3 Years of Authoritarian Rule under Duterte: An Alternative Perspective
CenPEG’s 11th State of the Presidency (SOP)

CenPEG News
July 26, 2019


Journalist killings, harassments, and intimidation in the guise of libel cases marked the state of the Philippine press in the first three years of the Duterte presidency.

This was underscored by Board member of CenPEG and former dean of the College of Mass Communication (University of the Philippines), Luis V. Teodoro, during the 11th State of the Presidency (SOP) organized by CenPEG on July 19, 2019. A yearly public forum coinciding with the sitting president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), this year’s SOP was hosted by the dean’s office of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).

The mid-term assessment of Duterte’s presidency was titled, “3 Years of Myth-making under Authoritarian Rule: An Alternative Perspective.”

Speaking at the SOP, Teodoro said media killings are still going on. Thirteen out of the 165 toll since 1986 taking place over the last three years of the Duterte government despite the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Safety (PTFoMS) in 2017.

Despite media repression under Duterte, “there are still journalists among us in both the corporate and alternative media who’re making the best of a bad situation, who are getting at the truth, and reporting and interpreting it,” Teodoro said.

Just the same, the renewed attacks on the press resulted in a “decline in critical and investigative reporting” as media organizations try to defend themselves “against regime trolls, old media hacks, and Mr. Duterte himself, and the increasing dominance of the regime narrative on such issues as Chinese incursions into the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines, the ‘drug war,‘ human rights violations, the threat of authoritarian rule, etc.,” he said.

Teodoro ended with a prognosis: “The next three remaining years of the Duterte regime are not likely to be any better—and will most probably be even worse.”

Temario C. Rivera, meanwhile, said that the further weakening of state institutions including the system of check and balance as well as accountability served as a fertile ground for the rise of authoritarian rule under Duterte. The lack of a liberal culture of human rights among many people, he added, has also contributed to the president’s “populist” appeal despite mounting reports of extra-judicial killings victimizing not only drug suspects but also political activists, rights defenders, lawyers, and other targets.

Rivera, current CenPEG chair and former chair of the political science department of UP Diliman, spoke on Duterte’s first three years of authoritarian rule.

Appraising Duterte’s foreign policy, CenPEG policy studies director Bobby M. Tuazon, argued that despite the Philippine president’s much-hyped “pivot to China,” the country’s traditional ties with its former colonial master, US, remains as solid as ever. Tuazon noted, for instance, that joint war exercises with the US which Duterte once threatened to scrap in 2016 have in fact increased from 261 in 2018 to 281 in 2019, with the same number and bigger activities planned in 2020.

The joint war drills have been upgraded where Philippine-based exercises are held simultaneously with US naval, coast guard, and airforce exercises in South China Sea together with other US allies and partners in the region, Tuazon revealed. Soon, the Pentagon’s new IndoPacific Strategy will see the Philippines joining 23 others countries in Asia and Europe in a new containment template on China to deter not only its presence in the SCS but also its rise as a power in the region.

Other resource persons in the SOP were, Ateneo economics professor Joseph Anthony Lim, who spoke on “Propelling Toward a Middle Income Trap?”; AES Watch spokesperson Nelson J. Celis, “Transparency Crisis: Threat to our Democracy”; and Socorro L. Reyes, Regional Gender and Governance Adviser, Center for Legislative Development, on the topic, “Women and Human Rights in the Duterte Presidency”.

CenPEG Fellow Hector Barrios acted as forum moderator while closing remarks was delivered by CenPEG executive director, Evita L. Jimenez.

The public forum was attended by NGO leaders, academic scholars, former legislators, labor activists, diplomatic officials, and media. CenPEG News


SOP 2019 Presentations(PDF)
Joseph Anthony Lim, Propelling Towards a Middle Income Trap?
Temario Rivera, Three Years of Authoritarian Rule Under Duterte: An Alternative Perspective
Luis V. Teodoro, The Press in Year Three of the Duterte Regime
Socorro Reyes, Women and Human Rights in the Duterte Presidency


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