Duterte Of The Philippines For Dummies
- When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to
power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and
even in most of the Latin American countries knew much
about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism.
From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to
local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly
sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that
was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and
A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was
told repeatedly by several local journalists: “Almost
all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be
fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his
In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong
Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez
was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military
strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.
In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people
who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were
expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing
the man who would later be revered as a Latin American
hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’
mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the
sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian
History repeats itself.
Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is
demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a
demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a
In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity
rating of any president in its history: at least well
over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.
“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this
city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on
the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a
Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite
dinner, from my own pocket ... that is how confident I
“People of the Philippines are totally free now to
express their opinions, to criticize the government”,
explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial
Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to
protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any
permit from the authorities.”
Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the
Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by
right-wing business interests and by pro-Western
collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and
insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading
unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a
place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’
So it is not fear that is securing the great support of
the people for Duterte in his own country. It is
definitely not fear!
I visited some of the toughest slums of the nation; I
worked in the middle of deadly cemeteries, just recently
battered by crime and drugs, where people had been
literally rotting alive, crying for help and mercy in
absolute desperation. I also spoke to the top academics
and historians of the country, to former colleagues of
Duterte and to overseas workers in the U.A.E. and
The louder was the hate speech from abroad and from
local mass media outlets, the stronger Duterte’s nation
stood by its leader.
Men and women who were just one year ago living in total
desperation and anger were now looking forward with
hope, straight towards the future. Suddenly, everything
seemed to be possible!
In my first report this month I wrote: “There is a sense
of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the
Baseco slum in the Philippines' capital Manila. For the
first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady
visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name
I stand by my words, now more than ever.
However, I also feel that I have to explain in more
detail what is really happening in the Philippines and
My only request, my appeal to all those people all over
the planet who know nothing or very little about this
part of the world in general and about the Philippines
in particular, would be: ‘Please do not pass judgments
based only on what you read in your own language and
especially in English, and from the sources that have
been, on so many occasions, and so thoroughly
discredited. Come by yourself, come and see and listen.
Like Venezuela many years ago, what is taking place in
the Philippines is ‘an unknown territory’, an absolutely
new concept. Something different and unprecedented, is
developing, taking shape. This is like no other
revolution that took place before. Do not take part in
ridiculing it, do not help to choke it, do not do
anything damaging before you come and see for yourself,
before you face those pleading eyes of the millions of
people who were defenseless and abused for so long and
who are all of a sudden standing tall, facing life with
great hope and pride”.
Do not participate in depriving them of their own
country. For the first time, after centuries of brutal
colonialism, it is truly theirs. I repeat: for the first
Do not deprive them of hope: it is all that they have,
and it is much more than anything they ever had in
decades and centuries.
Fidel Castro used to say: “Revolution is not a bed of
Revolution is a tough, often very hard job. It is never
perfect; it could never be. To destroy any deeply rooted
evil system takes guts, and inevitably, blood is
Duterte is not as ‘poetic’ as Fidel. He is a Visaya, a
brilliant but rough, candid and an outspoken man. Often
he is hyperbolic. He likes to shock his listeners,
followers and foes.
But who is he, really? Who is this man who is
threatening to close down all US military bases, to
reach permanent peace with the Communists and Muslim
insurgents, to realign his foreign policy and ideology
with China and Russia, and to save the lives of tens of
millions of poor people of the Philippines?
In search for the answers, let’s listen to those who
really matter – the people of the Philippines.
Let’s silence the toxic waterfall of insults and
selected pieces of ‘information’, coming from defunct
Western media outlets; let’s silence it by adopting
‘Duterte’s outrageous but honest lexicon: “You
propaganda media of the West, you animal, fuck you!”
Who Is President Duterte, Really? Why Does He Swear So
Much, Why Does He Insult Everyone, From President Obama
To Such Mighty Institutions Like the U.N., the EU, Even
“He comes from the South”, explains Ms. Luzviminda
Ilagan, a former member of the Congress, and one of the
country’s leading feminists:
“He is a Visaya. In Luzon, they speak Tagalog, they are
‘well-behaved’, and they look down at us. Politically,
here we say ‘imperialist Manila’. Ironically, Mindanao
contributes greatly to Manila’s coffers: there is
extensive mining here, there are fruit plantations, rice
fields; but very little is shared with us, in terms of
the budgets.... And suddenly, here comes a Mayor from
Davao, from the South, and he is even speaking the
language that they hate. He is angry at the situation in
his country, and he is swearing and cursing. It is
cultural; after all, he is Visaya! In Manila and abroad,
it is all misinterpreted: here you don’t swear at
somebody; you just swear, period. Yes, he is different.
He tells the truth, and he speaks our language.”
Why should he not be angry? Once the richest country in
Asia, the Philippines is now one of the poorest. Its
appalling slums are housing millions, and further
millions are caught in a vicious cycle of drug addiction
and crime. Crime rate is one of the highest on the
continent. There is a brutal civil war with both Muslim
and Communist rebels.
And for centuries, the West is mistreating and
plundering this country with no shame and no mercy.
Whenever the people decide to rebel, as it was the case
more than a century ago, they are massacred like cattle.
The US butchered 1/6 of the population more than a
century ago, some 1.5 million men, women and children.
‘Dynasties’ are ruling undemocratically, with an iron
“In the Congress, the House of Representatives and the
Senate, some 74% of the seats are taken by members of
local dynasties”, explains Prof. Roland Simbulan. “This
is according to serious academic studies”.
Before President Duterte came to power, most of the
social indicators were nearing the regional bottom. The
country lost its voice, fully collaborating with the
West, particularly against China.
An angry man, a socialist, President Duterte is outraged
by the present and the past, but especially by the
ruthlessness of Western imperialism.
He talks but above all he acts. He takes one decisive
step after another. He pushes reforms further and
further, he retreats when an entire project gets
endangered. He is steering his ship through terrible
storms, through the waters that were never navigated
One error and his entire revolution will go to hell. In
that case, tens of millions of the poor will remain
where they were for decades – in the gutter. One wrong
move and his country will never manage to rise from its
So he swears. So he is moving forward, cursing.
Why Does The West Want To Overthrow Duterte?
First of all, how could the United States and Europe not
hate someone who is so out-rightly rejecting imperialism
and the horrid colonialist past to which the Philippines
was subjected for the centuries? To the past, however,
we will return later in this essay.
A legendary academic, Prof Roland Simbulan, from the
Department of Social Sciences of the University of the
Philippines, explained, during our daylong encounter in
“Duterte reads a lot, and he admires Hugo Chavez. He is
actually holding very similar positions as Chavez. He is
strongly critical of Western imperialism in such places
as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. He cannot stand how the
West is treating his own country.
He was always persistent in his anti-imperialist policy.
Even as Mayor of Davao he banned all US-Philippine
military exercises. The US negotiated; it offered plenty
of money. It wanted to build a huge drone base in
Mindanao, but Duterte refused.”
As ‘punishment’, two bombs exploded in Davao: one at the
pier, one at the international airport.
Lately, he ordered to stop all US-Philippine joined
military exercises and he keeps threatening to close all
US military facilities on the territory of his country.
A couple consisting of leading Philippine Academics,
Eduardo and Teresa Tadem, have no doubts about direction
of Duterte’s foreign policy:
“The trend is clear: away from the West, towards China
and Russia. We think that he will soon reach a
territorial agreement with China. Plenty of goodwill is
now coming from President Xi Jinping. Things are done
quietly, but some great concessions are already visible:
our fishermen are allowed to return to the disputed
area. China is pledging foreign aid, investment, and it
is promising to make our railways work again.”
All this is a nightmare for the aggressively
anti-Chinese foreign policy of the West, particularly
that of the United States. Provoking still the
militarily weak China, eventually even triggering a
military conflict with it, appears to be the main goal
of Western imperialism. If the Philippines reach a
compromise with China, Vietnam will most likely follow.
The aggressive Asian anti-Chinese ‘coalition’ hammered
together by the West, would then most likely collapse,
consisting only of Taiwan, Japan and possibly South
“Duterte is just being sensible. What China is doing is
defensive. The West is behind the confrontation”,
explained a leading historian Dr. Rey Ileto:
“Just to put this into perspective: Gloria Arroyo – she
visited China ahead of the US. She moved closer to
China. They got her indicted for corruption! Only
Duterte released her...”
To the West, Duterte’s Philippines is like a new Asian
contagious disease; a virus that has to be contained,
liquidated as soon as possible. Countless independent
(at least on the paper) but in reality controlled and
humiliated nations of the region could get otherwise
inspired, rebel, and begin to follow Duterte’s example.
The West is in panic. Its propaganda machine is in full
gear. Different strategies on how to unseat the ‘unruly’
president are being designed and tried. Local ‘elites’
and the NGOs are collaborating shamelessly.
Is Duterte Really A Socialist?
Yes and no, but definitely more yes than no. He is
actually a self-proclaimed socialist, and for years, he
has been forging extremely close links with the
Prof. Roland Simbulan explains:
“When Duterte was a college student, he joined KM, the
leftist student organization. He understands the
ideology of the left. He also understands the roots of
the insurgencies in his country, both Communist and
Muslim. He keeps repeating: ‘you cannot defeat the
insurgency militarily: you have to address
socio-economic problems that has led to it.”
