What is the #DuterteEffect and why are Filipinos divided on it?

April 2, 2018 - 5:23 PM
Rodrigo Duterte
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has been in office almost 2 years and, as he celebrated his 73rd birthday last March 28, Filipinos reflected on his election campaign promise that “change is coming.”

Some Filipinos shared on Twitter recent government actions and attributed it to the #DuterteEffect.

Others pointed at the controversial war on drugs and extrajudicial killings that have human rights advocates up in arms and the International Criminal Court looking into the Duterte administration’s policies while others criticized his sexist comments during public speeches.

However, in the US, “The Trump Effect” phenomenon was studied by renowned psychologist Philip Zimbardo by looking into how US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has influenced bullying and misogyny.

In January 2018, Psychology Today magazine in the United States published an article titled “The Trump Effect: An Update.”

It cited a study conducted by the group Human Rights Campaign which documented a sudden rise in reports of bullying during the 2016 campaign of Trump.

The report was based on a study of 50,000 youth, aged 13 to 18. The report also claimed that Trump’s name was used to intimidate children from immigrant families, owing to Trump’s stern policy on limiting illegal immigration.

While a similar study has not yet been made in the Philippines, Filipinos saw how the more frequent use of profanities by government officials could be attributed to the president’s tendency to curse during public speeches.

Uploaded just three days before the President’s birthday on March 28 by Twitter user ‘summer092812’, the picture is a timely throwback to the time dentist and barangay chairman “Dok” Ticzo of San Pablo, Laguna decided to put up a poster with an unrelenting warning to polluters.

A news report on Ticzon’s poster details how comments on a viral post on the banner blessed it as “a good example of the President’s influence.”

One person on Twitter interviewed by Interaksyon expressed alarm at the president’s tendency to curse.

“Cursing becomes a norm especially when someone has run out of words to throw off,” JK (@jkcrn_) said adding that he has also noticed the increased use of profanity on social media.

He found disturbing some of the statements given by those in the Duterte cabinet, namely those by PCOO assistant secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson and PCOO secretary Martin Andanar.

JK cited Uson’s reference to journalists as “presstitutes” and her use of the word “tanga”(stupid) to describe Vice-President Leni Robredo and Andanar’s suggestion that the public should simply accept Duterte’s cursing as having aided in the normalization of profanity in casual speech.

“The more a political figure curses, the more he sounds like Duterte. And the more he sounds like Duterte, the better he’s received by the public,” observed JK.