To many in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to establish peace and order through punitive justice appears a success. Since his 2016 election, his popularity has steadily grown. In an October 2020 survey conducted by the polling agency Pulse Asia, Duterte reached an unprecedented approval rating of 91 percent. This placed him, according to one article, as the “world’s most popular leader.”1 Human rights groups find this popularity shocking, especially as the unofficial estimates of extrajudicial killings have reached tens of thousands of deaths under Duterte. For some leftists, his attacks on international and domestic liberal institutions, derision of human rights organizations and international bodies, and gleeful deployment of military, police, and vigilante violence all signal a move toward fascism.2
However, the supposed elusiveness of Duterte’s ideological commitments has led to only a handful of public intellectuals and journalists to describe his authoritarianism and the populism that propelled him to power as fascist. Indeed, since the beginning of his presidency, it has been solely the radical and revolutionary Left, those in the streets protesting or those in the countryside waging an armed revolution, who have habitually used the term fascist to describe Duterte. Despite his violent attacks on civil society (particularly dissenting voices in the church and the media) and civility (he is willfully vulgar and profane), liberal critics in particular find Duterte politically slippery. Adding to his ideological ambiguity, the president has, at different times, claimed to be a socialist, a women’s and Indigenous rights advocate, and an anti-imperialist.
In this essay I explore Filipino authoritarianism and its historical relation to fascism, past and pending. I think about fascism not as a neat category of political ideology. Rather, fascism could perhaps be better thought of as a historical reaction to the recurring threat of revolutionary decolonization and the chronic instability of a geopolitical system structured around capitalist empires. On one hand, I examine the massive ideological and material investment of Filipino authoritarianisms into the enforcement of punitive justice. On the other hand, I consider the unexpectedly durable popular libidinal investment in punitive justice, especially punishment deployed by “strongman” regimes upon the bodies of the vulnerable and marginalized. I begin by tracing how U.S. colonial authority in the Philippines was fundamentally dependent on the policing and punishment of real or imagined crimes. I then turn to how a nominally independent nation like the Philippines inherited this colonial structure of punitive justice and why, at present, crimes against the state and crimes against moral norms are commonly blurred together. Finally, I probe into how and why Duterte continues to gain fascistic support through his deployment of punitive justice.
When examining the period between the two world wars, there seems to be a historical connection between the emergence of fascism as a political assemblage and the kinds of counterdecolonization practices deployed by colonial states. Fascism, after all, operates through the legal and extralegal punishment of real or imagined radical threats to state order and moral norms. Mass arrests and incarceration, brutal systemic torture, social death, and genocide were most notoriously meted out by fascistic regimes in interwar Europe. However, as Aimé Césaire argues, fascist atrocities in the West were first put on spectacular display in the colonies. For the colonies, as Césaire declares, the rule of law and the moral norms of Western civilization were especially used to justify the kinds of white supremacist punishment of suspected criminals in the colonies.3 This reminds me of Frantz Fanon’s assertion that the colonizer is fundamentally an “exhibitionist” preoccupied with the security and order of colonial society and is always already prepared to test “brute force” against the masses.4 Yet this gratuitous force was not exceptional. As Angela Davis has argued, colonial systems were radically structured by the logic of punitive justice.5
This is not to say, however, that fascism is simply the same as colonialism. Instead, I am interested in situating fascism within a world ruled by colonialisms. Fascisms that emerged during the 1920s and 1930s were a historically produced reaction to the tumultuous realignment of relations between capitalist empires and the critical mass of revolutionary decolonization movements across the planet during the interwar period.6 On one hand, therefore, fascism was a reaction to the economic, geopolitical, and territorial imperial realignments caused by the Great War. And on the other hand, fascism was a reaction to the globally shocking events of the Mexican and Russian Revolutions.7 From these two world-shaping histories, movements in the “darker nations” for decolonization would generate great stresses on capitalist empires and even greater anxieties within white colonizer societies during the 1920s and 1930s.8
Both fascists and liberals were correct to be nervous about possible worldwide decolonization. Indeed, throughout the colonies, a revolutionary internationalism was steadily growing from the end of the 1910s through the 1920s, one based on both communism and decolonization. In 1928, Crisanto Evangelista, one of the founders of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, the first communist party of the Philippines, argued: “The independence of the Filipino people is dependent on the problem and the fate of the other colonies and semi-colonies.”9 Evangelista’s notion of Philippine decolonization was inextricably linked to present and pending global anticolonialisms. At the same time as striving toward international revolution, the Filipino communist also saw the possibilities of working through a nationalist revolution within and against U.S. empire and capital. For Evangelista, Philippine decolonization could act as a vanguard for the Asian and Pacific world. “If we are freed, it would change the shape of colonialism in the world,” leading to what he envisioned as “an outbreak of fire that would burn and smolder inside the people of Taiwan and Korea to fight against Japan; the Indonesian against the Netherlands; in Indo-China against France and Portugal; the Indians, the Malaysians and other English colonies against England.”10
The possibility of revolutionary decolonization in the Philippines, however, did not first appear during the 1920s. In 1896 Filipino revolutionaries attempted to liberate the Philippines from three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Two years later, Filipino revolutionaries would resist a U.S.-led racial and genocidal war.11 Policing and punishment would be fundamental to counterrevolutionary campaigns. After all, the pacification of both internal and external enemies was paramount to an occupying U.S. colonial state paranoid about potential disorders. In response to these conditions, American colonial authorities would establish the Philippine Constabulary (PC) in 1901.
