By Jullie Yap Daza
“So many zombies running around.” (This guy watches TV horror movies.)
“Why is it you see many minors walking around in Caloocan and Manila despite the curfew?”
“Caloocan is in deep sh-t with drugs.”
“I used to be a killer – of ladies. With killer looks.” (The ladies in the audience were more amused than their escorts.)
President Duterte was guest of the Philippine Constitution Association’s 56th anniversary celebration at Manila Hotel Tuesday night. Philconsa members and their guests would’ve been right in expecting a speech about martial law in Mindanao, its consequences and implications, others were curious to hear what a San Beda-trained lawyer might have to say about brutal corporal punishments and why fraternities should be banned once and for all.
Instead, the “mayor of the Philippines” chose to reprise the theme of his program of government to save the republic and its young. Camp followers who have heard all or many of his speeches may have heard it all, but they get it, that to be effective a message must be repeated over and over again, like a TV commercial: It’s a given that the audience is forgetful, distracted, dense, thick-skulled, hearing-impaired, intellectually challenged, doesn’t care, one or all of the above.
So DU30 will not drop his refrain, “Do not destroy my country or I will destroy you” — but how many times can he say, “I do not lose sight of the Constitution, I know what is due process”? How often does he get the chance to give his listeners 10 and exactly 10 parting words: “What is the unifying factor of the Philippines? The Constitution.”
Unlike his well-behaved predecessors, this President is a rich source of not only news and quotes but also yarns, vignettes, tall tales, jibes and jokes that he casually tosses away. Stories about drug lords, for example. “In some places in Mindanao, to go against the syndicates, you have to use an armored carrier.” Then there’s the mayor who used P500 bills to wallpaper his house. And the nine generals whose names appeared in “the first-day data.” (Where are they now, Mr. President?)
Anecdotes like these may explain why the “mayor of the Philippines” (title invented by Solicitor General Jose Calida) continues to entertain. As the Italian saying goes, it may not be true but it’s a good story.