With his recent pronouncement that he will curb the cursing “because he reprsents the Filipino people,” expect a very different President Mayor Duterte to emerge on the world stage from the one that spit fire and brimstone while campaign stumping all over the country. As evident in his media briefings after being declared the presumptive President of the Republic, Duterte is now showing a side of him seldom seen during his rallies.
He is humble, soft-spoken, conciliatory, and even waxes philosophical at times. He quotes the bible, reaches out to fallen foes, and is full of calm confidence in his vision for the Philippines and his ability to lead the Filipino people. The sudden change have caused some people to wonder which one is the real Duterte. The firebrand or the peacemaker. The demagogue or the diplomat.
But for those who know him and the way his political mind works, they know both are personas are true to the man. While the passion and the commitment to end criminality and corruption are genuine, some of the ways he used to convey his message had multiple purposes and designed to impact various audiences in different ways.
It was calculated to cause fear among drug lords and criminals, light a candle hope for the victims, be a rallying cry and inspiration to his followers, and to separate the political opportunists from the true believers. Of all these, it is the last that required the most subtlety to execute, and will have the most profound long term effect in our political system.
By coming out the way he did – bold, brash, abrasive, vulgar, and everything that the “desente” crowd stood against – he was baiting them into making a stand and coming out in the open. By taking an extreme position, he forced them to take the opposite from which they can now no longer extricate themselves. And by shaking the political landscape the way he did, Duterte forced all the snakes to came out. And now there is nowhere and no way for them to hide.
This clears the way for genuine reform as those that have stood out in stark contrast to Duterte’s pro-people agenda are now left in the cold, unable to worm their way in as they have done in past administrations. The chaff has been separated from the wheat, and they are now ready for burning.