President Duterte is both patriot and nationalist

column-Cecilio T. Arillo-DATABASEISN’T he a psychopath, the way singer-actress Agot Isidro described him to be?

What comes next to my mind apropos Isidro’s diatribe was my exclusive interview on December 24, 1976, of the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in a tent at the outskirts of Tripoli.

I was then the only newspaperman allowed to cover the Tripoli Mission, headed by then-Defense Undersecretary Carmelo Barbero, that discussed the Mindanao problem with the Moro National Liberation Front, as an official observer and recorder of that historical event in Tripoli, Libya, from December 16 to 23, 1976.

After the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, my request for an interview with President Gaddafi was granted and in that interview, the first question I asked him was his reaction on the statement of his bitter Arab political enemy, then- Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who repeatedly called the North African leader a “Mad Man.”

Gaddafi’s curt answer was: “How can he call me a Mad Man when he’s not even a physician!”

Mr. Duterte got exposed to the intractability of the gutter language and inequities in life in his more than 25 years as a jurist and more so as a mayor of Davao City, then one of the poorest and largest urban centers in the world, a favorite playground and hangout for terrorists, leftist insurgents, robbers, gold smugglers, snatchers, prostitutes, and had more bombings and killing incidents than any other cities in the country before he turned it into the fifth livable and peaceful metropolis in the world and then becoming the first promdi President in a country whose presidency was usually dominated by the elites and the caciques, from the Senate and the House, known for their elegant manners and beautiful language, since Aguinaldo’s time.

Actually, President Duterte is both a patriot and a nationalist, and for those who do not understand the terms, their meanings are likely to equate Mr. Duterte to a psychopath or a bipolar.

Although patriotism and nationalism have different meanings, they are inextricably linked with each other if you sparingly use them to describe some people, for example, the likes of President Duterte and the late well-loved, sharp-tongued and outspoken Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was also noted for being foul-mouthed.

Patriotism is not to be confused with nationalism. Both words are normally used in an amorphous way that any definition is liable to be disputed and, therefore, one must draw a clear distinction between them as two or more conflicting meanings are involved.

“By patriotism,” said Eric Arthur Blair, who used the pen name George Orwell, a well-known English novelist, essayist and journalist, “it is an expression of love toward one’s country, while he defined nationalism as striving for independence and is inseparable from the desire for power.”

“I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally,” Orwell said.

He further described patriotism as an expression of love toward one’s country, while he defined nationalism as striving for independence and “is inseparable from the desire for power”.

“By nationalism,” Orwell said, “I mean, first of all, the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But, second—and this is much more important—I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil, and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.”

“The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality,” Orwell argued.

 

To reach the writer, e-mail cecilio.arillo@gmail.com.

 

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