'Maverick' Duterte goes beyond communication playbook, says Andanar

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2016 07:40 PM

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday said, although President Rodrigo Duterte's communication team is equipped with the communications or public relations playbook, doing it for the chief executive requires some adjustments.

"The people are expecting, especially those in this business of communication, that we follow the playbook of the communications or public relations arena. We have that but the president is a maverick, he works outside of the box. Therefore, we had to adjust everything according to [it]," he said on ANC's Headstart.

Andanar said, the president listens to advise from his Cabinet but has a tendency to go "off the cuff," making it difficult to "to telegraph the punches of the president."

"Now its becoming clear that the president, until at the end of 6 years, he will be the chief architect of his communication policy," he said.

He maintained, however that it's only been 90 days and they are "very flexible with whatever the president says."

Former Security Adviser Jose Almonte meanwhile argued that "you can communicate your anger, your wrath, et cetera, in beautiful language."

Almonte said to be effective in communication, knowing the audience is key, and in Duterte's case, the heads of states are all watching.

Among them, he noted, is President Barack Obama, chief of superpower United States. The US, he said, ascended to that capacity because "they know how to manage human nature." He said, they know when to go to war, and that it would eventually have to settle with China. In the meantime, however, they proceed amicably with the Eastern power.

"For the moment, they are both very practical—where possible, they cooperate; where it is necessary, they compete. When it has become very difficult, the competition, they pause and they talk; but they don’t make cuss words," he said.

He added, there may be an underlying reason for Duterte's strategy.

"Frankly, I would like to give him credit. I don’t know, maybe I thinking too much outside the box. How do we know if he has his own strategy? That this is only a phase of his strategy, which all of us do not understand? How do we know that?," he said.

Almonte cited, he was once concerned with how Duterte would deal with Vice-President Leni Robredo immediately after the elections, but it turned out well eventually.

"I am giving him that concession. I do not know if it’s true. If it’s not true, then it is bad for all of us, bad for him," he said, adding that Duterte "should transition [his cussing] to a better language."

This is echoed by Andanar, who claimed that there is a reason for every statement the president makes.

"There is a reason for every statement that the president says, off-the-cuff statements. It’s not that he just blurts out, out of nowhere, pulls it out of his head. It’s not. Really, it’s not," he said.

"Has the president ever vilified a country? It’s just the personalities running the countries or running an embassy. It’s not the institution," he added.

One hundred days since Duterte took office, Andanar said, he is certain the president wants to "be five steps ahead" of his cabinet.