Philippines back on track?


It is pretty much clear that Dirty Harry Duterte has won the Philippines’ presidential election.

Thank goodness. Six years of Noynoy, with relatively clean government and improved growth threatened the Philippines’ status as the most dysfunctional polity in mainstream east Asia. The Thais were catching up. Fast.

Dirty Harry has the chance to put his country back on its pedestal by returning to the basics of machismo, nepotism, greed and ignorance. I’m not absolutely certain he will seize the chance because, like Donald Trump, he expresses contradictory positions on almost every issue. Which is more important to Duterte: LGBT rights or rape? He’s expressed support for the first and condoned the second. I guess that only time will tell.

Do we blame the poverty of Filipinos for this presidential choice? Or the poverty of choice of candidates? My personal grudge is against Noynoy, for endorsing Mar Roxas, from one of the great robber baron political dynasties, as his successor. Roxas stood aside in 2010 to give Noynoy a clear run, so it seems that Noynoy decided he had to return the favour. It may yet be 100 million Filipinos who pay the price for this bit of political business as usual.


Dirty Duterte / Donald Trump quiz:

The Guardian today offers the following quotations. Which ones are from Duterte, and which are from Trump? Answers at the end.

On crime and punishment:

On crime and punishment

A: “Forget the laws on human rights… You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you.”

B: “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

On sex and other things

A: “I was separated from my wife. I’m not impotent. What am I supposed to do? Let this hang forever? When I take Viagra, it stands up.”

B: “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”

On modesty

A: “I do not have brilliance, wit or smartness. What I have is common sense. It is what our country needs!”

B: “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”

On negotiation

A: “Do not fuck with my team.”

B: “Sometimes you need conflict in order to come up with a solution. Through weakness, oftentimes, you can’t make the right sort of settlement, so I’m aggressive, but I also get things done, and in the end, everybody likes me.”

On the political system

A: “The trouble with us in government is that we talk too much, we act too slow, and do too little.”

B: “One of they key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

On the future

A: “We, the People, recognise that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defence.”

B: “We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realise their full potential.”

Answers: All As are Rodrigo Duterte and all Bs are Donald Trump. EXCEPT the last one – both are Barack Obama.



Here is the first of three articles in the Huffington Post on the background to the Philippine elections. The first article links to the other two.

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2 Responses to “Philippines back on track?”

  1. joekano76 Says:

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth and commented:
    Duterte is the only candidate who could bring about some of the changes this country needs. And thankfully, it looks like he won’t have a Marcos looking over his shoulder – the fix is in place to put Robredo in as VP (something like 0.5m votes disappeared from Marcos’ tally during the night…sob, sob!
    So if public dissatisfaction sets in over Duterte’s progress, expect a legal challenge from Robredo to assume the presidency.
    As for Noynoy…locally he’s accused of being very lucky to have inherited an economy that was already in growth mode. While the country has continued to grow throughout his presidency at 6-7%, he has failed to implement the infrastructural programmes Arroyo or he himself promised. All the big projects are still stalled and in contractual dispute. Aquino will, unfortunately be remembered for the disasterous bus hold up immediately after he took office which ended up with a massacre, failure to prosecute anyone for the Maguindanao massacre, and the massacre of 44 elite police under the secret command of the US trying to bounty hunt a muslim terrorist. He will also be remembered for failing to take any meaningful action over the Samal hostages (until just hours before the first beheading) and failing to control his police force when they shot dead farmers protesting about the el Nino water crisis in Kidapawan. Aquino – looked after the economy, incapable of dealing with security, hopeless in a crisis.
    This is where Duterte will make big differences. He has promised to break contractualisation (the 5-5-5 rule where staff are laid off before 6 months so that their employers do not have to pay any statutory benefits to the government. He has promised to bring peace to Mindanao and he is the only candidate who understands the place and has a rapport with the players there. He has promised to break the hold of the 0.1% who have controlled the country for a century. He’s a very rough diamond. Sitting around singing kumbya is not going to change the Philippines, it’s going to take blood and guts.
    Full disclosure: I’ve lived in Davao for the last 5 years.

    • joestudwell Says:

      Good points. However, if Dirty does turn out to be an honest and effective president (I am willing to hope this, but not to hold my breath), he would be the first honest lawyer in the presidency that the Philippines has produced. The great majority of the previous 15 incumbents were lawyers, and the profession appears to have a 100 percent correlation with dishonesty, entitlement, and greed.

      Still, if Dirty were to put the Philippines on the developmental tracks, imagine the pressure on Clint Eastwood to play his role in the Hollywood movie.

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