Du30 an anachronism: era of dictators gone

[Photo source: Forbes Magazine]

[Photo source: Forbes Magazine]

By Roly E. Eclevia

 

 

President Rodrigo Duterte is an anachronism. He would be dictator when the era of dictators has long been gone.

The social, political, and economic climate may no longer be conducive to the rise of one-man rule. Maybe people nowadays are more aware of their rights and ready to fight for them.

In any case, the era is said to have ended with the arrest in London of Gen. Augusto Pinoche, who had ruled Chile with an iron hand from 1973 to 1990. There is a long list of other Latin American dictators, all deposed before him, among them Alfredo Stroessner, Anastasio Somoza, Raul Alfonsin.

Of course, we drove Ferdinand Marcos out of power. The Indonesians did the same with Sukarno and Suharto.

The only holdout is Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Kim—and his father and grandfather before him—endures because Communist China props up his regime.

Oh, President Marcos and Gen. Pinochet and their bloodthirsty, thieving counterparts in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Near East, lasted the way they did because of US support.

That does not bode well for President Duterte’s dream of ruling for life.

It is not martial law President Duterte has in mind, but a revolutionary government, a dictatorship in all but name.

He had better come up with something similar to liberté, égalité, fraternité. It is no empty slogan, but a conviction the French lived and died for. And so did the Americans—as well as the Russians and the Chinese—in modified forms.

The war on drugs just won’t do.

Can President Duterte silence those who will oppose him? the Catholic Church, civil society, the academe, trade unions, and the rest of the population? He won the presidency, remember, only by a plurality, with 70 percent of the voters preferring other candidates. He could not have won a runoff, if there was one.

The AFP has gone on record they do not recommend a declaration of martial law. That means, “count us out”.

President Duterte expects the PNP to enforce his orders. That is a doubtful proposition. The police organization can’t rely on brute force alone to do it. It got to have the respect of the people—respect it has lost in the war on drugs. There will be widespread and vigorous resistance.

The president has destroyed the PNP as an institution. It has, at his behest, gone on an orgy of murder and violence, ostensibly to save the country from the drug menace. No such noble motivation. Its members and the death squads in their employ are after the bounty, paid for each kill: P5000 for user and P8000 to P15000 for dealer.

So cheap a price does President Duterte put on human lives.

The wind may be shifting. The true believers are still around, but even they are now struggling to justify the murders of poor and defenseless people. The rest of the population—and the whole civilized world—find the whole thing repulsive.

Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco is frantically setting up Kilusang Pagbabago, a thinly veiled communist movement, to clothe the power grab with the legitimacy of a form of government. He will make sure the president will not be another Idi Amin.

All communist revolutions are the handiwork of intellectuals. The intelligentsia imbues them with a noble purpose, provides the direction. Or they won’t even get off the ground.

If Evasco insists, where are the social scientists, the economic geniuses?

Vladimir Lenin had Leon Trotsky; Mao Tse-tung had Chou en Lai. Who will be President Duterte’s political strategist, Vitaliano Aguirre? Who will draw up the Filipino equivalent of the USSR’s First Five-Year Plan or the PROC’s Great Leap Forward, Ismael Sueno? Who will communicate the advent of the new millennium, Martin Andanar? Mocha Uson?

Maybe President Duterte has no pretensions to greatness. He just wants to emulate President Marcos. Indeed, he expresses admiration for the late autocrat, but he diminishes him if he assumes he, or just about anybody with a taste for absolute powers, can replicate his feats and exploits.

President Marcos was a highly intelligent man and, with his rich, stentorian voice, a superb speaker. He was astute and a great political planner. Those traits kept him a step ahead of his enemies. Although short in stature, he had a commanding presence, and that was why civilian and military leaders held him in awe. He was young at the height of his power. He was suave and charming with an engaging smile. No threats, no profanities ever escaped his lips.

In short, President Marcos was everything President Duterte is not.

President Duterte is openly contemptuous of the Catholic Church. He tells people to leave the faith and join Iglesia ni Duterte, but that’s stand-up comic stuff.

Come to think of it. He won the presidency by entertaining his audience with those outrageous statements about Pope Francis and that poor Australian lady missionary. His jokes are becoming frayed at the edges. They are no longer funny.

 

Comments
37 Responses to “Du30 an anachronism: era of dictators gone”
  1. josephivo says:

    I don’t know. There is are dictators and there are paternalistic leaders with an autocratic style of leading. After years as a first citizen in a large city and coming from an influential family, it is easy to start believing that you know everything better and that you have to treat your citizens with the diligence of a good father. A good father does not spare the rod and doesn’t accept kids sputtering protests. Aren’t dictators more God-like, absolute, personal cult, ruling by uncontested divine justification?

    “That does not bode well for President Duterte’s dream of ruling for life.” Isn’t his age and physical condition a better predict?

    “The president has destroyed the PNP as an institution” How can you destroy something that was already rotten to the core?

    “The true believers are still around” And what about his huge approval ratings?

    “Maybe President Duterte has no pretensions to greatness. He just wants to emulate President Marcos.” Not so sure. I thing he feels a real calling. He believes that he achieved something in Davao, partly he did, partly because he believed the probable colored feedback of his close aides. He lives “the end justifies the means” a little different from most of us. The stronger you belief in “the end” (a glorious country?) the easier it becomes to accept all means (EJK). Hasn’t his Marcos leniency more to do with family ties and utang than with a will to emulate?

    • josephivo says:

      “Dutch Wikipedia on psychological traits of dictators” and some comments:

      1. “Intelligent.” Yes, but not on a Marcos or Enrille level.
      2. “Ruthless and they show little concern for other people.” Not so much ruthless but impulsive, other people only if they are enemies, big concern for the good citizens.
      3. “Narcissistic and often with a paranoid personality, often resulting megalomania where criticism is forbidden on the dictator, then an enforced personality cult.” Not really exaggerated.
      4. “Paranoid with strong suspicion, often extending to former allies.” Not really exaggerated.
      5. “Often they had to do in their childhood with a violent and/or authoritarian family situation with an oppressive father.” Don’t know.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > “That does not bode well for President Duterte’s dream of ruling for life.” Isn’t his age and physical condition a better predict?

      Yes, but I’m pretty sure he’ll bend the law, even the Constitution, to suit his needs, especially choosing a successor worthy of his twisted ideals.

  2. There are new autocratic leaders around today… Trump, Putin, Erdogan – so it isn’t quite over..

    Both Walden Bello and Joel Pablo Salud (Philippine Graphic Editor-in-Chief and author) have clearly stated that it would be foolish to underestimate Duterte’s skills in playing the crowd…

    Trump doesn’t quite get to where he wants to (yet?) because Americans believe in their institutions – “surprisingly” US Immigration officers follow the court order halting his travel ban, meaning it is not yet a banana republic where illegal orders are widely followed and legality hardly counts…

    There is an implied ideology behind Duterte’s movement… Mocha’s talk of “true Filipinos”, Sass Sasots “I am not disente, I am part of the people”, Dr. Lorraine Marie Badoy’s “let us take the country back from those who took it from us”.. very similar to Trump’s idea of “real America”..

    Duterte’s vulgarity is PART of his mass appeal. Erdogan also works that way. NY-based Filipina author and feminist Ninotchka Rosca defined it well recently – he appeals to “violent Filipino hypermasculinity”. The machismo of taxi and jeepney drivers, the pragmatic Filipino street culture..

    • madlanglupa says:

      > There are new autocratic leaders around today… Trump, Putin, Erdogan – so it isn’t quite over..

      Robert Mugabe is still breathing.

      > he appeals to “violent Filipino hypermasculinity”. The machismo of taxi and jeepney drivers, the pragmatic Filipino street culture..

      Stickers and vanity plates on their vehicles attest to their loyalty as much as raising the fascist salute.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Nicely observed.
      *****

    • chemrock says:

      Irineo,

      “…he appeals to “violent Filipino hypermasculinity”. The machismo of taxi and jeepney drivers, the pragmatic Filipino street culture..o your last para — ”

      I’m not eloquent, but I basically had that in mind during the elections when I told my wife to look at all those guys wearing the Du30 T-shirts, they are all those macho macho types, don’t f..k around with them types. To which my wife replied they are wearing that because it’s given out free.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Yes, they’re all macho types. Loaded on testosterone. Usually driving showy motorcycles, cars, and trucks. All sporting the same logo. And I’m pretty sure they also pack a gun.

