By Leandro DD Coronel
As we all vividly remember, then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte promised to ride a jetski to the Spratlys to defy China. But recently he admitted: “Yung jetski ride ko sa Spratlys, kalokohan yun. Naniwala pala kayo.”
Mr. Duterte constantly baffles with his conflicting statements. He says one thing one day and then says the complete opposite another day.
He has told us we shouldn’t believe everything he says. It would have been helpful had he said which of his statements are true and not true. But he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t label his statements according to their truthfulness.
And that’s where the problem lies. He should at least help us by indicating which of his statements are true. But, as the old expression goes, “no dice.”
There’s speculation that Mr. Duterte is so good at fooling people, he should be congratulated for that talent of his, that that makes him a political genius.
Duterte’s admirers give him a lot of credit for being Machiavellian in his ability to confuse people. But the reality is, he can be rambling with his stories. He’s really not effective with formal speeches, he hates them. That’s why he discards them after a few paragraphs and returns to his story-telling.
There’s nothing profound about his stories. They’re the typical local politician’s spiel, raunchy and lewd. They’re disrespectful and crude. They’re not the typical pep-talk at Boy Scout gatherings or something to boost children’s Good Manners and Right Conduct.
Actually, Duterte has only one story that he keeps going back to. He was a dunce at school. He cut classes. Points to his brighter classmates and then insults them by asking where they are now, they’re just his “trabajantes.”
He hates drugs. He denigrates women. He hates foreigners. And then he masticates the ubiquitous chewing gum. That’s his story. That’s why some of his critics call him a “one-trick pony.”
But why does he contradict himself so often?
That is the puzzler about Duterte. Does he really change his mind that often? It’s not as if he’s only done it a few times. He does it practically every time he opens his mouth.
To confuse? To tease? To play mind games?
My hunch is that he forgets what he had said previously. Why does he say he’s had it with the Communists and then a few days later says that he’s open to talks with them? He’s flip-flopped so many times, they’re not just random gaffes or goofs. Why does he say he wouldn’t deal with the Americans anymore and a few days later welcomes US-Philippines cooperation? He was going to end “endo” right away, but now says he’s not able to after all.
My hunch is that he has a condition that is amnesia-like and that he’s not aware or doesn’t remember what he had said before and so comes out with the complete opposite of an earlier statement.
Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” That could apply to Duterte, too.
Tantrum Ergo. The Hollywood Oscars last Monday, March 5, gave away a jetski for the shortest acceptance speech. With his rambling speeches, President Duterte wouldn’t have had a chance. Too bad, that could have finally given him transport to the Spratlys.