Peaceful Populism: Duterte’s Opponents Have Been Shut Down Without Being Silenced

Criminal mutineer “Senator” Antonio Trillanes is presently out on  bail after being arrested in association with crimes relating to his mutinous actions against the legitimate government of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Prior to his arrest, Trillanes had infamously barricaded himself inside the Senate building in an attempt to evade justice before eventually being apprehended by authorities.

But while Trillanes, a man whose actions would have long ago landed him a permanent spot behind bars in any other nation has complained about suffering “political oppression” and being silenced by the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the ironic truth is that there has rarely been a single moment over the last month where Trillanes has not been in front of the cameras saying everything he wants to say and as loudly as he wants to say it. The same is true of disgraced former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Sereno whose face time rivals that of both Trillanes and the current Vice President Leni Robredo, whose own election is being investigated by the authorities at this very moment. Even from behind bars, disgraced Liberal “Senator” Leila de Lima is more vocal and rhetorically unchained from her prison cell than many non-criminal politicians are in other countries living lives as free men and women.

The paradox of the entire scenario is as follows: in Duterte’s Philippines, more and more obstructionist and criminal politicians are facing genuine justice which while non-politicised, is naturally clearly popular among Duterte’s supporters. At the same time, never have a group of disgraced politicians been as vocal throughout the period of their so-called “oppression” as have Duterte’s chief rivals who also happen to be as corrupt as their public police and court records demonstrate. Furthermore, it is the very fact that Duterte remains highly popular that even if he wanted to (and he has given zero indication that he does) offer a tough “strongman” crack-down on his opponents, in reality he has little need for this at the moment as in spite of the hysterical theatrics of his opponents, they represent an infinitesimally small portion of the Philippine population.

Of course, just because their numbers are small, this does not mean that the long term danger they pose is slim. On the contrary, history shows that a small number of agitators both within and outside of the political class are able to overthrow entire nations when fortune is on the side of the traitors. As recently as 2016, a small group of FETO terrorists who had infiltrated the Turkish military, intelligence, civil service and also the media and academia came close to overthrowing the legitimate government of the Republic of Turkey with the aim to replace it with a terrorist Islamist regime. It was only the swift action taken by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to bring the terrorists to justice at all levels of society that eventually restored peace, law and order to the streets of Turkey.

Likewise, if China did not face down sedition in the 1980s with a clear set of actions steps, the prosperous Chinese society that is admired by the wider world in the 21st century might never have come about. In the 1980s, the market socialism reforms of Deng Xiaoping helped China to modernise its economy without compromising the ideological, social and cultural integrity of the state. Deng’s model is, for all intents and purposes, responsible for transforming China from a large but struggling agrarian economy into the leading industrial economy of the world which it is today. The fact that China’s great cities are among the most modern, beautiful, cleanest and safest in the world today, is owed to the thought and policies of Deng Xiaoping, as much as it is to contemporary leaders.

The reforms of Deng Xiaoping contrast sharply with those of his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev and his chief ideologue Alexander Yakovlev. Whereas Deng Xiaoping transformed the Chinese economy while strengthening existing cultural institutions, Gorbachev set out to destroy the most important institutions of the nation while allowing a “liberalised” economy to eventually collapse under its own chaotic weight. The reforms predictably ended in a nightmare for the vast majority of Soviet citizens.

However, all great reforms whether successful ones like Deng Xiaoping’s or failed ones such as those of Gorbachev, have their incomplete components which are rife for exploitation.

During China in the 1980s, an increased number of so-called intellectuals went to academic institutions in the United States where they became seduced by and intentionally programmed by US government operatives keen to see a seditious revolt in the People’s Republic of China–one with the ultimate goal of bringing the regime in Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan) back to power in Beijing.

Because a readymade regime in Chinese Taipei existed which salivated for power over all of China, the CIA and other aggressive actors did not need to go to the effort of forging a new regime or political model—they simply needed to create agitation among a class of elites in Beijing in order to try and bring down the People’s Republic of China.

Hu Yaobang became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1982 and by the middle of the decade, he became increasingly seduced by the liberal fantasies peddled by western “educated” academics. His open flirtations with liberal social ideology proved too much to Deng and other social traditionalists and he was removed from power in favour of Zhao Ziyang in 1987.

When Hu died in 1989, subversive western orchestrated “protests” among “students” and their academic masters began to foment with Tiananmen Square being a focal point. Rather than put a quick end to the numerically small displays, Zhao Ziyang instead offered sympathy to many of the “protesters”.

Zhao was in many ways one part traitor and one part naive. A man of great experience and with a deeply important political position such as Zhao should have been aware, as others including Deng were, that the “protests” were neither genuine nor spontaneous. He should have realised that the “protests” were an attempt to overthrow the very institutions of the state, paving the way for a pro-western regime. To deny this, as he did, was a sign of both carelessness and a dereliction of duty.

Part of Zhao however did likely feel for the fact that young useful idiots of a western plot essentially volunteered themselves to be on the front line of a proxy war. However, his interventions proved totally insufficient and even had the effect of encouraging the conspirators.

The western orchestrators of the “protests” coordinated them to coincide with the official state visit of Mikhail Gorbachev. A visit which heralded the reconciliation between the two great Communist superpowers, instead became an attempt by the west to embarrass both China and the USSR in the same place and at the same time.

Zhao was finally removed from power in 1989 as China sent out the People’s Liberation Army to cleanse the streets of the western agents and restore order.

The vast majority of the Chinese population was unaffected by the events of 1989, but the ruling elite realised that they needed to take precautions to avoid such western meddling in the future.

China rapidly recovered because of the ultimately decisive action the government took in putting an end to the “protests” and as a result, China is the unshakeable powerhouse that it is today.

Therefore, with the example of China in the 1980s and Turkey in very recent years in mind, Duterte is self-evidently exercising extreme flexibility and tolerance towards his critics, all of whom have dealt with normal judges and police rather than specific emergency or martial tribunals. Furthermore, while in many cases it is far too dangerous to allow for seditious or even obstructionist elements to continue and agitate in public at a time of acute national crisis, Duterte clearly remains quietly confident that he does not need to resort to the kind of “dictatorial” tactics that he is ironically accused of already using.

In reality, if Duterte was the “dictator” that many of his detractors like to pretend that he is, one would not be hearing the words of Trillanes, Robredo, de Lima, corrupt clergy or anyone else in the red-yellow axis currently aiming at destabilising rule of law in The Philippines. Instead all that would be coming out of The Philippines would be unverified hearsay and conjecture. In this sense, perhaps Duterte is all the wiser for letting the severe stupidity of his opponents speak for itself in the light of day. By contrast, forcibly shutting them up might lead some in the wider world to suspect that the likes of Trillanes, de Lima et. al. are far more intelligent than they actually are. In this sense the “heroic resistance” of Duterte’s opponents is not only anti-climactic but is in fact rather comical due to the sheer ill-informed underpinnings of the arguments that Trillanes and his comrades employ.

As indicated by his words that he would rather discuss matters with would be anti-government traitors rather than engage in a brutal fight against fellow Filipinos, Duterte is confident that his own soundness of mind and the consistency of his supporters will make it so that the disgruntled and largely self-appointed opposition never get the one thing they want: an open and violent conflict.

In this sense, Duterte has taken the path of peaceful populism above that of a “final showdown” with his opponents. The Philippine President clearly does not feel they are worth the time or effort to break a sweat while his supporters who constitute the vast majority of the nation’s population are not even prepared to give them the time of day.

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