Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not a man prone to indecision or muddled language. Duterte’s words and actions are both clear insofar as he boldly articulates his vision for a Philippines that is a sovereign nation, free from the colonial mentality of the past, while also being a nation that is willing to work with all respectful partners in the wider world. Duterte is equally comfortable in telling past partners who try to meddle in the internal affairs of the country to step back.
Duterte is not afraid to literally say “fuck you” to those who threaten the stability, integrity and independence of his country and while some are not fans of Duterte’s strong use of language, in an age where information war is as vital in securing one’s national sovereignty as military conflicts, it does help to be direct.
The Philippines is one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world and one that was recently named as the top international investment location of any country. Nevertheless, because of decades of economic mismanagement and political corruption, The Philippines has failed to live up to both its economic and military potential. This has left the country vulnerable to manipulation from external powers, especially the United States which has a history of viewing the country as a modern colony in spite of The Philippines being independent since 1946.
President Duterte has made it a priority to change all of this and turn The Philippines into a country that is internationally respected and one that chooses its partners, rather than have partners choose it. This success has already led towards a productive de-escalation in tensions in the South China Sea as Beijing views Duterte’s administration with trust rather than caution. Likewise, Duterte has elevated the profile of the Philippines within ASEAN and Asia as a whole while challenging countries like the US, Canada and those in the EU to think twice before going into business agreements with The Philippines that have political strings attached. Duterte has firmly closed many doors with partners unwilling to engage in respectful deals, in keeping with his commitment not to threaten the sovereignty of his nation.
While Armenia and The Philippines have very little in common in terms of history, population, geography or culture, recent events have shown how both countries are susceptible to similar forms of calculated de-stabilisation plots. But where the Armenian leadership was indecisive in the face of agitation and ultimately surrendered to foreign orchestrated mob rule, Duterte’s Philippines has taken important steps in preventing such things from happening in Manila.
For over a week, protests in the Armenian capital Yerevan have been led by an infamous small time oligarch with US sympathies called Nikol Pashinyan. While Pashinyan’s party only has 9 seats in the country’s 105 person National Assembly, he has declared himself the leader of an opposition whose goal was to oust the Prime Minister. Hours ago, when Premier Serzh Sargsyan offered his resignation, Pashinyan achieved his primary goal, although the dressed-down ‘opposition’ oligarch is certainly not finished. Pashinyan’s antics have been closely coordinated with actors inside the US, including those among the large Armenian community in California. Their clear goal is to oust the ruling party, in spite of the fact that it won a vast majority of votes in last year’s election and form their own government.
In The Philippines, one sees something similar insofar as President Duterte remains overwhelmingly popular since winning the presidential election in 2016. In spite of this, Duterte’s opposition whether it be from Leni Robredo’s Liberal party, self-proclaimed opposition ‘leader’ Antonio Trillanes, US based anti-Duterte oligarch Loida Nicolas Lewis, the EU, corrupt UN bodies, the failed International Criminal Court and members of the US Congress and US intelligence agencies. The aforementioned critics of Duterte continue to scream for his removal from office. However, rather than give an inch to hooligans that would take a mile if given an inch, Duterte has remained steadfast in his determination to stay the course and fulfil his promises to the people.
By contrast, former Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan’s indecision led to his enemies becoming more emboldened than ever, while his weak resignation statement will now only embolden them further. Whether a large country with a bright economic future like The Philippines or a small country with a deeply uncertain economic future like Armenia, it is crucial for leaders to stand by their political mandate in the face of sophisticated smear campaigns designed to weaken the government.
President Duterte has shown that he is in a class of strong leaders on par with Lee Kuan Yew, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Deng Xiaoping who no matter the size of their nations, are able to see off agitations that threaten to destroy the country during times of economic and/or geopolitical transition. Each of these leaders, however different in terms of background and policy have demonstrated an ability to remain firm in the face of violent opposition and honest in the face of lying detractors, while always putting their agenda before that of foreign powers.
The Philippines is lucky to have such a leader as President Duterte. Sadly, the people of Armenia may continue to suffer because their elected leader caved into pressure rather than quote Duterte and say “fuck you”!