        • Eliseo Suico says:

          You know what, many closet gays are like that way too. Some people who are extra diligent in their display of hyper masculinity are instead suspect of gender insecurity, putting on a front that is the extreme opposite of what they really are. In which case it could be that as children they were castigated and chastised by their families for being effeminate, and that being proud and sensitive but less than intelligent, they would prove to everyone that they are the extreme opposite, by becoming your foul mouthed, tough talking, girl chasing neighborhood toughie and bully. He would spend his lifetime living his secret reality this way, only to realize it doesn’t change anything at all, and he lives frustrated, and becomes a psychopath wanting to kill.

    • karlgarcia says:

      The AFP is waiting for a written order for arresting rogue cops, without that they will treat the order as a joke or just a mere outburst.

      The communications chief even says the president is making up stories when he said a certain doctor did an ekg on him.

      So does not mean that Duterte is no dictator?
      He dictates, but will his soldiers march in cadence?


      The hypermasculinity attitude may soon be emasculated with more ladies being brave enough to expose harrassment in social media. Though some still dismiss it due to the machismo culture, but we will get there.

      Chivalry is not an anachronism, I think.

  3. NHerrera says:

    Roly E Eclevia,

    Thanks for the thoughts on the blog article. I just have a minor comment. You state that dictatorship is an anachronism. Said about a decade ago or just a few years ago that may be true. But in my opinion, the current times seems to have given the spirit of dictatorship some sort of renaissance. Without even talking about the local scene, think Russia; and who would have thought that such “spirit” would be given a boost in the US, with a significant number of its citizens seeming to want a dictator.

    Trump + Bannon + Conway = spirit of dictatorship is alive and well.

    • NHerrera says:

      A CLARIFICATION

      First Point

      You did not precisely say “dictatorship is an anachronism.” I just inferred the following:

      the era of dictators has long been gone = dictatorship is an anachronism

      (anachronism = something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time)

      Second Point

      While making the statement that the “spirit of dictatorship is alive and well,” I do not imply that it will progress that much in the US with its relatively strong institution, as demonstrated by Washington US District Court Judge James Robart being able to halt President Trump’s Executive Order restricting entry of foreigners vetted before being issued visas. About the Philippine case, I cannot say something with confidence, although our host’s previous blog indicates the tip of the iceberg on the “pushback.” We hope it will have the same effect on our local Titanic.

  4. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. I agree that Duterte is an anachronism. I have said he is an atavist.

    2. But I disagree with this: ”In short, President Marcos was everything President Duterte is not.”

    3. To put things in perspective, Marcos was the precursor of Duterte. And the heirs of Marcos are in many ways responsible for the ascension of Duterte.

    3.1. And if Duterte had his way, he would put back a Marcos into Malacanang.

    4. While Marcos may have been suave and personable in comparison to Duterte, make no mistake, both are brutal dictators.

    5. Marcos and family were thrown out of the country, but his family and his corpse were allowed back. With their stolen billions, the family has clawed their way back into power… to the point that a sneaky return into Malacanang was almost achieved. The return is still in the offing. A hasty and sneaky operation did allow the dictator to be buried in the LNB.

    6. What fate awaits Duterte? There is the proverb that says, he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. It may not be proper to speculate or prognosticate, but…

    6.1. Marcos, who lived by deception, died of Lupus, an “autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body.” His body deceived him. In this, there may have been poetic justice and karma.

    6.2. Duterte lives by malice toward most and perhaps charity for some. He suffers from Buerger’s disease, which is an “inflammation and thrombosis in small and medium-sized blood vessels.”

    6.3. Thrombosis is the formation of blood clots. Blood. The flowing and stoppage of. Hmm.
    *****

  5. josephivo says:

    The word “Dictator” is used in different contexts:
    1. In a historical sense, the rulers in Rome during emergencies and from Caesar onwards the rulers for life.
    2. The ruler of a “dictatorship”, a state with the 3(4) powers in one institution or one hand.
    3. A man ruling with an authoritarian style, based on certain character traits.(see above)
    4. To designate the leader, one doesn’t like, of the opposite site when in power.

    In this discussion it seems we mix definition 3 and 4.

