pope
Instead, he threatens: “I will destroy the Church…..,” “….this religion is not so sacred,” adding that he was among the victims of child abuse by priests. (Is Duterte justifying his bent of character as a consequence of child abuse?) And, that would reveal some more secrets. Offense as defense is now late, not to say sadly lame.
READ: Duterte claims abuse in Catholic school
WHAT MAKES DUTERTE TICK
Now that a window into the psychic apparatus of Rodrigo R. Duterte has opened, a beeline has formed. Cyberspace traffic, mostly. Evidently, there is still much to like about the man. Unabashed defenders have surfaced to be counted. That is, they who look for instant (or prospects thereof) gratification and enjoy public profanity. Likewise there is much to be wary about. Proclivities towards, as well as actual experience with, moral shortcuts and expediencies are worrisome. Never mind being severely ill-mannered. Goodness, he even brags about his extra judicial solutions to crimes in his home turf! (And his salacious extra-marital encounters, too!)
For starters, let me share a morsel of acquired wisdom. Information being made available through social media must always be subjected to verification. Perhaps a self-check mechanism wired into our consciousness is apropos. Never believe everything that you read, hear or view. A listing of mainstream media as reliable, credible sources of useful information is a worthwhile daily companion.
One’s mindset is already an indication of how an individual assesses messages received through social media. Nursing a predisposition towards an issue or an individual is simply being human. Therefore, prey to error. Truth can easily be the first victim of free access to cyberspace. Trolls of whatever persuasion are now all out in force. ‘Tis the looney tunes season, after all! Difficult it might be to adapt, prudence and caution are good habits to nurture. One need not be habitually negative and skeptical, as to easily fall into cynicism, but it helps to have an inquisitive, inquiring mind before arriving at a decision or conclusion based on Internet-derived bits of information. Check. Double-check. Trust, sure, but verify.
Now, back to “Duts.” (An endearing short for Duterte. Apparently, that is how his ex-wife refers to him.) A few days ago on Facebook, we encountered a posting with Elizabeth Zimmerman-Duterte’s photo-cum-a quoted derogatory statement against the Davao City Mayor, purporting to have come personally from her. “I was a battered wife, both emotionally and physically,” the posting quoted her. From her hospital sick bed, attempting to conquer Stage 3 cancer, she denied being the source of the posting. (See what I mean!) A rebuttal picture from the Duterte barkers (also posted on Facebook) shows a concerned and caring ex-husband on a hospital bedside visit. The former Mrs. Duterte, however, was not quoted as having denied that “Duts” was a philandering wife abuser! (She was the one who filed for annulment and left bed and board.)
READ: Duterte slammed for 'womanizing, cursing Pope'
It has now become too obvious that Duterte has baggage chasing after him. Mostly statements he has unleashed even while still denying a craving for the Presidency, before finally filing his Certificate of Candidacy. Who is able to forget: “I do not want to be President. I do not want to kill people so do not elect me President.” “I will abolish Congress!” His admitted participation in Davao City’s serial gangland rub-outs seems to have grown almost legendary. He has not been shy about having blood on his hands. He obviously glories in that infamy. And yet there is pronounced adulation from otherwise responsible quarters.
What makes Duterte tick as a public persona? Does he exhibit instinctive impulses that reveal a disturbed inner self? Beyond political management expertise and experience, native intelligence, political resolve and will, he has partisan machinery and financial backing, indispensable ingredients in gunning for the Presidency. But they are all basic elements of amoral expediency. Including public vulgarities! Ultimately, there is character. Character defines the prospects of a candidate’s modus and capacity for governance.
Not that he is not already a ’character,’ but like every human being, Duterte possesses mental and moral qualities distinctive of his individuality. I am not espousing a Rorschach. Resorting to demands for a psychiatric profile is cheap and filthy. But his behavior and pronouncements during the days following his filing for candidacy as a “substitute” is indeed revealing. And what has been revealed is disturbing. Is the voting public now acquiring useful knowledge about this candidate? If he is allowed to continue as an officially recognized candidate, caveat emptor/buyer beware is the mature, civilized way to go. Let him be judged by the electorate.
Responsive and responsible democracy, for now--in the Philippines, bears a message that might be difficult for the undiscerning majority to absorb given their propensity for sheer popularity. The onus of spreading political maturity and enlightenment necessarily falls upon the better endowed in our society. It ought therefore to be a challenging apostolate for the A's, B's and some C's in civil society to win out in mass civics edification. (What are you doing about it?) Otherwise, the ‘great unwashed,’ veritable wards of the State’s benevolence, will be the ones who will steer and run the course of the national Ship. Forget the proletariat. It could very well be a dictatorship of the voting destitute should the apostolate fail.
'I KEEL YOU'
As we continue to mull the moral pretzel that Duterte has revealed himself to be, I am irresistibly drawn to Jeff Dunham and his ventriloquists’s dummy, Achmed.
WATCH: JEFF DUNHAM VIDEOS
In the unlikely event that you have not yet met him, let me introduce you to Achmed. Described as a skeletal corpse, an incompetent suicide bomber, a Dead Terrorist, a ‘failed bad guy.’ He is today the world’s most celebrated dummy to ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. Achmed is what Charlie McCarthy was to Edgar Bergen, ventriloquist/comedian of the 1940s qnd 50s. Jeff Dunham is now one of America’s highest earning comedians, worth an estimated US$ 100 million, with world wide gigs and at least 400 million hits on YouTube.
And why do I bring this up? It is because Achmed’s favorite expletive and repetitive expression, at every given opportunity is: “I KEEL YOU!” Such is his drawing card. Such is Achmed’s fame. “I KEEL YOU!” Does it not sound very like Duterte?
Let us not forget that the last time we elected a President with avowedly blood on his hands, he turned out to be a ruthless dictator. He padlocked Congress when he declared Martial Law. The evisceration of the country’s moral fabric became inevitable and we have yet to recover from the ravages. Ferdinand Marcos’s barkers and drumbeaters paid him accolades, not only for his anting-anting (superstitious amulets) and his astute exercise of power for political supremacy but for his possession of a “killer instinct.”
More than “I will abolish Congress,” “I will destroy the Church,“ and “I kill you!”, it is the loose exuberance with which the Mayor of Davao City has called Pope Francis an S.O.B. that has determined whether he will survive his self-administered disaster. And he thought he was just being funny!
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(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog/opinion piece are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.