MANILA, Philippines - Don’t worry about the cussing; it won’t bring down the country. “Do not complain about my mouth, that’s my asset. My mouth is my weakness, it is also my strength. My mouth is not a problem. It cannot bring down the country,” President Duterte told police officers in Cagayan de Oro City yesterday. Responding to criticisms that he is not behaving like a statesman, Duterte said he does not care if he is unpopular in other countries as long as he fulfills his mandate to serve the Filipino people. “I am just a small town mayor, my mouth is rural. I never took a course on statesmanship, and I do not intend to be one. And just plainly, if you could call me mayor, I’d be happy because that’s almost my affiliation. Never mind if I’m unpopular there in Europe. I’m not from Europe. I am just the president of the Philippines, just the Philippines,” he added.
Duterte, known for his tough and often foul talk, said he never applied to be a statesman and he does not intend to be one. “I applied as president of the Philippines and I was elected,” he said. “(With regard to a) statesman, I don’t know how he would dress, I do not even know how he would open a statement. But what I know is that I have to serve the greater interest of the Filipino people.” The President also justified his tough words for the European Union and other groups that lecture him about human rights. The EU has asked Duterte to investigate and stop the extralegal killing of suspected drug personalities. Duterte responded by saying “F**k you” and claimed that the regional bloc is hypocritical for lecturing on him while maltreating migrants.
“I cursed because one would think that with all the pontification and every word that they utter, they like it to be treated as an ex cathedra thing,” the President said. “Kung sila marurunong, tayo binababoy (While they may appear knowledgeable, we are being bastardized),” he added. Duterte nearly cursed the EU again yesterday, but managed to hold back. “We will only aspire for one nation, I will not obey the unreasonable mandates of whatever from EU. EU de…,” he said, not completing the Spanish term for bastard. Investors not turned off by invectives Sen. Ralph Recto expressed belief that the President’s cursing would not affect investment. He said hard-nosed investors are attracted by incentives and are not repelled by invectives, and they go to where money can be made, like the Philippines with “an irresistible large market of over 100 million consumers.” He also said “a president’s colorful language is not a risk to be managed. Trading does not stop because the President has again thrown a tantrum.” “The leader of the land where they’ll be sinking their money in can drop ‘F’ bombs for all they care. In search for the almighty profit, throughout human history, merchants march with soldiers to war, often ahead of mercenaries,” Recto said. “What is impolite to investors are the abrupt changes in rules. What is inelegant language to them are the rules of red tape,” he added.
Recto also believes investors are not complaining about Duterte’s bad language but are angry over traffic congestion, weak infrastructure and slow internet. And it is fortunate that the economy rests on strong fundamentals and numbers that matter are healthy so far. Investors, he said, can live with a president who constantly curses for as long as government policies are consistent, and contracts, except fraudulent ones, are honored. “They can live with a president who predictably swears for as long as the rules of business are predictable,” the senator said. He said for as long as Duterte’s verbal tirades do not metamorphose into official state policy, no great harm is done, “except maybe to our sensitive ears.” But Recto said there is a need to boost the Philippines’ global tourism PR drive to negate the bad press the country is getting. He noted the current setup of damage control where Cabinet members grab the nearest microphone every time the President says something of shock value, in order to reassure the nation and the world that existing policies remain and current treaties are not rescinded. “We can only be thankful that after the President’s regular ‘shock and awe’ show, Cabinet members already know the drill, and come out with fire hoses ready,” Recto said. But Recto noted that those close to Duterte should remind him that good statecraft requires the discipline of carefully choosing the right words for the right occasion. Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte also urged Duterte’s critics to give him a chance to do his job and achieve his goal of real change. He said it is imperative for all Filipinos to transcend their personal partisan interests and support the President at this point because the continued investment-grade rating of S & P Global Ratings for the Philippines is “proof enough that the Duterte administration is on the right track in pursuing a 10-point socioeconomic agenda that will arrest lawlessness and curb generational poverty.” “It will be the height of irony if the Philippines goes bust at the end of the Duterte presidency just because we Filipinos did not believe – as much as foreign institutions did – that we can do it,” he added