The return of strongman rule in the Philippines: Neoliberal roots and developmental implications

Charmaine Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The existing scholarship on the Philippines’ strongman president and new right populist politician Rodrigo Duterte tends to emphasise the conjunctural conditions that led to his election and done little to explore the implications of his rule on the political economy of development in the Philippines. In response to the gaps in literature, this article examines historically rooted structural conditions that undergird his rise to power, and the tendencies in the political economy of development that he perpetuates under a political rule marked by authoritarian and illiberal practice. Based on an analysis of national development strategies from 1986 to 2017, and key policies regulating production and redistribution that Duterte has championed in his first two years in office, the article 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 depoliticisation associated with neoliberalism. In this sense, new right populist politics praxis is as much a legacy of, as it is a reaction to, neoliberalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-319
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'The return of strongman rule in the Philippines: Neoliberal roots and developmental implications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this