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A Strongman? Soft, More Likely

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on May 16, 2018 19:31

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A president who idolizes dictators acts tough, kills the poor, and persecutes his critics but refuses to be called a strongman let alone defend a territory from the Chinese occupation.

MANILA -- Welcome to a country ran and ruled by a strongman who quarrels with women but is silent on China’s encroachment on a territory.

Yes, you read that right. I'm talking about the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. He idolizes dictators, including the late Ferdinand Marcos and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and acts like one. He jails his most vocal critics, removes a Chief Justice from the Court, and persecutes his rivals.  

Mr. Duterte speaks foul language against the West for criticizing his human rights records, but offers no resistance to China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea. The Chinese military installed missile systems in a Philippine territory. He did not say a word to China.  

About 16 million Filipinos elected this man president of a fledgling democracy despite his threat of filling Manila Bay with corpses, sick rape jokes and calling his opponents effeminate. Yet, Mr. Duterte is now the leader of a country who has recently lost its democracy.

He jailed Senator Leila Delima for speaking against his human rights violations on trumped up charges. He sowed intrigues seeking to oust the sitting vice president to give way to Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator. Mrs. Maria Leonor Robredo defeated Mr. Marcos for Vice President in 2016.

Recently, Mr. Duterte removed the Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from office. It was illegal. The only legitimate way to unseat a chief magistrate is via impeachment. The Solicitor General filed a quo warranto petition questioning Mrs. Sereno’s eligibility. Eight associate justices with ties to Duterte booted Chief Justice Sereno out.

By using the law to punish his perceived opponents, Mr. Duterte has solidified his grip on the country. Philippine democracy is in the state of a comatose. The Senate President and the House Speaker are Duterte allies.

In a Time Magazine story, Ian Bremmer grouped Mr. Duterte with other strongmen who were democratically elected, but he refused to be called a strongman. “Am I a dictator? Since when did I send somebody to prison for just talking against me?” he said. “I have never sent anybody to jail for criticizing me.”

And that’s the lie. He sent Mrs. Delima to prison, sought to remove Mrs. Robredo, and unseated Mrs. Sereno. He ordered the deportation of an Australian nun for championing human rights. In fact, he wants to appear strong by quarreling with women and killing the poor.

Mr. Duterte is more likely not a strongman but soft and weak of a misogynist. He can only talk against those whom he knew would tolerate his colorful antics and against women. He is but another traditional politician who is yet to prove his critics wrong in that he’s covering spinelessness with his foul mouth and his violent drug war.

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on May 16, 2018 19:31

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