What’s Next for the Philippines Under President Duterte?

World Affairs will host the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States, His Excellency Jose Cuisia, Jr., on June 20, for a luncheon celebrating 70 years of US-Filipino relations. In preparation for this meeting with the Ambassador, we are taking a moment to provide a glimpse into the political climate in the Philippines following last month’s contentious presidential election. — Carla Thorson, Senior Vice President, Programs


“What to Expect From a Duterte Presidency”
by Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations, May 10, 2016

A new president has been elected in the Phillipines, Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte’s dearth of experience on an international scale was evidenced by his lack of concrete policies discussed in his run-up to the election. He is known for being the mayor of Davao which under his watch achieved significant private sector growth. He aims to decrease crime rates by any means necessary, including the extrajudicial killings of accused criminals, a tactic he openly admits to and even campaigned on. Duterte’s administration follows that of Benigno Aquino III, which focused on economic growth. Perhaps Duterte will be able to maintain Aquino’s economic policies and focus on his strength, domestic politics. He has pledged to seek peace in the Southern region of the Philippines, where infighting still occurs. Duterte’s rise to prominence resembles other leaders in the region, like Thaksin Shinawatra from Thailand and Hun Sen from Cambodia, who used popular rhetoric to be elected and advantageously used their positions to the detriment of pre-established democratic institutions.


“The Next President of the Philippines”
by Matt Vasilogambros, The Atlantic, May 10, 2016

Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial presidential candidate and 22-year mayor of Davao known for his crackdown on crime, was elected president of the Philippines. This is of particular concern for human rights advocates who fear the country will slip back into a military dictatorship. Duterte is known for taking part in killing raids; specifying the timeframe of alcohol sales; using his role to verbally threaten would-be criminals; and sanctioning the killing of anyone resisting arrest, including street children. His threatened punishments for crimes are as controversial as his tactics, such as telling kids who hot-rodded through the streets that they would be paraded around naked or making tourists eat cigarettes when they disobeyed his ban on public smoking. However, Duterte did manage to make the murder capitol of the Philippines into one of the safest cities and has even kept Islamic militants at bay.


“Duterte Harry Has Been Dirty For a Long Time”
by Paul Waldman, Foreign Policy, May 16, 2016

Duterte has been using controversial rhetoric as a strategy for nearly 30 years, and it has served him well electorally. Any dissent or questioning of his tactics and gang-style killings of alleged criminals is seen as a threat to Filipino society, as noted in a recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Duterte has not been explicitly linked to the controversial death squads prominent in the city he governed as mayor, Davao, but his rhetoric syncs up with their actions. HRW interviewed journalists, government officials and police officers who were witnesses to roving death squads known to kill children as young as 14 on the spot without due process. HRW noted that police officers are slower to respond after these killings, suggesting they are giving the killers time to escape. Also, the death squads have been using .45-caliber guns, a very expensive weapon not commonly used by criminals in the Philippines.


“Rodrigo Duterte, China, and the United States”
 by Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings, May 23, 2016

The election of new president Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines has the international community questioning whether his “Trump-like” bravado will impact relations with its neighbor China and ally the United States. The South China Sea has long been a topic of debate among the surrounding sovereign nations and of special interest to the US, which views it as an economic superhighway. There are risks of escalation between the US and China with Duterte demanding that the US take military action if China attempts to reclaim the seemingly inconsequential Scarborough Shoal. It is historically natural for growing powers, such as China, to exert more strategic effort in its surrounding oceans and to leverage its role in the global economy to increase regional influence. The US should not risk provocation which will inevitably lead to escalation of a subtle ongoing conflict that will likely be a prominent aspect of US foreign relations in the years to come.

What’s in the News — A weekly selection of topics, and perspectives on world issues from the programs team at the World Affairs Council.

For more information or to register for our diplomat luncheon with the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States, His Excellency Jose Cuisia, Jr., on June 20, click here or call (415) 293–4601.

Image via Election Eye Philippines


Originally published at www.worldaffairs.org.

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