He invited Marxists into his administration, even before
they asked him to join. He is gradually releasing
political prisoners, who were captured and locked up
during the previous administrations.
Professors Teresa and Eduardo Tadem agree:
“Social reforms are part of the peace talks. The fact
that a Communist leader used to be Duterte’s professor
is also helping. Duterte introduced a moratorium on land
conversions, so the land of the peasants could be
preserved for agriculture. Labor is also enjoying many
good things. He is bringing an end to short contracts,
to so called contractualisation. Basically, the
government is trying to make sure that after people get
hired, they get benefits, immediately.
There are many positive changes taking place in such a
short time: environment, social issues, social justice,
education, health, housing, science...”
Duterte recently sent his Health Secretary to Havana, to
study the Cuban model. The visit was so successful that
he is now planning to fly an entire government
delegation, including the ministers, to the
However, while he is certainly putting great accent on
social justice and independent anti-imperialist foreign
policy, there are still finances, trade and economic
policies firmly in the hands of the pro-market
“When Duterte was a mayor”, explains Prof Simbulan, “he
acted as a pragmatist, valuing harmony above all.
However, one thing has to be remembered: whenever there
arose some irreconcilable conflict between labor or
indigenous people or the poor and big business or
plantation owners, at the end he’d always take the side
of the ‘small people’. This is how he managed to
convince the left that he is one of them.”
In the brutal Baseco slum, built from rotting metal
sheets and containers around the docks and shipyards,
everyone seems to agree that the new President brought
both hope and long overdue changes.
“Now people have free education here”, explains Ms.
Imelda Rodriguez, a physiotherapist employed by the
Department of Social Welfare and Development:
“There are also free ‘medical missions’ in this
settlement, where people can get all sorts of check-ups
and consultations. We also get certain cash allowances.
The government creates jobs. Of course much more still
has to be done, but there is undeniably great progress,
Social progress is evident in the city of Davao, where
Duterte served for 22 years as a mayor. Once a
crime-ridden hellhole with collapsed social structure,
Davao now is a modern and forward looking city, with
relatively good social services and improving
infrastructure, as well as new public parks and green
“So many things got better for the poor people here”,
explains the driver, taking me from the Municipality to
my hotel. “In just two decades, the city became
unrecognizable. We are now proud to be living here.”
At the City Government of Davao, Mr. Jefry M. Tupas
showers me with the information and data I came to
request: the resettlement areas for the poor and
homeless people, the public housing for the rebels who
recently surrendered, ‘slum improvement resettlements’;
the number of projects is endless.
Like in the revolutionary countries of Latin America,
the enthusiasm of the people involved in the ‘process’
is contagious and pure. At the medical centers doctors
and nurses speak proudly about new immunization plans,
free medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure,
treatment of tuberculosis and family planning centers.
“Now we also hope that things will improve economically
as a whole, if we don’t depend on the US, anymore”, says
Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan. “If we now open up to much
friendlier countries like China and Russia, there is
great hope for all of us! Before, in Mindanao, we only
had Western mining companies: from places like Australia
and Canada. As a result, all profits went abroad, and
Mindanao people are still dirt poor. Under President
Duterte, all this is dramatically changing!”
Is Duterte Really A Mass Murderer?
If you read (exclusively) the Western and local
right-wing press, you could be excused if you start to
believe that Duterte is ‘personally responsible’ for
some 5.000+ ‘murders’ in what is now customarily labeled
as his ‘war on drugs’.
However, talk directly to the people of the Philippines,
and you’ll get an absolutely different picture.
The Philippines before Duterte were overwhelmed by crime
rates unseen anywhere else in Asia Pacific. According to
the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in
2014 the homicide rate of the country stood at a
staggering 9.9 per 100.000 inhabitants, compared to 2.3
in Malaysia, 3.9 in the United States, 5.9 in Kenya, 6.5
in Afghanistan, 7.5 in Zimbabwe and not much below
war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo
Drug gangs used to control the streets of all major
cities. Very often, the military and police generals and
other top brass were actually controlling the gangs.
The situation was clearly getting out of control, entire
communities living in desperation and fear. For many,
the cities were turning into real battlegrounds.
A driver taking me to the South Cemetery in Manila
recalled: “In my neighborhood, we just had a horrid
killing: a teenager got decapitated by a drug pusher...”
