The Duterte Whirlwind: The Reawakening of the Philippines

August 22, 2016 • GLOBAL ECONOMY, CRITICAL ANALYSIS, Columns, World Politics, Asia - Pacific, Dan Steinbock, On Duterte and the Philippines

By Dan Steinbock

The new Philippine president is waging a tough drug war, pushing economic growth domestically and greater pragmatism in foreign policy that could contribute to Southeast Asia’s future.


Internationally, Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, has been portrayed as a “dangerous populist”. That’s a gross caricature. In the elections, he leaned on the nationalistic, social-democratic PDP-Laban (lit. Philippine Democratic Party-People’s Power). He is a tough pragmatic realist who focuses on actions and results, not talks and formalities.

After two decades as Mayor of Davao, the country’s second-largest city, Duterte won the elections with a tough stand on crime. He has a track record. When he took over in Davao in the 80s, it was regarded as a dangerous economic backwater. Today, the city is booming and crime is down. Now he would like to “davao” the nation.

True, Duterte’s macho rhetoric tends to blur the substance of his actions. Sheer authority earns his respect. Allegedly molested by a priest as a boy, he has been vocal for the rights of women, and ethnic minorities, including Muslims. He wants to unleash inclusive growth in the Philippines. He supports the US-Philippine alliance, but would lean more toward China and does not believe Washington would honour its defence obligations.

With a pace of a whirlwind, Duterte seeks to transform the Philippines for the better – or perish in the process of doing so.


Liberalising the Economy

As international media has focused on the Philippine drug war, it has ignored the dramatic rejuvenation of the archipelago nation’s economy that Duterte would like to serve more ordinary Filipinos. After election, Davao businessman Carlos G. Dominguez, Duterte’s finance secretary and childhood friend disclosed the new administration’s 10-point economic agenda. The basic idea is to maintain current macroeconomic policies, while instituting progressive tax reform.

Unlike his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino II, Duterte wants to accelerate annual infrastructure spending to account for 7% of GDP, mainly with public-private partnerships. Budget deficit is likely to increase and he has suggested raising the ceiling to 3 percent of GDP. Unlike stagnating advanced economies, the Philippine economy can manage deficits with future growth. To attract foreign investment, Duterte also hopes to relax the economic provisions of the constitution to adjust the foreign ownership cap of local companies to 70%; a task in which the previous Aquino administration failed.

In the past half a decade, manufacturing has accounted for more than half of FDI applications, which is vital to absorb labour growth as rural workers leave for cities, and to diversify economy away from low-skill services.

Duterte supports the US-Philippine alliance, but would lean more toward China and does not believe Washington would honor its defense obligations.

These policies have potential to accelerate modernisation. Unlike his predecessor, Duterte will promote increasing agricultural productivity and rural tourism. Industrialisation has still a long way to go as less than 20% of the population is employed by industry. The urbanisation rate is only 50% and behind Indonesia. Internationally, the growth potential of the economy has been assessed at around 6.5% per annum, the bulk of which comes from services, construction, and manufacturing sectors. The future of IT business services is bright.

Recently, research firm Nielsen found Philippine consumer confidence to be at an all-time high, buoyed by the promise of future reforms. In the second quarter, GDP growth soared on the back of election-year spending to 7.0%, the fastest in Asia. Indeed, structural growth potential of the economy could be closer to 8 percent, if growth would be more inclusive.

Like Brazil a decade ago, Duterte wants growth to improve social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program. He is a secular no-nonsense politician dedicated to strengthening the reproductive health law. In a Catholic country, where divorce can be as tricky as in the Vatican, such goals are controversial but hold a great potential for living standards.

Unlike his predecessors, Duterte supports greater decentralisation and autonomy for the south. To him, federalism is the antidote to bureaucratic centralism; a legacy of colonial powers and ruling political dynasties that cultivate corruption and patronage. Moreover, federalism is vital to defuse a long-lasting communist insurgency and Muslim separatism in the south – and the spread of Jihadism in the future.

The starting point is favourable. The Philippine economy has a strong balance sheet and is well positioned to cope with global shocks. An economy of 100 million people is characterised by solid domestic demand, youthful demographics, but low exposure to global trade. Comprising one of the world’s largest Diasporas, 12 million Filipinos live abroad, while their remittances bring in vital foreign exchange.

Like other promising emerging economies, the Philippines has its downside risks. Thanks to its geographical location, large-scale natural disasters can cause major property loss, population displacement and disrupted food supply in storm-prone nation of 7,000 islands. Internationally, an earlier than anticipated Fed rate hike could hurt the Philippine peso. In turn, weaker-than-expected growth in China could harm exports and erode the current account balance.


