In six years, at least 30 books on Rodrigo Duterte as President 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 July) –  After it became certain that he won the Presidential race in the May 9, 2016 polls, Rodrigo Roa Duterte  visited the grave of his parents at the public cemetery here and disappeared from public view for about a week to rest from the hectic campaign and to read books. 

Duterte’s aides were sent out to search for books the presumptive President wanted to read to help him craft policies as the country’s 16h President and the first Mindanawon to lead the nation. Top of his reading list was on American rule in the Philippines.

Duterte stepped down as President on June 30, 2022 and is back in Davao City as ex-President and as he claims,  a retired politician. The first thing he said he would do, he told the crowd that attended a homecoming concert on the night of his first day as Citizen Digong, is to get some sleep. 

Will he read books about himself as President?  

MindaNews has listed at least 30 books published between 2016 and 2022 on Duterte as a populist leader, his bloody war on drugs, his human rights record, even his jokes.  

Most of the books were published abroad but they can be ordered online and shipped to this city and be made available on the shelves of the future “President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Presidential Library” that Vice Mayor Melchor Quitain, Jr. proposed after he took his oath on June 27 at the Sangguninang Panlungsod session hall. 

Quitain is the first non-Duterte vice mayor after a succession of Duterte-Duterte tandems from 2007 to 2022.  

Speaking before a crowd that included the three Mayor Dutertes – Rodrigo (1988 to 1998;  2001 to 2010; 2013 to 2016), Sara (2010 to 2013; 2016 to 2022) and the newly-elected Sebastian (2022 to 2025) – Quitain said the Presidential Library aims to “honor the life’s work and accomplishment of a great leader and Dabawenyo who battled the odds and became the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The library would be a “fitting tribute so that generations of Dabawenyos will be able to research and be educated about this great city of ours  and with it our beloved President of the Republic of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he said. 

More than half of the 30 books are critical of Duterte but a number are written by supporters.  The authors come from various fields as well. Many are from academe but one author claims to be a “former drug abuser/pusher.”

Quitain told MindaNews that the “Presidential Library” will not be a separate building but will be housed within the City Library. (The new City Library opened Friday but the “Presidential Library” has yet to be set up). 

He said he envisions the “Presidential Library” to contain “books, documents, photos, videos, etc..” on and of Duterte, who served as mayor of Davao City for 22 years, OIC Vice Mayor for 18 months, 1stdistrict Representative for one term and Vice Mayor for another term.

“The challenge is to gather all of these from both private and public sources,” Quitain said. 

Duterte Studies Industry 

In December last year, Hawaii-based professor and author Patricio Abinales, a Mindanawon from Ozamiz City, noted a “trove of studies on President Duterte revolving around explaining the sources behind the origins and resilience of his ‘populism.’”

Abinales said some of these studies have produced valuable insights while others have not but despite their differences, they share one thing in common and that is “the near absence of any attempt to examine Duterte from the political landscape that led to his rise to power – Davao City.” 

Referring to it as “Duterte Studies Industry” or DSI,  Abinales wrote in his December 11, 2021 MindaNews column, Bisdak, that a search of the title ‘President Rodrigo Duterte’ at the Hamilton Library in the University of Hawaii-Manoa where he teaches, yielded 15,798 citations,” making Duterte the third most studied president of the Philippines after Gloria Arroyo (22,229 entries) and Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (18,135), who had more citations because they ruled beyond their official tenure.

Abinales listed eight books, two book chapters, one dissertation, 103 journal essays, four films, and a conference presentation on Duterte.

He said he looked at some of these works and immediately noticed how the majority “showed no interest in Duterte’s local beginnings; very few cited local sources that could help us understand better his unusual rise to power – the only mayor to go straight to the presidency in the country’s history.”

He said no one has come up with a convincing explanation “why a substantial number of Filipinos remain enamored with Duterte.”

