[Newspoint] Living upside down

A war on drugs has in fact been the centerpiece of both his campaign platform and his agenda of government, although it now looks more like the only trick the pony knows. In any case, his style – impulsive and imperious, very much in the character of the dynastic patriarch that he himself is (a daughter is mayor in their native Davao City, a son her own vice-mayor) – has necessarily defined every facet and course of his administration. 

Shortcutting the judicial process in the anti-drug campaign is just one case, although it’s the one that has been provoking the most criticisms. And when the United Nations expressed alarm over it, Duterte verbally savaged its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and threatened to take the Philippines out of his organization. Over the same issue, he did the same thing to the president of the United States, Barack Obama, although his resentment toward Americans is confessedly singular and more deep-rooted.

“I’m anti-West; I hate the Americans,” Duterte has declared, citing cases of colonial atrocities at the turn of the 20th century.

On the other hand, for all its intrusions on waters declared by a UN international arbitral court to be part of the Philippine territory, China is indulged. So as not to provoke the intruders themselves, Duterte has decided to pull out the Filipinos from the joint force patrolling those waters and leave the job to the Americans. 

Diplomacy is thus taken out of its very essence, and conducted mutually exclusively. 

The favor to China appears, moreover, to extend to its local surrogates, the communist party and its New People’s Army. With them, Duterte has made a deal for a ceasefire on terms much more relaxed than laid down by previous administrations: the other side does not have to give up its arms; neither does it have to stop collecting revolutionary tax from the communities in which it holds sway; it also gets all its comrades in government prisons freed.  

Patriotism has suffered the same perverted fate as diplomacy; Duterte is burying the plundering, murdering dictator Ferdinand Marcos as a hero. He is such a Marcos idolater he has himself betrayed a taste for Martial Law.

But, without having to declare Martial Law, Duterte has managed to undermine freedom enough. His freedom-of-information proclamation, with its 166 restrictions, makes freedom the exception and suppression the rule.

Duterte is not simply different; he is upside-down different. And, only naturally, he throws us off who are accustomed to living right side up. – Rappler.com