Profs Teresa and Eduardo Tadem explained:
“In Davao, the crime rate was horrible. Generally, in
this country, people are so fed-up with crime that
they’d support anything ... Duterte encouraged the
police to act. He is a lawyer, so he tries to stay
within the legal limits. He says: ‘If they surrender,
bring them in, if they resist, shoot!’ More than 5.000
died so far, but who is doing the killings? Often it is
vigilantes, motorcycle gangs ...”
Prof Roland Simbulan clarifies further:
“Many killings are taking place ... We can never be sure
who actually kills whom, whether for instance some rival
drug lords do the killings in order to destroy their
competition. In the Philippines we have terrible
corruption, and even officers and generals are involved
in the drug trade. Police periodically conducts raids,
and then recycles captured drugs. Even the BBC
interviewed gangs that confirmed the police gave them a
list of whom to murder. What makes Duterte so vulnerable
is his language, his strong words. What he says is very
In the slums and cemeteries inhabited by the poorest of
the poor, an overwhelming majority of the people would
support much tougher measures than those implemented
now. As I am told by the South Cemetery dwellers:
“Here we hate those who are investigating so called
extrajudicial killings. They only care about the rights
of the suspects. But we, good citizens who have been
suffering so much for decades, weren’t protected at all,
before this President got elected.”
In Davao, Ms. Luzviminda Ilagan is standing by her
“It is totally understandable why the President is
waging a war on corruption and drugs. And if the
opposition talks about the extrajudicial killings, it
should be obliged to prove that they are actually
committed on the orders of the authorities... Could it
“The situation is complicated, of course people are
getting killed. But look at the numbers: they are much
lower now than those during Benigno Aquino: during his
administration, farmers, indigenous people and the urban
poor were constantly murdered – people who were fighting
for their basic human rights ... And under Gloria,
mining companies were actually given permission to enter
the country and to kill those who stood in their way ...
Under the previous administrations, things got even
worse: the military received an exceptional permission
to deliver ‘security services’ to the mining companies’.
All this is now changing!”
Even the most vitriolic critics of President Duterte,
who are claiming that ‘his war on drugs’ killed over
5.000 people, now have to admit that the ‘itemization of
the killings’ is ‘slightly’ more complicated. As
reported by Al-Jazeera on December 13, 2016:
“Police records show 5,882 people were killed across the
country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took
office on June 30. Of that number 2,041 drug suspects
were killed during police operations from July 1 to
December 6, while another 3,841 were killed by unknown
gunmen from July 1 to November 30.”
So around 2,000 people died during battles between
police and drug gangs, which are the deadliest and the
most heavily armed in the entire Asia Pacific. Fair
enough. Who are those ‘unknown gunmen’ and why is the
mainstream press immediately pointing fingers at the
president, relying only on the statements coming from
his archenemies like Senator de Lima?
Isn’t the coverage of the Philippines by Western
mainstream media becoming as ridiculous, propagandist
and one-sided as that of Aleppo and Syria, as well as of
the Russian involvement there?
Also, are Philippines local narcos being just
mercilessly slaughtered, or should a little bit more be
added to the story? Isn’t there something being
constantly left out?
Peter Lee writes on the ‘rehabilitation’ of drug addicts
and on China’s help:
“Another area of potential Philippine-PRC cooperation is
PRC assistance in a crash program to rehabilitate the
Philippine drug users who have turned themselves in to
the police to avoid getting targeted by the death
Though virtually unreported in the Western media, over
700,000 users have turned themselves in.
Let me repeat that. 700,000 drug users have turned
And they presumably need to get a clean “rehab” chit to
live safely in their communities, presenting a major
challenge for the Philippines drug rehabilitation
infrastructure. Duterte has called on the Philippine
military to make base acreage available for additional
rehab camps and the first one will apparently be at Camp
Duterte has turned to the PRC to demand they fund
construction of drug treatment facilities, and the PRC
has obliged. According to Duterte and his spokesman,
preparatory work for the Magsaysay facility has already
There’s an amusing wrinkle here.
Magsaysay is the largest military reservation in the
Philippines. It is also the jewel in the diadem, I
might say, of the five Philippine bases envisioned for
US use under EDCA, the Enhanced Defence Cooperation
Agreement that officially returned US troops to
Philippine bases. It looks like the US military might
be sharing Magsaysay with thousands of drug users…and
PRC construction workers.”
Duterte And Marcos
What shocked many recently was Duterte’s decision to
re-bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the ‘Heroes’
“Has the President gone mad?” asked some. “Is he joining
some right-wing cult?” exclaimed others.
None of the above! President Duterte is a left-wing
revolutionary, but he is also perfectly well aware that
in the morally debased society controlled by vicious
political clans and corrupt military and police officers
and generals, one has to be a great chess player in
order to survive, while pushing essential reforms
“The move was not at all ideological”, clarifies Prof.
