Duterte: The Anatomy of a Barbaric Autocracy

Free speech in an era of repression [Photo source: Daily Star]

By Edgar Lores

A friend made a post on Facebook in which she set forth on President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Technology of Co-optation.” The topic arose from Duterte’s co-optation of the parents of 17-year old Kian Delos Santos, a collateral damage of the Drug War. As I googled to understand the term, I was led to an essay published in 2013 entitled “The three pillars of stability: legitimation, repression, and co-optation in autocratic regimes” by Johannes Gerschewski.

In this essay, Gerschewski attempts to answer the question of why some autocracies remain stable while others collapse.

As the title of the essay indicates, his thesis is that there are three pillars that underpin regime stabilization:

  • Legitimation
  • Repression
  • Co-optation

Duterte has just completed the first year of his six-year term, a turbulent year that has been full of twists and turns and the stuff of nightmares. While it cannot be claimed that his regime has been stabilized at this juncture, it should be instructive to observe and to discuss the features of his autocratic regime through the lens of these three pillars.

The First Pillar – Legitimation

Gerschewski starts with Rousseau’s dictum that “the strongest is never strong enough to be always master, unless he transforms strength into right.”

From my view, there are four factors that lend legitimacy to Duterte’s rule.

First, the legitimacy of a regime relies on popular support, and the gateway to gaining this support is the democratic mechanism of elections. It is much vaunted by the Duterte camp that Duterte’s 16.6M votes represented 39% of the electorate. The Aquino camp counters that PNoy garnered a higher percentage at 42%. It is forgotten by both camps that Marcos trumped both candidates by obtaining a majority of 52% in 1965 and 61% in 1969.

Second, the gateway of elections must lead to a solid path of continuing popular support as shown in the results of regular surveys. When a president loses popular support, perhaps the legitimacy of his programs, but not necessarily his legitimacy to rule, becomes open to question. In June this year, Duterte’s approval rating in Pulse Asia polls rose to 82% from 78% in March. Eight out of every 10 Filipinos continue to approve of the President.

Third, apart from popular support, a President must also be buttressed by institutional support in both the public and private spheres. Nowhere is this backing most evident than from the institutions of the police force and the legislature. After a hiatus early in the year, the police force now pursues the war on drugs with renewed vigor.

In Congress, the voices of approval for the presidential political agenda and budget are heard loud and clear. And the rumors and whispers of the President’s misbehavior and that of his kin are stridently overridden and struck down by Senator (Dick) Gordon and his band of merry filibusters.

The backing of the military is not as unconditional as that of the police. While the army has fought effectively in the Marawi uprising and less effectively against the sporadic incursions of the communist rebels, Defense Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana has been circumspect in his endorsement of presidential pronouncements.

The backing from the private sector comes from the business sector and news media.

Conversely, civic and institutional attacks that seek to undercut the President are inconsistent, scattered and, for the most part, nonunified. Foremost are the opinion pieces from news media and soc-med forums represented by bloggers, Facebook and Twitter. The attacks of the Roman Catholic Church have been few and far in-between. Often muted in the past, her attacks are now increasing in their boldness and frequency. Now church bells toll in protest and in memoriam of the victims of the Drug War.

It is only recently that the civic thrust of the “Movement Against Tyranny” has been put together.

A fourth and final source of legitimacy arises from ideology. This is undoubtedly the weakest story of Duterte’s house. He does not have a central overarching ideology similar to North Korea’s Juche or Marcos’ vision of a Bagong Lipunan. His ideology is unwieldy and dispersed as it covers the entire political spectrum. From his romance with the Left, through the centrist socioeconomic policies that are borrowed from previous administrations, and down to the fascism of the Drug War. Like Marcos who used the specter of Communism to justify the imposition of Martial Law, Duterte has seized on the drug menace as the centerpiece of his legitimacy. It is perhaps the legislative aspects of his ideology that are the weakest planks. His initiatives – FOI, death penalty, the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and Federalism – have not left the port, or are adrift on the high seas and going nowhere. Meanwhile, the pivot to China proceeds apace but at the high cost of the potential, if not actual, loss of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

There may be other factors that contribute to Duterte’s legitimacy such as elevated socioeconomic conditions, exogenous support from other states, and endogenous support from Mindanaoans as a native son.

The Second Pillar – Repression

Gerschewski notes that repression is the backbone of autocracies. He distinguishes between “high-” and “low-intensity” repression.

Intensity is a function of the target and the method.

The targets may be “well known” or “of lesser importance.”

The methods may be wielded by almost anyone in an autocratic regime. In the case of Duterte, this includes primarily himself and the police force. However, power has been delegated down to his cabinet men, their underlings, and his soc-med devotees. The attack dogs from the cabinet are the triumvirate of DOJ Secretary (Vitaliano) Aguirre, Solicitor General (Jose) Calida, and Legal Counsel (Salvador) Panelo. The attack dogs in soc-med are comprised chiefly of Mocha Uson, Thinking Pinoy’s (RJ) Nieto, (Lorraine) Badoy, and (Sass Rogando) Sasot. There are many others who are attracted to the heady proximity with power and the real material benefits derived therefrom.

High-intensity repression is targeted against “well-known” individuals and groups and uses the methods of outright violent repression, assassination, and imprisonment. The following is a list of examples.

A. Examples of high-intensity repression

  1. The Drug War
  2. The assassination of Mayors (Rolando) Espinosa, (Reynaldo) Parojinog, and (Samsudin) Dimaukom
  3. The imprisonment of Senator (Leila) de Lima
  4. The systematic and random application of violence to terrorize the population
  5. The abuse of human rights

The first three examples are obvious. The last two deserve special consideration.

The Application of Violence

In autocracies, the systematic application of state violence is an old and given technique. Its aim is to shock, shake, and soften the citizenry and make them pliable to manipulation and control. A corollary is the certainty that the massive use of violence will inevitably spiral out of control and eventually result in random violence. From the very start of the Drug War, collateral damage was expected and of no concern. From the viewpoint of the regime, I would say not only expected but also planned and deliberate, intended to sow terror in the hearts of the people.

It is apparent that many Filipinos, existing in a collectivistic society as they do, understand and accept state violence that is righteously directed at criminal elements. For them, as for Duterte, there is no forethought, no concern for the value of individual lives. A full year has passed since Duterte’s inauguration, and many Duterte supporters are slowly coming to the realization that they may be — that indeed they are — in the direct line of fire.

Human Right Abuses

The last item in the list hides a multiplicity of sins that deserves a separate breakdown. And most certainly a separate study. Here is a partial list just to name a few of these sins.

B. A partial list of human rights abuses

  1. The haphazard identification of drug addicts including the possibility of naming personal enemies
  2. Warrantless searches
  3. The nanlaban excuse to kill
  4. The buy-bust excuse to kill
  5. The planting of evidence such as shabu packets and guns
  6. The vigilante and extrajudicial killings
  7. The accidental killings due to misidentification
  8. The extension of police operations to abduction and murder as in the case of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo
  9. The irreverent handling, duct taping, and disposal of corpses
  10. The disrespectful labeling of the dead with carton placards
  11. The imposition of drug tests
  12. The existence of secret jails
  13. The failure to prosecute erring policemen; indeed, their promotion

As it has been noted elsewhere, it is mostly the poor who are at the receiving end of these abuses.

Low-Intensity Repression and One Other

Low-intensity repression is directed against entities of “lesser importance” and uses methods of surveillance, physical harassment and intimidation and “non-physical forms such as the denial of certain job and education opportunities as well as the curtailment of political rights like the freedom of assembly.” These methods cited by Gerschewski are not inclusive of the methods employed by Duterte and his henchmen. Accordingly, I have added these unique Dutertian methods in the following examples.

C. Examples of low-intensity repression

  1. The dismissal of the testimonies of DDS witnesses (Edgar) Matobato and (Arthur) Lascañas
  2. The issuance of threats, including death threats, via narco-lists and matrices
  3. The issuance of rape threats and misogynistic remarks against women
  4. The denigration of and jokes against former Secretary (Perfecto) Yasay Jr., former Senator (Bongbong) Marcos, CPP founder (Joma) Sison, and former Secretary (Judy) Taguiwalo

Alongside the two original categories of Gerschewski, I would add a third category – that of a “medium-intensity” repression. Like high intensity, the targets would be well-known individuals or groups but the methods, like low-intensity, are less coercive.

D. Examples of medium-intensity repression

  1. The attacks on news media such as the Inquirer and Rappler
  2. The profanity against the Pope and the disrespect toward the Church
  3. The profanity against political entities such as the US, the UN, the EU
  4. The profanity against individuals such as Obama, PNoy, and UN Rapporteur (Agnes) Callamard
  5. The disrespect and ostracism of Vice President (Leni) Robredo from not only the President but also down to his soc-med devotees
  6. The threat of impeachments against Chief Justice (Ma. Lourdes) Sereno and Ombudsman (Conchita) Carpio-Morales
  7. The belittlement of Senior Justice (Antonio) Carpio

Duterte favors high- over low-intensity repression. He has maintained that, in the long run, it is cheaper to kill than to maintain prisoners.

Positive Methods of Repression

As there are negative methods of repression (the stick), there are also positive methods (the carrot) such as promises, enticements, and material rewards.

E. Examples of positive methods of repression

  1. The promises to increase the salaries of policemen and soldiers
  2. The enticement and rewards of high government positions and stipends
  3. The enticement and rewards of bounty killing
  4. The enticement and the rewards given to the hard criminals from Bilibid prison for their testimonies against Senator De Lima

The above categories and lists provide a framework for establishing the perimeters of repression in Duterte’s autocracy. The lists are in no way exhaustive. But like the tip of an iceberg, they indicate the enormity of the pillar of repression, the foundations of which are buried deep in the depths of a sick mind of a sick man in a sick nation.

The Process of Repression

As I look over the process of repression, it seems to me to consists of several phases similar to that of a cat playing with a mouse.

F. Phases of the repression process

  1. Objectification phase (identifying and singling out)
  2. Approach phase (the stalking)
  3. Disparagement phase (the teasing and shaming)
  4. Denouement phase (the putting down or the killing)

If one studies the Drug War or the case of Senator De Lima, one can clearly see the stages. With De Lima, we see the sequence of progression from the singling out by the President in his misogynistic criticisms immediately after his ascension, the stalking before the first SONA, the shaming in the Lower House hearings by Secretary Aguirre and the representatives through the testimonies of the hardened criminals from Bilibid prison, and her swift incarceration with the cooperation of a compliant judiciary.

The Marcoses should view with trepidation their singling out recently. First, by the Lower House hearing on Ilocos Norte Governor Imee’s misuse of tobacco funds; second, by allusions to Bongbong’s drug addiction; and, third, by Duterte’s absurd claim that the family is ready to return the nation’s wealth entrusted by their father in the family’s care for safekeeping.

After the killing of three mayors, the case of Iloilo Mayor Jed Mabilog is now at the third stage:

  1. Objectification – he was first identified by Duterte in the book of narco-politicians
  2. Approach – the assignment of dreaded executioner Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido to Iloilo
  3. Disparagement – Espenido has added his voice (“It is God’s will”) to Duterte’s shaming of the mayor (“Dinadawit ka.”)

Will the cat let go of the mouse?

(NB. As of the date of publication, events have overtaken the above example. Espenido has been pulled from this new assignment because he is underqualified. However, this should not detract from the veracity of the example.)

Before we proceed to the last pillar, it is worthy of note that the mechanism of repression under Duterte has in certain ways been different from that of Marcos. If is certainly different in the degree of its brutality, in the number of victims within the span of a single year, and in the singular disregard of the Bill of Rights. Comparatively, one might characterize the Marcos approach as “soft” while Duterte’s as “hard.” It is an irony of history that Duterte’s repressive measures have not required the imposition of martial law. The safeguards against the effects of martial law, so assiduously crafted and put in place by the Constitutional Commission of 1986, have been easily swept aside by a willful autocratic leader who disdainfully regards the Constitution as a piece of paper.

The Third Pillar – Co-optation

Gerschewski defines co-optation as “the capacity to tie strategically-relevant actors (or a group of actors) to the regime elite.”

I would broadly interpret it as the management of opposition by winning over strategically-relevant actors.

As we said at the start, Kian’s parents have been coopted by the President in a blitzkrieg of a public relations and publicity coup.

But before the co-optation of Kian’s parents, there has been a history of co-optation from the very start of the 2016 presidential campaign. In truth, there has been a succession of co-optations. The most significant ones, to my mind, are the following:

  1. The co-optation of the kingmakers
  2. The co-optation of soc-med
  3. The co-optation of Congress
  4. The co-optation of the military
  5. The co-optation of China

Before plunging into these, I would make four observations:

1. There have been lesser co-optations, such as that of the business and social elite.

2. There have been attempts to co-opt well-known actors of influence in the same manner that Marcos co-opted internationally renowned Carlos P. Romulo. I have in mind (Gilbert) Teodoro although he is not internationally recognized.

3. I am not privy to the central actors and goings-on in the inner circle of Philippine politics, and what observations I share here have been gleaned from public records.

4. The technique of co-optation may be directed at individuals, groups, institutions, events, or resources.

Kingmakers. Before the 2016 presidential campaign, the kingmakers who enabled Duterte’s ascension can be divided into those who occupy the foreground and the background. In the foreground would be DFA Secretary (Alan) Cayetano and Senate Speaker (Aquilino) Pimentel III. In the background would be former President (Fidel) Ramos, retired Chief of Staff (Hermogenes) Esperon, and the financial backers of Duterte’s election campaign. The backers include former President (Gloria) Macapagal-Arroyo and Governor Marcos.

It may be said that these kingmakers coopted a reluctant Duterte to be the front man for their individual aims and ambitions. In general, the ambitions center around the chalice of power: For those in the foreground, to gain higher power; for those in the background, to return to power.

In a strange twist of fate and supreme irony, the kingmakers, the puppeteers, have been co-opted by their puppet. Cayetano and Pimentel have become errand boys; Ramos has been reduced to an acerb critic; and Imee has become a target of political shenanigans.

I will give this reversal of roles phenomenon the name of “mirror co-optation.”

Social Media. During the presidential campaign, the burgeoning domain of soc-med was co-opted in the drive to gain the presidency. Indeed, soc-med has been credited with Duterte’s triumph. And if reports are to be believed, this triumph was accomplished on a shoestring budget largely through the volunteer work of a keyboard army directed by the cyberspace impresario, Nic Gabunda.

Currently, soc-med is a battlefield. The platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube abound with missiles hurled in all directions and at a pace that would make the head of Kim Jung-un, North Korean’s head of state, spin.

The intriguing question arises: In mirror co-optation, will soc-med be the downfall of Duterte?

Congress. Unlike in soc-med, the co-optation of both houses of Congress was achieved without hardly a shot fired. In the Lower House, the lemmings from different parties shed their party allegiances to flock to the PDP-Laban Party to form a supermajority. In the Upper House, there was a brief tussle between Duterte’s vice-presidential candidate, Cayetano, and the head of the PDP-Laban Party, Pimentel. Cayetano – he of the limp mailed fist salute – lost which caused him to double his efforts at serving Il Presidente. Recently, he was awarded the DFA portfolio.

Duterte’s total control of Congress has led to certain ramifications and unintended consequences that have yet to be played out in full. One ramification is that threats of impeachment proceedings have become commonplace as a tool of intimidation and repression. Another is that both Houses, rather than being serious chambers for crafting laws, have become star chambers for quasi-judicial hearings that determine innocence or guilt — the infamous “komite de abswelto.

The Lower House has been the armored tank to persecute and prosecute Senator De Lima. Currently, it has Imee in the cross hairs of its barrel.

In the Upper House, hearings have been conducted to investigate matters that implicate the President and his kin in wrongdoings. There have been hearings on the Davao Death Squad, the Espinosa rubout, and the P6.4B shabu shipment through the Bureau of Customs. So far as expected, the President and his kin have been absolved, but the hearings have given greater exposure to, and shed greater light on, the President’s very dark side.

Military. As noted, General Esperon was an early recruit. Like Marcos before him, Duterte has expended the greatest of efforts in his attempts to woo the military. He has not had the luxury of time that two-terms President Marcos had in developing an Ilocano army, and so, like a whirlwind, he has visited one military camp after another. And he has appointed — and attempted to appoint — generals to vacated cabinet positions.

Fortuitously, his attempts have not been entirely successful. I would say that it is with the military that his fate — and that of the country — hangs in the balance.

The Marawi crisis has been a crucible for both Duterte and the military. The crisis has clarified to a great extent the positional relationships on the geopolitical chess board. Secretary Lorenzana, the Queen, and members of the @AltTeamAFP at Twitter have shown independence. The U.S., the Right Rook, which was seemingly sidelined by the pivot to China, has emerged as an active fighting buddy on an open file. And China, the Left Rook, has been relegated to sit on a closed file.

The Marawi crisis is also a crucible for militant Muslim organizations, for the relationship between the government and the Muslim minority, and for Mindanao as a whole. It may presage a bleak future for militant groups and a promising future for Muslim autonomy and for the Mindanao group of islands.

If the military was the armor with which Marcos shielded himself, it was also the sword that pierced and shattered his armor. Will history repeat itself?

China. If the military has been the most significant endogenous co-optation, China represents the most significant exogenous co-optation.

China is the springboard upon which Duterte’s dream of future prosperity rests for Mindanao and for the country. And yet China is also the main source of the country’s drug nightmare. It is also likely the source of a debt burden that will bend the back of Juan dela Cruz for many years to come.

Duterte imagines he has co-opted China to attain his dream.

But the question of mirror co-optation confronts him — and us — at every turn. Has China co-opted the Philippines to attain its dream of becoming the Lord of the South China Sea, the Number One superpower, and the Emperor of the first World Kingdom tied together by the New Silk Road?

Kian. This brings us back to Kian. The public relations stunt staged by the regime may seem to be impressive. It has clearly confounded soc-med. But it remains to be seen whether the stunt served its purpose.

If we apply the lens of mirror co-optation to Kian’s case, it may be true that Duterte has “mirror” co-opted Kian’s parents. However, this does not diminish or reverse the original co-optation of Kian’s murder as a symbol of resistance by those opposed to the Drug War.

Indeed, the stunt may boomerang on the regime as it becomes clear its ruthlessness – in suppressing the dissent occasioned by Kian’s murder – knows no bounds. As Gerschewski observes, repression is a double-edged sword. Repression invokes dissent, which, in turn, invokes greater repression.

Ultimately, as history proves, autocracies lose and freedom wins.


Being informed and knowing the mechanisms of autocratic regimes, we are forewarned but not necessarily forearmed. Nevertheless, a consciousness of the methods of autocracy gives us an understanding of what is going on. Accordingly, we are more prepared and less likely to be manipulated and oppressed by a man, who in my estimation and that of many, is the worst president the country has ever known.


101 Responses to “Duterte: The Anatomy of a Barbaric Autocracy”
  1. NHerrera says:

    Exhaustive and well done!

    I like the use of the chess pieces and terms as metaphors: Queen, Right and Left Rooks and the open and close files — and we know what damage rooks on open and close files can do.

    I like too the use of the phrase and the concept of mirror co-optation.

    Thanks a lot for the read, edgar. Especially nice as I take my morning cup of coffee.

  2. madlanglupa says:

    Re: Military — it’s this party that PRRD tries to win time and again so as to complete his (and his cronies’) program, and what’s more, the nominally right-wing Magdalo (as the Wikipedia article about is classified as such) is becoming more and more the definitive battle flag of opposition and dissent.

    In regards to this sudden acceptance of PRRD’s reign as the supposed “miracle” of absolutists, regionalists, ultra-rightists, vigilantists, and the like, somebody in Reddit has said that three decade’s worth of news reportage on violent crime and the apparent inability of law enforcement to resolve such crime has “created a disturbing mindset in the populace where on-the-spot justice and quick execution is needed to deal with crime, believing that the current justice system is inutile and favoring only the privileged… and this is why we have such leadership mongering to create a police state.”

    • So the main true root causes of problems are poverty and a dysfunctional system of justice. The economy can only fix the first. The second takes a special commitment from all three branches of government. Hard to get when politics rules over sense.

    • The triad that led to the downfall of the Weimar Republic is paralleled in the Philippines:

      1) economic insecurity and opportunity side-by-side (Roaring 20s riches + deep poverty)

      2) nostalgia for an old authoritarian regime (that of the Kaiser in Germany, Marcos in Philippines)

      3) rapid modernization and urbanization, old values outdated, new values not yet established

      The third factor is hardly looked at, but I think that migration, working abroad, call centers and the Internet plus long working hours have atomized society, weaker families, more problem kids etc.

      Crime is because the large metros like Manila, Cebu kept growing uncontrolled, plus Singapore style wealth and Bangladesh style poverty side by side. The Internet shows everybody a world that is completely different from what their parents taught them – see also the recent rise of AIDS.

      • “Old values outdated, new values not yet established.” It seems like old values are of poverty-imbued, needful vengeance, not any kind of religious or moral or patriotic commitment. And new values are a kind of emotional shallowness devoid of reason that has people living in a fictional video-game world where heroes and villains are virtual constructs they can game. Until their son ends up dead.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          I have been thinking that news and soc-med commentary are critical of Filipino culture in general and of the passing administrations in particular. It’s all “tear down” and no “build.” There is no moral guidance.

          So there is a huge vacuum to be filled about “new” ethical values and no one is attempting to fill it. Not education. Only a few heed religion. TSH has featured blogs on ethics and virtues but I am not sure the readership is there. Certainly, our moral values are on show, mostly implicitly.

          Still, we must try to fill the vacuum and redefine the “new” values. These may be old values in new dressing.

          • There is some moral guidance from Robredo, Sereno, Leonen and others, but the weight of justification for the tearing down is too strong for it to gain traction. I mean, people are still going after Aquino with a vengeance as if he were the mastermind of their discontent. It really is a lunatic society, all in all. The sane and civil are pretty powerless in comparison to the number of ignorant and emotionally needy. Yes, that is an elitist statement. Doesn’t make it wrong.

    • edgar lores says:

      madlanglupa, sorry. I have made 5 attempts to respond, but nothing is working. Let’s see if this comment goes through.

      • They were directed to the spam bucket for reasons that only some very powerful being comprehends. I have no idea how this one made it through. Gadzooks, crazy is everywhere. We have seen the enemy, and he is that guy who built that first giant computer with all the big tube thingies that are now mere nicks on a silicon wafer.

        • NHerrera says:

          We never cease to be surprised. That is why there is a very serious concern with the development of the autonomous robot.

  3. The chessboard and all moves are described excellently. Hope something is made out of it.

    Ninotchka Rosca mentioned that it took 20 years to get rid of Marcos, this time Filipinos should be quick as Duterte seems to want to destroy all democratic institutions.

    Marcos was at least concerned with keeping appearances – which is what “disente” usually means to the common Filipino – while Duterte is definitely not.

    Of course there are some who say this could all just be so that people are relieved the moment Bongbong assumes the VP post and then the Presidency.

    People would – as Filipinos have gotten used to lowering to their expectations – say that he is at least not as barbaric as Duterte was. Let us see.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Gerschewski cites three sources of regime breakdown: (1) non-compliance in the form of uprisings and rebellions; (2) oppositional actors that organize resistance; (3) intra-elite splits in which strategically important elites deviate from the ruling elite’s course.

      EDSA I came about from a combination of the first two sources. That is source 2 triggered source 1. EDSA II, in my opinion, arose from the third source.

      With Duterte, we are seeing the beginning of source 2.

      As I noted, Marcos’ approach was “soft” and Duterte’s “hard.” The comparison that comes to mind is that Marcos was a surgeon, Duterte a butcher. Bongbong would be, like Trump, a clown (?).

    • NHerrera says:

      “BBM is not as barbaric as Duterte.” When barbaric is taken with its dictionary meaning as

      crude, without civilizing influence, a person without culture or refinement

      then Marcos Jr, in spite of pretensions, already “is” ; he does not need to progress into one.

  4. edgar lores says:


    Sorry, this is my 4th attempt to respond to your comment. My two previous responses seem to have been lost in cyberspace. My other comments are going through.

    1. As with Marcos, the military is crucial for Duterte. The big difference between the two is that Marcos had the time to develop an extensive military base, whereas Duterte was “adopted” by military faction(s). He is playing catch-up.

    1.1. Yes, Magdalo is at the forefront of the military-cum-legislative resistance. I suspect there are other military factions on whom Duterte cannot count on.

    1.2. It certainly does not help when military personnel fall victim to the Drug War.

    2. I agree that decades of injustice is one factor that has brought about vigilante and summary justice. The cheapness of life can also be attributed to the Church’s doctrine that birth control is evil. The high satisfaction rating of Duterte on protecting human rights seems ridiculous, but not if seen in the light that the rights being “protected” are those of the respondents rather than those of others. In short, I am wary of single-factor causation especially when a wrong is used as an excuse to justify another wrong.

    • Sup says:

      If i may add, most army men/woman don’t like the Chinese army replacing the USA army as partner.

    • madlanglupa says:

      I got your reply now. The problem with the inability to post replies is because of the current breakage of undersea cables since the last typhoon, hence lag and disconnections; not even fiber internet connections re:PLDT and Converge are spared.

      • Edgar Lores says:

        Thank you for the rational explanation. I was beginning to suspect gremlins in my computer or at WordPress.

    • sonny says:

      “The big difference between the two is that Marcos had the time to develop an extensive military base, whereas Duterte was “adopted” by military faction(s). He is playing catch-up.”

      Absolutely true. The etiology of FM’s military power base was the huge segment of Ilocano WW2 veterans fresh from the devastation and resurgence of the Ilocos and Mountain Province regions. These were in search of a leader who could galvanize the scattered pockets of ex-guerillas coming out of the Ilocos countryside.

  5. chemrock says:

    Thanks Edgar, a jolly good read.

    You pretty much covered the whole landscape. Except I think you left out one part, no less important. Duterte has exercised his incredible power to snap business houses on a whim. He has destroyed Ongpin, Jack Lam, PDI and now on to ABS-CBN. It’s an absolutely efficient and effective piece of weapon in his repressive tool box. Its ease of use surprises even the man himself and comes with the opportunity to dish out bonuses to favoured elites. Great redistributor of wealth. Its a tool that will no doubt be used with more impunity in the days ahead. It ensures people like BPI will forever keep their mouths zipped as regards some deposit monies.

    “Money is a good soldier sir, and it will on”…. Shakespeare (Merry wives of Windsor)
    This best sums up politicians in Philippines. But as Imee is probably finding out now, money may be a good soldier, but a bad master.

    The autocrat has his ways when there is no honour amongst men and women in Congress and Senate. Alas, if only honour is profitable.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thank you. That’s true. With the businesses and businessmen you mention, Duterte has not used the technique of co-optation of the elite but repression of some of the elite.

      Unlike Marcos, though, he has allowed the businessmen to dispose of their assets — “redistribute” as you say — rather than grab them. His motive is not greed* but vengeance. Marcos was systematic; Duterte is capricious.

      (*Greed might still be a motive? We don’t know if he has any participation in the re-acquisitions.)

  6. Vicky Garchitorena says:

    Very well thought out and written. Mabuhay and God bless!

    • edgar lores says:

      Sorry, not sorry, for the length. I am trying to wean people from the short attention spans induced by FB and Twitter — which may be part of the reason we are in this mess. It’s almost as impossible a task as humanizing the President. 🙂

      • popoy says:

        UNABASHED COMMENT: I have this lurking feeling where TSOH is going to. Let me say it now. TSOH is quite (very) successful is tearing down RED FLAGS of mediocrity, prejudice and political parasites’ rectal hot air (utot). Very recent blogs have continued to raise higher the BLUE FLAGS of excellence, postjudice (my word opposing prejudice) and fresh country oxygen.

        If I may, the present blog of Edgar Lores is at the higher reaches of a masteral degree paper, manifesting more than snatches of straight thinking, offering itself for Socratic scalpel. As a drink for neurons, it should be good to its last drop, not the bootleg kind dangerous to the sanity of free drink drunkards.

        To KISS it (keep it short and simple) Blogs categorized (typology) are (1) tabloidal, (2) pundits’ bread (personal opinions), (3) boring docus, and (4) academic intellection (a) Diplomate, (b) BPhil, (c) MPhil, (d) DPhil, and (e) Post DPhil). Edgar’s and et al (readers know them) pieces see-saw between MPhil and DPhil. Lalo yatang lumabo ang paliwanag.Eh. When two words will suffice: HIGH CALIBER like an RPG or a recoilless rifle.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          B(accalaureate), M(asteral), D(octoral), and P(ostdoctoral). High praise indeed. I will settle for the first and, more importantly, for Filipinos fully understanding the perils of the barbaric autocracy, realizing there is a better reality… and striving to live in kindness, if not in harmony.

        • sonny says:

          🙂 UNABASHED REACTION: to the “uninitiated,” welcome to Edgar’s Epistemological System in action. Thank you, kabsat.

          • Edgar Lores says:

            The voices of the victims of repression — the living and the dead — cry out. There is no ego. We are a channel to document, to record, to bear witness.

  7. NHerrera says:

    There is this continuing thought in TSH: the military, as a whole, is the last hold-out — not completely sold to Duterte. Absent total commitment we already have an autocracy, the current blog article asserts. Is there need for that total commitment then? Of course such commitment will assure the survivability and the strengthening of the autocracy during this cycle.

    • popoy says:

      WANNABE strong leaders never learned the lessons of history when history repeat itself.

      SARILING KALAWANG ANG SUMISIRA SA BAKAL. Sinu-sino ba sa Asia ang mga bakal o aluminyo na sinira ng sariling kalawang?


      Di na kailangan basahin buo ang mga Link, ang mensahe sa title lang kita na agad ng mga mulat na at gising na sa pancitan.


      • NHerrera says:


        Thanks for that note and the links, Popoy.

        Gising na ako sa pancitan. 🙂

    • Edgar Lores says:

      NHerrera, very good question.

      1. There has been documentation of the military holding out on Duterte. For example, the military resistance to vacate islands in the WPS, to participate in the Drug War, and the initial need for martial law.

      2. Autocracy is defined as “a system of government by one person with absolute power.” There are different typologies of autocracies. One typology is Wikipedia’s absolute monarchy and dictatorship. Just off the top of my head, I can conjure the following subtypes for dictatorship:

      2.1. Personalistic – Examples: Robert Mugabe and Bashar Al-Assad
      2.2. Dynastic – Example: Kim Jung Un
      2.3. Military – Example: Ferdinand Marcos

      3. Marcos was a personalistic-bureaucratic-congressional-judicial-militaristic autocrat. Duterte is a personalistic-bureaucratic-congressional-constabulary autocrat. (Would you believe there is no adjectival form for “police?”)

      4. If there is any doubt that Duterte is an autocrat, just look at the examples of high-intensity repression. All of these are grossly beyond the provisions of the Bill of Rights.

      5. To answer the question: I do not think there is a need for total commitment by the military. In any dictatorship, there will be pockets of resistance. Duterte has a sufficient power base — a coalition of the damned — from which to wield his terrible power.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      My response has gone to the spam. Please release.

  8. Cha Coronel Datu says:

    Future students of Philippine history and political studies would perhaps look to this article to understand how a country that once bravely toppled a dictatorship has so gleefully welcomed and embraced another decades later.

    In the here and now, what can be done by those in the various rag-tag groups of assorted human rights defenders, millennial protesters, socmed warriors et al ?

    The recently launched Movement Against Tyranny does not appear to have gathered widespread support outside of the militant leftist groups associated with it. Maybe because those who have been protesting the EJKs, the whitewashing of Marcos’ crimes against the Filipino people, the ceding of territorial rights to China etc. have yet to forgive the Makabayan block for the role/s they have played (and actually continue to play) in the legitimation of Duterte’s reign of terror. As we speak, their Makabayan legislators continue to be part of the Duterte supermajority in the Lower House.

    Meanwhile, Gordon has filed his ethics complaint against Trillanes, 100 house representatives are expected to sign the impeachment complaint against Sereno, and according to a recent survey Filipinos see Duterte as the best protector of human rights or something like that.

    Are there any pillars too that people can salvage or construct seeing that everything else around them seem to be crumbling?

    • Edgar Lores says:


      Good questions, or two good questions rolled into one.

      1. The first question to ask is: Is there any hope of salvaging Duterte’s regime? All things being equal, there are two positive answers that I can think of:

      1.1. A transformation in the man
      1.2. A transformation in society

      2. The first is highly unlikely. The second is slightly more probable, so it becomes a question of timing and methods.

      2.1. As to timing, the nation can wait for another 5 years and, in the meantime, suffer the cruelty of the regime. Or it can do something sooner.

      2.2. As to methods, there are short-term methods and long-term methods. The short-term methods correspond to Gerschewski three sources of regime breakdown, which I have enumerated in my September 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm response to Irineo. I will repeat them here for convenience:

      2.2.1. Oppositional actors that organize resistance
      2.2.2. Non-compliance in the forms of uprisings and rebellions
      2.2.3. Intra-elite splits in which strategically important elites break away from the ruling elite.

      3. On 2.2.1, there are many pockets of opposition but none that is adequately organized or none that have coalesced. There may in time — in time! — emerge oppositional actors of sufficient stature that will trigger coalescence. Item 2.2.2 is a function of 2.2.1.

      On 2.2.3, the most likely breakaway elites would be congress, the military, and the judiciary. These last two have not been fully co-opted.

      4. In the long-term, there are many pillars. These are the pillars of civilization. Among these would be:

      o The rule of law
      o The Bill of Rights (UDHR)
      o Adequate, elevated, and improving socioeconomic conditions
      o Social justice
      o Acceptance of diversity
      o Mutual kindness and respect
      o An overarching (national) narrative
      o A sizable elite capable of creative and critical thinking
      o Leaders who, if incapable of doing good, at least do no harm
      o Filling up the vacuum of ethical guidance

      5. The last is of vast importance. Without it, everything will tend to breakdown again and again. And again.

      5.1. This goes back to my deontological secular code of ethics. I have moved on since then. In practice, I think we need a combination of deontological (Do Nots), consequentialistic (Do Ifs), and virtue (Do) ethics.

      • cha says:

        Thank you Edgar. That’s certainly instructive. Hopefully, people are paying attention.

        I agree that it’s highly unlikely for Duterte to show any marked change in character for the duration of his term or at all for the rest of his adolescent life. But while transformation may already be improbable; his behaviour, as shown in recent weeks, may still be shaped or modified by public opinion. Coming to the aid of and meeting face-to-face with an EJK victim’s family for the first time, backtracking on Espenido’s assignment to Iloilo, and consenting to his son’s appearance at the Senate hearings – these appear to have been prompted by a growing public disapproval of his actions. Duterte is not invincible.

        • As I can see from news and blog forums, more and more Filipinos are coming out to defend what is right and becoming vocal about the excesses of the administration. Like you, I also see the “damage control” mode that PRD and his supporters are in. I believe that the signing of the “fake news” law recently is a way of tempering the expected public backlash.

          As more and more Filipinos start realizing that the present national narrative that the administration sells is too draconian, the patriarchal idolatry of PRD will dissipate. I already hear some people admitting to their mistake of voting for him.

          It is just a matter of time before PRD’s charm offensive runs out of steam.

          • Cha Coronel Datu says:

            Yes. Also, His key allies have become more emboldened in contradicting and questioning his opinions. Like senate president Pimentel on the Ombusdsman’s completion of her full term and house speaker Alvares on the partial return of the Marcos loot. Even the Dangerous Drugs Board chairman just recently expressed disagreement about his claim that solving the drug problem is no longer achievable. Popularity is a fair weather friend.

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              Very true, Cha. People are beginning to reach their threshold of defending the indefensible. The differences and similarities between plausible deniability and culpable deniability is starting to dawn on a lot of people.

    • NHerrera says:

      I will just put this in to see if gets posted. Perhaps you are being monitored and someone is doing funny cyber things?

  9. gerverg1885 says:

    Edgar, thanks for the really good article.

    Nothing lasts forever, as the saying goes. The way I see it, Duterte is still popular to those who followed him but it’s still a minority. So the need to pay surveys to show that he is now more accepted by the majority.

    His downfall will surely come…the only question is when. But the way things are turning out to be, which is not favorable to him, it will be soon.

    Marcos’ total lack of control over Imelda, particularly when he was already sick, is one of the reasons for his downfall. Paolo and his shady activities will be Duterte’s Achilles heel and it will be the central theme of an uprising to topple him.

    The 6.4 billion worth of shabu would be the main reason because many people, even his so-called fanatics (but thinking fanatics) are entertaining doubts on his dreaded war on drugs. His and the Palace’s deafening silence when the issue first came out was too palpable because he is so loudly vocal on anything that he wants to rant about.

    Add to that that PDEA is yet to come up with news of a suspect who has the right connections and political clout to enable the shipment to come out of BOC unnoticed and untaxed…and it happened amidst his violent war on drugs.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Gerverg1885, You must have woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. I appreciate your optimism that this, too, shall pass… and pass soon.

      You will know that others are not so sanguine.

      Your points are well made. Not to contradict you, just being factual, but I would note that the death of another innocent boy after Kian, that of Carl Arnaiz, has not engendered the same amount of public outrage. The public temper waxes and wanes.

      Accordingly, if you will excuse my skepticism and absent proof of manipulation, I am not sure how accurate or inaccurate the survey readings of the public temper are. The two principal survey firms seem to be consistent in their results so I take them at face value. I would love to be convinced otherwise.

  10. Francis says:

    What brings most existential worry to me is the first pillar. Legitimation. And I disagree with you that “ideology” is the weakest pillar—in fact, I would wager a thousand pesos that it is the strongest (whether by intention or not) pillar of support for the administration, a stroke of genius.

    What is religion? A system of assumptions held by a certain logic and a certain emotion, all to underpin one’s fundamental worldview/perspective on the world. What is ideology. I’m not an expert, but maybe it’s just religion for the secular world—secular, but still possessing three traits of religion: structured by a certain logic, characterized by strong emotional ties and being the basis for one’s fundamental lens/worldview.

    And if ideology is worldview, it’s more of a belief? An opinion—but a fundamental opinion? Not a fact? Then it must be in some way an argument? And a winning argument consists of two things: good logic and good rhetoric—convincing the mind and persuading the heart, respectively. In the Philippine, there are now two “arguments” (“ideologies” in a way) now battling against each other: “Enlightenment-ism” and “raja-ism” for lack of a better term. The former (“Enlightenment-ism” to cover not only liberals but also the socialists all of whom believe in a spirit of universal egalitarianism, though differing in interpretations of it) is backed by many of the formal intelligentsia, and it shows; the intellectual sophistication of the former and the sheer numbers of critics in the academe clearly means it wins on the logical department. Yet, if that is so—why are opinion polls still high? Perhaps, it is because the latter simply outclasses “Enlightenment-ism” in rhetoric. Perhaps, it is because the “raja dream” is just far closer to the hearts of Filipinos than the “Enlightenment dreams” (whether that be a dream of a liberal democracy or the socialists’ “national democracy”) that it is competing with.

    Nations aren’t just built on what is logical, most rational. Nations are also built on the sentimental. People don’t just fight for freedom—or for the benevolent strongman to drive away all crime—just because it is logical. They also do so because of the exhilarating emotions that come with those convictions. Whether that be the ecstasy of liberation that comes with knowing that my rights are an inviolable endowment no one can take away or the tranquility of knowing that, with all of society ordered, all have their place in the world—the unjust in one corner, and the just in another.

    Taking all of that into context—ideologies are arguments for the fundamental values of nations. And there is one thing that worries me. It is this one realization. That is: masyadong makikinis ang mga balat ng mga liberal at soysalista. I wonder. Have the liberals and socialists of the Philippines become too cosmopolitan to even be considered “Filipino” in a way? I don’t mean to offend. I fear for the state of alternatives to this emerging ideology, if that is the case—the battle would be then long lost before it even started.

    The long-term solution to this is to craft a rebirth of liberal democratic ideology that underpins the policies of constitutional democracy and constitutional rights. Make people believe in the “democratic dream” again.

    Or to be more crude: rebrand the living heck out of it. Whether by unintentional or intentional genius—the personalistic, strongman rule has been rebranded as Brand Filipino. All while painting all other rival ideologies as wicked Brand X from the foreign West.

    The problem is, can us swimming and frolicking too much in the waters of the West, whether that be Locke or Marx—do such a rhetorical shift?

    This is what makes so resigned, in the time of Duterte.

    • Francis says:

      *me so resigned

    • Edgar Lores says:


      Thank you. Your argument is persuasive because Duterte’s followers see him as a demigod.

      The question to ask is: Is the Church of Duterte a cult of ideology or a cult of personality?

      If ideology, what is the principal dogma? If we take the Drug War as the centerpiece of Duterte’s ideology, the principal dogma can be expressed several ways. In a nutshell, it would redound to: “The drug menace is the greatest problem confronting Filipino society. Human rights is shit. Therefore, violence is the only way to eradicating the menace.”

      If personality, the principal belief will center on Duterte’s magnificent Will to Power. It would be expressed as: “Philippine society is in total chaos. Only Poong Duterte can save us.”

      Given Duterte’s broken promise to end the crime problem in 3 – 6 months and given that many still have unwavering faith in him — and not his promise — I am inclined to think that his is a cult of personality. I would add that his religion is sparse, if not bereft, of other strong dogmas or doctrines. The other main dogma is perhaps the pivot to China. But even among Duterte’s followers, there are many who distrust China.

      I am sure, however, many readers will agree with you.

      • The native Filipino view of leadership is:

        a) personalistic
        b) situational

        Does he or she give me ‘ginhawa’ is Prof. Chua’s definition – according to him Magsaysay did in his time, for most. If one looks further, discontent with Marcos was related more with the economic nosedive than with Ninoy. Ginhawa is then a bit like the Chinese ‘Mandate of Heaven – it’s superstitious.

        The only other possible bulwark I see are regions/groups that resist, like Iloilo.

        — i.e. ‘Don’t kill US’ from solid ‘tribes’.

        • Francis says:

          That I hear murmurs (for now) of people seriously positioning this Filipino view of leadership (situational + personalistic) as a legitimate ideological alternative is already somewhat unnerving (yet morbidly fascinating) to me.

          What I find worrisome is that people in the broad “Enlightenment” camp (the liberals, the socialists, and everyone in between) don’t seriously want to address this. I am not exaggerating when I say that this might be equivalent to leaving open a very vulnerable soft spot. For me—the fact that the phenomenon of this administration (Duterte is but a figurehead; it’s all the other stuff—cultural, social and political—that’s swirling around that is of interest) is not seriously treated as an ideological issue is worrisome. Not treating this phenomenon as ideological is probably like being akin to pre-WW2 France: boasting in its Maginot Line (a strong position among the formal intelligentsia: i.e. reflected in the critical stance of the traditional media and many sectors of the academe) that it may prove to be ineffective against what may essentially be a political, cultural and social blitzreig—social media are tanks, and the trenches have failed us.

          We have to understand that hundred New York Times editorials, a hundred Human Rights Watch reports—they won’t convince, against Appeals to Nationalism. Duterte and his supporters—they make my knees shake, even to the point of questioning assumptions which I had long taken as natural as breathing oxygen—because they have their air of “genuine authenticity” as in: gago sila, but you know that they’re your gago. They’re organically of this culture, this nation, this land. Sleek “clean and transparent” democracy of World Bank praise simply doesn’t feel as…natural.

          Hence, I am resigned.

          • Francis says:


            Perhaps, I just want someone to shout out to the world that liberal democracy is as Filipino as Chickenjoy.

            • The authentically Pilipino face-off at the moment is Trillanes vs. Duterte. Military machismo versus gangster machismo.

              A possible version of libdem rooted in Filipino culture could develop out of Leni’s version of bayanihan.

          • Edgar Lores says:

            Ah, Francis, I begin to understand. Your use of the terms “ideology” and “ideological” are different from mine and perhaps from Irineo’s.

            I would make a distinction between “worldview” (Weltanschauung) and “ideology.”

            o Worldview is defined as “a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.”

            o Ideology is defined as “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory.”

            What is the difference?

            I would say worldview are the concepts we actually live by whereas ideology are the concepts we believe in. Worldview is practice; ideology is theory.

            Let me put it another way. Most Filipinos profess to be Christians. As a religion, Christianity is their ideology. But do these Filipinos practice Christianity? No, they don’t. They practice amoral familism and amoral clannism.

            The Christian ideology is “Love thy neighbor,” which is theory. The Filipino worldview is “Love my family, clan, and myself,” which is practice.

            In political terms, we espouse Liberal Democracy but we practice Datuship (or Raja-ism).

            So I agree with you when you say the “rajah dream” is closer to the hearts of Filipinos than the Enlightenment dream. Duterte is a rajah, a datu. (I understand datu and rajah are interchangeable and mean Paramount Ruler.)

            Irineo and I have long agreed that Filipinos do not believe (ideology) and practice (worldview) democracy and the Constitution because they do not live by the concepts.

            Democracy is an alien ideology that we adopted and have failed to put into full practice. Datuship is not a viable model of governance because it is rulership by inheritance. But one can see in the prevalence of dynasties that it is a model we have superimposed upon the democratic model.

            Irinieo and I would also agree with you that these are serious matters.

          • Edgar Lores says:

            Addendum: If the distinction between worldview and ideology is accepted, then the consonance between Duterte and the public does not belong to the fourth source of legitimacy (ideology) but to the second source (public support).

      • Miela says:

        It’s cult of personality. Filipinos are not into ideology like Ameridans are. This is why Duterte’s partylist is the same as Cory’s

        • Edgar Lores says:

          Miela, thanks. I was not aware of the similarity in the partylist.

          • Miela says:

            Cory was PDP (as with Nene Pimentel). I think Marcos was once under the Liberal Party (“dilawan”, LOL).

            In the US, parties are often a reflection of one’s ideology(Democrats tend to lean left, while Republicans lean right). In the Philippines it means nothing except that if you are critical of the current admin, you are “Liberal Party”.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > Have the liberals and socialists of the Philippines become too cosmopolitan to even be considered “Filipino” in a way?

      I find it just as horrifying to find some people who even have intelligence and yet support this so-called “drug war” when they’re really advocating class conflict and social cleansing to be done by the government, so that they get more time to deal with their capricious and frivolous leisure activities (i.e. playing computer games, speculate in virtual currency, watching sports, etc).

      • Miela says:

        The “caste system” was never really abolished. The insulares, principalia(rich native elite) and the sangleys became the new peninsulares and the new middle class became the “mestizo elite”, while the poor/indigenous/moro are treated as horrible as the indios were treated esp by the peninsulares. The only difference is these aren’t recorded in paper anymore. But the practice never went away.

  11. josephivo says:

    “The Anatomy of a Barbaric Autocracy”, but what drives it? Looking at past examples we saw it happening in many societies, rich and poor, east and west, different religions, different economic systems, different political systems… Is it just initiated by a disturbed individual? Is it due to a zeitgeist, the spirit of the times? Or does it require a cocktail of circumstances such as weak institutions, common enemies, a charismatic person, uncritical beliefs systems…? What is the fuel, what gives it the necessary oxygen, what is the spark that sets alight?

    Just to mention a few common elements:

    1- A willingness to neglect facts and to rely on “faith”. A leader needs followers and fanatic followers share a belief. As in religion, some strongly belief in the teachings of Mohamed, others think that only Buddha had it right, or whatever of the 1000 other current of past beliefs. These beliefs are not negotiable, facts become irrelevant. Barbaric politics has to reach a similar belief level.

    2- Longing to belong. People want to enjoy the feeling of belonging to a strong group, and when possible to belong to the winning group. Look how a winning football team gets new supporters, or a winning boxer or celebrity. When the existing social fabrics get weaker this need increases.

    3- Vulnerability of the old system. Old systems are always solutions for the old problems, when new problems arise they often lack the flexibility to adjust. New are the influence of social media, the power of mega-data, robotics, the huge amount of OFW’s with a global view…

    And I can’t understand why so many look in the other direction, the dead squads of Davao, the kidnapping of Kian to serve as informer that went wrong, the unexplainable wealth of so many… Are it beliefs in the “future” benefits, so strong that atrocities can be seen as just minor collateral damage? Or is it just plain self-interest?

    • OFWs with a global view plus provincial background. The more big city, the more big money rules – ‘elite’. The more boondocks, the more it is big guns and strongmen. The OFWs know the latter better, stay on the good side of the raja and you are OK. They suspect big money and intellect of the cities as ‘yellow’. Propaganda has deepened the social gulf.

      • Miela says:

        Most OFWs work in countries where there are autocratic regimes. They import the autocracy to the Philippines, and then combined with regionalism and Philippine feudalism. You get Dutertismo

    • Edgar Lores says:


      1. The Marcos dictatorship was imposed. Duterte’s was invited.

      2. There has been much speculation about the drivers for the invitation: (a) regionalism; (b) popular anger at neglect and injustice; (c) participation in power; (d) a sense of belonging; and (e) the neediness for a strong leader.

      2.1. In my previous article, “The Anatomy of Fascism in Duterte’s World,” some of these drivers had corresponding “mobilizing passions.”

      o “(b) popular anger at neglect and injustice” corresponds with passion 2 – “the belief that one’s group is a victim…”

      o “(c) participation in power” corresponds to a certain extent with passion 3 – “closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio)…”

      o “(d) sense of belonging” corresponds with passion 5 – “an enhanced sense of identity and belonging…”

      o “(e) “the neediness for a strong leader” corresponds with passion 6 – “authority of natural leaders (always male…”

      2.2. The “vulnerability of the old system” is associated with passion 3 – “dread of the group’s decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan liberalism.” That is, liberal democracy is the old system.

      3. The acceptance of atrocities – indeed, the impetus to commit atrocities – is explained in passions 1, 2 and 4.

      o Passion 1, the primacy of the group, says that one’s “duties are superior to every right, whether universal or individual.” Thus, human rights can be sacrificed.

      o Passion 2, the logic of victimization, justifies any action against the group’s enemies, internal as well as external. Thus, vigilante tactics, including the use of immediate lethal force, is justified.

      o Passion 4, community integration by common conviction, includes the use of exclusionary violence against a subgroup.

      3.1. The positive aspect of violence is explained in passion 7, the beauty of violence and of will. As I said in that previous essay, “Many believe that Duterte’s future regime of violence and of the human Will… will crystallize into reality the Promised Land of peace, progress, and prosperity.” It is, of course, a mirage.

      • caliphman says:

        When I sift through the many nuances of this barbarian dictatorship that Edgar’s article so deftly points out and analyzes, the most unsettling fact for me is as he say above,, Duterte’s tyranny was not imposed but invited. It is very disturbing to realize this brutish repression remains popular because of this and that it signifies that now the public is open to accepting the dismantling of whatever democratic, legal, and moral traditions the Filipino people used to aspire for. The problem is not that grossly unfit and uncouth presidents like Duterte or Trump are in power but as barbaric and brutish as they are, they were elected and continue to be strongly supported by an electorate who knew of their fitness and character issues and voted them into office anyway. God willing they can and will be voted out the same way they came in, but the electorate that empowered them remains.

      • Could the invitation of strong men as leaders have something to do with time preference? Time preference is an Economics theory. HIGH time preference is about getting the goods NOW regardless of cost while LOW time preference is focused on future valuation of the goods. These Economics terms have their counterparts in the field of Psychology. High time preference is equivalent to INSTANT GRATIFICATION and low time preference is equated to DELAYED GRATIFICATION. The Psychology terms are self explanatory.

        16M Filipinos voted PRD as their leader because the last administration’s progress is too slow for them. Though they still believe that progress takes time, they are willing to risk the nation’s future to get there NOW na. They got their “action man” at the helm. They envisioned that the ship will sail smoothly from then on but the consequences of not discerning the means to their end are beginning to haunt them.

        “Ang pinahinog sa pilit, bunga ay mapait.”

        ~ Filipino proverb

        • Edgar Lores says:

          Juana, there is definitely something in those two theories — one economic and the other psychological — to explain the Duterte phenomenon.

          “Change is coming!” was the campaign battle cry. So people wanted CHANGE, and they wanted it NOW.

          Instant gratification is the marshmallow effect, and most Filipinos are, like small children, hedonistic. Not only Filipinos, I might add, because “Change” is a universal political leitmotif.

          I guess there are several cognitive biases we can look at to understand ourselves and our irrationalities.

          Daniel Kahneman is the psychologist who won a Nobel Prize in economics.

          Using Kahneman’s dichotomy of thinking fast or slow, we can say that Filipinos are fast thinkers. Fast, in this case, does not necessarily mean better; in fact, the opposite.

          Kahneman’s thesis is that we have two modes of thinking: “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. We use both modes but tend to rely on one modality.

          In making political choices, we tend to use System 1. Hence, the triumph of Duterte and Trump.

          Like most trolls, both presidents are predominantly System 1 thinkers.

          • NHerrera says:

            Because a lot of our leaders, with few exceptions — and I am not speaking only of the present ones — have put the Peso as uppermost in their minds, the slow economic development, except for few periods, have left the Filipinos mostly poor, what with the contributing factor of unabated population growth. They have to contend with survival for today, for tomorrow; thinking a week from now is virtually out of the question.

            Kahneman’s Fast Mode or System 1 thinking may relate to the survival instinct on the mostly poor Filipinos, forced on them by circumstance. While their betters, on the other hand, are using System 1, too, in another way — “survival” in the political jungle of the Philippines to accumulate more material things and influence, dynastic survival.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            It is striking that System 1 leaders encouraged System 1 thinking, as a result, a lot of their followers are becoming their clones. Good one, Edgar.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Indeed, it does seem a significant victory in the war. Before, the Marcos camp had the whole chess board to do battle. Now, they are confined to two small battlefields — recounting in 3 provinces and nullification in 3 others — where the pieces may not be of sufficient strength to waylay the White Queen. The Black Queen is off the board, and promotion of a pawn to a Queen requires extraordinary skill. (And I am done with chess metaphors!)

  12. popoy says:

    my take . . . .Mainit pa Eh . .


    POPOY’S RECKLESS VIEWS ARE QUOTES INSIDE — [[ “LIKE using a 12 gauge shotgun” ]]

    North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb on Sunday, raising fears that Pyongyang is getting close to constructing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US.
    –[[ “that’s what world journos thought they know . “ ]]

    The weapon was the most powerful North Korea has tested to date, with separate estimates putting the explosive yield at 50 or 120 kilotons.

    To put that in context, the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 — which instantly killed 80,000 people — created a yield of 15 kilotons.

    Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed.
    © KCNA/KCNA/KCNA North Korea’s regime has “succeeded in making a more developed nuke,” according to state news agency KCNA. During a visit to the country’s Nuclear Weapons Institute “he watched an H-bomb to be loaded into new…
    Why is North Korea testing a nuclear bomb?

    A nuclear weapon is the ultimate survival mechanism for an isolated regime with little influence and few friends.

    Many experts believe North Korea would not use its weapons first. Kim values the survival of his family dynasty and the regime. He knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war the country could not win.

    Kim also craves international recognition — and a nuclear arsenal is one guaranteed way to make the global community sit up and take notice.

    “North Korean leaders know that dead people do not need money, and they believe that without nuclear weapons they will be as good as dead,” Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea, wrote in an oped for CNN.
    Are we going to war?
    US Defense Minister James Mattis warned of a “massive military response” to any threat from North Korea against the United States. When US President Donald Trump left church on Sunday morning, he was asked if he’d attack North Korea. His answer? “We’ll see.”
    [[ “ Future P0TUS Gen Mathis IS ACTUALLY TALKING to China not North Korea “ And President Xi is not suicidal and DO UNDERSTAND the message. While President Putin is all eyes and ears. ]]
    While the US possesses overwhelming firepower compared to North Korea, any American strike on North Korea would likely expose neighbors South Korea and Japan to devastating casualties, analysts say.

    Plus, with two launches of long-range missiles this year and the latest hydrogen bomb test, the US homeland may now potentially be at risk of a nuclear strike.
    Experts say it’s very difficult to verify North Korea’s claims, but the very possibility of such a scenario makes the risks of any military action unimaginably high.

    What happens if Kim attacks?
    If North Korea were to strike first — and last month Pyongyang threatened to send four missiles to the waters off the US territory of Guam and later sent a missile over Japan — the US has a number of defenses in place.
    They include the anti-missile defense system THAAD, which shoots down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles, and the ship-based Aegis system, which can track 100 missiles simultaneously and intercept them.
    These systems, which analysts liken to a bullet taking out another bullet, could in theory take down a missile with a nuclear payload without detonating it — although the radiation emitted would still pose risks.
    –[[ “BEFORE the IMAGINARY curtains drop down THESE LAST THREE PARAGRAPHS fittingly become the eche bucheche, the totugarnatsa of THE WISE. “ ]]


  13. Edgar Lores says:

    Popoy, thanks. You and Sir NHerrera are the North Korean watchers. The country is at the periphery of my attention as I am more focused on our native land.

    The notion that North Korea is suicidal is perhaps not that strange. But I tend to see the regime as a little boy jumping up and down, crying for attention. True, the little boy has big guns and is waving them around. I take these extremes in human behavior, like Duterte’s behavior, as indications of immature spirituality.

    There are very few national leaders that are graced with spiritual maturity. The one that comes to mind is Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mandela and Obama. And, in our corner, Robredo, Hontiveros, De Lima.

    • popoy says:

      Edgar my thoughts aside from being reckless admittedly has a little higher than 1% probability. There’s blind romanticism when one thinks that a country’s leader treated almost like a God by his people, reared and educated in the West could be so stone cold and dumb not to see the impossibility of the dead end; fatalism and reason are set aside by euphoria. Not to know BEING suicidal for the untenable of reasons is worst . Hitler only knew it after millions of lives had been lost, but HE ACHIEVED IT.

  14. NHerrera says:

    Popoy, edgar:

    Two items from me on why the pre-occupation or concern (both admittedly corny if not macabre as phrased):

    * I hope KJU nuclear-tipped missile when he finally uses it — I honestly hope he doesn’t ever — has a good engine and guidance system; otherwise what may be aimed towards, say, Guam may veer towards and land on our Pearl of the Orient Seas, particularly Metro Manila where I live.

    * My wife and I and children have agreed to the cremation of our remains when the time comes; vaporization is good way of cremation and free compared to the expense for the latter.

    (As I said corny. Joe may kindly delete if deemed out of taste for TSH.)

  15. popoy says:

    Edgar my thoughts never left for just more than several of my waking hours the land of my birth. I am with Pinoys everywhere. But you are right, your concern and devotion is steadfast and more focused. While you shovel the gravel, I just dust of the surface with my deductions like BELOW.


    As nouns . . .
    Martial Law is like Drug addiction
    Only up to a point of dependency
    ML and DA becomes One and The Same
    When both have reached the point
    of power intoxication.

    When Martial Law and Drug Addiction
    Become one and the same animal
    ONLY When BOTH have crossed
    Their Points of No Return.

    Pen pen de sarapen
    Di kutsilyo de almacen,
    How how the carabao so
    Sing grade school children
    Even the children know HOW.

    • popoy says:

      As realities . . .
      Early in drug addiction,
      In irregular drug dependency
      There’s HOPE, there’s REHAB
      There’s help from Church and Community.
      There’s a turn from sure death.

      But . . .
      Too late in drug addiction
      Even without the EJK
      There’s only the cheap coffin
      The long wake by narrow street
      and neighbors gambling
      to pay for an addict’s last trip
      but if he is lucky he can just have
      the living death alternative.

      Wise guys claim Martial Law
      Is like riding a tiger. There’s No exception
      The rider ends up being eaten by the tiger.
      Not literally or physically but
      History has proven it so.

      Never before has it happened
      That a society’s problem is solved
      And not made worst by
      A shortened Martial Law
      so it must
      Gallop on and on until . . .

      With a rider heavy on its back
      The tiger bolts and charge forward
      Trying to dislodge the load on its back.

      The longer the rider hangs on
      The angrier, the hungrier the tiger
      Salivates for its meal.

      Only when drug user
      And tiger rider share
      The same tragic ending
      Can we say ML and DA
      Are in truth the same.

  16. MCD says:

    While I admire the very incisive analysis of our current regime, and totally agree with …”Accordingly, we are more prepared and less likely to be manipulated and oppressed by a man, who in my estimation and that of many, is the worst president the country has ever known.”, this article deeply and profoundly depresses me as a Filipino. We have not learned. We have forgotten. In so doing, we have to suffer, bear and grin it. Still, I am hopeful that many are watchful, waiting.. and waiting for that momentous break to rectify the biggest mistake our Filipino voters made.

    • edgar lores says:

      We — the members of the Society of Honor — share your hope. This time around, the online documentation of the regime is voluminous and incisive. What remains is to impress it as an active memory in the racial consciousness.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Source: Duterte: The Anatomy of a Barbaric Autocracy […]

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