A lot of people’s concerns focus on Donald Trump. As a Filipino American cartoonist, I’m also worried about the direction that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is taking his country. As Duterte has taken steps to silence or intimidate his critics and political opponents, I worry that the Philippines are in the progress of democratic backsliding.
Looking at history, the first groups to usually oppose authoritarian governments are leftists, the Church, students, human rights activists, civil libertarians, and journalists. The opposition starts out in the fringes, and only gain in strength when they can persuade the middle class to join in opposing the government. I think Duterte knows this history, so he has tried to co-opt, intimidate or silence each group. He’s attacked human rights activists, journalists, the Catholic Church.
Most of the would-be authoritarian leaders around the world are appealing to the political Right. Duterte is different in that he has tried to co-opt segments of the political Left. He’s challenged some of the mining interests that have the source of much human rights abuses against the indigenous people in Mindanao. He called himself a socialist and put some leftists in his cabinet. I don’t really know how many Philippines leftists support Duterte, but I had some conflicts in 2016 in Facebook with some leftists who were trying to justify extrajudicial killings. I’m hoping that they don’t represent the larger group of leftists and that a majority oppose Duterte’s extrajudicial killings. Any opposition needs the support of the Left if it is to succeed in checking Duterte’s power.
That’s one of the problems that I see around the world, the danger of groupthink. Leftists tend to tolerate left-wing authoritarian governments until the government goes after them. Conservatives tend to support right wing dictatorships until the government starts going after them. I think if you’re a leftist, you have to be just as critical of left wing authoritarian governments as you are of right wing authoritarian governments. If you’re a conservative, you have to oppose right wing dictatorships as well as left wing dictatorships. If you truly believe in democracy, you have to fight for the rights of everyone, even those you disagree with.
As the President enters his second year, and as his administration and allies continue to claim that democracy is alive and well in the country, here’s a review of the attacks, both online and offline, that the Philippine press and journalists have had to endure.
Human rights activists are dismayed over what they perceive as threats against them by President Rodrigo Duterte, but Malacanang insists, no such threat was made. – The World Tonight, ANC, November 30, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday gave stinging words against human rights advocates criticizing his war on drugs, saying they can all “go to hell.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, once again, lashed out at leaders of the Catholic Church who continue to hit government’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs. Earlier, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a pastoral letter read in masses on Sunday, that claims the drug war has created a “reign of terror” among the poor.
Vinz Simon, Chair of the De La Salle University chapter of the 40,000-strong Anakbayan, slams the continued killings of youth and largely urban poor suspects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.
In 2016, hundreds of university students in Manila held a protest outside their campus on Friday to call on the government to bring an end to extrajudicial killings. Chanting “stop the killings” and holding placards, students, administration and personnel from the St Paul University called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to apply due process and uphold dignity of life in the Philippines.
Several human rights advocates slammed President Duterte’s refusal to stop his deadly campaign against illegal drugs.
The Catholic church, one of the Philippines’ oldest and most powerful institutions, speaks out against the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs
In 2017, students and alumni of the University of the Philippines stage a rally to oppose the Board of Regents’ offer of an honorary degree to President Rodrigo Duterte