Rodrigo Duterte needs a PR makeover to win the presidency

It looks like Davao Mayor and Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte is going to be another public relations nightmare similar to President Benigno Simeon Aquino and another Presidential aspirant Mar Roxas. Just like BS Aquino and Roxas, Duterte is acting like a loose cannon – speaking and acting like he does not care about what people think.

Filipino voters did not need to see the spectacle of Duterte's womanizing ways.
Filipino voters did not need to see the spectacle of Duterte’s womanizing ways.
If Duterte ever wins the Presidency, his communication team might spend a lot of time during his six-year term trying to “clarify” his statements that have been “misconstrued” by the public. That would be a waste, indeed since Duterte is considered by many to be more competent and has proven to have accomplished more as a public servant in his own province.

To be sure, a Duterte Presidency will be a test of how good or bad Filipinos are at communicating with each other. This early we can already see that there will be a lot of miscommunication problems throughout his Presidential term, if he does win the election in 2016. We can partly blame this to the fact that Duterte normally speaks using a different dialect and has a different accent to Filipinos living outside Mindanao region when he speaks the Filipino language. Because of that, Filipinos from other regions are not used to his mannerism and the way he speaks.

To a lot of people, he comes across as too crass especially when he brags about having two young girlfriends and his sex life. His jokes fall flat with some people because it comes out like he is being rude particularly when he peppers his statements with swear words. This was evident when he jokingly made a statement about wanting to call Pope Francis after he found out his visit was going to cause traffic chaos in the Philippines. His statement wouldn’t have attracted condemnation had he not inserted the swear word “putang ina” before the Pope’s name.

In his defense, his supporters are saying he was just misconstrued because he didn’t mean to swear at the Pope and in fact, Duterte apologized for it. His supporters are even calling those who were offended as too sensitive. There lies the problem. It seems Duterte and his supporters want the voters to accept him for who he is — warts and all — because they can guarantee that he will turn the entire Philippine archipelago into a progressive nation the way he did with Davao. But can he really do it? Davao is smaller in relation to the entire archipelago a president needs to govern and he needs the cooperation of different local government units and Congress to accomplish his goals.

But before that, the first thing Duterte needs to do is to win the election. Unfortunately, Duterte is not going to win the election if he doesn’t know how to please the voters. He may have loyal supporters who don’t care how rude he is or how many people he has allegedly killed in the name of “peace” and “order”, but there are plenty more who don’t care for his unusual style.

His supporters think that his “honesty” is a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of public servants who try to look like saints but live in “sin” behind closed doors. In other words, they think Duterte is not a hypocrite. They are okay with his womanizing and unconventional lifestyle. That is a good point. I don’t like men who act so holy in public while secretly having mistresses left and right myself.

While honesty is great, crassness is not, especially when one is running for the Presidency. I personally did not want to see Duterte parading his girlfriends, having them sit on his lap, and discussing his sex life on national television. It is apparent that a lot of people agree with me on this. I do not care how many girlfriends he has as long as he keeps all that to himself. I did not need to know it. I care more about his policies than his personal life.

When I saw Duterte discussing his girlfriends and sex life in front of the press, I saw a man who was acting like a misogynist who treated women like sex objects. I just hope those women know what they are doing because they are wasting their youth on an old man who won’t be able to give them a good future.

His supporters say his critics should stop focusing on his personal life. Well, his critics wouldn’t be discussing his personal life had he not brought it up in the first place. Maybe it is a Filipino thing to brag about their conquests because you don’t hear of other world leaders doing the same. The late former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew refused to discuss his personal life in front of the public eye. He even rebuffed a question from a Filipino student during a conference who asked how much influence his wife had on his political career.

If Duterte wants to win more votes, he should consider using a different approach. I am not totally against him. I’ve been to Davao and I know what some of his supporters are talking about. But he needs to work on his diplomatic skills to win votes. The Presidency is a different ball game. He will be talking to a lot more people including people from the international community who are accustomed to diplomacy.

Duterte’s cursing and crassness is dividing instead of uniting the Filipino people’s sentiments. All these arguments about him cursing the Pope were a waste of time. The Pope didn’t even have anything to do with the roadblocks that were imposed by BS Aquino government during his visit. It’s not like he requested it.

Duterte’s cursing distracts people from the point he is trying to make and it is arrogant of him and his rabid supporters to insist that people shouldn’t focus on his cursing. A rational person would at least try to eliminate the cause of miscommunication, which in this instance is his cursing, so he can get on with discussing the important issues.

One way to prevent leaders from acting like gods is to call their attention every time they commit something foul. I am afraid that if people turn a blind eye to Duterte’s shenanigans now, he will get worse once he is in Malacanang. His supporters can clamor for him to act a bit more diplomatic this early in exchange for their votes. The problem is, Duterte is making it look like he doesn’t really want the job and is just being compelled to apply for it. So his attitude is “take me, or leave me”. That will be a problem in the long run. We all know what happened after the reluctant son of heroes was forced to run for the Presidency. He acted like he was doing everyone a favor once he was in office.

I could take Duterte more seriously once he starts cursing BS Aquino and his incompetent cabinet members for the misery they caused to millions of Filipinos during his term.

[Photo courtesy The Star Online.]


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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36 Comments on "Rodrigo Duterte needs a PR makeover to win the presidency"

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My first question here is: if Duterte does get elected President, could he make BS Aquino accountable for his actions during his 2010-2016 term? Is he, as he brags, able to put Aquino in jail as quickly as he brags about his Death Squads getting things done?

Kari Normann

Good question. I bet he wouldn’t do that.


What can you expect from a Foul Mouthed Murdering Lunatic, who try to show , he is a Stud. Maybe, behind the scene, there are bottles and bottles of “Viagra”.

We have an insane mentally retarded President. Soon, if Duterte, would be elected as President. We would have a Foul Mouth Lunatic.

The Filipinos voters deserve better choices, than these misfits. Anyway, one of these Clowns will be elected…so fasten your seat belt… we could be on to another “bumpy ride…

“Foul Mouthed…” I think his being popular is another validation of the theory that Filipinos prefer leaders that best reflects themselves rather than truly lead them. Am I saying that majority of Filipino voters are foul mouthed? Hmmm… I think it’s either that or the Filipino’s love for rugged-type heroes. I remember one former Philippine president winning using that image. While the element of not being a hypocrite is a good thing, a voter like me is much more interested in evaluating his management skills. Like author Ilda, I’m not really interested in Duterte’s personal escapades. I appreciate that he… Read more »

Perhaps Duterte is a product of his environment. A rural area with backward traditions and culture that does not promote thinking and encourages whimsical reaction. With mentalities molded by a harsh environment close to caveman levels, that life is considered cheap. Basically, this is an effect of the lack of development in the far-off provinces.

A PR makeover might be needed for this election, but in the end, a change in the way all Filipinos live and act is what is needed for the whole country in the long term.

Street Philosopher

ChinoF says: With mentalities molded by a harsh environment close to caveman levels, that life is considered cheap. Basically, this is an effect of the lack of development in the far-off provinces.

*cough* *cough*
Listen to your words. You, my friend, are a product of your environment as well. Good luck!


People already elected noted philanderer Erap so I doubt Duterte bragging about his sex life will hurt him.

Can’t say about his insulting the Pope and his general braggadocio however.


“ChinoF says:
December 4, 2015 at 10:08 am
Perhaps Duterte is a product of his environment. (Davao) A rural area with backward traditions and culture that does not promote thinking and encourages whimsical reaction.”

Have you been to Davao? Why do all you grptard writers view all of yourselves as high intellectual superior people compare to us that are not from Manila?

But no matter… Keep it up.keep showing us your grptard colours bro!

Hi ilda…i’m an avid reader of grp, and particularly you since most of the times you seem to write quite eloquently what is on my mind. As many who read the comments in past articles by now, i am a dutertard as well, but i pray you will not be dismissive of this. I agree the guy is a wee bit of a hard sell and if his campaign budget would permit, shd hire a pr firm altho i really appreciate his transparency. Yes that pope faux pas was a blunder (boy, lacierda was outraged) and he apologized for it.… Read more »
Benign0’s recent article coined the use of Antifragile on this guy – so good PR / bad PR, either way his popularity keeps rising, moving from strength to strength. This guy is a totally different political specimen – we are just beginning to discover what kind of simulation model is actually applicable to him. He reminds me of Putin – a rogue unpredictable cunning contrast to all the other “as-expected behaving” NATO leaders. These types of leader are almost bullet-proof, impervious to attacks. Like confident lions who simply don’t give a damn what other animals think, and saying “who cares… Read more »

if he wins the Presidency, indeed he is the Game Changer.

