Why would Filipinos want Duterte/Bongbong at the top?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Only a few days ahead of the Philippine presidential elections, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte keeps a firm lead in the latest survey, with Manuel Roxas having risen to second place in a statistical tie with Senator Grace Poe, showing how undecided voters are about the two latter contestants.

In the race for the vice president, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was leading in the previous poll, just to be topped out closely by Representative Leni Robredo in the most recent poll.

Anyway, the probability of the Philippines getting a presidential duo Duterte/Bongbong is there. Even the powerful, bloc-voting Christian group Iglesia ni Cristo, or Church of Christ, whose members are estimated to number up to ten million people, on May 4 endorsed Duterte for President and Bongbong for vice president.

But why would a country want to be run by a self-proclaimed iron-fist-ruler and the scion of a dynasty that ran the nation almost into the abyss, economically, politically and socially?

The reason is that in societies where the majority of people have the real or perceived feeling that they have become alienated from politicians out of touch with the real world, where a small elite of officials and their sponsors keeps ruling over disenfranchised citizens, and in a situation where despite an upswing in the economy nothing much trickles down to the poor masses, voters lose their patience.

The Philippines is not alone. There seems to be a global trend towards “strong” leader figures, fueled by a cracking capitalistic system where one financial crisis follows the other, continuously widening wealth gaps between social groups and countries, religious culture clashes and Islamist terror, hundreds of thousands of refugees swamping Europe, total surveillance by intelligence services, escapism from reality into social Internet networks, and what not.

So, people are calling for strongmen. In the US, it’s Donald Trump. Austria is the first country to be about to elect a far right-wing president after decades of moderate rule, as its population is faced with scores of Middle Eastern and African refugees of which a large number of locals feel they are sucking the country’s social welfare system dry and give nothing in return. Poland, Hungary, France – all are drifting to the right, and the occurrence of fascist civil groups has become the norm. People ran out of patience with their leaders.

duterte iron fistThe Filipinos are calling for a strongman too, and Duterte fits in this role. His bluntness and vulgarity, his outlaw approach towards politics and his street credibility and authenticity, as well as his promises of salvation from the plights of chaos and high crime in exchange for loyalty resonates well in a deeply Catholic society that, despite good economic data, provides very limited opportunities for a vast and tired underclass of impoverished peasants, exploited workers and frustrated intellectuals who feel they are stuck with working for a small, wealthy and uncaring elite and their political associates.

The good thing is that the Philippines, though an Asian country, due to its long exposure to Western colonial powers is not so entangled in so-called Asian cultural values of patriarchalism, worship of forefathers’ ideals and preference for social harmony even though it might be at the expense of being ruled by an authoritarian government and lead to the loss of basic rights such as freedom of speech – as it can be seen in Thailand nowadays.

While Thailand’s entire societal cohesion is obviously crumbling under such a system outdated since the late 1990s, the Thai people are unable to create a more progressive society that would help improve their stubbornly deteriorating economic and social ecosystem. The reasons for that are manifold and a mixture of this cultural heritage, defunct state authorities, an absence of a civil society and an attitude of indifference that is the result of a highly abysmal education system.

The Philippines has much better prerequisites to create a democratic society that could function well, would be genuine and progressive. It has a large, well-skilled and dedicated young workforce, a relatively modern political system not so much in danger of military coups and good prospects in economic terms.

Catholic beliefs have helped Filipinos endure unspeakable torture and suffering under the totalitarian Marcos regime. It helped and still helps them making sacrifices with regards to poverty, corruption, a lack of infrastructure, natural disasters and widespread crime. But even the most devout believer sooner or later runs out of patience,

Yes, foreign investment has been rising under the incumbent president. The stock market does well, as does the property market. BPO companies are sprouting, and many Overseas Filipino Workers are mulling to return to their homeland to assist in its transformation.

Bong Bong t-shirtBut the newly found wealth does not reach the disadvantaged classes. In few East Asian countries, so many people live on the streets, and poverty and homelessness is so prevalent and a stark contrast to Manila’s glitzy casinos that one is wondering what’s really going on in the nation.

This is why Filipinos are eager for change and desire “something different,” something that restores discipline. The preference for Duterte and Bongbong can be interpreted as protest voting. For Duterte, because he makes the expression that he doesn’t give a damn about the establishment, and Filipinos want to ventilate just that to the upper few. For Bongbong, because it is obscene to vote for an exponent of a regime that brought so much misery over the country – as in: now more than ever!

Whether it is a smart decision to do so is anyone’s guess. Not much is known about Duterte’s economic programme for the Philippines after he’s done with terminating drug dealers and corrupt politicians, actions he holds out in prospect for the first six months of his presidency, and insulting befriended nations.

And what other than a signal of deeply-rooted frustration is it to vote for Bongbong Marcos, allowing him to revive a name synonymous with martial law, torture and billions of dollars of stolen wealth? This would be a dangerous, embarrassing and retrograde move.

Bongbong’s narrative that “not everything was bad” during his fathers tenure and there were “many positive things to talk about” is idiotic because if there were any positive things, the price Filipinos paid for them was by far too high.

It sounds like some German grandpa saying that “under Hitler not everything was bad.”

Sure, Hitler boosted Germany’s economy (with assets stolen from Jews to fund the defense industry).

He built highways and founded Volkswagen (to manufacture military vehicles and move them to the front lines)

He gave unemployed Germans a job (in the war industry, and unless they had to fight and die as soldiers).

The bad thing is that young Germans today are starting to repeat grandpa’s slogan.

Filipinos should be smarter.

