August 11, 2016

ASEAN Nations Ignore Duterte's Death Squads

Democratic ASEAN did so well reining in the Philippines' own Marcos and Indonesia's Suharto that the Philippines' New President Duterte should be a cinch.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has long been a loose regional shell of authoritarian nations, barely talking to each other. The habit of non-interference into each other's affairs leads to extraordinary blindness over human rights abuses. Democracies like the US and Australia criticise such abuses, including death squads in some ASEAN nations. However actual ASEAN members seem frightened to speak out. Perhaps they are reticent due to their own human rights records and frequent border tensions with other ASEAN nations. 

So it is no surprise ASEAN is silent over decades of death squads controlled by Duterte. His ordering of killings started when he was Mayor of Davao City, Philippines, and since June 2016 he has risen to being Philippine President. Duterte, before he became President, actually admitted to controlling  death squads. 

Human rights failures in a key South China Sea state prompts strategic concerns. During the Marcos years the US could backup Marcos's power, but the US no longer enjoys such relative power. However the US may find itself pole-axed by Duterte's special brand of diplomacy

If the excesses of a dictator causes popular reactions then the Philippines may unfortunately entertain a PRC puppet master. First economic power (by a narrow margin China is now the Philippines' third highest trade partner). Money builds political influence. 

China taking over Subic Bay and Clark military facilities by 2040? Who knows? Certainly some try to insist things never change.

"More than 400 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police across the Philippines since Mr Duterte took over [a few weeks ago], officials say"

Britain’s Daily Mail advises “60,000 people turn themselves in to authorities in the Philippines after the president tells citizens to 'go ahead and kill' drug users”... “At least 43,000 alleged drug traffickers have been 'neutralised"' whatever that means.
[Duterte] vowed on one occasion during the election campaign that 100,000 people would die, and so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish there would grow fat from feeding on them, according to the South China Morning Post.”

Certainly a vision statement not to be emulated. But Suharto succeeded in his own violent rise to power. But as in 1965 the use of death squads to secure power is a bad look for any respectable member of ASEAN. ASEAN has just managed to lift Burma from dictatorship but now the Philippines appears to be slipping in to it.

See this article with useful comments on Duterte and ASEAN including:
-  leaders of ASEAN countries have noticed Duterte’s absence fron key ASEAN meetings
-  past ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan has been warning of the rise of new Southeast 
   Asian leaders less interested in regionalism, and

-  the Philippines is due to chair ASEAN in 2017.

Despite shared Spanish influences the Philippines is not Argentina on a bad day Mr Duterte.


Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
What do you think of this article


Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky is superb.

Very balanced comments, shows submarine and organisational quality are important. So it counters the USNs bureaucratic tendency to count old Mings as implicitly equivalent to Virginia SSNs.

Great Tables and Straits Map.

Shows the value of extended articles at War on the Rocks.



Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

HI pete,
You should check out these two articles

Don’t Worry Too Much About Russia’s Artisinal Attack Submarines
The Kremlin will never build more than a handful of these custom-made boats

This one, looks like Morocco is very serious in buying the Amur-1650
Morocco In Talks on Su-34 Bomber, Amur-1650 Diesel-Electric Submarine,-amur-aip-submarine.html

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [13/8/16 7:28 AM]

1. Re .

I think the Russian military-industrial complex is so stretched trying to develop-produce all classes of nuclear and conventional subs (and AIP) Russia cannot build in quantity like it did in the early-mid Cold War. Putin realises his popularity would suffer if he spent too much on defense.

2. Re,-amur-aip-submarine.html on Russia advertising it is selling a Lada-Amur-1650 AIP sub to Morocco.

I think it is more long term salesmanship than an imminent sale. Russia has yet to prove it has developed AIP for its own SSKs let alone one or two low volume orders for AIP.

Also I was under the impression Russia had (a year ago) curtailed the Lada-Amur projected in favor of the "bold, new, 5th generation" Kalina AIP sub Project. Wonder where that intention went?