Thursday, November 24, 2016

PHILIPPINES and all the Drug War-related telenovela

WHAT consumes Manila these days is the ongoing hearings around President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial Drug War. All drug wars are controversial in a gruesome vein. Hence its existence in itself is already flawed and damaged. Meantime, several characters have surfaced (as expected). Etc etcetera. 

          Those who are familiar with how drug trade or drug wars operate shouldn't be surprised with these anymore. I am not very concerned with who are lying and who are involved or who are implicated. I am more concerned with the big picture. Obviously, Duterte has chosen a program, a historically defective program, to pursue upon assumption of office. He apparently sees such mission as a sort of continuum of his 20-year mayoral journey in his native Davao City in the South. But a country is not a "mere" local government, and vice versa. His advisers should given him wiser alternatives to anchor his quest for righteousness. As I always mentioned, I foresee that Duterte will end this anti illegal drug chivalry soon otherwise a larger hammer's gonna fall. 
          All said, sans drugs--his tact vis a vis the big global players are on the right track. But we have to look at the big picture.

          Looking back, the Philippine president's saga is similar to Colombia's Cesar Gaviria--at the time of Pablo Escobar. Deaths or killings in that drug war, EJK or otherwise, belittle Duterte's odyssey. Gaviria also resisted US meddling in his government's internal affairs. But after Escobar and the Medellin Cartel were wasted, Gaviria was appointed Secretary General of the Organization of American States. It's like Asean--but the difference is, OAS is a US buddy and Asean isn't really one that cozies up with Uncle Sam. At that time (90s to early 2000s), China wasn't yet this huge and Russia was still reconstructing. The US was the go-to power. At this juncture, Duterte has China and Asean watching his back.The US cannot play bully to China and Russia--there is some kinda odd friendship there. Figure that one out. What Filipinos must do? Quit the personality-bashing and negativity and come out as one and pressure Duterte to end this drug war and then talk economy and regional clout. 

          With money coming from the generous Chinese, more jobs should be generated--especially in inner cities and countryside. Combat drugs via simpler, gut-level economics. The country's current unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent in July of 2016, down from 6.5 percent a year earlier and from 6.1 percent reported in April 2016. Although it isn't really that bad compared with the rest of the world and Southeast Asian neighbors, Duterte's government becomes easy picking due to its unsound priorities. Although the Philippine peso slid to a low-50 which again no big deal if we compare it with other Asean partners, such a dip is bloated as staggering in the eyes of the world. In that regard, that significantly include OFWs who contribute 40 percent to the Philippine economy. Philippines is the fourth largest recipient of official remittances after China, India, and Mexico. Our dollar reserves are still high--that may shake unless Duterte makes his move now. 

          By the way, even though Escobar and the Medellin Cartel were snuffed out, the rival Cali Cartel took power--and control of Colombia's cocaine and coca farms. Colombia is back as the world's #1 producer/exporter of coca. Ergo, drug wars don't result in total eradication of the illegal activity but it will have a dent (in re people's mindset), for sure. People will learn yet it doesn't stop drug lords from plying their trade. Meantime, the bigger shit in illegal drugs (coca and poppy production) stay. The Golden Triangle/Southeast Asia remains toe to toe with Afghanistan in terms of shipments of illegal poppies worldwide. 
          I am not saying that Rodrigo Duterte must put a lid on his drug war--he just have to put a lid on his mouth while he pursues other programs that are equally or more important than chasing shadows that will never ever go. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trump. Hillary. Bernie. Obama. And an election in a computer screen

ELECTION is over. But some people are still arguing about it. Meanwhile, I ask myself, would those friends who were actually friends before all this election fray got rolling--will finally shake hands? I got friends here (friends that I know in person and friends that I haven't met at all) who unfriended themselves believing I have a preferred candidate or political party. They get offended that I criticize their politico or politica like the person is their god and the party their Church. Well, I criticize both and I appreciate good deeds as well. Both sides. I guess, you could say that there's more to criticize these days than those that we have to commend. We just have to present alternatives. I try. But if one is a fanatic of this and that--no word that tends to question means anything. Some even say they supported my fundraise concerts--so why can't I support their bet? Well, my concerts gave help to people--and I wasn't running to be Senator of Habahaba. 

