Duterte's con­tempt for the world

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - ROGER MITTON roger­mit­ton@gmail.com

WARN­ING: Most of the quotes in this ar­ti­cle were made by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte of the Philip­pines, a man who uses vul­gar lan­guage and gra­tu­itously in­sults women, gays and hu­man rights ad­vo­cates.

His re­marks are ab­hor­rent and read­ers are urged, for their own sel­f­re­spect and that of their loved ones, to avoid re­peat­ing them in civilised com­pany.

Also, please keep in mind that Duterte, 71, won a land­slide elec­tion vic­tory in May af­ter a cam­paign in which he vowed to elim­i­nate drug deal­ers and rein­tro­duce the death penalty.

So the man has a valid plat­form from which to en­cour­age po­lice and civil­ian shoot­ers to hunt down and kill sus­pected crim­i­nals with­out fear of pros­e­cu­tion – in­deed, they are praised for their ac­tions.

Re­cent fig­ures show that in the past two months, 1779 sup­posed drug­traf­fick­ers and other felons have been shot – 712 by the po­lice and the rest by self-styled vig­i­lantes.

That’s five ev­ery day. So think twice about go­ing to Manila or Cebu; you may be bet­ter off go­ing to Beirut or Dam­as­cus.

And it is just the be­gin­ning. Duterte has vowed to ex­ter­mi­nate 100,000 al­leged drug deal­ers and other crim­i­nals dur­ing his term in of­fice.

The key word, by the way, is “al­leged”. None of th­ese vic­tims have been proved guilty of any crime; most of them have merely been fin­gered by in­for­mants in re­turn for cash pay­ments.

As­sur­ing his of­fi­cial as­sas­sins that they are jus­ti­fied in killing th­ese peo­ple, Duterte said, “Each do your duty, and if in the process you kill 1000 peo­ple, I will pro­tect you.”

In short, the pres­i­dent has re­vealed him­self as a bounty hunter, but he lets others do the hunt­ing, while his prodi­gious bounty is the pres­i­dency and all its trap­pings.

Any crit­i­cism of his dis­dain for the rule of law – ei­ther by the United Na­tions, Wash­ing­ton or the Vat­i­can, elic­its an ex­ple­tive-laden re­tort that even drug deal­ers would be hard­pressed to em­u­late.

On Au­gust 21, for in­stance, he ver­bally as­saulted two mild-man­nered UN rep­re­sen­ta­tives who had the temer­ity to urge him to curb the state-spon­sored vig­i­lante mur­ders.

Re­sponded Duterte, “F**k you, UN, you can’t even solve the Mid­dle East blood­shed. If you sons of a bitches are so dis­re­spect­ful, we will just leave you. Why do we have to lis­ten to your stupid or­gan­i­sa­tion?”

Ear­lier, he had given the Catholic Church a tongue-lash­ing. First, he de­nounced the bish­ops for cor­ruptly ac­cept­ing gifts of cars from for­mer pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ga­pa­gal Ar­royo. Then, when Arch­bishop Os­car Cruz replied that the cars were for char­ity work and had been re­turned later, Duterte scoffed, “Don’t f**k with me, Cruz!”

As if that were not bad enough, Duterte even chas­tised the visit­ing Pope Fran­cis when he found him­self caught in a traf­fic jam caused by the pa­pal en­tourage. Fumed Duterte, “Pope, you son of a whore, go home! Don’t visit here any­more.”

The Philip­pines is a strongly Catholic coun­try, although the pres­i­dent has re­vealed he no longer sub­scribes to that faith, but in­stead be­longs to the Igle­sia ni Duterte (Duterte’s Church).

Per­haps his most of­fen­sive re­mark came when he was dis­cussing the gang rape and mur­der of an Aus­tralian mis­sion­ary by in­mates of a pri­son in Davao City, where he was mayor at the time.

Said Duterte, “I looked at her, son of a bitch, she looked like a gor­geous Amer­i­can ac­tress. I was an­gry she’d been raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beau­ti­ful, the mayor should have had first go. What a waste.”

Among those cen­sur­ing Duterte for this shock­ing com­ment was Philip Gold­berg, the US am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines, who is gay – and hence an­other tar­get for Duterte’s pre­his­toric mind­set.

In a tele­vi­sion broad­cast, the Philip­pine pres­i­dent – and this is 2016, re­mem­ber – said he’d en­joyed meet­ing US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, but that “his gay am­bas­sador, that son of a whore, he pissed me off”.

Wash­ing­ton protested and a State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said, “We’ve seen those in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments made about Am­bas­sador Gold­berg. He’s a multi-time am­bas­sador, one of our most se­nior US diplo­mats.”

It made no dif­fer­ence to Duterte, who has now queried the pur­pose of the de­fence al­liance with the United States and re­cently asked Gold­berg, “Are you with us or are you not with us?”

In­deed, Duterte not only tells the US, the UN and most of the rest of the world to eff off, but his words and ac­tions also be­tray con­tempt for his own peo­ple, who ap­pear ab­jectly in thrall to their bully­boy pres­i­dent.

Con­sider, for in­stance, the way he jus­ti­fies his ob­scene vig­i­lante killings by say­ing that he used the same tac­tic when he was mayor of Davao City and that it re­sulted in a huge re­duc­tion in crime lev­els. It is a lie.

To­day, af­ter en­dur­ing 22 years of rule by Duterte, Davao City re­mains the most crime-plagued place in the whole na­tion.

Fig­ures re­leased this year by his own na­tional po­lice force show that from 2010 to 2015, Davao City had the high­est mur­der rate and the sec­ond­high­est in­ci­dence of rape in the Philip­pines.

And yet, although his “Dirty Harry” tac­tic has been a com­plete fail­ure, it has proved to be great PR and Duterte’s pop­u­lar­ity among the masses re­mains high.

Mean­while, the do­mes­tic me­dia has lit­tle chance to chal­lenge him about his lies be­cause he re­fuses to talk to jour­nal­ists, com­plain­ing – in his usual lewd man­ner – that they mis­in­ter­pret him.

Per­haps even­tu­ally Filipinos will wise up about Duterte, but don’t count on it. And don’t count on him be­ing re­formed from within, for there is no way to put lip­stick on this pig.

As For­rest Gump might say, stupid is as stupid does, and no one is do­ing any­thing more stupid than those who refuse to see Duterte for what he is: a dis­hon­est, potty-mouthed bum sell­ing swag­ger.

Photo: EPA

Emer­gency re­spon­ders carry the dead body of an al­leged drug dealer killed dur­ing a po­lice op­er­a­tion against il­le­gal drugs in Manila on Au­gust 23.

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