Filipinos need not worry about what foreigners say about Duterte’s “war on drugs”


Leni Robredo is at it again. This time she is reportedly worried about the Philippines’ international “reputation”. This follows mounting coverage by the foreign media of the allegedly unusual high numbers of homicides occurring in the Philippines over the last several months. These killings supposedly coincide with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”. Many allege that this rise in homicides are a direct outcome of Duterte’s promise to rid the country of the drug menace using all means — including violence.

Robredo’s stand reflects the general character of many Filipinos who uphold a tradition of giving inordinate weight to foreign opinion and perceptions. We should, however, consider taking a stronger cue from a great thought leader closer to home — the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. In the early days as Singapore was in the middle of its legenday transformation from Third World to First, Lee was consistent in the way he pushed back whenever Westerners suggested that he take a more, well, Western approach to governance. Lee insisted that the character of his countrymen was different from that of the West. As such, it is in recognising this reality that he justified the use of a “hybrid” style of democracy that suited this setting.

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The Philippines, in contrast, has always taken the path of aspiring to perfectly align with Western ideals — to the point of being almost dogmatic in its application of American style democracy to its development challenges. One pillar of Western-style liberal democratic idealism is the notion of “human rights”. It is interesting to note that southeast Asian nations have, even to this day, been known for their spotty human rights record. The Philippines is no exception. Even in the middle of the his term, former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III was copping pressure from Human Rights Watch (HRW) owing to his unimpressive efforts to deal with reported human rights violations under his watch. According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report issued in 2012, “The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency…”

“President Aquino has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Concrete measures — rather than more promises — are needed now.”

It’s not surprising, of course, considering that even the solving of his own father’s murder was something that BS Aquino failed push at a time when he was the country’s most powerful man. But I digress…

Perhaps it is time Filipinos embrace the reality that theirs is not really a Western society (despite decades of trying to style it as one) and, as such, may not be a good fit with some aspects of the democratic ideal. Lee had exhibited exceptional foresight in standing by his principle of weaving a strong Singaporean uniqueness into the democratic governance he nonetheless strengthened as his country rapidly caught up with the West in development.

At the moment, the Philippines is, itself, in a similar situation. It is, to be fair, purported to be one of the best-performing economies in the region at the moment. But just because it is does not mean that this strong trend is not immune to the risks posed by underlying weaknesses in infrastructure, stability, and, yes, peace and order. The drug menace, in particular, is a serious one that has proven to be a strong contributor to the fraying of the fabric of society in the Philippines. It seems those who support the strong measures being implemented to combat the drug menace have a better understanding of the urgency at hand.

There is, of course, a cost associated with expeditiousness — specially when it involves taking some shortcuts and workarounds to the rigours of due process. Ultimately, however, all of life’s decisions are all about cost-benefit tradeoffs. The cost of an expeditious winning of Duterte’s “war on crime” may be a slight degradation of the Philippines’ cherished democratic practice and its prized “reputation” amongst its peers in the free world. The trouble is, so-called “activists” take that cost out of the context the benefit — the potential for a drastic reduction in drug-related social problems and build the shrill campaign against Duterte we see today.

34 Replies to “Filipinos need not worry about what foreigners say about Duterte’s “war on drugs””

  1. Western concept of Human Rights, are not in tune with the War on Drugs. The Drug Lords, will blast anybody’s head, who are crossing their paths in their drug business. No human rights for any individual.

    However, when a Drug Lord, or Drug dealer is murdered or killed. These Human Right advocates will shout : “Human Rights”.

    Why is De Lima pushing the Human Rights agenda ? It is to protect the Drug Lords, that made her very rich thru the Shabu Drug dealings. De Lima was silent on human rights violations, during the Aquino term.

    Human Rights crusaders are like the , “Save the Whales” crusaders, or the Green Peace crusaders. They just wanted to be noticed.

    I have not seen any Human Right crusader, in the ISIS Caliphate of Syria and Iraq. Where Human Rights are violated everyday in the outrageous way. Women there are sex slaves. They are drowning Infidels. Mass graves are everywhere. Where are these human rights advocates? They are needed there !

    1. A lot of western political agendas don’t really fit in here, at all. It’s not just Human Rights. Wester feminism, for example, is pretty useless here. And yet so many Filipino feminists use and shove down western feminist ideas to try to solve our feminist issues.

