What Does Rodrigo Duterte’s Rule Mean For And U.S.-Philippines Relations?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in Manila on Aug. 29. Duterte’s war on drugs has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups. But in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than 20 years, he remains extremely popular among residents who say he  brought order and improved life in what was a largely lawless city.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in Manila on Aug. 29. Duterte's war on drugs has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups. But in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than 20 years, he remains extremely popular among residents who say he brought order and improved life in what was a largely lawless city.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in Manila on Aug. 29. Duterte’s war on drugs has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups. But in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than 20 years, he remains extremely popular among residents who say he  brought order and improved life in what was a largely lawless city.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in Manila on Aug. 29. Duterte's war on drugs has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups. But in Davao City, where he was mayor for more than 20 years, he remains extremely popular among residents who say he brought order and improved life in what was a largely lawless city.

What Does Rodrigo Duterte’s Rule Mean For And U.S.-Philippines Relations?

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, nicknamed “Duterte Harry” and “The Punisher’, has caused a lot of geopolitical angst.

He brags about killing suspected drug dealers and drug users. He regularly threatens to dissolve the Congress of the Philippines if he doesn’t get his way. He told President Obama to “Go to hell,” and has called him “son of a whore.” A recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping was viewed by many a Duterte further “thumbing his nose” at the United States.

Yet at the same time, some anti-American protests have been met with violence. A recent protest at the U.S. Embassy ended violently when a police van repeatedly rammed into demonstrators.

We discuss Duterte’s rule, U.S.-Philippines relations and the current state of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. McCoy is the author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State. McCoy calls Mr. Obama a “geopolitical genius.”