When the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists made it to the news on October 10, Duterte and his communications team fell silent. There were no official responses to it, no declaration that the media reports about it were biased or untrue, and no Duterte propagandists raising their fists.
This is why the President’s almost crazed, invective-laced, tirade that had him attacking the European Union was a surprise. Even more surprising is how today, his own men in Malacañang tried to pin the blame for the unwarranted display of anger against the EU to (a) mainstream media for misreporting about the mission itself, and (b) the organization itself.
But neither of this is true.
A look at the news reports that came out about the visit of the 7-member mission reveals that no one called it an “EU mission.” The Inquirer headline story for example referred to them as “parliamentarians belonging to the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists.” SunStar Manila referred to them as “A mission of international parliamentarians and civil society leaders”, GMA News called it “A seven-member delegation of the Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists.” Nowhere across the stories of the Philippine Star, and even the follow-up story of the Inquirer, was there mention of the organization’s visit to the Philippine being an “EU Mission.”
Now of course this is limited to the written reports about the mission in Manila, and it’s entirely possible too that some of them have edited their original posts. But that also means that if / when there was a misreporting of this 7-person mission, it should’ve been the responsibility of Malacañang itself not only to call out the wrong report, but more importantly to make sure that the President did not get caught up in the wrong information to the point of hysterical rhetoric.
But instead of taking responsibility, Malacañang has pinned blame on something else. According to Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the 7-man mission had “falsely portrayed itself as an EU mission.” But nowhere in its official statement, or the news article that came out on its website does the Progressive Alliance and PES call itself an EU mission. In fact, if Sec. Abella — or Martin Andanar, or Bong Go — cared to even brief the President about the matter as they should have, they would’ve read the official site of the group and would’ve found an explanation for what they actually are, and who exactly was in Manila (only one is a member of the European Parliament). This would’ve calmed down the President, and maybe would’ve kept him from putting on that angry-man hear-me-roar show for all the world to see.
But obviously, no one was doing research, and no one thought to inform the President that he was mistaken about his anger. So the Communications Team let Duterte threaten the members of the European foreign service, they let him curse Europe to smithereens, they watched as he raved and ranted against the wrong enemy.
They let him make a fool of himself, outraged over something that was not even said and did not happen, at least not from the EU.
The Senate should seriously be looking into the PCOO’s budget. Because there is no “training people” to do better work, when 16 months in and the leadership of this office is shining proof of its incompetence and unprofessionalism. This office just allowed Duterte, armed with the wrong information, to go on an insane rampage against the wrong enemy on nationwide television. That should be cause, among many other mishaps and mistakes, to refuse to give Andanar etal the budget they request for.
In the meantime, let this be a reminder (yet again!) that in fact there is no point in imagining a destabilization plot against this government.
Duterte’s men — from the communications team to the economic managers, the transport cluster to the pro-business military officials — they are all doing a pretty good job of destabilizing this government. Watch them bring themselves down.