War Against Drugs and Crime

Since the election, the drug war has claimed more than 1,800 lives. The bloody bodies of alleged dealers and users have been left on sidewalks with cardboard placards suggesting involvement in the drug trade. Rights groups opposed Duterte backing death squads when he was still mayor of Davao and Time nicknamed him “The Punisher” Today, Human Rights Watch calls the situation “extremely alarming”.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, argue the proponents of the administration. By early August, Duterte had linked more than 150 judges, mayors, lawmakers, police and military personnel to illegal drugs ordering them to surrender: “I’m giving you 24 hours to report to your mother unit or I will whack you”, he said at a military camp. Reportedly, nearly 600,000 people have surrendered to authorities, trying to avoid getting killed. Prisons have turned into overcrowded, sardine-pack nightmares.

As far as critics are concerned, Duterte is undermining human rights, despite his statements against extrajudicial killings. This argument has been directed against Duterte by the UN, the United States and the Philippine rights organisations. Yet, he considers the critics naïve. Let’s illustrate the point: One of his most vocal critics has been Senator Leila de Lima; a former human rights commissioner, who had a stint as Aquino’s Justice Secretary and whose statements have often been taken at face value by well-meaning observers. As de Lima accused Duterte for human rights violations, he dropped a bombshell alleging that de Lima was linked to the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (which is under the DOJ); that she had bought a mansion to her driver who is also her lover; and that the driver collected drug funds for her during her senate campaign. Duterte struck a nerve. Last March, Discovery Channel’s Lou Ferrente, a former Gambino mobster, took a closer look at the world’s largest prison, which held 20,000 inmates and was run by drug lords who lived like royalties and seemed to have a close relationship with de Lima. While de Lima blames Duterte for character assassination, she is now under investigation for alleged links to illegal drug syndicates. According to the new DOJ, the investigation covers the top to the bottom ranks of the previous DOJ that de Lima headed.

Despite rights organisations’ criticism, Duterte has the support of most Filipinos. In July, his trust rating soared to 91%.

As far as Duterte is concerned, he feels he is not moving fast enough. The Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa, the largest source of illegal drugs to the US, is already using the Philippines as an intermediate destination. Due to challenges in directly reaching America, the cartel is operating in the Philippines via transshipment. These activities were discovered around 2013 when a Mexican operation worth almost $100 million was confiscated. Duterte’s concern is that Manila has only a few years to curb illegal drugs and to avoid the fate of Mexico’s border regions.

These dramatic exchanges and tough measures have unleashed much debate in the Philippines. What actually happened in era of President Aquino? Despite substantial funds and the presidential crime commission, why so little was done to fight the drug lords and the cartel.

Despite rights organisations’ criticism, Duterte has the support of most Filipinos. In July, his trust rating soared to 91%. After two long decades of Marcos and after another two decades of anti-Marcos politics, reforms have not been accompanied by inclusive economic growth. Today, ordinary Filipinos are tired of waiting.

Duterte would like to “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government”. He describes them as “guys who just sit in their airplanes or their mansions. Their money adds up like the fare adding up in a taxi’s metre.” In early August, he singled out Filipino tycoon Roberto Ongpin; one of the 50 richest Filipinos in 2015 with a net worth of $900 million, according to Forbes. Duterte described him as a businessman close to people in power and implied he used political influence to foster his businesses. The oligarch ties go way back. Ongpin started his career as the trade secretary of Ferdinand Marcos.


The Fall From Grace

After the relinquishment of US sovereignty over the Philippines in July 1946, the Philippines was one of the most promising economies in Asia. In 1950, its living standards were still twice as high as in Taiwan or South Korea. However, as industrialisation took off in Japan and spread to tiger economies in East and Southeast Asia, the Philippines fell behind. Today the Philippine living standards are about 15% relative to Taiwan and 20% in comparison to South Korea.

In the postwar era, the US retained military bases in the Philippines, as well as commercial privileges regarding Philippine imports and natural resources. As economic growth and development began to intensify in the mid-1960s, Ferdinand Marcos won the election. During his first term, industrialisation increased, infrastructure was created and schools were launched. Meanwhile, Marcos steered increasing funding to the military, while sending more than 10,000 Filipino soldiers to Vietnam to support the US.

In his second term, Marcos began to create a personality cult, amid increasing economic and political turmoil. When he declared Martial Law in 1972, Washington looked the other way. Thanks to heavy borrowing, the economy grew. But by the 1980s, foreign debt servicing and mismanagement of key industries caused a major downturn and the Philippines became known as the “sick man of Asia”.

The 2010 election win of President Aquino was buttressed by the legacy of his father, an opposition leader allegedly assassinated by Marcos, and his mother, the first post-Marcos president. During his rule, Aquino began his struggle against corruption and good governance, but growth did not filter down. Every third or fourth Filipino continues to live below the poverty rate, while drugs and crime thrive in slums.

