Eroded credibility

IT’S widely believed in politics: The less you talk, the less you make mistakes.

Not so for President Rodrigo Duterte, who is fond of expletives and hyperbole to express his sentiments.

Early on, I cautioned the President against talking a lot. I said he should be careful with his words because those who are not used to him would not know what he really means.

Palace officials told us that we must use our creative imagination in deciphering what the President is really saying.

But we in media are not in the business of imagining!

So when the President says he would kill the narco-politicians, media report his statements as he said them. How then can we misquote or misreport?

Now we have the President talking about imposing martial law in his war against drugs.

He did backtrack once, saying that martial law cannot solve anything, anyway. But now he talks about it again, and we wonder, perhaps the idea is really embedded on his mind.

The thought sends chills down our spine­—we know full well what that means.

But Duterte is a lawyer. He must know that the Cory Constitution is toothless. He must know that there is no basis for him to declare martial law.

So why is he still talking about it? Is it to emphasize his commitment to combat drugs? Or is he just intent on showing the people that he is strong?

We now have a President who doesn’t mean what he says. I believe this is not healthy. A president should not play with his credibility. It is something that makes him maintain his power.

At the rate he is talking too much saying things he just takes back, sooner or later his credibility may be eroded. It will be a waste, because I believe Duterte is the strong leader we have been praying for.

* * *

Malacañang was quick to jump on the latest Social Weather Stations survey that says change has really come under President Duterte. But what change is Malacañang talking about when the number of Filipinos who considered themselves poor went up to 44 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016? This means that 10 million families still consider themselves poor and hungry. We actually have 50 million living below the poverty line.

There is nothing to be proud of when a country like the Philippines has about one half of its population considering themselves poor. This is not the change we are hoping for.

Add this to the problem of joblessness; some 11 to 12 million Filipinos are unemployed or underemployed.

Mr. Duterte should not forget that poverty and joblessness remain the biggest problems of the nation. He must make these a priority.

* * *

The Philippines’ chairmanship of the Asean not only puts the Philippines on the world map. It becomes an acid test for the President and his advisers on how well they will handle the South China Sea dispute with leaders from other countries.

The President and his advisers on politics and foreign affairs will face global attention on how well they can carry themselves in foreign policy disputes. China has taken over most of the reefs and islets in the South China Sea. It will also be an opportunity for the Philippines to attract foreign investments.

International media will cover the summit and focus on President Duterte as the Asean chairman. Given this, we must watch out for what Digong with his foul mouth will do or say.

* * *

With the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s expansion of its Small Town Lottery comes the problem of corruption that goes with it.

When President Duterte assumed the presidency, he was vocal about the corruption at PCSO. Why he has not pursued his anti-corruption program in the agency remains a mystery.

If and when the President decides to go after illegal gambling, he should also dig deeper into the operations of STLs. It is known that drug lords operate them. Corruption money is supposed to go as high up as PCSO officials and board members. A well-known Chinese is also said to be in control of the many STLs nationwide.

* * *

This made me laugh.

Somebody quipped that he found Vice President Leni Robredo beautiful, and for that reason, she should be called “Vice Ganda.”

Topics: Emil Jurado , Eroded credibility , President Rodrigo Duterte , martial law , Social Weather Stations survey , South China Sea dispute , Small Town Lottery
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