Taming the tongue
Based on the survey made on Sept. 25 to Oct. 1 by social research and public opinion polling firm Pulse Asia Research, Inc., President Duterte got a high overall approval rating of 86 percent from the public for his performance in his first three months in office. Only 3 percent expressed distrust while 11 percent remained undecided.
According to geographic areas, the President got an 80 percent approval rate in Metro Manila, 84 percent in Balance Luzon, 88 percent in Visayas, and 93 percent in Mindanao. Across socio-economic classes, he got an 82 percent from class ABC, 86 percent from class D and 82 percent from class E.
President Duterte’s disapproval ratings across the geographic areas were in single digits: 6 percent in Metro Manila, 6 percent in Balance Luzon, 3 percent in Visayas, and 1 percent in Mindanao. Among the socio-economic classes, he got disapproved by 6 percent from class ABC, 3 percent from class D, and 4 percent from class E.
The poll surveyed 1,200 representative adults, 18 years old and above, across the country. The overall results have a plus or minus 3 percent margin of error at 95 percent confidence level.
The three-point dip in the overall trust rating of President Duterte between July and September were described by Pulse Asia as “marginal.” Given the margin of error, the dip was indeed not really significant.
The survey revolved around issues including fighting illegal drugs and crime, combating terrorism, curbing corruption, and sustaining the momentum of economic growth, and other administrative concerns.
The Social Weather Stations (SWS) made similar findings in its survey for Sept. 24 to 27.
Amusing at first
Behind this popularity and excellent satisfaction rating of Mr. Duterte is a rising tide of discomfiture because of his acid tongue.
Amusingly folksy at first, even to the higher socioeconomic classes, it is slowly but surely cutting into his admired patriotic nature and fiery competitive personality that catapulted him to the presidency.
The supposed fun in his loquaciousness, not to mention his play of expletives, had recently placed him in too many embarrassing occasions. For instance, he recently caused an outrage among the Jewish community when he compared his anti-drug war to the Holocaust.
He had personally apologized to the Jewish community since then, explaining his remark was not intended to derogate the memory of the Holocaust victims but the drug addicts and criminals. Nonetheless, the President must now be ever more careful not to do similar gaffes. They have stirred controversies and have elicited negative reactions.
Bottom line spin
All these oft-controversial pronouncements, according to President Duterte, were borne out of his parochial political background, a testimony to his days as mayor. But it simply makes him not ready for the big leagues. He’s not ready to become the politico-statesman needed in the international stage.
This flaw, no matter how trivial as he claims it to be, when left uncorrected could become “the point at which a series of small changes or incidents becomes significant enough to cause a larger, more important change” ascribed in the book “Tipping Point.” It could lead to a drop in his popularity and satisfaction ratings. He could even lose the respect of his international peers.
Former President Fidel Ramos, who was reported to have played some important role in his presidential candidacy, did not mince words to express his frustrations over the controversies. As he wrote in his column published in the Manila Bulletin, the Philippines is “losing badly.” This has also made President Duterte and his first 100 days “a huge disappointment and let-down to many of us.”
Even the Good Book has something to say about our tongues. In Matthew 12:37, the Bible says: “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Words, therefore, are of tremendous importance. They can make relationships suffer; they can make conflicts to arise. More specifically, “disordered patterns of speech” like rudeness, indiscretion, complaining and biting humor, when allowed to dominate our talk, have the awesome potential to tear down the bond of peace and unity.
In this regard, Mr. Duterte has to accept that his tongue has a crucial role in his further rise or ultimate fall—whether he likes it or not.
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