HomeTalastásan: A Philippine Journal of Communication and Media Studiesvol. 1 no. 1 (2022)

Cathexis on Face in Catastrophe: Politeness in President Duterte’s Late-Night Public Address Talk to the People on COVID-19

Rhovyc R. Caguisa | Alleya D. Era | Neycheren I. Gurne | Omar James M. Lero | Ma. Gheia Arrianne N. Marañon | Jannelle M. Molina



COVID-19 poses huge hurdles for existing essential organizations. Keeping ”face” in state crises is crucial since a crisis can harm a person’s reputation, leading to broader concerns. With COVID-19, the populace expects President Duterte’s administration to address their plans to combat the pandemic. Utilizing Brown and Levison’s Politeness Theory, this study asks: Are President Rodrigo Duterte’s late-night ”Talk to the People on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” and its synergy on crisis communication rhetoric evolving on politeness techniques? Operating on a qualitative textual-pragmatic methodological design, this study selected one most trending COVID-19 Talk to the People Address identified by the PCOO based on positive and negative politeness strategies. The study identified themes like COVID-19 responses, NPA confabulation, Martial Law pre-emption, and power and responsibility expectations. ”Apologize” was the most common negative politeness strategy, while ”notice, attend” and ”offer, promise” was the most common positive politeness strategies. Study revealed that the populist public is pacified by Duterte’s speech style, ranging from grand vows to attempts at transparency through admission and reasoning. A new kind of political rhetoric, with populist strategies, may emerge from his rhetorical speech act. More comparative analysis of President Duterte’s speeches would add rigor to the study. Nevertheless, the findings of this study can be used to evaluate future political statements concerning future disasters, which can be a basis for developing crisis communication policies, programs, and methods. Other scholars may also use it to analyze various socio-political contexts.