Good Duterte, Bad Duterte

These past 2 months have been a real education experience for me about the Philippines political scene. At around that time, President Rodrigo Duterte began enacting his agenda and I’ve learned a lot about the issues that are important to the Filipino people. Though I’m not a supporter of Duterte, I can understand how Duterte appeals to a nation that is sick and tired of high crime, drug problems, widespread corruption, and a political and economic system that is dominated by a wealthy group of about 200 families. Many Filipinos hope that Duterte can provide a radical break from this cycle of crime, corruption and oligarchy.

Based on what I’ve researched so far, some of Duterte’s policies will strongly benefit the poor and the middle class, while some of his policies will exacerbate a culture of violence and impunity. In my cartoons, I depict a Good Duterte and a Bad Duterte. The Good Duterte is pushing for agrarian reforms to help the farming communities, a tax reform bill to help the poor and middle class, a change in the Philippine Mining Law to break the power of mining companies that have been the cause of much of the human rights abuses against the indigenous people, and the pursuit of peace talks with communist and Moro Muslim insurgents to try to bring peace in Mindanao. The Bad Duterte smears and demeans his political opponents and critics with personal insults so that he doesn’t have to answer specific criticisms about his policies, he encourages the police and ordinary citizens to kill criminal suspects without due process of law, and he allowed the remains of Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in a heroes cemetery while ignoring Marcos’s many crimes against the Filipino people.

Here are some things that define the Good Duterte and Bad Duterte.


THE COCO LEVY FUND During the recent presidential campaign, candidate Duterte promised coconut farmers that he would use the Coco Levy Fund to help benefit farmers in his first 100 days in office. The Coco Levy Fund refers to a tax that former president Ferdinand Marcos had on coconut farmers, with the promise that the tax would be used to develop the coconut industry. Instead, Marcos’s cronies, chief among them Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr, used these funds to buy businesses such as the United Coconut Planters Bank and the San Miguel Corporation and profited from those businesses. Duterte order his Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to use the Coco Levy Fund for the benefit of the farmers who were scammed by Marcos. One thing that they talked about was using some of the fund for education of the children of the farmers. Another plan is to enact a 6 year coconut planting program that will cover 600,000 hectares. Duterte hopes to reestablish the Philippines as the number one coconut producer in the world.

INCOME TAX REFORM President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is planning to update the tax brackets so that poor and middle-class Filipinos increases their take-home money, even when their gross pay stays the same. Under the current system, Filipinos are taxed even when they fall below the poverty line. Worse, they are taxed at rates much higher than what other Asian countries levy. Claire Jaio wrote for CNN Philippines:

Biscocho pointed out that the prices of consumer goods have increased over the past 20 years, and the value of that income has gone down significantly.

Taxpayers who earn an annual income of ₱10,000-₱30,000, for example, already qualify for 10% income tax. But that annual income equates to only ₱800-₱2,500 a month — well below the poverty threshold set by the government.

As of the first half of 2015, it was estimated that a family needed a monthly income of ₱9,140 to meet its basic needs.

THE PHILIPPINE MINING LAW President Duterte and his Environmental Secretary Gina Lopez have been working on curbing the power of the mining companies that have been the source of most of the human rights abuses of indigenous people and of the pollution of the Mindanao environment. The administration has called for stricter compliance with environmental laws, and more accountability to the people who live in the area. Duterte has called for the shutdown of Claver Minerals Development Corporation in Surigao Del Norte Province for violations of environmental laws. All mining companies have gone through an environmental audit, and four have been shut down. A big focus for the Duterte administration has been revising the 1995 Philippines Mining Act, which they think benefits foreign companies at the expense of local people.

PEACE TALKS WITH THE NDF Duterte has been making many positive steps in pursuing peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political arm of the communist movement of the Philippines. Duerte has released important political prisoners so that they could attend the peace talks in Oslo, Norway. He has also promised to appoint some of the communist leaders in political posts in his administration. The first round of talks went well and the second round will take place in October.


