editorial.3.15.18


IN the Philippines these days under President Duterte, it has become apparent that if you are a critic of the administration, you may be accused of being a destabilizer or a communist or working in conspiracy to oust the President.

If you are a woman critic, you are “expiring,” whatever President Duterte’s spokesperson meant by “expiring women.”

And if you are a top human rights officer of the United Nations, you are violating Philippine sovereignty if you criticize the widely-reported extrajudicial killings of thousands of poor suspected drug addicts in the country.

Among lovers and defenders of democracy in the native country and elsewhere, the belief before it was distorted in Manila was that constructive criticism was healthy to democracy.

Also, in the Philippines today, the executive branch’s view is that the President is free to use even the “foulest of language” or any kind of language because he is elected by the people.

In effect, the presidential spokesperson says that election to public office carries along with it the right to be disrespectful to others.

That the Philippine President could (as he did) curse even the President of the United States, Pope Francis, the United Nations Secretary-General, the members of the European Parliament and the UN Rapporteurs, at will, because he is an elected official.

We recommend to the Duterte Administration to get and read a copy of the book written by Francis P. Martin titled “Hung by the Tongue.”

The book cover says that it is a “study of the words of your mouth presenting in serious simplicity the truth of: WHAT YOU SAY IS WHAT YOU GET.”

The most recent mess that the Philippine President got into was when he branded his “favorite” UN Rapporteur as “undernourished” because she looks thin, and accused a Filipina UN human rights officer as communist and terrorist.

The Duterte insults are not surprising considering his disdain for anyone who criticizes his bloody and deadly anti-drug program.

The Head of the UN Human Rights Commission fired back by saying that perhaps, President Duterte needed to see a psychiatrist for evaluation.

This commentary about Mr. Duterte’s mental state is not really Greek to Filipinos.

A low-level spokesperson in the Foreign Ministry of China, a country with dismal human rights violations record and one of three countries in the world which did not sign the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, sided with the Philippines position on the free use of any kind of language by the Filipino president because “he has the support of the Filipino people.”

This defense by China is also not surprising considering that President Duterte has virtually surrendered Philippine sovereignty to that country as evidenced by Duterte’s non-enforcement stance on the hard won decision in favor of the Philippines by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea controversy.

President Duterte and company have distorted the age-old Filipino value of respect for others, among other values, which, even Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero, advocated in some of his writings.

We recall during the time of the late President Cory Aquino, values formation seminars used to be conducted by Couples for Christ in Malacañang among its employees, including the presidential spokesman.

It might be helpful to revive such seminars.