      Philippines try so hard to imbued western ideas here. Why is it so hard to realize that “the western way” will fail here because our histories are different, our culture is different, our global standings had always been polar opposites since time immemorial.

      What works for a well developed first-world powerhouse country with vast natural resources will certainly not work for a poor third-world country that didn’t have the luxury to develop well it’s society because it has been raped and conquered for hundreds of years.

    2. Asians like of that LKY’s hybrid style of democracy is the
      Most respectable form of governance for the Asian blood to follow. The Western style for its perfection is not yet applicable in its cultural approach to instill order in south east blue pacific borders to make a remarkable dent.

    3. You make a good point. The ‘human rights’ moaners say nothing about Isis, Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan and countless other countries who are committing much worse violence and crimes that anything Duterte could ever dream up. Yazidi women are being raped and sold to Isis fighters and where are these fake ‘human rights’ morons? Women are slaves in Saudi Arabia and they have beheaded dozens of people this year alone. Hey morons, where are you? Why not talk about that? Duterte supports gay rights and is not selling women into slavery, you idiots. The Saudis and Isis murder gays.

    1. Yeah, that was my first thought too 🙂

      The country is a standing joke. Nothing Duterte says or does can make that worse. All I’m waiting for is results.

  2. Everybody seems to forgot what’s make the bed of drug market: poverty, misery, lost of hope, no sight of any kind of future.
    Until those are adress the poor will continue to make the rich richer by using their drugs to forget the misery they are put in by the same one governing the drug market…
    Lot of poor people have died on that war, how many rich? None so far…
    What is done by those governments taking over after each other to improve economy, infrastructures, governance? Nothing…

    1. I think Duterte is trying to address the poverty issue too. It’s just that the war on drugs is whats gotten everyone’s attention now.

      1. he needs to be consistent with his promises. minimize/weaken drug economy within 3 to 6 months. his admin has 2,100+ days in the office. we have until 2022.

    2. Poverty is a long-term problem and the solutions to that will take a long time to take effect. The drug issue is an urgent, immediate problem that needs to be nipped in the bud. If it is not nipped in the bud, the Philippines will be a narco-state in a couple of years. Do you know what narco-state means? It’s when everyone in government, including the president, can be bought by drug lords.


    last minute of this clip (43:00 or earlier)
    Duterte, “mr.(trying to remember the american’s name) sino nga yan putanginang yan? hoy gago ka, drugs is destroying my country, do not fuck with me today.” drops mic

    DU30 admin must weaken the drug economy of the country, the next admin must then continue the war against it and the next admin, and the next…

  4. I agree that Filipinos should not care too much about the opinion of foreign media who know nothing about the realities on the ground and are obviously pursuing the agenda of foreign powers who want Duterte out because he refuses to be a puppet.

    But I also think Duterte’s team should seriously look into what transpired this past week. What we saw here was a coordinated attack. New York Times, the Guardian, 60 Minutes Australia, Time magazine, BBC all came out with scathing one-sided pieces on Duterte one after the other, on the same week that Leila de Lima was staging her supposed senate investigation, and right on cue, Leni Robredo comes out and gives statements feigning concern about the negative news that Duterte’s drug war is getting in the foreign press.

    This was a carefully orchestrated attempt to stoke the emotions of the populace. What these agitators didn’t count on was that De Lima’s senate hearings would totally backfire on her.

    I hope Communications Secretary Martin Andanar knows that he is also fighting a war, a propaganda war. I hope he can be more forceful just like PNP Chief Bato. This propaganda war is not just on a domestic scale, it is global. I mean, just look at the amount of energy these foreign media groups are wasting on Duterte. You’d think what was going on in the Philippines was more important than the way ISIS is taking over the Middle East and threatening security in Europe.

    When Gloria Arroyo was demonized in her time, she chose to ignore it and thought her work would speak for itself. Wrong move. The best defense is offense when you’re dealing with people who don’t play fair. No one plays dirtier than the yellows and their backers.

    I hope President Duterte will minimize his live speeches and press conferences. The biased media use those occasions to push his buttons so he will say provocative things that they can spin into negative stories. Duterte’s greatest asset is also his greatest enemy–his mouth. It gives the opposition all the ammunition they need to mount their attacks.

