I realized that I have not written any blogs recently about international politics. I have been focused on derailing Trump. This time I will write about another demagogue named Rodrigo Duterte, who has been elected the President of the Philippines a few months ago. In the late 1980’s, Duterte was the mayor of Davao, which was a city flooded in crime and murder on a daily basis. As mayor, he supposedly organized death squads composed of vigilantes to kill drug dealers, petty criminals and even those that opposed him. At least 2,000 people were killed. He was even reported to personally finish off some of these targets. Believe it or not, he somehow restored law and order to the city. The problem is that now he believes the same logic will apply to the entire country.
The Philippine government is a democracy that functions very much like the United States with three branches of government. There is certainly a system of checks and balances but it apparently has no power. Duterte back then and now has taken the law into his own hands and has ordered numerous extrajudicial killings. Many that are killed are only suspected criminals or drug users so their Intel could be incorrect. Since being elected at least 500 have been killed. According to the Washington Post, “the street executions are taking lives without trials or proof of criminality. Drug addicts and abusers who need medical attention and counseling are getting a bullet instead.”
His supporters like the hard line he takes on drugs since it is such a rampant issue yet this is not the way to approach it. As stated by Sheila Coronel of the Atlantic, “Duterte’s uncouthness and vulgarity, by contrast, are the source of his broad appeal. His supporters applaud his vulgar rhetoric, so different from that of the feckless and fork-tongued politicians who have failed to address the country’s myriad problems.” However, in Duterte’s efforts to achieve law and order, he has created complete chaos. I can’t help but relate this past quote to the rhetoric of Donald Trump. Many in America have grown tired of government inaction that they believe a character such as Trump will shake things up. Yet this is where the similarities end because Trump has not proposed extrajudicial killings to achieve his plans. What we can learn, however, about characters such as Duterte is that dictators can take form in a democratic environment. If you vote for somebody to be your leader that is noticeably dangerous and uncompromising, know that there is no turning back.