SMEARING AND DEMEANING CRITICS One of the things that I dislike about Rodrigo Duterte is his tendency to demean and smear his critics with insults so that he doesn’t have to answer specific criticisms of his policies. I think this is a very bad trait. It reminds me of one of the things I most dislike about Donald Trump. Duterte has called Pope Francis the son of a whore. He said that journalists who have been killed were probably corrupt and deserved to be killed (in actuality, most of the journalists who have been killed were investigating corruption). He attacked Supreme Court Justice Lourdes Sereno after Sereno expressed her concern about the President’s decision to reveal the names of 159 public servants, including seven judges, who allegedly have links to the illegal drug trade. He attacked Senator Leila De Lima after she led a Senate committee to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s war on crime. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor history and Italian studies at New York University, wrote an article warning of the dangers of hateful rhetoric in a political leader:

Charismatic leaders have enormous influence over their followers, who look to them to set the tone for how they should think and behave. This becomes very dangerous when such leaders denigrate certain people, and then do nothing when their followers act on their words. Not only do they educate people to hate others, but they harness society’s existing prejudices to rally supporters.

EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLNGS OF CRIMINAL SUSPECTS The biggest issue I have with Duterte is his encouragement of killing criminal suspects in his war to end crime and drugs in 6 months. I think this is a very bad idea for several reasons. First, there is no accountability for the police or for vigilante groups who have been killing the criminal suspects. How do we know some of these individuals weren’t kill due to a personal vendetta and not just a crime? If a person is killed for only being suspected of a crime, this means that many innocent individuals are being killed along with the guilty. And even if a person is guilty of a crime, is killing that person the proper punishment for his or her crime? This is why the rule of law is important. Several people have suggested that the judicial system is corrupt. But even if the courts are corrupt, that doesn’t justify the killing of people who might be innocent of a crime.

A HERO’S BURIAL FOR DICTATOR FERDINAND MARCOS The second worst decision in Duterte’s first few weeks in office was to allow former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Cemetery of Heroes here in Manila. Marcos was not a hero. Miguel Syjuco gave a good explanation in the New York Times on why Marcos should not be thought of as a hero:

Marcos is notorious as one of history’s great kleptocrats. After declaring martial law in 1972, during his final term, he suspended democracy until his ouster 14 years later. His regime is remembered for its summary executions, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, censorship, electoral fraud and epic corruption. The Marcos family is believed to have plundered as much as $10 billion, only a portion of which has been recovered.

This hero’s burial is the latest move to whitewash the Marcos regime’s crimes. In the years since the dictator’s death in 1989, his family has returned from exile unpunished….

…Many Filipinos now claim that Marcos made the country safer, forgetting that dictatorships suppress democratic rights along with crime. Many trumpet his ambitious building projects, forgetting that development and graft went hand in hand. Others claim that Marcos stewarded the country toward prosperity, ignoring how the initial economic gains of his dictatorship led to crippling foreign debt, poverty and crony capitalism.

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Trump and Trickle Down Racism

During this election season, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made many provocative statements about illegal immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, women and other minorities. In the presidential debates in the Republican primaries, Trump dragged down the tone of the whole debates by using personal insults rather than talk about the specifics of issues. The Founding Fathers had hoped that the United States would be an enlightened republic where issues could be debated in a civil and serious manner by a well informed electorate. Trump has upended that hope. Many people worry that Trump’s rhetoric would have a depressing effect on the electorate by exacerbating the divisions in our society and tearing at our social fabric.

We can see this by how Trump has sown divisions within the Republican Party. Several prominent Republicans will not vote for Trump, like George H.W. Bush, George Bush, Colin Powell, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, George Will, David Brooks, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Sally Bradshaw, Susan Collins, Brent Skowcroft, George Schultz, Paul Wolfowitz, Max Boot, and Meg Whitman. Mitt Romney voiced his concern that many Americans share that Trump would inspire trickle down racism in American society. Romney said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:

I don’t want to see trickle-down racism. I don’t want to see a president of the United States saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following. Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor history and Italian studies at New York University, wrote an article My Ugly Experience with the ‘Trickle Down’ Hate Romney Warns About that explains how a national leader can influence society. Ben-Ghiat wrote:

Trump’s intolerance reminds us of something else: the power of a charismatic leader to exploit such sentiments for political gain.

The danger Trump poses lies with the kind of bond he has with his followers. It’s an attachment based on submission to his authority, not to a party or principle. That’s why he emphasizes the emotional content of his events — feeling the love, or fending off “the haters”– and grooms his fans’ loyalty through an oath to his person.

Charismatic leaders have enormous influence over their followers, who look to them to set the tone for how they should think and behave. This becomes very dangerous when such leaders denigrate certain people, and then do nothing when their followers act on their words. Not only do they educate people to hate others, but they harness society’s existing prejudices to rally supporters.

Trump has proceeded in textbook fashion. Early on, he identified suspect ethnic and racial groups (Muslims, Hispanics), declared others fair game (women, journalists, the disabled), and then shrugged when the aggression began…

…Trump’s refusal to rein them in lets racists feel emboldened and even protected. Insults become the order of the day, in the street, on airplanes and the subway, and on social media, following a chain that originates with Trump’s provocations.

Romney’s prediction is borne out in a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center titled The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on Our Nation’s Schools. The report notes:

The gains made by years of anti-bullying work in schools have been rolled back in a few short months. Teachers report that students have been “emboldened’ to use slurs, engage in name-calling and make inflammatory statements toward each other. When confronted, students point to the candidates and claim they are “just saying what everyone is thinking.” Kids use the names of candidates as pejoratives to taunt each other.

If marginalized students are fearful and hurting, it’s partly because other “students seem emboldened to make bigoted and inflammatory statements about minorities, immigrants, the poor, etc.,” wrote a high school teacher in Michigan…

…Muslim students—along with the Sikh and Hindu students who are mistaken for Muslims—have endured heightened levels of abuse. According to reports from around the nation, Muslim students regularly endure being called ISIS, terrorist or bomber. These opinions are expressed boldly and often. Even in schools where such behavior isn’t tolerated, current-events discussions often become uncomfortable for teachers and Muslim students.

The harassment of students who are immigrants or children of immigrants is another particular problem, because nearly one-third of U.S. public school students have foreign-born parents. Teachers in every state reported hostile language aimed at immigrants, mainly Mexicans. A Wisconsin middle school teacher told us, “Openly racist statements towards Mexican students have increased. Mexican students are worried.” A middle school teacher in Anaheim, California, reported, “Kids tell other kids that soon they will be deported.” Regardless of their ethnic background or even their immigration or citizenship status, targeted students are taunted with talk of a wall or threats of forcible removal.

In this youtube video, five young Muslims talk with Scott Pelley about life in the U.S. during a time of intense rhetoric, including Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

In this youtube video link Republican strategist and CBS News contributor Frank Lutz held a focus group of Muslim Americans to get their perspectives on the political rhetoric and their faith after Trump called for a ban of Muslims entering the United States.

In this youtube video actor and activist George Takei slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday for his Islamophobic proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., suggesting that the real estate mogul hasn’t learned the tough lessons from the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Takei’s family was forced into a prison camp when he was just 5 years old.

In this youtube video a Mexican American tells viewers how she reacted to Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Mexican immigrants.

In this youtube video Ricardo Aca, a young undocumented immigrant who works in a Trump Hotel, decided to speak out against Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants.

In this youtube video Francesca Fiorentini tackles myths about immigration and chronicles the struggles Latinos in America are facing.

In this youtube video Asian American and Pacific Islanders community held a demonstration in January 2016 in support of the Muslim community and against Donald Trump.

In this youtube video TYT Politics reporter Eric Byler went to the prestigious North Carolina A & T State University, a Historic Black College, and asked African American students about Donald Trump.

In this youtube video, Sikh community leaders denounce Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims

In this youtube video, New York Times reporters have covered Donald J. Trump’s rallies for more than a year. His supporters at these events often express their views in angry and provocative ways. Here are some examples.

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Mitt Romney warns that Donald Trump could inspire “trickle-down racism” in the United States.

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Athletes for Social Justice

Recently San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernik was in the news for his refusal to stand during the national anthem to protest the unjustified killings of young African Americans by police in the past few years. Kaepernik explained that he is not against all police officers, but that rogue police are making things more dangerous for both the African American community and for the good police officers who have tried to do their jobs the right way. If you look at American history in the twentieth century, certain athletes have used their fame as platforms in the fight for social justice. A few names that come to mind are Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Bill Walton, and Arthur Ashe. These athletes made significant contributions to the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the anti-war movement and the LGBT rights movement.

Gary Smith wrote the article Why Don’t More Athletes Take A Stand for Sports Illustrated that asks why today’s athletes aren’t taking stands on issues the way athletes like Ali, Russell, and King did a generation ago? Smith wrote:

…scores of modern athletes, led by Woods and Jordan, create remarkable charity foundations, raise funds and donate millions. Taken one step further—watered with an investment of time and heart nearly equal to the money—a miracle such as Andre Agassi’s academy for at-risk children in Las Vegas has bloomed in the desert. But when it comes to social action that might step on toes, that might send a shiver down the spine of their publicists or their corporate sponsors, what have American athletes done?

