Dr. Vicente Rafael on the "Sovereign Trickster" Rodrigo Duterte and Politics in the Philippines

Submitted by Jacob Beckert on

In a recent interview, Professor Rafael discusses his background growing up in the Philippines and becoming a renowned expert in Southeast Asia history. Dr. Rafael focuses on his "prismatic" perspective on notorious President Rodrigo Duterte with his death squads, use of fear to lead, embrace of violence, and threats to adversaries, as well as his coarse humor, machismo, and demeaning of women and his perceived foes. With these tendencies, Duterte was called "The Trump of the East" by some commentators. Thousands of Filipino citizens died in the extra-judicial killlings prompted by Duterte's "War on Drugs." Estimeates of the dead range from six thousand to twenty-seven thousand. Especially important, Professor Rafael places Duterte in the context of history and concludes that he is not exceptional but part of a line of autocratic leaders during the Spanish and American colonial periods and more recent authoritarians such as Ferdinand Marcos.