[Right-Up] A Review and Commentaries on The Early Duterte Presidency in the Philippines by Professor Mark R. Thompson | by Jose Mario De Vega
A Review and Commentaries on The Early Duterte Presidency in the Philippines by Professor Mark R. Thompson
This article of Professor Thompson published in 2016 by Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs aims to give a critical analysis of what the Duterte administration will be like. I could say that he is indeed a visionary and early on he clearly saw accurately how brutal and hideous the said regime would be.
Rodrigo R. Duterte has “stuck to his guns” in carrying out his campaign pledge to launch a violent anti-drug campaign. He fulfilled his promise of making the sharks at the Manila Bay fat due to the vicious, relentless, organized, simultaneous and nefarious brutal “War on Drugs” in a national scale. This is the upgraded version of the Davao model or template of mass murder.
Duterte’s electoral victory is an irony, by virtue of the fact that “six years of political stability and high growth under the relatively liberal and supposedly reformist administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino, III.”
What went wrong?
The people’s rebellion and/or rejection of liberalism? (junking of the “Disente/elite” culture?
Why is it that the electorate were fascinated by the tough talking, fouled-mouthed fellow from the South?
Duterte’s support base came not from the lower classes but ironically from that of the upper and middle classes who were attracted by Duterte’s promise of order and security.
It is because Duterte managed to wrestled power from the Liberals and unleashed his “bloody democracy” by projecting his alleged “strong leadership” (I will kill you all), his alleged care for the poor (the Tatay Digong script), by hijacking the central concepts and philosophy of the Left (he self-proclaimed that he is a “socialist” and that he is governed by “tapang at malasakit”), while the brutal truth is that he is an “illiberal populist” who mobilised a mass constituency through the media (particularly social media) [troll farm, FB, Analytica] with the use of radical rhetoric portraying a corrupt elite that coddles drug dealers and addicts. All these elements, that nefarious creature, exploited to the maximum with such deadly precision!
Put more theoretically, “he changed the prevailing liberal reformist political order into an illiberal one through a new law and order governing script.”
Though Aquino is generally perceived as honest, his administration gravely suffered from “systemically disjunctive” and vulnerable to replacement by violent illiberalism because its narrative of “good governance” had been undermined, its strategic allies were weakened, and liberal institutions discredited.
My dissection of the Yellow corpse using Professor Thompson’s lens:
- Systemically disjunctive.” Consider the following: The lack of Pnoy’s connection/relation to the ordinary people (ex. SAF 44, the handling of Yolanda [before and the aftermath], the fact that progress and development did not trickle down to the common tao, his myopic fight against corruption (he did not pursue the war on graft and corruption up to its conclusion) and he did not do something radical to somehow alter the prevailing social structure. He could not even bring justice to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre.
- Vulnerable to replacement by violent illiberalism because its narrative of “good governance” had been undermined. Immediately, after the 2016 election, the Liberal majority jump ship to PDP.
- The previous administration’s strategic allies were weakened by abusing and weaponizing the “law”: CJ Sereno was sacked, Sen De Lima imprisoned, ABS CBN closed, Rappler facing multiple cases, HR and the Progressive groups were being killed and demonized, the “opposition” were silenced, marginalized and cowed from fear of reprisal… VP Leni was consigned to “obscurity”, etc.
- Liberal institutions discredited to the maximum by Duterte! According to this freak, the Constitution is a mere scratch paper, he cursed the church on numerous occasions, bastardized the administration of justice, empowers the military and the police, militarized the bureaucracy, COA, CHR and the Senate was viciously and constantly attack through his late night talk show (which can be liken to a drinking or perhaps a pot session).
The rise of the star of Illiberal Populism of the Far-Right “order”
I concur with Professor Thompson that “Duterte is an illiberal populist who changed the prevailing political order.” He did so by, turning the traditional order into “an illiberal one through a new law-and-order governing script.”
Imagine this: he managed to bring to bed the “strategic groups” (the “communist” left and the police/military). This disgusting marriage of the “Left” and the Right, Duterte included to the entourage the TRAPOS and the war lords of the various districts and regions into one grand alliance.
Furthermore, because of his enormous power and charisma, he successfully eliminates the “remaining liberal constraints”, particularly in Congress and the Supreme Court.
- “Duterte constructed a strongman political model at the local level before “nationalising” it after his election as president.” The result: the DDS model was upgraded and unleashed to the national political sphere.
What is the social, cultural and political origin of Dutertismo?
In a contemporary sense, the irrefutable answer can be traced by the titanic failure of the promises of the so-called Edsa “Revolution” of 1986.
Our people after long years of deep slumber and staying of the dark has finally risen to get rid of this country of a tyrant and a dictator.
But besides the alleged restoration of democracy, the powers that be then did not do a comprehensive programs and policies that will effectively dismantle the “legacy”, the roots and the germs of the Marcos years.
We did not immediately put into our textbook and educational materials our experiences of Martial Law, its abuses, excesses, brutality, inhumanity, etc.
The government of Tita Cory and the succeeding administrations failed to uplift the lives of the ordinary citizens, i.e., delivery of basic services, effective/efficient governance, etc.
We did not implement a true blue Land Reform Program (which is one of the main source of discontent and insurgency in this country).
We did not abolish the contractualization of labor which becomes one of the major campaign promises of Duterte in 2016.
Why it is that our people wants quick solution to our problems?
Earlier, I’ve stated that the root cause of our problem (Dutertismo) can be traced to the failure of the hopes and promises of Edsa, but if we will closely study our history, we shall see that our problems today are traceable to our colonial past beginning from the Tejeros Convention up to the so-called Asemblea Nacional to the present Congress.
I concur with our author with all the arguments that he advance, if I may just add something.
I certainly believe that Duterte’s illiberal populism is the worst kind, for it is from the far right.
The ascendancy to power of this brigand is not only because of the weaknesses, perversity and abnormality of our system, but he also derived strength and power from the rise of the global right tendency (Trump, Bolsonaro, Nehtanyahu, Modi, etc.)
Hence, the problem of Dutertismo is not only local/historical but also universal in scope.
My proposed antidote against this bloody bastard tyrant and his nefarious tendency is for the people themselves to unite with the help of the critics and the intellectuals. We can do it either by voting against Duterte this May, 2022 through “an electoral insurgency” and all wiping out all his demonic cohorts or by fighting his bloody system using all the means still available (legal, meta-legal) and if, unfortunately, all avenues were close, then via civil disobedience movement or through a radical and bloody revolution.
We cannot wait for the international community and/or the ICC to do something for us, we, the people, the citizens of this country must do something to overwhelm, smash and defeat this phantom menace and the rest of his evil legions of darkness.
Jose Mario De Vega
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Social Sciences and Humanities
San Beda University
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