    Then again, if there’s one thing I’ve observed about Duterte since the elections, he’s a lot, lot smarter than he lets on. He always has an endgame, and the boorishness and craziness are part of the act. It’s weird how all the international press coverage about him since the elections has made him quite famous. These days when I travel and foreigners find out I’m from the Philippines, the first thing they ask me about is Duterte. There is this fascination, like he’s a novelty or a celebrity. I can’t wait to see what happens when he goes to Brunei, Laos, and Indonesia next month. That class picture with the ASEAN heads of state is going to be priceless.

    1. wait, what, no fox?
      tsk tsk. unfortunately these news outlets are big names, yet sell their news using branding rather than journalistic integrity nowadays, which is the same reason why i trust only one big-name news outlet nowadays – al jazeera.

      1. Reading the comments section of some of these foreign media outlets reveals that the citizens themselves of the countries these media outlets are based from, do not have high opinions of their own media, and lamenting that the media havr their own agendas. And they’re right, these media outlets are run by people with agendas, and hence makes their integrity and objectivity questionable.

  5. Our critics make us strong!
    Our fears make us bold!
    Our haters make us wise!
    Our foes make us active!
    Our obstacles make us passionate!
    Our losses make us wealthy!
    Our disappointments make us appointed!
    Our unseen treasures give us a known peace!

    Whatever is designed against us will work for us!

  6. T says’ makes sense – Al Jazeera has made some remarkable docos, there’s one I remember about the people who live in Manila’s cemeteries: unbiased, straightforward, letting the people speak for themselves without some hidden agenda.
    There’s also DW, TV5Monde, EWTN, FOX, BBC, RT, RadioCanada etc.
    But no media outlet is totally unbiased, it’s not like Sgt Webb’s “Just the facts, Ma’am!”
    What is especially interesting about what’s happening in the Philippines today is that it’s totally unscripted – except for the war on drugs, everything else seems to be getting played by ear.
    Maybe this will turn out to be the most surprising, baffling, yet most productive presidency we’ve ever had, it’s only started!

  7. The liberal western media is pre-occupied with “freedoms”, where they promote a society where the individual should be free to do what they want, as long as it does not “hurt with anyone”. A society where self-discipline is a foreign world.

    1. The western media’s biggest concern is preserving the way of life of the country it belongs to, and uses less fortunate countries as a reminder of how good its own society is. As far as hurting anyone, whatever material gains we get, someone else is being deprived of it.

  8. What we need to worry about as a nation is the unseen forces–and expose them to the light–that are driving De Lima, the illegal drug industry, and poverty in the Philippines.

  9. The best defense would be to FULLY expose the previous government and Aquino for all it’s propaganda, corruption and stupid incompetence. Show the world that they enriched themselves with drug money. The Duterte admin knows far more than they are willing to expose. I say, go ALL the way.

    Show and expose how they fixed the election. Get rid of Robredo, De Lima and all that yellow human garbage that hinders progress.

    Lock up the people who have betrayed the public trust! Destroy the people who are behind the black propaganda and expose them as the traitors that they are.

    Show the world that there is a serious reason why this country needs a cleansing.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. Duterte will enter the International History books for how he became President and for what he is doing. The international establishment is scared of people like him being successful, because they do not want “outsiders” to win elections anywhere.

    What matters here is the perception of the people, not what the media or politicians say.

    It’s like the story with Putin. They try to destroy him. But if you talk to the average person in Europe they are quite sympathetic to him and they don’t understand how idiotic European politicians could get so influenced by the US.

    1. The Chinese triad—made up of legitimate big businesses, illegal businesses, and well-bribed politicians–is the one destroying this country. We expose each and every one of these fuckers and the whole country will solve 99.9 percent of its problems.

      This triad has been fucking up our political and economic infrastructures, and robbing the Filipino people of their rights and means to survive in their own country, for the past 30 years. Expose and get rid of this triad and the Philippines will be able to move forward. Until that happens, this nation will continue to be fucked up.

  10. What “reputation” is there to uphold? The rest of the world views The Failippines as a hooker haven and source of cheap labor. The cheap labor only results because Filipinos are marginally able to (sort of) communicate in English.

    If not for easy women and good ports, the world would simply ignore this place or even be slightly irritated as one is irritated by a pimple on one’s nose.

    1. This is why the Philippines, and its people, will never graduate to a “world class” level like Japan and Singapore. Filipinos are too arrogant and self-conscious about trying to attain regal status and social sophistication. The Filipinos selfish pursuit to be members of the “upper crust” is what turn this nation into a corrupt and cheesy society that is full of pretentious people.

      1. [Revised]

        This is why the Philippines, and its people, will never graduate to a “world class” level like Japan and Singapore. Filipinos are too arrogant and self-conscious about trying to attain regal status and social sophistication. The Filipinos’ selfish pursuit to be members of the “upper crust” is what turn this nation into a corrupt and cheesy society that is full of pretentious people.

        1. [Final Revision]

          This is why the Philippines, and its people, will never graduate to a “world class” level like Japan and Singapore. Filipinos are too arrogant and self-conscious about trying to attain regal status and social sophistication. The Filipinos’ selfish pursuit to be members of the “upper crust” is what turns this nation into a corrupt and cheesy society that is full of pretentious people.

  11. The “Human Rights” standard by which the opposition demands from Duterte are so idealistically set, that it reduces available solutions (to combat drugs) to merely those ones that are simply ineffective.

    In essence, the opposition is trying its best to make this new administration fail. They dread that whatever success this administration achieves, will make the past administration’s shortcomings and incompetence pronounced even more clearly.

    One gets the impression that the opposition cares more for the rights of criminals than those victims that have been either killed, raped, or robbed by drug users.

    Many groups in the West, like the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) group and the LGBTQ community, use this “Human Rights” argument to force the larger society to accommodate their questionable lifestyle, practices & anarchic beliefs.

    1. Given the effectiveness of those programs you say are too idealistic to be of practical use here — in certain European countries (especially in Portugal, where one poster has discussed it in a surprisingly balanced article) as well as in at least 2 South American nations (especially in Uruguay, where — and given the shining example set by Thailand in the persecution of its own war on drugs under the Shinawatra regime, where more than half of those killed in police operations were later determined to be uninvolved in the nation’s drug trade (a track record our president surely doesn’t envy — surely) — it might well be said that the Duterte administration has chosen a least effective (or at least most questionable) means of getting rid of an imminent threat.

      Despite the apparent failure the war against drugs has been in so many countries, it’s too early to tell if the Duterte administration can somehow defy the odds and rid the Philippines of drugs (and in record time, too, if Duterte’s promises be met) — but I get the feeling that, with a style of leadership so personal that despite his own pronouncements and his avowed knowledge of his limitations under the Constitution, he cannot help but castigate everyone who doubts his passion and sincerity or his means of displaying said passion and sincerity, his achievements in enforcing the law and strengthening the nation’s institutions will all be for naught once he steps down.

      1. In fact, I should’ve simply said “unrealistic” instead of “idealistic”, as it becomes more and more apparent that the opposition is driven rather by politics than by genuine concern for society. No better solution can even be guaranteed by the opposition &, yet here you are, prematurely guaranteeing basically this ‘war on drugs’ to be a failure? In the real world, ‘wars’ tend to be messy. Arguments like yours count casualties ascribed to police actions or operations, & yet are harmfully silent on how such numbers pale into insignificance as far as the number of lives ruined by the drug trade and woeful lack of priority the opposition has given this problem are concerned.

        The opposition-versus-Duterte is a picture of how hypocrisy-versus-sincerity, respectively, looks like–In fact, the previous administration has made the practice of hypocrisy so familiar that Duterte’s sincerity stands-out so brightly as a breath of fresh air & welcome change!

      2. Well Fuck You, too, Pallacertus. Your alternative “politically-correct” solutions in ending graft and corruption in this country have already been tried–and failed–by Filipino politicians who are committing those very same transgressions.

        You and TheVoiceofTreason are both paid trolls by the Yellow Party to throw everybody off the important topics, and to make it look like there is a major dissension among the members of this site on their support for Duterte’s administration.

    1. She (Leni Rebredo) knows that the people behind her husband’s death are the very same people she works for now. I guess everyone, and everything, has a price and can be bought. Leni Rebredo and the Yellow Party both agreed on that price and she got owned.

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