Duterte: the effective communicator
posted 4-Jun-2016  ·  
6,822 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Those who had the time to follow the campaign messages of Rodrigo Duterte the candidate may find it amusing why he hasn’t changed his communication style even after he had already won the presidential contest or now that he is about to take over that most exalted position of the republic. Non-Duterte believers, too, are still unforgiving and cynical as from the start, to the point of suggesting that the Davao City mayor ought take a personal fitness test for the presidency, otherwise they said, the Philippines with Duterte’s signature cracks and puns will be a big letdown and a source of embarrassment for Filipinos in the eyes of this world. Media observers on the other side are a little kind, hoping that he will overcome the natural defect the moment he goes through the cursory advise of his image makers and communications men.

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But despite questions on fluency and language choices, I do not find anything wrong or ominous on the ability of Duterte to make himself understood by the masses of Filipinos who had enough of the boladas, the abstractions and motherhood messages of his speech-tutored rivals in the campaign. In fact, Digong was easily understood because he used the language of the common man. He was well-liked for his language antics and undoubtedly it was perhaps his down-to-earth remarks that identified him with the majority of voters who went on to give him overwhelming acceptance. The truth is that Duterte is a good public communicator. He does not engage in double talk or ambiguities. He speaks in very forthright manner, deliberately telegraphing the important policy concerns that he will tackle once he sat down in Malacanang.

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When Duterte promised to end the problems of drugs and criminality within six m months, the message easily got into the minds of those who are lined up to be new heads of the police and the military. That was why the presumptive Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa summarily had vowed to adopt Duterte’s uncompromising stand against crime and police discipline even before the former takes over Camp Crame. When Digong said he wanted the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and the Land Transportation Office abolished, he was merely dramatizing the fact that corruption is endemic in these agencies, which is certainly true. The context of what he was saying was that a dramatic overhaul is needed in these sick agencies, reshuffle them from top to bottom. Of course he knows that he cannot exactly abolish them because they produce our bread and butter as a nation. Inviting the communists to join his government may be a bit scary, but the gesture was in effect an overture for peace - to finally put an end to the decades-old leftist insurgency that has constricted development efforts in the countryside. How can communism successfully seep into our bureaucracy when this ideology has long been gone and proven absolutely irreconcilable with the views and culture of the Filipinos. Duterte was also being described comical when he vowed to sail into the West Philippine Sea as the country’s president  to confront, if not talk, to the Chinese directly why they are occupying our territories. That may sound funny but the essence of what was said was that he will pursue as an alternative policy, bilateral  engagements with China on the territorial dispute, qualifying that such will only happen should China reject the conclusion of ongoing international arbitration to resolve the problem. I don’t think the Americans will raise hackles even if it is inconsistent with their desire of involving regional claimants in the South China Sea in a multilateral approach to the issue. The truth is that the US will   even have a need for Duterte or any other strong-willed Filipino leader who can face off with the Chinese.

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In short, Duterte will be starting in Malacanang with policies already communicated in advance via his humorous yet forceful pronouncements. I have little doubt that Duterte will be a harbinger of doom as his seemingly unselective but forthright use of language are loaded enough to be accepted by the national constituency. Nevertheless, as president he is expected to represent mainstream and popularly-accepted views and this we will certainly hear from him soon as he had constituted the communication group that will package, strategize and fine-tune his verbals, consistent with presidential standards required from someone sitting in Malacanang.

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ROSULO welcomes comments via: rosmanlangit@yahoo.com

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