The terror in the Philippines
It may be unfair, or at least much too premature, to suggest that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s strongman rule is a throwback to the brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. But the fact is that after a period of sustained and often spectacular economic growth, even if there has been little of the trickle-down effect, the country has suddenly become a political hot spot under the rule of what global investors describe as a wild card President. Hopes that his landslide win in May would influence the brusque-mannered maverick to moderate his populist rhetoric have been belied as Mr. Duterte seems determined to carry out his pledge to kill 100,000 criminals to bring security to the country. Official figures state that about 1,800 people have been killed by the police and in extrajudicial murders committed by vigilante groups in pursuit of Mr. Duterte’s so-called war on drugs since he assumed office in July. He has also threatened to restore the death penalty to root out crime and drugs. In fact, in a brazen display of his alleged complicity in criminal conduct, Mr. Duterte once quipped that the death squads he backed had in fact eliminated more than twice the number that human rights groups claimed. His reign has struck such terror among the people that some 600,000 potential suspects have thought it better to simply turn themselves in to the authorities.
Mr. Duterte’s abrasive style is apparently fettered neither by respect for the religious sensibilities in his majority Catholic country nor the diplomatic niceties expected of a nation’s leader. He resorted to an expletive to vent his ire at the traffic snarl during the visit of Pope Francis. On another occasion, he lashed out against the United Nations for criticising the human rights situation in the Philippines, saying that his country would quit the organisation. Mr. Duterte is evidently unmindful of the jarring note his remarks strike; as many as 10 per cent of Filipinos are resident overseas, contributing substantial remittances to the domestic economy. Mr. Duterte’s shrill rhetoric is, perhaps quite predictably, prompting comparisons among activists and commentators with the equally pugnacious U.S. presidential nominee, Donald Trump. But there is a larger long-term significance for any society from the electoral success of a rabble-rouser political figure such as Mr. Duterte. This is the imperative of timely intervention to contain and correct the social and political damage that inevitably results from economic growth, if it is not inclusive or sustainable. The mandate handed to Mr. Duterte was not out of the way for large sections of the people that were impatient for more. Change was what they yearned for; what shape it would take was perhaps beyond their grasp.
English Vocab from “The Hindu”(The terror in the Philippines)– 5/sep/2016
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