I went to hear a Mass yesterday after succumbing to whispers in my ear that I have to go. I woke up feeling lethargic and I already told myself not to hear mass but a part of me was telling me to go. After hearing mass, while going home, I was contemplating on the homily as there were two important points the officiating priest discussed on the story about the adulteress where Jesus said that he who has not sinned must cast the first stone.
The first important point was that God is merciful and that once your sins are forgiven, it is just right that you have to move on from the past and live towards the future without committing the same sins. The second important point was that, the case of adulteress was brought by the Pharisees to test Jesus. And according to the story, before Jesus made a decision he first scribbled on the sand and afterwards He uttered the famous casting stone statement. The latter point was very important for me as it would form the basis of my opinion with regard to this Duterte –UPLB forum debacle.
Last night, my Facebook wall was littered with posts about the UPLB debacle where Mayor Duterte was disrespected by a student representative named Stephen Villena. According to this viral story, the student leader asked this presidential candidate about his program on education and peace and security. The video showed Villena asking first Duterte the question and then Duterte replied with opening statement on how Davao City was bombed on several occasions and before the Davao City Mayor arrived at his most salient points, Villena intruded and lambasted Duterte by not answering the question directly.
Reading several posts about this incident, I can say that Duterte’s situation was quite similar with the Jesus trap scenario. The UPLB crowd were the Pharisees trying to trap Duterte into a situation where he would lose his poise. What Villena did not realize was that Duterte was not answering indirectly his question and any wise and intelligent guy out there knows that to answer extemporaneously is to introduce first your idea well so that it will become more convincing. By creating an opening statement, the speaker is attempting to compose wise and Solomonic ideas in order to give justice to the questions asked to him or her.
Jesus did not answer the Pharisees directly when asked what to do with the adulteress. Even His reply was not a direct answer but rather he uttered very powerful words enough for the people to turn back and walked away from the madding crowd. I believed that this is what Duterte was trying to do when he answered first indirectly Villena’s questions. The mayor wanted to give an answer that will not only satisfy Villena but the whole of the citizenry as well. We should not forget that Villena’s line of question was not direct but cloudy as well and any bright boys out there would find it difficult to answer considering that he equated the word compensate with compromise. If you have watched on YouTube videos where the mayor was interrogated by journalists, you knew that this is his style of answering interviews. The mayor wants smart, wise, and doable answers backed up with evidences.
I agree with most netizen’s sentiments particularly the Duterte fans, voters, and loyalists, that he was indeed disrespected. Indeed, Villena has the right to ask question from a presidential candidate but he doesn’t have the privilege to add sarcasm to his question by saying “para makauwi na po kayo.” It speaks of his ill breeding. It has made me hold on to my impression with regard to UP students; all knowing with abrasive attitudes. It is an indication that there is a need to review UP educational system if this state university really hones this kind of student.
By interrupting Duterte while in the middle of answering the question, Villena violated one of the goals of the communication process which is to receive feedback first before giving a response. Yes, Villena’s goal was to make Duterte reactive and not to listen to his response. The student leader wanted to elicit a reaction not a response. And his line of questioning attempted to guarantee the kind of reaction he wanted to produce.
Just like Jesus Christ, Mayor Duterte was very calm and wise not to succumb to the pressure. His supposed legendary temper did not surface. While he did not produce very power statements that he is known for, the UPLB situation proved once and for all that Duterte can rise up to any occasion.