0225F: Not Quite Saber-Rattling

Image Source: CNN
The media often refers to President Duterte as being "tough-talking" or even "foul-mouthed" given his proclivity for speaking his mind quite openly and without tact. Based on various stories and news accounts, he has always spoken this way going back to his time Mayor of Davao City and he's brought that sort of discourse to the Presidency. The only challenge is that his choice of words and manner of speech are hardly what is considered to be diplomatic when it comes to international circles. 

Some will say that this shouldn't be an issue. The President is free to speak however he wishes, they will argue. And while this may be true, the international community is also free to react freely and say whatever they want in turn. And in the global political arena, every statement issued to the media is often a well-calculated statement with a particular message or intent that is meant to be communicated.

Duterte's fire-brand statements have served well to gain the support of the common folk thus winning him the last election. It's great fear-mongering rhetoric that continues to help gain support for his other initiatives and his on-going war on drugs. But it's obvious that he's used to addressed local audiences alone and has not been considering the fact that he's still President and his public statements are matters of international interest. 

Thus we have odd media moment's like today's back and forth where the President's strong statements on Monday have been retracted and massaged by the DFA secretary in order to save face and not further damage foreign relations with countries like the US. One moment we have him saying how strong he is and how he answers to no foreign power. The next you have his office sending their formal regrets to US President Obama.

So much for a clear show of strength, even if only in principle.