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