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Interpreting a president

Filed under: Editorial |

Interpreting a president

The Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) issued a statement of late addressed to the Government’s Communications Secretary who accused them of misreporting the President’s talk on martial law. “We take exception to the statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, accusing the media of ‘misreporting’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about Martial Law,” the MPC said in a statement.

The media that merely paraphrased the president’s remark was hurt. “We are disturbed and appalled by the propensity of the officials of this administration to blame the media whenever inflammatory statements of the President stir controversy or draw flak.” The “misinterpretation” or “misreporting” that the media was accused of by the President’s apologists is consequential because it pierces right into fiber that journalism is made of, which is the truth—especially now that the manufacture and proliferation of “fake news” has become a lucrative industry and a propaganda machine.

But how more consequential could it be when “interpreting” becomes the business of those who have been empowered to use a gun. How would, for instance, a police force interpret a “war on drugs” if not literally killing those in drugs? The president has been talking without lit up about killing drug traffickers and users who are mostly poor because “they have become worse than slaves.” Earlier on he has been saying that the “fish in Manila Bay will grow fat” because they will be feed with dead bodies. By the looks of it, the police have taken this as “policy statements” that gave them an umbrella power to hack to death anybody they want. Columnist Randy David puts it curtly when he wrote that the war on drugs “has normalized abduction and the raiding of home, and has made killing an everyday thing.”

The big problem with the president’s statement is that there are instances he backtracks thus leading people to conclude that his “facts” are not verified and his sources not foolproof. This makes the list in the order of battle, those targeted for liquidation, very indiscriminate and unstable. But what if his analysis and perspective where his decisions are based are wrong? History will bear that never has killing thousands of people been right no matter how noble the cause.

On the side, the country will have to bear with a leader entrusted with over 100 million lives but is not in the habit of accepting criticisms. He prowls like a roaring lion ready to attack anybody who brandishes an opposing opinion. In this worldview, martial rule is a logical upshot. The change that everybody has been groaning for is becoming very uncertain now. No matter how one interprets it, these are uneasy times.

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