A Presidential candidate who makes flippant jokes about women. Complete with an especially horrific rape joke. Campaigns on explicitly extra-legal solutions to crime problems. Is repudiated by just about everyone else, but the voters keep casting their votes all the same.
Is this a diary about how Donald Trump has almost certainly won the Republican nomination? No. It’s a diary about how Rodrigo Duterte has almost certainly become the next President of the Philippines.
Duterte was long-time mayor of Davao City, where his solution to a pervasive crime problem was to deal with the criminals harshly. No, very harshly. “Kill them all.” And that’s not just rhetoric; he’s all but confirmed his sponsorship of extra-judicial death squads. To his credit, Davao City is a much safer place now than before. Unless, I suppose, Duterte’s minions think you’re a criminal…
From there, he became a candidate for President, running an outsider campaign not unlike Donald Trump’s. Indeed, Philippine media has been (un)happy to note the similarities. Our media has, too, when they weren’t busy ignoring the story entirely, because, hey, the Philippines, right? Where Trump would merely build a wall and deport everyone vaguely brown-skinned, Duterte announced an end to crime within six months — by killing all the criminals. “All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you. I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots.” And then he’ll pardon himself. If Congress objects, he’ll have it dissolved.
Other than overseeing mass murder, his campaign has been light on concrete plans. Except that he might have to re-evaluate alliances with Australia and the United States. And play hero-fetish brinksmanship with China over the South China Sea if negotiations fail.
Results of the election aren’t official, but despite all of that, it is overwhelmingly likely that Rodrigo Duterte will be the next President of the Philippines. Is there a lesson to be learned for November? If so, it is that we must take the threat that Trump poses to the American way of life seriously. We’re one election from following in Duterte’s footsteps. I understand that many here are disappointed with our candidate, and I do empathize.
But there are worse things to experience than disappointment. Sadly, we may see them play out across the Pacific very soon as we look to the Philippines under the Duterte administration.