“The scared generation,” former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton calls them.

“They’ve put the dollar bill in front of the human race,” grouses Carlos. “That’s why they stopped standing up.”

“They have to speak up,” insists Harry Edwards, a track and field and basketball star at San Jose State in the early ’60s who went on to become a sociology professor there and at Cal. “They’re the most visible expression of achievement and financial success in this country. Actors in Hollywood have always been very outspoken. Athletes have surpassed them as the Number 1 entertainers; they should be at least as outspoken. Those who set the table that today’s athletes are dining at, they exercised that responsibility. Now you have to get past an athlete’s corporate and personal advisers, and so he’s got to think what’s in the best interest of Buick and Nike and Starbucks and General Electric.”

Filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon recently created the documentary film JACKIE ROBINSON. Robinson was the first African American player to play major league baseball, and he was also an important civil rights activist who supported Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. A fierce integrationist, Robinson used his immense fame to speak out against the discrimination he saw on and off the field, challenging sports fans, columnists and even his teammates to get rid of their prejudices and to give African Americans equal opportunities in the coaching ranks and as owners of sports franchises. After baseball, he was a widely-read newspaper columnist, political activist and tireless advocate for civil rights within the Republican Party and in the wider society. Robinson was a Republican at a time when the Republican Party was still a strong supporter of the civil rights of minority communities. During the 1964 election season, Robinson supported Nelson Rockefeller and strongly opposed Barry Goldwater, who was trying to appeal to the Southern white segregationist vote. During the 1964 Republican convention, Robinson clashed with Goldwater supporters, rightfully seeing that this fight was part of a bigger war within the Republican Party. When the Republican Party began relying on Southern white segregationists to win elections, Robinson saw that the Republican Party would betray its former support of minority civil rights.

Another great PBS documentary is BILLY JEAN KING. Billie Jean King was a champion tennis player who used her fame as the best woman tennis player in the world to fight for the rights of women and for the equality of all people. When King found out that women tennis players earned a pittance of what their male counterparts earned, King helped form the Virginia Slims Series (pre-cursor to WTA Tour), founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women’s Sports magazine, and co-founded World TeamTennis (WTT). She played a famous tennis match with Bobby Riggs to prove that women deserved respect as athletes. She was a tireless promoter of Title IX, which stated that no woman can be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. When she retired, King also became a strong promoter of LGBT rights.

A great documentary that was recently showcased in PBS is THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI. This documentary tells the story of Muhammad Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, and the consequences of Ali’s act of conscience. Ali was stripped of his boxing championship and was banned from boxing, and it made him a pariah in much of the American public. During this time, Ali went on college lecture tours and television appearances to face directly his critics and speak out against the Vietnam War and against racism at home. Ali matured as a political activist, and became an important voice for social justice for many young people.

Another great documentary recommendation is SALUTE. SALUTE is a documentary that chronicles Peter Norman’s involvement in the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. The picture of the three men on the winner’s podium after the Men’s 200m final at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is still considered one of the most powerful images of modern history. Almost forgotten in the ensuing years is the seemingly quiet and composed man in the left of the picture, the Australian silver medalist Peter Norman.

Norman strongly supported Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s political gesture because of Norman’s own concerns about the way the Aborigines were treated in his native Australia. Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos all suffered for their stand. They had to give up their athletic careers, they had a hard time finding work to earn a living, and they were treated badly by much of the public. Norman developed an alcohol problem due to his suffering, but he never renounced his support of Smith and Carlos. When Smith and Carlos found out about Norman’s struggles, they reached out to him and the three men became close friends.

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Forming An Opinion on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

In the past few weeks, many people have asked my opinion on the new Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte. At first, I was embarrassed to tell them that I didn’t know much about Duterte. During the Philippine election season, I was more focused on learning more about the trials of the Lumad people in Mindanao who were struggling to keep their land from the encroachment of mining companies. So these past few weeks I’ve been doing all I can to read articles and talk to activists to learn all I can about President Duterte.

Many people have compared Duterte to Donald Trump. Both men have blunt and often vulgar language to express their political points. Duterte is a lot more complex a political figure than Trump though. While Trump has often scapegoated minority groups like Muslims and immigrants, Duterte has been a strong advocate for the rights of minority groups like Muslims and the LGBT community. Trump leans strongly towards the Right side of the political spectrum, while many of Duterte’s economic policies lean strongly towards the Left.

Instead of comparing Duterte to Trump, I think a more apt comparison to an American political leader would be President Lyndon Johnson. Like Duterte, LBJ was a course and often vulgar politician. Johnson often used ruthless means to acquire power. Once he acquired that power, though, Johnson often used that power for noble ends. I have very mixed feelings towards Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. If I was an adult in the 1960s, I would’ve supported Lyndon Johnson on civil rights and his Great Society programs to help the poor. But I would’ve opposed Johnson’s policies on the Vietnam War.

Based on what I’ve learned so far, I have similar mixed feelings towards President Duterte. I support Duterte’s efforts on agrarian reform, his efforts to reign in the power of the mining companies who have been complicit in many of the human rights abuses against indigenous people, his efforts to grant more autonomy to Mindanao, and his push for peace talks with the communist and Muslim insurgents in the Mindanao area.

I am deeply opposed, however, to Duterte’s encouragement of the police and of ordinary citizens killing people who are suspected of crime or drug dealing. Killing people without giving them a chance to defend themselves in an impartial court of law means that many innocent people will be killed as well as the guilty. I worry that there is nothing to keep the police or vigilantes accountable so that they do not abuse this right to kill. Right now the Senate of the Philippines convened a Committee on Justice and Human Rights to investigate the charges of extrajudicial killings.

Camila Domonoske wrote in an NPR article about the recent spate of killings in the Philippines:

Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, campaigned as a tough-on-crime candidate, threatening death for drug dealers.

And in the seven weeks since he took office, nearly 1,800 alleged criminals have died — at the hands of police or under mysterious circumstances. The wave of extrajudicial killings has prompted outcry from human rights watchdogs, the Catholic Church and the United Nations.

Now the Philippine Senate is investigating the deaths. Observers believed there had been hundreds. Then, in a committee meeting Monday, the national police chief said that since Duterte was elected, police operations have killed 712 alleged drug traffickers and users. An additional 1,067 killings occurred under unclear circumstances, he said; observers believe some were carried out by vigilantes.

With all of these killings, I’ve been baffled that Duterte’s popularity in the Philippines has risen to over 91%. I did some researching this week, and part of Duterte’s popularity stems from the exhaustion of Filipinos who are tired of the crime and corruption in the Philippines.

Felipe Villamor and Richard C. Paddock wrote a good article for the New York Times about this. They wrote:

Under Mr. Duterte, who campaigned on a pledge to rid the country of drug dealers, 712 suspects have been killed in police operations, National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa said. Vigilante killings have totaled 1,067 during the same period, he said, although it was unclear how many were directly related to the illegal drug trade…

…Human rights advocates have been horrified by the killings, but Mr. Duterte’s popularity has soared among a large segment of Filipinos weary of crime and enthusiastic about his pledge to rid the country of drug dealers…

…Richard Javad Heydarian, who teaches political science at De La Salle University in Manila, said many members of the public were giving Mr. Duterte wide leeway to deliver on his promise to suppress the drug scourge within three to six months. Mr. Duterte’s “shock and awe” approach reflects not only his commitment to eradicating drugs, Mr. Heydarian said, but also extremely high public expectations.

“The more fundamental question at this point is, why the seemingly unprecedented support for the new president despite global criticism of his uncompromising approach?” he said. “I think it largely has to do with dissipated public trust in existing judicial institutions, a sense that the normal democratic processes are not coping with the magnitude of the crisis.”

David Iaconangelo made a similar point in an article in the Christian Science Monitor. He wrote:

Duterte’s rise to power was also based upon the perception that he would end a different kind of impunity: that of a tiny, insular political class beholden less to their parties and constituents than to their own interests.
More than two-thirds of Filipino legislators belong to political dynasties, noted Richard Javad Heydarian, political science professor at Manila’s De La Salle University, in an April analysis for CNN. Those same dynasties have been the beneficiaries of an overwhelming portion of recent economic growth…

…human rights and faith groups and the families of many of those killed say that state-sponsored violence, which has prompted 114,833 people to turn themselves in, as either drug addicts or dealers, has mainly taken its toll on poor Filipinos who are seldom given the chance to defend themselves from accusations, The New York Times wrote earlier this month.
Phelim Kine, a deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, told The New York Times that the vast majority of those killed were “not the wealthy and powerful drug lords who actually have meaningful control over supply of drugs on the streets in the Philippines.”

