Election 2016: The Rise of Rodrigo Duterte

by Melinda Quintos de Jesus

The media template for campaign coverage is pretty straightforward, it involves little more than following the candidate’s campaign. Such coverage noted details about where the candidate went, who was with him, who met with him, endorsed him.  They report the size of the crowds and other noteworthy circumstances. For most of the campaign, candidate Duterte received no more nor less number of reports than other candidates.

IT IS often said that Filipinos love elections.  They enjoy the color and the noise. They delight in the thrill of a contest. Much like their obsession with beauty pageants, the elections hold up for voters some kind of dream, the belief in new possibilities.

Statistics do show a high level of participation in the exercise. Eighty-one percent of the 54 million registered voters take to the polls to cast their ballot. We like to believe these statistics confirm that democracy has taken root in firm and fertile soil.

But the regular cycle of elections has not represented progressive gains in political maturity. Elections are still essentially popularity contests. Voters choose who they like, but also who they trust and who they believe will provide the best kind of leadership to the nation. But the basis of popularity is concentrated on the first, someone who people take to because of personality and traits that attract them. As such the basis of popularity seems disconnected from capacity for leadership and governance.


As the press have incorporated more of these elements of popular appeal in the coverage of politics, elections have opened the door for the entry of actors, showbiz personalities, broadcasters and champion athletes into city hall and Congress; along with the politicians with name recall for their long experience or public exposure, or inherited name.

Based on these factors, politics in the country represent a competition among those who are already known, those with the means to ascend in social and political status, acquiring economic and political power. Politics seems to have closed the circle of power beyond the reach of the majority.  The majority are needed only to cast their votes.

Elections restore voters to their central place, a source of legitimacy for worthy or less worthy candidates, including those belonging to long-standing political clans. Now as in the past, the political dynasty depend on the election to assure their continuity.

As many observers now rue, the cycle of elections has not made that much difference in the lives of the poor. But they continue to vote just the same.

Gains and Setbacks

There have been some advances: Corazon Aquino restored the institutions of democracy and devolved political power to local governments. Her successor, Fidel Ramos achieved economic breakthroughs and initiated fiscal reform.  Benigno Aquino III, proved it was possible to check corruption in high places and created a better environment for economic growth.

Cynics dismiss these as insignificant small measures in the light of historic failures. But history teaches that democracy is built step by step. Certain conditions have to be established so that freedom and equality before law can flourish.

The very popular Joseph Estrada lasted only two years. He was driven out of office by related developments, a failed impeachment trial in the Senate and a second round of People Power demonstrations. The support of the military for the public clamor for his resignation sealed his fate. His supporters, mostly from poor communities, countered with their own round of demonstrations to protest Estrada’s ouster, an early sign of a deepening social rift in the electorate.

Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo succeeded Estrada to the presidency, serving the remaining four years of Estrada’s term. The best educated and most experienced president in the country’s history, she won the election in 2004, defeating the popular actor Fernando Poe Jr. She sustained fiscal reform, but her term was hounded by questions of legitimacy and corruption as she quashed five impeachment motions against her in Congress. The Ombudsman filed corruption charges even as Arroyo won a seat in the House of Representatives. After Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency, she was acquitted by the Supreme Court in July 2016.

These achievements and setbacks deserve more critical discussion.

But each election should draw attention to the stranglehold of power elites through the years and the maintenance of a status quo. The extensive fusion of business and political interests in the conduct of national affairs, the deeply rooted poverty, the lack of infrastructure and other issues have left growing numbers at the bottom of the social pyramid, marginalized and out of reach from the benefits of economic growth. Even with a strong and thriving economy, Filipinos remain starkly divided into haves and have nots, into communities that experience sharply divergent realities.

This will not change without new laws to enable the wider distribution of created wealth, to insure that those producing or inheriting wealth share the means as well as the gains of production. Politicians elected to seats in the Senate and Congress play a key role in bringing about these changes. But is it realistic to hope that they would legislate against their economic interests?

The review of tax laws is overdue. The same holds for elections, especially campaign spending. But these are in the hands of politicians many of whom have hollowed out the system of any intent to share goods or impulse to serve the public.

A political culture that operates on self-interest and nothing else has captured Philippine democracy and gamed the system of government for their benefit. Elections will continue to sustain the political class. Political dynasties will continue to perpetrate their members in power,  creating enclaves of political control and corruption all around the archipelago. These have succeeded to make elections their instruments, perverting the purpose of the vote to their own advantage.

