Trump now sounding like Duterte Lite
Now that we get a few weeks reprieve from the Marcos hero’s burial debate, we still have all the anniversaries to deal with.
9/11 was not just one of the most horrific days in modern U.S. history, it was also coincidentally, the birthday of Ferdinand Marcos. That arguably makes it the worst day in the history of modern Philippine Democracy.
Too harsh? (Oh, yeah, we also have the elections of Erap and GMA…) OK, then make the worst day 9-23, Sept. 23, 1972, the anniversary of the formal declaration of Marcos’ martial law.
It was a day that led to the torture and deaths of thousands of Filipinos; the dictator’s plundering of the country’s wealth; not to mention the official start of the mass exodus of the Philippines’ best and brightest from their homeland.
You still want to make Marcos a nostalgic hero?
The reprieve from the burial debate has also allowed me to focus more on the big event of next week: the U.S. presidential debate between Sec. Hillary Clinton and Reality TV star and failed tycoon Donald Trump.
I say “failed tycoon,” because he’s worth about $4.5 billion, though we don’t know for sure since he has never disclosed his tax returns. But according to former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, anyone who was given $200 million the day he was born (as was Trump), could have been worth $12 billion dollars by simply investing and reinvesting in a plain old index fund.
Which means compared with a default benchmark of doing absolutely nothing, Trump being Trump actually resulted in a net loss of $7.5 billion.
That’s some business acumen!
But what’s a few billion down the drain plundered on his own, not from the nation’s coffers like some Filipino non-hero president we know about.
The real reason people we should be concerned with Trump is that he’s starting to be Duterte Lite.
We all know the U.S. media has been fond of calling Duterte the Asian Trump, brother politicians who shoot from the lip.
Just as Trump gained notoriety by his racist badgering of President Obama about his birth certificate, Duterte has mirrored that in his own way. He recently showed his distaste for Obama and lack of diplomatic acumen prior to the Laos meetings by calling Obama a “son of a bitch.”
“Who does he think he is?” Duterte said in a speech responding to White House officials saying Obama would confront Duterte on his handling of drug dealers and extrajudicial killings–essentially government executions without judicial proceedings–that have taken place during his short presidency.
“I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country, and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people,” Duterte said. “Son of a bitch, I will swear at you.”
Duterte later regretted his comments after the White House canceled its planned meetings.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a strong Philippine sense of nationalism. The country has needed a principled leader who can stand up to the U.S. long before Marcos.
But calling Obama a “son of a bitch,” (the reported translation in Western media) does not show strong leadership. It only shows a lack of political skill.
It’s the fake tough guy stance. It’s a Trump move all the way.
Duterte showed it again, after the bombings earlier this month that claimed 14 lives.
He signed a formal declaration that the country was in “a state of lawlessness.”
What does that mean? Is it one step away from martial law? Duterte said it was his “invitation” for the military and police “to run the country in accordance with my specifications.”
He’s must be itching for his chance to be the “next Marcos,” since an actual Marcos would be morally unacceptable.
But a guy playing tough, that’s another thing.
I’ve called Duterte “Marcos Lite” in my writings.
But now this week, we’ve seen Trump act as Duterte Lite.
In response to the recent bombings in the New York City area that resulted in the arrest of one Ahmad Kkhan Rahami, Trump spoke at a rally:
“Today, we have caught this evil thug who planted the bombs, thank you law enforcement, thank you police,” Trump said to cheers from his partisans. “But the bad part, now we will give him amazing hospitalization. He will be taken care by some of the best doctors in the world. He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room. And he’ll probably be even given room service knowing the way our country is.”
Well, this is America. We believe in due process. Justice. That’s the way it works in a constitutionally protected democracy.
But Trump must have thought for a moment he was campaigning in the Philippines, where there have been nearly 2,000 of those so-called extra-judicial killings, or as I’ve started to hear, EJK.
Sounds like JFK or RFK, two stalwarts of American Democracy.
But EJK is anything but.
EJKs are extrajudicial because like the term extracurricular, they’re outside the norm. They’re killings that in practical term are execution-style hits. That’s not supposed to happen in a democracy either. Obama wanted to question Duterte on them, and then out came the Philippine president’s S.O.B. attack.
Trump liked it, and even mentioned it.
And then later in the week, in a further response to more instances of Amercan crime and terrorism, Trump suggested a law-and-order plan called “Stop and Frisk.”
Never mind it has already been called unconstitutional by a federal judge when it was implemented previously in New York.
It has since been discontinued. Trump? He wants it back. “Stop and Frisk” sounds innocent enough. Except it doesn’t work. CNN reported that between 2004 and 2012, out of 4.4 million stopped, 87 percent were African American or Latino.
Only 12 percent were charged with crimes. Meaning a whopping 88 percent were needlessly harassed.
Sound like America? More like the Philippines.
That’s what Trump wants in America and it should be on display at the big debate on Monday.
Emil Guillermo is an award-winning American Filipino journalist and commentator based in Northern California. Contact: www.amok.com.
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