Mudslinging as a presidential pastime
Negative campaigning through mudslinging is commonplace in Philippine politics, so we consider it “normal,” even if it is not ethical.
Massive mudslinging from candidates who wish to ensure victory at the polls usually happens during the campaign period. However, in this country, throwing of figurative mud at a candidate’s known strong competitors starts early on, even before the Commission on Elections declares the official campaign period. The mudslinging exchange can get vicious that only those with stomachs lined with steel can withstand it. Truly, politics in this country is not for the faint of heart or stomach. You have to be a “halang ang bituka” (idiomatic expression for someone not afraid to kill or be killed) if you want to be in this business.
The mud exchanged during election campaigns is so thick; it obscures the real issues that voters need to know and understand so they can choose deserving and most qualified candidates for important electoral posts.
We have yet to see campaigns based on candidates’ platforms of governance becoming popular in both our local and national electoral exercises. We haven’t experienced an election in the Philippines without our politicians trading muck and barbs against each other. Sometimes the exchange can be fiery: private armies of politicians can assassinate or ambush the known opponents of their master.
We cannot throw mud at another person if we don’t have mud within us — this is just simple logic.
Mudslinging has become a regular feature of our political landscape. It has become a national pastime. And our chief honcho in Malacañang is our No. 1 mudslinger.
From the beginning of his term, President Duterte has always relished uttering words and phrases that stained the reputation of those who dared defy him, or criticize his misogynistic and iconoclastic remarks. He basks in his audiences’ nervous laughter and applause, especially when he starts flaunting his self-acclaimed high virility levels at his age. In Cebuano, his words are “luod kaayo” (so yucky).
He ridicules those who he claims are “less blessed” in terms of their manhood (I wonder how he is able to assess other men in this manner). For this type of ridicule, his recent victim is former senator Kit Tatad. The terms Mr. Duterte used in mocking Tatad are filthy and unprintable. Is this what macho braggarts like him boast to each other while using the urinals?
In a recent campaign sortie in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, he called opposition senatorial candidate Florin Hilbay “bakla”—as if it is a dirty word, as if it is more condemnable than extrajudicial killings, or more odious than being dishonest in his and his family’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth that are required of government officials.
Instead of campaigning on the strength of his candidates’ qualifications — educational and otherwise, Mr. Duterte has thrown mud at opposition and other senatorial candidates. He vilifies the members of the opposition senatorial slate Otso
Diretso through what he thinks is a smart pun, “Otso diretso sa impyerno” (eight direct to hell).
His latest tirades against the Catholic Church as its believers observed Holy Week once again showed how crass he is, uttering words only fit for bleeping on national television. He stressed he cannot revere a God who puts sinners to hell, and that he prefers to go there since there are beautiful and “willing” women there. He also claims he is a god himself, “…Diyos na ako!” (from a news report on ABS-CBN on April 17, 2019).
Mr. Duterte is probably submerged in neck-deep personal muck that he needs to get rid of through mudslinging, and this is why it has become his favorite pastime.
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