Scrolling down on the homepage of my Facebook account, I couldn’t help but notice how active and rabid Mayor Duterte’s supporters are. This despite the many times the good mayor has offended the sensibilities of many people. Nothing’s sacred to his foul mouth from rape victims to his Holiness the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the state of Vatican, Servant of the servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis I.
Duterte was so irritated by the traffic caused by the papal visit that in an interview he cursed the pope calling his mother a whore and that the country would be better off if he would leave the as soon as possible, this because Duterte got stuck in traffic.
Of course the Catholics condemned Duterte and asked for an apology which the mayor gave but it was not, as it appeared to me, a heartfelt apology. I think to Duterte an apology is useless once the word was out of his mouth and that he is willing to take the consequences of his offending remarks.
But what is surprising is that there are Catholics and clerics who are still supporting Duterte’s candidacy. Even among the Evangelicals there are many ministers who openly support the mayor’s bid for the presidency.
What is it about Duterte that made him appealing to many Filipinos?
Well, I’ll dip into my ass and think of something…
1. His anger.
Duterte is one angry guy and it could be felt every time he appears on TV. He is trying to make the Filipinos think and feel that his anger is powerful and that when it is turned to the criminals, it could wipe them out the face of country. Personally, I think his anger at criminals and drug lords do produce results.
2. He just doesn’t care what others think of him.
Because of that alone, I feel a certain affinity with the guy. This attitude gives him that aura of impunity from the press and detractors which buckles most politicians in the country. He has this sense of freedom that enables him to speak whatever comes out of his mouth first, without thinking about it and without batting an eyelash, which most politicians would envy, or maybe not. Of course, as a president this behavior could lead the country into international diplomatic row and maybe even armed conflict. Just imagine him calling the Chinese president a son of a whore or Hillary Clinton, if elected in the US, one yummy piece of ass. But I think the thought of of the welfare of 100 million Filipinos on his back would tame him somehow, or he could hire a protocol officer who has the presidential license to knock his teeth out when necessity dictates.
3. He is not beholden to anyone.
I think this is one of his best selling points. Unlike most candidates whose supporter are big name businessmen and political king makers, Duterte, it appears, has no big boys behind him. Of course I sometimes wonder where the money for his ads comes from. But judging from the posts on Facebook and the anecdotal testimonies, it seems he has strong grass roots and moneyed supporters.
4. His sense of humor
I like the guy. He speaks like a tambay. He behaves like a tambay. Anyone in the slum areas could look out of their window and hear Digong talking. He is not an urbane, ivy leaguer trying hard to be WASP person. He behaves like your and my neighbor, actually he behaves like me. Of course not literally, I'm just stressing the identification. He could be your beer drinking father or uncle who could make everybody laugh with offensive jokes and habitual cursing.
But behind this gutter talking, politically incorrect, ass kicking. thug façade is a keen lawyer’s mind and an outstanding administrator attested by multiple awards and recognitions here and abroad. And he sleeps using mosquito nets.
Will I vote for Duterte? It’s tempting. Well, I'll give you a wink instead. I will tell you one thing, I think many Filipinos are tired of clean looking, smooth talking, over educated traditional politicians who mostly are trained thieves and outstanding plunderer. This is my fifty cents worth of advice: let us not be fooled by the trapos sweet, calm, generally empty but well thought of words and in the same way let us not be fooled by Duterte's impulsive, gutter talk. Think.