Where The Philippines Is Headed Under The Duterte Presidency

Duterte tends to rationalize and justify his wrongdoings.
With a strong social media following, Rodrigo Duterte became the Philippines 16th President
With a strong social media following, Rodrigo Duterte became the Philippines 16th President

In both local and international scenes, speculations on the future of the Philippines have begun to surface with some saying that the country is headed towards disaster. The apparent anxiety among foreign investors presents a grim foreboding which, if not pacified, may give rise to Economic collapse of epic proportions.

On the other hand, some people truly believe that President Duterte opened the gates of change that will mark the birth of a great Philippines. His war on drugs had been nothing but violent and bloody, and his promise to stamp out corruption and other illegal activities is expected to make shockwaves as his term progresses. For a country that has long been suffering from poverty, crime, drugs, and corruption, Rodrigo Duterte is seen as a messianic figure by a great portion of the populace.

Forever obsessed and fascinated with macho personality much like in their favorite action flicks, the Filipino masses easily fall for tough words and promises of salvation. The Duterte camp knows this for a fact and this has paved the way for a very successful election campaign led by an army of online trolls and uncompromising spin doctors. Change has indeed dawned but the question remains; Will it bring the country forward or will it usher in an era of utter darkness inconceivable by modern democratic and ethical standards?

Hitler is considered to be one of history's most terrible tyrants.
Hitler is considered to be one of history's most terrible tyrants.

Before Hitler and the Nazis came to power, Germany was experiencing great economic and social hardship. The Germans were clamoring for change and their disappointment in their current Government provided the leverage for Hitler to gain popularity and eventually, his rise to power. Hitler was a powerful and mesmerizing speaker who attracted a wide follower of Germans. At the onset, he was seen as a savior - a leader who was supposed to pluck Germany out of its economic slumber. Events that followed became one of the world’s darkest moments. His misplaced patriotism and apparent disregard for human life placed him at the top list of the most horrendous monsters ever to walk God’s green earth.

We have not seen the last of malevolent despots and despicable dictators after Hitler. Leaders such as Robert Mugabe, Idi Amin Dada, Kim Jong Ill, Saddam Hussein, and the Philippines’ own Ferdinand Marcos won people’s hearts through deception, fear mongering, tough talk, or assurance of economic progress. What transpires each time is an obvious pattern already laid down by history in a series of similar situations. First, the clamor for change then comes this politician promising heaven and earth. The last is the people’s awakening. At some point, the despot fails to make good his promise and the economy suffers - then comes the term extensions or the unnecessary amplification of power. The people realize that too many lives are being lost indiscriminately but then fear sets in and to preserve one’s self, silence becomes the only option.

Unsurprisingly, these tyrants have the same leadership characteristics and these are as follows:

1. They are very powerful and convincing speakers: People listen to them and see them as messianic figures. Opposition is at the minimal due to fear for one’s life or his family’s.

2. They are overly demanding: They have a clear grasp of what they wanted and nothing can change their minds or beliefs. They tend to demand obedience at all cost.

3. They rely on their troops: Government policies and plans are often carried out by the military or police.

4. They are goal setters and control freaks: They present particular goals and regardless of their practicality or feasibility, they control others to do exactly what they are told.

5. They are judgmental: They believe that those who do not conform to their thinking are enemies that need to be eradicated.

6. They have tremendous amount of confidence: They think that all their goals can be achieved and there are no other persons who can bring prosperity to the nation.

President Duterte displays his gun wielding skills.
President Duterte displays his gun wielding skills.

Does this ring a bell? Going back to Duterte, is it not obvious that he possesses these same qualities? During the election campaign, a document purporting to show the aspiring president’s psychological state was made public giving a fair warning to all.

A report prepared by Dr. Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists, concluded that Duterte was suffering from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” a condition characterized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors” and “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings.” The said report served as the basis for a grant of declaration of nullity of marriage between Duterte and Elizabeth Zimmerman by the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City.

Dr. Dayan further concluded that:

Duterte can be easily upset when his needs and desires were not met.

“Immediate gratification of his needs and desires is always expected; any delay can upset him a great deal.”

Duterte is highly capable of destructive behavior and has poor capacity for objective judgment.

“Such lack of self-discipline often leads him to engage in unhealthy or destructive behaviors. However, he is not apt to see his behaviors as such, and instead sees these as merely exciting and challenging.”

“As it is, he has poor capacity for objective judgment. He fails to see things in the light of facts, or at least from the point of view of most people. He interprets his actions solely from his own viewpoint, which is blemished by his personal needs, biases and prejudices.”

Duterte also tends to rationalize and justify his wrongdoings

“For all his wrongdoings, he tends to rationalize and feel justified. Hence, he seldom feels a sense of guilt or remorse.”

Disturbingly, these findings were blindly dismissed by the electorate and the Duterte persona was embraced in its totality all in the name of “change”. Duterte’s intentions may be unquestionable but it is his methods and his psychological state which will spell the difference between progress and economic ruin. Supporting the President in his grand intentions should not be a blind advocacy. Being supportive is also making sure that he does not fail and that his actions are checked to maintain a culture of trust and confidence within all sectors of society.