Filed on May 12, 2016
Rodrigo Duterte – who is known for his deadpan wit and wry humour – describes himself as the first leftist-socialist Philippine president. What does he stand for? What do people expect from the presumptive 16th President of the Philippines?
Khaleej Times got in touch with his mentor Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and Duterte’s former college professor, to get a glimpse of his political ideology and upcoming plans.
In an online interview, Sison outlines the policies the Davao City mayor, an open critic of the outgoing Aquino regime, is likely to adopt to establish law and order in the country. The former professor has a message for Duerte opponents who call him the Asian Trump: Duterte will be Philippines’ Hugo Chavez.
Remembering the early days of the anti-oligarch, who advocates extra-judicial killings to eradicate criminality in society, 77-year-old Sison said: “As a student, he was modest and laid back but he learned much. I am very proud to have a part in his political moulding against imperialism and the local oligarchs.
“I hope that he will actually serve the Filipino people in their fight for national liberation, democracy, social justice, development.
“(Duterte) was my student in Political Thought at the Lyceum of the Philippines in the late 1960s. He became a member of the Kabataang Makabayan (patriotic Filipino youth group),” Sison added.
Sison, who has been living as a political exile with his family in The Netherlands for the past three decades, said: “I will return to the Philippines if Duterte fulfils his promise to visit me.
“I can easily return home if Duterte releases all the political prisoners unjustly imprisoned by (former president) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and (outgoing) President Benigno Aquino Jr. and if there is an agreement on mutual ceasefire, cooperation and the acceleration of the peace negotiations to address the roots of the civil war.”
Speaking from Utrecht, Sison admitted that “the (Philippine) Left contributed to the victory of Duterte because it opposed the US-backed Aquino regime strongly and for a long time against its puppetry, corruption, brutality and mendacity.”
Speaking from Utrecht, Sison said: “Duterte became a landslide winner because he responded to the people’s clamour for change and became their voice to protest against the Aquino regime, its corruption and criminality, especially the widespread drug trade.
Not an Asian Trump
The exiled communist leader also cautioned those calling Duterte as the ‘Asian Trump’.
“Instead of analysing any kind of name-calling, I would rather test and find out soon how far he can serve the best interests of the Filipino people,” Sison said.
“I give him the benefit of a doubt when I prefer to wish that he proves himself a true leftist like Hugo Chavez (former socialist president of Venezuela). I also enjoy much of his sense of humour but not necessarily all his jokes.”
Champion of peace
During the campaign period Duterte vowed to order an immediate ceasefire to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels and militant groups in Mindanao, south of Philippines. “The revolutionary forces will be very often in touch with Duterte after an agreement is made on mutual ceasefire, cooperation and acceleration of peace negotiations. We shall have reciprocal advisers and liaison officers.”
“The Makabayan (progressive) bloc (in congress) will support all the patriotic and progressive policies and acts of the Duterte presidency. I hope that there will be a government of national unity, peace and development.
On his campaign against criminality, Sison said: “I think that the campaign against criminality can be carried out without violating human rights. Only those armed and dangerous suspects who violently resist arrest can be killed by the arresting police units.
Duterte has repeatedly made this point clear. He has even taunted the racist policemen in the US for whimsically killing Blacks.”
No doubt, the new president’s biggest challenge is how to bring about social justice and equitable economic development.