While the element of surprise is a crucial tactic in any military adventure, including a lawless coup against a legitimate government, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has long discussed an unholy alliance between the yellows (Liberal party) reds (Communist Party-NPA terrorists) and the one man band that is the twice mutinous Senator Antonio Trillanes. While the NPA has long maintained a goal of overthrowing Philippine democracy, today the Liberal Party is back to the old tricks it first procured in 1986 in respect of seeking to undermine the legitimate government. Rounding out the list of enemies facing Duterte is the overtly pro-Liberal Roman Catholic Church in The Philippines and radical Daesh (ISIS) aligned jihadist groups based in Mindanao.
Throughout all of this however, Duterte’s popularity ratings have remained consistently high, thus demonstrating that those opposed to his legitimate rule are fringe groups, terrorists and agitators whose own fiendish views bear no relationship to that of the country’s overall population. To this end, Duterte’s ratings have gone up since the arrest of Trillanes earlier this month.
Because of this, the events surrounding the Philippine President turn the concept of “people power” on its head. While the Liberal Party has a tendency to invoke the term “people power” to denote the ousting of former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, the popularity of Duterte represents the genuine people power movement of the 21st century. While tyrants cannot long remain in power when a majority of the population is openly discontented with such a person’s rule, Duterte has the opposite problem.
Rodrigo Duterte has stated on multiple occasions that no only does he not seek a mandate to govern beyond his constitutionally limited single term, but that if certain constitutional reforms are in place before the end of his term in 2022, he would happily resign early. For a majority of Filipinos however, there exists a grave concern that when Duterte exits the political stage, there will not be an able predecessor waiting to carry on from where Duterte left off.
Thus, while The Philippine public anticipates a now confirmed attempt by a red-yellow alliance to stage an open provocation against The President, the criminal element within the political class might be in for a substantial surprise as any open attempt to undermine the President’s power could be met with the biggest people power movement in the history of The Philippines.
In order to anticipate this, it would behove Duterte’s supporters throughout the nation to prepare mass demonstrations in favour of their President. Similar events occurred in the aftermath of an attempted coup against the popular Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July of 2016. While FETO terrorists who had infiltrated the military drove tanks through the streets, Erdogan’s followers blocked the passage of these tanks and mobilised a civilian army of patriotic Turks to thwart the conspiracy against the constitutional order in Turkey.
From Mindanao to Luzon, it is now imperative for Filipinos to prepare to do for their popular President what Turks did for their’s two years ago. It is difficult to imagine any conspiracy against Duterte succeeding if his millions of diehard supporters took to the streets in order to voice support for him during a time of would-be national crisis.
Democracy remains the key weapon in Duterte’s arsenal when it comes to fighting for the constitutional order of the nation. Far from even needing to attack democratic institutions as his opponents accuse him of doing, democracy is in reality Duterte’s best friend. His popularity remains such that the kinds of crackdowns necessary to pursue and enact the rule of a genuinely unpopular autocrat are simply not needed as Duterte is perfectly capable of commanding a genuine and incredibly consistent democratic mandate without resorting to any political extremes.
In this sense, while Duterte is erroneously called a “killer” by his increasingly small (however loud) band of critics, the only thing Duterte is killing his opponents with is kindness. Politics in The Philippines has now reached a stage in which no matter how much Duterte invokes his colourful language, he simply cannot complete with the unintentional comedic hysteria of his opponents. Because of this, Duterte has tended to embrace the volatility of his critics in so far as he is letting them incriminate themselves by effectively allowing them to perjure themselves in the public square, all the while the President continues to businesses of effective government.
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.
Duterte’s supporters represent the masses while his opponents represent small gangs of criminals, terrorists and political thugs. If the red-yellow alliance attempts to unleash the widely expected ‘Red October’ provocation, they may well be in for the surprise of their lives.