The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century then controlled by the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. For decades presidents entered and exited in and out of office with occasional coups or “people power” groups removing leaders through political movements. In leadership recently, Macapagal-Arroyo was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. Her presidency was marred by several corruption allegations but the Philippine economy was one of the few to avoid contraction following the 2008 global financial crisis, expanding each year of her administration. Benigno Aquino III was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2010 and was succeeded by Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016.
Around the time of his election, Philippine citizens remain under the thumb of political and economic elites. 83 percent consider corruption a “problem” in their country. Duterte ran on an anti-establishment platform, which promised political transformation to discredit the ruling elite at the time. He emphasized the importance of national security and order in society, even if it costed basic civil liberties.
Law-and-order populism plays on citizens’ anxieties about safety and desires for punitive politics. This form of populism tends to promote short-term solutions to multifaceted problems, often at the expense of human rights. President Rodrigo Duterte is a prominent example of a populist rising to power through law-and-order rhetoric in his efforts to unleash a brutal war on drugs, ordering police to kill suspected drug dealers.
Since taking office on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has carried out a “war on drugs” that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos, mostly urban poor. At least 2,555 of the killings have been linked to the Philippine National Police.
Research found that police are falsifying evidence to justify unlawful killings. Despite growing calls for an investigation, Duterte has promised to continue the campaign. Large-scale extrajudicial violence as a crime solution was a marker of Duterte’s presidential campaign.
If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.Rodrigo Duterte before winning election in 2016