Daily Archives: August 14, 2018

Column: Duterte’s secret

“… [is] the accumulation of political capital through the systematic abuse of the rule of law. Mr. Duterte said it himself, about using his prosecutorial power to plant both intrigue and evidence. This is how he understands things get done.” Published on December 5, 2017.

The attempt to start a groundswell of public support for a “revolutionary government” failed dismally last week; some supporters of the Duterte administration have not yet come to terms with the brutal political reality, a year and a half since Rodrigo Duterte took office, that campaigning as outsiders is entirely different from governing as the establishment. Does this mean that the existential threat to the constitutional order that was the “RevGov” attempt has ceased to, well, exist?

The answer is No, because here is the truth of the matter: A deep antidemocratic spirit, hostile to the rule of law, characterizes Dutertismo. And this spirit will continue to seek ways to express itself—if not through the self-coup that is a revolutionary government, then through the extension and even expansion of martial law, the weaponization of Congress’ power to impeach, the continuing abuse of the justice department’s prosecutorial powers. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics, Spiral Notebook

Column: Not rule of law but caprice of power

This column, published on November 28, 2017, ran the introductory parts of my keynote at the closing rites of the second Political Management Training for Young Progressives program conducted by SocDem Asia. The full speech, “The role of the youth in fighting populist authoritarianism,” is here.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of addressing a new class of graduates of a unique political management training program: Young progressives from Southeast Asia who meet twice in a given year for a series of executive classes on both the form of politics (such as “election management and progressive campaigning”) and its substance (“climate change,” “feminism,” “migration”). The program is run under the auspices of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Network of Social Democracy in Asia. Allow me to publish the introductory parts:

I read your program of training, and was impressed by its breadth (16 topics!) and by its rigor. It is a privilege for me to meet you, the political advocates and activists gifted, as your class valedictorian said, with “energy, belief, thoughts, dreams,” who will help shape our region’s future. Continue reading

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics, Readings in Rizal

“The role of the youth in fighting populist authoritarianism”

SocDem detail

Detail, from the SocDem Asia website.

I had the privilege of speaking at the closing rites of the second Political Management Training for Young Progressives program, conducted by the Network for Social Democracy in Asia (SocDem Asia), on November 3, 2017. The program—a partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Olaf Palme International Center, and the Australian Labour Party—hosted “young progressives” from six countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines. (Coming in last, I had the chance to reference the remarks of the Thai class valedictorian, the SocDem Asia coordinator Machris, and Aemon of the ALP, who spoke of his party’s ideal, codified in a famous speech as “the light on the hill.”) I tried to present a cogent argument, and ended with a list of five responses we might all learn from Rizal.

I am very happy to be invited to speak at your graduation ceremony—not only because it gave me the opportunity to stand on the beautiful Taal lakeshore for the first time (yes, it really is my first time) and to see the famous Taal volcano this close, but also and more importantly because I believe we are all standing on the slopes of a social volcano, and you are the volcanologists who can study the problem and save the lives of our people at risk.

I read your program of training, and was impressed by its breadth (16 topics!) and by its rigor. It is a privilege for me to meet you, the political advocates and activists gifted, as your class valedictorian Golf said, with “energy, belief, thoughts, dreams,” who will help shape our region’s future.

The world you have chosen to become politically active in is different from the era which politicized me. In some respects, it is the opposite of the 1980s. In other respects, it is the culmination of the historic shifts that started in that decade.

Let me begin in earnest by reading an extended passage from a piece of political analysis. Continue reading

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Filed under Readings in Politics, Readings in Rizal, Speeches & Workshops