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Only a few days ahead of the Philippine presidential elections, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte keeps a firm lead in the latest survey, with Manuel Roxas having risen to second place in a statistical tie with Senator Grace Poe, showing how undecided voters are about the two latter contestants. In the race for the vice president, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was leading in the previous poll, just to be topped out closely by Representative Leni Robredo in the most recent poll. Anyway, the probability of the Philippines getting a presidential duo Duterte/Bongbong is there....

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Only a few days ahead of the Philippine presidential elections, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte keeps a firm lead in the latest survey, with Manuel Roxas having risen to second place in a statistical tie with Senator Grace Poe, showing how undecided voters are about the two latter contestants.

In the race for the vice president, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was leading in the previous poll, just to be topped out closely by Representative Leni Robredo in the most recent poll.

Anyway, the probability of the Philippines getting a presidential duo Duterte/Bongbong is there. Even the powerful, bloc-voting Christian group Iglesia ni Cristo, or Church of Christ, whose members are estimated to number up to ten million people, on May 4 endorsed Duterte for President and Bongbong for vice president.

But why would a country want to be run by a self-proclaimed iron-fist-ruler and the scion of a dynasty that ran the nation almost into the abyss, economically, politically and socially?

The reason is that in societies where the majority of people have the real or perceived feeling that they have become alienated from politicians out of touch with the real world, where a small elite of officials and their sponsors keeps ruling over disenfranchised citizens, and in a situation where despite an upswing in the economy nothing much trickles down to the poor masses, voters lose their patience.

The Philippines is not alone. There seems to be a global trend towards “strong” leader figures, fueled by a cracking capitalistic system where one financial crisis follows the other, continuously widening wealth gaps between social groups and countries, religious culture clashes and Islamist terror, hundreds of thousands of refugees swamping Europe, total surveillance by intelligence services, escapism from reality into social Internet networks, and what not.

So, people are calling for strongmen. In the US, it’s Donald Trump. Austria is the first country to be about to elect a far right-wing president after decades of moderate rule, as its population is faced with scores of Middle Eastern and African refugees of which a large number of locals feel they are sucking the country’s social welfare system dry and give nothing in return. Poland, Hungary, France – all are drifting to the right, and the occurrence of fascist civil groups has become the norm. People ran out of patience with their leaders.

duterte iron fistThe Filipinos are calling for a strongman too, and Duterte fits in this role. His bluntness and vulgarity, his outlaw approach towards politics and his street credibility and authenticity, as well as his promises of salvation from the plights of chaos and high crime in exchange for loyalty resonates well in a deeply Catholic society that, despite good economic data, provides very limited opportunities for a vast and tired underclass of impoverished peasants, exploited workers and frustrated intellectuals who feel they are stuck with working for a small, wealthy and uncaring elite and their political associates.

The good thing is that the Philippines, though an Asian country, due to its long exposure to Western colonial powers is not so entangled in so-called Asian cultural values of patriarchalism, worship of forefathers’ ideals and preference for social harmony even though it might be at the expense of being ruled by an authoritarian government and lead to the loss of basic rights such as freedom of speech – as it can be seen in Thailand nowadays.

While Thailand’s entire societal cohesion is obviously crumbling under such a system outdated since the late 1990s, the Thai people are unable to create a more progressive society that would help improve their stubbornly deteriorating economic and social ecosystem. The reasons for that are manifold and a mixture of this cultural heritage, defunct state authorities, an absence of a civil society and an attitude of indifference that is the result of a highly abysmal education system.

The Philippines has much better prerequisites to create a democratic society that could function well, would be genuine and progressive. It has a large, well-skilled and dedicated young workforce, a relatively modern political system not so much in danger of military coups and good prospects in economic terms.

Catholic beliefs have helped Filipinos endure unspeakable torture and suffering under the totalitarian Marcos regime. It helped and still helps them making sacrifices with regards to poverty, corruption, a lack of infrastructure, natural disasters and widespread crime. But even the most devout believer sooner or later runs out of patience,

Yes, foreign investment has been rising under the incumbent president. The stock market does well, as does the property market. BPO companies are sprouting, and many Overseas Filipino Workers are mulling to return to their homeland to assist in its transformation.

Bong Bong t-shirtBut the newly found wealth does not reach the disadvantaged classes. In few East Asian countries, so many people live on the streets, and poverty and homelessness is so prevalent and a stark contrast to Manila’s glitzy casinos that one is wondering what’s really going on in the nation.

This is why Filipinos are eager for change and desire “something different,” something that restores discipline. The preference for Duterte and Bongbong can be interpreted as protest voting. For Duterte, because he makes the expression that he doesn’t give a damn about the establishment, and Filipinos want to ventilate just that to the upper few. For Bongbong, because it is obscene to vote for an exponent of a regime that brought so much misery over the country – as in: now more than ever!

Whether it is a smart decision to do so is anyone’s guess. Not much is known about Duterte’s economic programme for the Philippines after he’s done with terminating drug dealers and corrupt politicians, actions he holds out in prospect for the first six months of his presidency, and insulting befriended nations.

And what other than a signal of deeply-rooted frustration is it to vote for Bongbong Marcos, allowing him to revive a name synonymous with martial law, torture and billions of dollars of stolen wealth? This would be a dangerous, embarrassing and retrograde move.

Bongbong’s narrative that “not everything was bad” during his fathers tenure and there were “many positive things to talk about” is idiotic because if there were any positive things, the price Filipinos paid for them was by far too high.

It sounds like some German grandpa saying that “under Hitler not everything was bad.”

Sure, Hitler boosted Germany’s economy (with assets stolen from Jews to fund the defense industry).

He built highways and founded Volkswagen (to manufacture military vehicles and move them to the front lines)

He gave unemployed Germans a job (in the war industry, and unless they had to fight and die as soldiers).

The bad thing is that young Germans today are starting to repeat grandpa’s slogan.

Filipinos should be smarter.

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