Duterte’s problem | Inquirer Opinion

Duterte’s problem

Du30 has one big problem. But he does not see it’s a problem; he thinks it’s a virtue.

His difficulty is a character flaw common to men with set minds, who detest being interfered with, and who are totally convinced of the nobility of their acts and the purity of their intention. This quirk is more tellingly expressed in Filipino: ayaw mapakialaman.


That’s Du30—ayaw mapakialaman.  You tell him there might be a problem in what he is doing, and you get a mouthful of invectives. This is what Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon and the European Union received when they got careless and told him, Hey, careful with your drug war, watch out for human rights. Not unexpectedly, he fired off a string of curses at the three do-goodies, telling them to take a walk—to hell.

Even the venerable FVR, hero-statesman admired and respected the world over, did not escape the chilling brush-off from Du30 when the former president cautioned him not to alienate foreign countries and leaders who have been friends with us for years and years by cursing them and threatening to “unfriend” them.


Instead of responding with respectful words and thankful gestures, Du30 issued a dismissive statement: FVR and I are different from each other. He’s pro-Western, I’m pro-Asian. I say what I truly feel and take no BS from meddlers. Or words to that effect. Read between the lines for what he really said.

Let’s face it: Du30 has the political playground completely under his thumb. The timorousness of our big-time political players to express misgivings about some of his acts and decisions is palpable. For example, the pivot of our “smiles” from America, our ally for over a century, to China, which is grabbing some of our islets in the West Philippine Sea, is a major, major decision. Why has no one of our distinguished leaders made a demand that this serious move be subjected to rigorous study and deliberation before it is announced as policy?

The truth of the matter is that with the exception of one or two senators and a sprinkling of House members, our leaders have lost their voice and inclination to express views not in sync with Du30’s wishes. Sen. Sonny Trillanes himself said so, calling them “Duterte apologists.” Four of Trillanes’ colleagues were quick to react to his claim: No senators have become Duterte apologists, they hotly insisted—in effect ironically admitting the contrary: that they are in fact among the senators Trillanes alluded to.

Now why have the senators, who are normally loquacious and loaded with opinions about any issue—from which came first, the chicken or the egg, to the sexual behavior of cockroaches—become tongue-tied? Why would they not express opinion, suggestion, observation, or advice on presidential affairs, actions, plans, and initiatives that straddle the gray area or are multifaceted, open to debates, and many decision options?

The reason is apprehension, that they might get on the radar of presidential spotters of pakialameros or meddlers, and could get the same dose, maybe more, of the tranquilizing verbal treatment that Obama, Ban and others got from Du30.

Timorousness to tell the President in the politest of words that what he is saying or doing is unacceptable or could be handled better—is this not in fact an abdication of duty to the public? Du30’s loathing of counsel and opinion—does this not contract his field of vision and deflate his capacity to achieve more goals?

Thomas a Kempis, a 15th-century theologian, once advised: “Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not so much to your opinion but be ready also to hear the opinions of others… You shall the more profit thereby.”

Gualberto B. Lumauig ([email protected]) is a past president of the UST Philosophy and Letters Foundation, and a former governor and congressman of Ifugao.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, European Union, fidel v. ramos, Rodrigo Duterte, United Nations, United States
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