There is a lot of wailing and weeping in the Philippines lately. Most of the noise is coming from critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. His critics appear to be disappointed that there was hardly any fallout after his tirade against U.S. President Barack Obama before he left for the ASEAN summit in Laos. They were expecting it would all be downhill for Dutere since the international media went on a frenzy, some giving him scathing criticism. Even after President Obama assured everyone that he didn’t take Duterte’s comment personally, Duterte’s critics still insist that his latest “gaffe” would spell disaster for the country.
Fortunately for the Philippines, the predicted doom and gloom scenario did not happen. The issue, as it turns out, was simply overblown by mostly local journalists who either wanted a scoop or still held a grudge against Duterte for the snub they copped from him. Their loyalty to the country has now become questionable. Being Filipino, it was baffling the way these journalists screwed up the translation of their own language especially the cuss term putang ina. Their false interpretation of Duterte’s favorite expression gave the international community a negative impression of the Philippine President.
You would think that Filipino journalists would ensure they give the most accurate interpretation of their own language and cultural nuances considering that foreign correspondents rely on them. But, no. It seems Filipino journalists (some, not all) prioritise clickbait type of news reporting over accuracy and integrity. One can’t help but think that some members of mainstream media in the Philippines are not patriotic. They seem to apply that all-too-familiar colonial mentality to their work. This is evident in how they do not care if their own President is ridiculed by the outside world as a result of their own biased reporting. Indeed, Filipino journalists inject malice along with their “facts” in their work.
Meanwhile on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, Duterte’s critics are showing their double standards. They conveniently share articles from foreign media outlets that are critical of Duterte only. Their actions are so illogical since a foreigner’s interpretation of the term “putang ina” is most likely inaccurate. Yet they still share articles built on that flawed interpretation in forums and discussion boards just to prove that Duterte’s reputation is already in tatters. It’s like they are wishing it would be the end of Duterte’s administration. It’s worth mentioning that Duterte’s critics are the same people who hate overseas based Filipinos who comment on or dip into current issues about the Philippines. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
Just to be clear, I myself wish Duterte wasn’t so abrasive. I’ve always known that his foul mouth could pose a problem in diplomatic relations both locally and international. As mentioned before, his foul language is distracting some people from focusing on his good intentions. Not everyone is the same. While some people can ignore how the message was delivered, there are some who focus more on form instead of substance. These people miss Duterte’s important message that Filipinos do not have to answer to anyone outside of the Philippines when it comes to dealing with their own problems.
Duterte wants Filipinos to think outside the box. He wants Filipinos to stop being beholden to the Americans and to do away with colonial mentality. He wants the outside world to treat Filipinos as their equal. The only way to achieve that is for Filipinos themselves to believe that they are worthy to be treated as such. If Filipinos continue to kiss the ass of their former colonial masters, they will continue to be treated like second-class citizens. The real question is, why do Filipinos need to kiss Westerners’ asses in the first place? And the answer to that is, because Filipinos are still too dependent on international assistance from the West especially during calamities from both man-made and natural disasters.
Some of Duterte’s critics are saying that Filipinos have lost the respect of the international community. In my opinion, a lot of them already harbour a low regard for us to begin with. They see people from Third World countries like the Philippines as moochers. They feel like they can walk all over us because they give us so much money and help whenever a disaster strikes. Perhaps a fallout after Duterte’s tirade against Obama would be good for the Philippines in the long run. Maybe, just maybe once the assistance from Westerners that Filipinos have gotten used to getting stops coming, Filipinos can find a way to stand on their own feet and finally earn some global respect.
Don’t get me wrong. I do agree that Duterte’s tirade was unfair to Obama. While I realise that Duterte was speaking only in hypothetical terms – that he was only giving warning that he would get pissed off if Obama questions the way he is handling the drug epidemic in the Philippines – I felt sorry that Obama had to be the recipient of Duterte’s venting. Obama is such a nice guy after all. Then again, perhaps this is why some people perceive Obama as weak. Or his pacifist attitude could be just a front. After all, it was him who ordered his marines to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden.
There are reports saying that Duterte showed the ASEAN summit delegates photos of how Americans slaughtered Moros in Mindanao in the 1900s. It seems like Duterte took the opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of the Americans since the superpower has itself been accused of human rights atrocities in their own country and abroad for decades. Some are also blaming the US for the refugee crisis in Europe — a result of their failed foreign policy in the Middle East.
Whether Duterte’s critics agree that his actions were inappropriate or not doesn’t really matter. It is apparent that Duterte is charting a different course for the Philippines. It could be one that could lead us to a more independent Philippines. How this will play out remains to be seen. This is definitely not boring times for Filipinos and the rest of the world. It could be time to fasten our seat belts.