Interview with my Norwegian Husband about President Duterte
President Duterte’s rough and direct way of talking makes dumbfounding headlines all over the world, and people are asking; what kind of mad man has become president in the Philippines? My Norwegian husband knows the Philippines well and he wrote an article about Duterte, “The Shadow of an Eagle” for this blog in November 2014. I have asked him to answer some questions to help clarify the image of our new president internationally.
What do you think about President Duterte?
This colorful and controversial man can be defined in one sentence: “Elected officials must serve the greater good no matter what it takes.”
It’s the words of his father and his motto was: Elected officials must serve the greater good no matter what it takes, like a father protecting and disciplining his family”. Duterte is just following his father’s footsteps “serving the greater good no matter what it takes”. Simple as that.
Many are accusing Duterte of being a cold-blooded murderer, do you believe that?
Well… He is more like a well-informed shepherd protecting his herd from predators. He is just doing what most Filipinos are saying they will do if someone attacks their family. What would you do if some people harmed your mother or sisters?
I answered spontaneously: I would make these sons of bitches suffer and then I would kill them!
Wow, you talk like Duterte, and Duterte talks like most Filipinos. Duterte’s rough way of talking is a kind of a verbal devil mask scaring the evil spirits back to Hell! The elites in Manila and international media don’t take Duterte’s verbal stunts, but most Filipinos do. The problem is that Duterte doesn’t moderate his talk when he addresses foreign journalists. That gives his political opponents free ammunition to fire back.
What do you think about Obama canceling the meeting in Laos? Is America and Obama morally superior towards the Philippines and Duterte?
No, this was a question of diplomatic etiquette and America’s pride. Morally, Obama and Duterte appear equal. Innocent people are killed both in Obama´s war against terror and Duterte’s war against drugs. They are facing exactly the same dilemma, but Obama is better protected by a more functional law system. Obama does not have to break the law in order to send away his bombs and drones. It’s a safer way than Duterte who is accused of breaking the law fighting the drug cartels. Duterte has a point when he refers to the double moral of the USA.
What about the many human rights worries, are they relevant?
Yes, human rights are very important and they are sad enough violated in almost all countries of the world, also the Philippines, but some of the human rights activists in Manila are like crocodiles claiming that they have become vegetarian. It’s a pity that a part of the elite in the Philippines are using all the dirty tricks in the book to discredit their new President and that international news media so easily swallow the baits.
So the international media is misled or used in a dirty game for power organized by Duterte’s enemies?
Well, it is one way of looking at it, not necessarily the right one, but a broad part of the news media in The Philippines is controlled by people who got worried when Duterte was elected. Why they got worried is a question they probably will never answer honestly. They might need reasons to move attention from themselves, and old bloody Duterte Harry rumors appear at the front pages again.
How would you describe Duterte’s political platform and main goal?
He wants The Philippines to become a federal state with substantial autonomy for the provinces in order to end the ongoing armed conflicts. He is a pragmatic modern social democrat raised in “The Wild East”. He is trying to save his country from becoming a banana republic the same way he disciplined Davao City, the murder capital of The Philippines when he became Mayor in 1988. To reach his goal in Davao, he needed support from all of his citizens, also militant Muslims, Maoists, and vigilante groups. He managed to find a peaceful balance so that Davao could prosper and become a role model for the rest of The Philippines.
Is there still hope for the Philippines?
There are strength, vision, and hope behind Duterte’s rhetoric devil mask, so let’s hope he will continue to show that actions speak louder than words.