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Rodrigo Duterte’s Pledge to Stop Cursing Lands in the Gutter


President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines in Pangasinan province on Wednesday. Credit Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency

HONG KONG — When President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines vowed last week to stop cursing, at God’s direct request, few people in the deeply Catholic country questioned his faith or the logistics of the apparently divine intervention.

But some Filipinos placed bets on how long Mr. Duterte’s pledge would last because he curses regularly and had raised eyebrows by saying that President Obama “can go to hell.”

The answer: a long weekend.

The voice of God spoke to Mr. Durterte on a flight home from Japan, he said after arriving in the Philippines on Oct. 27. According to the president, the voice, which he ascertained came from the Lord, said that the plane would crash unless he stopped cursing.

So, he said, he agreed to watch his tongue.

“A promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people,” he said.

Mr. Duterte appeared to honor his pledge through the weekend and into Monday, when he visited wounded soldiers in the southern province of Sulu.

But in Davao City on Monday, Mr. Duterte’s hometown in the southern Philippines, he cursed at some police officers.

“Never enter into illegal drugs,” Mr. Duterte told the officers. “Son of a whore, I will kill you, I’m telling you.”

The phrase, which he uttered in Tagalog, is often sprinkled into everyday speech in the Philippines for emphasis and is different from a similar phrase that is used as a direct insult.

Still, its reappearance marked the end of Mr. Duterte’s brief venture into linguistic temperance.

He appeared to be back in prime cursing form on Wednesday after a vow by Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to block any sale of assault rifles to the Philippine police.

“Look at these monkeys, they are stopping the sale of 26,000 assault rifles,” he said, referring to United States officials. “You son of a whore, eh, I’m mad.”

United States officials have objected to an antidrug campaign in the Philippines that has killed about 2,000 people since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30.

The breaking of Mr. Duterte’s pledge to stop swearing did not receive much coverage in the Philippine news media.

On social media, some users expressed exasperation with Mr. Duterte’s behavior:

But others took it in stride:

Source: NYT > World

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