Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has a reputation of being a staunch critic of the United States government. However, it is probably more accurate to describe him as being critical of former U.S. President Barack Obama but not of current President Donald Trump.

A few months after becoming president in 2016, Duterte launched a series of tirades against Obama whose government expressed concern about the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs. Duterte insisted that the United States has no moral high ground to speak about human rights since it has yet to apologize for the crimes it committed during its colonial occupation of the Philippines.

Duterte was the first Filipino leader to speak so publicly and fiercely about the violence used by the U.S. government in subjugating the Filipino nation in 1899. Because of this, Duterte was praised by nationalists and his allies from the left.

Is Duterte pro-China or anti-America? What we learned in the past few months is that Duterte’s mindset cannot be ascertained by his rants but by his actions and the policies implemented by his subordinates.

Read more at The Diplomat

Is the Philippines’ Duterte Really a Leftist?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly insisted that he is a leftist; a socialist but not a member of the Communist Party.

This is politically important, since no president in the country’s history has made a similar claim. Expressing support to leftist causes is quite controversial in a country where anti-communist propaganda is strong, but Duterte had no reservations in admitting his supposed leftist tendencies.

But how much truth is there to all this? Is Duterte really a leftist politician? Though scholars and activists might question Duterte’s political affiliation, what is clear is that he has close links to the Philippines’ leftist leaders and even rebel groups.

Duterte claims that his invitation to leftists to join his cabinet is a signal that his government is inclusive. In truth, his decision to open the tend to leftists has alienated some sections of the military and other conservative political forces. If the threat of destabilization coming from these groups becomes stronger in the future, that will make Duterte’s leftist claim even more difficult to sustain.

Read more at The Diplomat

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