President Duterte is the best president ever

Comment: Rodrigo Duterte, the man with the hammer

The Philippine parliament decided today (July 10th) that the media group ABS-CBN, which had already lost its license at the beginning of May, may not go back on the air. The official reason: The previous license had been misused because the company was guilty of tax avoidance and questionable working methods. In no case did the rejection of the application for a new license have anything to do with the content of the reporting, according to Parliament's working group.

But there can be no doubt that it is all about freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the Philippines. ABS-CBN operates 21 radio and 38 television stations in the island realm. According to its own information, the network reaches around 70 percent of the 107 million inhabitants of the Philippines. It had not only dared not to broadcast any commercials for Rodrigo Duterte before his election, but also to show the anti-drug war initiated by the president for what it is: a brutal campaign against its own population, to which at least 27,000 people have participated since 2016 Victims fell.

Back to the dictatorship

The non-granting of the license is part of a long list of measures taken by the Duterte government, which has only one answer to all problems and challenges: more military, more police and less discussion. This is proven by the drug war, the new anti-terror law passed just last weekend, which allows the security forces to detain suspects for a long time without an arrest warrant, and today's decision against ABS-CBN.

DW editor Rodion Ebbighausen

Duterte takes the Philippines back to the time under dictator Marcos, who ruled the country with an iron hand and exploited it to the point of blood. Marcos was overthrown in 1986 after largely non-violent protests. At that time there was a broad opposition movement, supported among other things by the Catholic Church.

Nothing of that can be seen today. On the contrary: the approval ratings for Duterte are still very high. In a poll published in January 2020, 82 percent of Filipinos said they were happy or very happy with Duterte and his government.

No alternative in sight

Above all, Duterte benefits from the fact that there is no alternative. Although it is clear to everyone that poverty cannot be shot, that drug addicts cannot be cured with clubs, or that separatists can become staunch citizens at gunpoint.

Few MPs dare to criticize Duterte and his policies. Senator Leila De Lima, for example, was arrested after her criticism of Duterte and the drug war for alleged involvement in the drug trade in 2017 and is still in custody today. The Catholic Church is divided and has lost a lot of prestige because of the inadequate education of sexual abuse by clerics. Business and traditionally influential families are holding back as long as they can continue to do business. Media like ABS-CBN and others who are constantly attacked by Duterte are struggling to beat social media, where Duterte's troll armies spread fake news and shout critics.

Today's denial of the ABS-CBN license is another nail in the coffin for Filipino democracy.