A spectre is haunting the International Community — the spectre of Rodrigo Duterte.
Yes, we’ve been watching the Philippines suddenly and loudly rebel against the U.S.-dominated international order since the summer. Who hasn’t, after all? The Philippines is just about one of the unlikeliest countries to go against the United States: poor, diverse, fearful of China, caught up in a meth epidemic, and occupied by the American military. In fact, the Philippines have been continuously occupied by foreign powers since the Spanish first arrived hundreds of years ago.
Then, all of a sudden, “Duterte Harry” is elected president on a platform of death squads. Before you know it, he’s telling the EU to “fuck off”, calling Barack Obama “a son of a whore”, and comparing himself favorably to Adolf Hitler for his plans to “happily” slaughter 3 million drug addicts.
And just last weekend, he announces his “separation” from the United States in terms so strong that they have to be quoted:
“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
“Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost.”
His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed during the China trip.
“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” Duterte told his Beijing audience.
That is a repudiation of the American empire masquerading as an “international community” that not even Hungary or Turkey have gone so far as to make. There is no ambiguity here. There is no equivocation or misunderstanding. Rodrigo Duterte clearly understands the contemporary global geopolitical situation, and he has clearly chosen to realign the Philippines against the United States. Duterte claims that the CIA wants to assassinate him — plausible! — but is unfazed: “Be my guest, I don’t give a shit.”
What is going on? How is Duterte still alive and in power? Where are the anti-Duterte color revolutions? Where the hell did he come from, anyway? And can one man really eject a foreign power and achieve sovereignty for his country through sheer bluster and force of will?
That’s what it looks like, but the answer is no. There is an explanation for the rise of Rodrigo Duterte, but to understand him, you first have to understand the Philippines.
The 100 million people who live in the Philippines come from a plethora of different ethnic groups, tribes, islands, and so on. The official “Filipino” language, Tagalog, is an Austronesian language spoken by a quarter of the country natively. Almost all the other native languages are also Austronesian in origin, making the Filipinos close relatives of Malaysians, Indonesians, and Polynesians, who are all descended from ancient seafaring peoples that spread from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.
There’s a catch, though: there are more than 2 million ethnic Chinese from the north living in the Philippines, as well as tens of millions more Filipinos of partial Chinese ancestry. Up to a third of Filipinos can claim Chinese ancestry. The Chinese influence is so strong they even have special words for pure and partial Chinese Filipinos. And would you believe it? Rodrigo Duterte’s grandfather was a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines. He’s 25% Chinese.
And now he’s trying to realign Manila from Washington to Beijing? Let’s keep going.
Duterte is obviously most famous for solving Davao City’s drug problem with death squads as mayor. He is now bringing that hugely successful program to the entire Philippines. His original, hometown death squad was apparently composed in large part of “former communist New People’s Army insurgents” and led by current or former police officers, whom Duterte would have directed as mayor.
The NPA is descended from an earlier communist guerilla group: the Hukbalahap. The “Huks” were formed as an anti-Japanese resistance movement during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the Second World War. At the time, the Japanese’ main enemy prior to being nuked into submission by the United States was, needless to say, China. The “Huks” apparently modeled their revolutionary army on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
A little research shows that the NPA has been receiving support, training, money and arms from the Chinese Communist Party as long as it has been around. For example:
[Communist Party of the Philippines] members visited and received training in China, and in 1971, the Chinese provided 1,400 M-14 rifles and 8,000 rounds of ammunition in a ship sent from the Philippines by the CPP-led New People’s Army.
They even got support from North Korea i.e. China’s favorite and only vassal state. In blunter terms, the CPP/NPA are the Chinese government.
The Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed NPA wing are listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, but not by the Philippines, where “peace talks” between the Communists and the government are ongoing. The CPP/NPA have kidnapped and killed American soldiers in the past.
Oh, and guess what? Rodrigo Duterte “studied politics under Jose Maria Sison, who later founded the Communist Party of the Philippines and in 1969 launched an armed insurrection.” Sison explicitly says he instructed Duterte in anti-Americanism and anti-imperialism. Duterte “sympathizes” with the Communist party, though he never joined it.
So Rodrigo Duterte, who is part of the large minority of Filipinos with Chinese ancestry, never joined the Maoist rebels led by his political mentor — who have been receiving training, money, and weapons from Maoist China since the 1960s — but when he needed to kill off drug cartels as mayor, he just so happened to have death squads of former Maoist rebels doing the killing, and now that he is president, he is expanding his death squad program nationwide and loudly realigning the Philippines with China, which is run by the Maoist Chinese Communist Party.
What this means is that there’s a strong chance Rodrigo Duterte is an agent of the Chinese deep state, which has been operating in the Philippines since the Second World War, if not earlier.
Duterte’s Chinese ancestry, deep ties to Maoist rebels funded by China, and separation from the United States in favor of realignment with China also help explain his bloody and determined war on drugs, drug users, and drug cartels: China is currently facing a meth epidemic, just like the Philippines.
Scanning the literature makes it clear that Chinese communists, who now carry the torch of Chinese nationhood and sovereignty, have an existential antipathy to drugs and drug cartels. Drug addiction is not just a medical crisis or criminal issue in China, but a national security problem: drug addiction is the vector through which foreign powers can subvert and attack China, just like the British Empire did in the 19th century when it forced the Chinese to give up Hong Kong and buy British opium in the Opium Wars. The Maoist communists who run China find an existential enemy in the Asian drug cartels. This situation mirrors Duterte’s struggle in the Philippines perfectly.
Partially-Chinese Duterte is, for all intents and purposes, a crypto-Maoist in the mold of the Chinese Communist Party who is continuing the Chinese state’s war on the international drug cartels that threaten Chinese sovereignty. Having taken power by assembling personally loyal squads of ex-Maoist rebels to fight a brutal war against drug cartels, likely using guns and ammunition provided by the Chinese government, Duterte is now formalizing his natural alignment with the Chinese state, with whom he has quietly shared an ideology since he studied under Sison.
Who is Rodrigo Duterte? He came out of nowhere and apparently single-handedly reversed the Philippines’ status as an unofficial American state using nothing but his giant brass balls. But that’s just the illusion. Behind Duterte are hundreds of years of Chinese settlement in the Philippines, decades of direct financial and military sponsorship by the Chinese government, and a natural alliance against drug mafias that has re-emerged in the 21st century.
You can thank Beijing for Duterte.