Duterte at 3 a.m.
WATCH: Pres. Duterte press conference, Davao, Aug. 21, 2016
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, Duterte was just “tired, disappointed, frustrated and angry,” as his foreign secretary said.
Maybe Digong just needed sleep.
Holding a press conference at 3 o’clock in the morning is a bad idea for any politician. It’s disastrous for someone like Rodrigo Duterte.
His supporters, including some of my friends, argue that he is a strong and decisive leader, someone who would do away with all the bullshit and get things done.
At the now infamous early morning Davao City press conference that ended at 3 a.m., you see a different Digong.
Duterte simply comes across as petty and arrogant.
The press conference was about two hours and ten minutes long.
Don’t have time to watch the whole thing? Just watch the last five minutes to understand what I’m talking about.
This was the press conference where Duterte made the stunning threat to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations in reaction to the organization’s criticisms of his campaign against illegal drugs.
He’s upset. And it’s perfectly fine for any chief executive to be upset about any criticism he deems unjust or unfair.
But Digong’s comments were beyond bizarre.
His main complaint, it appears, is that the U.N. should have communicated their criticisms through diplomatic channels, not in public.
By going public, he argues, the UN was insulting him, a president of a sovereign nation.
Don’t they know his background? Do they think he’s stupid about the way diplomacy works? Don’t they know he studied the stuff in college?
Well, he wanted to make sure they knew, so he took time to explain his academic record. It was a bit of a convoluted explanation, but you get the point.
“I took A.B. Foreign Service. Check it out with Lyceum. … Political Science … I had an accident .. motor accident … Na late ako ng isang semester. So I took foreign service, consular practice and procedures, geopolitics, world trade, international trade”
In other words, he knows the stuff, get it?
“Baka kala ninyo… Putang ina. Mga ulol.”
Jump to around 2:46 and you can hear Duterte unleashing a final rant: “Kayo ‘yong bugok hindi ako.”
He’s unsure if the UN has a representative based in the Philippines. He turns to the poor reporters who tell him an American represents the world organization in Manila.
And Duterte erupts for a final time.
“Ah, American. Tell this American show your respect first.”
But that’s not enough. Digong apparently is still thinking: ‘How else can I hit back at this American representing the UN?’
Well, of course, zero in on America’s own social problems.
In another context, many of us would feel proud listening to a Philippine president speaking out against racial injustice in the United States.
But not this time.
Duterte speaking out against the wave of violence endured by African Americans is as believable as Donald Trump lamenting the plight of undocumented Mexicans in the United States.
“Why are you Americans killing black people there shooting them down when they are already on the ground answer that question! Because even if it’s only one or two it’s still human rights violations.”
At this point, Yasay was correct: Digong was clearly angry.
“Goddamn you! Tell that to that American there. Or better still tell him I’ll pay him a visit if there is time. You just tell me where I can find him so yon. The mayor is asking where he can see you. Ako pa pupunta doon.”
And for a finale, this: “Tang inang gago.”
Duterte stands up to leave. It was strangely amusing to hear the reporters saying goodbye: “Good night, sir. Bye.”
But Digong is still fuming.
As he walks away, one final salvo: “Ulol.”
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