Last Feb. 7, President Duterte told an audience of former rebels that he ordered soldiers to shoot female rebels in their private part so that they’ll become “useless.”
Normally, that kind of talk would be considered outrageous, scandalous, inexcusable, and indescribably obscene in schools, offices, and professional organizations.
For example, can you imagine a high school student using that kind of rhetoric inside his classroom? He’d be suspended, at the very least. Worse, he’d be kicked out.
Or can you imagine a CEO speaking like that in his company? He’d be called out, at the very least. Worse, complaints will be filed against him and he might be forced to step down.
Or can you imagine someone who is a member of a club uttering obscenities like that during meetings? At the very least, his attention would be called and his error pointed out to him during his evaluation. Worse, if he is really obstinate, his membership might be revoked.
But what happened when the highest leader of the land did it in front of cameras and a live audience? People just laughed.
How sick is that? Why do we hold Mr. Duterte up to a different standard?
And this is not the first time this has happened, either.
The President has said similarly outrageous and scandalous things in the past, even before he assumed office. It’s just routine for him, apparently.
Some people just shrug their shoulders and say it’s just the “new normal” nowadays.
No, we should not accept it as the “new normal.” We should not get used to it.
If we get used to it — if our ability to be shocked by his pronouncements becomes weaker — then it will only mean one thing: that he has successfully lowered our standards of what is acceptable and unacceptable.
If it is acceptable for a president to say those things in public, then it should also be acceptable for anyone to say them in our schools, offices, and professional groups.
But we know that’s absurd. We know it’s unacceptable to speak like that in our classrooms, companies, and clubs. It should also be inexcusable, therefore, for public officials to speak like that, especially if he is the president.
DANTE CUALES JR., firstname.lastname@example.org
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