Duterte: The Classification Puzzle

Red Backed Spider. Deadly.

By Edgar Lores

The other day I was listening to Emmylou Harris on YouTube. The song was “Boulder to Birmingham,” Ms. Harris’ tribute to Gram Parsons who was her friend, mentor, and a duet partner.

As you may know, long-married old couples often die within months of each other after one partner goes ahead. For the surviving partner, the reasons for living – the seamless intimacy, the complimenting mirror, and the complementing support — are gone and there is no will, no desire, no joy left to face the days ahead.

If there is any urge left it is to reunite with the partner who has gone ahead to The Place which knows no sorrow.

But what if one is young and a soul partner dies? Gram Parsons died of an overdose in 1973 at the age of 26. Harris also happened to be 26 at that time although she was born a calendar year later, 5 months after Parsons’ birth.

Harris encapsulates her grief in these two lines at the beginning of the third verse: [1]

“Well you really got me this time
And the hardest part is knowing I’ll survive”

The second line always kills me.

As I listened, YouTube segued to Harris singing “If You Were a Bluebird,” a song by Butch Hancock. The lyrics of this song makes comparisons of a beloved, who appears to be away and far from home, to the strangest of non-romantic objects — a raindrop, a train stop, a hotel, and a highway. And, of course, to a sad bluebird. [2]

The song inveigled me into playing an association-comparison game.

I asked, “What would Rodrigo Duterte be if he were an animal?”

I wrote down my associations and offer them here without explanation.

As a vertebrate, I see Duterte:

  • As a mammal: an alpha silverback gorilla
  • As a bird: a rooster
  • As a fish: a remora attached to a shark
  • As a reptile: a man-eating crocodile
  • As an amphibian: a toad

And as an invertebrate:

  • As an insect: a blowfly
  • As an arachnid: a redback spider (a black widow spider common to Australia)
  • As a worm: a tapeworm

Now let me ask — since we are playing pin the tail on the donkey — if Duterte was a mental disorder, what would he be?

Duterte has been labeled a psychopath, a narcissist, a sadist, a serial killer, and a madman.


  • He has been called a bully and a coward.
  • He is a lover of women and a hater of women.
  • He is dishonest and yet, at times, he is truthful of his dishonesty.

My little contribution to this taxonomy is that he is possessed with the Possessive Case Disorder. You know — my country, my people, my vice-president, my mouth.

Which brings us to his classification as a political leader personality.

The Tyrannical Personality Disorder (TPD)

I came across a perceptive blog by Mark Goulston, a syndicated columnist of Huffington Post. He hesitantly postulates a new kind of disorder that marks leaders in the political and business world. He calls this disorder the Tyrannical Personality Disorder (TPD). [3]

He lists seven traits of leaders suffering TPD which remarkably describe Duterte to a T. I quote these traits in full from Goulston’s column. I have added a “Validation” entry to cite examples of each trait in Duterte.

1. They go out of their way to dominate and control people through fear and intimidation. This may distinguish them from Narcissistic Personality Disorders (NPD) who may not look for ways to dominate others, but almost always seek to do so when a conversation comes up. People with NPD often act that way in reaction to others contradictory behavior. In contrast, people with TPD actively look for ways to dominate and control. TPD people are power hungry. Many people with NPD are not power hungry, they’re just a-holes.

Validation: The nation’s citizens are cowed. Duterte has intimidated all women in general and women rebels in particular.

2. They take delight in bullying others. Whether they show it publicly or not, they privately get off on being able to run over people. What distinguishes them from Sadistic Personality Disorders (SPD) is that people with SPD consciously look for ways to be sadistic at their core. People with TPD are not sadistic at their core. At their core, they are dominating and controlling as in 1 above and become sadistic only when frustrated.

Validation: The treatment of Senator Leila De Lima, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Rappler reporter Pia Ranada, and Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

3. They often attract a fanatical following of people. Such followers vicariously get to vent their anger and outrage through the TPD’s behavior.

Validation: The hyperactive Duterte Defense Squad (DDS) and the supportive results of poll surveys.

4. They invoke their wrath upon anyone who disagrees with them or tries to thwart them. A big part of that is due to their being “momentum junkies” and when they are on a roll, they feel especially powerful (i.e. they’re on an adrenaline rush) and become furious with anyone that would interrupt that rush.

Validation: The contretemps with Obama, the tussle with the EU, the harassment of Sereno and Callamard, and the withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

5. They have a “Reality Distortion Field.” This was made famous by Steve Jobs where they convince many of what they believe and also come to believe it themselves.

Validation: The Drug War, the jet ski promise, and the pivot to China.

6. They are unable to feel or demonstrate remorse. That’s because they never feel they are in the wrong.

Validation: The continued incarceration of Senator De Lima and prosecution of the Drug War.

7. They feel and act justified in attacking other because of the following unconscious processes:

a. Projective paranoia – They believe others must hate them because that is what they would feel if they were those others being treated the way the TPD person treats or has disdain for them.

b. Denial and disavowal – They are unaware of the projection of their feelings on others and therefore believe it to be truly coming from their opponents.

c. Justifiable preemptive retaliation – Given the fact that they believe their opponents are out to get them (because of a and b above), they feel justified and compelled to pre-emptively retaliate for something that has only happened in their minds and that has not actually happened in reality.

Validation: The pre-emptive incarceration of Senator De Lima, the pre-emptive ouster of Chief Justice Sereno, and the appointment of military men to high government posts.

Goulston makes the point that TPD applies to both political and business leaders. This is particularly true of Trait 5, the Reality Distortion Field (RDF), which Wikipedia describes as Steve Job’s:

“…ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement, and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. Jobs could also use the RDF to appropriate other’s ideas as his own, sometimes proposing an idea to its originator after dismissing it the week before. [4]

I think there is a need to bifurcate TPD into two varieties: political and non-political. The second variety would include just not business but any field of human endeavor in which leaders preside over a hierarchical structure: religions, civic organizations, committees, non-profit organizations, etc.