Responsible for policing both civil and martial arenas, the PC was a crucial instrument of state punitive violence against insurrection and vice during a long and protracted colonial war. Moreover, the PC would become a powerful institution, outliving the official American colonial state and deployed by Filipino authoritarians throughout the twentieth century. However, the PC is perhaps more powerful as a figure of the kind of punitive logic that courses throughout both Filipino authoritarianisms and their popular support. Through the PC, policing did not differentiate between, on one hand, crimes against the state, such as sedition or treason, and, on the other, crimes against the norms of civil society, such as drugs, gambling, and sex work.12 Under this logic, any form of disorder—political or moral—could be subject to severe punishment, either through incarceration, torture, or death.13
Punitive violence was fundamentally necessary to Filipino authoritarianism as the Philippines transitioned from U.S. colonial possession to U.S. Commonwealth in 1935 and finally to an independent Republic of the Philippines in 1946. The first strongman Filipino leader, Commonwealth president Manuel Quezon, would exploit the deep anxieties over social and moral disorders in civil society. Quezon regularly deployed anti-imperial rhetoric throughout his leadership. Outside of public vision, however, Quezon would actively collaborate with U.S. colonial authorities to maintain political hegemony and power throughout the archipelago until his death in 1944.14 To maintain political power and achieve national sovereignty, Quezon projected a sense of order and security throughout the 1930s, mainly by the intense policing of revolutionaries. It is telling that these anxieties over revolution were expressed during the Great Depression and the increasing rise of European and Asian fascisms. Indeed, during this moment of global economic and political crisis, Filipino politicians and the U.S. War Department obsessed more over the spread of communism than fascism in the Philippines.15 This is reflected in the U.S. Department of War’s 1932 counterdecolonization warning that Philippine independence “would merely invite chaos and revolution.”16
Throughout the 1930s, American authorities and, later, the Quezon administration would intensify punitive measures against potential “chaos and revolution.” For instance, the years leading to the Commonwealth witnessed mass arrests of members of socialist, labor, and peasant organizations and the outlawing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas).17 Punishment was meted out most spectacularly during a peasant rebellion in 1935. The Sakdalistas, an organization and social movement demanding immediate liberation and radical land redistribution, were violently suppressed by the PC. Dozens would be killed, hundreds incarcerated, and thousands detained, harassed, and intimidated by the PC and local police forces.18 The suppression of the Sakdalistas provided a model for the Commonwealth government. Quezon would continue to use the PC to violently suppress dissenting voices, particularly the poor and the peasantry. Moreover, through the deputizing of plantation owners, vigilante militias, and Christian settlers, the Commonwealth government would imprison leftist revolutionaries in Luzon and Muslim autonomists in Mindanao.19
From the 1940s to the 1950s, the PC would again be crucial in deploying punitive violence against perceived disorders. Under Japanese colonial occupation during World War II, the PC arrested and tortured suspected dissidents, focusing especially on communist and anti-Japanese peasant guerillas, known as the Hukbalahap (and later the Huks), in the countryside. After the 1946 U.S. imperial recognition of Philippine sovereignty, the Huks would transform their political platform from anticolonial defense into a revolutionary movement. In response to the so-called Huk rebellion, the nascent postcolonial state would revive the PC.20 Immediately, the PC would adopt brutal methods of mass torture and detention of any supposed rebel or those suspected of abetting rebels. PC methods were spectacular, in some instances stacking dead bodies along roads as warnings to Huk members and sympathizers.21
In terms of the history of punitive violence in the postcolonial Philippines, perhaps no other state regime is as infamous as the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. From 1965 until his People Power–propelled ouster in 1986, the Marcos regime relied on the brutal punishment of those deemed domestic enemies of the state. Under Marcos, suspected dissidents and critics were violently targeted by police and military. An astounding estimated number of human rights violations were carried out under Marcos’s martial law years: 70,000 arrested, 35,000 tortured, and 3,257 extrajudiciously killed. Many of those murdered were first tortured and their corpses left out for public display, a cruel process known as “salvaging.”22
Under Marcos, the PC were a crucial instrument in meting out punishment and, as a hybrid military and civilian institution, operated with civil immunity. Situated during an era when the Third World was a world-shaping force for Cold War geopolitics, Marcos justified his crackdown on criminality through anticommunist, counterrevolutionary, and antisedition discourse. For U.S. allies and the local Philippine elite and middle classes, the desire to securitize capitalist society enabled the Marcos regime to pursue legal and extralegal punishment on a mass scale. It is fitting, therefore, that the end of the Marcos regime also marked the beginning of the end of the PC as an autonomous institution. In 1991, PC personnel were absorbed into the Philippine National Police, designated as a nonmilitary force, and stripped of civil immunity.23
What is most striking about the PC style of punishment was its spectacular display of violence. The public exhibition of dismembered and mutilated bodies was certainly intended to serve as warnings to those considered possible rebels or insurgents. At the same time, however, the debasement of body parts to the point of abjection seemed to serve another purpose.24 For instance, the kinds of salvaging that occurred under Marcos never seemed to fundamentally unsettle the broader population. Marcos remained and still remains immensely popular.25 It is as if those that witnessed these public displays of gratuitous violence chose not to identify with the punished or even the potentially punishable. Rather, they chose to identify with those meting out punishment: Marcos and the PC. As Neferti Tadiar has argued about the Marcos regime, the popularity (and nostalgia) for the strongman was fueled by a popular desire for authoritarian leadership and the possible access to the spoils of capital accumulation.26 I wonder, therefore, whether this popular identification with the masculine figures of violence—the strongmen of the PC and the patriarchal authoritarian leader—expresses what Tadiar calls a fascistic desire to be part of the “People-as-One.”27 As Tadiar clarifies, however, various desires for mass unity that have emerged over time are not inherently fascistic. Instead, it is when these desires for mass unity are represented by a singular figure—in this case the strongman—that it can be deployed for fascist power. To identify as the one who punishes rather than as the one punished means that one desires to inflict punishment upon the abject, those excluded from the “People-as-One.” Moreover, this identification with strongmen is perhaps not necessarily grounded in what punishment is supposed to prevent (crimes and disorder) or even uphold (the law or the nation) but rather in the spectacle of punishment itself.
Duterte’s tenure is especially defined by the spectacle of punishment. He has threatened to revive the PC,28 frequently expresses his admiration for the order and security under the Marcos regime,29 and instituted martial law in parts of Muslim Mindanao.30 Although he at first committed to peace talks with communists, he has, for most of his tenure, been vehemently anticommunist. Indeed, although many critics have argued that he is ideologically nebulous, his sole consistency is his commitment to punitive justice. Duterte’s obsession with punishing all those who disturb authority and security has earned him the nickname “The Punisher,” a reference to a fictional vigilante antihero who hunts and kills suspected criminals.31 Duterte’s desire to punish extends to all those that appear as political and moral disorders and has led to the aggressive targeting of a multitude of media groups, activists and organizers, and even celebrities.
Take for example the July 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act, which expanded the definition of terrorism to include any activities or speech that may threaten harm or destruction to people, property, or infrastructure. Additionally, the act granted the government far more punitive powers, including surveillance, detainment, and incarceration without basic protections or legal recourse. In the lead-up to its passage, the vagueness of the law was widely denounced by both domestic and foreign critics. Leftists, liberals, and human rights groups in the Philippines argued that the act allowed government agents to consider any criticism as a threat to state security. Indeed, one definition of a terrorist included anyone who would “propose, incite, conspire, and participate” in seriously destroying or destabilizing “the fundamental political, economic, or social structures in the country.”32 Sedition, the desire for liberation, and challenges to government authority were now under the umbrella of terrorism.
Another prominent target of Duterte’s regime has been the figure of the communist. Under present conditions, anticommunist punishment commonly operates by way of “red-tagging.” Through red-tagging, Duterte government agents and supporters accuse public figures or organizations of being communists or communist sympathizers. Working mainly through social media, red-tagging has primarily targeted human rights advocates and leftist critics of the Duterte government. In a country with the longest ongoing armed communist rebellion in Asia (the New People’s Army, or NPA), any sort of social justice demand or form of political dissent can be red-tagged by authorities and portrayed as a form of sedition or terrorism against the government.
Red-tagging does not merely operate as a mode of suppressing dissent but also creates the grounds for capture, detention, or even death.33 Under the lead of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), 2020 would witness a deluge of arrests, detentions, and even killings of university student, Indigenous, peasant, and labor activists and organizers.34 The Duterte regime would rationalize this state campaign against communists in strongman language. In a March 2021 press conference, he claimed to have ordered the military to “shoot and kill right away” any supposedly armed communist.35 A Duterte spokesperson supported the president’s right to “kill, kill, kill,” declaring it legal “because the rebels really are armed [dahil … ay iyong mga rebelde na meron talagang hawak na armas].”36 For Duterte, communists simply embodied disorder, roving and violent “bandits” with no recognizable or legitimate political ideology. From his perspective, in contradistinction to the law and order forcefully instituted by communist governments, what Duterte offered under his regime was “the kind of discipline where one truly believes and follows the rules in order to live peacefully.”37
Finally, the Duterte regime has most notoriously pursued the punishment of moral crimes, particularly the use and sale of illegal drugs. His regime has made explicit the fundamental connection between political and moral disorders and their threat on Filipino life. As Duterte has maintained, “When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty.”38 Through waging what he calls a “Drug War,” Duterte promised to bring “peace and order” to the Philippine public. The punishment of accused drug smugglers, dealers, and addicts has been most spectacularly covered by major corporate and grassroots media outlets. Since 2016, murders by police and vigilantes have been estimated to be between six thousand and twenty thousand or more. Additionally, there are almost two hundred thousand officially imprisoned or detained in a carceral system that was built for a tenth of that number.39
Despite worries from liberal critics, the Drug War has not been bad for business. The Drug War’s stockpiling of corpses sheds light on racial capitalism’s capacity to profit from gratuitous violence.40 Racial capitalism devalues a body’s life but at the same time can valorize the body through dispossession. For instance, in the microeconomic register, police quotas and funerals monetize the accumulation of corpses to reap profit.41 Moreover, the seized narcotics publicly appraised by police illuminate the fungibility of dead bodies to the street price of drugs.42 At the same time, the Drug War is bundled along with the budgeting of infrastructure and development, illustrating its macroeconomic implications. The proposed 2021 national budget has allocated a combined P450 billion pesos (approximately US$9.4 billion) to military and police,43 with a substantial “chunk” dedicated to the increase in military and police salaries, pensions, and life insurance.44 To pay for this increased budget, over P3 trillion pesos will be added to the national debt, with a sixth of the debt coming directly from foreign lenders.45 In addition, since 2016, the United States has provided $554 million in military assistance to the Duterte regime.46 All in all, therefore, both U.S. empire and international finance have established ways to profit from Duterte’s punitive regime.