The failure of elections to bring about change  reflects the betrayal of a people by their elected leaders, a self-inflicted wound on Philippine democracy.

Elections 2016

As early as 2015, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a one-term representative in the Lower House of Congress and a seven-term mayor of Davao City in Mindanao presented a candidate profile of a game-changer.  He was hailed as crime-fighter whose mailed fist approach to crime-fighting in his city identified drugs as a major cause of lawlessness. His tactics to clean up Davao City continues to be part of the narrative legend, sustained during the campaign and supported by media reportage.

Duterte was not well-known in Metro Manila and other capital areas in Visayas and Luzon. He started a speaking tour nationwide to popularize the idea of federalism in January 2015 and captured national media attention, securing the necessary political traction for his potential as a presidential candidate.

Media coverage of the non-candidate in 2015 was remarkable for the kind of attention it gave to a politician from the provinces. Media played into the game plan, appealing to natural curiosity by reporting the candidate’s claimed uncertainty: Was the city mayor from Mindanao running for president?


The press swarmed then presidential candidate Duterte during during the CNN Philippines-sponsored Townhall in UP Diliman held on February 18, 2016. | Photo by Lito Ocampo

Very cleverly, Duterte played coy, denying ambition for national office, each denial whetting the appetite for more about the man. By the start of the campaign period in the first week of February 2016, enough Filipinos had turned their rapt attention to this new face in the national scene.

Mainstream media had laid out the same template of coverage for Duterte’s campaign as for the four other presidential contenders. Media-wise, Duterte sustained his draw for coverage with the use of color and then some. The candidate played to the stands, now a comic, then a firebrand reformist, then your ordinary neighborhood tough guy with a law degree. Spewing obscenities onstage, on-cam and off, Duterte caught the imagination of ordinary folks who thought he was much more like them than your average politico.

Rape joke

In April 2016, Duterte’s media coverage spiked when he recalled how he had gone to the Davao City Metropolitan District Command Center (Metrodiscom)  to check the scene after the hostage crisis.  He said he saw the lifeless body of one of the hostages, an Australian missionary who had been raped before she was killed.  She was so beautiful, he said in Filipino, as mayor he should have been the first to rape her.

The offensive statement was met by laughter and media reports served to popularize Duterte’s outrageousness which some described as authentic and refreshing.  Of course, campaign handlers were quick to fix this impression, aided by an orchestrated social media exchange.

The press for various reasons submitted to the obvious tactics of manipulation and gave him every bit of publicity on mainstream media. Duterte was the most colorful personality among those aspiring for the presidency, and that alone was reason to pay him more attention. Attention would have been fine, but it was also coverage without questions, reportage bereft of inquiry and investigation. In other words, media reports served well the need of every campaign for free publicity.

Unlike everyone else on the presidential slate, Duterte was a fresh face. Unlike Jejomar Binay, Duterte had not been subjected to Senate inquiry and journalistic investigation.  Unlike Grace Poe or Mar Roxas, he did not come with the polish of the upper and educated class. Duterte was the man to follow, just for being himself.

Then Presidential candidate Duterte jokes about the rape of an Austraian woman.
Video from ABS-CBNNews Youtube account.

Media Template for Coverage

CMFR noted how mainstream media coverage did not indicate the lead that would make Duterte president until public opinion polls shared their findings.

Media picked up Duterte’s rise in surveys within the Metro Manila area in November 2015.  Both Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed him with higher voter preference than Binay, Poe, Roxas and Santiago. Pulse Asia recorded 34%  for Duterte and Poe as the closest competitor, with  26%.  SWS showed 38% for Duterte with Binay and Poe tied at 21%. The surveys were conducted before Duterte announced his candidacy.

During the campaign, opinion polls saw the rise of Duterte’s star as early as April, the second full month of the official campaign period.

Pulse Asia showed him with 30% against Poe’s 25% and SWS showed him at 27% against Poe’s 23%. Duterte maintained the lead until elections in May.

CMFR’s monitor of electoral coverage noted how news attention served more the purpose of the candidate, rather than the need of citizens to examine those seeking their support.

The press must share the blame for the failure of elections to serve as instruments of real change.  The press does its part, closing the circles of political leadership, preventing the entry of new blood, new names and faces.  News media can grow in speed and extend its reach. But journalism will not change the political culture without exerting the values of democracy.

