Maoism, Nazism, or Fascism?


IN absenting himself from his own official proclamation as President-elect by the National Board of Canvassers on Monday, without offering any valid excuse for it, Mr. Rodrigo Duterte appears to have made it clear to all and sundry that he is much bigger than his office. It does not help that one front-page news photo from Davao, taken from Facebook, showed the President-elect hanging out with civilian gun enthusiasts at a local gun repair shop in Davao. Although he does not take his oath until June 30, this is not a good start.

No matter how much B.S. Aquino 3rd may have debauched and devalued the presidency, the new President-elect owes it due deference. By his example he has to help people, who have lost respect for the office because of Aquino, regain that respect. His duties to the office are both ceremonial and substantive, “dignified and efficient” (to borrow the words of The English Constitution by Walter Bagehot); none of these are so unimportant that they could be whimsically waved aside. The President belongs to the presidency, the presidency does not belong to the President; the servant serves the office.

Leadership styles may differ from one President to another, but presidential manners are frequently not less important than presidential matters. What one says and how one says it; when does one speak and when does one keep discreet silence—these are some of the things one must always remember in office. The arrival of Donald Trump on the US Republican scene, and Mr. Duterte’s arrival at the Philippine presidency do not completely change this.

The famous mouth

His caustic and unstoppable “mouth,” as Mr. Duterte himself admits, was both an asset and a liability during the campaign. It remains an “albatross above his neck,” a Duterte supporter says. His casual curses and insults delighted the masses; they also offended those who could not stand what was vulgar and base. Duterte has since promised to be “prim and proper,” and is now “enjoying the last days of his rudeness.” But his “mouth” is still there, talking too much where there is no need for it.

This could be the more dangerous mistake.

At the Kapihan at Anabel’s, in Quezon City, last Saturday, Duterte’s bejeweled spokesman Sal Panelo said the President-elect is by nature “playful” and says a lot of “preposterous things” which the media and the public should learn not to take seriously. Who, then, will distinguish for the media and the public the serious statements from the “preposterous” ones, asked my Times columnist-colleague Yen Makabenta, who could not hide his distress.

This was not satisfactorily answered.

A fatal slip

It was clearly a booboo, and in some African Cabinet, that first booboo might have been the spokesman’s last. This is not to suggest that Duterte should censure Panelo. He has a right to choose the spokesman he wants, despite any objections from the National Press Club. With all due respect, Malacañang, not the NPC, should run the press office. Panelo says Mr. Duterte has picked him because they think and speak wonderfully alike; it would be a shame to deprive Mr. Duterte of the company of one who knows exactly why he’s been hired for the job.

As a young man, I worked as Mr. Marcos’ spokesman and information minister for 10 long years, starting at the age of 29 in 1969 until I resigned in 1980, six years before the EDSA revolt. I was probably the world’s youngest minister during that period. But until now I cannot say why I was hired in the first place. Whenever I was asked about it, I always said, “Because Marcos did not know any better, and I did not know any better either.” It proved a perfect fit.

Our subject, though, has nothing to do with any of this.

Still talking too much

Mr. Duterte’s “foul mouth” has won him the presidency by a landslide. Even his wild remark about wishing he were the first to violate the woman-victim of a gang-rape and murder in 1989 seems to have been forgotten now. But even after moderating the vulgarity and rudeness of his campaign quips, Mr. Duterte appears to be talking a little too much, without helping the public see what is serious and what is said in a spirit of “playfulness.”
One story doing the rounds in Davao, according to my personal correspondent, is that Mr. Duterte wants to launch a Maoist-oriented version of Hitler’s National Socialism (Nazism), and organize a “national church,” like the Anglican Church of England or the government-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church, something totally distinct from and far grander than his pastor-friend Apollo Quiboloy’s “Kingdom of God, The Name Above Every Name.”

It is not easy to pinpoint where this story originally came from, but it tends to reveal the blurred and confused thinking behind those who are expected to prepare the ground for the incoming government. The path they want to tread is not the path of service but the path of power. And this has created a life of its own, like the genie that has risen out of the bottle.

Duterte’s decision to create a coalition government with the Left tends to support this reported attraction to Maoism. After the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, was heard to say in Utrecht that the Soviet Union had committed a grave error, but that the future still lay with China’s Maoism. Duterte was a student of Sison’s.

Negotiating with the Left

Now one funny news story says Duterte is appointing Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III as Secretary of Labor as one of the four nominees of the Left to the Cabinet. But, in the meantime, he is being dispatched to Oslo to negotiate with the NDF on behalf of the incoming Duterte government. Can anything be more unreal?

And what can the new government possibly learn from Nazism? It is not known for any particular ideology but more for what and who it opposed (the Jews), and its messianic and charismatic but completely despotic leader.

As for the rumored plan to set up a “national church,” this could be an offshoot of the reported fallout between Mr. Duterte and Pastor Quiboloy, who founded his church in 1985 and has drawn a respectable following since then. But if the plan is to do anything like the Church of England or the Patriotic Catholic Church of China, this is easier said than done.

Iglesia ni Duterte?

In England, the English Parliament, through the Act of Supremacy of 1534, declared Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England, independent of the Vatican; in the English Reformation under Edward VI, the Church acquired a distinct Anglican identity.

In the case of China, the state vilified religion as a manifestation of Western imperialism and expelled Catholic and Protestant missionaries after the 1949 communist revolution.

The revolution shut down 201 archdioceses, 85 dioceses, 39 apostolic prelatures, 3,080 missionaries and 2,557 Chinese priests. Later, it organized the Patriotic Catholic Church under the State Administration for Religious Affairs without any relationship with the Vatican. In recent years, however, the Holy See and Beijing have entered into meaningful dialogue for the normalization of relations.

The talk about Duterte establishing a “national church” started after he released a broadside against the Catholic Church after the unofficial count showed him winning the elections by a landslide. He was reported to have said, in apparent levity, that people would be better off if they joined “Iglesia ni Duterte” (Duterte’s Church).

Some people appear convinced that Duterte’s reported estrangement from his pastor-friend, Quiboloy, may have further fueled this rumor.

Assuming this rumored plan is true, I cannot see a 71-year-old politician succeeding very quickly as the founder of a new church or religion. But if there is any seriousness in this thought, it only shows how profound is the desire to abolish the transcendental authority that makes the authority of the State subordinate to a higher authority and power. This poses a greater threat to democracy than any rumored plan to launch a Maoist-oriented National Socialist program.

Toward fascism?

Whatever the truth is, Duterte has to clear these dark clouds that now hover over his incoming administration. I do not see him as a fascist, but he cannot afford all these rumors swirling around that he is. Indeed, some observers are beginning to associate him with the perceived rise of global fascism. One reader cites a recent op-ed article in The Washington Post by Robert Kagan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, to support the view that Duterte is, in fact, the Philippine version of Donald Trump, plus or minus a few things. Trump is a fascist to many Americans.

What is fascism? For starters, fascism is a governmental system that asserts aggressive nationalism and often racism.

In “This is how fascism comes to America,” Kagan slams Trump’s “attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: they provide and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others”… whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of non-white complexion.”

Fascism, which once tyrannized Italy under Benito Mussolini, has no coherent ideology, nor clear set of principles for society’s ills. It is anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical; it measures success not in terms of its policies, but in terms of the success of its leader. Whatever the problem he could fix it, whatever the threat, whether external or internal, he could vanquish it, and it is not necessary for him to explain how, says Kagan.

Duterte and Trump

To the author, the description fits Trump to a tee, and some other analysts see Duterte in the shadow of Trump. But while there may be district similarities, there are also profound dissimilarities. Like Trump, Duterte may be anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-clerical, but he is certainly not anti-Marxist, nor anti-capitalist, nor anti-foreigner. In fact, the people he evidently wants to lead Congress in proposing changes in the Constitution all seem resolved to propose 100-percent ownership of land, mineral resources, and public utilities by foreigners in the Philippines. They are all votaries of international capital, which is mainly responsible for inflating the affluence of the 1 percent and the miseries of the 99 percent everywhere.

