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[Newspoint] Why Time will find no other like Duterte

President Duterte leads Time magazine's early polls for the world's 100 most influential people. Whether or not that's something to be proud of depends of course on where you stand on the wide spectrum of meanings the operative word "influential” conveys.

From its neutral sense of having an impact or effect on something or someone, “influential” can be taken at one extreme to mean inspiring proper admiration, emulation, or even adulation and at the other extreme to mean inciting a righteous sense of scandal and revulsion.

At any rate, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella promptly responds that, while Duterte “is grateful [for the recognition] he serves the nation faithfully . . . without any thought of receiving any distinction."

But Communications Secretary Martin Andanar appears to think Abella is ascribing a useless virtue to the President – it’s a predictable disagreement between any public-relations man and an evangelist, which Abella once was and possibly remains hung up on being. Anyway, Andanar goes for distinction, actively, covetously; he is calling out to Duterte partisans to bombard Time online with their own affirmations before the polls close on April 16.

Andanar definitely reads the President better than Abella. But then Andanar couldn't go wrong by simply recalling the clinical diagnosis of the Duterte type: a narcissist – one who goes out to the world with the precise compulsive intent to make a mark on it, an “influence", if you will.

But Duterte can only do so as an absolute boor. As an autocratic mayor of Davao City for more than two decades and now with his high popularity as president, he has had more than enough encouragement.

And Time may yet provide the ultimate validation.

“Time 100,” as the annual list is called, is put together by Time editors from a debate among American academics, politicians, and journalists as to the nominees’ worthiness. That, with Time’s reputation, naturally lends some credibility and respectability to the whole affair, even if no concern is paid to the consequences of a nominee’s actions – say, the thousand mostly impoverished souls killed each month, some by extrajudicial execution, in Duterte’s war on drugs.

In Hitler's company

One may question the sensibility or usefulness of Time 100, but some helpful perspective may be formed from the early words of Time founder Henry Luce, himself the son of missionaries. “Objectivity is a myth,” he declares. “I’m a Protestant, a Republican, and a free enterpriser, which means I’m biased in favor of God, Eisenhower [the American Republican president, who ran the war in Europe for the allied forces], and the stockholders of Time, Inc.”

Duterte, with his own sword of wrath and his salable, if twisted, charm, would seem a perfect fit; he brings to bear the combined weights of Old Testament sense of summary judgment and modern-day worship of profit. In fact, Duterte aspires to Hitler, who for Time is a sort of standard, too.

Time made Hitler its Man of the Year in 1938, the very year he invaded Czechoslovakia and annexed it, and began to occupy it in preparation for his war on the rest of Europe.

Duterte, for his part, likens himself to Hitler for the six million Jews he exterminated, although he cuts the number by half to match his own count of drug dealers and users in the Philippines, all of whom he says he “will be happy to slaughter.”

To be sure, Duterte possesses other qualities that suit the purpose of Time 100. His deviancy in fact cuts across the board. Not only is he a confessed womanizer; he publicly hits on women, a habit betrayed not only in words but also in action: during the electoral campaign he was ready with puckered lips for any woman who came close enough to be presumed game.

His speech is peppered with cuss phrases intended for particular detractors or simply as an expression of general dislike for anyone or anything. The Pope got it during his visit for snarling up Manila traffic and detaining Duterte in it. Barack Obama and other foreign leaders got it, too, for criticizing him for his ruthless war on drugs – “No one tells me,” he told them, and proceeded to blaspheme their mothers.

Doubtless, Rodrigo Duterte is Time’s man. Indeed, it will find no other like him. – Rappler.com