Media Times does not pretend to understand fully the role of the press in the political rise of Rodrigo Duterte. But this is a question that deserves attention. Did the press provide the free publicity for Duterte’s campaign because he was a harbinger of change; or because he was colourful, entertaining, outrageous and obscene, the kind that reporters cannot resist?



Duterte Mania and Human Rights: A Disturbing Lapse in Coverage

The media kept up the Duterte watch to the very last minute of the period for the filing of certificates of candidacy from October 12 to 16. | Photo by Lito Ocampo

OF ALL the highly urbanized cities in the Philippines, Davao City has garnered probably every accolade out there: the most livable city, the most environment-friendly city, the city with the cleanest and best-tasting potable water, the safest city, among others. Davaoeños and visitors agree that everything is in order in Davao City, where it is illegal to smoke in public, where trash is collected efficiently, where you can walk in its streets at three in the morning and not have to worry about being mugged.

These honors are all credited to Rodrigo Duterte, its tough-talking mayor who inspires awe and fear at the same time. He ensures that his city runs smoothly by using a combination of good local governance and, by his own admission, a tough stance against crime. He stands tall among other mayors and is revered for having the political will to tackle problems that his peers haven’t.

This is why when some people floated the idea of Duterte running for president, it spread like wildfire, gripping the imagination of Filipinos who have grown tired of the crime, the disorder and the seeming inability of government to make even the simplest of things work. The media itself got caught up in the hoopla, doggedly – and often unthinkingly – covering Duterte’s actions and pronouncements and, perhaps as a result, neglected to tackle one of the basic issues against the mayor: his human rights record.

Human Rights Record

Perhaps as a result of what can only be described as Duterte mania, hardly any discussion took place about a more significant aspect of Duterte’s possible run for the presidency: the allegation that he, through the Davao Death Squad, was responsible for the killing of hundreds of residents, among them children, in his campaign to rid Davao City of crime.

The mayor’s reputation as a crime-fighter had taken off on the wings of his constituents’ supposed approval of his actions and statements that tend to support the killing – without due process – of people suspected of committing crimes. This image took years to develop. In 2002, at the height of allegations that the city – if not Duterte himself – created the Davao Death Squad to hunt down suspected criminals, TIME magazine ran a profile of the mayor they called “The Punisher.” The publicity for Duterte’s supposed tough stance against crime flowed freely from that point on.

A former prosecutor who had said he was familiar with the failures of the criminal justice system, Duterte was known to take matters into his hands, targeting anyone perceived to disturb the peace in Davao City but particularly those involved in the drug trade.  “I tell the people during elections: If you want a mayor that doesn’t kill criminals, look for another mayor,” he said in 2002. “I was elected in 1988, reelected in 1992, reelected in 1995, reelected in 2001. That’s my gauge of people’s acceptance.”

His strongman approach was criticized by no less than the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and other human rights advocates as a form of vigilante justice. But he was cheered in many quarters, including his colleagues in the League of Mayors, some of whom announced they were ready to follow Duterte’s example. (Indeed, similar death squads are now common in other cities, particularly in nearby Tagum City, where the mayor and the police were implicated in such killings.)

Duterte himself admitted in a May 24 interview in his Davao television program Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa (From the Masses, For the Masses) that he is indeed connected with the Davao Death Squad. “Am I the death squad? True. That is true.” This admission echoed what Duterte had said in the May 15 national convention of the Workplace Advocates on Safety in the Philippines, during which he took pride in saying that Davao’s being the ninth safest city in the world, according to popularity website Numbeo, should be attributed to his city administration’s unwavering stand against criminality.

Duterte, however, retracted these statements and said instead that when he mentioned DDS, he was referring to the Davao Development System and not the Davao Death Squad. He also denied killing or ordering the killing of anyone.

The press, unfortunately, gave scant attention to this matter, let alone elevate the discussion to its logical next level, which is possible accountability for Duterte’s role in the DDS. The CHR and non-government groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) had reported about the Davao Death Squad. In 2009, HRW published a report called “You Can Die Anytime” that documented extrajudicial killings in Mindanao and the number of executions during Duterte’s watch. In 2007, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, investigated the DDS killings and concluded that Duterte should be held accountable, even though there was no evidence linking him directly to the killings.

This is a disturbing lapse in coverage by the press, given that the main basis for Duterte’s popularity and possible candidacy is his role in the DDS.