A reason for this is that political leaders have broad and comprehensive powers that are underpinned by a monopoly of physical power. And tyrants have close to absolute power, the power of life and death.

Looking at both Trump and Duterte, I would consider adding six more traits to the political variety of TPD. You will pardon me for providing non-linear explanations.

  1. They are alpha males. They are silverback gorillas complete with a harem.
  2. They are misogynists. They are roosters.
  3. They do not value human rights. They are man-eating crocodiles.
  4. They do not own up to their responsibilities. They are tapeworms.
  5. They like firing people. They are redback spiders.
  6. They can be submissive. They are toads or remoras.

A study of modern tyrants (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad) and near tyrants (Lee Kuan Yew and Mohamad Mahathir) might discover more common and perhaps greater salient traits. For example, in the extent of the use of self-promotion and the use of control stratagems such as violence, propaganda, and subterfuge.

There are no female tyrants that I know of at present for study but there are female CEOs. It should be fascinating to learn how they are the same and how different they are from their male counterparts.

In a post-Duterte scenario, the cronies will heave sighs of regret at the thought of lost opportunities, and the DDS at the loss of an enthralling leader.

But many more will sigh in relief. And many will breathe in the realization that the easiest part is knowing they will survive.



[1] https://genius.com/Emmylou-harris-boulder-to-birmingham-lyrics
[2] https://genius.com/Joe-ely-if-you-were-a-bluebird-lyrics
[3] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tpd-the-tyrannical-personality-disorder-is-born-a_us_597e06b5e4b0c69ef7052910
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field


92 Responses to “Duterte: The Classification Puzzle”
  1. Francis says:

    “A study of modern tyrants (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad) and near tyrants (Lee Kuan Yew and Mohamad Mahathir) might discover more common and perhaps greater salient traits. For example, in the extent of the use of self-promotion and the use of control stratagems such as violence, propaganda, and subterfuge.”

    What potentially separates “successful” (or at least, tolerable) tyrants from “unsuccessful” terrible ones is the grander context they operate in; historical, institutional, social, cultural.

    It is also worth noting that even “successful” tyrants can chip away the “long-run advantageous” historical, institutional, social and cultural trends benefiting a nation. Erosion can occur. Addiction (to strongman rule) breeds disaster. Irony of ironies.

    LKY is exceptional case. It’s rather comparatively easy to run a mercantile city-state.

    • edgar lores says:

      Francis, true. Context is all.

      An important part of the context, I believe, is the interaction between the tyrant and the people. The reaction of the people can range from submissive, cooperative, to rebellious. The reaction is largely based on the tyrant’s persona and the people’s perception of that persona.

      In the case of Marcos, I would say the people were submissive.

      In the case of LKY, the people were cooperative.

      In the case of Duterte, I would say a third is submissive, a third cooperative, and a third rebellious.

      o The submissive segment is composed of a great portion of the citizenry.
      o The cooperative segment is largely led by the majority in the two other branches of government.
      o The rebellious segment is a minority of the citizenry, the church, and one — or two? — independent government commissions, the CHR and COA.

  2. Three comments in riddler style but without eche bucheche, maybe with wakamole:

    1. Ang alamat ng Haring Manok. Malibog ang Haring Manok. Nakita niya ang tupa. Sabi niya, kakantutin kita! Sabi ng tupa, huwaaag, katatae ko lang. Basta utos ko gawin mo. Dinali si tupa.

    Ilang oras pagkatapos, nakita niya so sawa (python). Sabi niya kakantotin kita. Sabi ng asawa huwag, makamandag ako, mamamatay ka. Sabi ng Hari: basta utos ko. Dinali niya ang sawa.

    Sa umaga, nakita ng tupa ang Haring Manok habang nangiginig ito sa lupa. Sa niya, buuuti ngaaa, ikaw kasi libog mo, nalason ka ng sawa! Sabi ng Hari: tumahimik ka, dinadali ko si Langgam!

    2. Kantang tradisyonal

    Bastos ka walang galang
    Bakit ka nanggagapang
    Hindi po nanggagapang
    Nangingibabaw po lamang!

    Bakit mo nililislis
    Ang aking saya’t tapis
    Akala ko’y isang banig
    Ako sana’y magliligpit!

    Bakit mo binubuka
    Ang aking mga hita
    Akala ko’y mga mangga
    Ako sana’y magkakarga..

    3. Just Call Me God with John Malkovitch as Satur Diman Cha, the tyrant..

    • edgar lores says:

      Three submissions on the central theme of a tyrannical personality.

      o The first is gross — ahaha! — and echoes one of my associations: the rooster.
      o The second is also gross and my association is of Duterte’s behavior in South Korea.
      o The third is a new music-drama I am unfamiliar with… but from the title and the star, I can surmise it is incendiary. Would like to read the script.

      “Malkovich… in one extraordinary, barely-there moment of transformation from fugitive to bemedalled Generalissimo, showed a glimpse of this monster’s vulnerability.” — Review from Birmingham Post

      • First two associations are stories I heard in the working-class migrant world 30+ years ago – which shows that the subcultural soil from which DDS grew is not new.

        1. The Haring Manok is also known as the Dignified.. Sarimanok. But this particular King acts like a Mayor who insists on being first, always. Duterte, but also Mayor Sanchez and Governor Jalosjos. A sly allegory on sex and power in the Philippines.

        2. Continues 1 and adds gaslighting, telling the victim to deny its own perceptions. Not only Korea, it is what the present admin does every day to the people. A sly allegory on abuse.

        3. The tyrants last monologue is before a lady journalist, literally his captive audience.

        Pia Ranada Robles accompanied Duterte on his campaign, found him charming then BTW.

        • edgar lores says:

          On 2, I had the same thought except that instead of gaslighting the term that came to mind was seduction.

          The three verses indicate resistance… until the last two lines. These are ambivalent… and may suggest consent?

