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Duterte 2018 Speech: Photo: “Duterte_Philippines_President_Business_Forum_03“, by Republic of Korea licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Ragragio, Jefferson Lyndon D. “Strongman, patronage and fake news: Anti-human rights discourses and populism in the Philippines.” Journal of Language and Politics (2020).


Human rights are essential pillars of democracies. But under populism, they are a proclaimed nemesis of political leaders who claim to represent the common people. This article argues that the discourses of strongman, patronage and fake news constitute three prominent right-wing populist ploys that erode human rights in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines. It interrogates the communicative power of populism as a means of disfiguring free expression and press freedom. Drawing from human rights and media reports and interviews, the pro-human rights current is reformatted by strongman pronouncement in the war on drugs, unity of long-established blocs of power through patronage, and belligerent charge of fake news.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.