The President's Colorful Language

It is important for us to realize that the ascension to power of President Duterte is brought about by the evolving expectations of Filipinos on their leaders.

The President's colorful language has often been the subject of both online and offline discussions. Most recently, he quipped about taking marijuana to keep him awake in many meetings during the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Singapore. He has also gone on countless tirades against certain personalities within the Philippine Roman Catholic Church in the last two weeks.

Groups and sectors known to be vocal against the President have found these jokes and remarks to be offensive, uncalled-for and unnecessary. Meanwhile, it has been common defense for his spokespersons that a deeper context and appreciation is required in analyzing and understanding the President's words and statements.

There is always going to be a higher standard of diplomacy and decorum expected from a head of state. Generally, Presidents are looked up to by their citizens as role models. Hence, when a President curses, says bad words or targets the reputation of others, it will be met with a lot of criticism and violent reactions.

On the other hand, the President enjoys the right to freedom of expression, just like anyone else in this country. To his credit, he publicly recognizes and allows various groups opposing his policies and programs to peacefully assemble in various mass rallies and protests. He even personally addressed groups of protesters outside of the House of Representatives after he delivered his 2nd State of the Nation Address in 2017.

It is important for us to realize that the ascension to power of President Duterte is brought about by the evolving expectations of Filipinos on their leaders. The use of diplomatic, rehearsed and tempered language by traditional politicians is presently perceived by many as 'too good to be true' and insincere. Meanwhile, the common Juan(a) Dela Cruz finds a President like Rody Duterte to be authentic and genuine as he speaks his/her language, no matter how brash it may sound. Hence, it is not beyond logic that the President's colorful language does not invite much hostility or criticism from the masses. While there are a number of supporters who have withdrawn their support for the President due to his remarks, he continues to enjoy a ground swell of support from majority of Filipinos.

Does his popularity validate the morality of his actions? I bet the President neither cares nor bothers about it too much. It is because the popular sentiment remains strongly with him. President Duterte's colorful language is a reflection of the kind of President the country desires at this particular time. Whether some quarters like it or not, this time belongs to him now.

However, the tastes and preferences of society can evolve as slow or as fast just like how long a teleserye lasts. The duration of a teleserye largely depends on the number of viewers and commercials it draws. Today, President Duterte’s colorful language continues to be a hit among many Filipinos. Sooner or later, however, it will also have its ending. Whether the ending will be good or bad remains to be seen.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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