[Right-Up] In Defense of Madness and Mayhem: A Review of Reconstructing Dutertismo | by Jose Mario De Vega

#HumanRights #Dutertismo

In Defense of Madness and Mayhem: A Review of Reconstructing Dutertismo

This paper is a brief review of Mark Pablo’s article published by ADRiNSTITUTE for Strategic and International Studies in 2017 in a period wherein we could say that ‘Dutertismo’ was at the peak of its power.

The question or the research problem of the author is not to ask what Dutertismo means, as if we already know what this thing or tendency is, but to offer a rereading or a reconstruction of this phenomenon.

As per the author, his research objectives are as follows:
1) Map the political, economic, and social terrain, contextualizing Duterte’s rise to power;
2) Critique the charge that ‘Dutertismo’ is purely a theatrical phenomenon, and
3) Suggest a reinterpretation of ‘Dutertismo’ as a movement aimed at altering the post-Edsa configurations of power and at laying a blueprint for a new order and narrative for the future Philippine states.

Pablo began his exposition by highlighting Professor Quimpo’s analysis of the class division in the Philippines and intertwined it with Professor McCoy’s contention that Philippine post-Edsa politics is nothing more than the collision between the state and politico-economic dynasties.

Thereupon, he discussed the triumphed of doctrinaire neoliberalism that further led the country to extreme poverty and wider social stratification.

He argued that “the Philippines’ adoption of doctrinaire neoliberalism arguably led to deindustrialization and decline in its manufacturing and heavy industries.” However, “the country’s leapfrogging from a manufacturing to the service-oriented economy has failed to generate jobs sufficient to uplift a larger segment of the population from poverty and stimulate long-term economic growth.”

It is because of the continuing and systemic failures of the hopes and dreams of Edsa that gave rise to the phenomenon as ‘Dutertismo.’

It is these maladies, frustrations, and anger of the people towards the failure of Edsa that Duterte uses to the utmost to unleash his platform of “Radical Change.”

Nicole Curato was quoted with regard to Duterte’s unorthodox messaging and projection of a totally different image, primarily:

“Duterte sent a powerful campaign message that resonated well with the electorate: the full restoration of law and order through the suppression of criminality and drugs. He vowed to adopt the successful socio-economic programs of his predecessor and rival candidates, promote reindustrialization, and, finally, embark on an ambitious project for systemic change: the transition of the country’s political system from unitary-presidential to federal-parliamentary form.”

The author talks about Duterte’s background; that he hails from impoverished Mindanao, long neglected by Imperial Manila, but he managed and successfully made his home turf, Davao, developed and the backbone of its success lies on the strict implementation of the law complemented by strong leadership.

What is ‘Dutertismo’ through the eyes of his critics?

To Professor Randy David, it is “pure theatre”, indeed, “the Philippine’s incarnation of Fascism.” While to Professor Walden Bello, it is the accumulated collective anger of the people especially those from below that resulted in “an electoral insurgency.” Finally, to Ms. Curato, it is a “performance in crisis” which seeks to paint the hopelessness of the whole system that needs a “savior” to restore order and save the day.
Reconstructing ‘Dutertismo’

To the eyes of this apologist, oops, I meant the author, “Duterte’s fundamental appeal lies not in Duterte’s persona but in the overall capacity of his administration to deliver concrete, tangible and expeditious results to the Filipinos, especially the marginalized and the vulnerable sectors of society.”

The author further argues that the two dimensions of ‘Dutertismo’ are the following: it is state-building based on public order and it aims to overhaul the post-Edsa narrative of liberal reformism.


Though I concur with the expositor that Duterte is utterly popular with the people in general including the masses, we must not forget that this paper was written a year after he assumed the presidency. Recently, it was shown that his approval rating with the people has suffered. The excitement and euphoria of his “magic” have vanished and his popular appeal to the masses has long gone.

The so-called “savior” was unmasked; he is neither a king nor a president, but merely a clown, worst, a clown of the worst order!

It seems to me that like Erap, Duterte failed to utilize his popularity and use it to truly effect long-lasting meaningful reform and radical change to our country’s politically unjust structure. Ironically, he run under the program or slogan of “change is coming”, but what he did is that he further led the already fragmented country to the abyss of misery, deaths, and to immeasurable infamy and shame!

His so-called War on Drugs is in truth and in fact, is nothing but a war on the people, especially the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable stratum of our society.

His fight on corruption is a joke, for his regime can be construed as one of the most corrupt administrations in our contemporary history as a nation.

Instead of uniting us as a people, he viciously divided us and turn us from each other. Undeniably, we are far more divided as a nation, now more than ever in our entire existence as a body politic.

‘Dutertismo’ is the worst thing that ever happened to the Philippines and it is our duty not only to resist it but incontestably to overthrow this evil tendency or diabolical phenomenon by whatever means necessarily available at our disposal!

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