It seems clear that Duterte himself does not quite know exactly what he is or exactly where he is in the political spectrum; he is trying to recreate himself into an undefined vision of himself in order to respond to a specific historical need and a specific historical situation.

For this, he needs the gift of a clear mind, a sound health and an unbending will so that he could lead the people in getting to know the truth and the good and to choose them with courage and conviction. He cannot merely ride on their shoulders to seize and accumulate wealth and power.


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  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    01 June 2016

    When the initial rhapsodizing by those who voted for RODRIGO DUTERTE as President finally simmers down, there is a very good chance that there will be a lot of hand-wringing and hair-pulling by them when a despotic President Duterte starts carrying out the very threats which made them cast their votes for them.

    He is reported to have threatened that journalists who criticize him are “sons of bitches” and should be ASSASSINATED. And assassinated probably by him PERSONALLY.

    With this column of his, “Maoism, Nazism, or Fascism,” in The Manila Times of 31 May, which is far from an Elegy of rhapsodic praise for RODY DUTERTE, Francisco S. Tatad runs the very real risk of being the first “son of a bitch” which a completely despotic President [or is it “Der Fuhrer”] Duterte could personally dispatch to “heaven” –to “heaven” Mr. Tatad being a loyal and devoted Roman Catholic.

    If President Duterte is consistent and goes ahead with some or all of his vows and pledges as a candidate, the Philippines will be entering “A TIME OF TROUBLES”–to borrow the felicitous phraseology of Arnold Toynbee.

    [BTW: Mr. Tatad characterizes Mr. Duterte’s win as a “LANDSLIDE”–and he does that two times in this Column.]


  2. Mga_imbento on

    Pag nangangamoy papuntang comunism na govt na tinatayo ni du30 aaksyon n mga sundalo.

  3. Rio Legaspi on

    You are all a copycat without originality! All you government officials are a bunch of hypocrite. Your ways, actions and ideas are all duplicate of a wrong governance. Wake up from your slumber, abide to reason and not with altruism!

  4. Pres Duterte did not attend the proclamation for the simple reason that he don’t believe that Leni Robredo won the election and he doesn’t want to join the grand zarzuela in the Batasan. He’s being honest to himself and does not want to fall to the LP trap of having his hand and Leni’s hand being raised symbolically proclaiming their having won the election. This is tantamount to recognition of Leni’s win. LP’s ate their hearts out and did not get this recognition and worst, the snub of Pres Duterte is a slap in the face of this canvassing committee for not taking into account the very obvious massive cheating and fraud that occurred most specially to Bongbong Marcos.
    Pres Duterte is a man of his own. He’s got guts and hearts and very street smart. He’s grown to politics throughout his life. He’s not an innocent by-stander just watching what is happening in the political realm. He knows, he can sense and smell foul and rubbish happening. He knows what really transpired in the last election most specially in Mindanao, which is by the way, his turf. I’m pretty sure by now, most of these warlords that the LP’s employed in cheating has already sent emissaries to tell the reality of the wholesale cheating in their areas of control or they must have alreadiy provided affidavits to that effect. These warlords knows Duterte very much. They know that he is a Kingping in his own right and specially now that he is to bestowed with power. They know that Duterte for sure will run after them or might even bulldozed them to eternity.
    Just watch out for the coming days when Pres Duterte officially takes over the reign of power, these massive cheating and cyber fraud used in the election will be solved by the proper agencies involved even if BBM will not file an electoral protest. As of now whistleblowers are already coming out and more are about to spill the beans because their protectors are already out of power and the harsh reality is already setting in on them that they cheated the wrong guy and they know that they will be relentlessly be pursued with iron hand. These is giving sleepless night to those who masterminded this massive cheating and fraud election stealing our right of suffrage to choose our leaders.

