October 03, 2016

 President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Source: Wikimedia Commons

And in this intensely Catholic nation he committed large-scale blasphemy by once stating, “It’s good I didn’t join the priesthood, or else now I would be a homosexual.”

How can anyone in their right mind not love this man? If you want to get anything done in politics, sometimes you have to be a dick.

This is a man who used to prowl Davao City’s streets in sunglasses on a motorcycle, surrounded by police sirens and packs of M16-toting biker thugs aiming to either terrorize the criminal population into submission or murder them in the streets. While campaigning for president, he promised to kill up to 100,000 criminals: “I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay and fatten all the fish there,” he warned. He told ordinary citizens that if they performed vigilante assassinations of drug addicts, “I’ll give you a medal.” He threatened to kill any policemen who dabbled in drugs or consorted with dealers. He even said that if he found any of his children doing drugs, he’d personally kill them, too.

In Davao City when Dutarte was mayor, extrajudicial death squads killed at least a thousand lumpenproletarian Filipinos, among them drug addicts, low-level criminals, and homeless children. He has never been formally linked to the death squads, but he has never condemned their actions, either. And whatever one’s feelings about such iron-fisted tactics, he allegedly took Davao City from one of the most dangerous cities on earth to one of the safest”€”provided you don’t count all the extrajudicial killings in your crime stats.

Although often compared to Donald Trump for his lack of a filter and his nationalistic impulses, Duterte draws one stark distinction: “He is a bigot and I’m not.” His political party is nominally leftist, and he’s an open supporter of Islamic rights and LGBT rights and all the things you wouldn’t expect of someone who makes such wonderful public statements. And despite the rape jokes and his openly unabashed womanizing, while mayor he pushed for “a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women.”

But in spite of all his unfortunately leftist peccadilloes, Duterte’s main appeal, like that of other political alpha males such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, is his unabashed and unapologetic machismo.

Politics have been taken over by weak men and loudmouthed women who warn us about such “strongmen.” But all things considered, is a strongman remotely as dangerous as a crazy woman?


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