I had woken up on Monday to President Duterte’s speeches: two, in fact, both of which I went back to and took notes on. That’s where most of my Monday went. I have found it important to take stock with this President, to take time understanding what he’s saying, and where he comes from, as well as where he’s going, because social and mainstream media are noisy and competing for online hits, with a tendency towards sensationalism and the superficial and easy either-or kind of discourse and analysis.
Two months into this new government, one would think we’ve all learned our lesson from the President himself and what he’s revealed about local and global media. But some might take longer with the learning curve.
Today, it had this story: “Duterte vows to resign if probers find ‘killings.’” The article went on to narrate:
EXPRESSING his openness to subject himself to a “garbage probe” by human rights bodies, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed to step down from office if his critics could prove there had been state-sanctioned killings in the country.
“If there were killings, I will resign tonight. I’ll give you my resignation,” Duterte told reporters.
“I’m not a fool to keep the presidency. Truth to tell, I don’t want [the presidency].”
Duterte made his statement even as a United Nations rights rapporteur told AFP she intended to visit the Philippines to investigate Duterte’s deadly war on crime, but was seeking security guarantees for the people she planned to speak with.
That headline, and this story, surprised me because my notes — and another round of listening to the speech itself — reveal that in fact the statement about resigning happened NOT in the context of the United Nations rapporteur, but in the context of his discussion about America, and how they were threatening him with the cases of extrajudicial killings, when “They have done for more horrific things.” (see video starting 38:02)
The promise to resign was also NOT in relation to the media proving that there are killings under HIS presidency. President Duterte was very clear about this (starting 38:29):
Criminals? They’re attributing it to us, even when there was already killings … look at your statistics! Before I assumed office, tingnan ninyong mabuti, then that would make you a good journalist because you are fair, factual. Bilangin niyo. Bilangin mo! And if there were no killings, this is official, I will resign tonight. Come back here I’ll give you my resignation.
It was in fact about proving that killings were not happening in the governments before his. THAT was what he wanted the media to prove, and if they found that there were no killings, then he would resign.
One is unclear about whether or not The Manila Standard might have been looking at another speech, and if they were, which one was it? The other quotes from this report were in fact not part of his speech, but part of the open forum with the media.
The news report also does not say which speech it is based on: the one he delivered for the Oath Taking of MPC, MCA and PPA, or the one for the PACFMC and Presentation of the Signed IRR of the Centenarians Act of 2016.
Which does bring me to this question: if local media can’t get a handle on this President and his ways, then why do we expect foreign and global media to understand him / us better? It’s a lose-lose situation really, and the sadder thing is that it need not be.
Time is a luxury, sure, but it is time that this kind of President requires. It is also what nation deserves from media, now more than ever.