Intertwined with capital investment in the Drug War is the popular libidinal investment in the figure of the strongman. In April 2021 Duterte publicly stated, “You can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred during the drug war.” He argues that “if there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one.”47 With this claim of responsibility, it is as if his finger is the one that ultimately pulls all the triggers of police firearms. By claiming, “I’m the one,” Duterte sets off a chain of identifications. As the one who punishes, he is the source of all of the extrajudicial killings, the one who animates the spectacle of gratuitous violence. Yet this claim of responsibility is not meant to distance himself from the police or the people; instead it is meant to collapse that distance. According to this logic, if one identifies with the Filipino people, one is not meant to identify with the dead criminal but rather with the figure who takes pleasure in killing for the People-as-One. Indeed, Duterte posits his form of punitive justice as being driven by a higher calling, the natural and national law of the People-as-One. As he asserts, “Bring me to court to be imprisoned.… If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”48 With this statement, Duterte expresses his pleasure in his martyrdom, not just willing but “gladly” willing to be prosecuted for the People-as-One.49
Despite the international condemnation of the Duterte government as authoritarian and excessively punitive, the Philippines is nevertheless considered by its inhabitants as one of the fifty safest countries in the world. According to a Gallup report released in November 2020, seven out of ten residents of the Philippines self-reported that they felt more secure, mainly because of the high visibility of law enforcement and the official reports of decreased crime rates.50 For Filipino revolutionaries, the most unnerving aspect of life under Duterte is not simply that the majoritarian opinion accepts the state’s punitive violence. Perhaps equally disturbing about Duterte’s continued popularity—despite his botched response to the COVID pandemic and typhoon disasters during 2020 and the beginning of 2021—is the seeming continued desire by the majority of the electorate to witness others be punished.51 As several interviews conducted during Duterte’s lame duck period of rule suggest, those that are perceived to be excluded from the realm of the people—communities regularly targeted by authorities—are actually “relieved” about the extrajudicial killings of communists and drug addicts. This relief is a consequence of identifying communists and drug addicts as “being against the law.”52 Thus, if fascism is the counterrevolutionary and authoritarian desire to punish those considered threats to law and order, then it can also be said that fascism is the pleasures one gains from seeing an authoritarian succeed.
To combat fascistic forms of pleasure, antifascists in the Philippines must go beyond the logic of ethical condemnation or intellectual criticism. They must also go beyond the desire to find a different, a more palatable (preferably liberal) populist leader, to substitute in place of the fascistic strongman.53 It may be more generative for antifascists to recall the desires of past revolutionaries; to recall revolutionary strategies of organizing around an identification with the people and reject the identification with the People-as-One; to follow revolutionaries that rejected representations of the masses and instead drew from, and were a part of, the pleasures of mass movements toward collective liberation.
Allan E. S. Lumba is an assistant professor of history at Virginia Tech. His research explores the historical entanglements between racial capitalism and U.S. colonialisms in the Philippines and more broadly the Pacific from the late nineteenth century to the present. His book, Monetary Authorities: Capitalism and Decolonization in the American Colonial Philippines, will be out in June 2022 from Duke University Press.
Richard Javad Heydarian, “Why Duterte Is the World’s Most Popular Leader,” Asia Times, October 9, 2020, https://
asiatimes .com /2020 /10 /why -duterte -is -the -worlds -most -popular -leader /.
Walden Bello, “Rodrigo Duterte: A Fascist Original,” in A Duterte Reader: Critical Essays on Rodrigo Duterte’s Early Presidency, ed. Nicole Curato (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017), 77.
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (1950; repr., New York: Monthly Review, 2000), 36.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1963; repr., New York: Grove, 2004), 17.
Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories, 2003), 22.
In his introduction to Discourse on Colonialism, Robin D. G. Kelley writes of the critical mass of prominent Black radical thinkers during the 1940s and 1950s and how they debated fascism’s relation to revolutionary forms of anticolonialism, antiracism, and anticapitalism. Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, 8.
For more on how the Mexican Revolution and the Russian Revolution would reshape notions of self-determination during the interwar period, see Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
For more on internationalisms from the colonial world, see Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: New Press, 2007).
Crisanto Evangelista, Nasyonalismo Proteksiyonismo vs. Internasyonalismo Radikal (Manila: K. A. P., 1928), 22.
Evangelista, Nasyonalismo Proteksiyonismo, 21.
On U.S. colonialism in the Philippines as a “race war,” see Paul A. Kramer, “Race-Making and Colonial Violence in the U.S. Empire: The Philippine-American War as Race War,” Diplomatic History 30, no. 2 2006): 169. On U.S. colonialism as anti-Filipino genocide, see Dylan Rodriguez, Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).