While Aquino failed to achieve inclusive growth, he did get US forces back to the Philippines.


The Role of Washington: Security Assurances

Since the postwar era, Manila has been Washington’s major non-NATO ally in the region. The American-Filipino relationship rests on the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which has allowed the US Navy to return to Subic Bay. Leftist parties consider the return of US troops a violation of Philippine sovereignty, while pro-US Filipinos hope to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the next round of expansion.

The new alliance with Washington was designed by President Aquino and his foreign minister Albert del Rosario. In Washington’s view, it complemented US’s pivot to Asia, including the plan to move the majority of US warships to Asia Pacific by 2020. However, as Rosario resigned for health reasons in the spring and Aquino is no longer in office, Chinese-Philippines rapprochement has begun which has not escaped unnoticed in Washington.

Leftist parties consider the return of US troops a violation of Philippine sovereignty, while pro-US Filipinos hope to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the next round of expansion.

In the past few months, there have been several diplomatic rows between Duterte and US ambassador Philip Goldberg. A recent one followed a meeting between State Secretary John Kerry and Duterte who said that “I’m fighting with [Kerry’s] ambassador. His gay ambassador, the S.O.B. He pissed me off.” In the US media, the debate focused on the homophobic slur; it should also have been focused on efforts to influence the election. Before the vote, the US Navy sent its third warship in less than seven months into the waters of the disputed South China Sea. Meanwhile, ambassador Goldberg made it clear that Duterte was not Washington’s choice and supported Aquino’s favourites. “[Goldberg] meddled during the elections,” says Duterte. “He was not supposed to do that.”

Historically, the distrust between Duterte and Washington goes back to the Meiring case, which US mainstream media has portrayed as a psychological melodrama that “fuels Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘hatred’ of the US”, as the New York Times put it amid the Philippine elections. However, the case may have more to do with US covert operations in Southeast Asia. The story goes back to Davao in May 2002 when a metal box exploded in the hotel room of Michael Terrence Meiring and mangled his legs. The police found in the room powerful high-tech explosives and “highly-confidential” documents. Meiring had spent millions of dollars and had close ties with well-placed government authorities in Southern Mindanao, as well as Muslim separatists, Communist insurgents and jihadists, such as Abu Sayyaf; the feared terrorist organisation, which Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. once described as a “CIA monster” because the agency helped to train the group.

After Meiring was taken to the hospital, he vanished as men representing the FBI took him in the dark of night and flew him out of the country, with facilitation by the US Embassy. Subsequently, Duterte blocked US requests to base drones or spy planes at Davao’s old airport.

In Washington, the Meiring case is discounted as conspiracy speculation. Yet, since the Bush era, Washington’s neoconservatives have promoted the use of “regional states in developing a hedge against the possible emergence of an overly aggressive China”. To Duterte, the Meiring debacle was an infuriating violation of Philippine sovereignty.


The Role of Beijing: Economic Cooperation

On July 12, the Hague international court ruled in the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea. Internationally, the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has been characterised as a sweeping rebuke of Chinese claims in the South China Sea. But in international relations, the impact is more ambiguous, which means greater uncertainty and possible volatility in the region.

China refused to participate in the arbitration because in Beijing’s view the tribunal had no jurisdiction over the case. Despite the focus of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the PCA is not a UN agency. Nor is its ruling enforceable. The US has strongly supported international arbitration and the rule of law. Yet, US record on international law is highly mixed; it has often acted unilaterally against international law, including through regime change, invasions and coups d’etat. Washington still has not ratified the UNCLOS, which in Beijing creates an impression that US wants China to abide by rules it rejects. Historically no permanent member of the UN Security Council has complied with a ruling by the PCA on an issue involving the Law of the Sea.

Currently, China and the Philippines have opted for a cooperative stance, which is predicated on Sino-Philippine dialogue that could reduce the weight of geopolitical issues, while supporting mutual gains in economic development. In the long-term, this is the most preferable trajectory to Manila, Beijing, Washington and ASEAN.

Despite significant pressures, Duterte is hedging his bets between US security assurances and Chinese economic cooperation, as evidenced by former President Fidel Ramos’s informal talks recently in China, which may result in a formal dialogue. Intensified bilateral cooperation could increase China’s participation in infrastructure investment and Chinese multinationals in economic zones; financing possibilities vis-à-vis the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; agreeing on “joint development areas” in South China Sea; possibly even joint potential in anti-corruption and anti-drug activities.


The Great Awakening

In the past few weeks, international media has “rediscovered” the Philippines, mainly thanks to the drug war, which ensures dramatic footage and great headlines, and are sometimes politically convenient. However, the structural trends of the beautiful island nation – rapid growth and great economic potential, a huge infrastructure push and rising foreign investment, the quest for law and order, and the effort to finally end futile friction with insurgents and to focus on economic development – continue to be largely ignored.

Opposition critics argue that Duterte’s rule could deteriorate into autocratic mismanagement that will penalise the gains of the Aquino years. Still others understand the need for tough policies, but remain concerned about unintended rights violations and collateral human damage.

In contrast, Duterte’s supporters ask why the war against drugs and for law and order did not start six years ago in the Aquino era when it would still have been easier; while others wonder why corruption was permitted, despite multiple high-profile cases that have been recently disclosed in the public and private sector. To them, the Duterte era is a great reawakening – a second People’s Power Movement, if you will.

Duterte hesitated for months before he began to compete for the presidency, and for a reason. He is taking huge personal and security risks to achieve his objectives. Like Lee Kuan Yew once in Singapore, he is determined to clean the government, the bureaucracy and the private sector, while defusing external conflicts.

In emerging Asia, prosperity can only be built on peace and stability.


Featured image courtesy of: Reuters


About the Author

dan-steinbock-webBorn in Europe and spending much of his time in the US and China, Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognised expert of the nascent multipolar world. He is also Guest Fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and the commentary is based on his SIIS project on “China and the multipolar world economy.” Dr. Steinbock has lectured widely in China and recently in the Philippines Foreign Service Institute. For more about Dr. Steinbock, see For more about SIIS, see


85 Responses to The Duterte Whirlwind: The Reawakening of the Philippines

  1. George Lim says:

    Thank you Dr Steibock for such an unbiased and insightful article about the DUTERTE’s presidency and the Philippines situation. I wish all foreign journalists spend more time in the Philippines to understand the real situation before writing sensationalised articles about the country and its president. DUTERTE will one day be regarded as the best president the Philippines ever has. Never has there been president who knows and wants to solve the basic problems of the common people.– drugs, crime, bureaucy, corruption, population growth, and exploitation of the poor. It is no surprise that despite a lack of campaign funds and party machinery, DUTERTE won by a huge margin. The only danger he faces is he may lose his life trying to help his countrymen improve their their lives.

    • jenny says:

      Thank you very much for a fair and unbiased article about our country. There are only a few of you in the international media who really do your research and report fairly.
      I hope the others would learn from your investigative reporting. Kudos to World Financial Review!
      😀 😀

    • AYN BAYANI says:

      Unlike collinson’s articles, your analysis gives a better perspective of sociopolitical events in asia.

  2. […] The original online version was published by The World Financial Review on August 22, 2016[2]: […]

  3. cATA RIVERA says:

    A GOOD READ!!!

  4. Prinsesa Urduja says:

    Thank Dan for your balance unbiased and accurate reporting! Majority of Filipinos supports Pres. Duterte. We are tired of drugs and oligarchs whose controlling the drug trade. Time to awaken indeed!

  5. Benedicto O Bulatao says:

    Very insightful, he has very good read on the situation and Duterte.

  6. Avi says:

    Thank you for this fair article. Cheers from the Philippines!

  7. Omar Depalubos says:

    Great read!

  8. Sisa Silang Kahabagan says:

    Thank you for this Mr. Steinbock. I would just like to clarify the part about Marcos assassinating Ninoy Aquino. As one of my history professors said, “Marcos was a very intelligent man. He knew that his enemies were after him. Why then would he have Ninoy killed when he knows this would lead to his downfall?” There are now rumors, and even research, backing the idea that it was Ninoy’s own family that had him killed. One such “ideas” is that Danding Conquanco was the one who was the mastermind of the assassination: he is a close personal friend and adviser of the late president Marcos and a cousin to the wife of Ninoy; an oligarch, nonetheless, and chairman of San Miguel Corporation.

    • jenny says:

      I agree too. Marcos never killed Ninoy. If he did, then the wife and son of Ninoy became presidents but they never had the case opened because they couldn’t prove it. Even the son of Marcos wanted the case opened. The problem with the Aquinos, they want to make people hate Marcos and paid the media to put him down. Now that there is an internet, everybody knows everything and only a few don’t. Marcos is one of our most brilliant presidents who also care for the Filipnos and who built the nation. He is a very educated man with a good heart and will never kill anybody just like that even if he was a soldier.
      Thank you very much for a fair and unbiased article about our country. There are only a few of you in the international media who really do your research and report fairly.
      I hope the others would learn from your investigative reporting. Kudos to World Financial Review!
      😀 😀

    • Mike says:

      Marcos was evil…as evil as they come, but I don’t believe he was involved in the assassination of Ninoy Aquino…it would have been counter productive.

