Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte Part III
When the mayor threw his hat into the ring and made his presidential candidacy public in December 2015, following the motto “half pulled him, half sank” and after a long hitchhike, there was no stopping him. He cleared the field from behind, so to speak, and – always present in the media and skilfully staged – quickly won the hearts of many people outside of Davao and Mindanao, who especially valued his shirt-sleeved manner and his universally understandable language. In the polls of the nationwide leading polling institutes Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations, he climbed to first place.
Wherever he appeared, he was hailed as a long-awaited savior. Only he was trusted, finally the complacent and completely removed from the people traditional politicians (popularly called “Trapos” for short, a deliberate reference to the Spanish “trapo”, which means “scraps” or “cleaning rags”), who at the same time are usually very rich Family dynasties and political clans are born to stand up to the competition. Only he was forgiven for calling the Pope a “son of a bitch” and the church hierarchy as “hypocritical” in the predominantly Roman Catholic country, and for having boasted of living with two women and two lovers.
According to extrareference, Duterte’s remarks during two election campaign dates in mid-April, the core passages of which contain a video uploaded to the Internet on April 17, proved particularly repugnant. In it Duterte referred to the fate of the Australian lay missionary Jacqueline Hamill. She was the victim of mass rape by revolting inmates during a prison sermon in Davao City in 1989 and was rescued with her throat cut. “I was angry that she was raped. But she was as beautiful as an American actress. I thought the mayor should have been the first,” said Duterte amid the laughter of visibly amused supporters. “Digongs” supporters tweeted that it was all “just a joke”. The mayor himself refused to apologize; he only told the truth. “It may be,” he said later in interviews with press representatives in Manila, “that I once again used a gutter language, as you know it from me. But at least I promise a clean government.”
Duterte fulfilled his wildest dream when 16.6 million Filipinos voted for him on May 9th. An unparalleled triumph: Manuel Roxas II, a scion of a political family dynasty, whose grandfather was a willing collaborator with Japanese militarism during the Second World War and, because of his ability to blackmail the Americans, became the first President of Washington on July 4th, courted by the outgoing President Aquino The Republic of the Philippines, which was granted independence in 1946, did not even reach the ten million mark. Most Filipinos – across all classes – were deeply frustrated and cynical about an Aquino administration that provided nothing but hot air that made work,
Duterte would have loved to see Marcos Junior at his side as Vice President. In the elections on May 9th, however, he was only barely defeated by Maria Leonor Robredo, who was the protector of the Aquino camp and its Liberal Party. According to the constitution, if something “bad” happened to the president during his six-year term in office, those who Duterte would have loved to have been in the political orcuses would be back at the controls. Since “Bongbong” Marcos feels cheated out of his victory because of election manipulation, he appealed to the Supreme Court and urged a clarification. To date, however, no final judgment has been passed.
Domestically, Dutertismo is characterized by its own color theory. The president’s four basic colors are black, brown, red, and white. If at the beginning of a week he sinks into unspeakable comparisons with Hitler and Uganda’s Idi Amin in deep brown and black, he prepares to wave hammer and sickle in red for the rest of the week. Whatever he does: Duterte always sees himself as a clean man serving the nation and the people with a flawless white vest. Whoever denounces his “war on drugs” is considered a “son of a bitch”. If such criticism comes from the US or the EU, the President swings the club. According to Duterte, to the applause of his supporters, he was not a supplicant or servant of foreign interests.
With the radical left underground alliance of the National Democratic Front (NDFP), whose main member organizations are the Communist Party (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), a furious resumption of peace talks began in August last year. At the end of May, however, this ended abruptly (for the time being ?!) in the Dutch seaside resort of Nordwijk aan Zee. Sometimes Duterte names José Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the CPP who lives in exile in Utrecht, Holland, his friend and mentor. In order to then accuse the NDFP of “terrorism” in unison with die-hard US-friendly military and politicians in his cabinet.
During his state visit to the PRC in October 2016, Duterte acted as an anti-imperialist to the applause of his hosts (and all leftists at home). He denounced the crimes and massacres that took place during US colonial rule. And announced that it would reduce the dominant influence of the USA in his country. So far, this has not changed the fact that the leadership of the armed forces (AFP) and the National Police (PNP) are strictly pro-American. If he is punished for his downfall, Duterte must ultimately submit to their tips. Despite all the rhetoric, the President strategically positioned a good 60 ex-police officers and ex-AFP generals. They occupy important cabinet positions (including the departments for environment and home affairs) as well as other state authorities and the diplomatic corps. Duterte’s top national security advisor is also an ex-military with Hermogenes Esperon.
Dutertismo – this was also reflected in the President’s cabinet list. It was initially a hodgepodge of hardened neoliberals, powerful business people, progressive politicians and leftists. The latter, however, were soon frozen unceremoniously and removed from the cabinet. And her boss never tired of praising large and costly infrastructure projects as well as the blessings he wanted to keep in store for the poor and marginalized in society – no evictions from slums, land for poor farmers and day laborers, an end to polluting open-cast mining by mining companies, Conversion of the prevailing presidential into a federal one,
On July 17, 2016, Duterte had invited ex-students from the San Beda College of Law to the Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President in Manila, and told the astonished guests that he was going to end his “war on drugs, crime and corruption” to the bitter end will lead. Even at the risk that – according to the President literally – “I will leave office with the reputation of an Idi Amin if I am still alive.” Idi Amin, as the “butcher of Uganda”, drove the East African country into misery and ruin in the 1970’s.
The president threatened several times to impose martial law if necessary in his ” fight against drugs, crime and corruption”. His great role model was and remains the former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. During his tenure (1965-86) from September 1972 to January 1981, he ruled nationwide under martial law. In November of last year it was Duterte who, after years of tug-of-war, had Marcos secretly buried in the Heroes Cemetery in Manila. On the other hand, there are presidential statements in which the president declared that martial law did not do the population any good.
On May 23, Duterte actually imposed martial law on Mindanao for an initial period of 60 days with the presidential proclamation 216 and the Sulu Archipelago. In the once proudly named Islamic City of Marawi in central Mindanao, there had been clashes between government troops and members of IS groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Maute. Most of the 200,000 people living in Marawi until recently have fled and their homes and businesses have been destroyed. The current situation is in some ways reminiscent of the civil war in the mid-1970’s, when Muslim rebels fought for their own state and Christian and Muslim paramilitaries fought bitterly in a climate of heated Islamophobia.
In order to stay in power, the strategically astute power politician Duterte will do everything in his power to conduct his “anti-drug fight” under the guise of the “campaign against terror (ism)”, which is much better presented internationally. A fatal development, which would affect the human rights situation and the severely restricted room for maneuver of the vital civil society forces in the country. A study by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) from July 2017 shows that the main victims of the militarization of society are women and children.