A good analysis of Rodrigo Duterte is to be found in the article The Method to Dutere’s Madness by the website Stratfor. As the first Philippine President from Mindanao, Duterte comes to Manila in a weak political situation. The article stated:

…as the first president from the south, he’s also poorly positioned to unite Manila behind his plans. His arrival is inherently disruptive to the entrenched power structures in Manila, and he did not inherit the sort of party machinery he needs to compel the bureaucracy, judiciary and security forces to carry out his priorities…

…Duterte’s early moves are, in part, an attempt to consolidate power in Manila. He is capitalizing on his present popularity while laying the foundation he thinks is key to the country’s long-term modernization. For example, his tactic of calling out allegedly corrupt officials and business leaders is a way to help him build public support and keep potential rivals at bay, in a manner similar to Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign in China.

Duterte’s confrontational style, though, has many risks. The Stratfor article states:

The primary risk is that Duterte will open up power struggles on too many fronts and find himself at odds with too many powerful enemies, leading to political instability such as that which plagued the Philippines from the late 1980s through the early 2000s. His ambitious initiatives will run into resistance from bureaucracy and the courts, as well as elements in the four pillars of political power in the Philippines: the church, the military, the business community and organized labor.

Already, for example, the military is suspicious about Duterte’s peace initiatives and his naming of communists to his Cabinet, along with his intention to reorient and scale back the military modernization drive launched under his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. With Duterte turning his focus to issues such as tax evasion and stricter enforcement of environmental and labor regulations, he is liable to lose support among some industry leaders…

Meanwhile, the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects has provoked criticism from the church and civil society groups, as well as the United Nations and the United States. The fight Duterte has initiated against illicit drugs is indeed one he will struggle to keep under control, as it is likely to stir power struggles and unleash waves of score-settling violence among rival factions. It may also inadvertently strengthen the empires of some corrupt police, soldiers and government officials who are involved in the drug trade. All told, the violence is likely to get worse before it gets better, and the more seemingly innocent bodies pile up, the more the church and public may turn against him.

Here are two youtube videos of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights investigating the rise in extrajudicial killings and rampant executions of criminal suspects

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A Forum on New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – July 2016

On July 15 I attended a forum in De Anza College for Filipino Americans to learn more about the new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Sponsored by National Alliance For Filipino Concerns Northern California, the Brotherhood for Duterte USA Chapter, the Digong Duterte Supporters NorCal and the Migrante Northern California, the De Anza forum talked about details of President Duterte’s agenda: programs that seek to help Filipino workers, farmers and overseas workers; describe his agrarian reform proposals; strengthen overseas consulates so it can better protect overseas Filipino workers from exploitaiton; and shift the balance of power from 200 families that control most of the Philippines’ economic and political power to the vast majority of people with little power.

Rico Foz talked about how foreign investors and the government control most of the economy, and how the military protect their vested interests. Over 70% of the Philippine population are farmers, and agrarian reform is needed so that this important sector of the economy is revitalized. Though the Philippines has had strong economic growth in the past few years, most of that wealth has gone to only 200 families that control most of the political and economic power in the country. The Public Private Project, which receives 200 billion pesos, was contracted to only 4 groups. How do you transition an economy that benefits only a few into an economy that benefits everyone?

Bernadette Herrera gave an emotional and moving talk of her experiences as an immigrant worker. The large majority of Filipinos are workers and farmers, yet they do not get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. She supports the Department of Agriculture’s attempts for land dispersal, so that farmers get to own the land they farm. Bernadette hopes that Duterte keeps his promise to end contractualization, so that overseas Filipino workers can be less vulnerable to being exploited. She is supportive of Duterte’s campaign to crack down on crime, as it has been a scourge that has had a terrible effect on poor communities and the young.

Reynaldo Aralar Jr. talked about Duterte’s accomplishments as mayor of Davao City. Before Duterte became mayor, Davao City was one of the most dangerous cities in the Philippines. Through his tough anti-crime measures, Davao City became one of the safest cities in Asia. His administration spent 12 million pesos on drug treatment centers, and he acquired 10 ambulances for a 911 emergency program that helps both poor and rich neighborhoods with equal efficiency. He passed a Woman Development Code that protects women from discrimination in the workplace.