“It was clearly a pragmatic move. He took some money,
and he openly admitted that he took some money for his
election campaign ... Then, in exchange for some votes
he promised the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the
‘Heroes’ Cemetery’. Marcos Junior wanted to run as his
Vice-President, but he lost to Leni ...”
Dr. Reynaldo Ileto, a leading historian, adds: “the
Cemetery has bayani or the ‘hero’ name, but in fact it
is a cemetery for almost all former presidents ... The
focus of the opposition on the Marcos burial is
deliberate, it is to avoid real and important issues.”
“Duterte is stubborn”, Eduardo and Teresa Tadem told me:
“He made his promise to the Marcos family and he kept it
... Does he admire Marcos? If he admires him for
anything, it is only for being strong and
uncompromising. Marcos brought the country to ruins, but
after him, things never improved, and so he is judged
positively by some sectors of society. But overall:
Duterte’s decision to burry him at Bayani Cemetery was a
“What is this never-ending obsession of so many people
in the Philippines with Marcos?” I asked a leading
left-wing journalist and thinker Benjie Oliveros. “Could
it be compared to Peron in Argentina?”
“Oh yes”, he replied. “That seems to be a good
“Duterte, a supporter of Marcos?” Luz Ilagan rolls her
“During the martial law, he was a prosecutor in Davao.
He always protected the activists here. ‘Release them to
me!’ he often ordered. He saved lives. His father served
as a minor minister in Marcos’ government, before the
martial law, but his mother played a very important role
in the protest movement. She was a vocal, a fearless
woman ... She had huge influence on her son.”
Does Duterte Really Despise Women?
Again, it has to be remembered that Duterte is a Visaya
man. He is outspoken, often graphic and definitely
Duterte made comments about the attractiveness of the
knees and legs of his Vice-President Leni Robredo, and
he accused his vocal critic Senator Leila de Lima of
sleeping with her driver (it was later proven that the
liaison really existed).
In this staunchly Catholic country, Duterte annulled the
marriage with his first wife (they parted amicably), had
several affairs, and now lives with his common–law wife.
All this is too much for some, but surprisingly, he is
actually admired by most of the women.
“When he makes jokes about women, in Manila they can’t
take it”, laughs Luz Illagan, who is one of the leading
feminists in the country:
“But we always compare his words to his deeds, to what
he has done for our women. He always helped; he always
protected us. His Davao got awards for being a
women-sensitive city. He created the ‘integrated gender
development office’, the first one in the Philippines,
and other cities are now copying the concept. Every
year, before the Women’s Day celebration, women evaluate
the performance of the office, and they submit a new
agenda. Everything is very transparent.”
In an international hotel in Sharjah, United Arab
Emirates, I spoke to a group of women workers from the
Philippines. What do they think about their new
While answering (and they did not hesitate to answer for
one second), I realized that two of them had tears in
“For the first time in our lives, we feel proud to
belong to our country. Duterte gave us our dignity back.
He gave us hope. To say that we support him would be to
say too little. We love him; we feel enormous gratitude.
He is liberating us; he is liberating our country!”
Duterte And The Past Of The Philippines
President Duterte is not only outraged about the
present, he is furious about the past.
“American scholarship in the Philippines – it created an
entire mindset”, explained Dr. Reynaldo Ileto to me in
Manila. “The America-Philippine War is a non-event;
people don’t know about it. Everything was ‘sanitized’”.
“We still have not recovered from the hangover caused by
US colonialism”, sights a novelist Sionil Jose.
US colonialism was nothing less than genocide.
Alfonso Velázquez wrote:
“Between the years 1899 and 1913 the United States of
America wrote the darkest pages of its history. The
invasion of the Philippines, for no other reason than
acquiring imperial possessions, prompted a fierce
reaction of the Filipino people. 126000 American
soldiers were brought in to quell the resistance. As a
result, 400000 Filipino "insurrectos" died under
American fire and one million Filipino civilians died
because of the hardship, mass killings and scorched
earth tactics carried out by the Americans. In total the
American war against a peaceful people who fairly
ignored the existence of the Americans until their
arrival wiped out 1/6 of the population of the country.
One hundred years have passed. Isn't it high time that
the USA army, Congress and Government apologised for the
horrendous crimes and monstruous sufferings that were
inflicted upon the peoples of Filipinas?”
Gore Vidal confirmed:
“The comparison of this highly successful operation with
our less successful adventure in Vietnam was made by,
among others, Bernard Fall, who referred to our conquest
of the Philippines as "the bloodiest colonial war (in
proportion to population) ever fought by a white power
in Asia; it cost the lives of 3,000,000 Filipinos." (cf.
