Early in the campaign, President Rodrigo Duterte proudly admitted, “Yes, I cannot lie, I killed 3 people.”
Many people said, “That is a brutally honest man,” and believed him. They reasoned, if he can admit to a crime, he must be incapable of lying.
We say we’re tired of the lies, but the truth is, we’ve gotten used to the lies. Fake news nowadays is accepted as part of online life. It’s mostly ignored by the government spin doctors, who have the enormous task of sanitizing what the President says.
Wordsmithing in public life has almost come to mean serving a heady cocktail of lies, with a sprig of truth on top. It’s part of the political landscape both on the pro- and anti-Duterte side of the fence.
Moral ambiguity has been a hallmark of the Duterte administration from Day 1: he cursed the Pope and Barack Obama, joked about the rape of a missionary, told soldiers they can rape women, and told police he’ll protect them if they kill people.
People go on admiring Tatay Digong for this. They have the ability to push aside the curtain of morality and look beyond. They see a passionate leader, one who doesn’t take his eyes off the ball, one who stands up for the troops, a true general, one who is not afraid of the collateral damage and the ensuing fallout.
Leadership gurus say being a leader is situational: the best leaders adjust their styles to the situation and capabilities of the people they lead.
Some say Duterte is a master of situational leadership. He connects with his audience regardless of educational or economic level. But an entrepreneurship expert says, “A leader’s integrity should be immutable and unchanging. It’s not for sale.”
While leadership is situational, integrity isn’t.
Last September 15, the President said, “That number I invented, son of a bitch, that’s mine, I made it up.” He admitted inventing the bank account number of his top critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes. Only this President would have the gumption to admit making something up and making it a point of pride, too.
His admirers say it’s part of the mindgame; part of the psywar. All is fair in war, right?
Lying may be part of the bag of tricks of lawyers, spies and salesmen. But it’s simply unacceptable for a President. And it’s not just about the form, it’s not just about acting presidential. It’s about substance. It’s about respecting the office you occupy and acting as a president should: with dignity, integrity and accountability. This is no longer Davao and city politics only.
This is about the future of 104 million Filipinos with a national budget of P3.35 trillion. This is the world stage with a new emerging world order that may see China’s ascendancy as a world power, America’s decline with Trumpolitics, Nokor’s nukes, and global terrorism.
Thomas Hobbes said that in the absence of political order and law, there is freedom to plunder, rape, and murder; there would be an endless “war of all against all.”
Our social contract with this President should have precluded plunder, rape and murder, and emphasized accountability, transparency, and integrity. #TheLeaderIWant was a Rappler battlecry during the 2016 elections. In search of answers, we ask over a year later, are we simply getting the leader we deserve?
If you think about it, the joke is on us. The public, after all, has been the target of these mind games. We’ve been conditioned to condone, remain silent, and consider this as the “new normal.”
Over in the US and seemingly no different from us, Americans have been keeping tabs on the lies their President has been peddling. A Politico Fact Check found out 78% of things Donald Trump said during the campaign were false.
Combine the lies with the relentless bully tactics, and you get a deadly recipe for disaster. A president who lies to the public IS a national calamity. This means the highest officer of the land considers truth relative, and the people he’s sworn to serve, malleable and pliant. – Rappler.com