  5. That why there is a saying now..”NA DUTERTE” kami..meaning in tagalog, “Nagoyo, Naloko, Nabola”..Pag tiisin na lang at yan ang guso ng nakakarami…but totalling the votes of lose candidates ,Like Mar,Poe,Binay, etc, Mas marami pa rin ayaw kay Duterte.(almost 25 Million) mean to say effective din ang call ng Catholic Church…Nakigulo lang si POE sa eleksyun, But if the fight is Between Duterte and Mar..Di ganon ang Lamang, That is why even Mar are always 3rd or 4th on the survey,,,they still know that Mar has a decent followers ,that will put duterte in the trash..Kaso nahati kay POE at Binay at Merriam..Kaya pala mas marmi ang Black Prpaganda nila kay Mar,kaysa kay Poe, ng social Media ni duterte..Kaisnungalingan ay namayani, dahil most of filipinos ay tanga..Then ingat ka Kit, may reason na mga Journalist ay ok lang patayin ,dahil abuso na sa pagsasalita,,nagbabala na si duterte na ganyan, indirectly sa mga journalist na bayaran. Hope duterte will hold to his promises of better Philippines..and its noot a JOKE…like Merriam Santiago ,,saying,when she make a promised to kill hereslf..” I LIED’!

  6. for one I did choose digong for president not because of his ‘foul mouth’ but because of what he did in davao and I believe his action speaks true than his words.

  7. In his article Mr Tatad did not see how Philippines is dying. So he cant see also DU30 is the guy as of now who dare to battle the cancer of the Philippines Goverment. Pilipinos are cancer bearer at the stage 4, made-up of corruption, drug lords & drug producers, drug users, high cost of living, unemployment and also complince governnace. Pilipino now are being distructed by such nuisance.

    DU30 is the only candidate & elect, willing & ready to serve Pilipinos, saving them from cancerous & malignat governance to live peacefuly.

  8. Peter Nolasco on

    It gives me immense pleasure and inspiration to see Mr. Tatad continuing to gift his readers with well-thought through and logically impeccable statements of his positions on burning issues in the land! And all in superbly crafted prose that enlightens, entertains and provokes critical thinking. I have lost, by virtue of their passing away several years ago, my two journalistic heroes of my youthful decades gone by: Teddy Benigno and Louie Beltran. I am elated Mr. Tatad has rightfully taken their places. Godspeed, Mr. Tatad. Please stay true to your course and bearings; so many other men-of-the-pen have lost the moral compass and no longer say what needs to be said — without fear or favour. Greetings from Peter Nolasco, a kababayan, in Calgary, Alberta.

  9. Duterte might be influenced by the thoughts of Nazism, Communism and Fascism but I am still hopeful that he is not a disciple in any of them..

  10. Amnata Pundit on

    Fascism strictly speaking, is the merger of corporate and state power, where central planning of the economy is the mode but with private and not publicly owned companies. Hitler combined his fascism with extreme nationalism, and that is what really struck fear in the hearts of his continental rivals: the thought of a resurgent, mighty and most of all independent Germany. Kagan is a neocon, an agent of globalism whose agenda is the New World Order. While Trump’s message is to make America great again ( did he copy that from Marcos?), Kagan’s unstated battle cry is “Let’s expand the power of the money lending bankers worldwide.” Trump is definitely a nationalist with his “America First,” a message that is contrary to the New World Order. He is against the TPP for one which neocons like Kagan are pushing hard here in the Pacific, but the TPP is nothing but a disguised surrender of sovereign power to multinational companies! This means fascism, but with the planners/controllers now above the nation/state. That is simply and plainly the New World Order. Now if Digong is a fascist because he wants to merge corporate and state power, so what as long as the people through the state is the real boss, not the oligarchs? He is a fierce nationalist perhaps in the mold of Marcos but not yet as sophisticated. The mantra of all previous presidents after Marcos was “The Foreign Investor First.” If Digong’s is Filipino First, and that makes him a fascist, count me in as a fascist too. HEIL DIGONG !

    • Amnata Pundit on

      What Kagan is really opposed to is nationalism because it is the anti-thesis of the New World Order. So Trump is a labeled a fascist to associate him with the bad guy Hitler. Its a propaganda trick that is not so clever but it works for many except for those who make the effort to do their own thinking. Again, Heil Digong !