E. Ahmed's "The Theory and Fallacies of
Counter-Insurgency," The Nation, August 2, 1971.)
General Bell himself, the old sweetheart, estimated that
we killed one-sixth of the population of the main island
of Luzon—some 600,000 people.
Now a Mr. Creamer quotes a Mr. Hill ("who grew up in
Manila," presumably counting skulls) who suggests that
the bodycount for all the islands is 300,000 men, women,
and children—or half what General Bell admitted to.
I am amused to learn that I have wandered "so far from
easily verified fact." There are no easily verified
facts when it comes to this particular experiment in
genocide. At the time when I first made reference to the
3,000,000 (NYR, October 18, 1973), a Filipino wrote me
to say she was writing her master's thesis on the
subject. She was inclined to accept Fall's figures but
she said that since few records were kept and entire
villages were totally destroyed, there was no way to
discover, exactly, those "facts" historians like to
"verify." In any case, none of this is supposed to have
happened and so, as far as those history books that we
use to indoctrinate the young go, it did not happen."
It was reported that in September 2016, at the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit
which was also attended by President Obama, Duterte
produced a picture of the killings done by American
soldiers in the past and said: "This is my ancestor[s
that] they killed."
I visited several bookstores in Manila, including
National and Solidaridad. In both places the staff
looked baffled when I asked about books dealing with the
massacres committed by US troops on the territory of the
All this may change now, soon. Duterte is openly
speaking about US colonialist wars and invasions, about
the massacres in Luzon and Mindanao Islands.
For decades, the US was portraying itself as the
‘liberator’ of the Philippines. Now, Duterte depicts it
as a country of mass murderers, rapists and thieves.
According to him, the countries of the West have no
moral mandate to criticize anybody for violations of
human rights. He described President Obama as a
son-of-a-bitch. He shouted ‘Fuck you!’ at the European
Union. He has had enough of hypocrisy.
In this part of the world, such emotional outbursts
could ignite rebellion. I have worked in Southeast Asia
for many years, and I know what a thick blanket of lies
covers the history of the region.
Southeast Asia lost tens of millions of people in the
midst of outrageous, brutal European colonialism. It
lost millions in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos)
during the so-called ‘Vietnam War’ (or ‘American War’ as
it is known in Vietnam). Between 1 and 3 million
Indonesians vanished during the US-sponsored coup in
Jakarta in 1965/66, and the genocide in the Philippines
took nearly 1.5 million fighters-patriots, but mostly
civilians. The East Timorese lost around one third of
its entire population, after Indonesia invaded, backed
by the US, UK and Australia.
Such history is as explosive as dynamite. I have spoken
to hundreds of people in this part of the world. They
keep quiet, but they remember. They know who the real
murderers are, who their real enemies are.
President Duterte is not only playing with fire. He is
also re-writing and changing the entire twisted Western
narrative. The whole region is watching, breathless.
Both horror and hope are detectable in the air, and so
are the strong smells of blood and dynamite.
PH Not A Vassal State: Duterte
"I am anti-West. I do not like the Americans. It's
simply a matter of principle for me." That’s how
President Duterte sees the world: it is simple, reduced
to the essence. He further clarifies:
"The PH is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be
a colony of the US. Alam mo, marami diyang mga
columnista they look upon Obama and the US as we are the
lapdogs of this country. I do not respond to anybody but
to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. Wala
akong pakialam sa kanya. Who is he to confront me, as a
matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for
the misdeeds in this country."
He said to Chinese officials, during his visit on
October 20, 2016:
“I announce my separation from the United States, both
in military but economics also. America has lost now.
I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow. And
maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell
him that there are three of us against the world: China,
Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
A deafening applause followed.
Duterte actually talked to President Putin on the
sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, in November 2016.
The new era for the Philippines has begun: cooperation
with China, Russia, Cuba, and Vietnam. A growing
distance between this huge and important archipelago,
and the West.
He calls Americans "sons of bitches" and
"hypocrites", and he tells the superpower straight in
“We can survive without American money. But you know,
America, you might also be put to notice. Prepare to
leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal
or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement...
You know, tit for tat. It ain't a one-way traffic.
What About Trump?
These days, to be a friend of the West is a terrible
liability. A leader from a colonized country could be
easily discredited by just one friendly phrase, one
friendly gesture towards some US or UK official, towards
the Western regime, or its corporation.
The Western mass media is well aware of it.
That is why, when President Duterte spoke on the phone
with President elect Donald Trump, it immediately began
reporting that the two men are on a similar wavelength.
