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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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He does a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippines Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since March 2013, he has also contributed cartoons to the Manila Mail, a Filipino American newspaper based in Washington D.C. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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