Who is the wind beneath Duterte’s wings?
His critics certainly are propelling him to the top of our consciousness, the latest of which had a Hollywood actress disparaging him with a ranking place among despots and dictators.
Naturally, Malacañang had a retort after actress Bette Midler classified President Rodrigo Duterte alongside the likes of United States President Donald Trump and Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler.
An avid critic of Trump, Midler first sniped at Duterte in 2017, calling him a “murderous dictator” on her Twitter page. It was her reaction to the President serenading Trump at the ASEAN Summit gala dinner in Manila. She tweeted: “Murderous dictator Duterte serenaded Trump with a Filipino love song.”
No surprise then that she would let loose her thoughts on the ongoing impeachment hearings on Trump, basically to urge her fellow Americans to pay attention.
“For Americans who think the impeachment hearings have nothing to do with them, think again. Want to leave the door open to a Hitler? A Stalin? A Castro? A Duterte? A Pol Pot? A Putin? An Assad? A Chavez? A Kim Jong Un? A Mussolini? A Mugabe? An Amin? #Trump’s the gateway to that,” she wrote last weekend.
It must have gotten a LOL (laugh out loud) from the Chief Executive at least.
Soon after, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo responded, saying she can speak her mind in her country “as an exercise of her freedom of expression,” but that she “has no right, as she is incompetent and a gullible talking head as well, [to comment] on matters concerning foreign leaders she has no personal knowledge of.”
Haters will hate, as they say these days, and for Duterte, one supposes, it’s all part of a day’s work. Like the late feisty senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who ate “death threats for breakfast,” the former mayor-turned-President must be chewing on criticism and spitting out the vile on a daily basis.
At least, there are the millions of Filipinos who consistently give him a thumbs up in those much-maligned popularity and approval ratings surveys.
For them, he is working hard to bring in the goods, such as his latest South Korean sojourn that yielded four agreements and a joint statement on a proposed free trade deal to further enhance bilateral ties between SoKor and the Philippines.
South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man also expressed love for the Philippines, vowing to increase tourist arrivals to two million from 1.6 million in 2018 during his term. He also thanked Duterte for showing “great affection to Korea.” For his part, Duterte cited “solidarity and mutual aid” as foundations of this relationship, one that he hopes to make even stronger.
Trust and friendship are uppermost in this relationship, and no doubt Duterte is able to strengthen it in spite of the wildest accusations thrown his way.
It’s all about listening to what is useful instead of absorbing negative ions from someone who may have never extended a helping hand to victims of calamities in the Philippines.