World should learn to 'navigate' through Duterte – expert
MANILA, Philippines – The world should learn to "navigate" its way through Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, an expert said, as critics complain about the chief diplomat's "colorful" language.
"We know that despite all the language, despite his colorful style, he still enjoys a very strong approval rating. So I think the international community should learn how to navigate their way through our president," foreign affairs analyst Lucio Pitlo III told reporters on the sidelines of the Wednesday Roundtable at Lido forum on October 26.
Pitlo, who also teaches Chinese studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, explained that Duterte is clear that he wants an independent foreign policy.
He said Duterte, too, does not want other countries to "interfere" in local issues, such as his war on illegal drugs.
In his interview with reporters, Pitlo was asked why the world should adjust to Duterte and not the other way around.
Pitlo explained that Duterte's "personal character" plays a big role.
Protocol 'very important,' too
Referring to Duterte, Pitlo said: "He still has about 5 years. Let's hope that over time, after all the reactions because of his statements, he may calibrate his language. He may be more civil about it. But again, I think it's far more important for us to look at the substance rather than the form."
Pitlo spoke at the Wednesday Roundtable at Lido forum along with seasoned diplomat and former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani.
At the same forum, Shahani reminded Duterte of the importance of protocol as he was making a 3-day official visit to Japan.
"In diplomacy, protocol is very important," Shahani said. "If you have to attend a reception, you do it for the country. It's a patriotic act."
In earlier interviews with Rappler, experts have stressed the need for Duterte to act like a diplomat, because his actions can affect even the lives of Filipinos abroad.
Throughout his first 4 months in office, Duterte has drawn flak worldwide for cursing the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union over alleged extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.
Duterte has also been slammed over his statement that he will "be happy to slaughter" 3 million drug addicts as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler "massacred 3 million Jews." – Rappler.com
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