MANILA — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Wednesday speculated that it would take some time before President Rodrigo Duterte turns into “a real statesman”.
Lacson was commenting on the former Davao City mayor’s remark to pull out American soldiers from Mindanao.
President Duterte has also said that the Philippines will not participate in joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Lacson said in an interview that if the President continues to make such statements, which are regarded as national policies, foreign relations could be affected.
“This has an implication on our foreign relations. Frankly, we don’t know what the US State Department is thinking — their president and ambassador. Maybe it takes time to metamorphose into a real statesman,” Lacson said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He further said that while the President’s credibility to the international community could suffer, it is possible that his credibility to the Filipino people would remain.
“If you say different things and the audience is the international community, credibility will suffer, not only of the head of state but the whole country as well… How can (the international community) deal with a country that changes different policy statements?” Lacson said.
Asked if President Duterte’s trust ratings could drop, Lacson said it is least likely since the President’s tendency to be politically incorrect was what drew his supporters to vote for him.
The President’s trust rating stood at 91 percent in a Pulse Asia survey released last July.
“He has a different approach to fellow Filipinos. He has charmed most of our citizens even during the campaign. He defied political correctness because candidates would usually think about being politically correct,” Lacson said.
“That is how he got many votes — by defying political correctness,” he added.
Lacson meanwhile said that Malacañang’s communication team should by now be able to anticipate the way the President’s mind works.
“Three months have passed. By this time, they should know, they should anticipate the issues that are predictable,” the senator said. “They should also know what occasions he will be attending wherein they should also be ready.”