          The reference to mangga — sweet fruits! — may be an allusion to Eve’s “apple.” They may also be symbolic of a man’s testes. And the magkakarga suggests a willingness to carry the fruits… or their fruits.

          I may be overinterpreting.

          • The Bakit parts are sung by the woman, the Akala Ko parts by the man, so no consent.

            There is/was an entire album with songs like that, called “Haring Solomon”.

            one “song of Solomon” was full of fruits and alluded body parts.

            • edgar lores says:

              Ahaha! So I did not overinterpret. I misinterpreted!

              It’s a “conversation” song, a duet with a male singer and a female singer going back and forth.

              I thought only the first stanza was a conversation.

              So the mangga are something else.

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          If I may, humour like dumdum bullets can draw and explode blood when they hit their marks but humour can also bounce ordinary ordnance as in the animal or plant taxonomic kingdom. In college I learned that scientists know nature’s creatures by their scientific names better than their common names. so wide-eyed with open skull I memorized some and to this day could still remember them, would anyone in TSoH care to Google them? I know I am being a Wakarang for being relevant as I whip the carabao to make welts in the horses’ hide.

          the funny ones (but ugly, blood sucking, always dirty, wild):

          pidiculus capitis (girls used to have them aplenty)
          bufo marinus (ugly and poisonous but amphibious)
          sus scrofa (what they use to call the blue shirts of the Big Apple)
          gallus bankiva (Pinoy version of a “Texas” cockfighter)
          bus mindoronensis (dangerous and wild almost instinct)

          the edible ones (sweet, sour, tart, herbal):

          achras aputa (sweet, truly Pilipin fruit)
          mangifera indica (sour often very sweet)
          spondias purporea (rare but sweet and bony)
          momordica charantia (herbal, ang pakla)
          sandoricum koetjape (enjoy the sweetness as in a French Kiss)

          Commenters in TSoH and other pundits like to compare the “maverickness” of two
          Presidents. One is different from the other because he did not do what the other allegedly did, may be a few or many times?

          What do you call the bird which is always on top of a carabao?

          to be a Wakarang is to be neither here nor there but to be in the heretofore and now.

          • edgar lores says:

            Ahaha! I trust your memory and there is no need to confirm.

            But would you say that Duterte is momordica charantia?

            • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

              BAKA PUEDE (double doubt, palusot, Pinoy culture, ganito kami noon kaya naman ganito kami ngayon, seguro). Yun kabiyak (ng puso) corrected me, hindi mapakla ang Momordica, kundi MAPAIT kaya pagpiniga o kinatas ay mabisang gamot sa sobrang sipon at ubo ng ng mga sanggol. Ang ampalaya pag pinakuluan at iginisa sa karneng baboy ay putaheng Pinoy. Mahal ang ampalaya sa Canada at Merika, wala pang mabili.

              Pagnakainom naman ng Johnny Walker Black or Blue ni Erap, amoy achra saputa ang alingasaw ng hininga mo. Amoy chico ka Pare. Pag ang halik ay simbango ng jasminum zambach, nagiging halik suso. parang mini vacuum cleaner ang dating.Dapat feather duster lang sa labi o sa pisngi.

              • edgar lores says:

                There’s a fruit that is mapakla. Camanteres.

              • sonny says:

                I forgot all about damortis na mapakla, edgar.

                Speaking of mapakla, Help! Is there an English word for it? I just tell the inquirer to eat an unripe Chiquita banana – that is what mapakla is.

              • edgar lores says:

                There used to be 4 recognized basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter.

                Ayurveda has added two more: pungent and astringent. (Ayurveda is the ancient Hindu art of medicine.)

                If you watched the TV show “Friends,” there is one taste that Ross mentioned: Umami. This is a Japanese term that has been translated into savory. It is used to describe the MSG taste.

                The pungent taste is one that gives a sharp sensation.

                Pungent is described as biting, acrid or acidic. A Tagalog/English dictionary translates mapakla as acrid.

                The astringency taste is a “flavor of dryness that is generally produced by tannins in the bark, leaves and outer rinds of fruits and trees. 1. It causes the mucus membranes in the mouth to contract and results in an immediate dry, chalky (sometimes even choking) sensation in the mouth.”

                Between pungent and astringent, I would choose the latter. When I used to eat camanteres, I remember the sudden dryness in the mouth.

              • NHerrera says:

                People in TSH must know that a toddler or small child on first tasting Ketchup, particularly Heinz Ketchup, would like it so much that for sometime, he wants it in almost anything he eats? Heinz has experimented with its ingredients so that it believes it has the right proportion of the five tastes — sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.

                From one source:

                What Heinz had done was come up with a condiment that pushed all five of these primal buttons. The taste of Heinz ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?

                Caution: this is not an advertisement for Heinz ketchup.

              • edgar lores says:

                Ahaha! Good thing I only use Heinz ketchup.

              • NHerrera says:


                Does that sound like the 5 tastes in Bicol Express (which I like, by the way) — with a good dose of bitterness.

              • sonny says:

                Thanks for help on mapakla, edgar. It seems the English word for it must carry astringency, that chalky texture. I won’t be surprised if Oxford Dict will just borrow our whole word for it, mapacle or even simply chiquita. 🙂

                NH, as ketchup goes Del Monte formulation did it for me. All true what you said about Heinz. But Del Monte forever took away that hotdog+mustard combo taste. Even overwhelmed any vestige of gourmetship from my gustatory range. It is now strictly pinakbet or dinengdeng.

              • edgar lores says:

                There are many words in any language that are not translatable.


              • sonny says:

                “kilig” made the list. Nice find to share, edgar. TY.

                I like “komorebi,” the scattered light coming through spaces within a foliage. 🙂 One can pick the poetic side or study the properties of bending light through slits. How does one packet reality in words?

            • sonny says:

              🙂 ‘ndi pwede ang momordica charantia para sa kaniya. Momordica C. has total saving medical grace: it will cure you of diabetes. The other one will only kill, out of sight out of mind.

          • .. you are partly referring, I think, to the comparisons between Erap and Duterte..

            – or how civilized Erap seems now compared to Duterte.

            my perspective is what it is, warped by distance, time and geography, even topography but I have found neither carabaos nor tamaraws where I live nowadays, but I still question whether the idyllic “nayon” of Amorsolo paintings ever existed..

            .. or at least, behind the idyll there were Haring Manok Mayors during the day and manggagapang Wakarangs during the night, as well as the gapang with consent after the formalities of harana, but quietly so as not to wake up the horses..

            .. or the words Karl once mentioned.. “pangagatawanan ko”.. which became an obligation the moment the father came with the itak and caught dem in de act. otherwise eventually nabubuntis, minsan meron din iyong nagluluto ng marami, may isang napipikot..

            – but all of that had rules of demeanor and what was hidden and open..


            Duterte is all shame lost..

            Now is walang hiya truly a Filipino concept or just imported sin verguenza?

            Is the true Filipino more like the great plebeian Bonifacio, the great proletarian Erap and the great lumpen-proletarian Digong (lumpen is the leftist term for scum, Lumpen means rags, are the values of todays Filipinos drifting into salaula and balahura for good?)

            • Francis says:


              To rip off Aristotle; there is always the “true” virtuous form and the debased one. Tyranny is “Bad” Monarchy. Oligarchy is “Bad” Aristocracy. Democracy (as Aristotle saw it) was “Bad” Polity.

              In Aristotle’s mind, the rule of one, the rule of the few and the rule of the many were not inherently bad—but could either turn out bad or good.

              Hiya is not inherently bad. We also cannot truly be one-hundred percent copying the West (ironic, coming from myself—a malansang isda) but rather finding ways to re-interpret our idiosyncrasies as Filipinos to make ourselves better fit the (post)modern age.

              There is good hiya. There are good “true” Filipinos. Andres. There is bad hiya. Ther are bad “true” Filipinos. Emilio.

              • The seeming disappearance of hiya is what concerns me more, examples Duterte/DDS.

                The Apo Song “Labag sa Batas” is about secret affairs, not publicly kissing a married woman. As Will wrote as part of a longer FB post, what’s next sex in public?

              • Francis says:


                Populism is like those sketchy fraud schemes. You buy in—and never know you’ve been conned until it is too late. We Filipinos will never fully appreciate the flaws of populism (or at least its current interpretation) until we are slammed with the full brunt of its consequences. That’s the likely alternative, I am sad to say—given the narrowness and shallowness of our collective mind.

                There are two ways to not commit a mistake. You either experience a negative stimulus that tells us “THIS HURTS. THIS IS BAD.” or you hypothesize, via utilizing simple abstractions, that logically this proposed action is stupid. For many reasons that have been thoroughly discussed in many places—we lack, on a societal level, the ability to do the latter.

                That leaves us the former. It is sad and irritating.

                On Hiya:

                The failure of our “modernization process” has been the failure to adapt Filipino values to the then modern and now increasingly post-modern context. The Japanese (and other East Asians) managed to accomplish their particular values to modernity quite well—we weren’t so fortunate, for a variety of reasons.

            • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

              Mang Ireneo, yung Nayon Amorsolo EXISTED noong 1966 diyan lang sa Kalawaan, Pasig, Yung magsasaka diyan no read no write pero pag uwi ko meron akong isang supot na kamatis. Yung isa naman pag dating ko sa umaga meron na akong isang basong gatas ng kalabaw. Nagtayo ako ng rice experiment diyan, tubig ilog Pasig ang irrigation. May anak na dalaga yung farmer dinadalhan ako ng merienda. Inggit yung manananim na binata from Bulacan;t tulungan ko daw siya gusto niya kasi ligawan. Laki siyudad ako pero mas inspirado mag trabaho sa kabukiran. Assign kasi ako noon sa buong Rizal.

              Yung dalawang kinukumpara hindi si Erap at si Duterte kundi si Trump at si Duterte. Ano ba ang hindi yata kayang gawin ni Trump na ibinibintang kay Duterte. Aber, pareho silang laging tinutuligsa ng Press. Pero ang ayos ng bituka nila hindi pareho. eh.

              • Anyare ngayon Popoy, wala pang dalawang henerasyon pagkatapos puro na DDS na akala mo nakawala sa kung anong kulungan? O kaya chicks sa club na kapit sa bugaw/Duts?

              • edgar lores says:

                Kris’ challenge to Mocha is another spark that might turn the people back to decency.

                It is an emotional challenge, a heartfelt challenge, a no holds barred challenge, and we shall see the outcome, whether the Filipino is worth fighting for much less dying for.

                Memory is strange but I do recall a bucolic country. It could be the innocence of youth but it could also be the Amorsolo country. This was in the 50’s and 60’s.

          • sonny says:

            🙂 Linnaeus would have been in 7th heaven in the tropics naming all he wanted. In no particular order I recognized some without googling: mango, tamaraw, chico, ampalaya, toad; now I know: sineguelas, santol, lice, etc.

            I’ll probably assign mabolo to the present subject or chesa maybe. I don’t like either one.

  3. Chemrock says:

    He is just a visiting boar that impregnated 16m sows.

    • edgar lores says:

      The aphrodisiac of power plus the brutish charm of a caveman.

    • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

      Edgar, riddler daw ako say ni Joe Am, pakitanong sa kanya: Ask him: What is it that taste like heaven but smells like hell. This one is not like that gross riddle: The more you touch the more you feel, the wound that never heals.

  4. Andres 2018. says:

    If the people will cooperate with Tyrant P.Duterte, would you think something good for the nation will happen?

    • edgar lores says:

      Not necessarily.

      1. What are the plans of Tyrant P. Duterte?

      2. And are the people holding back these plans right now? How?

      • Tyranny demands obedience even if the path is destructive. Democracy demands lots of voices speaking to keep the ship of state on a centerline that assures positive development. The armies of tyrants are tasked with demanding unequivocal unity and cooperation. You can spot them easily.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Mang Andres, Please define COOPERATE.

      • Andres 2018. says:

        1. I could not decipher their long term plans, maybe the revision of the constitution and federalization? But as of the moment, it is alignment with China.

        2. After the Sereno ouster, the Supreme Court and the Senate are Duterte-friendly. Holding back Duterte and friends’ plans would be difficult then. However, as long as these plans are less popular with the citizens in general, Duterte and friends will definitely not push these through. So its a battle of propaganda. Continued anti-China sentiments from recognized people through traditional and social media is a barrier to promote this China alignment.

        • edgar lores says:

          Specifically, what step has Duterte tried to take wherein he has been stopped by people not cooperating?

          • Andres 2018 says:

            The battle between antagonizing and promoting China is still on going.

            Since you are asking for specifics, let me consider this so called Operation Tokhang. Duterte stopped that program after gaining negative popularity. It was the continued complains of the Church, human rights group and anti-duterte group, especially with that death of a certain teenager, that eventually persuaded the people to dislike it. Later, Duterte revived the Operation Tokhong with improvements thereon considering the sentiments of the other groups. In this particular situation, we know that Duterte will hold back on his plans if the people seem to dislike it. And reimplement it considering the views of the others.

            • edgar lores says:

              The people did not stop Operation Tokhang. It was halted — not stopped — by Duterte himself. It is still ongoing.

              Stop means complete cessation. Halt means complete or temporary cessation. Operation Tokhang was halted temporarily.

              Therefore, this activity does not answer my question in two respects.

              • Andres 2018 says:

                I said in my previous reply that Duterte stopped (halted in your words) it. The general dislike of the people, however, made Duterte do that ‘temporary cessation’ as you called it. If the people generally favored it, Duterte will not consider halting it.

                It was stopped around at the start of fourth quarter of 2017, and revived around February of 2018. Revived with improvements. Since i am not to argue with technicalities of the words used, halt or stop, you may pick what you want. I say stopped and revived you say halted temporarily. The point here is that, when it was resumed (im not saying ‘revived’ here to agree with you) it considered improvements thereon.

              • edgar lores says:

                Thank you.

                Operation Tokhang still does not answer my question.

              • Andres 2018 says:

                @edgar lores

                If you are looking for plans and programs of Duterte that were stopped, directly, by the uncooperative people there would be none as he and his administration are the executives and as i mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court and the House are friends of them. However, that doesn’t mean they can do anything they want as they still need to consider the reaction of the people in general, or else, its negative popularity and the next election would become a problem.

              • edgar lores says:

                Thank you.

                Then that renders the premise of your initial question, which is cooperation with Tyrant P. Duterte, inoperative.

              • Andres 2018. says:

                @edgar lores

                Not necessarily, as you said before. Cooperation may be operative or inoperative. However, noncooperation is usually bad for business.

              • edgar lores says:

                Logically, it does.

    • NHerrera says:


      In USSR under Stalin, there was [forced] cooperation by all. On Stalin’s death under suspicious circumstances, one of his favored and main lieutenants — Nikita Khrushchev — turned against him and lambasted him before the Party’s Politburo, the start of the de-Stalinization of USSR. What does this say about cooperation or singing the same tune as the Headman, or else?

      de-Stalinization = the policy of eradicating the memory or influence of Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, especially after 1956.

  5. distant observer says:

    Your “taxonomy” (or should we say diagnosis?) of Duterte might be on point. But to me, the more interesting question is how do people (as you point out it’s always men) with such a Tyrannical Personality Disorder get so far in their respective societies? I guess it’s safe to say that people “suffering” TPD, NPD or SPD are always present in a society, but certain societal conditions seem to be necessary to enable political leaders with such psychological traits.

    French philosopher Joseph de Maistre once said “Every nation gets the government it deserves”.

    To stay in the present political context, one could speak of a Fuehrer-yearning, spreading globally. It is not only the Philippines, although it is a prime example. You mention Trump in the US and Erdogan in Turkey. There is Putin in Russia, Orban in Hungary, Xi in China. In Brazil, a guy named Jair Bolsonario, also nick-named the “Brazilian Trump”, is poised to descend to the top. What I am trying to say is: the dangerous a-holes are always abundant, the crucial factor to enable them as political leaders are peers (in non- or semidemocratic settings) or the public (in democracies).

    There was also once a guy named Plato who said “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

    • edgar lores says:

      Good question.

      1. How do tyrants with TPD get so far in their respective societies?

      1.1. The easy answer is that they are driven and dominant personalities. The complex answer is a combination of circumstances.

      1.2. If we focus on Duterte and Trump, they are both come-from-behind winners. There was a belief, especially among the political elite and the pundits, that neither had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Therefore, the second condition would be the suspension, not of disbelief, but of the belief that these candidates could win.

      1.3. This second condition led to apathy, the non-exertion of effort to still the ripples.

      1.4. But something in both men resonated with the voters. It wasn’t something logical, an appeal to the mind, but something emotional, an appeal to the heart. This is another condition: emotional appeal.

      1.5. It wasn’t their messages either because these were simple. It partly was the force they projected to voice their simple messages that caught attention. This is another condition, Goulston’s RFD, which I will call presence (and not charisma).

      1.6. In the background, there were strong backers with deep pockets. I am not so familiar with the Trump campaign but I remember he had the Koch brothers. Duterte had ex-presidents Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal (who was detained and wanted freedom) and Fidel Ramos (who wanted to be a kingmaker and a power behind the throne), and there were the Marcos heirs (who wanted to return to national power). I suspect China gave all kinds of support to Duterte and Binay, who was the frontrunner until the last 3 months (?) before the election. This is another condition: strong political backing.

      1.7. In the Philippines, the military is a strong vector. Duterte had AFP retired Filipino Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon by his side. Another condition.

      1.8. In the Philippines, the news and broadcast media is another strong vector. Broadsheets are identified by the political personalities they support. Reporters, columnists, radio and TV broadcasters are “presstitutes” in the vocabulary of Mocha Uson, the sexy dancer turned Duterte sidekick. Still another condition. This would include political adverts.

      1.9. Social media is the surprise new vector, with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook joining in Duterte’s campaign. For Trump, Russia seemed to have used its cyber trolls to attack Hillary. A new condition. Social media would be discussions and presentations in news media, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

      1.10. Speaking of Hillary, there is the specter of a weak competition. Hillary is a woman and women are still not acceptable as presidential candidates in the West. Duterte had 4 other candidates running against him. Binay led but faded. Poe, number one in the 2013 senatorial elections, believed she could come up with a repeat performance. Miriam-Defensor, the formidable lady senator, was literally on her last legs. And Roxas, the administration candidate, had a weak reputation having been ruined by Marcos propaganda since the 2010 presidential election. He came in a poor second. Another condition.

      1.11. The ripples became a tsunami for Duterte. Not quite one for Trump but enough for him to win the Electoral College votes. For Filipinos, who are like herd animals, the tsunami is the result of the bandwagon effect. Another condition.

      1.12. Finally, the 11th and final condition is the people. This factor has been analyzed ad nauseam in TSH. Their willful ignorance. Their neediness. Their readiness to be bought. Their bondage to patrons. Their lack of principles and values. This is last and deciding condition. The sick people.

      These are the major factors and conditions I can bring up with a moment’s notice. There may be others that I have missed.

      • I think times of “anomie” (we have talked about this, decline of values and norms) are some of the best periods for tyrants. Where principles are dead, principals become important.

        The Weimar Republic also was a period of anomie. High crime, people moving into cities and the transition from a traditional to a modern culture was not yet completed.

        The yearning for the stability of the Reich, but without the Kaiser, somehow more modern – one must remember Nazis imitated Futurists in style, especially their hysterical fast talk.

      • distant observer says:

        Thank you edgar for your elaborate response.

        1.5. You say it wasn’t their messages because they were simple. I would say it was BECAUSE their messages were simple, not DESPITE. And this goes into your point

        1.4. namely that only simple messages can appeal to the heart. More complex messages need the involvement of the mind to discern, and hence they lose much of their emotional leverage. I still define populism as the offering of simple solutions for complex problems.

        1.9. Yes social media is certainly a newer and very important factor. Filter bubbles, echo chambers, algorithms that polarize political landscapes. I am however rather with observers who note that Cambridge Analytica’s role in the 2016 US elections is bloated, a nice PR stunt of CA itself.

        1.12. I agree. And this is the factor my original comment aimed at. People, societies, they are much more difficult to analyze than individuals (and the reason why TSH will never cease to have a conversation 😉 ). I like your notion of the “sick people”. Can we say that the sicker the people, the sicker their leaders? Contemporary Americans would object I guess 😉

        • edgar lores says:

          Distant Observer,

          1.5. Agree.

          1.4. The simple messages invariably involved bigotry. For Duterte, the targets were drug personalities, Obama, the Pope, and women. For Trump, they were immigrants, Muslims, and Mexicans, and one particular woman, Hillary.

          1.9. I, too, am still skeptical about the influence of social media in Duterte’s win. News media, including TV and radio, are still the most widespread and dominant forms of communication.

          1.12. The logic follows. The sickness, as Irineo and I postulate, has to do with anomie.

          • Francis says:

            On 1.9


            Even if social media’s role in Duterte’s win has been likely a bit exaggerated—it bears some ominous implications for the future.

            One of the hypotheses I’ve had floating around in my head (and something I’ve occasionaly brought up here) is that a major factor in the social, political and cultural landscape of the Philippines is how literacy and literate culture has developed—and that our “literate culture” for “important” matters i.e. technical knowledge, political issues has not produced deep roots in “mass” Filipino society because most “serious” reading is in English. Add that to another hypothesis: the lack of “intermediary” institutions to link specialists and policymakers and translate their specialist knowledge into something that be discussed among a broader layman audience i.e. a Filipino equivalent of The Atlantic or The Economist.

            What you get is first: an extremely deep split in consciousness between a somewhat enlightened minority of an English-speaking upper middle-class and elite and a majority whose culture not used to reading for fun or reflection, a culture that predominantly absorbs culture through more emotional, more “in-the-moment” (less reflective) audio-visual mediums i.e telenovelas, variety shows, etc. That’s the implication of the first hypothesis. Secone is that even among the “enlightened” middle classes and elite, there is a lack of serious engagement with ideas because there are few platforms (i.e. intermediary institutions) to allow them to engage the latest and cutting-edge ideas tackled by specialists in the academe, the government and the private sector.

            In short, the state of the intelligentsia is feeble. The majority barely feel their effects. The middle-class is not as “smart” as their loud protesting of them being “smart-shamed” by the “bobotante majority” would imply. And the elites are much like Roxie in “Citizen Jake” : rough, crude thugs.

            Social Media is important because it may hold the keys to the future. The absence of a sufficiently deep “literate culture” for “serious discussion” of national issues, etc. right now doesn’t mean that will be the case in the future. The fact that FB posts (not only written in English, but also in more vernacular forms) are becoming a viral way of spreading long-form (by our society’s standards, at leas) analysis on serious issues means that slowly, Filipinos may be developing the beginnings of a truly mass “literate culture” for “serious” discourse that truly covers all classes—not just an English-speaking minority.

            Who is likely using platforms like FB? The middle class.

            With our (formal) intelligentsia feeble and relatively detached from society, there is a huge gap ready to be taken advantage of.

            • Francis says:


              I worry about how that gap is being filled, right now.

            • edgar lores says:

              1. There are several aspects to the problem of the communication gap. You cite three:

              1.1. The language of communication
              1.2. The medium of communication
              1.3. The communication gap between the elite and the non-elite

              2. I think the major language of communication should continue to be English for obvious reasons. It is the language of technology and it is the lingua franca of the world. Therefore, English should be the medium of instruction at the secondary level and upwards.

              2.1. The language of entertainment can be a combination of English and Filipino. Filipino to reach the masses. The literati should be versed in both. English to comprehend the values of the world and Filipino to transmit those values to the masses in the various forms of entertainment: movies, plays, tv shows, Internet presentations.

              3. The media of communication must be the traditional media and social media. But we must not think of social media as simply the dominant portals that exist at present: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter. Instagram, and the like. Perhaps we should not use the term social media at all. The Internet embraces traditional news media, culture sites (such as Open Culture), blogging sites (such as TSH and the Filipino-German Learning Center (FGLC)), educational sites (such as Coursera), and vast libraries (such as Project Gutenberg). I am sure it offers specialist sites on almost any subject or career that one can think of.

              3.1. I do not mean to put down Facebook and Twitter. Joe Am has missionary presence on both platforms and he has many learning acolytes. Then there’s PAB. But there also are Mocha and Thinking Pinoy. And GRP.

              3.2. There must be a way of sorting out good sites from bad sites but I don’t know how. There must be a blacklist somewhere but sites will attract followers according to the level of consciousness.

              3.3. I recently enroled in a Coursera course on Buddhism and learned a lot. The Coursera catalog covers accounting, computers, management, languages, arts, philosophy, history, and you name it.

              4. Thus, the communication gap between the elite and the non-elite can be fulfilled by the Internet. It can top up school learning. The prerequisites are English, an Internet network, a device to connect to the Internet and, above all, a burning desire to learn.

              4.1. Part of the problem in the Philippines is that the dominant device for Internet connection is the cellphone (?). It is too small. Another part of the problem is that people tend to fritter away the hours on social media (as we do!) in non-productive ways. The interaction has to be structured in some way but I do not know how.

              5. So, yes, I agree with you that social media or, rather, the Internet holds some keys to the future.

            • NHerrera says:


              I agree with the “union” of thoughts expressed [by Francis and edgar] above. I wish to insert the concept normally associated with countries rather than islands in a country: geopolitics.

              Let us make an abstraction of the case, without going through the detailed island counts and number of dialects spoken: imagine we have 10 islands (two which are roughly 10 times the others) and 10 dialects.

              Before the advent of modern technology — one has only to go back, say, 40 years — there was already a rather significant geopolitical divide among these islands not easily bridged in spite of a President being elected for all of PH. Add to that the pestering Communist Party and its NPA and the Muslim problem equally needing attention.

              When PH got its independence, these innate geopolitical divide among the islands/ regions should have been given a lot of serious study, priority and resources. If we were fortunate to have some success with that, the modern technology and the socmed would have been a blessing to accelerate the integration.

              But I am crying over spilled milk. There probably is a way if well meaning and serious people at a higher level will put their heads together, and the government machinery goes along and provide the necessary resources, but I am afraid not with the present Administration.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. If I may expand on Irineo’s 12th condition, the present age, the concept of truth has gone through several stages:

      1.1. Absolute Truth
      1.2. Relative Truth
      1.3. Postmodern Truth
      1.4. Post-postmodern Truth

      2. Absolute Truth started from the Axial Age when the major religions were founded. It is still extant today by the people who believe in religious isms. Note that all moral systems rest on religion.

      3. Relative Truth started with the Age of Enlightenment which gave birth to science. Absolute Truth was challenged by scientific truth, creationism by evolution, and God creating the heavens and the Earth by the Big Bang Theory. Relative Truth destroyed the foundations of religions’ Absolute Truths.

      4. Postmodern Truth is subjective truth. It is the view “that there is not one single truth but many truths, and that our version of reality is our personal interpretation of what is out there. It rejects the existence of ultimate truth and goes to the extent of positing that all versions of personal truth are in error.” Postmodern Truth rejected both Absolute and Relative Truth.

      4.1. The Philippines and the World are caught between the extremes of Absolute Truth and Postmodern Truth. Christianity and Islam (and Hinduism and Buddhism) still hold sway but many are rejecting traditional religions. There are many nones. In the Philippines, Duterte swore at the Pope. He was not struck by a thunder bolt.

      5. Post-postmodern Truth has not been quite defined. As I understand it, it rejects the nihilism of Postmodernism and seeks to restore the faith in objective truth. However, Relative Truth and Postmodern Truth did not arrive at a substitute for the moral systems of religions which no longer have moral force. In the absence of such, populism (in democracies) and tyrants’ wishes (in non- or semi-democratic settings) are the guides to what is moral.

      5.1. There is a kind of Catch-22. The people do not know what to believe and how to behave and are iron filings to tyrants’ magnets. (This is their neediness.) Similarly, tyrants do not recognize the boundaries of morality and behave in their own way but require the support of the populace to maintain their magnetism.

      5.2. It is a fatal attraction.

      I hope this makes sense.

      • NHerrera says:

        Makes sense to me.

        Here is one variant definition of nihilism: the principles of a Russian revolutionary group, active in the latter half of the 19th century, holding that existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society and employing extreme measures, including terrorism and assassination.

        A shade of this in our modern Philippines.

  6. Cha Coronel Datu says:

    “They go out of their way to dominate and control people through fear and intimidation.”

    But Duterte has only really ever tried to dominate and control only those already weak or disadvantaged and therefore easily subdued. For years as mayor of Davao, he chose cooperation and appeasement in dealing with the NPA. Didn’t he ask Davao businessmen to just pay their revolutionary taxes?

    Leaders from the western world, at least the erudite and intellectual ones appear to intimidate him. He shies away from events, gatherings with them by feigning ill health, other matters needing his attention etc. But boy, does he just love to go to China! And let’s not forget that trip to Russia ; apparently intelligence reports of a possible attack on Marawi were not an urgent enough matter to require his presence at home, nor the rest of his cabinet.

    Duterte is only as strong as the real powers he has come to rely on for support and protection. And he chooses them well. Or they chose their PATSY well. He’s been worth every penny for the Marcoses and Arroyo. And almighty China hit the jackpot.