         More so, my community projects and gigs don't support partisan politics or specific religion. It supports everything that comprises a community. Facebook maybe, just maybe, is good at revealing true colors of humanity. Whatever the color is. You see, it's just election--four or six years from now, there will be another election. Is that how short the life of one friendship?

IF she wins. Okay. If he wins. Okay. Life moves on. I spent significant years of my adult life basically under one overstaying president--in a country that was once very poor. It wasn't really okay but it had to be okay. My little kids wait for me at home after work. Then it was more than okay. Family is a blessing. What is not okay is when couples with kid/s break up and family disintegrates because of differing political choices. That is not okay at all.
GEORGE SOROS and Loida Lewis (and Hillary Clinton). First, I am not aligned with any political personality at this juncture. I am just a political observer. I know Loida Lewis when I was editing a New York-based newspaper. What we should look at—is who's backing Loida Lewis up. George Soros. Business magnate. Philathropist. Political player. Not many are aware of Mr Soros' brinkmanship. He is a rockin' personification of Washington's foreign policy in the shadows. First off, it is not hard to connect him with Ms Lewis. Loida has always been a Hillary friend—she ran her New York Senate campaign in 2000 to resounding success. In 2013, Soros donated $25k to Ready for Hillary, becoming a co-chairman of the super PAC's national finance committee, then he added $1 million more to the Super PAC Priorities USA Action, which supports Ms Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. To date he has already given Hillary $25 million. Asean has always been at odds with Soros—and vice versa. He vehemently disagreed with the summit's acceptance of Myanmar in 1997—and went on to orchestrate the currency crash of the region as the region consolidate/d and aimed to cut dependence on Western financial institutions' money. These days, he focuses on Indonesia, Asean headquarters and supports anti-rebel causes there.         

          This guy is shrewd political harlequin. He knows how to play the media and gain support from the left side of the road. He supports marijuana legalization in the US, sent money to aid fleeing civilians in Sarajevo, donated money to Grameen Bank etc. He also funded the grassroots org in Ferguson (Missouri) that helped developed the Black Lives Matter movement into a social media phenomenon with the assistance of national civil rights organizations. Long before that, his support of prodemocratic programs in Georgia was crucial to the success of the Rose Revolution. Then his work in Kosovo, Turkey, Somalia etc etcetera. What is clear here—he ensures that the American 1 Percent interest, which he is a huge part of, remains in tact. But with the advent of China and Russia, he is facing a wall. Duterte at this point isn't listening to Washington and he is all Asean and leaning towards China. Soros is almost certain Hillary will win later this month. Hillary. Loida. I am sure his cohorts have been sending feelers to D30. Let's see.

WHEN it comes down to it, it is fine that followers of two political polar extremes stay glued to their belief—as long as the crack isn't so wide so that compromise and negotiation are still possible. I believe that it is much better than when people are seemingly bunched on just one side. That'd eventually allow dictatorship or autocracy—even if at the get go one-person governance commands majority allegiance. Those who will oppose him/her become rebels whether we define them as Right or Left. Yet as in the nature of humankind, I don't believe all of us will agree as one—although universal good and evil seem to tread a parallel balance like black and white. We are not like that. We are either half-weirdo or a bit saintly. Many times the insane becomes cool and mutate into a rock star--and the sane turns out boring and never get a date. Humans are that unpredictable and contradictory. So Trump voters and Hillary believers, it's okay to argue—as long as somewhere somehow you'd all line-dance to the Bee Gees' “Night Fever” on syncopated cadence.

IN this world of power tilts, surprising realigments and contradictions, Kremlin's machinations via WikiLeaks fed the fire inside the Democratic front by widening the crack between Bernheads (socialists) and Hillarysts (centrists)--thus dividing the camp so the ruling class rules again. It worked. Trump is in power. Russia entered WTO in 2012 (okayed by Congress which were generally Republican) which means Russia has a say now in sale of crude oil to the US and elsewhere. Vladimir Putin aligned with Donald Trump because, among other things, Trump eases up taxing the rich (investors = Russians and Chinese). Meantime, oil whether it is Opec or Russia is gold to the Koch brothers.
          Another backgrounder. George Soros aligned himself with Hillary from PAC days and even funded groups on the left side like Black Lives Matter and cannabis legalization to balance the brinkmanship internally and win the progressives—as what he did in the 90s in Southeast Asia by derailing Asean's march to less reliance or independence from the West (West = OPEC oil and security machinations in South China Sea). Russia and Indonesia (who's got oil) are non-OPEC members. Russian oil companies owe Chinese banks lotsa money. Before elections, Soros was in Indonesia, HQ of Asean—which was always anti-Washington (Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar etc). How does Duterte and Trump play up in all these? Russia-China-US 1 percent matrix. Beijing operates behind the scenes as always in regards US affairs—but Kremlin has a poster boy in Putin. PR-wise Russia is less evil than China these days in the eyes of American heartland. Duterte-China, Russia-Washington/Trump. Meanwhile Soros regroups. That's how I see it. Irrelevant what kind of drivel or twaddle comes out of the mouths of Beavis and Butt-head.

TAXES. Taxes are such an issue. But it's not entirely that bad if taxes translate to increased social program accessibility—like in the cases of Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Japan where total tax rates are around 50 percent and more per capita income.
Fact check to Donald Trump. The highest taxed nation is not the US. Argentina (but I desist from discussing that for now). Tax rate per capita in the US is 24 percent. But Canadians are taxed lesser at 21 percent. The Canadian province of Manitoba has a 0 percent corporation tax rate for small businesses. In most surveys however Canada ranks No. 1 overall for providing a good quality of life. The country is tops for its well-developed education system, job market. In fact, Canada was rated in the top five in all but one of the nine attributes – affordability, where Asian countries dominated.
          Meantime, wanna know that in rich Qatar, tax rate is just 11.3 percent! Lamborghinis and Ferraris rule the parking lots out there with camels. No kidding. But seriously where I'd pursue business (in case I end my American journey)? Singapore. A low tax ate of 18.4 percent. Many companies from around the world choose Singapore as a base for their Asian operations.

FREEDOM of speech. I know. We know. No one stops no one from speaking their mind. So I will—and continue to invite unfriending, of course. I couldn't wrap my mind with this absurdity of absurdities. This is directed to Democrats or progressives/liberals who boycotted the election because they were overcome with anger and grief that Bernie Sanders wasn't chosen to carry the Party banner against Donald Trump—or to those who voted the 3rd candidate as a form of subtle protest that their bet didn't make it instead. I posted time and again that the pre-election signs or forecast were pretty much even. Hillary Clinton needed the Sanders votes. I assume that Sanders supporters knew that—and the larger assumption or certainty is Trump will clobber Clinton if the other half of the Democrat throng don't participate. It was either Trump or Clinton, it's as simple as that.
          Now I don't see the point why Sanders supporters are so noisy that Trump is the new President. I wonder wouldn't they be noisier or less noisy if it's Clinton? For me this not just a crack on the left side of the road—the damage is a lot worse than that. It also magnifies a national problem that is even beyond what the current protest is shouting. Their fear of hate, racism, misogyny etc under Trump is overtaken by the fear of a collective weakness to fight hate, racism, misogyny because those who profess to fight them are more concerned with individual end than the welfare of the majority.

          A divided people is a divided country, tempest in the yard is the ruin of the house. Yet since the Conservatives/Right seems tighter and bonded, I could see that if their President fails to deliver what he promised, it's them—those who voted for him—will be the power that'll bring him down not those who didn't. Why? Because they are united as a people.

DONALD Trump and Rodrigo Duterte.

[1] YOU are looking at the parallels of two politicians (which there is none other than their swagger) because you don't like both--but not the voter attitude and the campaign platform (based on their respective country's realities/truths) that installed them to power. The voting public back home voted for a candidate that they feel deserved it--and that man won by a landslide in a multiparty election. We as the thinking few need to study why--and not focus on Duterte per se but why a mass base chose him. The voting public in the US voted for a man they thought deserved it--but the man won by a very close margin--in a biparty election (the 3rd choice is nil). Why? Because the other side of the road is cracked and divided. So these are two different variables. And if you ask me the difference/s between these two mass of voting public? There's a lot of differences--one is the way ethnic Asian and Latino voting blocs vote compared with the mainstream. The only parallel I know isn't on the candidates but in how the supposed progressives campaigned and advocated for their bet.
          It would be better if you (and others) take out the study or commentary beyond the personalities. So we could take out the “He is a jerk and she/he is a saint” kind of runaround banter. Politicians in a democracy don't install themselves in power (despite the skepticism). People do with a utmost support from their respective parties or camp. Trump won not because of what he is—but because of how people (Republican mass) reacted or responded to him. In the same way that the other extreme, the Sanders camp did. These voters/public, both clobbered by economic ruin, needed change via a politician that purportedly speaks of their woes and aspirations. Trump was successful because he delivered a message that a united conservative front wanted to hear—while Hillary who is a centrist couldn't satisfy the other half of the other extreme (Sanders). Hillary, as the data/facts indicate, could have gained better partyline support if Sanders backed her up on crunch time. He did not. That spelled Clinton's defeat—not really because she failed to convince the Bernheads.

[2] VOTER turnout in the US has always been low or around 50 percent—the lowest was the 46 percent turnout during the Bill Clinton/Bob Dole election in 1996. The highest turnout was the 2008 race between Obama and McCain. The highest turnouts globally is in Belgium (87.2 percent), Turkey (84.3 percent) and Sweden (82.6 percent). But Belgium and Turkey are among the 25 nations around the world where voting is compulsory. A historic 81.62 percent turned out for the Philippines election this year. Duterte won via a majorit vote of 39.01 percent against the second-running Mar Roxas (23.45 percent), in a multiparty contest. Meantime, Trump won by a very slim popular vote of 47.8 percent over Clinton's 47.3 percent. So in terms of voter organizing/education after the fact, the losing camp should study those facts. Duterte won by a majority vote, Trump did not—that is why I was saying that if Sanders supporters showed up, Clinton could have won. Filipino progressives have a lot of work again lest another bet that they fear would be like Duterte may be back in power. As for America, the Conservative Right stays traditionally as is. The problem is the crack on the other side.

ONE very effective campaign game changer that worked for Trump was the WikiLeaks Hillary email fiasco. Julian Assange is a genius—a genius hacking xxxxxxx harlequin. Right on time, right on target. He knew that a huge throng of Democrats (mostly Sanders believers) will easily bite his candy—they did. I know of a number of Democrats who switched to either Trump or Johnson or decided not to vote at all after the email leaks came out on crunch time. I believe that jacked up Trump votes easily. After the fact, I am more interested to observe how Washington deals with Kremlin/Russia than question or protest Trump's victory. He won, period.

FACEBOOK is fun as long as you don't take it seriously. It's like these: Hey, Trump has lots of dandruff, that's not good for a president. I just voted, look at my face. I saw this lady on Sam Edelman boots that looked like wading boots. My mom is a nasty little rightwinger bitch! You know that I just read Hillary emailed Michelle this awful squirrel casserole recipe? Assange just hacked my ex-husband—Julian is my hero! By the way, I will be cooking Beef Bourguignon tonight but I guess, uh, no. My deadbeat boyfriend couldn't even hold it for freakin' three minutes! I think I will break up with him tonight. Bernie would have waived my parking tickets. Look at my new socks—recycled from spring rolls wrappers. President Kirk is a moron! Namaste to y`all! Dafuq with what?

BEFORE people cast their ballots, pundits placed Hillary Clinton slightly leading Donald Trump as state/for/state approval, 48.91 percent to 46.13 percent with 11 swing states. Months ago, the GOP bet was ahead of the Democrat rival by tiny margin. The difference was and still is—Trump people seem to be tight while Hillary/Democratic support was still at odds after Bernie Sanders lost the primaries. Bernie Sanders, I notice, opted to either boycott the election or vote for the 3rd candidate. That, in an odd way, help/s Trump a lot. Ergo, it seems that the liberals/progressives etc would rather have Donald Trump as a president than Hillary Clinton. With that, I question their fundamental principle—as against the other side, the Right. Irrelevant whoever I side with, I wonder what makes a country better—a good and able president or a people that stand as one?

