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Black Swan President

For several years up to the 16th century, a black swan was considered impossibility. Why? Because all previous records showed they had white feathers. Things changed, however, in 1697 when Dutch explorers became the first Europeans to discover black swans in Western Australia.

From then on, the term, “black swan” came to be used to refer to something or somebody or to an event that is very rare.

Among all his descriptions, “black swan”, I believe, best fits President Rody Duterte.

He does not come from the ordinary political mold. In speech, manner, attitude, and temperament, he is very different from his predecessors. That is the reason political analysts have much difficulty trying to decipher him. That is the reason he even gets his cabinet men perplexed.

Cases in point are his announcements regarding the termination of joint military exercises, and the pivot to China. And possibly to Russia, too.

As Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana testified before the Commission on Appointments, they are often caught by surprise by the President’s announcements. There are no prior consultations with the cabinet.

But despite the many gaffes, President Rody’s popularity remains very high. And depending on which side of the globe you are in, the President is just one political figure who cannot be ignored.

Among politicians in the US, the UN and in the EU, he is treated as a tin pot dictator with no regard for human rights. But in Brunei, Laos, Indonesia and China, the President rates rock star treatment.

For now, this writer believes that his 2 Ps are President Duterte’s strongest suits – political will and political capital.

He has the will to say and do what he believes is in the best interest of “my country”. (Excuse me, Mr. President, it is also “our” country.) He has dared to say what many conservative Filipinos are too polite to admit or to say in public.

Further, he retains the solid backing of those who voted for him and has even gained the grudging approval – especially in the business community – of those who didn’t.

How long he can maintain that support, only time will tell.

The Justices’ new clothes
Readers, I am sure, are quite familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s new clothes.”

Let me retell it anyway since a story like this deserves to be retold because of its important lesson/s. According to the story, two tailors duped their emperor to wear imaginary clothes that are invisible to anybody who is stupid or incompetent.
Not wanting to be branded as either stupid or incompetent, the emperor pretended to see and to admire his new clothes. Likewise, his court and even the crowd outside the palace kept up the pretense for fear of being unfavorably branded.

The farce ended when a child from out of the crowd cried out: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all.”

There are many lessons that can be derived from the story.

One lesson of course, is the oft-quoted saying: “From the mouth of babes comes the truth.”

Personally, I often transpose this saying as follows: Sometimes you get the best “expert” advice from “non-experts” – people who are not constrained by rules, legal or otherwise, but who just use their “common sense”. Not bound by constraints, they are likely to “think outside the box”.

This is the reason I give much weight to what “men and women in the street” have to say. Their opinions always give me a different and even fresh point of view.

Here is one such view.

When I asked him about the Marcos burial at the Libingan, my driver Narding had this to say:

“Ang importante ho ay magkaroon na nang desisyon diyan. Habang tumatagal yan ay lalo lang tayong nahahati.

Ganoon po ba talaga katagal mag-desisyon ang supreme court natin? Ilang postpone na yan. Yes or no lang naman yan.

“E bakit po yung kumukuha ng bar, e may time limit. Pagkatapos lang ng ilang oras, pass your papers na.

“Dito lang sa atin sobrang bagal ng hustisya!”

Come to think of it. Narding may be correct.

Improvements at the NAIA
Just recently, I was dismayed to read that the NAIA again ranked among the worst airports in the world. For a long time, I have refrained from referring to the facility by its full name. Because instead of bringing honor to the beloved martyr, the NAIA had become a symbol of incompetence and neglect.

But for the last few days, I have been getting refreshing feedbacks from incoming/outgoing passengers. The big difference: No more laglag-bala. Another bonus: “The toilets are now working. They even have soap and toilet paper,” an outbound friend texted me.

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(Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye)