Giles was, as always, sharp in his article on Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in the Philippine election (“New Philippines president is a gangster”, June SR).
However, I believe there are a few things we have to consider to understand the situation.
First, the Maoist Communist Party (CPP) is part of the National Democratic Front (NDF), which includes organisations of workers, peasants, students, women, etc. So if we simply regard the CPP as “no force for progress” it is hard to see how we build relationships with these organisations.
Second, left winger Sonny Melencio in fact declared his support for one of the liberal candidates, Grace Poe — Chis Escudero team (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 February 2016).
Third, as Giles said, Duterte got more support from the middle classes (socioeconomic classes ABCD) than the poorest (E), who make up 30 percent of the population.
His federalism policy, however, helped him to sweep a surprising amount of votes in Mindanao (an island in the south of the Philippines) — an unprecedented feat in presidential elections. The majority of Muslims and Catholics voted for him.
I had to worry about my auditory acuity when NDF and other left wingers compared Duterte to Juan Peron and even Hugo Chavez or Evo Morales.
Many on the left in Mindanao say, “The left in Luzon [the northern Philippines, where “Imperial Manila”, as we call it in Mindanao, is] really don’t know what it is going on here.”
Philippine government budgets for development mostly go to Luzon, and Mindanao people believe they have been ignored for a long time. Fourteen of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines are in Mindanao.
This poverty is the very reason why the Muslims and indigenous people have been fighting for a long time.
This is why, even though I agree with Giles on Duterte, I believe we have to understand more concretely who supported Duterte and why.