Supporters of President Duterte unleashed their collective online fury at political commentator and comedian Hasan Minhaj who, over the weekend, marveled at Mr. Duterte’s continued popularity despite his bloody war on drugs and cited his propensity to use the law to punish his critics.
Minhaj, in the latest episode of Patriot Act which aired on Netflix just before voters trooped to precincts Monday, poked dark fun at some of Mr. Duterte’s statements on illegal drugs and claimed that the war, despite its violence and its bias against the poor, had been ineffective.
As a result, one Duterte supporter asked Minhaj how much the political opposition paid him. Another told him to mind his own country and to focus on India instead. Yet another said Minhaj should have done better research.
The reaction to the latest foreign criticism comes just after the release of two so-called matrices identifying lawyers and journalists as part of a destabilization plot against Mr. Duterte. A recent version even included athletes—much to many people’s bewilderment, even amusement.
If the President has not had it so good, we wonder why he and his supporters even bother with their critics in the first place. He needs no better proof of this than the fact that his senatorial candidates dominated Monday’s elections.
Speculating about destabilization and badmouthing anybody who dares have a different, less rosy perception of the way things are here is not only useless; it is counterproductive. Congress will already be bereft of legitimate voices from the opposition. If the Executive wants at least an appearance of dissent, then it should not be vexed by the slightest criticism.
The President and his allies should instead channel their energy to delivering on their promises and assuring the masses that the sustained confidence—for some, adulation—is at least deserved.