    Is Duterte a right proper tyrant at his core then or just a blusterer who was smart enough to know who not to mess up with? Maybe there lies the answer to solving a problem like Duterte.

    • edgar lores says:

      I agree. I tend to think that all tyrants are naked emperors.

      Most are bullies outwardly but, at core, they are cowards inwardly.

      Most meet their end ignominiously. In recent history, there are Muammar Gaddafi found hiding in a culvert and Saddam Hussein in a rat hole.

      The lucky ones go into exile. Like Marcos and some South American and African dictators. And they succumb to disease and old age.

      I cannot recall reading of a real tyrant who went to his death bravely, say, in the manner of Socrates.

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        Well, Hitler did supposedly poison himself too. But was that doing it bravely or just fear of suffering the same fate as his buddy Mussolini?

        But going back to Duterte, isn’t he quite unique in so overtly fawning over a foreign power and its leader? Going so far as declaring his love for Xi. Real proper tyrants must be laughing their heads off at the Chinese lapdog.

        • edgar lores says:

          Agree. Duterte only personally preys on the weak. E.g., poor drug users and Pia Ranada.

          On the internal strong, he lets his dogs do it for him. E.g., De Lima and Sereno. Or the PNP in the case of Mayors Espinosa and Parojinog. Or the army in the case of the Maute brothers.

          On the external strong, he curses or withdraws. E.g., Obama, the EU, and the ICC.

          Yes, Duterte fawns. But he is not unlike Marcos who relied on the US to keep him in power. It was a US Senator who handed Marcos his pink slip.

          Taking one’s life, as Hitler did, may be seen as brave or weak.

          o The manner of going is indicative. By gun or by ritual seppuku.
          o The options for not going are indicative. By facing the consequences of a firing squad, a mob, or a jury.

          Hitler was braver than Saddam, Gaddafi, and even Mussolini. These three chose to flee but were caught and executed. Still, I choose to see Hitler’s suicide by gun as weak.

          Putin and Mao may be real tyrants. Mao died peacefully. I’m not so sure about Putin.

        • edgar lores says:


          Apparently, I have a bias when I try to apply the adjectives “real” and “brave” to tyrants.

          It seems to me that the adjective combination only applies to benevolent dictators like Lee Kuan Yew… and Ashoka.

          So the bravery is not in the measure of cruelty inflicted but in the measure of cruelty withheld.

  7. Sup says:

    Good morning.

  8. David C. Martinez says:

    Analyzing and identifying Duterte’s particular psychosis – however clinically precise or intellectually insightful – while his brazen, brutal malevolence continues unabated means nothing.
    What we need to better comprehend is how and why the majority of our people continues to tolerate, approve of, and even promote his malevolence. And from there, whether there is anything moral and viable we can do about it.

    • edgar lores says:

      Thank you for your viewpoint.

      All understanding, like all dialogue, is positive. Understanding the characteristics of a TPD is as significant as understanding the people who elect them. We try to understand for many reasons. To avoid and to cure for example. At times, understanding is half the battle.

      There is a particular dynamic between a tyrant and the people who support him. So understanding one requires understanding the other.

      Duterte is not a singular phenomenon. We had Marcos before him. And shades of Marcos in Erap and Macapagal-Arroyo. Why are we afflicted with the same disease multiple times?

    • NHerrera says:

      If I may take off from your post, in a tangential way, take the case of the Supreme Court Justices — supposedly the fount of justice and legal wisdom; and supposedly an equal branch to the Legislative and the Executive branches of the government. If we cannot understand these Justices, we may not be able to understand the mass of the “people” not having the supposed SC’s intellectual, moral and ethical foundations; and the time to study and reflect, that the mass does not have.

      I just read John Nery’s op-ed piece in the Inquirer. He writes about the advices some SC Justices imparted the New Lawyers who have just passed the Bar — Jardeleza, De Castro, Bersamin. Nery focused on Jardeleza and writes with admiration of Jardeleza’s well composed advice. [I myself admired his past well-crafted legal opinion voiced in the SC when he was the Solgen.] Nery summarized and generously elaborates on Jardeleza’s two “tips” to the New Lawyers: “stay humble; have empathy.” In the end, however, Nery cannot help but say that — the otherwise well-deserved praise for his advices — ring hollow [in the light of Jardeleza’s part in HOR Impeachment proceedings and subsequent ouster of ex-CJ Sereno via Quo Warranto]. Nery suspects that the bright New Lawyers may have the same thoughts.

      About the two relatively light-weight SC Justices who similarly gave their advices to the New Lawyers, Nery have these words: on De Castro — her embittered view; on Bersamin — his the-Court-is-under-threat perspective.

      Addendum (mine)

      We all make mistakes, but on important advices we give to the youth, we must mark as achievement if our actions match our words. So, I will add to Jardeleza’s tips to the New Lawyers a third one:

      1. Stay humble
      2. Have empathy
      3. [Mistakes you will undoubtedly will make, but on important matters, always] make your actions match your words.


  9. David C. Martinez says:

    I honestly wonder to what extent properly identifying and classifying the specific clinical mental disorder/s that may have afflicted Mussolini, Hirohito and Hitler ultimately led to the defeat of their military machines.

    Duterte has been psychoanalyzed a thousand times by as many people. He enjoys as much public support today as on the day he took his oath.

    I’m not disinterested in studying precisely how a dog becomes rabid. But not while I’m trying to kill it. Obviously before it kills me,

    • edgar lores says:

      Good point.

      But the reasoning is simple. If one knows the characteristics of TPD, then one can recognize them in a future leader. Therefore, one knows what preventive action one must take, which is to avoid him at all cost, and one can warn others to take the same precaution.

      If one knows the potential problem, one can devise ways to prevent it.

      Or as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

      As it is now, the cost of fixing the problem is many times greater than the cost it would have taken to prevent it.

  10. Francis says:

    Too much focus on the lead actor.

    It’s not about who’s on E! Tonight. It’s about the brillant scriptwriters, genius director—and those well-heeled producers.

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