Hardly. Once Mr. Trump begins his reign, President
Duterte’s close ties with China, Cuba and other
socialist countries will soon reinstate his name on the
extended hit list of the Empire’s regime. He already is
on it, under Obama’s administration (even the coup
attempts plotted from the US were already exposed and
stopped). It would be a miracle if the racist and
anti-Chinese/anti-Asian Donald Trump would actually
decide to spare an anti-imperialist Southeast Asian
Duterte and Trump are still talking politely. Duterte
even offered a compliment to his US counterpart: “"I
like your mouth, it's like mine". Well, hardly a proof
of warming-up of the relationship between two countries.
My Filipino colleagues kept warning me: “Please do not
read commentaries of the pro-Western media. If you want
to judge, demand the full transcript of the conversation
... Is there actually any transcript available?”
In the meantime, Washington is sugarcoating the obvious
bitterness of the relationship between the US and the
Philippines. The new US envoy, Ambassador Sung Kim, a
Korean-American, is all smiles and ‘respect’:
“For me the most meaningful, the most fundamental is the
deep and extraordinary warmth in the peoples of the two
What could President Duterte reply to this? Definitely
not: Fuck you, son of a bitch!” In Asia, courtesy is met
with courtesy. However, no matter what, each week, the
Philippines are moving further away from the West, as
planned and as foretold.
Who Hates Duterte And Who Is Afraid Of Him?
As we established earlier, the West hates him, and
especially those there who are trying to trigger wars
with China and Russia. Duterte admires both countries,
saying that China has "the kindest soul of all", while
openly admiring Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"(Russians) they do not insult people, they do not
interfere," Duterte declared.
Big multinational corporations hate him, particularly
those huge mining conglomerates that were operating in
the Philippines for years and decades, murdering
thousands of defenseless Filipino people, plundering
natural resources and devastating the environment.
President Duterte is putting a full stop to such,
feudal, fascist lawlessness.
He is hated by the mass media, at home and abroad, for
He is hated by many local and international NGOs, often
because they are simply paid to hate him, or because
they mean well but are badly informed about the
situation “on the ground” (in his country), or simply
because they are accustomed to using the Western
perspectives to judge occurrences in all corners of the
Some victims of the Marcos dictatorship hate him, but
definitely not all of them. Many present-day ‘activists’
have actually too close ties with the West, at least for
my taste. Ms. Susan D. Macabuag, who is in charge of
Bantayog ng mga Bayani (A Tribute To Martial Law Heroes
and Martyrs) and a person whom I met on several previous
occasions, is not hiding her antipathy towards the
“It is pity it is Duterte who is saying things that he
says about the US ... If another person would say it, it
would go a long way.”
She then made several statements illustrating her
dislike of China. Later she added:
“My son lives in the US. Many of us have families in the
United States. We are very concerned about the situation
For a while, I was trying to figure out what exactly she
meant, but then I decided to let it go.
At a small but iconic intellectual bookstore Solidaridad,
I met the most respected living novelist of the
Philippines, F. Sionil Jose, who was just celebrating
his 92st birthday. For a while, we spoke about Russia,
about Indonesia, about the modern literature. Then I
asked him point blank: “Do you like President Duterte?”
“I like him, and I don’t like him”, replied an iconic
author, evasively, while smiling. “But I have to say: he
is a narcissist.”
Ms. Leni Robredo, Duterte’s vice-President (and former
MP and HR lawyer), hates her boss. Constitutionally, he
couldn’t fire her as a Vice-President, so he at least
blocked her from attending his regular cabinet meetings
earlier in December. (‘He doesn’t trust her, anymore.’
He believes that her party tries to depose him). Later
she resigned from her position as a chairperson of the
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC),
and began gathering forces against Duterte’s
"There are so many of us against the policies of the
president. I hope I will be able to portray the role of
unifying all the discordant voices," Robredo told
Reuters in an interview at her office in Manila's Quezon
Ms. Robredo is an important figure in the “yellow”
Liberal Party. As early as on September 13, 2016,
“Without directly mentioning the LP, Duterte on Monday
accused “yellow” forces of mounting moves to impeach him
by highlighting the issue of human rights violations
under his administration.
“Let’s not fool ourselves. Do you know who’s behind
this? It’s the yellow,” the President said, referring to
the LP’s political color.”
On December 5th, I met historian Dr. Reynaldo Ileto in
Manila, who said: “Leni is tugging the same (Western)
policy on the South China Sea...”
