The return of strongman rule in the Philippines: Neoliberal roots and developmental implications
In this article, Post-doc researcher, Charmaine Ramos, discusses Philippines’ strongman president and new right populist politician, Rodrigo Duterte, exposing how he secured power on the back of previous development failures whilst perpetuating the neoliberal economic strategies associated with those failures.
Published in Geoforum, Charmaine Ramos conducts an analysis of national development strategies from 1986 to 2017 and of key policies regulating production and redistribution that Duterte has championed in his first two years in office
In so doing, she shows the consistency of his political economy vision with post-Marcos development strategies, which in turn are anchored on neoliberal economic doctrine. This brings to the fore the central paradox that the paper unpacks: how Duterte has secured power on the back of the development failures of the past three decades, but nevertheless perpetuated the neoliberal economic strategies associated with these failures. This paradox relates to the broader puzzle of the imperviousness of neoliberalism to political transformations, including those wrought by the rising sway of new right populist politics.
The central claim of this article is the observed perpetuation of neoliberal economic doctrine alongside authoritarian-illiberal practice is an outcome of secular processes of depoliticization associated with neoliberalism. In this sense, new right populist politics praxis is as much a legacy of, as it is a reaction to, neoliberalism.