HE WAS ADVISED. HE JUST NEVER LISTENS.

On their radio program, anchors Anthony Taberna and Gerry Baja said the other day that only those who voted for President Duterte during the last election have the right to criticize him.

Duh! Seryoso ba ang dalawang payaso na ‘to?

Totoo nga that the President was installed into power by more than 16 million voters. Totoo rin that he won with a wide margin of victory over the other candidates. Subalit kahit na ang numerong ito constitutes only 15% of our total population, si Rodrigo Duterte, under our Constitution, ang kinikilala at dapat talagang kilalaning Pangulo ng ating bansa. Ang ibig sabihin, he is the president, not only of his 16M supporters, but of the 102M Filipinos in the country. And, as such, he is accountable to all of us.

If there’s one adjective that would fit President Duterte to a T, it would have to be “unpredictable”. And this unpredictability is what’s landing us to a lot of trouble these past 100 days.

During speeches, no one from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has any idea kung ano ang mga sasambitin ng Pangulo o kung kanino nakasentro ang kanyang hard-hitting commentaries and pronouncements. Tulad nating mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan, the PCOO people and the presidential spokespersons are nothing more than engrossed spectators. Nahihimasmasan lamang sila and are galvanized into action once the President is done with his tirades and they need to consolidate all their efforts to, somehow, weaken the adverse impact of Digong’s words.

Paano kamo? Ganito po.

They explain his latest pronouncement as something made in jest or due to the rush of emotion or heat of the moment.

They make his remarks more palatable for public consumption by deodorizing, sanitizing and sterilizing his words. If these do not work, they resort to sugar-coating or twisting.

They interpret his statements to ensure that they will not be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misquoted, taken out of context, or lost in translation.

They make appeals to the media and the public for deeper understanding for the noble motives behind those pronouncements.

They make people understand that those remarks could be adversely affected by the President’s foul mood, other human frailties, or even by the time of day the speech was made.

They introduce and acclimatize the people to Duterte speak and hyperboles, sarcasm and slips of the tongue.

They encourage people to learn the fine arts of reading Digong’s mind and deciphering his every word, and of using their “creative imagination” in interpreting his remarks. Sabi pa nga ni presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, “Let us not be literal.”

They make swift rebuttals to the criticisms made by the “yellows”, the “bleeding hearts”, and the “hypocrites”.

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The presidential apologists and interpreters. (PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar is not in the picture). Photo credit: professionalheckler.files

Pero sa maraming pagkakataon, all these efforts do not work.

With his dirty mouth and controversial stances, President Duterte has successfully antagonized the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the Christians all over the world, the Jewish community, the human and women’s rights advocates, the local and international media, the Martial Law victims and their families, and pretty much the international community.

In this age of globalization, I dread the possibility of the Philippines being a hermit kingdom. Apparently, hindi ako nag-iisa. Marami pa rin ang naglalakas-loob na punahin ang Presidente sa kabila ng pag-aalala na sapitin din nila ang naging kapalaran ng mga kritiko ni Pangulong Duterte, kagaya nina Sen. De Lima, CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno, US Pres. Obama, UN special Rapporteur for summary executions Agnes Callamard, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, mga Obispo at kaparian, at marami pang iba. (I am still awaiting kung ano ang mangyayari kina Agot Isidro at Edgar Matobato.)

I read somewhere that in this world of Mocha Usons, we should salute the likes of Agot Isidros who stand up, speak up, and make sure that their voices are heard.

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Photo credit: newsfeed.ph

Here are the pieces of advice from some of the people who, like Agot Isidro, dared.

GMA’s Cabinet Sec. Ignacio Bunye: Please, Mr. President. Immediately renounce your Japanese citizenship. Stop being Rodrigo Nakamura. No more talk about abolishing Congress. No more talk about your dislike for Catholic prelates. And control that dirty finger.

Former Sen. and Diplomat Leticia Ramos-Shahani: We don’t need to make enemies to make new friends and that is the art of diplomacy. So I think, our President, if I may have to say so, has to take a beginner’s course in diplomacy.

Former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte: Based on what is done in the [present administration’s] last 100 days, I say it’s exceptional. [But] If he can make his colorful statements colorless, that’s a big change for me. [Also] The Philippines could remain as friends with our old allies like America, but at the same time, we can be friends with all others including enemies of America. This will be the best policy. Let’s maintain friendship with our allies but work hard to be friends to others.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas: There is virtue in silence. There is virtue in speech. Wisdom is knowing when it is time for silence and when is the timing for speech.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman: The President must avoid outlandish and provocative statements with detrimental consequences. The mouth must be the oracle of discreet and studied statements, not ill-conceived and outrageous utterances.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan: As President of our nation, he represents all 100 plus million Filipinos both here and abroad, including myself, my wife, and my children. Thus every time he speaks in public, depending on what he says and how he says it, all of us Filipinos can be affected either positively or negatively. We appeal to the President to exercise greater restraint and to choose his words carefully when he speaks out on various matters now that he is President of the entire nation and no longer just the Mayor of Davao City.

Vice-President Leni Robredo: Marami kaming mga personal na pakiramdam na hindi dapat sinasabi sa publiko dahil sa aming position. Kaya kay President, paalala lang siguro sa kanya na what he says is policy kaya maiging mas maging careful. As far as diplomacy is concerned, baka makakatulong na mas deliberate, mas pinag-iisipan bago nagsasalita.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson: What is the point of saying sorry when, in the next vein, magsasalita ka naman ng ika-ka sorry mo? Dapat lesson ‘yan. How many times has he said sorry already? Marami-rami na rin eh.

Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon: We have to protect the country from bad statements and the President has the duty to be a statesman. He must not be heard saying all [those] bad words.

Maingay ang Pangulo, sobrang ingay ng Pangulo. Tama lang na ipakita niya na galit siya sa droga pero huwag na siyang mag-ingay na ‘I will kill you. Hindi tama ‘yan. Kaya he is falling on his own sword, nadadapa siya sa kanyang espada dahil salita siya ng salita. Napagbibintangan tuloy ang bansa na ‘yan ang nangyayari.

Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas: I would advise the President, huwag na ho kayo magsalita. Magtrabaho na lang kayo. Siguro (he should not speak) until such time he gets to adjust.

Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla: Listen. Listen. Listen. I will tell him, “Digong, God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Which means that we have to listen twice as much as we speak. But it’s the reverse eh. That’s why we are in trouble.

I am worried about him as a friend. I think, he has a problem and we need to help him. He is in the course of self-destruction, without even knowing that he is ruining himself. If he can only listen and not talk too much, earn friends instead of enemies, he can become the greatest President of the Philippines.

[If I get to see Digong] I would say to him that what you are doing now, your mother may not like it. I’ll say also that this is not the Digong I knew.

Senate President Koko Pimentel: I won’t tell him to zip his dirty mouth entirely. He just needs to use it less often. I won’t tell him to eliminate cursing. Maybe just don’t do it 100 times. Be yourself, but everything in moderation.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos: I find our Team Philippines losing in the first 100 days of Duterte’s administration – and losing badly. This is a huge disappointment and let-down to many of us. Are we throwing away decades of military partnership, tactical proficiency, compatible weaponry, predictable logistics, and soldier-to-soldier camaraderie just like that? Ours is not to heap more brickbats on Pres. Duterte – because he has had more than enough already – but to help enable him to transform (thru his own efforts) from a mere provincial official to a capable international player at the head of 101 million multi-cultured Filipinos.

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Photo credit: eaglenews.ph

Ang sabi ng Malacañang, hindi raw bingi ang Presidente sa payo ng kanyang mga kaalyado. Subalit, bakit ganun? Matapos ang pagpuna sa kanya ni Sen. Gordon, ito  ang kanyang naging pahayag. “You say that my mouth is not for a statesman, whoever told you I was applying for a statesman?

Hay naku, bayan. Saan ka igigiya ni Pangulong Duterte?

He was advised – many times.

He just never listens.

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