WHAT's good thing after an election? Time to bring out the notepad and list down what have been promised. Time to REALLY figure it out if those make sense--and then begin the true duty or responsibility of a citizen. Expectation check. Time for deliveries. Since the truth is, whether you voted for Trump or Hillary or still meditating a Bernie mantra--you are going to pay the rent this month, swipe a debit card for gasoline, and provide yourself and family health insurance. Let Life resume! Taco, please!

AFTER the primaries, it seemed very clear that whoever the Republican Party's bet was, it is still very likely that that candidate will beat a Democratic Party rival. Why? The problem isn't the GOP. The problem is the Democrats' mass base--it is already cracked. In the same way that rank `n file Conservatives are angry with President Obama's administration, a huge chunk of the other side (mostly Bernie Sanders followers) also feel betrayed by the outgoing president's two-terms. But then the Right remained tight—not exactly the hierarchy per se, but their voting bailiwicks are formidable—and even spread through some states that were first thought as majority Dems. Meantime, the GOP in Congress built a wall against Obama's signature bills in re immigration reform and gun control et al. Those stayed as is Bush's time. Also, within the Dems, Sanders should have acted as a party stalwart and not a so-called people liberator. Instead of rallying his supporters toward Clinton's side to ensure the defeat of Trump, he distanced himself. Trump's victory of margin isn't a landside, it was close. Which means, if Bern people voted for Hillary and not the 3rd option—or they didn't boycott the election, the Democratic bet would have a better chance of winning. At this point, the Democratic Party needs a lot of regrouping and rethinking—on how to at least narrow the gap or vacuum in their house and backyard. Meantime, inhale exhale—and enjoy some tacos.

TRUMP is what he is. Hillary is what she is. Bernie is what he is. Obama is what he is. Frank Underwood is what he is. These are individuals with their respective "I am what I am" that stays in them--that is why they ran as President of what is supposedly the strongest nation in the world. We can't just change them no matter how we namecall or judge them. But what must change is people's attitude and behavior on election time. The only way to winning is via a united front. And a united front makes a strong nation--irrelevant who sits as President. A united front installs a leader--a united front brings down a leader. However, a divided throng only brings forth a bad Taco. That is the truth.

THE schism within the progressives have already been showing even before Facebook became widespread. I first saw or felt it during the Occupy protest. They are already fundamentally cracked. The progressive front is divided, severely divided. Right after the primaries--even before campaign proper, the difference between Trump's vote and a combined Hillary/Bern vote is a mere 2 or less percent. Instead of consolidating the Dems as one voting force on a tactical alliance, they widened their gap instead. This while the conservatives stayed tight. And Sanders, instead of working things out with Hillary, decided to distance himself--his followers saw that as a cue to let the division stay. 
          Still, Trump's winning margin is close--which means, if Bernheads voted for Hillary, she could have won. The progressives are so divided with issues like bathroom rights and GMOs and gluten free food. The Right is a wall. They got their religion and Americana and all. Although both extremes suffer the same gut problems. I guess, apart from groundworking offline, I believe old values--whether it is rightwing or progressive--should remain in tact. That is best way to sustain the front. Old school wisdom which the conservatives in America kept within them--while the radicals/activists/liberals continue challenging the norm or box, even their own box, that resulted in--exactly what happened. Thing is, even in Obama's election, the GOP still lorded it over Congress. That's why many of his EOs stayed as EOs, frozen in committee hearings.
          During the primaries, Trump clobbered all his opponents. While the Hillary/Bernie camp was divided. Based on percentages between Republican and Democrat votation, it was close. But the difference was--Trump got `em all on his side, but Hillary/Bernie split theirs. Which easily says, in order for the Democrat candidate to keep up with Trump, they have to consolidate as one. But that didn't happen. As the campaign rolls, Hillary and Bernie supporters were still duking it out. When the WikiLeaks email fiasco came out Sanders people saw another reason to dump her--in a way helping Trump's campaign more. And up to the last day of voting, those who are for Bernie either voted the 3rd candidate (who isn't going to win) or didn't vote at all. So I don't think it's either or situation here in the Democratic camp. The truth is, their voters are divided--so even if Bernie get the nomination, if Hillary supporters did the same on voting time--there is still a huge chunk to fill up to go toe to toe with Trump. Yet as I write this, the race is still close. Even if Trump wins the popular vote, there is still the electoral vote. Meantime, I think that is the problem with America's liberal/progressive or left side spectrum. It is divided. Divide and rule--the other camp rules. It's as simple as that.

         The story is Hillary defeated Bernie in the primaries. But in this election--Bernie defeated Hillary. Bernheads have proven their pointless point of bringing down Clinton because they didn't get what they wanted--in their own house/party. The media is the force that accentuated or widen the crack that says divide and rule. Media forgot the old-school wisdom that journalism is about breathing facts north south east and west--not truths fabricated by opinion that is so politically correct than correctly political. Politics isn't just confined to the elitist halo--when election time comes around, those who labor in the field and sweat with an axe decide. And they did. Whether we like it or not, they did. Because it doesn't take a 300-word analysis to write a choice in a ballot. Just one word.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte and his PR wreck crew, and some thoughts about global and regional power tilt

DO you remember the 1986 film “Power” by Sidney Lumet? Written by David Himmelstein, the movie focuses on political corruption and how power affects both those who wield it and the people they try to control. Denzel Washington is a public relations expert Arnold Billings; Richard Gere is Pete St. John, a ruthless and highly successful media consultant. While the plot's suggestion works better with current Washington politics, I'd like to accentuate the fact how significant and valuable PR work is to politicians.         
          I am not going to delve on whether I do dig (Philippine president) Rodrigo Duterte's current Drug War or anti-US stance via a dirty mouth girth or I don't. I simply want to say that the Philippines' head of state lacks public/press relations savvy. That goes as well with his people. His government should hire someone like Arnold Billings or Pete St. John. Or maybe spin doctors like Stanley Motss and Conrad Brean in "Wag The Dog" (1997). For sure, there are equally brilliant guys like them in Manila or Asia right now.
          Let me talk about Duterte's Drug War—by drawing some parallels with Colombia's battle with illegal drugs decades ago. Although a totally different timeframe and circumstantial terrain, it is still the closest comparison that I could present.

          The drug kingdom of Pablo Escobar and Jose Rodriguez Gacha of the Medellin Cartel were huge and powerful. Escobar was worth $30 billion by the early 1990s (equivalent to about $54 billion today), one of the richest men in the world at his prime. His hitmen and liquidation squads wasted five presidential candidates, 11 Supreme Court Justices, over 3,000 members of the Union PatriĆ³tica (a legal political party), and countless police officers, judges and witnesses. Escobar's reign of terror started in 1975 and supposedly ended in 1993, time of his death or assassination. Let's just take out four years out of that 18 years or those years that Escobar's nemesis Cesar Gaviria served as Colombia's president. While Esobar's goons and rival Cali cartel's army were mowing down public officials and small-fry street peddlers (who could be witnesses) during the country's Drug War/s, Gaviria's Bloque de Busqueda (Search Bloc) and the CIA-funded Communist-rival vigilante group Los Pepes were also involved in killings. Do the math.
          To blame or point all assassinations and extra-judicial killings to Gaviria's Bloque de Busqueda is as dumb as pointing all the carnage and mayhem to Duterte's men. Yet the Philippines isn't facing a Colombia/Cali Cartel that extends to Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago, and Florida (US mainland). Duterte could be up against the Golden Triangle, major opium-producing areas in Asia, overlapping the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia--Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. If illegal drugs in the Philippines was that huge and widespread that it warrants an all-out drug war, I don't believe we are talking about small-time drug syndicates. We are talking about The Triangle.
          While cartels in South America control cocaine trade, they also control coca production. Coca is an important ingredient to many pharmaceutical products. Colombia is the world's #1 producer of this plant. Meantime, the Golden Triangle also enjoys a grip of poppy farming. It ranks second to Afghanistan in this area of cultivation/export. Poppies are a source of the crude drug opium which contains powerful medicinal alkaloids such as morphine etc. Hence, controlling illegal drug lords also means controlling their “other business.” So enter CIA. The rest is history.