Dale Jose Gozar
I’m not trying to defend or speak for Duterte or anybody. Share ko lang my observation or insights, you may agree or disagree po. “There is no such thing as bad publicity” – Phineas T. Barnum “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” – Oscar Wilde The idea that no publicity can do harm is a very useful gimmick to get free media exposure. Maybe DUTERTE took a gamble for free publicity? Maybe DUTERTE really does not want to win or be President and some people is merely forcing him to run? Maybe DUTERTE… Read more »
Dale Jose Gozar
Philippine Politics (Showbiz Government) is actually full of Showbiz personalities, popular celebrities and name recall is key to being elected. So most of our Politician use various gimmick (good or bad) just to gain publicity and free media exposure: 1. RODY DUTERTE By somewhat projecting notoriety, seeking a bad boy image, and keeping a scandalous reputation. 2. GRACE POE Disqualification case against POE for lacking 10yr residency, not being natural born Filipino, U.S Citizenship issue, Sympathy for FPJ and foundling. 3. MIRIAM As Stage-4 cancer survivor. 4. MAR – EPAL pictures here and there. When Is Bad Publicity Good? Negative… Read more »
Dale Jose Gozar
PROFANITY, SWEARING / CUSSING (ex. Duterte, Mar, Mo Twister, Tio Ralph,) Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country, so in a sense vulgarity or uttering a taboo word is a BIG NO. But I would still choose to be, or be associated to, hang with, befriend, listen/talk to, believe, follow, and vote for: 1. The world foremost expert on profanity & swearing, rather than someone who is full of rhetoric and pretend (facade only) to be good, a saintly, and godly or Filipino term “Santong Kabayo, Banal na Aso”. 2. Feared/Respected but not close or well like by peers/people rather than… Read more »

Do you really think that there is no rhetorics in him? Oh my god! That is the reason you don’t wanna mess with a Duterte fan.

“I visited and talked with Archbishop Romulo Valles and Bishop George Rimando, together with Monsignor Paul Cuison and my Executive Assistant Bong Go. I was admonished and lectured on Christian Values and in return, I told them that I would lessen my use of cuss words. I am even regulating myself and will donate P1,000 to Caritas Davao everytime I would swear. I am also planning to visit the Vatican soon. It was a good meeting and I would like to thank my friends in the Church for their time.” from The thing with bad PR is it always… Read more »

Roddy just needs to keep doing what he is doing and do as all the other people running for President have done in the last 20 years. and that is basically promise the idiotic Filipino massa that he will change things, maybe even promise a new ‘straight and narrow ‘ path (just with different words.

and once he is elected give himself a brain enema and forget everything he said during the campaign, like all the rest of his predecessors, and everything will go on as usual.


okay..we’ve attacked everybody who is running for president..ALTERNATIVES, please…where are the likes of gibo when you need them…


The alternatives aren’t running.

I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who once said that in a democracy, the person who least seeks the highest position is most deserving of it.


There’s a fine line between being truthful and being a complete jerk. I respond and with that I turn my back to the fire. I mutter an obligatory ‘goodnight’ before falling into sleep.

let me paste my comment here from Kate’s article. nagkamali ako ng comment sa kabila. dito pala dapat. Digong needs a PR makeover. i agree. if i will be his PR adviser i’ll have him talk base on the crowd: 1. to our seamen and taxi drivers, blue collar workers: go to: 3:26 mark 2. joke about women. instead of saying short-time” this is better: 3. middle class crowd: 4. general crowd: mixed of commoners, elitist (manileno/manilena or whoever) and CEO, businessmen. I will give him an opening script something like this: good morning everybody,… Read more »
Jorge Barba

First Duterte doesn’t need the presidency. He longed for retirement. The OFW and other Filipinos forced him to run.

Now, these group of people seems to be enough for him to propel to presidency with or without PR.

He has millions of active campaigners…unlike those who only have passive campaigners.

He is an exceptional administrator. You can never deal with the four horsemen of the apocalypse if your skill is just a plain local executive.

Street Philosopher

As Chomsky said, people vote for image, thus elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste.

Now, since when did the ‘erudite’ GRP started selling this junk???