The kind of S.O.B.
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2018 - 12:00am

From the beginning when he first assumed office in June 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte conceded he could not – and would not – break off from making curses that punctuate his extemporaneous speeches. The former Davao City Mayor would recite over and over again he was not elected to become a statesman who must always try to conform to protocols and diplomacy.

At every chance in his extemporaneous speeches, the Chief Executive admits he could not shed off his public persona as a tough talking and foul-mouthed official, an image he gained since he first entered government service as a prosecutor.

After all – President Duterte would always justify his expletives – he was voted by 16 million Filipinos, six million of whom gave him the winning margin over his closest presidential rival during the May 2016 elections.

“A leader elected by the people should be obeyed even if he is a “son of a b_ _ _ _,” President Duterte told soldiers at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City last Saturday. “Because in this country, we are a democracy, according to the Constitution, we have the sovereignty as a people. But since we cannot exercise that sovereign power at all times together, we give it to people who are elected by the nation,” President Duterte pointed out.

“So even if you choose a son of a b_ _ _ _   president, if he is chosen by the people, we can not do anything... We will just bear it and obey him if, but not the illegal and unlawful ones,” he pointed out.

Thus, President Duterte can be called a “son of a b_ _ _ _,” or S.O.B. for short, but he is the kind of S.O.B. who got the mandate of the Filipino people.

If he can dish it out, at least President Duterte can also take the hit to describe himself as an S.O.B.

This reminded me of an incident involving Congressman Jose “Joey” Salceda of Albay who was then Governor when he flippantly once called former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as may be the “luckiest bitch” around. But Salceda confessed she is “my kind of bitch” that the country needs. Salceda later admitted he was merely trying to exaggerate by way of this joke in a public forum at the Ateneo Graduate Schools in February 2008.

A former A+ student in economics of then professor Arroyo at the Ateneo de Manila, Salceda is considered as one of her closest economic advisers.

Obviously, Salceda’s audience of intellectuals, like him, were not amused by his “bitch” language when he noted they fell silent and did not laugh. He could not deny having blurted out the “bitch” word because it was caught on video.

Apologizing later profusely to her, Salceda explained the “bitch” meant her being “mataray” (loosely translated means bitchy) who scathed in public at any official who gets the short end of her fuse.

Mrs. Arroyo accepted his public apology for off-the-cuff comment to her as the “luckiest bitch” when it was blurted on the context of the continued economic growth under her watch even as her administration was hounded by political crisis at every turn.

Entering now his second year in office at Malacañang Palace, the unorthodox style of leadership of President Duterte continues to shock the international community. But for us Filipino people, President Duterte’s gangster-like speaking seems to be no longer shocking us from our commonsense. 

His latest foreign critics now include United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein. The UN official was taking issue to UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz being included in a list of communist-leaning personalities whom the Philippine government wants formally declared as terrorists. Taking up the cudgels for Corpuz, Al-Hussein remarked President Duterte should undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs has left more than 3,000 persons dead which human rights advocates believe were encouraged by his fiery rhetoric “to kill” those involved in the drug menace has emboldened government authorities to commit extrajudicial killings. While the Commander-in-chief vows to take full responsibility for the actions of policemen and soldiers involved in the crackdown, Duterte administration officials insist these are not state-sanctioned killings.

Incidentally, was it not that President Duterte once twitted S.O.B. to former US President Barack Obama? The expletive was actually drawn out from him by a reporter who threw a banana-peel like question during a press conference at the airport before he left the country for Laos to attend the ASEAN Summit in September 2016. He was asked how he intends to explain to then outgoing President Obama, who was joining him at the ASEAN-US summit talks, should the latter raise the issue about the much-reported rising cases of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Barely three months into office at that time, President Duterte was already under severe criticisms for the growing number of drug suspects being killed when the Philippine National Police first launched its “Oplan Tokhang” anti-drug campaign. President Duterte slipped and fell prey when he could just have dismissed the reporter’s question as being hypothetical.

From an imagined situation, President Duterte got pissed and replied Mr. Obama should be respectful and refrain from throwing questions at him about the killings, “[or] son of a b_ _ _ _, I will swear at you in that forum.” And the rest, as we say, is history when the two Presidents got into the wrong foot even before they could formally meet for the first time.

 From hindsight, the S.O.B. label to Mr. Obama turns out to be a compliment coming no less from a self-proclaimed S.O.B., President Duterte himself.

*      *      *

It’s our third anniversary today at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Café Adriatico in Remedios Circle. We are having Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar on the “fake news” issue, and Director Pocholo Paragas of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to talk about Boracay rehabilitation.

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