Time and President Duterte

Time waits for no president. [Photo by 4closurefraud.org]

By Joe America

Time is an interesting creature. She stops for no man or woman. She is in our life every day and she decides when that life ends. She inserts herself in our activities to give us stress or forces us to get organized. She tells us how long a President can serve.

As we watch the Philippines move along her chaotic timeline, we tend to look at events as one-dimensional. They happen now, and we react. But if we get outside ourselves, put our hand over our eyes to block the glare of the sunshine, and peer forward, we can see that time may hold some surprises for us, and for President Duterte.

The President is in a race, actually, and time is his nemesis, his biggest worry. It is a much bigger worry than the yellows whom he has pretty well neutralized. He serves only until 2022 unless he can rewrite the Constitution to get a term extension. To redo the Constitution, he has to get it through the Legislature and a people’s plebiscite, and he has to make sure the Supreme Court does not get in the way.

If he fails at extending his term, he may have to bear the full weight of the law for the excesses of his government, including thousands of police killings outside of due process. So this is a big deal to him.

The time demands have placed two rush-rush requirements on the President’s agenda: (1) getting a new constitution re-written under the pretext of federalism, including the interim appointment of Duterte as a transitional president, and (2) getting the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court out of the way so she does not delay or interfere in his business.


I’m not sure the President can keep the rewrite of the constitution on schedule. He has already blown past an attempt to delay the barangay elections. The goal was apparently to use those delayed elections as the national plebiscite for federalism. But too many people objected because the law requires those elections.

Furthermore, the approach to re-writing was to appoint a Consultative Committee of distinguished Filipinos to do the work, but they appear to be bogged down in arguing over specific words. Well, maybe they will be hurried along as the document really has only one meaningful section, the interim Presidency. Well, maybe a few more sections are important, too, like creation of a parliament so former President Arroyo has a distinguished and influential post to move into to justify her presence in our lives.

So what happens if the re-write process is slow and moves into 2019? Let’s think about that and come back to it in a moment.

Chief Justice Sereno

I imagine that most people think the majority of the Supreme Court are so angry, stubborn, and politically obligated that they will agree to burn the court’s integrity in favor of removing Chief Justice Sereno.

Let’s presume that she is removed and the Court is neutralized as an institution that could keep President Duterte from extending his term. That means there are only three major institutions in the Philippines that have not given themselves up to strongman leadership: (1) the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),  (2) the Ombudsman, and (3) the Senate.

Well, the AFP is unlikely to impose itself as long as people broadly are expressing satisfaction with strongman rule. The AFP is not likely to interfere with the rewriting of the constitution. We can set the generals aside as irrelevant.

The Ombudsman gets a new leader this coming July when Ombudswoman Morales completes her term of office. Very likely the head will be loyal to President Duterte. So we can set the Ombudsman aside as irrelevant as well.

The Senate today is predominantly aligned with the President. He can use all the incentives at his disposal . . . cash, appointments, threats . . . to get these patriotically challenged followers (my bias) to sign off on a proposed new constitution. But . . . but . . . the 2019 elections are looming larger and larger in the President’s timeline. The elections are important because the Senate is the staging ground for other 2022 presidential aspirants, among whom Senator Poe looms large.

The Senate staging ground

Senators Escudero, Honasan, Legarda, and Trillanes will be the end of their second term. They cannot stand for re-election. Senators Angara, Aquino, Binay, Ejercito, Poe, and Villar will very likely run for re-election to a second term. It appears that Senator Pimentel may also run again as his first term was not a full term. There may be other presidential aspirants emerging either during the 2019 senatorial election or closer to 2022. Put former Senator Marcos in this list, and Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano, and President Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Let’s look at this through President Duterte’s eyes. If he can’t get the constitutional re-write done, who would he favor? He’d favor those who could be trusted to grant him a pardon. Well, we’d have Duterte-Carpio, Marcos, and Cayetano in that list.

What other 2022 presidential aspirants might we see? Poe, for sure. She might do a pardon as well, but a lot could depend on how prominent she is without engagement with (obligation to) Duterte. She is the top senatorial candidate based on the polls, so she has ‘gravitas’ in her own right. You can bet that Senator Poe is following things very closely and will not lock herself into any camp or position.

Who will represent the yellows? Vice President Robredo, most likely. Trillanes, Bam Aquino, and Hontiveros are outside possibilities. If President Duterte continues to hold his popular strongman allure, all would be underdogs.

Do Senators Escudero and Angara have presidential aspirations? Possibly, but they are outside shots at making it. But they’d probably do a pardon if it meant winning. Neither has demonstrated patriotic spine in favor of laws, civility, and democracy. That’s why we don’t see them making any waves against President Duterte right now.

And if we looked at all these names, which would CHINA back? Consider that the backing would be with cash as well as social media and mainstream media gaming. Duterte-Carpio, Marcos, and Cayetano.

How the timeline collapses

The timeline would collapse if the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted President Duterte. That’s not likely, as the ICC is a slow, careful, ponderous organization, but it needs to be recognized.

The timeline collapses if President Duterte’s popularity plummets. “Majority” presidential prospects such as Senator Poe would distance themselves from him, and sharply. Vice President Robredo’s prospects would rise. Prospects for Duterte-Carpio, Marcos, and Cayetano would collapse.

The timeline collapses if the federalism plebiscite doesn’t get scheduled until the 2019 election. Senator Poe and other legitimate presidential candidates would oppose federalism and an interim presidency. They would form a strong united voice in opposition.

The forces aligned with the President would have their work cut out for them. It would be desperation time. So don’t expect an end to the fake news slandering of decent people to stop anytime soon. Think of the forces aligned behind the President: Marcos, Arroyo, China, State trolls, legislators and judges who have crossed the ethical line, institutions like INC and media (Tulfos, Manila Times) who have become partisan, and various entertainers and opinion leaders.


Expect Chief Justice Sereno to be ejected from the Court, and expect the Consultative Committee working on the constitution to get an order to speed up their work. Expect slanders and fake news to dominate media.

Expect Senator Poe to be a spoiler of any and all plans by any and all parties. She will bide her time.

Expect new stars to emerge as the 2019 election comes closer. The division and hostility promoted by the State’s agents are creating the foundation for backlash. One loud, intelligent voice could throw all timelines into the intertropical convergence zone and the unpredictable winds that blow there.

But this is just one person’s look forward.

If you put a hand over your eyes and squint into the future, what do you see?


96 Responses to “Time and President Duterte”
  1. Aida Mapoy says:

    Thank you so much Joe. Excellent writing.

  2. edgar lores says:

    The clock hands show 10 minutes past 10:00 o’clock.

    It should show a minute to midnight.

    Or is it a minute past?

  3. karlgarcia says:

    You got all the bases covered in this article, so I will cover my eyes and what do I see?
    I see that all those superheroes that died in the Infinity War will resurrect or else there will be no more Marvel movies.

    If tv,comics and movies have a reboot, I wish we will have a reboot soon enough.

  4. Nancy Binay could be growing into a big role.

    She is becoming a skilled (amoral) gameplayer.

    An old hand who may yet surprise all is Lacson.

    He could play a role like Kruschev after Stalin.

    Alejano plays the patriotic card consistently.


    Yellow is still damaged in popular esteem.

    But Robredo could still surprise a few times.


    Externals: China-US, EU trade, Arabs/OFWs..

    • Nancy is dark enough to cover the existing Binay + Duterte base, and may project the hope of being more kompetent to these. Plus disappointed Poe fans looking for someone with clearer stances on all kinds of matters.

      Assuming yellows remain yuck for a majority. This is where Leni has the cards in her hands.

      Sounds very unfair but that is the Philippines.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks, Irineo for the segue for tomorrow.

    • Thanks for the link. It ended differently than I thought it would. Uplifting in a twisty way.

    • Francis says:

      Perhaps—I am too much of an armchair analyst.

      But it is my firm opinion that the “reformist” forces have already had a lot of “lucky breaks” and openings—with the general post-EDSA situation.

      This “transitional phase” may end with Duterte—but whether what will follow it will be coherent illiberalism (ala soft “big-data” authoritarianism—see China and their dystopian social credit system) or a vibrant dawn for liberal politics remains undecided.

      New Circumstances require New Politics.

      I see none, which is why I am pessimistic.

    • edgar lores says:


      Using the Feynmann method, I wrote the main portion of these notes this morning before I went out for lunch and groceries.

      1. MLQ’s thesis seems to be that power is handled differently by those born to power and by those who come into power by circumstance, by those who are pedigreed and those who are self-made.

      2. The self-made presidents are those who served between 1935 to 1965. These include Quezon, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, and Macapagal, with the exception of Laurel whose father served in the Malolos Congress.

      3. The pedigreed are scions who, like Laurel, are at least second-generation dynastic politicians. The scions start with Marcos, from 1965 up to the present, and include Cory, Ramos, Arroyo, PNoy, and Duterte. The exception of Estrada who was self-made.

      4. The pedigreed are confident and comfortable with wielding power but some are gentle and some are forceful… even brash. The Aquinos and arguably Ramos were gentle but Marcos, Arroyo, and now Duterte were/are brash.

      5. In contrast, the self-made presidents were more circumspect in the use of power. They were nice guys who happened to finish first by the demand of the times and the tides of history.

      5.1. Aguinaldo, the first president, was self-made. In an irony of history, he has served as the model for the pedigreed — self-serving, murderous, and ruthless.

      6. Of the pedigreed, Duterte is the most uninhibited in wielding power. In this, he is the heir of Marcos and Arroyo. Marcos was careful of legalisms, Arroyo not so much. Duterte eats legalisms for breakfast.

      6.1. In the second irony of history, Ramos, who was a fairly effective liberal wielder of presidential power, has been a supporter of the 3 most heinous antidemocratic wielders of power.

      6.2. Ramos is a tragic figure – a protector and destroyer of democracy. He was a pillar of the Marcos dictatorship. He was first a protector of Cory, who reinstated democracy, and then of Arroyo, who sold — no, rather raped — democracy. And he was an instigator – perhaps the prime one — of Duterte.

      6.3. We know that Ramos is antipathetic to PNoy. Perhaps because PNoy was his own man and the first post-Marcos president that was not susceptible to the general’s influence.

      6.4. I think history will be unkind to Ramos for his confused and confusing role. On balance, Ramos is more a destroyer than a protector. He is a divided man who played on opposite sides of the democratic ideology and the democratic regimes. He not only played on the court but also served as the referee. A deluded master marionettist who imagined he wove the strings deftly but did not know that the strings were broken.

      7. MLQIII speculates that Duterte is the end of the antimodernistic era that began with Marcos. Is it?

      7.1. If the SC can oust Sereno, what might it not do with Bongbong’s PET challenge?

      7.2. Are there any third-generation dynasts who are now in play among the Marcos, Arroyo, Duterte axis? I don’t think so but am not sure.

      7.3. In the Senate, there are at least 10 pedigreed dynasts. Sotto, Recto, and Bam are third-generation. The two-generation ones are Pimentel, Angara, Cayetano, Binay, Escudero, Ejercito, and Poe. While not pedigreed, Villar is a dynast by affinity.

      7.4. The self-made/pedigreed division may be the primary concealed (?) cleavage in Philippine politics.

  5. NHerrera says:

    Nice Scenario-Analysis with wide scope — done on a clear moon-lit night with only the additional light of the computer screen — though with a lot of IFs; but that is the nature of the beast. Thanks, you are on time with this blog article, Joe.

  6. Andres 2018. says:

    Philippines is never united as a nation, thats why it will always fail. It is an inherent limitation that you can never unite 100M individuals, so how? Unite the leaders instead. Eliminate all the oppositions by suppression, prosecution, persecution, or whatever means necessary. But the citizens will cry foul of this! No, if they idolized me. But not all of them will idolized you! Let them be, they hold no fangs and claws, they can do nothing. Then foreigners will come in, they may impose sanctions on you! Not really, if i make friend with someone who can tolerate my methods, of course ill give them offers they could never refuse.

    Will this method of leadership works? Time will tell.

    • You are recommending that appeasement of China remain official policy?

      • Andres 2018. says:

        Appeasement is one sided, and i will not put my money if thats the case. I prefer give-and-take.

        • I see a lot of Filipinos of substantial position who believe the missile emplacements prove that China takes but does not give in kind, and the giving by the Philippines has become threatening to the Philippines. The emplacements are within the Philippine EEZ. Where is the ‘red line’ that China cannot cross? Under President Aquino, it was developing Scarborough, and I’m sure there would have been commercial/economic red lines as well. Not open invitation to dominate Philippine commercial enterprise.

          • Andres 2018. says:

            It seems PRRD considers the boundaries of the PH Territorial Sea as the ‘red line’ that CN cannot cross, which i believe CN also acknowledges.

            CN military installations in Mischief Reef is a violation of PH EEZ rights, this is the only installation of CN that violated PH EEZ. Other military installations of CN in Subi Reef and Feiry Cross is not of PH primary concerns as those are outside of PH EEZ.

            Mischief Reef was awarded to PH by the Tribunal last 2016, however, CN was in position of that island since the 1990s. Mischief Reef is a high-tide elevation, means, it has a 12mile territorial sea. Right now, CN has the complete control of that island and its 12mile territorial sea. Complete control here means that CN is capable of knocking down or sinking any aircraft or plane in the vicinity. Recently, a US Navy warship ventured within that 12mile territorial and received some warnings from CN, looks like the warship left thereafter (id like to know the story about this US-CN encounter but the news is limited).

            For you, given this situation in the WPS especially in the Mischief Reef, what would be the best step for PH to take?

            • Nice synopsis.

              1. Join voice with other nations that feel intrusion to build a stronger overall position.
              2. Request that China remove missiles from international waters and any other permanent military usages (housing fighter aircraft).
              3. Stop granting commercial favors to China (Marawi, Boracay, high-rate borrowings, infrastructure building).
              4. File a case regarding Mischief with the proper international court.
              5. Issue a red flag warning to China via diplomatic channels re. Scarborough and Philippine Rise.
              6. Accelerate defense agreements with Japan, Australia, and Viet Nam.
              7. Develop a specific engagement protocol with the US to secure US congressional and presidential commitment to engage on local conflicts.
              8. Start patrolling stepwise more aggressively in Philippine seas.

              • Andres 2018. says:

                For me, we are already done of crying out and filing protest. What PH should do is to send our best warship in Mischief Reef and reclaim it from CN. Of course we know that a US Navy fleet is behind our warship to make sure that the operation will be successful. But since its PRRD he will not do it.

  7. Francis says:

    A parable.

    Some Filipinos are wine-connoisseurs. They keep insisting though, that old wine be poured into new wineskin. Which is foolish—and doomed to fail—because the new wineskin will just burst, if they keep pouring old wine into new.

    Unfortunately, Filipino wine-connoisseurs are creatures of habit. It doesn’t matter whether they’re fans of Red wines or White wines. They will insist—quite stubbornly—that the new wineskins can take on the old wine. I raised my hands in disbelief, at first. Now, I raise my hands in resignation.

    Is there hope, that the Filipino wine-connoisseur realize the error of their ways?

    In America—there is this certain wine that is catching on. From Vermont. Now, Filipino wine-connoisseurs have always closely followed the tastes of their American counterparts with faddish zeal. This is especially true for Filipino fans of the White wines. This Vermont wine is making the few American wine-connoisseurs who prefer Reds (a minority in America: Reds have a more European flavor and a continental one at that—but the British are slowly warming up) and a good half who prefer a mixture of White and Red (though with a bit more of the latter) seriously think about throwing away their dirty, old wineskins and buy new ones.

    It is sad and quite annoying, but yes—I think Filipino wine-connoisseurs will only throw away their old wineskins, if they see their American wine-connoisseurs do the same. Especially the Filipino wine-connoisseurs who prefer Whites.

    I do not like wine, nor am I a wine-connoisseur at all. Take it from me—everything here about wines, is a hundred percent inaccurate or false.

    But this is a parable.

    • Francis says:


      Whites = White wine

      Pardon the unfortunate wording. This was not intended.

    • Francis says:

      A Clue, Another Puzzle:

      Reds Wines.

      White Wines.

      Remind me of Russia.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Russian wine is cheap for some reason, I hope their Vodka is as cheap.
        Vast majority of Russia can not grow wine.

    • Panahon in Mahoma. Time before Spaniards, the ways of Malay rajas were imitated.

      Panahon ng Kastila. European ways were imitated by the Ilustrados and other elites.

      Panahon ng Merkano. American ways are in, Rizal’s time appears hopelessly outdated.

      Coming Chinese times. The Hawaii-like friendly islanders of US making have disappeared. People are rude, cruel and greedy, like today’s Mainlanders. This is already happening.

      Even if you say these are all externals, what CORE do people have to change so quickly?

      Ano ba ang nasa kalooban ng mga taong ganyan? Napakababaw lang ba talaga ng tunay na kalooban ng Pilipino? Napakadali ba talagang ibenta bansa at sarili na walang kakibo-kibo? Adios Juan kahapon, Hey Joe ngayon, bukas Xie Xie Xi, I love China, they protect us?

      • Francis says:

        Because “Filipino” is itself (whatever the nationalists will say) a foreign construct. Or a “native” construct that is in response to foreign influence and foreign impression.

        Would there be “Filipino” or “Filipinas” without the Spanish? Or sans Spain: a bunch of Islamicized statelets for each ethnic group? Would the Republic of the Philippines even have the territorial extent that it enjoys—without said territorial extent being a hand-me-down from Uncle Sam? Or a victory for the Revolution: a predominantly Christian state covering the Visayas and Luzon with an odd rivalry with an independent (and more Muslim—due to less migration) Mindanao? Or would the Visayas and Luzon be independent of each other in this scanario?

        Then again, same could be said for “real” nation-states. Japan, sans Meiji? A failed American Revolution? Lady Fortune is fickle. This is why I don’t think shouldn’t beat ourselves up over “how pure” we are.

        No nation is “pure”; Americans were foremost in piracy during their rise to prominence, are we surprised “Made in China” products sometimes look so familiar?

        “Nationalism” is so arbitary. This is why I am an internationalist in spirit, a nationalist in practice. Of course—I care for my countrymen first, but I long for a time when everyone is each other’s countryman.

        I think China’s cultural impact is being overstated. Korea and Japan via K-Pop and anime have more pull. And our trapos just want Yuan, not Confucius—though they may lip-synch to the March of the Volunteers to please Beijing, like a pet parrot.

      • NHerrera says:

        I love China, they protect us.

        Hahaha, the same kind of protection the Mafia Mob of Chicago offers the neighborhood grocer.

  8. Slightly OT. I am hereby lowering my expectations like most in the Philippines, hehe.

    I now say: better and more normal for Duterte to lust for the new DOT Secretary.. than for Wanda!!

  9. chemrock says:

    The matrix of possibilities is so difficult to unravel. Duterte should put his throne on the beach at Davao and sit there like King Canute. There he will show his sychophants with humility that even he can’t control the tide.

  10. From Chris Albert on FB:

    Very interesting analysis based on time flow. I am still trying to learn the details of Politics in this nation, so can’t really add anything to the internal aspects.

    However doing a SWOT on the situation as a whole there are a few outside forces that also might throw a spanner into the works for the current admin.

    Firstly the current world economy is heating up massively and the likes of the USA and their trade policies and the fact that the time of “money borrowed for nothing” is coming to an end is spelling doom for Duterte. I learned from my asawa, that if food gets less on the plate, things get bad for the President and his cohorts. Same for oil which after a long period of being around 55$/barrel is now on the upward trend and trades at over 74$ now.

    Secondly , while Duterte might mingle with China this could also be his downfall on two accounts. It isolated him of the other ASEAN nations, who are quiet worried about Chinas aggressive expansion politics. His total unreliability and flip flopping lead to some interesting development. The USA send the USS Vincent and asoc ships. As we can see in USA friendly media they fly sorties around the artificial islands on a daily basis annoying the shit out of China, still on the international scene China keeps silent on this. Social media channels are exploding with videos etc about this without too much notice in the Philippines. On that same note Australia and the UK have send parts of their Navy there now too…. Second thing is that the Chinese are not too popular in the Philippines for various reasons and I can feel some real anger raising in the populous.

    The people are, in the end, the deciding factor on all his plans. The fear, hate and division that is peddled so much from the current admin created a situation that could well explode at any moment now. I am pretty sure the AFP would not support Duterte enough if a few million Filipinos raise and an ESDA 4.0 would start to develop. Seeing that all the surveys are pretty much manipulated I doubt that he even has a quarter of the peoples support of what he thinks he has.

    Time as it is ticking along will tell.

    • NHerrera says:

      To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted …

      PM Najib of Malaysia met his time — see chemrock’s post below.

  11. chemrock says:


    Dr Mahathir has been voted in as the next Prime Minister of Malaysia. One of his priorities is to cancel a lot of those Chinese projects arranged by the corrupt and murderous outgoing PM Najib. Najib’s wife seems to be seeking assylum in Saudi Arabia. In case you guys don’t know, Mrs Najib is a new verson of Imelda for the way she shopped in New York and her psarkling diamonds et el.

    Mahatir’s coalition under his Pakatan party has finally wrestled political control from UMNO, the Malay-based party, which has dominated Malaysia since Independence 60 years ago.

    Bit of good news out of Asean.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Many thanks!

    • NHerrera says:

      Indeed that is good news to our part of the world. Thanks, chempo.

      I understand that Mahathir had his own failings, but in relative terms he smells roses compared to Najib. In his twilight years at 92 — aside from your note of Mahathir’s intent to prioritize cancelling those Chinese projects which are most probably not above board — I hope that he does well for Malaysia going forward; hence, the Asean too.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        The Malaysian people have shown how to get rid of a justifiably hated government.

        Stay quiet and tell nobody in the media what you really think..And then when the voting time comes, catch ’em by surprise & flat footed !

        There is. a lesson in that modus operandi for the Filipino people.

        • NHerrera says:

          I have not followed the Malaysian news leading to the election. You believe that is what happened. It is an interesting idea for possible adoption — with some appropriate adjustment — in the Philippines.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            N’Hererra, hardly anybody in Malaysia was making hostile public comments..Much too risky as regards jobs, business contracts, and being cast into exile…And the major media are all controlled by the old BN government via it’s cronies network..

            Most criticisms were done anonymously on social media..But there it was huge.

        • edgar lores says:

          That’s what Filipinos did.

          They just picked the wrong guy!

          • Bill In Oz says:

            Edgar the Malaysian result is a reflection the parliamentary political system in Malaysia.
            Muhattir is the leader of a ‘coalition’ with the majority in Parliament. He is NOT the president.

            If Muhattir loses support of his coalition partners then he will lose his role as Prime Minister… ….

            Now the Philippines elected Dutters with 39% to be president….And is saddled with him for 6 years.. He won a massive ‘jackpot’ in political power & appointmnets and influence

            Ummmm ..That’s a very flawed political system..

            The Philippines would be better off with a parliamentary system…
            ( Assuming it was not gerrymanded like Malaysia has been for decades..The Muhattir coalition won despite that massive gerrymander.. )

            And Joe what with Trump being just as ‘controversial’ in the US with his policies and actions, maybe the US also needs a different political system as well…

            • ” . . . maybe the US also needs a different political system as well.”

              Someone would have to propose ways to improve the system. I tend to think the problem is failure of humankind to deal with technology influencing politics, (ala Russian hacking/trolling) and social media, and aberrations in political ethics (intense partisanship) that affects all democracies. The system is not so important if the character of the people leading it is proper.

              • Also there is a problem that “equality” is no longer a goal, but “advantage” seems to be, as in the unequal distribution of wealth or the belief that America is for Americans who are there now.

            • edgar lores says:

              I am not sure the parliamentary system was the factor in Mahathir’s win.

              Not all politics is local.

              Some people tend to vote for the federal party leader or simply along party lines, not the local PM.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Edgar, a parliamentary system prevents power being concentrated in one elected office.

                Here Turnbull is PM but he shares authority & power with his cabinet colleagues. Each cabinet minister is sworn in with his own legitimate authority & power..

                And as you no doubt remember our PM’s have often been voted down in cabinet..Or lost their party leadership and been replaced…As Abbot was in 2105.. And Rudd was in 2010 and Gillard in 2013 And Hawke by Keating in 1991 etc etc..

              • edgar lores says:

                Thanks, bill, I understand that.

                The issue, for me, was not how power is shared in a parliamentary system. The issue was how the election was won.

                As I understood it your original point was that Mahathir won by stealth, by voters who were silent and then turned the tables on the ruling corrupt PM. My response was that Duterte, too, won by “stealth” against the candidate from the ruling party.

                Yes, Malaysia’s system is parliamentary and Mahathir won “indirectly” by his party gaining the majority of seats. Whereas Duterte won by direct vote.

                My point was that the Malaysian people may have been voting “primarily” for Mahathir in direct rejection of the corrupt PM.

                Well, technically they were voting for their local candidate. But their choice of a particular local candidate was because he was allied with Mahathir. Or because they wanted to dump the corrupt PM.

                This is why I said not all politics is local.

                By voting “primarily for Mahathir” or “primarily against the corrupt PM,” they were, in fact, voting for Mahathir “directly.” At the federal level.

              • chemrock says:

                The significance of Mahatir’s win has to be seen in the backdrop of Malaysia’s dirty politics for 61 years and its multiculturalism. UMNO predominated because of Malay majority votes. This election has finally shown that Malaysians can vote beyond racial politics. It’s a great triumph for democracy. The fact that this could happen without the country erupting into racial riots during and after election, which was common in the past, is a great tribute to the people. Malaysians have gained tremendous amount of new found respect from their Singapore neighbours.

                A few lessons Philippines can learn here. One – is the guts and the sacrifices that champions of democracy have made in the past decade in standing up to the corrupt and murderous Najib. They challenged Najib all the way, fearlessly. Two – oppositions coalesced around Mahahtir, without this unity, they had no chance. Three – leading opposition figures buried hatchets as they sacrificed personal for national interests. Four – The massa was as divided as Filipinos, but economic woes brought about by corrupt kleptocrcay pulled them together.

                I tend to agree that it’s parliamentary system that allowed this to happen.

              • edgar lores says:

                Chemrock, thanks.

                The 4 reasons could happen in a presidential system. There is nothing inherently parliamentary about them.

                The 4 reasons seem to indicate a protest movement and protest votes… more against Najib than for Mahathir.

  12. caliphman says:

    I have a different take on this well written piece and there are others here who might disagree. My view is the article’s expectations and scenarios are rather pessimistic if not naive as to what may happen to our political leadership with the inexorable passage of time. The basic premise that Duterte is faced with a 2022 deadline to alter the constitution and to stay in or control power is what I have most difficulty with. The country’s democratic traditions and supposedly bedock law has not been, is not, and will not be an obstacle in his achieving his aims. The chief one which almost all tyrants like Marcos, Putin, Lin, Maduro and so on is to expand and perpetuate their power, not only illegally but through dynasties beyond the grave. Like the just named idols of his, there are many paths in accomplishing this aim unconstrained by legal or temporal barriers. For me, the most be likely scenario is the extension of a Dutertist dictatorship beyond 2022 hopefully not through martial law or proclamation of a revolutionary government devoid of any due process.

  13. caliphman says:

    Edit***In the second sentence, I meant to write that the article’s expectationn and scenarios are optimistic ( it is mine that is rather pessimistic!).

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