I have been inspired to write this piece because the well known anti-Duterte media outlet Rappler has decided to publish yet another piece devoted entirely to me. Although I am flattered that I am the subject of such interest among Rappler’s staff, it is a pity that they know so little about me. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable and indeed would be commendable for Rappler to write about why they do not like my views as I have in the past written about why I have vast disagreements with Rappler’s anti-Duterte editorial line. I would in fact welcome a robust debate whether in writing or on camera where I could present my views on a variety of issues and I would welcome one of Rappler’s associates to do the same. There is nothing more profound and more democratic than an open and respectful exchange of ideas before the widest possible audience. Unfortunately though, Rappler have cheated their own audience out of the ability to make up their mind as to whether I’m an idiot, a genius, a visionary or a loser.
Instead, Rappler have published falsehoods about who I work for and by extrapolation what I believe in. I’ve already addressed these specific claims on Facebook, but found it appropriate to also answer them on a more formal record because unlike Rappler, I don’t want to cheat my audience of a fully fledged journey to the centre of the truth.
Below are the claims Rappler makes in their most recent article about me, followed by an explanation as to why they are false:
1. Rappler suggests I am connected to a Russian based company called ‘Internet Research Agency’. First of all, I know nothing about such an agency, although I have heard the name in association with stories about supporters of Donald Trump. I have never worked for such an agency and to my knowledge have never spoken to anyone from such an agency.
2. Rappler then suggests that I am somehow connected to an organisation called “GI Analytics”. I have never heard of such a company, let alone ever worked with or for them.
3. Rappler suggests I have written for the website “Russia Insider”. This is false, I believe that WITHOUT MY PERMISSION Russia Insider re-published some of my writings and although I’m not happy about that (as I believe Russia Insider to be a very poor publication), it’s not that big a deal.
4. Rappler suggests I have written for Mint Press News. This is false. I am aware that Mint Press News has published some of my work originally published elsewhere as once someone connected with Mint Press asked my permission to do so. Because I was asked politely, I granted their permission.
5. Rappler says I’m a “contributor” at globalresearch.ca, geopolitica.ru, and eurasianaffairs.net. First of all, whilst I used to have original works published at globalresearch.ca and geopolitica.ru (without receiving any payment), I do not anymore, even though I have no problem with either website. Secondly, I have never heard of eurasianaffairs.net, but I assume this website published some of my pre-existing material without asking.
5. Rappler says I have “connections to Russia” and by that I assume they mean the Russian government. This is false. Although I used to get lots of calls to appear on Russia Today (aka RT), those calls started to dry up well over a year ago, although I was recently on a show produced by the Associated Press (an American company) that airs on RT. For the record, I have no particular problem with RT, but it seems that someone at RT has a problem with me. I don’t particularly care though.
Also for the record, I support the Russian opposition and not the government as I believe the Russian government is deeply flawed….maybe that’s why RT don’t like me anymore. Rappler should catch up.
6. Rappler seems to think it’s a problem that I have been interviewed multiple times by Iran’s Press TV. I’m not sure why they feel this way as The Philippines has no disputes with Iran, but for the record, Press-TV has never censored my interviews and that’s the only thing I consider before agreeing to an interview anywhere.
7. Rappler’s recent article says that I am a contributor at Eurasia Future. This is false, I am the director at Eurasia Future, something that a previous Rappler piece about me correctly reported.
8. I am a supreme supporter of Rodrigo Duterte and this is not only not a crime but one of my proudest political positions.
Beyond this, it appears that Rappler have failed to find the smoking gun – something I should think all journalists ought to seek. On the 17th of December, 2018, I authored an article titled: ‘The Sri Lanka Political Crisis Discredits Hybrid Parliamentary Systems and Makes The Case For Pure Parliamentary Governance‘. In the piece I explicitly argue that Russia’s deeply flawed model of governance is one that The Philippines should completely avoid. Instead, I argue for a Singaporean, Malaysian, Pakistani, Indian, Canadian or British style of fully fledged parliamentary democracy. Of course, this does not mean that I have any political connections with for example Singapore, simply because I admire their political system, nor does it mean I hate Russia, Sri Lanka, France or The Philippines. I just happen to dislike the models of governance in Sri Lanka, France, Russia and The Philippines.
It is however, because I care very much for The Philippines and want the people to succeed in a model that fosters both social harmony and widespread prosperity that I frequently make arguments in favour of The Philippines switching to a federal-parliamentary model of governance. As I also believe in the kind of free trading/pro-FDI model that has succeeded so well in Singapore, I also make arguments in favour of eliminating restrictions to FDI that are inscribed in the 1987 Constitution of The Philippines.
I frankly also believe that countries like Russia and France could benefit from such a system, but whilst Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin have benefited from a flawed system, they clearly have no incentive to fix the broken system for future generations. But this is where Rodrigo Duterte is different.
Rodrigo Duterte is unique in that he continues to argue for a system that makes his position less powerful rather than more. Duterte has in the past spoken in favour of a parliamentary system and I certainly hope that he does so again. He is also an advocate for a federal system that reduces the power of the government in “Imperial Manila”. Likewise, Duterte argues for a system of economic openness which empowers people and free markets whilst limiting the hand of government in manipulating the economic order.
Finally, Duterte has said on multiple occasions that if a federal system is in place prior to the expiration of his term in 2022, he will resign early.
Whilst Vladimir Putin has used his time in office to make his political role more powerful and whilst Emmanuel Macron appears to want to do the same (although he has had notably less of an easy time), Duterte wants to reduce the role of central government by empowering the regions in a federal system, whilst the parliamentary system about which he spoke would transform government into one based on the model of an ideas based consensus rather than a contest between individuals.
Whilst Rappler may not like this or other things about Duterte, it is something I truly admire, as do a majority of Filipinos according to multiple public surveys. So if it comes to looking for inspiration, The Philippines needn’t look to Russia, France, Egypt or anywhere else as Rodrigo Duterte is one of the most inspirational leaders in the world today. Likewise, Filipinos should look to nearby Singapore as a model for reforms to governance and not to Russia, France, Indonesia or the United States.
This is the reality that Filipinos need to face and face soon. Duterte has opened the window for genuine reform and now is the time to take advantage of this so as to avoid the problems faced by other nations – including the Russian government whose popularity is declining whilst Duterte’s increases.