Literal and Inferential Comprehension: Duterte's Statement on Rape
|Above copied from Reuters|
Duterte is trying to lift the morale of his soldiers who are currently fighting a terrorist group in the southern island of Mindanao. He has declared Martial Law and while exhorting his troops to do their job, he tells them not to commit abuses. In his own way, Duterte tries to make it clear to the soldiers that whatever they do, the president will be ultimately responsible. Before mentioning rape in his statement, Duterte makes it clear that abuses are not going to be tolerated, staing further that he will personally imprison anyone who commits violations.
Inferential comprehension is not only problematic for readers and listeners, it is likewise for writers and speakers. Words once spoken or written can take a life of their own. How a message is received depends on the recipient. Many Filipinos take the language style of President Duterte lightly. Often, when President Duterte makes remarks, he seems to be thinking that only his supporters and followers are listening. Mentioning rape is very offensive especially in the way President Duterte has used it in his speeches. There is obviously a much better way to communicate to soldiers that the president is ready to take responsibility and that he is accountable for all ramifications of his Martial Law imposition. We must be thoughtful of how people inferentially interpret what we say and write. I do hope that the soldiers are not taking Duterte's speech as saying that Martial Law comes with impunity. I actually think that soldiers do understand what Duterte really means. I hope his supporters do as well. At least, I have seen one who does: