From Manila and Davao. Text and photos by Andre Vltchek.
When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory.
A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was told repeatedly by several local journalists:
Almost all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his support.”
In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.
In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing the man who would later be revered as a Latin American hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’ mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.
History repeats itself.
Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.
In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.
“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite dinner, from my own pocket … that is how confident I am”.
“People of the Philippines are totally free now to express their opinions, to criticize the government”, explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any permit from the authorities.”
Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by right-wing business interests and by pro-Western collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’ laws.
So it is not fear that is securing the great support of the people for Duterte in his own country. It is definitely not fear!
I visited some of the toughest slums of the nation; I worked in the middle of deadly cemeteries, just recently battered by crime and drugs, where people had been literally rotting alive, crying for help and mercy in absolute desperation. I also spoke to the top academics and historians of the country, to former colleagues of Duterte and to overseas workers in the U.A.E. and elsewhere.
The louder was the hate speech from abroad and from local mass media outlets, the stronger Duterte’s nation stood by its leader.
Men and women who were just one year ago living in total desperation and anger were now looking forward with hope, straight towards the future. Suddenly, everything seemed to be possible!
In my first report this month I wrote:
“There is a sense of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the Baseco slum in the Philippines’ capital Manila. For the first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name is Hope.”
I stand by my words, now more than ever.
However, I also feel that I have to explain in more detail what is really happening in the Philippines and why.
My only request, my appeal to all those people all over the planet who know nothing or very little about this part of the world in general and about the Philippines in particular, would be: “Please do not pass judgments based only on what you read in your own language and especially in English, and from the sources that have been, on so many occasions, and so thoroughly discredited. Come by yourself, come and see and listen. Like Venezuela many years ago, what is taking place in the Philippines is ‘an unknown territory’, an absolutely new concept. Something different and unprecedented, is developing, taking shape. This is like no other revolution that took place before. Do not take part in ridiculing it, do not help to choke it, do not do anything damaging before you come and see for yourself, before you face those pleading eyes of the millions of people who were defenseless and abused for so long and who are all of a sudden standing tall, facing life with great hope and pride”.
Do not participate in depriving them of their own country. For the first time, after centuries of brutal colonialism, it is truly theirs. I repeat: for the first time. Now!
Do not deprive them of hope: it is all that they have, and it is much more than anything they ever had in decades and centuries.
Fidel Castro used to say: “Revolution is not a bed of roses.”
Revolution is a tough, often very hard job. It is never perfect; it could never be. To destroy any deeply rooted evil system takes guts, and inevitably, blood is spilled.
Duterte is not as ‘poetic’ as Fidel. He is a Visaya, a brilliant but rough, candid and an outspoken man. Often he is hyperbolic. He likes to shock his listeners, followers and foes.
But who is he, really? Who is this man who is threatening to close down all US military bases, to reach permanent peace with the Communists and Muslim insurgents, to realign his foreign policy and ideology with China and Russia, and to save the lives of tens of millions of poor people of the Philippines?
In search for the answers, let’s listen to those who really matter – the people of the Philippines.
Let’s silence the toxic waterfall of insults and selected pieces of ‘information’, coming from defunct Western media outlets; let’s silence it by adopting ‘Duterte’s outrageous but honest lexicon:
“You propaganda media of the West, you animal, fuck you!”
Who is President Duterte, Really? Why Does He Swear So Much, Why Does He Insult Everyone, From President Obama To Such Mighty Institutions Like the U.N., the EU, Even the Pope?
“He comes from the South”, explains Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan, a former member of the Congress, and one of the country’s leading feminists:
He is a Visaya. In Luzon, they speak Tagalog, they are ‘well-behaved’, and they look down at us. Politically, here we say ‘imperialist Manila’. Ironically, Mindanao contributes greatly to Manila’s coffers: there is extensive mining here, there are fruit plantations, rice fields; but very little is shared with us, in terms of the budgets…. And suddenly, here comes a Mayor from Davao, from the South, and he is even speaking the language that they hate. He is angry at the situation in his country, and he is swearing and cursing. It is cultural; after all, he is Visaya! In Manila and abroad, it is all misinterpreted: here you don’t swear at somebody; you just swear, period. Yes, he is different. He tells the truth, and he speaks our language.”
Why should he not be angry? Once the richest country in Asia, the Philippines is now one of the poorest. Its appalling slums are housing millions, and further millions are caught in a vicious cycle of drug addiction and crime. Crime rate is one of the highest on the continent. There is a brutal civil war with both Muslim and Communist rebels.
And for centuries, the West is mistreating and plundering this country with no shame and no mercy. Whenever the people decide to rebel, as it was the case more than a century ago, they are massacred like cattle. The US butchered 1/6 of the population more than a century ago, some 1.5 million men, women and children.
‘Dynasties’ are ruling undemocratically, with an iron fist.
“In the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, some 74% of the seats are taken by members of local dynasties”, explains Prof. Roland Simbulan. “This is according to serious academic studies”.
Before President Duterte came to power, most of the social indicators were nearing the regional bottom. The country lost its voice, fully collaborating with the West, particularly against China.
An angry man, a socialist, President Duterte is outraged by the present and the past, but especially by the ruthlessness of Western imperialism.
He talks but above all he acts. He takes one decisive step after another. He pushes reforms further and further, he retreats when an entire project gets endangered. He is steering his ship through terrible storms, through the waters that were never navigated before.
One error and his entire revolution will go to hell. In that case, tens of millions of the poor will remain where they were for decades – in the gutter. One wrong move and his country will never manage to rise from its knees.
So he swears. So he is moving forward, cursing.
Why Does The West Want To Overthrow Duterte?
First of all, how could the United States and Europe not hate someone who is so out-rightly rejecting imperialism and the horrid colonialist past to which the Philippines was subjected for the centuries? To the past, however, we will return later in this essay.
A legendary academic, Prof Roland Simbulan (pictured right), from the Department of Social Sciences of the University of the Philippines, explained, during our daylong encounter in Manila:
Duterte reads a lot, and he admires Hugo Chavez. He is actually holding very similar positions as Chavez. He is strongly critical of Western imperialism in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. He cannot stand how the West is treating his own country.
He was always persistent in his anti-imperialist policy. Even as Mayor of Davao he banned all US-Philippine military exercises. The US negotiated; it offered plenty of money. It wanted to build a huge drone base in Mindanao, but Duterte refused.”
As ‘punishment’, two bombs exploded in Davao: one at the pier, one at the international airport.
Lately, he ordered to stop all US-Philippine joined military exercises and he keeps threatening to close all US military facilities on the territory of his country.
A couple consisting of leading Philippine Academics, Eduardo and Teresa Tadem, have no doubts about direction of Duterte’s foreign policy:
The trend is clear: away from the West, towards China and Russia. We think that he will soon reach a territorial agreement with China. Plenty of goodwill is now coming from President Xi Jinping. Things are done quietly, but some great concessions are already visible: our fishermen are allowed to return to the disputed area. China is pledging foreign aid, investment, and it is promising to make our railways work again.”
All this is a nightmare for the aggressively anti-Chinese foreign policy of the West, particularly that of the United States. Provoking still the militarily weak China, eventually even triggering a military conflict with it, appears to be the main goal of Western imperialism. If the Philippines reach a compromise with China, Vietnam will most likely follow. The aggressive Asian anti-Chinese ‘coalition’ hammered together by the West, would then most likely collapse, consisting only of Taiwan, Japan and possibly South Korea.
“Duterte is just being sensible. What China is doing is defensive. The West is behind the confrontation”, explained a leading historian Dr. Rey Ileto:
“Just to put this into perspective: Gloria Arroyo – she visited China ahead of the US. She moved closer to China. They got her indicted for corruption! Only Duterte released her…”
To the West, Duterte’s Philippines is like a new Asian contagious disease; a virus that has to be contained, liquidated as soon as possible. Countless independent (at least on the paper) but in reality controlled and humiliated nations of the region could get otherwise inspired, rebel, and begin to follow Duterte’s example.
The West is in panic. Its propaganda machine is in full gear. Different strategies on how to unseat the ‘unruly’ president are being designed and tried. Local ‘elites’ and the NGOs are collaborating shamelessly.
Is Duterte Really A Socialist?
Yes and no, but definitely more yes than no. He is actually a self-proclaimed socialist, and for years, he has been forging extremely close links with the Marxists.
Prof. Roland Simbulan explains:
When Duterte was a college student, he joined KM, the leftist student organization. He understands the ideology of the left. He also understands the roots of the insurgencies in his country, both Communist and Muslim. He keeps repeating: ‘you cannot defeat the insurgency militarily: you have to address socio-economic problems that has led to it.”
He invited Marxists into his administration, even before they asked him to join. He is gradually releasing political prisoners, who were captured and locked up during the previous administrations.
Professors Teresa and Eduardo Tadem agree:
Social reforms are part of the peace talks. The fact that a Communist leader used to be Duterte’s professor is also helping. Duterte introduced a moratorium on land conversions, so the land of the peasants could be preserved for agriculture. Labor is also enjoying many good things. He is bringing an end to short contracts, to so called contractualisation. Basically, the government is trying to make sure that after people get hired, they get benefits, immediately.
There are many positive changes taking place in such a short time: environment, social issues, social justice, education, health, housing, science…”
Duterte recently sent his Health Secretary to Havana, to study the Cuban model. The visit was so successful that he is now planning to fly an entire government delegation, including the ministers, to the revolutionary island.
However, while he is certainly putting great accent on social justice and independent anti-imperialist foreign policy, there are still finances, trade and economic policies firmly in the hands of the pro-market ministers.
“When Duterte was a mayor”, explains Prof Simbulan, “he acted as a pragmatist, valuing harmony above all. However, one thing has to be remembered: whenever there arose some irreconcilable conflict between labor or indigenous people or the poor and big business or plantation owners, at the end he’d always take the side of the ‘small people’. This is how he managed to convince the left that he is one of them.”
In the brutal Baseco slum, built from rotting metal sheets and containers around the docks and shipyards, everyone seems to agree that the new President brought both hope and long overdue changes.
“Now people have free education here”, explains Ms. Imelda Rodriguez, a physiotherapist employed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development:
There are also free ‘medical missions’ in this settlement, where people can get all sorts of check-ups and consultations. We also get certain cash allowances. The government creates jobs. Of course much more still has to be done, but there is undeniably great progress, already.”
Social progress is evident in the city of Davao, where Duterte served for 22 years as a mayor. Once a crime-ridden hellhole with collapsed social structure, Davao now is a modern and forward looking city, with relatively good social services and improving infrastructure, as well as new public parks and green areas.
“So many things got better for the poor people here”, explains the driver, taking me from the Municipality to my hotel. “In just two decades, the city became unrecognizable. We are now proud to be living here.”
At the City Government of Davao, Mr. Jefry M. Tupas showers me with the information and data I came to request: the resettlement areas for the poor and homeless people, the public housing for the rebels who recently surrendered, ‘slum improvement resettlements’; the number of projects is endless.
Like in the revolutionary countries of Latin America, the enthusiasm of the people involved in the ‘process’ is contagious and pure. At the medical centers doctors and nurses speak proudly about new immunization plans, free medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure, treatment of tuberculosis and family planning centers.
“Now we also hope that things will improve economically as a whole, if we don’t depend on the US, anymore”, says Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan. “If we now open up to much friendlier countries like China and Russia, there is great hope for all of us! Before, in Mindanao, we only had Western mining companies: from places like Australia and Canada. As a result, all profits went abroad, and Mindanao people are still dirt poor. Under President Duterte, all this is dramatically changing!”
Is Duterte Really A Mass Murderer?
If you read (exclusively) the Western and local right-wing press, you could be excused if you start to believe that Duterte is ‘personally responsible’ for some 5.000+ ‘murders’ in what is now customarily labeled as his ‘war on drugs’.
However, talk directly to the people of the Philippines, and you’ll get an absolutely different picture.
The Philippines before Duterte were overwhelmed by crime rates unseen anywhere else in Asia Pacific. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in 2014 the homicide rate of the country stood at a staggering 9.9 per 100.000 inhabitants, compared to 2.3 in Malaysia, 3.9 in the United States, 5.9 in Kenya, 6.5 in Afghanistan, 7.5 in Zimbabwe and not much below war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (13.5).
Drug gangs used to control the streets of all major cities. Very often, the military and police generals and other top brass were actually controlling the gangs.
The situation was clearly getting out of control, entire communities living in desperation and fear. For many, the cities were turning into real battlegrounds.
A driver taking me to the South Cemetery in Manila recalled: “In my neighborhood, we just had a horrid killing: a teenager got decapitated by a drug pusher…”
Profs Teresa and Eduardo Tadem explained:
In Davao, the crime rate was horrible. Generally, in this country, people are so fed-up with crime that they’d support anything … Duterte encouraged the police to act. He is a lawyer, so he tries to stay within the legal limits. He says: ‘If they surrender, bring them in, if they resist, shoot!’ More than 5.000 died so far, but who is doing the killings? Often it is vigilantes, motorcycle gangs…”
Prof Roland Simbulan clarifies further:
Many killings are taking place … We can never be sure who actually kills whom, whether for instance some rival drug lords do the killings in order to destroy their competition. In the Philippines we have terrible corruption, and even officers and generals are involved in the drug trade. Police periodically conducts raids, and then recycles captured drugs. Even the BBC interviewed gangs that confirmed the police gave them a list of whom to murder. What makes Duterte so vulnerable is his language, his strong words. What he says is very often misinterpreted.”
In the slums and cemeteries inhabited by the poorest of the poor, an overwhelming majority of the people would support much tougher measures than those implemented now. As I am told by the South Cemetery dwellers:
Here we hate those who are investigating so called extrajudicial killings. They only care about the rights of the suspects. But we, good citizens who have been suffering so much for decades, weren’t protected at all, before this President got elected.”
In Davao, Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan is standing by her President, determinately:
It is totally understandable why the President is waging a war on corruption and drugs. And if the opposition talks about the extrajudicial killings, it should be obliged to prove that they are actually committed on the orders of the authorities… Could it be proved?
“The situation is complicated, of course people are getting killed. But look at the numbers: they are much lower now than those during Benigno Aquino: during his administration, farmers, indigenous people and the urban poor were constantly murdered – people who were fighting for their basic human rights … And under Gloria, mining companies were actually given permission to enter the country and to kill those who stood in their way … Under the previous administrations, things got even worse: the military received an exceptional permission to deliver ‘security services’ to the mining companies’. All this is now changing!”
Even the most vitriolic critics of President Duterte, who are claiming that ‘his war on drugs’ killed over 5.000 people, now have to admit that the ‘itemization of the killings’ is ‘slightly’ more complicated. As reported by Al-Jazeera on December 13, 2016:
Police records show 5,882 people were killed across the country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. Of that number 2,041 drug suspects were killed during police operations from July 1 to December 6, while another 3,841 were killed by unknown gunmen from July 1 to November 30.”
So around 2,000 people died during battles between police and drug gangs, which are the deadliest and the most heavily armed in the entire Asia Pacific. Fair enough. Who are those ‘unknown gunmen’ and why is the mainstream press immediately pointing fingers at the president, relying only on the statements coming from his archenemies like Senator de Lima?
Isn’t the coverage of the Philippines by Western mainstream media becoming as ridiculous, propagandist and one-sided as that of Aleppo and Syria, as well as of the Russian involvement there?
Also, are Philippines local narcos being just mercilessly slaughtered, or should a little bit more be added to the story? Isn’t there something being constantly left out?
Peter Lee writes on the ‘rehabilitation’ of drug addicts and on China’s help:
Though virtually unreported in the Western media, over 700,000 users have turned themselves in.
Let me repeat that. 700,000 drug users have turned themselves in.
And they presumably need to get a clean “rehab” chit to live safely in their communities, presenting a major challenge for the Philippines drug rehabilitation infrastructure. Duterte has called on the Philippine military to make base acreage available for additional rehab camps and the first one will apparently be at Camp Ramon Magsaysay.
Duterte has turned to the PRC to demand they fund construction of drug treatment facilities, and the PRC has obliged. According to Duterte and his spokesman, preparatory work for the Magsaysay facility has already begun.
There’s an amusing wrinkle here.
Magsaysay is the largest military reservation in the Philippines. It is also the jewel in the diadem, I might say, of the five Philippine bases envisioned for US use under EDCA, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that officially returned US troops to Philippine bases. It looks like the US military might be sharing Magsaysay with thousands of drug users…and PRC construction workers.”
Duterte And Marcos
What shocked many recently was Duterte’s decision to re-bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the ‘Heroes’ Cemetery’.
“Has the President gone mad?” asked some. “Is he joining some right-wing cult?” exclaimed others.
None of the above! President Duterte is a left-wing revolutionary, but he is also perfectly well aware that in the morally debased society controlled by vicious political clans and corrupt military and police officers and generals, one has to be a great chess player in order to survive, while pushing essential reforms forward.
“The move was not at all ideological”, clarifies Prof. Rolan Simbulan:
“It was clearly a pragmatic move. He took some money, and he openly admitted that he took some money for his election campaign … Then, in exchange for some votes he promised the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the ‘Heroes’ Cemetery’. Marcos Junior wanted to run as his Vice-President, but he lost to Leni …”
Dr. Reynaldo Ileto, a leading historian, adds: “the Cemetery has bayani or the ‘hero’ name, but in fact it is a cemetery for almost all former presidents … The focus of the opposition on the Marcos burial is deliberate, it is to avoid real and important issues.”
“Duterte is stubborn”, Eduardo and Teresa Tadem told me:
“He made his promise to the Marcos family and he kept it … Does he admire Marcos? If he admires him for anything, it is only for being strong and uncompromising. Marcos brought the country to ruins, but after him, things never improved, and so he is judged positively by some sectors of society. But overall: Duterte’s decision to burry him at Bayani Cemetery was a gross miscalculation.”
“What is this never-ending obsession of so many people in the Philippines with Marcos?” I asked a leading left-wing journalist and thinker Benjie Oliveros. “Could it be compared to Peron in Argentina?”
“Oh yes”, he replied. “That seems to be a good comparison.”
“Duterte, a supporter of Marcos?” Luz Ilagan rolls her eyes:
“During the martial law, he was a prosecutor in Davao. He always protected the activists here. ‘Release them to me!’ he often ordered. He saved lives. His father served as a minor minister in Marcos’ government, before the martial law, but his mother played a very important role in the protest movement. She was a vocal, a fearless woman … She had huge influence on her son.”
Does Duterte Really Despise Women?
Again, it has to be remembered that Duterte is a Visaya man. He is outspoken, often graphic and definitely ‘politically incorrect’.
Duterte made comments about the attractiveness of the knees and legs of his Vice-President Leni Robredo, and he accused his vocal critic Senator Leila de Lima of sleeping with her driver (it was later proven that the liaison really existed).
In this staunchly Catholic country, Duterte annulled the marriage with his first wife (they parted amicably), had several affairs, and now lives with his common–law wife.
All this is too much for some, but surprisingly, he is actually admired by most of the women.
“When he makes jokes about women, in Manila they can’t take it”, laughs Luz Illagan, who is one of the leading feminists in the country:
But we always compare his words to his deeds, to what he has done for our women. He always helped; he always protected us. His Davao got awards for being a women-sensitive city. He created the ‘integrated gender development office’, the first one in the Philippines, and other cities are now copying the concept. Every year, before the Women’s Day celebration, women evaluate the performance of the office, and they submit a new agenda. Everything is very transparent.”
In an international hotel in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, I spoke to a group of women workers from the Philippines. What do they think about their new president?
While answering (and they did not hesitate to answer for one second), I realized that two of them had tears in their eyes:
For the first time in our lives, we feel proud to belong to our country. Duterte gave us our dignity back. He gave us hope. To say that we support him would be to say too little. We love him; we feel enormous gratitude. He is liberating us; he is liberating our country!”
Duterte And The Past Of The Philippines
President Duterte is not only outraged about the present, he is furious about the past.
“American scholarship in the Philippines – it created an entire mindset”, explained Dr. Reynaldo Ileto to me in Manila. “The America-Philippine War is a non-event; people don’t know about it. Everything was ‘sanitized’”.
“We still have not recovered from the hangover caused by US colonialism”, sights a novelist Sionil Jose.
US colonialism was nothing less than genocide.
Alfonso Velázquez wrote:
“Between the years 1899 and 1913 the United States of America wrote the darkest pages of its history. The invasion of the Philippines, for no other reason than acquiring imperial possessions, prompted a fierce reaction of the Filipino people. 126000 American soldiers were brought in to quell the resistance. As a result, 400000 Filipino “insurrectos” died under American fire and one million Filipino civilians died because of the hardship, mass killings and scorched earth tactics carried out by the Americans. In total the American war against a peaceful people who fairly ignored the existence of the Americans until their arrival wiped out 1/6 of the population of the country. One hundred years have passed. Isn’t it high time that the USA army, Congress and Government apologised for the horrendous crimes and monstruous sufferings that were inflicted upon the peoples of Filipinas?”
Gore Vidal confirmed:
Now a Mr. Creamer quotes a Mr. Hill (“who grew up in Manila,” presumably counting skulls) who suggests that the bodycount for all the islands is 300,000 men, women, and children—or half what General Bell admitted to.
I am amused to learn that I have wandered “so far from easily verified fact.” There are no easily verified facts when it comes to this particular experiment in genocide. At the time when I first made reference to the 3,000,000 (NYR, October 18, 1973), a Filipino wrote me to say she was writing her master’s thesis on the subject. She was inclined to accept Fall’s figures but she said that since few records were kept and entire villages were totally destroyed, there was no way to discover, exactly, those “facts” historians like to “verify.” In any case, none of this is supposed to have happened and so, as far as those history books that we use to indoctrinate the young go, it did not happen.”
It was reported that in September 2016, at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit which was also attended by President Obama, Duterte produced a picture of the killings done by American soldiers in the past and said:
This is my ancestor[s that] they killed.”
I visited several bookstores in Manila, including National and Solidaridad. In both places the staff looked baffled when I asked about books dealing with the massacres committed by US troops on the territory of the Philippines.
All this may change now, soon. Duterte is openly speaking about US colonialist wars and invasions, about the massacres in Luzon and Mindanao Islands.
For decades, the US was portraying itself as the ‘liberator’ of the Philippines. Now, Duterte depicts it as a country of mass murderers, rapists and thieves. According to him, the countries of the West have no moral mandate to criticize anybody for violations of human rights. He described President Obama as a son-of-a-bitch. He shouted ‘Fuck you!’ at the European Union. He has had enough of hypocrisy.
In this part of the world, such emotional outbursts could ignite rebellion. I have worked in Southeast Asia for many years, and I know what a thick blanket of lies covers the history of the region.
Southeast Asia lost tens of millions of people in the midst of outrageous, brutal European colonialism. It lost millions in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) during the so-called ‘Vietnam War’ (or ‘American War’ as it is known in Vietnam). Between 1 and 3 million Indonesians vanished during the US-sponsored coup in Jakarta in 1965/66, and the genocide in the Philippines took nearly 1.5 million fighters-patriots, but mostly civilians. The East Timorese lost around one third of its entire population, after Indonesia invaded, backed by the US, UK and Australia.
Such history is as explosive as dynamite. I have spoken to hundreds of people in this part of the world. They keep quiet, but they remember. They know who the real murderers are, who their real enemies are.
President Duterte is not only playing with fire. He is also re-writing and changing the entire twisted Western narrative. The whole region is watching, breathless. Both horror and hope are detectable in the air, and so are the strong smells of blood and dynamite.
“PH Not A Vassal State” – Duterte
I am anti-West. I do not like the Americans. It’s simply a matter of principle for me.”
That’s how President Duterte sees the world: it is simple, reduced to the essence. He further clarifies:
The PH is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be a colony of the US. Alam mo, marami diyang mga columnista they look upon Obama and the US as we are the lapdogs of this country. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. Wala akong pakialam sa kanya. Who is he to confront me, as a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country.”
He said to Chinese officials, during his visit on October 20, 2016:
I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also. America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow. And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
A deafening applause followed.
Duterte actually talked to President Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, in November 2016.
The new era for the Philippines has begun: cooperation with China, Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam. A growing distance between this huge and important archipelago, and the West.
He calls Americans “sons of bitches” and “hypocrites”, and he tells the superpower straight in the face:
We can survive without American money. But you know, America, you might also be put to notice. Prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement… You know, tit for tat. It ain’t a one-way traffic. Bye-bye America.”
What About Trump?
These days, to be a friend of the West is a terrible liability. A leader from a colonized country could be easily discredited by just one friendly phrase, one friendly gesture towards some US or UK official, towards the Western regime, or its corporation.
The Western mass media is well aware of it.
That is why, when President Duterte spoke on the phone with President elect Donald Trump, it immediately began reporting that the two men are on a similar wavelength.
Hardly. Once Mr. Trump begins his reign, President Duterte’s close ties with China, Cuba and other socialist countries will soon reinstate his name on the extended hit list of the Empire’s regime. He already is on it, under Obama’s administration (even the coup attempts plotted from the US were already exposed and stopped). It would be a miracle if the racist and anti-Chinese/anti-Asian Donald Trump would actually decide to spare an anti-imperialist Southeast Asian leader.
Duterte and Trump are still talking politely. Duterte even offered a compliment to his US counterpart: “”I like your mouth, it’s like mine”. Well, hardly a proof of warming-up of the relationship between two countries.
My Filipino colleagues kept warning me: “Please do not read commentaries of the pro-Western media. If you want to judge, demand the full transcript of the conversation … Is there actually any transcript available?”
In the meantime, Washington is sugarcoating the obvious bitterness of the relationship between the US and the Philippines. The new US envoy, Ambassador Sung Kim, a Korean-American, is all smiles and ‘respect’:
For me the most meaningful, the most fundamental is the deep and extraordinary warmth in the peoples of the two countries…”
What could President Duterte reply to this? Definitely not: Fuck you, son of a bitch!” In Asia, courtesy is met with courtesy. However, no matter what, each week, the Philippines are moving further away from the West, as planned and as foretold.
Who Hates Duterte And Who Is Afraid Of Him?
As we established earlier, the West hates him, and especially those there who are trying to trigger wars with China and Russia. Duterte admires both countries, saying that China has “the kindest soul of all”, while openly admiring Russian President Vladimir Putin. “(Russians) they do not insult people, they do not interfere,” Duterte declared.
Big multinational corporations hate him, particularly those huge mining conglomerates that were operating in the Philippines for years and decades, murdering thousands of defenseless Filipino people, plundering natural resources and devastating the environment. President Duterte is putting a full stop to such, feudal, fascist lawlessness.
He is hated by the mass media, at home and abroad, for ‘understandable reasons’.
He is hated by many local and international NGOs, often because they are simply paid to hate him, or because they mean well but are badly informed about the situation “on the ground” (in his country), or simply because they are accustomed to using the Western perspectives to judge occurrences in all corners of the world.
Some victims of the Marcos dictatorship hate him, but definitely not all of them. Many present-day ‘activists’ have actually too close ties with the West, at least for my taste. Ms. Susan D. Macabuag, who is in charge of Bantayog ng mga Bayani (A Tribute To Martial Law Heroes and Martyrs) and a person whom I met on several previous occasions, is not hiding her antipathy towards the President:
It is pity it is Duterte who is saying things that he says about the US … If another person would say it, it would go a long way.”
She then made several statements illustrating her dislike of China. Later she added:
“My son lives in the US. Many of us have families in the United States. We are very concerned about the situation …”
For a while, I was trying to figure out what exactly she meant, but then I decided to let it go.
At a small but iconic intellectual bookstore Solidaridad, I met the most respected living novelist of the Philippines, F. Sionil Jose, who was just celebrating his 92nd birthday. For a while, we spoke about Russia, about Indonesia, about the modern literature. Then I asked him point blank: “Do you like President Duterte?”
“I like him, and I don’t like him”, replied an iconic author, evasively, while smiling. “But I have to say: he is a narcissist.”
Ms. Leni Robredo, Duterte’s vice-President (and former MP and HR lawyer), hates her boss. Constitutionally, he couldn’t fire her as a Vice-President, so he at least blocked her from attending his regular cabinet meetings earlier in December. (‘He doesn’t trust her, anymore.’ He believes that her party tries to depose him). Later she resigned from her position as a chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and began gathering forces against Duterte’s administration.
“There are so many of us against the policies of the president. I hope I will be able to portray the role of unifying all the discordant voices,” Robredo told Reuters in an interview at her office in Manila’s Quezon City.
Ms. Robredo is an important figure in the “yellow” Liberal Party. As early as on September 13, 2016, Inquirer reported:
“Without directly mentioning the LP, Duterte on Monday accused “yellow” forces of mounting moves to impeach him by highlighting the issue of human rights violations under his administration.
“Let’s not fool ourselves. Do you know who’s behind this? It’s the yellow,” the President said, referring to the LP’s political color.”
On December 5th, I met historian Dr. Reynaldo Ileto in Manila, who said: “Leni is tugging the same (Western) policy on the South China Sea…”
We discussed the “color revolutions” triggered by the West, and the pattern: Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, and Arroyo in the Philippines, after she dared to move closer to China. Will Robredo try to do to Duterte what Temer did to Dilma? Is there going to be yet another ‘revolution’ in the name of some ‘anti-corruption drive’ or ‘human rights’?
Dynasties, powerful political and business clans, also hate President Duterte. Of course they do! In the past, I got to know them, gained ‘access’ to some. I was shown how they operate: shamelessly, brutally and with total impunity.
The dynasties had been killing and raping those who stood in their way. They have been plundering the country for centuries. Like in Central America (the Spanish and US colonialist legacies) they never hesitated to sacrifice thousands, even millions of ‘peons’.
The top military brass, educated in the United States and elsewhere in the West, hates him. It actually hates him passionately.
He is hated by millions of Filipinos living in the United States. He has to be careful while dealing with some of them. Recently, in the city of Davao, President Duterte declared:
Better be careful with the word ‘we separate or severed, severed our diplomatic relations’. [It] is not feasible. Why? Because the Filipinos in the United States will kill me.”
In fact, he is hated by so many from the ‘elites’ and by so many in the West, that it appears to be a miracle that he is still alive and in charge.
The coup plots have been exposed. Entire Western mainstream propaganda apparatus has been employed in order to weaken and to discredit him.
He does not care. He is now 71. His is in poor health. He does not believe that he will make it till the end of his term. He is a warrior. He never kneels in front of the former or present colonizers. Recently, he said:
I do not kneel down before anybody else, except the Filipino in Quiapo walking in misery and in extreme poverty and anger.”
That is what Chavez, Morales or Fidel would say. That is what gets people murdered by the Empire, by the Western regime. As simple as that!
The Empire knows what is at stake. The Philippines is a nation with more than 100 million inhabitants, strategically located on some of the most important maritime routes. It used to be one of the most obedient, and resigned countries in Asia Pacific.
It is no more! Its people are suddenly waking up, defiant and angry. The West has been killing, plundering and humiliating them for centuries. The education had been twisted to glorify invaders. The culture was stripped of its essence, and injected with deadly doses of Western pop.
Again and again I was told that if President Duterte is killed or deposed, the country would explode. There would be a civil war. Once rebellion ignites millions of souls, no way back is possible.
Unless some people have failed to notice by now, this is a genuine revolution. It is an extremely slow and painful revolution. It is not a ‘beautiful’, or operatic revolution. But a revolution it is.
“If Duterte moves too fast, he will be overthrown by the military”, uttered Prof Roland Simbulan.
Duterte says “Bye-bye America!” He is cancelling common military exercises, while he is also talking to Donald Trump, politely. The atmosphere is extremely tense. Anything could happen at any moment: an assassination, a coup … It is a minefield all around him, almost right there, under his feet.
He is aware of it. This is how history is written; with blood, with one’s own blood.
What is taking place in Manila now is not a board meeting of some Western-sponsored human rights NGO. It is a striking, shocking image of a huge, scarred, tortured nation, getting up from its deathbed, still covered by blood and puss, but suddenly daring to hope for survival, angry and defiant but determined to live, to prevail.
In order to live, it will have to dare, to fight, perhaps against all odds.
In the middle of the horrid cemeteries inhabited by the wretched human beings, I witnessed hope. I testify that I did. Those who don’t believe me, those who do not understand, should go and see with their own eyes. They should go to the horrendous Baseco slum, and to the city of Davao. Then they can speak. Otherwise, they should be quiet!
I testify that the Philippines is a country in rebellion, galvanized by one man and his tremendous determination and courage.
Is he a saint? No, he is not. He himself says that he is not. Anyway, I don’t believe in saints, do you? Duterte cannot afford to be a saint. There is more than one hundred million men, women and children behind him, clinging to his back, right now … most of them very poor, most of them robbed of absolutely everything.
If he gets through the storm, most of them will survive, will benefit. Therefore, exhausted and injured, he is marching forward. His fists are clenched, he is cursing. He has no right to fail or to fall. He has to, he is obliged to get through: in the name of one hundred million of his people.
As he hears insults, feels punches, as he envisions assassins waiting for him all along the way, most likely he keeps repeating in his mind what his great hero, Hugo Chavez used to shout until the very end:
“Here No One Surrenders!”
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
For direct-transfer bank details click here.
An easy way to know that this violent, death-squad loving clown and buffoon isn’t any sort of “socialist” (apart from his blood-curdling jokes about rape and his bragging about being a street thug) – he’s been invited to the White House by the capitalist warlord Donald Trump, who has praised him for the “fantastic job” he’s been doing in “fighting drugs”.
There’s literally nothing left to say on this score. Duterte is another example of the excrement produced by capitalism and then fed back to the people who are exploited by it as a “solution” to the problems caused by capitalism, just like Trump, Le Pen or any of these other buffoonish edgy demagogues and reactionary populists.
tl;dr. What a wonderful propaganda piece from someone who does not seem to be a Filipino. Funny that you said “I visited several bookstores in Manila, including National and Solidaridad. In both places the staff looked baffled when I asked about books dealing with the massacres committed by US troops on the territory of the Philippines.” There are plenty of books. The staff just doesn’t know – most of them are just functionally literate and the endo system of employment in the country makes it less likely for them to master the book titles they have on sale, much less their contents.
Ah, the foreigner-know-it all…
probably you are brainwashed by msm, or maybe you are paid to research articles with base and truth like the one above, which is very well written and has fundamental history background. and your function is to dismiss truth as is, or perhaps you are just what you are, a western ball licker.
I still wounder from time to time why do we debate whatever the MSM does, with premises that are shrouded in bullshit,.
The left, or whatever they are, like the right, ugh….. whatever they are, uses the same propaganda tech.
Namely lie about everything constantly.
Libya should open your eyes, all of the lied, the MSM lied, the NGOs lied, the Red-Cross lied, HRW and the even more rotten Amn. Int. lied about everything, we where feed videos that where lies and forgery’s, even other country’s where used since some of the creeps didnt knew the difference, in like flags (can you believe it, they didnt knew the difference, that alone is breathtaking stupidly done)
The NGOs are the MSM best tools, when they start to whine about Women’s Rights, diversification of people, gay rights, and so on, all to demonize whom ever gov. they want to attach.
Viagra to the army, pimped hard, remember.
Sociologically this groups have never cared about their own people, weirdly anof, elderly starve to death in Norway where streets are pawed with gold, huh, nobody bothers, our lefties is more occupied to smear an “pig” like Trump, and so on, with the same tools as mentioned above, whether they are true or not, they dont care, its time in the lime light that matters, small groups control our Gov, thru the MSM, whom pimps everything as long its able to demonize anyone they dont like.
Why do you never talk about the Victims of this criminals, nope.
Poverty witch is the fundamental of this, nope.
Workers rights, huh, anyone when have you heard them talk about that.
Nope, its all about creating hate, period, like Black life’s Matters, just tools.
If you dont get this by now I dont care, but never expect any mercy from people like Me.
I know what it is to be ignored completely, as an person and thru my own background, witch is another people completely than what I have to deal with right now, the dumbest and most brainwashed sheep on the European mainland, the Norwegians, an rotten breed of scums.
SO, my hope goes to the Philippines, and let “duerty-harry” do His job.
And so far, my humble advice is simple, never ever bow for anyone ever again.
Not even Trump.
Until they prove their worth.
So he’s vulgar and seemingly straight-shooting but is he really honest? If he is, I have to say that I’d feel much more tolerant of bad things he does than I probably should just because I’m so so sick of the day in, day out lying on a massive scale that we are subject to. And I tend to think that honesty ultimately will bring good to a country. As other posters have pointed out, other leaders with silver tongues are responsible for far, far worse.
Socialists don’t use deathsquads to deal with drug addiction and crime.
I think he is a criminal psychopath populist.
‘Drug gangs used to control the streets of all major cities. Very often, the military and police generals and other top brass were actually controlling the gangs.’ So the solution is to get the military and police to extra-judicially execute drug dealers? Really? The consequences of this policy are obvious: the concentration of drug trafficking and dealing in the hands of the police and military and a police and military that is even more corrupt and criminal. Whatever Duterte’s intentions, little good will come from depending on the support of violent criminals.
The continuing criminalisation of drugs on a global level is perhaps the main engine of violent conflict and human suffering. Wherever there is war or a failed state, drug trafficking is likely to be fuelling the conflict. Together with arms trafficking it is the means by which the organisations of the Deep States finance their illegal operations. The answer to the Phillippines problems with crime is not to concentrate drug trafficking and dealing in the hands of the state but to decriminalise drugs.
As for switching allegiance from the US to China, an old refrain comes to mind: ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’. Chinese intentions are the same as those of the US: to exploit Philippine resources. Mr Vltchek may be easily fooled by the Chinese continuing to hang the sign ‘Communist’ over their society. Most people can however see the highly level of inequality in the Chinese model for what it is – just another way in which the elite exploit the rest of humanity.
Your evaluation of the tactics used and the consequences of their usage is absolutely perfect.
Duterte should not be praised like this. He is not off the hook. The death squads have to stop. The political prisoners need to be freed. Contractualization has to be ended. This all has to happen, soon. It has to happen regardless of what happens to Duterte in the next 6 months.
The people have Duterte to thank for expanding their political consciousness, yet that same raise in awareness finally led to the people’s fury at Marcos funeral, and also further dismantling of the moral defenses for EJK. If Delima ends up jailing Duterte over his murders, don’t expect the population to start a revolution to protect his ass now- especially with the latest polls.
The only major promise he has kept so far is the shedding of blood. This is a low bar to meet, and the author insulates himself and his readers from the voices of Pinoy critics in the elected government and more importantly the left.
This is a very interesting piece that has got me thinking – and I am not sure what to make of it. At first, I thought I was reading another Ta-nehisi Coates style love letter, with a Marxist bent. As I read on (and on…) I admit to being persuaded – to a degree. If comrade Vltchek is right about the level of popular support Duterte has – then who am I to criticize the right to self-determination by the Philippine people?
Even if I do not and I concede that he is improving the welfare and wellbeing of his people (and I am prepared to accept that at face value for the moment) – I do not have to like the guy though.
I can’t square his populism with the extrajudicial murders. When he admitted recently that he personally took part in at least three killings, I know this wasn’t ‘literal’ and should not be read without ‘the full transcript’ – but he does not get a pass just because he called Obama a “son of a whore.” He is a self-admitted killer. No amount of anti-imperialist apologism can right that for me.
That said, he does not need my approbation. He will however need the full support of his people in the coming trade war with China – those bases are not going to be vacated – no matter how much he rants and rails. Which led me to hypothesize – which is better – an odious anti-imperial President or an odious imperial empire? Begrudgingly, the empire must be resisted. I only hope that in the future a better quality of leader can be found to do it.
I understand what you’re saying, and am not looking for an argument with you, but, those who are offended by Deterte’s kill toll, may like to compare it to Obama’s death toll in Syria, and, also his “deaths by drone strike” which has killed over 4,000 people including American citizens. Deterte is cleaning the “Rats out of the Phillipines sewer” while Obama(using mercenaries) is killing men, women and children who have not committed crimes.
I get that, but when you suspend the rule of law – who decides who dies and on whose criteria is it acceptable to take a human life? Your comment presupposes that some ‘Rats’ have forfeited their right to life – I suggest that is a very dangerous precedent indeed.
Is it too simplistic to state that what is wrong for Obama (or anyone else who has a ‘kill toll’) is also wrong for Duterte? You seem to view a certain strata of Philippine society as undeserving of life and everyone who dies in a drone strike as innocent – is it really that clearcut? I suggest not and that the same standards must be applied to both.
It seems to me that killing addicts and low level pushers can afford nothing other than a temporary fix – but what do I know – he’s the man in the hot seat.
I’m going back to drinking my super skinny frappuccino in my ivory tower
Spot on BigB, very well put, couldn’t agree more.
It’s not a good or accurrate comparison: the dead in Syria’s war being attributed (only!?) to Obama vs. Duterte’s boasting about killing thousands of Filipinos accused of doing or selling drugs. Why? Syria is a war zone where all parties fighting have blood on their hands. It is war. In contrast, Duterte is the president of the Philippines, and is openly executing people without any due process, no habeus corpus, no right to a fair trial. Apples and oranges, anyone?
“Why? Syria is a war zone where all parties fighting have blood on their hands. It is war”.
Syria is a “war zone”, because it has been attacked from without(it is NOT a civil war as some reports have called it)by American(and allied) financed and supplied mercinaries.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama, has the blood of multi thousands of Syrians on his hands. Duterte(guilty as he may be), by comparison is a rank amateur…..
Spot on Brian Harry, Australia , very well put, couldn’t agree more.
Let me make the choice easier for you, BigB, without you having to wring your hands: do you prefer a plain-talking leader who calls a spade a spade and admits to having killed people directly with his own hands; or do you prefer a leader oozing smooth-talking charm out of the sides of his (maybe her) mouth, promising one thing but doing another, ordering Mafia-style hits on people in distant lands and justifying remote-control killing with lies and faked news?
I find very peculiar the notion that we have to like politicians or others in order to approve their actions. If you had to undergo surgery, do you opt for a surgeon with a good bedside manner but whose record as a surgeon is mediocre, or do you choose a surgeon with a good reputation but whose social skills are at elementary levels? Believe me, I’ve had to make this choice in the past.
At this point in time, the Philippines probably cannot afford the luxury of a leader with a clean past. The country needs someone who has come up through the proverbial school of hard knocks, whether through the military (as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela) or through trade unions (as Lula da Silva did in Brazil) or some other institution in which to fight sharks, you have take on some of the qualities of sharks. Given the country’s political culture over the past 70 or so years, the extremes of social and economic inequality that that political culture (with US connivance and interference) has encouraged, and the brutality and violence that have gone into maintaining that status quo, hardly any Filipino leader who emerges out of that milieu will have an unblemished history.
It should be noted that Rodrigo Duterte comes from Mindanao, a region in the southern Philippines close to Indonesia with a Muslim community, which has long been impoverished and where ISIS and al Qa’ida have apparently established units. Mindanao is probably also the conduit through which illegal drugs are imported into the Philippines (they seem to go hand in hand together with the terrorism).
Sad to see such acquiescence here to death squads. When cops or militias take the law into their own hands and kill people suspected of selling drugs without a trial, it is a fundamental assault on everybody’s rights. You really need to study what happened in Colombia during the “war on drugs” there. The rightwing militias killed leftist guerrillas with impunity because they were falsely linked to the drug trade.
Sad to see the usual troll mentioning the favoured method of terrorising people in Latin American countries by leaders put into power by US governments led by charming, smooth-talking presidents who say one thing and do another, and who countenance (or in some cases actually order) contract killing of people in Third World countries.
Don’t tell me the US didn’t take sides during the long civil war in Colombia. Let me guess … Washington supported the government that supplied the right-wing militias that went after FARC and other opposition groups, didn’t it?
And don’t let the door hit you on the way out as you retreat with your tail between your legs, Louis.
Here’s an article about Duterte admitting that he threw a man SUSPECTED of rape and murder out of a helicopter:
That’s what Somoza used to do to Sandinista guerrillas in Nicaragua’s civil war. I understand that Jen is a rather hardened and cynical Stalinist but it is sad to see a nominally leftist website posting Vltchek’s disgusting praise of Duterte. I suppose that it is redeemed somewhat by the number of comments that reflect uneasiness with such praise for a president who advocates and takes part in death squads.
Dear Louis: I’m not sure that most readers here would understand me to be a hardened and cynical Stalinist from my comments alone but most of them would understand you as one fully immersed in reading and following news sites and blogs we know to be peddling propaganda, and also as someone not above slinging mud at Off-Guardian and individual commenters instead of offering something that enlightens all of us.
If you think Vltchek’s article is disgusting, let’s see you visit the Philippines and meet and talk to the people who have most directly affected by Duterte’s policies: all his allies, all his critics, all those who support him and those who don’t. Come back and let us know what you find and whether Vltchek is justified in what he says.
A Duterte ‘joke’ about the rape and murder of Jaqueline Hammill (an Australian missionary) – ““When the body was taken out, it was already wrapped. I looked at her face. I said, ‘Fk, she looks like an – like an American actress a beautiful one … I said: ‘Fk, what a waste’. What went through my head was that they raped her. That everyone had lined up to rape her. I got angry. That she was raped? Yes, that too. But it was that she was so beautiful – the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”
I’m sorry Jen, am I missing something – but who are we defending here? This is a man who has said he would kill his kids if they did drugs and that other people should kill addicts so their parents don’t have to. Is it too liberal of me to consider that at least some of those who have been indiscriminately killed are just as much victims of the dreadful inequality and dire poverty that has been imposed on the Philippines by US interference? Just how blind does the realpolitik have to be?
The emphasis above was not mine, it must have been in the text – I just copied and pasted it – apologies.
I am not defending Duterte and perhaps the more we know about his true nature – as opposed to stories that both exaggerate his vices and / or make a saint of him – the more we can judge whether he is the right person at this point in time to lead the Philippines, and whether he can make the right decisions that will improve conditions for the people there.
I would rather prefer someone like Duterte, odious as he is, to an Obama or a Hillary Clinton. We now know Obama is a morally compromised and weak cipher and we know HRC is corrupt through and through, to judge from the contents of the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks and whose veracity curiously has not been challenged by John Podesta himself, nor by anyone else who worked on HRC’s presidential campaign. Publicly these two conducted themselves with decorum – but behind closed doors, away from public attention, were they more Hyde than Jekyll?
Of course if Duterte resembled, let’s say, Jeremy Corbyn in character and personality, most of us here would be happier but given what exists and has long existed in the Philippines’ political culture, the extent of US influence and interference, the social and economic problems the country has had for a long time, and the current terrorist threat posed by ISIS and al Qa’ida in the country, can the Philippines afford such a leader? If Corbyn is perceived to be out of his depth in British politics as it is now (and the culture of that can be vicious indeed), how would he survive in the politics of a country where there are greater injustices and its internal problems have the potential to create chaos?
‘I am not defending Duterte …’ Yes, you are.
You should provide links for bombs like that. I also think you know – if you are reading posts you would – that we (who care) don’t care for Duterte personally. But Andre’s article is important because the suffering of the Philippine people is real and no joke. We therefore need to know what to make of this person. Although I was critical of aspects of Andre’s article, perhaps unfairly in one place (only), I have not come across any source making such an effort, as Andre, to inform us about this man. And I, for one, absolutely do not want to have to depend on the corrupt propaganda organs that comprise major Western media.
I am sorry, when I make a controversial claim or quote data, I usually source it (see my comment below about drugs) – but Duterte’s quotes are not controversial – in the sense that just about every form of media carries them. I didn’t give a single source as I hoped people would look at a range of sources to counteract media bias – my conclusion was that there is no need to put words in his mouth. (BTW ‘Duterte’s quotes’ yields 3 million results on a site called ‘Google’)
All one needs to do is watch several of the Youtube videos of Duterte. Listen to what he says, the callous misogynistic comments, his foul abusive mouth, his plainly evident egotism and lack of respect for anybody else, and especially the embarrassingly stupid video where he likens himself to Adolf Hitler–equating his killing of thousands of Filipino drug users/sellers to Hitler’s killing of millions of Jews. What a total whack job. Thank god he’s stuck on that island, safely away from the mainland.
According to David Irving (a World renowned scholar of the second world war in Europe) there is no document anywhere in Germay’s archives suggesting Hitler authorised, knew of, or had anything to do with something called “The Holocaust”
Whoever voted my comment down, do you have evidence of any document which proves Hitler authorised something called “The Holocaust”? It may be worth a look.
David Irving may indeed be correct – but please, do not fool yourself by extending this to the conclusion that Hitler knew nothing and did not authorize the Holocaust.
The documentary evidence would come from the Wannsee Conference, which Hitler did not attend – but Eichman did. The conference was largely administrative – the decision was already made for the “total solution for the Jewish question” – as Goring had put it. Eichmann would later testify at his trial that the decision came from the top. The chain of command was (Reinhard) Heydrich, Himmler, Hitler. Most of all, you need to be aware of the Fuhrerprinzip – Hitler authorized everything. He didn’t need to write it down.
(PS. I did not vote you down.)
I know it’s a long flight for you from down under, but a visit to Auschwitz near Krakow would really help you out regarding Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust. When you’re there, take a guided tour and by all means ask them “Did Hitler know anything about this?”. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, however indefensible and laughable it is.
With the greatest respect, asking anyone there today “Did Hitler know anything about this” is laughable. They, like me, weren’t born untill after the war. They are ‘trained’ for the job and have been told what to say………………..
By openly claiming that Hitler didn’t know about the Holocaust you’ve lost any credibility you might have had.
deschutesmaple “You’ve lost any credibility you might have had”
Why? Is it compulsory to believe Hitler knew about the ‘Holocaust’ despite there being absolutely no documentary evidence.
Moderator. Sorry I’ve had to answer deschutesmaple by replying to my own comment, but there was no “reply” option below his. I have the right to defend my comments if someone ‘keeps on’ about something. Thank you.
Brian, I expect you’re right that Hitler did not sign a document that said “kill the Jews”. But I find it very hard to imagine that anyone would have taken it upon themselves to carry out such a program against his will. After all, quite a lot of Germans had their heads lopped of for just that.
It is true that no one alive now can testify to much of the holocaust. That doesn’t mean we cannot know anything about it. My father was sent to a barn outside the town of Gardelegen in late April 1945. He had a camera, and I have pictures he took. Of a lot of dead people. I grew up in the shadow of that experience, and learned after his death that he had spent the next 50 years trying to trace one of victims background (a Mexican national). So if you want to say “Hitler diden’t know anything about it” be my guest. But I think you’re wrong.
‘…keeps on’ about something?
I’m sorry, is the Holocaust a source of irritation to you?
The reason you have gained no credibility for your comments is that you cited a convicted Holocaust denier as a source. End Of. Do some real research or take it up on some far-right website, far removed from here.
Thankyou moderator for not allowing further discussion of a holocaust. These pathetic clowns are trying to milk it for all it’s worth.
(Hey mods, If you want to let this man conduct a solitary baseless ad-hom Holocaust denial, fine, but you must be aware how deeply offensive that is. How can you let his “milk it” comment stand? Are there no community standards here at all?)
BigB. It was Deshutesmaple who brought up the subject. I simply commented on it, and you have worked youself into a rage over nothing. This article is about Mr Duterte, not your weird obsession about WWII. Try to stay on subject, and don’t use such nasty language, there could be children reading this, and we don’t want them to turn out like you, do we?
“According to David Irving (a World renowned scholar of the second world war in Europe)”
“World renowned” only to people who administer or read websites with names such as “Storm Front”.
“there is no document anywhere in Germay’s archives suggesting Hitler authorised, knew of, or had anything to do with something called “The Holocaust””
This, of course, is a stupid non sequitur, as “the” Holocaust wasn’t one event but many thousands. Hitler was kept abreast of Himmler’s extermination operations on the Eastern Front on a constant basis, and approved of and applauded these efforts. Hitler was the ideological originator of such policies, of course, given that he equated Bolshevism with “Jews”, and stipulated that the war in the East would be a different type of war to be fought without pity or regard to the rules of war. The question isn’t whether there is “a document” showing that Hitler “authorized the Holocaust”; the question is whether Hitler approved of, or at least didn’t stop, the countless anti-Jewish actions that he was privy to and had the power to stop. And the answer to that is a resounding “yes”. From Hitler’s equivocation of Jews to “vermin” and his description of them as “sub-humans”, to his approval of the expansion of the Nazi machinery of genocide at every single step, to his launching of the explicitly racial-colonial war of extermination in the Soviet Union, to his henchmen planning with gruesome precision more efficient ways of exterminating Jews and other “sub-humans” (a term that is automatically genocidal and only used by those with genocidal proclivities), the Holocaust was approved 100 percent by the white supremacist dictatorship and its warlord. What we call the Holocaust was driven both by directives from above (emanating from Hitler’s favorite organization within the Nazi state, the SS) and initiatives from below that were done with the express knowledge that they would be met with approval and even rewarded (which they were, without exception). So your supposition that Hitler was ignorant of what was being done to Jews not only stretches credulity beyond its limits, it also violently smacks in the face of common sense and scientific parsimony. I wonder: do YOU have a white supremacist motivation for downplaying Hitler’s genocidal rhetoric in the execution of the Holocaust and the brutal war of extermination on the East Front?
@ Deschutesmaple: You can watch the Youtube videos, I’ll read English-language articles about Duterte from the Philippines.
Here’s an excerpt from one article I’ve seen, ‘Duterte comes out strongly for family planning, reproductive health” by Karlos Manlupig for The Inquirer Mindanao http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/697544/duterte-comes-out-strongly-for-family-planning-reproductive-health:
“… A vocal reproductive health advocate, Duterte has gained the approval of women and reproductive health organizations who have asserted that he is the ideal presidential candidate who can represent gender sentivity issues in the country.
Despite Duterte’s tough and macho stance, he has been supportive of programs that ensure gender development and reproductive health, Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said.
Ilagan said that under Duterte’s watch, [Davao City] implemented a local version of the Reproductive Health Bill even before it was legislated nationally.
And his brand of leadership that has be [sic] attention to the women and children can help uplift gender rights in the country, Ilagan said.
“He is a strong leader. And our country needs one. Even Luzon is already excited. Political kingmakers are also saying that it’s high time that we get an outsider who is not from traditional politics. A new face and voice but an old hand in politics,” Ilagan said.
In terms of protecting women and children’s rights, Davao City, under the leadership of Duterte, is an example that it can be done effectively through the partnership of the local government and women organizations, according to Ilagan.
“Davao City is an example. Duterte has always been supportive of the Women’s Code,” Ilagan said.
In 1997, Davao’s City Council passed into ordinance the Women Development Code, which aims to mainstream gender-sensitivity through legislation.
The Women Development Code paved the way for the massive campaign against gender bias in government offices after it was adopted as a policy in all department and agencies.
The code also institutionalized the allocation of 30 percent of the Official Development Assistance funds and six percent of the Annual Developmental Fund to gender-sensitive projects.
The local government also created the Integrated Gender and Development Division as a special unit that monitors and regulates the implementation of the Women Code.
And to ensure the full participation of the communities in the campaign, Davao City created the Councils for Women from the barangay level as a consultative body of the Integrated Gender and Development Division.
The Barangay Council for Women is tasked to monitor and report cases of violence against women and children in 182 villages in the city.
Ilagan said that Duterte has also been active in sustaining the one-stop crisis center for women in Davao through its partnership with Gabriela and other local women groups.
A Women and Children Protection Unit was also established by the local government at the Southern Philippines Medical Center to provide psychological intervention for women and children who are victims of physical or sexual assault.
The Central 911 Unit of the city’s Public Safety Command Center has a dedicated a 24/7 desk to receive and act on reports of domestic violence through its “911” hotline.
One of the most impressive projects of Davao City, Ilagan said, has been the creation of the Reproductive Health and Wellness Center that has been providing reproductive health education, counselling and other services, including accessible alternatives for family planning, to clients most especially the indigents.
While politicians and the Catholic Church debate over the legislation of the RH Bill in 2012, Davao City was already giving out free contraceptives to its constituents.
The center also provides maternity services, and diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, reproductive tract infections and gynecological disorders.
“Davao City has done so many things. Duterte is not just that high profile but in his own quiet way he supports gender development advocacy,” Ilagan said.”
Did you say Duterte is a misogynist?
Here’s a revealing quote by Duterte about an Australian missionary aid worker who was raped and had her throat slashed during a jail siege-
“I looked at her face – son of a bitch – what a waste. What came to mind was, they raped her, they lined up,” he said. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing … but she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”
We’ll agree to disagree I guess. That’s fine by me, after all nobody ever wins these types of debates online.
Here’s more grist for the mill about Duterte’s misogyny and unequivocal support for murdering journalists:
“The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 174 assassinations recorded since the Marcos dictatorship. In a press conference on 31 May 2016, Duterte said that “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.” He appeared to announce his support for killing “corrupt” journalists: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch. At the press conference where Duterte announced this, he wolf-whistled at a female journalist when she asked a question. At a news conference on the following day he defended his comments and refused to apologise, telling reporters, “I cannot protect you”.
Wolf whistling at a female journalist who asks a question, and telling journalists in a press conference they will be killed if they ‘do something wrong’? So, Duterte not only kills drug users and drug dealers–he also kills journalists. That’s your man Jen! 😀
Ooops forgot to say source for above quote: Duterte’s Wikipedia biography.
I do hope you are aware that Wikipedia’s sources themselves are not always reliable and that individual Wikipedia articles can and often are hacked and filled with information of dubious provenance, especially if the subject matter of the article is controversial. That is why I avoid MSM articles on Duterte and try to search for English-language articles or English-language translations of articles in Philippine-based media. Media based in Davao or other parts of Mindanao seem to be biased in favour of Duterte and that phenomenon in itself may say something about Duterte and the effects his policies have had on people’s lives in that part of the country. This is really what I’m looking for: Duterte as a politician who can or can’t get things done, and who might or might not be the sort of leader who can lead the Philippines to true independence, not Duterte as a grotesque figure to mock.
It’s really odd that commenters here readily accept that the MSM lies about what Hugo Chavez did for Venezuela or what Rafael Correa does for Ecuador, but seem unable to consider that the same MSM could be exaggerating aspects of Duterte’s past history and his background and twisting them to build up an image of Duterte as some sort of primitive psychopathic killer. I’m not disputing that Duterte can be foul-mouthed and maybe has done things that would earn him years in jail in other countries. But he is hardly the only world leader who has a black past. If we were to know everything that other world leaders have done in their respective past careers, we’d be astonished that they were even allowed to campaign for the positions they have.
“… ordering Mafia-style hits on people in distant lands” – and in the same land!
Oops! This comment was supposed to go much further up.
I simply cannot believe the ease with which people condone a man who claims to have cruised the streets at night looking for people to kill. A man who jokes about dead rape victims- wishing he had had ‘first go’. Whilst it is absolutely true that western leaders lie through their teeth and order extra judicial killings- that does not make Duterte a good man- or the right man- or a good thing for the Philippines.
The author of this article says before one can speak badly of Duterte they should travel to the slums of the Philippines: then he quotes many academics and powerful people from the Philippines. Nowhere does he say he went and spoke to the impoverished families of the people killed by the death squads. He doesn’t even show any sympathy for them- there is no examination of the claims made about the death squads- the article leaves an impression it may not even be happening. It is happening!
You say tough times call for tough- and possibly unpleasant- murderous men. Do you recall a certain Adolph Hitler? Similar arguments were proposed to justify his brutal methods and genocidal rhetoric.
Do you recall Mugabe? He started out as a revolutionary- and ended up a dictator. He has made his country a basket case. The same can be said for Gadaffi.
In fact: such dictators are exactly what the west wants in it’s client states- and running the enemy nations. Divide and conquer is so much easier when your opponent is a dictator. You can kill, invade, impoverish with impunity. So much easier to get propaganda up when your target has skeletons in their closet…
I am surprised than many people seem to think the world is divided up into the good and the bad: if the USA is bad- then Putin is good. If ISIS is bad- then Assad is good. No – they are BOTH bad- end of story.
I predict Duterte will have disastrous consequences for the Philippine people. He shows every sign of becoming an ever more authoritarian corrupt murderous dictator. Spare me the rhetoric that he cares for the people.
It’s clear from his own words and behavior. This man is a psychopath.
Psychopaths maybe excellent surgeons or squad level commanders but they make very bad national leaders and the Philippines are in danger.
Please don’t take this as a sign that I am not ignoring you. Someone yesterday asked me what I thought about Jacobin magazine. I answered honestly that I don’t know much about it. I added that various progressive (?) sites pick up the odd Jacobin article. Thanks for the links. Now I know better (not fully) what to think of Jacobin.
Others: Note, The Jacobin article and an article it links to indeed spins lies about Duterte, to go by it’s big lie about contractualization. In effect, the authors, in their efforts to paint Durterte with every smear, including ‘fascist’, which is pretty perverse, revealed their true colors when they denounced Duterte’s announced plan to get rid of anti worker contractualization. The authors are framing that as bad, when, as Andre makes clear, contractualization (as opposed to serious work with stability and benefits and other state-guaranteed protections) is itself bad. As are those who defend it.
