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phallus dei
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More on Duterte / Philippines
Apr 04, 2017, 15:08
This thread is to continue the discussion on Duterte and the Philippines. The approach of "start a thread - insult those who don't agree with you - then lock the thread when those you insult aren't bullied into submission" doesn't seem very productive.

This particular post is primarily in response to the article posted by thesweetcheat. The article describes an alleged incident from 1996, which is now coming to light. Judged on it's own, the incident is horrifying. However, reality - the world we share - is not a series of isolated incidents, each judged in abstraction. Incidents only take on meaning when put into context, and judged against other incidents. From that perspective, there are a number of issues which make the ultimate worth of the Guardian article as an "objective source" suspect.

Why bring this incident up now, 20+ years after it happened? Is this an isolated incident, or typical of Duterte's behavior? There's no way to know from the article in question. It's also unclear if this behavior deviated from what was "standard" government policy in the Philippines in 1996. Was Duterte at that point following orders?

How reliable is this person as a source? Besides giving testimony under oath, what other "evidence" does he provide? The article says that he previously denied allegations of government atrocities, but now he had a change of heart. Why should we believe him now? Simply because his claims match up with current Western media depictions of "Duterte is evil?"

Before we take him on his word, we should remember previous incidents when the Western media posted false claims about "would-be-Hitlers" - such as when Saddam ordered that incubator babies be thrown out of windows in Kuwait, or that Gadaffi was giving his soldiers Viagra to turn them into rape squads. Both of these claims, widely promoted in the western media, were false. So not only do we need to question the reliability of the man making the claim, we also need to question the reliability (and the intent) of the media that's publishing the claim.

We also need to ask ourselves how the situation in the Philippines compares with other parts of the world. Extrajuridical killings are sadly common practice throughout much of the Third World. Honduras, destabilized after a US-backed coup in 2009, is particularly bad, with environmental and labor activists (as opposed to violent drug gangs) being killed by the thousands.
Similarly, Western-media darling Aung San Suu Kyi, long held out to be a "human rights activist," has been turning a blind-eye, and perhaps even supporting, the slow-motion genocide of the Rohingya people. It's only now, when the atrocities are too blatant to ignore, that the West is starting to admit there's a problem:
Why then is Duterte held out for such vilification, when other leaders, who are responsible for even greater crimes, are not condemned? Is it perhaps because these other leaders are not willing to tell the West to go to hell?

We also need more information to understand the figure of 7,000 dead in Duterte's drug war. How does that figure compare to what existed before Duterte came to power? The Philippines have been fighting drug gangs and terrorists for decades. Without any previous figure for comparison, we can't see how much of a spike in killings has occurred under Duterte. We also don't know how much of that number is due to police killings, gang-on-gang violence, etc.

Likewise, we need to consider the alternatives for Duterte and the people of the Philippines. How else should they solve the problem of a rapidly rising crime rate due to drug gangs? Perhaps the country could legalize all drugs. But would drug gangs, whose power stems from their illegal activity, peacefully turn in their weapons? Another option would be to stress educational and rehabilitation programs. But when faced with a dire threat, how feasible are such long-term approaches? And does the government of the Philippines have the resources to tempt gang members to enter into civilian life? Unless we can offer a better solution, it's disingenuous to criticize Duterte in the abstract.

When presented with violence, our human instinct is to feel revulsion. But if we take an idealist approach and condemn every political figure who has committed an atrocity, I am afraid we won't have any political figures left. The whole system is soaked in blood. Whether it be Madeline Albright who affirmed that half a million children dead in Iraq due to sanctions was "worth it," or the military and intelligence aid that America provides to Saudi Arabia in its current war against Yemen, where 7 million people are on the brink of famine, the US has shown that it has no qualms about viewing vast swathes of humanity as collateral damage for its "noble aims." Is it not hypocritical to signal out Duterte when the West, particularly America, is responsible for much greater crimes?
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