editorial.issue.no.33

Onlookers view unidentified victims of summary execution in Sampaloc, Manila one early morning.


LAST week, we wrote in this space what we perceived as President Rodrigo Duterte’s system of governance.

We called it “Duterteism.”

Our editorial is being adapted by a university in Manila as part of its teaching materials in leadership.

This week, we are delving into two opposing schools of morality in relation to the killing spree going on in the native country, in line with its new President’s election promise of ending drugs, criminality and corruption.  

Since Mr. Duterte took his oath on June 30, 2016, there had been reported summary executions of supposed drug traffickers and criminals either by unknown vigilantes or police.

It may be recalled that right after he won, President Duterte called on citizens to use their right to citizens’ arrest against drug lords and other criminals in their respective communities.

He also said an arresting citizen could kill, if warranted.

He promised to grant cash rewards and medals.

Thus, the equivalent of “death squads,” could sprout in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, like what they had in Davao City under then Mayor Duterte.

Early Monday morning, a supposed male snatcher killed by an unknown group, whose body was wrapped by paper and taped with signage that he was a snatcher and that others should not do what he did was found in a bus station in Quezon City.

(It will never be known whether the victim was indeed a snatcher because he was summarily killed.)


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President Duterte kisses the hand of Cardinal Emeritus of Cebu during a recent courtesy visit as a sign of respect.


The week before last, a policeman’s body was found in a farm in Bulacan with a sign hanging around his neck, which said, “I am a drug trafficker.”

There were more than 30 recent similar killings of supposed drug traffickers and car thieves in other parts of the Philippines according to Newsweek.

(As of July 14, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, more than 130 people had been killed around the country in connection with the anti-drug campaign.)

There are two schools of morality that can be discussed in light of the events in Manila.

The first one is called consequential morality.

Consequential morality states that “it is better to act in a way that will benefit the most number of people even if it means causing harm — so killing one person to save five.”

President Duterte’s policy falls under this type.

The other type is referred to as deontological morality, which focuses on ideas of right and wrong.

The position of the Catholic Church and pro-life groups that law, justice and rehabilitation are the right ways of ending criminality and drug peddling falls under this classification.

Jim Everett, a psychologist at the University of Oxford who led a research on the two types of morality, said such rule-based decisions — known as deontological morality, may have served to increase group cohesion in the past by helping people trust each other.

Psychologists have long been puzzled by why, historically, most people usually default to a deontological style of morality (right and wrong) rather than those that maximize the greater good.

Dr. Molly Crockett, a senior author of the study at Oxford University, said: “We found that people who deferred to deontological morality — refusing to kill even when this could benefit the greater number — were seen as more trustworthy than those who advocated a more flexible, consequentialist approach.”

Will Duterteism promote unity and trust among Filipinos in the long run?

Or, will it result in fear and distrust?

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