  9. Zi says:

    FINALLY. God. The new Philippine president has been getting flak and just pure BS from the international media. This one’s a BREATH of fresh air. thank you so much for not Pretending to know our country and for not pretending to know what’s best for the Philippines.
    The filipinos are sick and tired of reading just pure BS lately. A lot of Filipinos turned to social media for objective analysis on war against crime, drugs and corruption because the mainstream media (where most international media gets their info) are feeding the public really pure BS.
    Thank you for this article.

  10. richard p. fernandez says:

    This article is the correct, objective, and straightforward annalysis of the real situation, policy and actions of the Duterte administrattion…kodus to the author..

  11. Mark Mendoza says:

    May God Cover our beloved President Duterte with His Divine Protection, In Jesus name, Amen. God Bless the Philippines!

  12. Bong Aguila says:

    Mr. Steinbock, thank you for writing about the Philippines and your unbias view regarding the political situation in our country. Eventhough the anti-duterte in media (both international and national mainstream media) is prevalent nowadays, we will support our president all the way in his fight on drugs, criminality and corruption. You don’t need to watch on TV or read in the print media the effects on drug, you just have to noticed it in a barangay or small village (if you are living here). Two or three years ago you can just count on your 2 hands people into drugs in my barangay, but now, it is into 10-15 % (1800 people in my small village). However, since our new president came into power, our small village is quiet and peaceful (many surrendered and stop taking drugs).

  13. Flip says:

    You wrote: “The 2010 election win of President Aquino was buttressed by the legacy of his father, an opposition leader assassinated by Marcos….”

    If you can find a legal document or any source that proves Marcos “assassinated” Ninoy Aquino, cite your peer-reviewed sources. If you DO NOT HAVE ANY PEER-REVIEWED sources or legal document, DO NO MAKE UP FACTS FROM YOUR UNETHICAL IMAGINATION!

    For the record, MARCOS DID NOT ASSASSINATE AQUINO. Which only proves that you’re an IDIOT Steinbock!

    • jenny says:

      Oh geeze. Please don’t be rude. He may have not know that fact but many of what he has featured were correct, fair, and unbiased unlike many other international media.

    • Roman says:

      “allegedly” assassinated by Marcos. Read the article again.

      • simonville says:

        To Flip and a few others: Have you read Roman’s reply to Flip? Read: “”allegedly” assassinated by Marcos. Read the article again”.

        Please correct any error of yours you might realize and include a realistic apology.


    • Leo says:

      I love it when retards like you try to change history.
      People like you are the reason why this country is going to the shitter.

    • Blitz says:

      You get excited bro? Relax more good articles to come shedding the real story inside Philippines.

    • g says:

      I don’t like to pick on people but please think before you click..
      “allegedly” – used to convey that something is claimed to be the case or have taken place, although there is no proof.

      now what genius?

  14. Antoni says:

    Thank you sir for this. I’m very much certain that P. Duterte will bring back the glory in our country. Duterte is well-presented here.

  15. Bel says:

    I enjoyed reading your article until about Aquino….. an opposition leader assassinated by Marcos. A thorough researched should have been done so you would have known the real people behind his death and who caused his death. Didn’t it occur to you that the wife and and son came to power and had all the power, resources, intelligence yet they did not bother to investigate or reopen the case?
    What we have had in our country; what you and the likes of you wanted to see are only for the oligarchs/few elites.
    Have you investigated the status of the Filipino workers in our country? What did the government of the late Cory Aquino has done? And that the current government is trying to stop and that’s why the oligarchs/business people and of course with the assistance from the countries that has vested interest are trying to destroy and remove Duterte from power and will put VP Robredo who’s easy to handle and manipulate. Do you really believe that the true VP winner in the recently concluded election in my country is Robredo? Likewise all the senators that won were true and real winners? If you do, then you are just like the rest. Pardon me for my language.

  16. Nest Reyes says:

    The 2010 Win of Benigno S. Aquino III in A Presidential Election is a Combination of Cheating and Sympathy Votes, and Marcos Never Assassinate His Father. In Fact If Marcos Wanted Noynoy Aquino’s Father Dead, Ninoy Aquino (Noynoy’s Father) Can No Longer Go To America For his Heart Transplant. Ninoy Will Be Dead In The Philippines IF Marcos Wanted Him Dead. Those Who Feed This Author Regarding The Marcos Assassination Of Ninoy Aquino are an Oligarchs Allies’ Of Aquino and Made It Appear That Marcos Assassinate Ninoy When Marcos Were Having A dinner With His Family Inside Malacanang Palace. So, How Marcos Had A Hand Assassinating His Rival.? Had It Not For Marcos Declaring Martial Law Philippines Can No Longer A Democratic Country, It’s Another Communist Country under China. Human Rights International Just Focus On The Victims Of Martial Law, But Never Counted The Victims Of Communist NPA which is Higher Than The victims Of Martial Law. That’s The Truth.