Alfred McCoy, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press), 16.
Frank Golay, Face of Empire: United States–Philippine Relations, 1898–1946 (Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1997), 125.
Alfred McCoy, “Global Populism: A Lineage of Filipino Strongmen from Quezon to Marcos and Duterte,” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 32, no. 1–2 (2017): 13.
There are substantial files dedicated to monitoring communism in the records of the U.S. Bureau of Insular Affairs. See especially box 1295, folder 28342, Records of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Record Group 350, National Archives and Records Administration (hereafter BIA RG350, NARA)
Independence for the Philippine Islands: Hearings before the Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1932), 108.
See Luis Taruc, Born of the People (New York: International Publishers, 1953), and Jim Richardson, Komunista: The Genesis of the Philippine Communist Party, 1902–1935 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2011).
“Sakdal Uprising Report,” box 13, folder 11, Joseph Ralston Hayden Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
“Text of President Quezon’s Message to the National Assembly,” Manila Bulletin, February 1, 1941, box 24, folder 1, Joseph Ralston Hayden Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
Ben J. Kerkvliet, The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines (Quezon City: New Day, 1979).
McCoy, Policing America’s Empire, 375.
Nerissa Balce, Body Parts of Empire: Visual Abjection, Filipino Images, and the American Archive (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016), 22.
Floyd Whaley, “30 Years after Revolution, Some Filipinos Yearn for ‘Golden Age’ of Marcos,” New York Times, February 23, 2016, https://
www .nytimes .com /2016 /02 /24 /world /asia /30 -years -after -revolution -some -filipinos -yearn -for -golden -age -of -marcos .html.
Neferti Tadiar, Fantasy Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequences for the New World Order (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2004), 52.
Tadiar here refers to Claude Lefort’s concept of “People-as-One.” Tadiar, Fantasy Production, 253.
Pia Ranada, “Duterte to Revive Philippine Constabulary,” Rappler, September 20, 2016, https://
www .rappler .com /nation /duterte -revive -philippine -constabulary.
Pia Ranada, “Duterte: If I Won’t Be a Dictator, Nothing Will Happen to PH,” Rappler, February 9, 2018, https://
www .rappler .com /nation /duterte -dictator -change -philippines.
JC Gotinga, “After 2 and a Half Years, Martial Law Ends in Mindanao,” Rappler, December 31, 2019, https://
www .rappler .com /nation /martial -law -mindanao -ends -december -31 -2019.
Erik De Castro, “The Punisher,” Reuters, June 30, 2016, https://
www .reuters .com /investigates /special -report /philippines -duterte -photos /.
“Philippines: Dangerous Anti-Terror Law yet Another Setback for Human Rights,” Amnesty International, July 3, 2020, https://
www .amnesty .org /en /latest /news /2020 /07 /philippines -dangerous -antiterror -law -yet -another -setback -for -human -rights /.
During 2020, there was rampant red-tagging. Some of the most highly public examples were reported in Rambo Talabong, “Parlade Warns Liza Soberano on Supporting Gabriela: ‘You Will Suffer the Same Fate’ of Those Killed,” Rappler, October 22, 2020, https://
www .rappler .com /nation /parlade -warns -liza -soberano -supporting -gabriela -youth; and “Distraught Angel Locsin on Being Red-Tagged—People I Help Could Be Accused, Too,” ABS-CBN News, October 31, 2020, https:// news .abs -cbn .com /news /10 /31 /20 /distraught -angel -locsin -on -being -red -tagged -people -i -help -could -be -accused -too.
Alan Robles, “Philippines: ‘Bloody Sunday’ Killings Show Rodrigo Duterte’s Brutal Presidency Isn’t Letting Up in His Last Full Year,” This Week in Asia, March 10, 2021, https://
www .scmp .com /week -asia /politics /article /3124907 /philippines -bloody -sunday -killings -show -dutertes -brutal.
Catherine Valente, “Duterte Orders Military to ‘Shoot and Kill’ Armed Communist Rebels,” Manila Times, March 6, 2021, https://
www .manilatimes .net /2021 /03 /06 /news /duterte -orders -military -to -shoot -and -kill -armed -communist -rebels /847906 /.
