MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/06 October) – Things have reached a point that whenever President Rodrigo Duterte opens his mouth everyone stops, but only to listen if he would yet again unleash potshots against [his] supposed detractors in relation to the war on drugs. It’s his singular focus on this problem that has defined his image to the Filipinos and the international community. And he appears to relish it.
Duterte would have nothing of the aversion of the global community to the bloody outcome of his campaign against illegal drugs. So what if the UN and the European Union shudder at the sight of hundreds of suspects lying dead on cold pavement? (Say if you must his favorite expletive.) Go massacre criminals, he told soldiers in a visit to a military camp.
However, his effort to emphasize his seriousness in eliminating drug addicts and peddlers went into verbal overdrive. He made reference to Adolf Hitler, whose Final Solution exterminated 6 million Jews during World War II, a statement that elicited angry protestations from the Jewish community and other groups.
The reactions made Duterte realize he had opened his mouth too wide. He knew the gravity of his remarks and apologized for it.
But the apology, an admission of a mistake, did not stop Duterte’s supporters from once again accusing the media of “twisting” his statement. They trained their guns on two Reuters reporters, Manny Mogato and Karen Lerma, whose only fault was having reported what the president had said and the reactions to it, no more, no less. Threats against the two journalists flew thick and fast on Facebook.
How many of these supporters even cared to read the story on the Hitler remarks and compared the content to what Duterte said? How many blindly joined the calls for blood of the two reporters?
It’s a shock that the social media has become a breeding ground of political mobsters with homicidal tendencies. Worse, it only takes a few of them to start a hate campaign [against particular journalists] and that tiny spark could ignite a prairie fire online.
It now appears that Duterte’s supporters want to act as the editors of the news they read or hear. Remember Raffy Lerma’s Pieta-like photo of a slain drug suspect which Duterte supporters labeled as propaganda? As if the photographer was only interested in producing a digital representation of Michelangelo’s famous opus. Ironically, the same people shared with abandon on Facebook Mr. Lerma’s photo of the grieving wife of a police officer who was killed in an anti-drug operation.
So it all boils down to this: What doesn’t please their eyes and ears is trash. The president can never be wrong, and so their outrage is always righteous.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)