    • Nest Reyes says:

      And When The Aquino’s Were In Boston, Ninoy Doesn’t Have Money In His Pocket TO Go For Shopping Because Cory Divorced Ninoy. So, Ninoy Aquino Doesn’t have Choices But To Call Marcos For Assistance, and Marcos Never Hesitate To Send Ninoy Financial Assistance. And The reason WHY Ninoy Aquino Went Home To Talk To Marcos Personally. But He Was Gunned Down By Those Who are Loyal To Cory’s Relative. And The Result, They BLAMED Marcos For The Killing of Ninoy Aquino.

      • edouardemmanuelcayetano says:

        The author said Po na “allegedly assassinated” by Marcos… Pero ngayon, lumalabas na nga na “allegedly” si Mr. Danding Cojuangco ang nagpapatay sa kanyang bayaw na si late Sen, Ninoy Aquino, na naging presidente nga Po ang asawa at anak niya pero wala nga po akong nabalitaang ginawa nila para ma-solve ang kaso ng pagkamatay ni Sen. Ninoy, na nagpapahiwatig nga po na totoo ang “alleged” na si Mr. Danding nga po ang salarin…

  17. Rhanier Santiago says:

    Thank you Dr. Steinbock the most objective assessment about the situation in the Philippines that I’ve read in a long time and also about President DU30. To the frank President DU30 is really cleaning up many decades of corruption and bad habits.

  18. DOGMA says:

    Fantastic article; balanced and Well researched.

  19. Sarah Talidong says:

    Hi this is a great article/review for people to know how the PH is working economically which the media don’t really point out. It’s just that it says that Ninoy was assasinated by Marcos. Where does this come from? I’m sorry, I’m not a Marcos fan or what but you know may be he was killed by one of his good friend too. Why? To sparkplug the anger of the Filipino people. I’m not really sure about my point but it’s a possibility. And the info that Ninoy was really assasinated by FEM could be misleading. Thank you

  20. Alejandro says:

    What a great piece of article. I hope this will be read by a lot of people and shared on social media. You have revealed in the article impotant details which many do not know, or are aware of. Mearing’s story and the high-powered firearms and classified documents, for example. It is no wonder Duterte refused the drones, which Filipinos thought as merely projecting the macho image of him, unaware that the former Davao mayor had a valid reason for refusal. There is only one thing i would like you to consider. The killer of Ninoy Aquino. Many Filipinos do no believe Marcos did it anymore. Please google it. Thanks for the article.

  21. Catherine Diaz says:

    I commend you, sir, for writing this fair and well-researched article about the Philippines and Pres. Duterte.

  22. Ely says:

    I just want to correct the paragraph stating that Ferdinand Marcos assassinated Ninoy
    Aquino which is the father of Noynoy Aquino. The assassination of Ninoy has not yet been solve until today so I think the statement is wrong. #justsaying.
    Thank you for a good article. Keep it up!

  23. krizette chu says:

    Thank you!!!!

  24. R.Subido says:

    Wow, Thank you sir for publishing this… you are really a journalist. There are biased reporter but you still speak on what is really going on to our country. Good luck to our beloved President. We will support you all the way. Eradicate corruption and drugs.

  25. randy says:

    i just want to say that marcos was not the one who killed ninoy aquino and the whole phillipines knows it. he was killed by a relative of the aquino-cojuanco and the whole clan knows it that’s why even as cory aquino became president up to noynoy aquino, the son became president, they never pursued any investigation re who ninoy’s killer really was but merely continued to let the people think it was marcos to get the people’s sympathy altho now, we are all fully aware and know that it was one of their own(a cojuanco) who killed ninoy….so he was and never will be a hero here in our country because he didnt really do or contributed anything to us except fir the fact that he was actually a traitor of our country….the main reason why martial law has to be proclaimed…to protect the country from the likes of him, a communist leader

  26. E. Subijano says:

    “Duterte’s supporters ask why the war against drugs and for law and order did not start six years ago in the Aquino era when it would still have been easier; while others wonder why corruption was permitted, despite multiple high-profile cases that have been recently disclosed in the public and private sector.” – from the article above.

    The answer is simple !!! BS Aquino 3rd is a coddler of drug lords and a most corrup president and politician. As far as aI know he was the one who ordered the massacre of the striking workers in Hacienda Luisita in November 2014.

    • leekimmy says:

      You are correct. They enjoy political power only. They never did anything about the economic progress and development but corruption. Now, Where did Ninoy and Kris Aquino hide the borrowed trillions of money? Are they using them for paying the Media to ruin Pres. Duterte’s straight forward hardwork. Lets investigate the trillions . The peoples power leaders are getting paid and being used to do diversion. Aquinos practice is only propagsnda, theres no contributions in the country but disasters.

  27. Jean says:

    Unlike other foreign media who focused on the alleged government-sanctioned EJKs (and ignoring the possibility that members of the drug syndicates were most likely killing their own minions), you have provided a comprehensive picture of what is actually happening in my country. For that, thank you so much!

  28. Jason says:

    First article I’ve read about this man without any hint of bias. Kudos World Financial Review, you are a cut above the rest.

  29. BLUISH says:

    I am so grateful and impressed of this well-balanced article. Thank you sir for the great work. The success of the Philippines needs the support of international community and it gives great hope to see outsiders like you giving a more balanced view of the situation.

  30. Excellent piece! As an expat living in the Philippines, I found it most informative and enlightening. Thank you.

  31. Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  32. evangeline pico says:

    thank you for this article. fair. professional. I think I’d like to follow world financial review.

  33. Magdaleno says:

    Except for a few inaccuracies ( Benigno Aquino’s father, “an opposition leader assassinated by Marcos”), the article is a well researched and unbiased piece of journalism about a complex nation like the Philippines.

  34. Ting says:

    Majority, if not all, Philippines’ jails and correctional, especially maximum, medium and city jails are over-crowded even before Aquino’s time. Also, in relation to the 600,000 (now 700,000) drug users and pushers who surrendered, majority of those were sent home after they were documented, made to swear to be good citizens and evaluated; so a lot were not sent to jail and continue to live on their own with an exception of, maybe, rendering community service or attend regular physical fitness regimens.

  35. Thank you Dr.Dan Steinbock for your unbiased, discerning assessment of the PH situation at such a time as this. Your wisdom and understanding of the real situation in our native PH is such a a welcome brand of journalism just like our country needs at this point in time in a sea of “Talangka mentality”, biased, corrupt, Filipino journalists, intellectually dishonest, driven by greed, selfish motives, delusion, and foolishness.

    I hope there’ll be more true journalists, writer, analyst, researcher like you. God bless you for your truthfulness, honesty, and courage to stick to truth and honest conviction.

  36. Fred Mendoza says:

    Ferdinand Marcos did not assasinate Ninoy Aquino. You have to redo your research.

  37. G. Rada says:

    Duterte cusses and is tough but he honestly cares for the future and the well-being of Filipinos. We truly support him as President. All those opposing him have vested interests in illegal and corrupt practices, yes – they are the oligarchs and media who gives the illusion of goodness and pretend-righteousness. All they want is to continue taking advantage of us the common Filipino people and our country’s resources as they have done in so many countless years. The foreign media should not help them, its sickening.

    • Thelma Ray says:

      You nailed it G. Rada. That’s 100% true. They’re just keeping the wealth of the country to themselves and not distributing it that is why the country’s poverty problem keeps on adding up year after year; generation after generation. People are so desperate to leave the country for greener pastures in other countries just to be able to help their families even if it means sacrificing long term” family separation”; of which most western people don’t understand at all.

  38. Merlin says:


    A great article that is well-written and well-researched.

    Dr. Steinbock, thanks for your comprehensive review of what went before and what is happening now in our country. Unlike our local mainstream media that puts premium on “drama” and sensational reporting, yours is a breath of fresh air because you tell it just the way it is.

    How I wish other foreign media follow your lead and do not rely mainly on what the Oligarch-controlled media report which is tainted with biases based on their vested interests.

    May your tribe increase sir!

  39. Lourdes Oeij says:

    A comprehensive article about the Philippines.
    Definitely an article from a learned man.
    Not like those sensational articles coming out of other foreign countries from mediocre journalists. Journalists who just want to churn out quick news and articles to sell their newspapers or TV programs.

  40. francis bersabal says:

    Awesome article! its so few to read unbiased write ups from journalist/researches nowadays.

  41. waki says:

    Worth to read, thanks for the fair analysis of our country! This we called responsible journalism.

  42. Rick MD says:

    Amazing article! Unbiased, informative, and educational materials. These kind of stuff I do enjoy reading and sharing with my colleague. Great job Dr. Dan Steinbock! President R. Duterte is a common sense governance. Not perfect but very effective leader. Never thought I never see Philippines will have this kind of leader and viola! It happened during my life time. God bless.

  43. Grace says:

    Thank you for this fair and unbiased article. This is what journalism is supposed to be.

  44. Jepherson says:

    Nice read! By far, this is the unbiased article I read regarding the recent ruckus in the Philippines.

  45. Billy says:

    A good read, well balanced report from Dan. Those who criticize Duterte seems to be in a fictional world that in the fight against drug for the greater good and law abiding citizens, that there will be no casualties. Again, The war again drugs is for the safely of a larger citizen of the republic of the Philippines, Duterte wants to give back the streets of Manila back to its citizen, so that they can walk anytime in safely without fear of any crooks in the streets

  46. Ron D says:

    Finally, a foreign journalist that understand what really is happening in the Philippines.