          Duterte, like Cesar Gaviria, resists US meddling in internal affairs. Both presidents gain the okay of their regional neighbors in regards illegal drugs eradication. Duterte is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Gaviria, at his time, the Organization of American States (OAS). Difference is Duterte is not a cool PR copy for obvious reasons; Gaviria is an ever-smiling, relatively quiet, charismatic leader. More importantly, the Philippine president's government blossomed at a time of internet/social media bombast. In the 90s? Facebook and Skype were Star Trek. Write something against the government in those years? I don't know. And in regards global order, China was still “sleeping” at that time and the US was supreme. (I don't want to go further to the Contra/Escobar/CIA link though.)
         Tell me, did the killings in Duterte's time no different from Gaviria's time? No brainer. But there's another difference here. Although Gaviria wasn't really a US boy, OAS was/is headquartered in Washington DC. ASEAN is in Indonesia, not really a sweet Uncle Sam buddy.
          Pertinent ADDs: Indonesia is one of the biggest exporting countries in the world—with coal briquettes, palm oil, and petroleum gas as its main brags. Indonesia is not a member of the West-controlled OPEC despite its oil. ADD2. Russia and China, #1 and #4 in production of crude oil, aren't members of OPEC as well. Meaning, they decide oil pricing.

         ADD3: Five dominant countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam launched the the Tiger Cub Economies in the `90s. Fidel Ramos, a Duterte ally, was the president of the Philippines that time. Tiger Cub Economies are so named because they follow the same export-driven model of economic development pursued by Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, which are collectively referred to as the Four Asian Tigers. Overseas Chinese entrepreneurs played a prominent role in the development of the region's private sectors. These businesses are part of the larger bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines that share common family and cultural ties. China's transformation into a major economic power in the 21st century has led to increasing investments in Southeast Asian countries where the bamboo network is present.
          When you ponder these facts, and zoom in on Duterte's tact vis a vis Washington, things make sense. He has negotiating chips and got Beijing's back. When President Obama or West's media chided Duterte about his Drug War, he shot back with patented nastiness. Again, it makes sense, right? And when he told Washington to lay off anti-Al Qaeda/Abu Sayyaf program in the South, again—that makes sense. He wants to handle all these his way—with Southeast Asia and China backing him up. Gone are the days when the world begs IMF and World Bank (essentially European Union) for loans. The Philippines, which has gone over its Third World hump many years ago, even loaned IMF money at the time of president Noynoy Aquino and China has been giving out loans all over Europe and the world. Beijing is playing the same kind of western capitalism and global mercantilism that the West ushered I the 18th/19th century. Meantime, Japan is the number #1 aid giver to the Philippines these days.

          I am confident Rodrigo Duterte will end his Drug War, transfer fund (essentially Chinese loans) to the countryside and inner cities and get all the Beijing investments rolling, keep exporting (as per Tiger Cubs design). Meantime, George Soros is in Indonesia—the same guy who engineered the crash of Asian currency years ago as the continent veers away from Western dependency. Why is that? Think.
          After the US election, Washington will go back to the drawing board. It needs South China Sea where its huge fleet of security sits and where Foxconn (China, Taiwan US 1 Percenter team) thrives. But Beijing is there and Asean is unperturbed. But Uncle Sam will compromise and negotiate. For the good of humankind. Uh huh.
          Meantime, Rodrigo Duterte needs a team of Arnold Billings, Pete St. John, Stanley Motss and Conrad Brean. Don't have to be all-Americans. It could be like the remake of “The Magnificant Seven.” Multi-racial A-team of PR wizards. Things will work out and everybody happy.