Determining Duterte

  • Sykes, T. (Presented paper)
  • Joseph Scalice (Presented paper)
  • Walden Bello (Presented paper)
  • Oscar Campomanes (Presented paper)
  • Roderick Galam (Chair)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description of Activity

Presented the paper 'Call of Duterte: Complicity, Moral Inequivalence and the Limits of Western (Neo)liberal Media Discourses'

The chaotic and contradictory nature of the Duterte regime is matched by confusion, hypocrisy and inaccuracy in its coverage by establishmentarian British and American journalists on all points of a narrow political spectrum (conservative at one ‘extreme’ through to left-liberal on the other) that is delimited by market pressures and elite ideological assumptions.

The result is that most so-called journals of record in the West offer partial, unreliable explanations for Duterte’s gruesome necropolitics, and their vocabulary is bereft of catalyzing phenomena such as neoliberalism, Western ethnocentrism and US imperialism past and present. While certain Western writers reach for the timeworn trope of ‘Oriental despotism’ (Grosrichard) in their constructions of Duterte and to denounce the fear, populism, political divisiveness, summary executions and administrative catastrophes he is no doubt responsible for, they are oblivious to the contribution of decades of Western neoliberal policy to the social conditions that fomented ‘Dutertismo’, not to say the complicity of the Western armaments industry in Duterte’s oppression of his own people.

Such analyses are further hampered by chauvinistic double standards, from the assumption that Duterte’s mass-murder of 20,000 drug addicts and pushers is qualitatively worse than the millions killed by recent Western wars of choice, to the notion that Duterte’s crimes are more deserving of Western ire than those of other (hazily defined) ‘authoritarian populists’ around the globe such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s connivance in communal massacres and political assassinations.
Period21 Apr 2021
Event typeSeminar
LocationPortsmouth, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Philippines
  • Duterte
  • Asian studies
  • History
  • Politics
  • Literature & Culture
  • Media Studies