MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's manner of speaking against Western leaders reflects the angst of a Mindanaoan who knows his region's history, his social media director from days of campaign said Wednesday.
In his first months in office, Duterte, the first Philippine president to hail from the troubled region, grabbed international headlines with his tough-talk, many of which are directed towards the West.
Pompee La Viña, Duterte's former social media director, insisted that Duterte's tirades "is the angst of a Mindanaoan who reads a lot of history."
In an interview with ANC's "Early Edition," La Viña argued that if one reads Philippine history, one will be "enraged" because the country was "oppressed for over 300 years by a foreign European power," then when it was on the brink of independence, the Americans [sic] "came in and took away that freedom from us."
"If you read this thousands killed in Mindanao, slaughtered…If you read that and you internalize history, it really is an enraging history," he said.
"Some people can contain their anger, some people cannot and some people are maybe expressing that anger to awaken maybe the rest of his countrymen...that we should not take everything the West tells us," he added.
He insisted that Duterte is drawing from something because "Mindanao really suffered."
"Mindanao never really surrendered to the foreign powers and they paid dearly for that. So, may pinag-huhugutan talaga yang emotion na 'yan," he said.
La Viña also believes Duterte's speaking manner could also be "educational" to tell the Filipinos "not quiver in our knees in fear every time the west says something that we should be doing things a certain way."
The third reason, he said, could be "to make a point" through a hyperbole, "to get noticed, for the EU (European Union) to get the message."
Just recently, the EU asked a Philippine envoy to explain Duterte's "unacceptable" remarks, saying he would be happy to hang foreign officials who oppose his anti-drug and pro-death penalty campaigns.
La Viña believes the West is "a little bit hypocritical" in reacting to the deaths related to Duterte's drug war when thousands were killed in the war they waged in "their pursuit of national interest."
"It’s kind of hypocritical for the West to have that standard for themselves—that if it is to their national interest, it’s acceptable that civilians would be bombed even if it’s by mistake—then holding us to a different standard."
RESULTS OF TOUGH-TALK
La Viña, who insists on not lecturing Duterte on communication strategy, touted the "results" the country received from the chief executive's manner of speech.
"We’re getting massive investments from China. massive investments from Japan. The US seems to be taking a more respectful view towards us, looking at it more as a partnership rather than a colonial power looking at its colony," he said.
"I think overall, siguro he can be more diplomatic—that wouldn’t hurt—pero in terms of achieving the objectives, which is to put the interest of the Filipino people forward, I think he’s done a good job," he added.