"Words coming from the leader of a nation should matter most."
“When the President does not disown the statements of his alter egos, it’s as if he were the one speaking. He no longer needs to speak on the matter.”
This was the gist of what the Palace spokesman said when asked why President Duterte remained silent about the swarming of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters, even as his secretaries of Defense and Foreign Affairs were raising a howl over the illegal incursions.
The statement seems strange, coming from a person whose livelihood depends on words, but we have grown accustomed to the dissembling that goes on in that office.
For the record, words do matter—and words coming from the leader of a nation should matter most.
For months when the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting out in early 2020, then US President Donald Trump dismissed the threat posed by the new coronavirus.
“It’s one person coming in from China and we have it under control. It’s going to be fine,” Trump said in January.
A month later, he predicted: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Mr. Trump also consistently mocked the use of face masks and refused for the longest time to be seen wearing one in public.
All this was to have a disastrous effect on how Americans responded to the pandemic, and directly contributed to the staggering death toll of more than half a million people in the United States.
When the President’s spokesman spews motherhood statements about how our friendship with China will smooth out our territorial disputes with Beijing, these words can signal a refusal or failure to appreciate the reality of the situation, a shameful toadying to China’s communist leaders, or both.
Indeed, the President’s failure to make a full-throated defense of Philippine sovereignty and to warn his Chinese “friends” to stay out of our waters speaks louder than words.
But then, the President seems to have no problems with international communists, just the domestic ones.
So when the President tells leftist groups that he is not red tagging them but identifying them as communists, this encourages the fascist tendencies of some law enforcement officials exemplified by the leaders of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), who see communists hiding under every rock, including community pantries that seek to provide help to those in need in these pandemic times.
And when the President tells the military and the police that if they are in an armed encounter with communist rebels, to “make sure you really kill them and finish them off if they are alive,” this can have life-and-death consequences for the targets of the military’s irresponsible red-tagging.