chinamatters | With that context, let's take another look at Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte is not native to Mindanao. His family comes from a central Philippine island group, the Visayan Islands. Christians from Visayan Islands and other regions were settled in Mindanao by the U.S. and Philippine governments as part of a strategy to demographically submerge the Moro, distribute prime land and resources to settlers and corporations, and economically and politically marginalize the Moro and criminalize their resistance in a manner that will be familiar to observers of tactics in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Palestine.
It appears to have been successful to the point that Moros are perhaps 17% of the population of Mindanao today, down from 90% in 1900.
A 2015 news article/puff piece provides a useful perspective on Dutarte and his attention to the Mindanao/security issue beyond the usual “murderous buffoon” framing.
Concerning the Moro disdain for the term “Filipino”, I have to say I did find it odd that an Asian nation decided to keep King Philip II of Spain as its namesake, but I guess naming America after some Italian sailor is just as weird.
All in all, a thoughtful perspective on coexistence and reconciliation in a difficult and complicated neighborhood--made more difficult and complicated by a century of massacre and meddling by the US and Manila-- that Duterte has been governing for a couple decades with considerable success.
How 'bout that.
Having said that, I would not take that “Safest City in the World” designation to the bank. Apparently an on-line poll was successfully freep'd with 800 responses.
By now, it should be clear that there's more to the Philippines than Manila, more to its politics and society than upper class Catholicism, and more to its security concerns than partnering with the United States to push back against the PRC in the South China Sea.
There's Mindanao, there's Moros, there's separatism, there's issues of justice that have been papered over by the Manila establishment to present a neat neo-liberal narrative that complements the US pivot to Asia.
And there's Duterte.