September 27, 2018 (1:38 PM)

4 min read


Richard Heydarian, a renowned author and a specialist in Asian geopolitical and economic affairs, was the main discussant for the forum titled, “Duterte and the Ascent of Asian Strongmen: Emerging Market Populism and the Revolt Against Liberal Globalization,” organized by the university’s PolSci, History, and Psychology Department. Photo by Julien Jame Apale

University administrators and professors welcomed decorated author Richard Javad Heydarian during the Pakighinabi discussion titled as “Duterte & The Ascent of Asian Strongmen”. The forum, which discussed the Duterte populism and the liberal market economies, was held at the Pakighinabi Room at the Third Floor, Community Center of Ateneo de Davao University last September 24, 2018.

The round of talks revolved around Heydarian’s analysis while the professors from different departments bounced off their ideas. Among them were University President, Fr. Joel Tabora, Professors Ian Clark Parcon of the Philosophy Department, Dennis Coronel of the Social Sciences Department, Arnie Clamor from the Theology Department, Ramon Beleno III from the Political Sciences Department, and Fr. Ulysses Cabayao S.J. from the Anthropology Department. Joining them were Atty. Cecilia Angeles from the College of Law and Mags Maglana from human-rights group Konsensya Dabaw.

Duterte’s uniqueness

During the dialogue, Heydarian noted that Duterte might be unique among the Philippine politicians but there have been leaders from different countries that have the same background and employ the same strategies that he does.

“Up until today, kahit na maraming galit kay Digong because of inflation, human rights violation but they always say na at least iba sya or he’s not like other politicians. The thing with Duterte is that he’s unique in the Philippines, but if you actually look across Asia he’s not super unique. There’s a lot of similarity between him and these three persons Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Narendra Modi, and Joko Widodo,” Heydarian further explained.

Heydarian noted that Duterte’s strong base of supporters came from the middle class who may feel that they have limited access to opportunities for them to “break through”. Moreover, he suggested that voters may have taken a liking to Duterte due to the circumstances of where he came from and how he beat out his opponents.

“If you look at the numbers, classes ABC voted the most for President Duterte. But actually, the base of President Duterte is the middle-class Filipino and in fact I call them “aspirational middle-class’. Ito ‘yung mga Filipinos na they feel like there is a ‘glass ceiling’ and they cannot rise through the ranks. Here comes Duterte all the way from Davao beating all his well-funded candidates is a manifestation that if he can do that we can also do this,” Heydarian added.


Included in the topics that were tackled were the economic growth and the social expectations of the citizens that come with it. Heydarian shared that a fast economically growing country will face a larger growth in their expectations on how their quality of life should improve.

“The idea is this, when a country grows fast economically, social expectations actually exponentially increase. When you say 6.4 percent increase, I see beautiful BGC, I see beautiful Makati and so on and so forth. I believe I should have a piece of that, my salary should go higher. In moments of prosperity, people’s expectations of the future di naman over the top. And also there is a sense of entitlement saying that why should a few people only benefit in a prospering country, I should also benefit from that,” shared Heydarian

Professor Dennis Coronel chimed in on his thoughts that it is time that we asked from our populist leaders what they promised to us.

“I think that part of liberal democracy is that we embody our students and also ourselves on what we can claim from our charismatic leaders. Panahon na siguro na sisingilin na rin natin sila,” Coronel noted.

Closing thoughts

Heydarian would end the main discussion citing Samuel Huntington that around the world, the problem is not the form of government but rather the efficiency of the government.

“The problem is actually the degrees of government. How efficient is your government? You can be non-democratic like Singapore with an efficient government and make your people happy. You can be highly democratic like Germany and you can also make your people happy. What matters is the degrees of government, not the form of government.”

In an interview with Atenews, Heydarian shared that there are very few successful dictatorial leaders and are basically hit or miss. He also shared that democracy, albeit mediocre and slow, are still the safer bet.

“Over the long run, 30 to 40 years, I will also bet on the mediocre on the reformist democratic leader because historically, they have been more successful. The reformist leaders should not be boring like Mar Roxas. They may have the right policies but they cannot capture the hearts and minds so we need reformists that also have charisma,” Heydarian conveyed.

End the silence of the gagged!

© 2024 Atenews

Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy