Embarrassingly embarrassing embarrassment

By: Artchil B. Fernandez

Du30 is not a darling of the international community particularly of the international media. His comparison of his war against illegal drugs with that of Hitler’s slaughter of six million Jews fiasco barely a month in office sealed his unsavory image to the global community.  The piling up of thousands of dead bodies (official figure at 5,526 and 27,000 human rights groups’ estimate), butchered in his pet project (war on drugs) only reinforced his bad reputation before the world.

While Du30 has made a pilgrimage to China five times and went to Russia twice in the past three years, he was never invited by Western nations. No respected leader in the West wanted to be photographed with him which is political suicide. Returning the favor, Du30 proudly flaunts his contempt of the West with his fake nationalism.

But even in the places where Du30 is comfortable, he was never accorded the courtesy he expects. In Japan, he was cut off in a forum and told to wrap up his talk. Likewise in his recent visit to Russia, Du30 once again figured in an embarrassingly embarrassing embarrassment.

Russian media, both mainstream and digital, had a field day bashing Du30 the moment he stepped on Russian soil. The object of derision was Du30’s unkempt appearance in a welcome ceremony with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Du30 appeared in the meeting in an unbuttoned white shirt that needs some ironing with a loose, pre-knotted tie. In contrast, Prime Minister Medvedev greeted Du30 in a well-pressed suit and a tie with the knot pulled up to close the collar.

Pavel Vondra, an editor and podcaster at Czech Radio Plus, pilloried Du30 on Twitter. “Rodrigo Duterte showed up a bit unkempt for the meeting with the Russian PM Medvedev in Moscow, and the Russian internet is having a blast.”  He also re-posted some of the Russian’s posts on social media. “Did he drink all night? Did he just leave the pub? Do Filipinos know what a (state visit) protocol is?”

Salvador Panelo, Du30’s spokesman gave lame and dumb excuse on his boss fashion faux pas. “What those kibitzers refer to is the way he wore his tie. He loosened it up. He feels suffocated and very uncomfortable if the tie is tightly in place in the collar.” Then he added a hilarious and defensive twist.  “The President is very hygienic. His body emits a refreshing scent as observed by people who meet up close to him.”

While fashion is a matter of comfort, it is not, however, an excuse for untidiness or it is a justification for being unkempt. One can wear simple clothes but carry it decently and appear neat and clean. Du30’s disheveled look in Russia can never be justified, either as a matter of fashion or comfort. It is a plain and simple lack of proper manner. It was a grand display of rudeness, incivility, and coarseness. The fashion alibi stinks.

Many world leaders do not wear western suits in their public appearances or during state visits. Yet, they are neat and clean, prim and proper. The venerable revolutionary Fidel Castro for example always wears a green military uniform but he never looked sloppy or bedraggled.

Du30’s lack of proper decorum in the manner of clothing was a grave insult to his Russian hosts. He attended the Russian party not wearing the proper suit for the occasion and wore one that looks dirty and messy. The Russians would not have minded simple yet decent clothes. No wonder the Russian media and the Russian public were riled.

Clothing is not the only source of the embarrassment of Du30 in his recent visit to Russia. In a Sochi forum of Russian think-tank Valdai International where he was guest, his Russian hosts cut him off not once but twice. The Russians cannot stand his ramblings and incoherent answers.

Instead of answering the main question of how did he manage to reshape Philippine foreign policy from US-centric to one that is open to China and Russia, Du30 talked about his war on drugs, on killing people and even religion. The Russians had enough of his nonsense. The moderator interrupted him. “Mr. President, I’m very sorry. I have a reputation in the Valdai Club to be very impolite. So I’m sorry I’m intervening but maybe we’ll go ahead and then come back to you.”

When Du30 once again bragged his war on drugs in another question on how he can equal west and east, the moderator cut him off anew. “Mr. President, can you wrap up?” His Russian hosts are simply fed up with him. Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the question where Du30 was again told to stop his rantings and the Russian officialdom definitely had a hearty laugh behind his back. His admiration of Putin is certainly is not and will never be reciprocated given his embarrassing performance.

In one of his early visits to China, Du30 proposed a new global tripartite alliance – the Philippines, China and Russia. His proposal was largely ignored by leaders of China and Russia. Du30 naively assumed his thrashing of the West and pivot to China and Russia will make him a key player in global politics and convince Putin and Xi Jinping to include him in their circle.  He is now in for a bitter realization.

On the eve of Du30’s visit to Russia, China grandly celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Chinese communist revolution. He was not among those invited to that important milestone in modern Chinese history. Putin was an honored guest of Xi Jinping. Du30 was left out in the cold as the two leaders sealed their alliance. Rude awakening for Du30 who wrongly thought he is important to Russia and China.

The snub by China of Du30 on its grand festivity puts Du30 in his proper place and is his biggest foreign policy and personal embarrassment. On many occasions, Du30, like a love struck teenager, profusely expressed his great love for China. Again the love is not reciprocated and China merely regards him a toy to play with. Hard lesson: It never pays to be an ass-licker and a traitor to one’s country.