Thaksin and Duterte are leading examples of Populist Demagogy in Southeast Asia. Yet, they have both faced embedded elite interests that have mounted formidable defences of their privileges. This has curtailed populist inroads into established power networks.
Duterte’s aggressive anti-poetry in broken English, Tagalog and Visayan is the truth of today’s politics. And it is also the unmasked truth of the poetry of all of Marcos’ court poets. In other words, Duterte’s anti-poetry is the truth of the poetry of De Vega, Mella and Hufana.
The Duterte government will never be able to correctly deal with the pandemic unless it recognizes what, not who, the real enemy is. The enemy is not the pasaway, the poor or the rebels.
Duterte is floundering and clueless as a head of state. His arrogant claim to be the supreme arbiter of life and death over his countrymen has been rudely taken away from him by a virus that has put him in his place.
Decades of elite-initiated societal fragmentation have made it far more difficult to mount a coherent progressive challenge to the Philippines’ predatory politics.
Local and provincial warlords had been an integral component of national politics since the postwar period. During the Arroyo years, Ampatuan and Duterte increasingly influenced national affairs from afar by dealing out violence in their respective locales.
It would do the president good to look at those who came before him, especially the all-popular Marcos, and learn that true power lies in the trust the people have in their leader.