I feel anyone must remind President Duterte that though he’s head of state of the Philippines, it’s not ‘all about him’ and his fragile ego.
Yesterday, for instance, he gave a speech at the 119th anniversary celebration of his nation’s navy in Davao.
For the sailors and officers — and their wives, husbands and households — it was an enormous day. A day to indulge in the satisfaction their service deserves, to mirror on the final sacrifice of those that served earlier than them and to humbly obtain the reward and thanks of their commander-in-chief.
But then their president took to the podium, and launched into the most extraordinary, foul-mouthed rant about a few tweets written by former “first daughter” Chelsea Clinton.
To recap: Ms Clinton swallowed the bait after Mr Duterte informed troopers that he would take the blame for something stemming from the imposition of martial legislation, even when any troopers “rape up to three women”.
She wrote: “Not funny. Ever.” And then later: “Duterte is a murderous thug with no regard for human rights. It’s important to keep pointing that out, and that rape is never a joke.”
Okay, if I had been Mr Duterte, I might need to struggle my nook. Maybe I’d take to Twitter myself, or name a late-night press convention (when all the kiddy-winks are safely tucked up in mattress) and actually let rip on the privileged little cow.
But no. He wanted to get it off his chest at the first accessible alternative. In his trademark slurring, swaggering model, he mentioned: “These whores, they hear ‘rape’… I will tell her, when your father, the president of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls in the White House, how did you feel? Did you slam your father?”
As if that wasn’t sufficient, he then repeated himself, saying: “You Americans, Chelsea, be careful because you live in glass house. I repeat, when President Clinton was screwing Lewinsky, what was your statement or your reaction?”
Footage of the occasion reveals sailors and officers — dressed of their whiter-than-white costume uniforms with polished buttons gleaming in the solar — shifting uncomfortably of their seats.
Perhaps they anticipated their commander-in-chief to reward their efforts towards piracy in the Sulu Sea, or to remark on their exceptional self-discipline in ever-so gently holding the line towards Chinese expansionism in the South China… sorry, West Philippine Sea?
He may even have saluted them for his or her ambassadorial position in his international coverage pivot in the direction of China and Russia by welcoming their navies to Manila Bay, or maybe thanked them for the present maritime cordon round Mindanao?
But no, he determined his assembled viewers would a lot moderately hear some insults thrown towards a girl who was solely a toddler when her father had (consensual) [email protected] with Monica Lewinsky.
But that is nothing new, it appears the president has nice problem in distinguishing between what’s swirling round his head at any given time, and what’s applicable to incorporate in a speech.
In April, he was put in as Chief Boy Scout of the Philippines. Giving his acceptance speech, he averted the typical subjects about “doing a good deed every day” or “washing behind your ears” and as an alternative regaled a room full of youngsters (some as younger as 4) with blood-curdling threats.
“You drug addicts,” he mentioned. “Since you’ve been identified, avoid the streets, stay in your homes because I will throw you in Manila Bay. I’ll make you fertiliser for the fish.”
He then went on to advise the youngsters that an early grave was an appropriate profession choice, asking: “Who wants to be a soldier? Die for their country? I’m depending on that. I’m depending on you to become soldiers.”
A few weeks later he went even additional, apparently advocating cannibalism to an enthusiastic crowd of kids at an athletics occasion.
Describing what would occur if a terrorist was offered to him whereas he was in a “foul mood” he mentioned, “Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat his liver.”
After a ripple of nervous laughter from the younger crowd, he added: “It’s true, if you make me angry.”
Not a phrase praising their onerous work and dedication to coaching, nor any push for a more healthy, non-smoking, extra athletic Philippines.
No. Much higher to channel Hannibal Lecter (who not less than had the good style to serve his human liver with “a nice chianti”) and pour brutal ideas into younger impressionable minds.
At this level, I ought to say there’s a hell of quite a bit about Mr Duterte’s agenda that I, personally, agree with.
I consider his federal plans have the potential to take the sting out of the long-standing Moro craving for self-determination, I love his “build, build, build” give attention to infrastructure and I applaud that he’s the first president not solely enwrapped in the suffocating tentacles of the historic elite.
But can’t he simply be presidential at times? Behave like a head of state? Be an inspirational, aspirational determine? Or is that an excessive amount of to ask?