Time and again the nation, nay the whole world, gets dumbfounded every time President Rodrigo Duterte utters outrageous or ridiculous comments which many deem unpresidential.
But when was Duterte ever presidential – from the way he wears formal clothes, like the barong tagalog or coat and tie, or even in the way he delivers impromptu speeches and interacts with his audience, what with his ever ready vulgar words to run off at the mouth?
Fortunately we are not bound by rules of electing president based on being dapper or silver-tongued and, thus, Duterte was elected overwhelmingly by many who identified with him as a simple, unpretentious and inarticulate person, but whose leadership has been the envy of every politician in the country the way he transformed Davao City from bedlam to a peaceful and livable place.
It is no surprise therefore that what people see in Duterte is what they get, warts and all, even as our president, because as the old cliché goes, “you cannot teach old dogs new tricks”, especially a stubborn ‘dog’ like Duterte.
And so we tolerate and accept, and even laugh, at the banter that Duterte dishes out when he senses that he has connected with the audience, like when he cursed the Pope and called God “stupid”.
Duterte’s latest caper was when he questioned the celebration of All Saints’ Day alleging that the saints Filipinos were worshiping were fools and drunkards and to be sure that they are venerating the real deal Duterte suggested that they get a picture of his and idolize him instead by calling him Santo Rodrigo.
Clearly this is a joke and no one should lose sleep over it. Had Duterte been a natural born comic and knew how to deliver his punch lines, nobody would be questioning his act.
But because he is the president known for delivering uncouth language, the simon-pure in us insists and expects Duterte to show an exemplary demeanor befitting his position.
Duterte may be unpresidential when compared to those before him, but what he lacks in style he compensates it with important traits of a president which is to have not only the knowledge and acumen of his job but also the political will to go after the problems plaguing the country no matter how controversial, unpopular and deadly it may be. This is what makes him stand out from the others.
At the end of the day the reality is that a well-intentioned sitting president is the person who could lead us to salvation from our long agonizing woes and not the veneration we offer the saints who many believe helps in assuaging man’s suffering soul.
So, Santo Rodrigo, any one?
Of course I am joking!