A strong stand on crime and the promotion of law and order are desirable commitments, especially in a country plagued with crime. But all exercise of power must observe limits. In covering a candidate like Duterte, journalists missed the opportunity to promote public discussion about the danger of trading off human rights for public order.


In context: Duterte’s ‘Last Minute Strategy’

CHEERS TO CNN Philippines’ Network News for recalling Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s statements regarding his on-again, off-again 2016 presidential run in light of his most recent announcement that he would indeed go for the Presidency next year.

On Monday, Nov. 23, 2015,  Network News ran six stories on the Davao City Mayor when he announced his presidential bid, among them “Diño-Duterte substitution a last-minute strategy,” which recalled statements Duterte had made as early as 2013.

The report included the following quotes from Duterte this year:

  • Feb. 19, 2015
    “If only to save this Republic, I can run for President. I can make this sacrifice if only to save this country from being fractured.”
  • June 14, 2015
    “I will stand by my position that I am not seeking any national office in the next year’s elections, much more the presidency. I don’t even know if I could be the presidential candidate…”
  • June 21, 2015
    “I will consider the suggestion of my friends and supporters.”
  • June 25, 2015
    “If my daughter will run, I will retire in 2016. Matanda na ako. I’m already 70.”
  • Sept. 29, 2015
    “I’m not running but if I change my mind, I’ll do it here. Dito ako nag-umpisadito din ako magtatapos.”
  • Oct. 12, 2015
    “After all, there was no ambition for me to aspire for the presidency. The country does not need me. I find no need for it. I guess it is fate that wills that our long journey together should end this way.”
  • Nov. 1, 2015
    “Nothing has changed in my position about it (presidential candidacy). I don’t have the stomach for it.”

Although “he maintained an air of disinterest in a possible presidential run but nevertheless fed the press with mixed messages that kept journalists hooked like no candidate ever did (“Duterte Mania and Human Rights: A Distrubing Lapse in Coverage,” Nov. 5, 2015),” the mayor shifted gears. He claimed disappointment over the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling on the disqualification case against Senator Grace Poe as the trigger behind his decision to run. The SET had junked the petition to unseat Poe on Nov. 17, 2015, which 2013 senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed on August 6.

Martin Diño, a Quezon City barangay captain and PDP-Laban’s deputy secretary general, filed last October his COC as his party’s standard-bearer with Duterte as substitute candidate. Diño withdrew on October 29.  Duterte filed his COC for president through his lawyer Salvador Medialdea Friday, November 27, well ahead of the December 10 deadline set by the poll body for substitute candidates.


Disqualification Case Vs Duterte: Overlooked by the Press

THE CERTIFICATE of Candidacy (COC) that anyone aspiring for public office in the Philippines has to fill out accurately is sacrosanct in a democracy. That is why all candidates have to swear an oath attesting to the veracity of the COC before an officer of the law.  The COC’s importance cannot be overstated.

The media’s failure to cover adequately the disqualification case against Davao City mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte could have been due to laziness or incompetence or a lack of appreciation of the COC’s value. The COC is a central document in the electoral process. Candidates are required to swear to the truthfulness of the information they put on the certificate.

Reasonable but Overlooked?

Duterte did not file a COC, having repeatedly declared in public statements that he was not interested in running for national office. After much dillydallying, every expression of which was reported dutifully by the media, Duterte finalized his run for president — a decision also faithfully reported by the media. He replaced former Quezon City barangay chairman Martin Diño who first filed his COC as the standard-bearer of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

But Duterte’s substitution for Diño was met with four disqualification petitions, all questioning the validity of his candidacy because of a glaring error in Diño’s COC for president. The petitions argued that Diño has no bona fide candidate to substitute for because Diño’s COC for president was “materially defective and is, therefore, invalid.”

Rappler article published October 2015 showed copies of Diño’s and Vice President Jejomar Binay’s COC for president for comparison. Despite filling up the COC form for president, it was clear that Diño wrote “mayor” (of Pasay City) as the position he was seeking. Binay’s COC clearly stated that he is running for president.

It can be argued that the error, in itself, could be a sound basis for disqualification, especially since Diño affixed his signature right below the declaration in the COC that says “I hereby certify that the facts stated herein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.” Below this oath is the subscription of this oath by Diño’s lawyer.

Screengrab from Rappler.

