“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”—George Eliot
Perhaps a temporary truce between the news media and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte would help, if only to give them time to process what has happened between them.
But an end to the press conferences and other face-to-face meetings with journalists, as what Duterte has declared, is a loss to both, thus a disservice to the public.
The intermission should give Duterte in particular a chance to review the tapes of his own press-con performances and see how he might do better, especially once installed as President.
The media, on the other hand, could themselves make their own adjustments.
I can’t pretend to know how either side should do it, but we the people ourselves could use the time to wash away all the unpleasantness we’ve been subjected to, and begin again. Press cons, after all, are part and parcel of our democratic tradition; we expect them to resume on June 30 at the very latest.
Perhaps once Duterte is out of his parochial kingdom of Davao, where he appears almost a cult, the simple presidential recognition would set in: He now leads the entire country, and with the territory comes a commensurate responsibility for the greater good. It’s a responsibility that cannot be properly borne without listening to the nation.
I, for one, dearly wish he would awaken to that—after an old friend of his from law school, now his anointed executive secretary, Salvador Medialdea, has given us an idea precisely of his aversion to unsolicited advice. Medialdea says he has learned to bow to “Rody’s wisdom” and swears that, in the end, Rody has always been proven right, thus seeming to advise us to do the same.
How ironic that the very man who wants drastic change seems himself cast in stone, closed-minded, unyielding, and, as a diagnosis of his condition in a public document shows, narcissistic. But he may yet have a funny bone in him, I pray; if he does, as I seem to have sensed, he can’t be all that bad.
Indeed, he has said that, once sworn into office, he would metamorphose like a caterpillar into a butterfly. I detected a mischievous glint in his eye when he said it, as if suddenly he saw in his mind the ridiculous image of himself as a butterfly.
He might have laughed had he not stopped himself. Instead he abruptly stood up to signal the end of the press con, but not before talking tough again amid murmurs of either disbelief or hope at his promised metamorphosis: “Ah keep quiet, all of you!”
Unfortunately, he cannot as easily dismiss media or, for that matter, us. But I could myself use a break, but only a short one. With a president like him, one simply cannot let up.
The first time I watched a two-hour-long impromptu press con, I sat openmouthed listening to a sort of Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” barking: “Off with their heads!”
No one has been spared, not even the Pope. Duterte comes across as condoning extrajudicial executions, a position scarcely softened by such clarification as, “I’m not telling you to shoot them, just get them dead or alive!” What does he need to legislate the death penalty for?
After more of such long, late-hour, murderous press cons, I began to wonder if I should be seriously worrying about the future, as short as mine may be.
At the end of every press con I’d ask myself what he really, really, said that I needed to hear? I simply refuse to be counted among the lowlife audiences for whom his utterances appear fashioned.
I never imagined I would ever hear more cusswords on our television than at Spanish film festivals—and from the President-elect of the Republic yet!
A son of mine texted me from where he himself was watching, “Mom, I feel violated just watching him. I keep asking myself why I’m sitting through this, taking all this abusive language and offensive behavior.”
I know exactly how he feels.
Until President Rody finds a way to mesmerize us as he has his fellow Davaoeños or becomes indeed a butterfly, I only see a man who is unstable, to put it mildly. He seems triggered off mysteriously, like that assassin in “The Manchurian Candidate.”
In one case, the trigger was the words “medical records” uttered by a reporter who was asking about his health. For some reason that launched him into his own “Vagina Monologue” that alluded to the reporter’s wife.
As luck would have it, the guy was unmarried, with no wifely reputation to protect with his life, or he’d be dead.
Given the violence detonated by the mention of medical records, they must indeed contain something awfully serious or at the very least embarrassing. I could find out more if only there were a real opposition in Congress. But they’re all in
a frenzy jumping party lines and climbing onto the Duterte bandwagon, crying for blood and federalism.
If thirst for blood and federalism are offered by the same people in the same package, surely we’d be in worse ever trouble taking it.