With Duterte, we should expect the unexpected (and still expect to be surprised)

With Duterte, we should expect the unexpected (and still expect to be surprised)

- in Opinion
DutertePhoto by Rene Lumawag



During his most recent press conference the third to be called in the wee hours of the morning, in-coming President Rodrigo Duterte again spoke at length of his plans once he is officially installed as the 16th President of the Republic.

While the immediate reason for his waking the media up from their comfortable slumber was to talk about his disgust over the failure of police officials in preventing the deaths of several concert-goers to an event in Pasay, the discussion easily weaved in and out of a variety of issues. Each related only by Duterte’s desire to talk about them.

And just like in the past, his messages where a mixed bag of straightforward pronouncements about crime, cryptic allusions to policy decisions, revisions to earlier statements, and many more contradictions that kept the media on their toes the whole time he was talking.

As expected, there were those who are again quick to fault Duterte for his rambling and seemingly-pointless expositions on topics that range from the peace talks to the price of taxi fares. But while focusing on these minor negatives, they have failed to see that with this simple strategy of deliberately disregarding  protocol and schedules, Duterte has already gained a tremendous upper hand with traditional media. They are now following, instead of leading, the President’s agenda.

His guerrilla-style communications strategy has so far kept the whole country, including his  critics and opponents guessing as to what he will say or do next. By staying three, four, five steps ahead of everyone else, and playing with his cards close to his chest, Duterte is effectively preventing them from laying their traps and ambushes.

Duterte himself has said that people should just stop second guessing what he will do next, hinting that what will happen will happen and anything that people expect is just as likely to be the exact of opposite where he will go.

In a landscape of moribund political strategies and slow-moving trapos, the nimble witted Duterte is running rings around everyone else. Even the media and the bishops, long held sacred cows in Philippine society are having a difficult time adjusting to the new reality that they are no longer as important as they once were.

This is the time of Duterte and his people’s army. This is the time of the masses being able to speak up and make their voices heard without the traditional gate keepers barring their way. This is the time for real change – Duterte style.

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