By Isabella Alamag
Sensitive to criticism, President Rodrigo Duterte ensures that his response would become of memorable detail to his critics, often times accompanied by a string of curses. Among the recipients of the harsh returns were the media, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senator Leila De Lima, and world leaders such as the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
For ‘twisting his words’, Duterte’s anger with the media led to a press boycott. After the Chief Justice expressed concern over a possible constitutional crisis by his decision of naming judges from the “narco-list”, Duterte lashed out at the Chief saying that the Supreme Court was “interfering” with his job and threatened to declare martial law. He called Senator Leila De Lima a ‘hypocrite’ and threatened to ‘destroy’ her, disclosing an alleged involvement in the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison and an affair with her driver for investigating him for human rights violations and initiating the Senate investigation on the extra-judicial killings. Duterte called the U.S., EU and UN hypocritical over their concerns on the extra-judicial killings in the country. Aside from cursing at them and mentioning their supposed hypocrises, the President also challenged the EU and the UN to send teams to investigate the drug wars and demanded apologies from US President Barack Obama.
With the heated responses and word war that the President wages on his critics, one person has not been on its receiving end.
For the past few months, Former President Fidel V. Ramos had many things to say to the President and the administration.
In a two-page opinion piece in the October 24 issue of the Manila Bulletin, the former president described the country as “losing badly” in the first 100 days of the new administration and labeled this as a “huge disappointment”. Ramos pointed out however, that not everything in the greatest expections can be done in 100 days, but said that Duterte could have done more if he was not trapped in a cycles of controversies regarding the extra-judicial killings of drug suspects.
Ramos blasted Duterte for his crude speech and frequent tirades against world leaders. Along with this, Ramos added how the President constantly complained against the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, calling it “stupid” and “absurd”.
“In his consistently frequent insulting diatribes against the US, EU, and the UN, in which President Du30 also keeps complaining against the December 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change (crafted by 195 nations, the Philippines included), he is unwittingly shooting himself in the mouth, and also all of us, 101.5 million Filipinos. He may claim that to be more ‘insulting than friendly’ to our long-established allies is part of his God-given ‘destiny.’ But, this is obviously wrong, and full of S…. T!!!.” he wrote.
Ramos, angered by Duterte’s misunderstanding of the Paris Agreement wrote in all caps.
“IT IS CLEAR ENOUGH (AND SHOULD BE READILY UNDERSTOOD BY LEADERS) THAT THE PARIS AGREEMENT DOES NOT IMPOSE EMISSION REDUCTION ON THE PHILIPPINES. SHOULD ANY COUNTRY DECIDE TO EVENTUALLY BECOME A PARTY TO THE AGREEMENT, IT WILL ONLY BE ASKED TO SUBMIT ITS NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS, WHICH ARE ESSENTIALLY SUCCESSIVE 5-YEAR CLIMATE PLANS THAT WE CAN DETERMINE ON OUR OWN, ACCORDING TO OUR NATIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AND DOMESTIC CAPACITY.”
In more recent events, Ramos called the secret burial of Former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani an insult to those who protested against the atrocities of Martial Law. He also said that it was unacceptable for the military and the police to have had a hand in the secret burial in “connivance” with the Marcoses. Ramos designated this move as a “step backwards” for the current administration and that due to this they are “losing support, they are losing friends”.
The former president has also admonished Duterte’s decision to skip the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gala dinner and photo session in Lima, Peru, feeling unwell due to jet-lag. This does not excuse him, said Ramos, who said that not feeling well should not have prevented him from being in the family photo with other leaders to represent the country. He added that doctors are always available in delegations and that he could have asked his Cabinet members to bring medicine for him.
Ramos was a driving force in convincing current of President Rodrigo Duterte to run for the highest position of the land in the 2016 National Elections. In his inaugural speech in July, President Duterte thanks the former for his help, remarking that FVR with his kind words saying that it was “about time that Mindanao produces a president” pushed him to run.
FVR acknowledged that he is proud to be considered a mentor by the very person who he convinced to run and win the presidential race. And with that, FVR does his duties as a mentor with nothing holding him back, calling out Duterte for his actions and addressing the future of the Philippines under his administration.
Maybe this constitutes what makes him different from the rest of the critics. The President himself acknowledged that there is no bad blood between them and even thanks him for the help. He said respects the opinions of FVR amidst their differences although he must do things “his way”.
But despite all his statements of recent, without warning President Duterte can change his mind about Ramos. After all he says one thing today and the next he takes it back. He said he would not run for president and then now he sits in office. The future is uncertain and the President can be unpredictable. Who knows? Maybe like a kettle silently boiling with water, he might just suddenly make noise when he has had enough.