In a public lecture he delivered in Fukuoka, Japan this week, David attempts to “explain the apparent public acceptance by the Filipino people of what many observers abroad regard as the most brutal presidency the Philippines has ever known”.
In trying to explain why the Philippines has once again turned to authoritarianism, it may be useful to begin by saying that, perhaps, we have never been democratic.
The modern institutions of Western liberal democracy – free elections, a free press, an independent judiciary, a bill of rights, etc. — came a little too soon to the Philippines. Our civil and political rights came ahead of economic rights.
This observation is consistent with the development models of East Asia’s biggest success stories which include South Korea and Singapore, then Malaysia and Thailand, and now Vietnam and possibly other emerging Indochinese states. These states achieved much of their economic prosperity under authoritarian regimes.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that, in the Philippines, people are still free to voice their dissent, whether online or in real life. Last we saw, critics of President Rodrigo Duterte critics have yet to prove that the alleged extrajudicial killings have his blessing, and that he is using the killings to silence his critics.