“No Material Misrepresentation”

But the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) First Division, on February 3, junked all four petitions filed respectively by broadcaster Ruben Castor, UP Diliman Student Council chairperson John Paulo Delas Nieves, and presidential aspirants lawyer Ely Pamatong and Rizalito David, citing lack of merit. The division said it found “no material misrepresentation” in Duterte’s COC for president and that, therefore, “it is valid and it gives rise to a valid candidacy.”

Given the position at stake, the Comelec was expected to observe strictest rules down to the smallest of details, such as correctly filling up the information required by the COC. This was not a mere technicality. But the press was satisfied to report the resolution quoting  Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, Comelec First Division head. Reports did not explain how the division arrived at the decision.

Comelec Discourages Easy Access to the Documents.

CMFR tried to obtain the 50-page resolution on Duterte’s disqualification case from the Comelec website, but the document was not available as of press time. We then directly inquired about the document from the Comelec and learned that in order to access it, one must first file a letter of request that states the purpose for which the document will be used. This letter is subject to the approval of the Comelec commissioners. This could be the reason why the press hardly had any coverage of this decision, but this issue is imbued with public interest so a more enterprising approach was needed.

Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Raul Palabrica did discuss this in his February 15 column. He criticized the First Division’s attitude toward the mistake by treating it “as if it were a mere typographical error or slip of the pen that did not deserve closer evaluation.” He pointed out that Diño and his party mates had already announced earlier that they were going to use the COC for Duterte’s substitution, “thus, early on, it was obvious that Diño was anything but serious in filing his COC for president. He treated his COC as an instrument or toy to play with to satisfy his caprice. He was no different from other COC filers who wanted to enjoy three minutes of national fame.”

Insufficient Discussion, Lack of Aggressiveness

In tackling the disqualification cases faced by Duterte, it is important to understand the merits of the petitions’ argument. The media should have discussed the process through which the COCs of candidates undergo verification as it would explain and identify what went wrong down the line. The press could have referred to Rule II of Resolution 9984, the Comelec’s rules and regulations governing the filing of certificates of candidacy, in discussing this process.

The press should also have been more cognizant of the importance of the issue, and have asked hard questions instead of just reporting what was said by persons of authority or official documents. In this case, the media failed to question how the Comelec arrived at its decision despite what seemed like a reasonable argument. One must now wonder whether the filing of COCs is still relevant if errors and technicalities with profound effects can be easily disregarded. In the words of Palabrica, “the election commissioners concerned trivialized the value of the application for election to the highest position of the land.”


Duterte’s Rape Comment: More Needed from the Media

DURING A campaign rally in Quezon City last April 12, presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte recalled how during his first year as mayor in Davao City, a prison riot broke out in the Metrodiscom Detention Center.  He recounted how Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was ministering to prisoners, was gang-raped and killed along with other hostages. Duterte expressed his anger over Hamill’s rape. He recalled his thoughts at the time: because the missionary was so beautiful, he, the mayor, “should have been first. What a waste.” (“Nagalit ako kasi ni-rape? Oo. Isa rin ‘yun. Pero napakaganda. Dapat, ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang.”)

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during the CNN Philippines-sponsored Townhall in UP Diliman held on February 18, 2016. | Photo by Lito Ocampo

The video of Duterte recounting the episode went viral on the internet. Mainstream media promptly picked it up. Online and offline, media captured every reaction, criticism and response from the candidate’s supporters and from his critics. Women’s groups and his rivals for the presidency expressed outrage and scored Duterte for his remark. The US and Australian ambassadors commented that rape should not be trivialized or tolerated. Four bishops expressed grave concern about the candidate.  International news organizations took note of the Davao mayor’s remark, comparing Duterte to US presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Duterte expressed anger over calls for him to apologize, and refused to do so. On April 17, a day after Youtube user Beatboxer ng Pinas uploaded the video, Duterte said in an interview outside his home in Davao City: “I am willing to lose the presidency. Do not make me apologize for something which I did which was called for at the moment.” According to him, he made the remarks out of anger, and that his being from a poor family is to blame for the way he talks. He said he was sorry “to the Filipino people,” but refused to apologize to any particular person or entity.

But the Duterte camp released the candidate’s formal apology two days later, on April 19: “I apologize to the Filipino people for my recent remarks in a rally. There was no intention of disrespecting our women and those who have been victims of this horrible crime. Sometimes my mouth can get the better of me.” On this same day, Duterte initially said he did not know about the statement. He declared much later in the evening of April 19 that he did approve it, but without reading it carefully.