I enjoyed meeting and talking to other Filipino Americans. I used to have a lot of Filipino American friends, but since I graduated from college, I haven’t really hung out with many Filipino Americans. It was especially nice to be around Filipino Americans who only speak English, as I was always criticized when I was young for not being able to speak Tagalog. These other Filipino Americans shared similar painful experiences.

I talked with a few lawyers, editors and supporters of Duterte who attended. I learned a lot that I didn’t know before about Duterte and Filipino culture. I look at things from an American lens, so there are some things that Filipinos see in Duterte that I don’t really get.

I have a greater respect for the progressive side of Duterte, but I still have some reservations about the dark side of Duterte. Some people talked about extrajudicial killings, and it didn’t really rid me of my unease at Duterte’s methods for getting rid of crime. So I came out of this forum with the same mixed feelings for President Duterte that I had coming into the forum. I really like a lot of things about Duterte, but really dislike some things about him.

Here are photos I took of the Forum

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Republican Criticisms of Donald Trump

I got a chance to watch bits and pieces of both the Democratic and the Republican Conventions these past two weeks. The Democratic Convention was better run, with better speeches and the speakers were a greater representation of the diverse population of this country. The Republican Convention, though, had more drama, as many of the Republican Party have great antipathy towards their Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump. The most dramatic part of the Republican Convention was when Ted Cruz spoke and wouldn’t endorse Donald Trump for President. Watching Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell and many other leaders endorse Trump, in spite of their criticisms of his unsuitability for the office of the Presidency, I’m glad there was a speaker in the Convention who had the courage to take a stand against Trump. I just wish it wasn’t Ted Cruz. I have to give grudging respect to Cruz, though, for being willing to take the criticism and hold firm in his beliefs.

In 1964 another Republican took a strong stand for his beliefs against an extremist element in the Republican Party. Harold Meyerson wrote in the American Prospect:

In ’64, a party that had been dominated by moderate Eastern elites, friendly to civil rights and even resigned to living with unions, personified by such big-spending governors as Nelson Rockefeller (of New York), George Romney (Michigan) and William Scranton (Pennsylvania), was upended by the triumph of Barry Goldwater. The Arizona senator had voted against the Civil Rights bill earlier that year, railed against government and unions, cozied up to Southern segregationists, and declined to denounce far-right conspiracy theorists who believed that many of the nation’s leading centrists were actually Communist agents.

…Delegates voted down a measure declaring the party’s support for the Civil Rights Act, and a Rockefeller’s resolution to denounce extremism. As Rockefeller spoke to the convention, the delegates erupted in boos and catcalls—much as they did last night when Cruz pointedly declined to support Trump.

Cruz’s heresy came in a cause a good deal less noble than Rockefeller’s. He obviously calculated that if Trump loses, he’ll be the candidate best positioned to pick up the pieces, the guy who stood on principle—unlike Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and other losing White House hopefuls who knuckled under. (Jeb Bush and John Kasich also declined to endorse, but they’re not likely to seek the presidency again.)

…Cruz’s decision not to endorse likely wasn’t purely a matter of calculation, however. In the course of the campaign, after all, Trump tweeted an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife and accused his father of involvement in President Kennedy’s assassination. These are the kinds of things that just might deter a guy from endorsing the perpetrator for the office of president.

Nelson Rockefeller represented a moderate Republican type that was supportive of the civil rights of African Americans, women and other minorities. For several decades, the Republican Party was better in the area of civil rights than the Democrats, whose Dixecrat wing were strong supporters of segregation laws in the South. Because of this historic support of civil rights, many African Americans like Jackie Robinson were Republicans.