  11. i complain about Kit Tatad’s writing if he doesnt make sense.I even call him bobofor his past articles. However, i noted this article is balanced, factual and insightful.I hope he continue this level of writing.

    Fro Digong and his inner circle, the expectations from the Presidents are highe now than before.Thanks to Abnoy’s (as you may call him) effort of bringing economy at this level, corruption may still exist at provincial level but not at highest office of the land.

    Therefore, your talking is cheap if you dont prove yourself in 6-months by eliminating the corruption, drug lords and criminality.Dont touch the foreign policy specially the South China Issue.Like it or not Sec. Del Rosario is still the most competent Foreign secretary.

  12. Why Binay alone? What about Aquino and all his cohorts in Cabinet, Congress and Senate. Let’s sweep them all out. Then we can see a change.

  13. Duterte, he is the man. Either we as a country will survive or sink, that is our destination. I only hope that somebody will control this man. It is either Atty Panelo, his live in girlfriend or Leni Robredo if they decided to help each other. It appears that Duterte has high regards to Atty Panelo, please Atty Panelo, do not quit. The country needs you.

  14. Rudi Miranda on

    Just don’t be scared by your genteel saint thoughts about Digong! Get real…

  15. Vintage Kit Tatad, I might be so critical of Mr. Tatad in so many issues like the golden years of Martial Law propaganda but I remain an admirer to his stinging prose of writing. To those of us who did not vote for Duterte but hope for a real change in our political lives giving the coming Duterte administration good wishes are seeing dark clouds of doubt as Digong keeps on shooting his own foot, and you aint seen nothing yet!

      there’s nothing better to sum it all. and I have to agree with you- WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET. there’s more to come. may GOD help us!

  16. I did not vote for Duterte but I do agree with his promise on being tough on crimes, drugs and corruption. Previous presidents in the Philippines did nothing (except Aquino who put behind bars the big four corrupt government officials – Enrile, Revilla, Estrada and Napoles) or too slow to implement the law. A lot of times the moneyed people and family of politicians (moneyed because of corruption – they tend to be too arrogant of their illgotten wealth) who are law breakers and very abusive of the of the laws of the land. We need a “kamay na bakal” as Duterte promised us within six months. Let Duterte send with wheel chairs the arrogant (they always think they are above the laws of the land and get away with anything and use the money they stole from the Makati projects to avoid conviction) Binay family to the National Bilibid Prison. Majority of the Filipinos who voted for Duterte are anticipating and curiously waiting to start the trial of the century of the Binay family. I hope Duterte will keep his promise to get rid of corrupt officials like Binay.

    • neil mcnally on

      You are correct as far as I understand your comment.
      Mr Datad is so negative regarding Duterte’s “commonality.”
      Better we have a “down-to-earth” President (or president) for the majority of ordinary peasant pilipinos,who blows away the bullshit and “decorum” of previous presidents whose false/lying mouthings were just as bad,or worse than, Duterte’s cussing!!
      I am happy that Duterte speaks English on the media..but I wonder if his message get’s across to the common pilipino not perfect in English??

  17. I wish Duterte will be as tough as General Pinochet of Chile. The Catholic Church must stay out of the Philippine politics, since the church is the most sinful of all. How many millions of people were massacred around the world in the name of Christ by the Church? Catholic Church is the ISIS of the world. Just like ISIS the church destroyed undetermined number of historical, scientific archeological finds ever since they conquered Mexico, Central and South America. Filipino children should learn also the Church or Spanish Inquisition. It should be taught in World History in High School. The Roman Catholic Church is richer than the Rothschild (more than 100 trillions dollars, not billions), Rockefeller (10 trillions dollars) and all the billionaires and millionaires in the world combined.

    • Siguro INC ka,kaya ganyan galit mo sa katoliko? How many millions also the catholic church help all over the world, not minding what ever your faith belongs to…Catholics christian is the eye of oppressive regime..Though not perfect due o some bad tomato.

    • Mga_imbento on

      but the Roman Catholic Church help a lot of people than any other religion combined.