Considering how ‘colourful’ his language is, it’s surprising how little coverage he gets here. If the Phillippines had a Russian base on it, this guy would be enemy No.1 and plastered all over the place.
The US have publicly been very lax to his comments. Behind the scenes I’m sure they’re looking to screw him over and then saying….’Hey….nothing to do with us….”
Even though I know not to trust western MSM and their bull he should still be made accountable for his words and actions. Saying he’s from a certain part of the country to excuse it is not good enough. But it’s the business of people in the Philippines.
Presumably we are intended to think about Andres article. Apologies to Andre but such thinking can lead to conclusions. Telling people who you preach to to not think about what you write and to shut up, unless it’s applause, is vile.
I too hope that they do not assassinate Duterte, who I personally find to be redneck. He said he is ideologically aligning with gentle China and inoffensive Russia? That’s interesting. And alarming. That’s wrong on many levels. You pick sides and change your ideology accordingly? Yes, Duterte is socialist minded (as in socialism for ‘all’), but Russia isn’t communist nor is China communist (nor free from the cancerous global capitalist system designed by and for the United States, BRIC or no BRIC). Nor are they benign entities, as Chinese citizens, who can’t use the internet normally would tell you (if they weren’t so ruined mentally and spiritually that they don’t now think that their state is a benevolent god.)
Russia and China, as state actors, are weaker than, not morally stronger than, the hyper violent US. Therefore, They will be extra careful, which doesn’t equate to extra righteous. Secondly, Like politicians not in power everywhere, but desiring to be (above all else), Corporatocracy states that find themselves in uncle Sam’s crosshairs will be found talking sensibly to their people and potential allies in an effort to get support that it needs until it has the power it wants. Then the people, as Americans themselves learned (and didn’t) the hard way post World War II, are discarded by the political class and the nation’s 1% when they are not only not needed for survival, but needed for exploitation and glory seeking. For the neocon philosophy of neoliberals can be summed up as ‘riches for the strongest’. You are only strong when you are in battle and taking the means of survival from others (invariably weaker others), which others are usually the people.
Knock it off, @Arrby.
He never said any such thing.
Here is exactly what he said: from the article:
“Please do not pass judgments based only on what you read in your own language and especially in English, and from the sources that have been, on so many occasions, and so thoroughly discredited.”
“Those who don’t believe me, those who do not understand, should go and see with their own eyes. They should go to the horrendous Baseco slum, and to the city of Davao. Then they can speak. Otherwise, they should be quiet!”
Now. On to your lack of understanding Vltchek’s article.
1) Vltchek never tells anyone they should not think about what he’ saying.
Quite the contrary, he’s saying: Do think about it! Rather than uncritically ingesting information produced by the bought-and-paid-for media though, that is published by and for the oligarchs, the 1percenters … try something revolutionary: get your information from people who have actual life experience of what’s going on. What a concept!
Obviously we can’t all go to the Philippines, but he provides a clue when he takes the time to talk to some Filipina guest workers in the UAE.
Do the same.
Talk to some of the cleaning ladies who escaped the grinding poverty of a lower-class life in the Philippines who made it to America to work at the minimum-wage scut jobs.
Then talk to some of the wealthy Filipino people who sold their businesses in the homeland and transferred their wealth to the USA to start business here and are prospering.
Compare what they have to say.
2) Vltchek doesn’t want you to shut up.
On the contrary, he wants you to share what you know.
But make what you share reality-based.
What you found out when you visited the Philippines, or what you found out when you befriended some Filipino transplants and got them to open up about THEIR views and experiences.
What he doesn’t want you to share is the BS being spread by the pseuds and phonies who populate the western Big-6 media, and local oligarch publications from the Philippines. Who source ideas for their articles from stuff that’s been published by others of their ilk, who then go out and dredge up what they need to confirm their bias, and protect their jobs.
3) Vltchek doesn’t give a shit about whether you praise him or not.
He wants you to get off your fat, fukking ass and read about history, talk to people who have lived the reality. Stop lolling about uncritically reading the latest crap from the Ministry of Truth (aka Time magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times) and then puffing out your chest and congratulating yourself about how knowledgeable and well-informed you are.
(Man, that Visaya way of talking is refreshing.)
I didn’t read your comment. I later regretted being so harsh and expressed that on Off Guardian, but without going in details. But I’m sensitive to bullies. As for you, Don’t bother communicating with me further. Got that?
I remain totally unconvinced by this article. Duterte is the worst type of dictator: he encourages vigilante death squads to roam the country and kill whomever somebody accuses of doing drugs or selling drugs: I ask you, is this the way to administer justice? Would you like to have this guy leading your country? Probably not, or at least I hope not. Imagine how many innocent people have been killed by these death squads: no due process, just some idiot accusing someone they have a beef against of doing drugs then they’re shot to death and thrown in a garbage heap. As a final note I would like to point out that the author of this article, Mr. Vltchek is from my own experiences dealing with him a bit unhinged and can become quite hostile if he has to deal with diversity of opinion. I don’t have any respect for this nutcase. It is not surprising he likes Duterte so much: like attracts like.
” he encourages vigilante death squads to roam the country and kill whomever somebody accuses of doing drugs or selling drugs:”
Does he? Or have you just read that in a western propaganda rag?
They made the same claim about Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand but that turned out to be false.
“He is angry at the situation in his country, and he is swearing and cursing. It is cultural; after all, he is Visaya!” If that’s all there is to the man, a COMMON vulgarity, then I’m not impressed.
I do not believe Filipinos (spelling?) are a different species. I do not believe people are honest in general. I believe that people, but not all, naturally want to view themselves in a positive light. Ironically, That means that most people will lie, to themselves (often) and to others, and say “I am a good person.” Well yes, I would call a lot of people good, including a lot of people who declare that they are good, but I have to qualify that (normally silently, in order to function in society) by calling that ‘relatively good’. Everyone, including myself, is messed up to one degree or another and in need of correction.
Hyperbole has it’s place I suppose. I think if the author started asking his question about liking Mr Duerte and offereing a lavish meal to someone who said “no,” it wouldn’t be long before he was doling out.
YOu need to live in the UK a while if you think that ‘unfounded rumours’ do not get spread here. I prefer to call it lying with impunity. There has not been one journalist banned for life in the UK for lying with impunity since 2000: as a result, they do it with alacrity. Editors print lies with alacrity and all remain in post. You would need to print ‘Rupert Murdoch is spreading HIV through rampant philandering’ to actually get sacked, although saying ‘All hail Jezza’ probably would lead to the same outcome.
Great article. I sincerely hope that Trump 1) does not want to kill this man 2) has the power to prevent it but am doubtful on both counts.
I’m starting to like the guy. Anyone brave enough to stand up to the USA(while the USA has a military base in the Philippines) and who wants to wipe out the parasites who deal drugs to the people gets my vote. Look at what America’s “War On Drugs” has achieved in the USA(They don’t call the CIA the “Cocaine Import Agency” for no good reason, and the production of Opium since the USA invaded Afghanistan has rocketed upward(There’s even video’s on You Tube, showing American soldiers guarding the crops)
Best wishes Mr Duterte. If you have to shoot lots of parasitic drug dealers in the process, who cares.
The US occupationary forces ‘greenlit’ opium cultivation back in ’09 I believe. Destroying crops forces farmers to turn to the Taliban, which I presume is at least a partial truth. The sheer scale of the production may lead one to draw alternative conclusions though.
The latest UNODC figures show that 201,000 ha are under cultivation (up 10%); eradication is down 91%; yield up 30% and production up 43%.
According to AFP, the yield per hectare is up because of the recent introduction of multi-cropping with GM seeds from China. At the moment, it is “unclear who is behind their distribution in Afghanistan.” Unclear? Call me Sherlock, but I think that Brian is on the money here – the CIA is running its own narco-state – no suggestion that Bayer-Monsanto or Cargill are trying to get in on the deal too. Nope, nix, none.
wow vitchek you’re sure bending over backwards for this.
but doesn’t big D brag about how he personally enjoys murdering street kids
who He terms ‘drug users’ ?
Yes Mr Steph He kills – he kills those criminals committing heinous crimes. Those who fought it our with the Authorities. Even in your country there is a law called self defense. The Philippine law is too soft for criminals. We are the only country in Asia without death penalty.
And where did you get that rumors about murdering street kids? Get more reliable info and don’t turn yourself into a rumor mongering person, especially for a respected man like you.
Go to Davao City and visit the House of Hope. You will see cancer stricken children inside the hospital. Whatever they will tell you, you is like a slapped to your face.
A very interesting read, thank you very much.
I can see clearly the left wing bias in your writing – and that is no bad thing for a socialist like me. But also what impressed me about this piece is the breadth and scope of the article along with the lack of hagiography. You don’t hear a ‘local’ left-wing view in the European MSM about many developing countries. And any views you do get are filtered through the lenses of the usual stenographers to power.
Things really are a shade of grey out there in the real world and there are, in the cold light of day, few simple binary choices to be made between good and evil.