My instinctive reaction is to flip the channel whenever the president appears on television. An appearance of guilt that is actually one of embarrassment, a psychological jolt, I cringe.

I do not hate Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. I do not know him enough to judge him on a personal level. In fact, sometimes I hold off changing channels and gather the last vestiges of my respect for him. In my mind I just want to give the guy a chance. But listening to his speeches has become a trite exercise. He reminds me of the days when my parents would cover my eyes once an unexpected sex scene turned up in a movie.

I get how somebody from Mindanao would view Duterte’s cursing as a matter of common locution, but his countless speeches show more than that. He didn’t curse when I first saw him speak about a priest he claimed to have died of AIDs. The message itself was malignant.

What makes his accusations worse is that they are mostly baseless, surprisingly coming from a man who prides himself as a lawyer. He talks about corrupt priests — himself a supposed victim of sex abuse — and barks names in public of politicians, policemen, and public officials who are supposedly linked to the illegal drug trade, but without presenting a thread of evidence.

I would like, for once, to believe in the president, but he must back up his talk with substance. I would like to be enthralled whenever he’s around just like the millions who voted for him, no doubt tired of unfulfilled promises from past administrations, but I need to understand what he’s talking about first. There has got to be some underlying sense to his fervent chatter.

How can anyone be expected to believe any of his claims without at least some plausible evidence? For example, he claims that the former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas ordered the ambush of Vicente Loot without showing any data to credit for, and he never retracted his statement. He borders on the fantastic, calls people names (critics), curses even the pope, jokes about rape, tells Americans and our allies to eff off, only for his spokesperson to come to his aid in the end with prepped hyper analyses. Which is the bigger joke?

So when I choose to watch him on TV and not surf, the experience becomes an accumulation of cheap and petty thoughts. A few minutes into it, and it turns gossipy, no better than barbershop talk. I become a garbage bin; I sense filth, abounded with toilet humor.

The president lied to us about defending our sovereign claims against China. He lied about ending the country’s drug problem in three months, then six months, and lied himself into it for a year until he said he was helpless. He lied about persecuting ALL the corrupt by reinstating those who had curried his favor. And he continues to lie to besmirch his critics, lying through half jokes — jokes that soil the truth. Sometimes I fear he lies even a little about just everything.

Could somebody enlighten me on how to become an avid supporter of the president without turning a blind eye to facts, values, and being cheapened?

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