Digging Up Truth With a Teaspoon
When he ran for president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte was a mini Donald Trump shooting from the hip to excite populist mob support for his presidential candidacy. Once in office, he followed up on his bloodthirsty rhetoric by encouraging a death-squad sweep through the island nation that has so far accounted for over two thousands assassinations or executions, whichever term one likes. Reports describe bodies appearing in the streets every morning with signs attached to them suggesting they were drug addicts or dealers -- gruesome echoes from the late 70s and early 80s in El Salvador. Dubbed Dirty Harry in the tabloids, President Duterte applauds the piling up of corpses and deems his program a success because drug users are turning themselves in in droves, lest they be murdered. They end up jammed into overcrowded hell-holes. Some end up dead anyway.
As the “leader of the free world,” President Obama was touring Asia shilling for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He was eager to “send a clear message that, as a Pacific nation we [the United States] are here to stay.” He planned on visiting Duterte in the Philippines to scold the new leader on his murderous campaign, but he canceled that visit when Duterte gave a saliva-spitting speech in which he called the president “a son of a whore.” Given his small island nation is a client state of the powerful United States, after his insulting speech, the volatile Filipino president reportedly began to suffer painful migraine headaches. President Duterte has called many people “a son of a whore,” including the Pope; and while hijo de puta in Spanish (as spoken in the Philippines) means son of a whore, it’s such a common expression it probably should be translated into English as son of a bitch. A prudent, cool-headed Obama shook off the choice insult. That is, he didn’t respond by calling Mr. Duterte a fish-eating wog or a psychopathic lunatic. Instead, the two men “exchanged pleasantries” at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos. (Since then, a hitman has testified that while Duterte was mayor of Davoa for over 20 years he led a death squad there and even ordered some killings. The female legislator who organized that hearing has been tossed out of the legislature.)