This administration has no shortage of men who equate toughness with boorishness, and who appear stuck in the skewed mindset of male superiority.
For example, Senator Ronald dela Rosa warned the new co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, Vice President Leni Robredo, about the perils of the position she had surprisingly accepted.
“This is war,” Dela Rosa said. “You have to fight. Hindi ka pwedeng pa
-cute cute dito
We did not think anybody would dare imagine the fight against drugs to be a venue for cuteness.
Recall this is the same Dela Rosa who, in his brief but storied term at the helm of the Philippine National Police, had no qualms about using a mascot in his likeness and who dressed up as Santa Claus in a bid to endear himself to the public. Perhaps he talks from experience—after all, despite attempts at cuteness, he bungled the opportunity to carry out the drug war.
He was also the same man who shed copious tears during a congressional hearing as he claimed to feel badly for his subordinates, who always got bad press about the brutal way they implemented the campaign against illegal drugs.
Not to be outdone, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin took to Twitter to vent his feelings about a journalist from the Inquirer
who reported that President Rodrigo Duterte was conspicuously absent during the closing ceremony of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Thailand.
“Uh, did you get the put*ngina
(son of a b*tch) I sent you?" the secretary tweeted.
Later, Locsin said he did not know that the journalist was female. “Had I known that she was a lady I’d have let it pass,” he said. Mr. Locsin does not get that he was criticized, not because he cursed a woman, but because for someone occupying his position, he was not supposed to curse at anybody, period.
Locsin did not end there. “Say sorry. Now,” he said, addressing the reporter and the paper she worked for. "I will apologize to the lady [if] she apologizes to Duterte for her slanders and that idiot newspaper vows never to slant stories about him again."
In response to this, yet another reporter, this time from the Philippine Star
, quoted the law on the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Locsin retorted: “F*ck you.”
He deleted this tweet, but not before a BBC correspondent took a screen shot and shared it further.
These men could argue that they are being authentic—after all, don’t the majority of Filipinos, adore how authentic their boss is? Dela Rosa’s and Locsin’s words, however, convey arrogance and entitlement that they can say what they feel like, without regard for how it reflects on the institutions they represent.
What will likely happen is that these incidents will get relegated to memory once a new sound byte surfaces. Still, they contribute to the sense that our leaders feel they can do anything they please—just because they can, and because they are bound to outtalk those who dare call them out.
The impunity does not evoke confidence, security, or pride.