  6. Bill In Oz says:

    Roly, you say “The age of dictators is gone..Duterte is an anachronism”

    Ummmmm..Let’s note here & now the dictators of our day : Putin of Russia; Yi Jin Ping of China immediately come to mind by name. And from memory the following nations are ruled by dictators:
    Belarus, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, North Korea, Thailand ( military dictatorship) Cambodia, Morocco, Sudan, Congo,Ethiopia, Eitreya, Fiji, Malaysia, Venezuela. There are also a swag of hereditary kings who ar effectively dictators.

    So unfortunately there are far too many dictatorships in the world: far from being an anachronism, they are flourishing.

    And Duterte, is he the real deal dictator than you make him out to be ? I have my doubts. He is brutal and coarse in his language and methods. However there are both formal and informal blocks to any attempt at one man rule in the Philippines and it’s 100,000,000 people.

    The formal blocks are the Congress and Supreme Court and the Churches and in the South the Mosques.

    The informal block is the very character of the Filipino people. Stand out of Blv Quezon in Manila for an hour. Do you see the ordered obedience to rules and orders ? Bugger me, No.m Filipinos by nature do not like being ordered about. And while they may not openly defy the ruler, they will white ant the rules and orders..Until the whole thing is opnly seen as a joke…

    Woe betide the ruler who is laughed at ..his days are numbered…

  7. If we parse so much it seems to confuse, to mislead us from the true message of the article. Yet I appreciate the way that enriches my vocabulary….

    • Bert says:

      If the true message of the article turns out to be that the author is sending a message and a warning to us of the forthcoming danger of a Duterte dictatorship then there is real reason for all of us to be afraid. All the elements are there, foremost of which are the overwhelming approval rating of the President among the populace and his solid hold on Congress. The PNP and the AFP are the easy parts. Double their salary and the deal is on.

      Am I afraid? Hmmmn, let me see. If the president is foolish enough to attempt it then he’s a fool. Because I am seeing in my most reliable crystal ball that the attempt will not succeed. There are very strong and formidable forces within and outside of his sphere of influence that will effectively nip such attempt in the bud.

  8. NHerrera says:

    NOT QUITE OFF TOPIC

    In keeping with the thesis of the current blog, there is indeed a barrier to the achievement of a strongman’s desire, as illustrated by the link below.

    One of our favorite contributors to discussions in the TSH via links posted here, MLQ III, has this last paragraph in his piece in today’s Inquirer:

    A familiar story: A scorpion hitches a ride across a river on a frog, which skeptically says you will sting me, to which the scorpion soothingly replies, “Of course not, if I did so, we will both drown. So the frog obliges; halfway across the river the scorpion stings the frog, telling it, as both proceed to drown, “I couldn’t help myself, it’s in my nature.” Which ignores the possibility that the frog was looking forward to snacking on the scorpion once they reached shore.

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/101486/frog-scorpion-fight

    There is no real commitment or common ideology by the two principals alluded to in the scorpion and frog story — each one, in the end, only wanting to use the other for its own ends.

    Can the same be said of the other thrusts of the Administration: other parallels to the scorpion and frog story?

    • NHerrera says:

      Bert, MLQ III’s article may provide a good background to what you see in your reliable crystal ball.

      • Bert says:

        Yes, NHerrera, after reading your link now I can see that you are right.

        I”m now trying to figure out who’s the frog and who’s the scorpion in this political drama happening here in the Philippines that MLQ3 was referring to but I supposed you have your good guess already and I tend to agree with it. 🙂

    • karlgarcia says:

      From what I gather, per Tiglao, no president want to seriously handle the NPA and the AFP top brass will be too worried of the NPA going after them after retirement.
      If that is the pattern, this will go on forever.
      NPA, moro rebels,moro bandits,etc.

  9. “Anarchy is law and freedom without force.
    Despotism is law and force without freedom.
    Barbarism is force without freedom and law.
    Republicanism is force with freedom and law.”

    ― Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View

    Above are the four forms of government according to Kant. What form of government does PH have now? Is it still a Republic?

    Roly states PRD is anachronistic. edgar declares PRD is atavistic. Both words denote being out of synch with the times. They connote backward instead of forward thinking.

    I’d say he is out of his element (geographical and expertise bailiwick). His claim to fame is peace and order, the very platform that won him votes to be president. He promised that PH will have peace and order in 3-6 months. That has come and gone and peace and order had not been achieved. What can be done to save PRD and PH?

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Very good.

      I would say, “Barbarism.”

      o There is force.
      o We don’t have freedom — civil liberties.
      o we don’t have law — due process.
      *****

  10. karlgarcia says:

    What about the directive of speaker Alvarez to allies not suppporting the death penalty to quit their deputy speakership and committee chairmanships? That is pure authoritarian, there would no longer be a conscience vote

  11. chemrock says:

    Gian shared a great book. In “The World of Yesterday”, Stefan Zweig wrote:

    “It is a law of history, that contemporaries are denied a recognition of the early beginnings of the great movements which determine their times.”

    16m are still to wide-eyed to see.
    What is the name of the country-wide movement that somebody in the Pre’s office is tasked to organised? Something PK I think? That’s going to be the storm-trooper, equivalent to Hitler’s Youth and woe to Phils when this is organised and BB inherits it. Stefan Zweig would have seen through this.

    Du30 dictatorial ambition is curtailed by 2 factors — his health and national budget. Where is the doubling of salaries for PNP and AFP?

  12. Micha says:

    César Gaviria was president of Colombia from 1990 to 1994. It was during his term that the notorious Pablo Escobar was imprisoned and eventually killed while trying to escape from La Catedral, the prison Escobar himself requested built according to his specification.

    Today, former President Gaviria has words of advise for Duterte :

    1. The war against drugs cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone.

    2. Locking up (or killing) nonviolent offenders and drug users almost always backfires, and will instead strengthen organized crime.

    3. Real reductions in drug supply and demand will come through improving public health and safety, strengthening anticorruption measures — especially those that combat money laundering — and investing in sustainable development.

    4. The smartest pathway to tackling drugs is decriminalizing consumption and ensuring that governments regulate certain drugs, including for medical and recreational purposes.

    Those that were horrified at Duterte’s approach on illegal drugs and are now protesting have already lost half the battle when they concede, from the start, that drug use is a criminal act.

    The pushback against Duterte’s method, if it has to be successful, has to start at challenging the wrongful stance on the criminal nature of drug consumption.

  13. alicia m. kruger says:

    Wannabe dictators like Duterte do and say what people want to hear. Sixteen million plus people took this bait hook, line and sinker which was and is a very big step back to the old era in this day and age of enlightenment.

    Duterte in his drug campaign doesn’t believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. What he really means is you are guilty until proven guiltier or you are guilty until proven dead, a very sad reality for the families of the 7,000+ dead Filipinos.

    This is the reason why the ‘would-be-brave enough’ to speak against the Poon would have to brace themselves from the unrelenting abuse, victimization and vilification by Duterte himself and the likes of Aguirre and cohorts because they will turn over every stone, then turn over the stone beneath it so they can ‘find or make’ evidence to justify their accusations.

    And fake reports added on. And horror of horror, 16 million plus supporters come into the fray and applaud these shameful behavior. Or, do others just kept quiet because they are afraid to be the next much maligned de Lima or to be added on to the list of the dead?

    And this leads to another question. Shouldn’t he focus on making good economic policy in order to solve poverty? It appears that he had forgotten the old adage that ‘poverty is the source of almost all evil’.

    • Micha says:

      Duterte is wasting energy and government resources in his obsession with illegal drugs when he could have instead focused his energies on confronting economic problems.

      He recently ordered his police berdugos to stop their killing-spree but only because a South Korean was murdered inside Camp Crame. It’s a revelation on how morally corrupt this President is and how utterly contemptuous of those who were murdered who happen to be poor and just, you know, ordinary Filipinos.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > And this leads to another question. Shouldn’t he focus on making good economic policy in order to solve poverty? It appears that he had forgotten the old adage that ‘poverty is the source of almost all evil’.

      Part of the reason why he was placed in power is that because the VACC leadership initially wanted him as the “FINAL” solution to crime and corruption, instead of dealing with the root causes of crime and corruption. Now he — with a autocratic, messianic tendency and a bloodthirsty following who worships him — thinks that by eliminating drugs *completely* he can create a supposed favorable atmosphere for economic development.

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