In 1964, however, the Republican Party began a major shift away from its historic support of civil rights. When Jackie Robinson attended the 1964 Republican Party to support Nelson Rockefeller and voice his opposition to Barry Goldwater’s anti-civil rights stands, Robinson got involved with several shouting matches with Goldwater supporters. Rockefeller made a bold stance against the right wing extremism of Goldwater. In an article in the PBS website of the documentary on the Rockefeller family, it stated:

The scene was set for the battle over the heart and soul of the Republican Party. After years as the target of ridicule, the conservative wing of the party had staged an impressive comeback through a grassroots campaign in the South, the Southwest and the West. Their leader was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, a staunch critic of the liberal slant he perceived among his fellow Republicans…

…The atmosphere at the Republican convention was heated as Nelson Rockefeller stepped up to the podium to address the belligerent crowd: ‘During this year I have crisscrossed this nation, fighting … to keep the Republican party the party of all the people … and warning of the extremist threat, its danger to the party, and danger to the nation,’ he said, taking his time as the crowd cheered ‘We want Barry!’ ‘These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror, [they have] no program for America and the Republican Party… [they] operate from dark shadows of secrecy. It is essential that this convention repudiate here and now any doctrinaire, militant minority whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers.’ It was, according to many, Nelson Rockefeller’s finest moment — but it did little to stop the conservative wave that was transforming the GOP.

Decades after Nelson Rockefeller made his principled stand against the extremism of his Republican Party, the Republican Party now embraces a candidate that caters to the xenophobia and racism of an extremist element of the Republican Party.

Though many Republicans embrace Trump and his ideas, many more Republicans are repulsed at the Trump candidacy and have fought the racist elements in the Republican Party. I’m hoping that the battle that will take place within the Republican Party will hopefully move the GOP back to the type of party that was represented by Nelson Rockefeller and Jackie Robinson.

Here are some video links of Republicans criticizing the Trump candidacy.

In this youtube video, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz had harsh words for rival Donald Trump after Trump alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy and Trump made disparaging remarks about Cruz’s wife.

In this youtube video former 2016 Republican candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich talks about his reservations about Donald Trump.

In this youtube video former Communications Director to President George W. Bush Nicolle Wallace spoke to Jeb Bush about Donald Trump, his mastery of the media and whether he’d stick to his proposed policies if elected president.

In this video Marco Rubio issued a sharp rebuke to Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric during the Florida primary.

In this video Sen. Lindsey Graham called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot.

Mitt Romney suggested that Donald Trump’s election could legitimize racism and misogyny, ushering in a change in the moral fabric of American society

in this video Paul Ryan told reporters that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel are “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

In this video David Brooks, a Republican journalist who works for the New York Times, talks about why he doesn’t support Donald Trump

In this video, George Will explains in detail the reason why he’s opted to leave the Republican Party

A New York Times video about anti-Trump Republicans and their struggles with their political party

In this video, Republicans Doug Elmets and Jennifer Pierotti Lim discussed why they’re voting for Democratic presidential nominee on final day of the Democratic National Convention. Elmets is a political consultant and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, while Pierotti Lim is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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A Talk in Stanford University by the Lumad Leaders – April 26, 2016

On April 26, 2016 attended a talk in Stanford University by indigenous community leaders from Mindanao on a historic tour of the United States to raise public awareness about the struggle for their human rights and ancestral land. These 5 leaders are a part of the Lumad indigenous people in the Mindanao area of the Philippines.

Because Lumad land is rich with natural resources, multinational corporations have been taking their land to mine the area to get its valuable minerals. Government policies encourage these mining companies to exploit the land, and with the cooperation of paramilitary forces, these two groups have exploited the Lumad indigenous people and killed their leaders to intimidate the Lumad. Many Lumad find education as a powerful tool to help them defend themselves against exploitation, so many Lumad schools have been raided by company and paramilitary forces. Recently, indigenous people in several villages have been driven out by paramilitary forces and they live currently in substandard conditions in refugee camps.

The El Nino conditions that has brought rain to California has had the opposite effect in many areas of Mindanao. El Nino has brought severe drought in the region, and many indigenous people are facing near starvation. Recently several thousand unarmed farmers protested to the government to release rice to starving villagers, only to face gunfire from police units in Kidapawan.

The leaders’ slogan is “Food, land, justice!” The indigenous people of the area are farmers, so the land is vital to their community. During their trip to the United States, the Lumad leaders were astounded by the abundance of food in this country. Coming from a drought-ridden area with starving people, the Lumad leaders ask Americans to remember where their food comes from.

Here is a youtube video with photos I took of the Lumad talk

TFC Balitang America did a youtube report on the Stanford University talk from Lumad representatives who witnessed the deaths of their leaders and were part of the rice protest in Kidapawan that resulted in deaths and injuries of numerous community members. Lakbay Lumad USA is the title of the U.S. tour that not only shares the Lumad culture but also what they call are the struggles they face from big mining corporations that covet the abundant natural resources on their land.

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