We discussed the “color revolutions” triggered by the
West, and the pattern: Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, and
Arroyo in the Philippines, after she dared to move
closer to China. Will Robredo try to do to Duterte what
Temer did to Dilma? Is there going to be yet another
‘revolution’ in the name of some ‘anti-corruption drive’
or ‘human rights’?
Dynasties, powerful political and business clans, also
hate President Duterte. Of course they do! In the past,
I got to know them, gained ‘access’ to some. I was shown
how they operate: shamelessly, brutally and with total
The dynasties had been killing and raping those who
stood in their way. They have been plundering the
country for centuries. Like in Central America (the
Spanish and US colonialist legacies) they never
hesitated to sacrifice thousands, even millions of
The top military brass, educated in the United States
and elsewhere in the West, hates him. It actually hates
He is hated by millions of Filipinos living in the
United States. He has to be careful while dealing with
some of them. Recently, in the city of Davao, President
“Better be careful with the word ‘we separate or
severed, severed our diplomatic relations’. (It) is not
feasible. Why? Because the Filipinos in the United
States will kill me.”
In fact, he is hated by so many from the ‘elites’ and by
so many in the West, that it appears to be a miracle
that he is still alive and in charge.
The coup plots have been exposed. Entire Western
mainstream propaganda apparatus has been employed in
order to weaken and to discredit him.
He does not care. He is now 71. His is in poor health.
He does not believe that he will make it till the end of
his term. He is a warrior. He never kneels in front of
the former or present colonizers. Recently, he said:
“I do not kneel down before anybody else, except the
Filipino in Quiapo walking in misery and in extreme
poverty and anger.”
That is what Chavez, Morales or Fidel would say. That is
what gets people murdered by the Empire, by the Western
regime. As simple as that!
The Empire knows what is at stake. The Philippines is a
nation with more than 100 million inhabitants,
strategically located on some of the most important
maritime routes. It used to be one of the most obedient,
and resigned countries in Asia Pacific.
It is no more! Its people are suddenly waking up,
defiant and angry. The West has been killing, plundering
and humiliating them for centuries. The education had
been twisted to glorify invaders. The culture was
stripped of its essence, and injected with deadly doses
of Western pop.
Again and again I was told that if President Duterte is
killed or deposed, the country would explode. There
would be a civil war. Once rebellion ignites millions of
souls, no way back is possible.
Unless some people have failed to notice by now, this is
a genuine revolution. It is an extremely slow and
painful revolution. It is not a ‘beautiful’, or operatic
revolution. But a revolution it is.
“If Duterte moves too fast, he will be overthrown by the
military”, uttered Prof Roland Simbulan.
Duterte says “Bye-bye America!” He is cancelling common
military exercises, while he is also talking to Donald
Trump, politely. The atmosphere is extremely tense.
Anything could happen at any moment: an assassination, a
coup ... It is a minefield all around him, almost right
there, under his feet.
He is aware of it. This is how history is written; with
blood, with one’s own blood.
What is taking place in Manila now is not a board
meeting of some Western-sponsored human rights NGO. It
is a striking, shocking image of a huge, scarred,
tortured nation, getting up from its deathbed, still
covered by blood and puss, but suddenly daring to hope
for survival, angry and defiant but determined to live,
In order to live, it will have to dare, to fight,
perhaps against all odds.
In the middle of the horrid cemeteries inhabited by the
wretched human beings, I witnessed hope. I testify that
I did. Those who don’t believe me, those who do not
understand, should go and see with their own eyes. They
should go to the horrendous Baseco slum, and to the city
of Davao. Then they can speak. Otherwise, they should be
I testify that the Philippines is a country in
rebellion, galvanized by one man and his tremendous
determination and courage.
Is he a saint? No, he is not. He himself says that he is
not. Anyway, I don’t believe in saints, do you? Duterte
cannot afford to be a saint. There is more than one
hundred million men, women and children behind him,
clinging to his back, right now ... most of them very
poor, most of them robbed of absolutely everything.
If he gets through the storm, most of them will survive,
will benefit. Therefore, exhausted and injured, he is
marching forward. His fists are clenched, he is cursing.
He has no right to fail or to fall. He has to, he is
obliged to get through: in the name of one hundred
million of his people.
As he hears insults, feels punches, as he envisions
assassins waiting for him all along the way, most likely
he keeps repeating in his mind what his great hero, Hugo
Chavez used to shout until the very end: “Here No One
Andre Vltchek is a
philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative
journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens
of countries. Three of his latest books are
revolutionary novel “Aurora”
and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing
Lies Of The Empire”
Against Western Imperialism”.
View his other books here. Andre is making films for
teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin
America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides
in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work
around the world. He can be reached through his website
expressed in this article are the author's own and do
not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House