Jamaine Punzalan, “Duterte ‘Kill, Kill, Kill’ Order vs Rebels Is ‘Legal’, Says Spokesman,” ABS-CBN News, March 08, 2021, https://
news .abs -cbn .com /news /03 /08 /21 /duterte -kill -kill -kill -order -vs -rebels -is -legal -says -spokesman.
Catherine Valente, “Duterte Orders Military to ‘Shoot and Kill’ Armed Communist Rebels,” Manila Times, March 6, 2021, https://
www .manilatimes .net /2021 /03 /06 /news /duterte -orders -military -to -shoot -and -kill -armed -communist -rebels /847906 /.
Jim Gomez, “Duterte: Hold Me Responsible for Killings in Drug Crackdown,” ABC News, October 20, 2020, https://
abcnews .go .com /International /wireStory /duterte -held -responsible -drug -killings -73707854.
“Bachelet Renews Call for Accountability in Philippines’ War on Illegal Drugs,” UN News, June 30, 2020, https://
news .un .org /en /story /2020 /06 /1067462.
In some ways, this resonates with Sayak Valencia’s assertion that “there is a hyper-corporealization and a hyper-valorization applied to the body” within the organized crime markets of border territories. Sayak Valencia, Gore Capitalism (South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e) Intervention Series, 2018), 131.
Vicente Rafael, “The Sovereign Trickster,” Journal of Asian Studies 78, no. 1 (2019): 149.
For more on how fungibility and accumulation remain essential logics in the production of racial capitalism, see Saidiya Hartman, “The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women’s Labors,” Souls 18, no. 1 (2016): 166–173.
“By the Numbers: The Philippines’ Proposed 2021 Budget,” Rappler, October 22, 2020, https://
www .rappler .com /business /by -the -numbers -show -episode -one -2021 -philippine -national -budget.
Chistopher Lloyd Caliwan, “Big Chunk of PNP 2021 Budget Mostly for Personnel Services,” Republic of the Philippines Philippine News Agency, September 15, 2020, https://
www .pna .gov .ph /articles /1115431.
Ben O. de Vera, “PH Debt to Breach P10 Trillion in 2020, Nearly P12 Trillion in 2021,” Inquirer, August 26, 2020, https://
business .inquirer .net /305953 /ph -debt -to -breach -p10 -trillion -in -2020 -nearly -p12 -trillion -in -2021.
Renato de Castro, “Duterte Admin (Finally) Acknowledges Value of Philippine-US Alliance,” Stratbase ADR Institute, September 19, 2020, https://
adrinstitute .org /2020 /09 /19 /duterte -admin -finally -acknowledges -value -of -philippine -us -alliance /.
Associated Press, “‘I’m the One’: Philippines President Takes Responsibility for Drug Killings,” The Guardian, October 20, 2020, https://
www .theguardian .com /world /2020 /oct /20 /im -the -one -philippines -president -takes -responsibility -for -drug -killings.
Associated Press, “‘I’m the One.’”
Duterte remains unrepentant in his policy of extrajudicial killing, as evident in his recent and final State of the Nation Address in which he reinforces his “shoot them dead” policy. Genalyn Kabiling, “Duterte Vows to End Armed Communist Struggle ‘Once and For All,’” Manila Bulletin, July 27, 2021, https://
mb .com .ph /2021 /07 /27 /duterte -vows -to -end -armed -communist -struggle -once -and -for -all /.
Krixia Subingsubing, “Gallup: PH Among the Safest Countries in the World,” Inquirer, November 5, 2020, https://
globalnation .inquirer .net /191954 /gallup -ph -12th -safest -country.
Neil Arwin Mercardo, “Duterte Casts Out ‘Lame Duck’ Spell, Retains Popularity Unseen Before,” Inquirer, July 22, 2021, https://
newsinfo .inquirer .net /1462537 /duterte -casts -out -lame -duck -spell -retains -popularity -unseen -before.
Pia Ranada, “Duterte May Cap Term as Most Popular President. So what?” Rappler, June 30, 2021, https://
www .rappler .com /newsbreak /in -depth /so -what -if -duterte -may -cap -term -as -philippines -most -popular -president.
This was of course the case that occurred with the liberal authoritarian figure of Corazon Aquino, as Tadiar argues, and the recent nostalgia for the recently deceased Benigno Aquino III. Tadiar, Fantasy Production, 253.