Editorials and columns took the candidate to task. But news accounts seemed content with reporting whatever Duterte said, without question, failing to challenge the lack of logic in his defense —  that his statement had been said in anger, as this did not explain the remark, “mayor should have been first.”

One exception was CNN Philippines anchor Pia Hontiveros, whose interview on April 18 with Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of Duterte’s political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) insisted on clarifying what Pimentel meant.

Hontiveros: Can you tell us, what is the PDP-Laban going to do about this? Have you spoken to Mayor Duterte about this?

Pimentel: Well, the PDP-Laban does not need to intervene because the mayor has already said that he is sorry for using gutter language. Our only contribution is to put things in proper perspective. You know what happened? Si Mayor Duterte po ay nagkuwento ng isang insidente noong 1989. Unfortunately he was so accurate in his storytelling that he also quoted himself–

Hontiveros: He repeated everything he said back in ‘89?

Pimentel: Sinabi niya ‘yun in 1989. He quoted himself verbatim and very accurately so if people got mad, actually they got mad at Duterte in 1989. A 44-year-old Mayor Duterte, dun po sila nagagalit, but–

Hontiveros: What are you saying, Senator? That as a 44 year-old man, that would explain why he spoke that way?

Pimentel: No, it was the situation. He was really mad, gutter language nga daw ‘yun pero the point is, all this condemnation that people in social media are dishing out, they’re really…because this happened in ’89, he did not say those words na, ‘yung desire ng Mayor na maunaHindi ‘yan…that’s not the 2016 Duterte. He was quoting himself during that incident in 1989. So, okay lang pong magalit kayo pero nagagalit po kayo sa 1989 Mayor Duterte, a 44-year-old mayor who was faced with such a crisis during the time.

Hontiveros: But why would he repeat those words?

Pimentel: Ganun po talaga siya mag-storytelling eh. Very, very… he takes time in retelling stories. He’s very accurate, he wants to be accurate and sa tingin niya walang masama so inulit niya. That is really, Pia, the proper perspective. Hindi po ‘yun inserted as a joke, hindi ‘yun inserted as a side comment. He was just telling a story. Sinabi niya ‘yun when he was mayor and he was about to attack the hostage-takers.

Hontiveros: Well, Senator, you explained and he (Duterte) explained that when he said that, he was angry. So he was angry at the hostage-takers and those who raped this Australian national. But if he was angry at them, then why would he say, “Dapat mauna ang Mayor”? The mayor should have had her first?

Pimentel: Sabi nga niya, that’s his mouth. That is the way he thinks, that is the way he talks. But he was angry and that was the result of his anger. Nasabi niya ‘yun tapos… ang mas importante yata dun ‘yung susunod niyang sinabi na, “Tapusin na ‘yan, lulusubin na ‘yan.” ‘Yun ang sinabi niya. So finally the decision was made to act and then save whoever they can save. And then there was a firefight and then all of the hostage-takers got killed. That is the proper perspective of the story. Nag-sorry na po. Nag-sorry na po si Mayor Duterte for using the gutter language way back in 1989 and sorry for repeating verbatim, in an accurate way, what he said in 1989.

Hontiveros: Has anyone on the campaign team or from PDP-Laban told him that, in so many words, “Mayor Digong, it’s not all right to talk that way even if you are recalling an old story?”

Pimentel: Of course nobody knew that this was coming, he was recalling an incident so all the words he said during the incident siya lang po ang nakakaalam. Story-telling niya po ito, but this is not a 2016 comment. This is a 1989 comment. Unfortunately, na-capture ng tape, spread in social media, people have reacted. In the end, that’s the use of gutter language. So general apology na rin because up to now siguro sinasabi naman ni Mayor na up to now he uses gutter language.

Hontiveros: All right. Salamat po, Senator Koko Pimentel. Thank you.

The media, with a few exceptions, gave the spin an easy pass.

Duterte’s  rationalization encouraged the trivialization of atrocities like rape and violence against women, even murder. (Duterte’s remark was in fact greeted with laughter from his audience.)

The easy dismissal of the offensive remarks as typical of the “masa,” or just a slip of the tongue should have been questioned. Without checking the absurdity of the spin, the media shared in covering up the politician’s flawed character.




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