President Duterte: New statesman
VARRIED if not sharply conflicting schools of thought define a statesman in our Philippine context.
In the classical sense, we associate a statesman with the suave gentleman in coat-and-tie who socializes with the high and the mighty and moves about in the circles of equally well garbed and well- heeled groups.
With the passage of time, this classical portrait of a statesman has been dashed against the hard reality in this enlightened era.
We connect this reality shift to the increasing awareness that those in high places – in the so-called pedestal of society – are the privileged few who dictate their terms to ensure their positions of privilege against those of the hapless majority or hoi poloi.
It is a distortion of enlightened reality, and it has characterized our planet since time immemorial. It’s been as if life on earth is squarely split between the rich and the poor.
This dichotomy between the rich and the poor has been in existence since Adam and Eve, and it’s unthinkable how the set-up would ever be changed.
Lately, however, under the aegis of President Duterte’s heroic governance it looks like under him, the rhetoric of equality or an egalitarian society is being asserted.
If this is so, it should be to our good fortune as Filipinos to have our President (Rodrigo Duterte) a man whose heart and soul are in perfect place asserting what would make him a real and true statesman.
Rabid defenders of the obscene status quo consider him, the President, an iconoclast for his anti American declarations and pro Communist stance.
But the independent-minded seems to consider him a political genius for his raw courage in asserting what has bedraggled our consciousness as a people for centuries…that we in this country should be a sovereign nation whose loyalty is only to the republic.
There are those among us however who noticed the President’s extra- warm reception to President Donald Trump during the recent Asean Summit here.
We instinctively replied that it was par for the course because he is playing his cards well, in fact, extremely well, as a leader of an independent nation, to be good to all people under any ideology, creed and color.
We saw this by the way from day 1 of his assumption to the Presidency, loudly behaving like he was anti American and pro China and Russia, while in truth and in fact, it May be said calmly now, he was merely indulging in dramatics.
One day, he said he was just mouthing hyperbole (a figure of speech that allows exaggeration in speech to dramatize a point.
Ok, let’s go back to the old, in fact, achronistic idea of a statesman as political craftsman mouthing the people’s highest interest, but doing whatever he pleased good or bad for the masa.
We advance the view that President Duterte is playing his cards superbly now as shown by his closeness to Trump. Not to be identified with partisan or political interests now, yes, at least lately.
Often the President would rough up certain cabinet members in public to the shock of the conservative members of society, but on the other hand, the discerning and the silent majority who have no interest but the welfare of the majority are applauding.
Public perception of the President as brutally honest has somewhat endeared the hoi poloi who were sick and tired of the dishonest and corrupt in government.
If he is doing it only for show, he is a great actor, a political genius. But we have a way of checking and validating facts, and our good fortune is that 86 percent of the people still approve of his leadership.
Most of his rah rah boys, admirers and ardent supporters are with him, sustaining his leadership including his blunt talk diplomacy.
On another front, the President’s surprising label of the Communist Party and allied groups as enemies of the state is, to us, a big setback instead of a move for reunification in light of the dramatic advance achieved by the negotiating panels led by Joe-ma himself and the government panel headed by Secretary Bebot Bello and Presidential peace adviser Jess Dureza.
Many of the parties at the negotiating panels are our personal friends and we could not see any tinge of insincerity from either side.
But as the venerable pundit Walter Lippman warns, the President – by the very nature of his position’s access to intelligence (which is not available to the public) might know something that is not publicly available.
What a waste then! Sayang!
Instead of achieving a breakthrough in the peace process, we are back to square one if not worse.
But wait, could the panel members take the presidential decision with a sincere heart?
We hope so. But we have our doubts.