  47. oscar a. odycayen says:

    A realistic reporting and analysis of the real score in our country’s poliiical economic events Thank you Mr. Steinbock for a well researched work.

  48. Sol Reyes says:

    The questions to ask are:
    0-Why did the war on drugs not start with Duterte ally Gloria Arroyo, back in 2001?
    -What are the actual statistics–do we really need to “wage” a war, and until when the war ends? Have we not learned from the experience of our neighbors such as Thailand about the failure of waging a drug war?
    On social media, there is too much fixation on what the PNoy government has not accomplished. While we as a nation need to be reawakened, and while it is true the PNoy gov’t could have done a lot better… we too have become “too impatient” — do we really even participate in governance? All we do and have done is complain? Corruption was a big part of the platform of the last 6 years, and it seems we are on track to reach / see gains from what the previous administration has accomplished and build on that. Even if 25M did not vote for Duterte, on May 9, people respected the results. He will also enjoy working with a gov’t that has money in its coffers, something PNoy did not have at the time he succeeded GMA.
    It may be time for people to reclaim the government, to see gov’t do more, to see more results, but as long as Duterte sides with the Marcoses, Arroyo and Villar, all we CITIZENS (not critics) will see are hollow pronouncements, and may administrative changes (faster processing time for gov’t services). His allies support federalism but not the anti-political dynasty bill so they can continue to remain in power. If Duterte is truly one with the people, then he ough to prioritize the feelings of the citizens over the feelings of the Marcoses, GMA, and Villar. In the end, we ask ourselves: how can our conscience and critical-thinking minds accept that on this road to a possibly truly prosperous Philippines, we are building it on the blood of innocent and suspected addicts/pushers that now number over 2,000 and why welcome the return of Arroyo and the Marcoses to power.

    • G says:

      You should consider a career in stand-up comedy. The Filipinos have become ‘too impatient’ – WOW!

    • T says:

      There is a need to wage war on drugs, you should know that, and Thailand’s failure is not an excuse for the Philippines to not do it. The President is doing it for the people and the next generations. I was there during the Marcos regime and the bureaucracy, red tape and corruption already existed not only on PNoy’s administration as what you are trying to argue on. It just got worst and worst from one administration to the other. I go back there because of family issues and processing papers in a week is just impossible. Receipts are issued with a piece of paper not an official government receipt, same is through with the embassies outside the Philippines. It’s all changing now though and I’m happy and can look forward to going back again and see for myself a better and wealthier Philippines; a more happier, self reliant,content and dignified people living and reaping the benefits of what their own country is offering them and not any foreign aid or support that most of the people has gotten used to.

  49. Pat says:

    This is the best article I’ve read so far from a Western journalist.

  50. GeneraL says:

    thanks for this great article, btw sir Davao is the largest city in the Phil.

  51. Nick Nah says:

    It’s a more balanced article and has a deeper understanding of the Philippines compared to most, as can be expected since the author spent a lot of time in Asia particularly China. We can’t expect him to be harsh on China or China won’t let him in again. I suppose he is used to the heavy-handed methods in China like Tiananmen Square when he glosses over the extrajudicial killings: ” Still others understand the need for tough policies, but remain concerned about unintended rights violations and collateral human damage.” For innocents killed mistakenly or as collateral damage, tough luck being sacrificial lambs in the war to “save them” from criminals.

  52. Karen Brecio says:

    Never have I read, watched or heard this kind of positive and unbiased article/report in our local newspapers and TV news agencies here in the Philippines. Our deepest gratitude Mr. Steinbock that finally after reading your article, I felt relieved and hopeful that one day we Filipinos will live a comfortable life with our children and receive equal sharing of good things and opportunities in the future.

  53. seema says:

    thank you for the insightful article. at last, a breath of fresh air from someone who knows what he is talking about.

  54. James says:

    Over this has been the most balanced and comprehensive account of Pres Duterte’s journey of all the articles published about him and the Philippines since the president took the reign. Great job, Dan Steinbock. To the amateur and professional journalists around, can you use this article as a template for best-practice in article-writing about the Pres. Duterte and the Philippines?
    Sad to say, most articles are loop-sided- and by first glance, they already look garbage and smells foul befitting the ‘Presstitutes’. Aren’t you?

  55. A good reading! Thank you, Dan Steinbock. More of such articles. Worth sharing.

  56. Loren Wage says:

    Great read. Thanks to the author. Indeed President Duterte is pushing Asia for Asians policy. The does not like it as it thinks the pacific is their only to exploit.

  57. T says:

    Kudos to you for writing this article. Now the western world can be pretty much well informed about the real happenings in the Philippines.

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