“The nearest to a credible one,” Abinales said, “would be the poll surveys that show a high correlation between his popularity and the Filipino’s sense of security.”

Abinales also pointed to a tendency among many DSI authors “to assume that Duterte’s callous language and boorish, brutal behavior were unprecedented.”

“There are, of course, Duterte analysts who have a more nuanced view like the sociologist Jowel Canuday, political scientist Soledad Iglesias, and historian Alfred W. McCoy – but they remain a pitiful minority,” he said. 

Only 3 of 30 

Of the 30 books, only three were written by Mindanawons: Alab: The Awakening of Filipino Nationalism by Stella Estremera and members of the OFW Global Nation, including a number of Mindanawon OFWs, published in 2017 by T’boli Publishing & Distribution in San Francisco, California; Duterte: Journey to the Presidency, a coffeetable book featuring the Presidential election campaign of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, by Edwin Espejo, Celso Thomas Fuentes and John Quineth Rodriguez and published in 2017 by Abishai Publishing in Davao City; and Radical Democracy in the time of Duterte by Ryan Maboloc, published by ElziStyle Bookshop in Cotabato City. 

Only two books were published in Mindanao: the coffeetable book, Journey, in Davao City and Radical Democracy in Cotabato City. 

Maria Ressa’s How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future, published by HarperCollins with introduction by Amal Clooney, will be available by November 29.

There are two books that appear to contain the same text but with different titles: Jonathan Miller’s Duterte Harry: fire and fury in the Philippines and Rodrigo Duterte: fire and fury in the Philippines. 

Three books were published in 2016, six each in 2017, 2018 and 2019, two in 2020, three in 2021 and four in 2022. 

Good governance standards

When MindaNews sent Abinales the list of 30 books, he said there is “reason to be pleased that there is a broad interest in Duterte” but he is concerned that “the lopsided nature of the list means that the Davao and Mindanao audiences appear to be the least of these authors’ concerns.

“And even if the authors claim that they have local readers in mind, the books remain hard to come by,” he said adding that of 20 Mindanao-based bookstores listed on Google, “12 are based in Davao City, five in Cagayan de Oro, and one each in Iligan City, Valencia, and Kidapawan. This means they are out of reach of the majority of Mindanawons. And we are not even talking about prices!!”

Abinales fears that “when the time for a national conversation of President Duterte’s legacy comes, Mindanawons will have no place on the table.”

“This is one of the lasting ironies of the Duterte presidency, as seen through these books. Mindanawons take pride in electing one of their own to the country’s highest office. But their voices remain muted in the national debates,” he said. 

Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, who retired as Professor at the Mindanao State University – General Santos City in December 2016, Duterte’s sixth month as President said: “Come to think of it, Digong was also a father, a son, a member of his family.  Are there any books about his personal life?  Earl Parreno traced his ‘lineage’ but not much is said of what he is inside his home, both during his childhood days and during his political career,” she said. 

Guiam told MindaNews that Duterte “should be assessed by the standards of good governance, i.e transparency, accountability, sound judicial judgment / management and people participation in governance.  I think the results will be quite disparaging.”

30 as of June 30 

Here are the books on Duterte that MindaNews monitored as of 30 June 2022, the titles in alphabetical order.

The links will lead readers to more information about the books as well as how much they cost and how to order them. 

1.A Duterte Reader: Critical Essays On Rodrigo Duterte’s Early Presidency
Nicole Curato, Editor 
Ateneo de Manila University, 2017 
Quezon CIty

Alab: The Awakening of Filipino Nationalism
Stella Estremera, OFW Global Nation  (authors)
T’Boli Publishing & Distribution, 1st edition, 2017 
San Francisco, California

3.Beyond Will and Power: A Biography of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
Earl G. Parreño
Optima Typographics, 2019
Lapu-Lapu, Cebu 

4. Divining Duterte: Perspectives, Policies, Performance
Edilberto de Jesus
Penguin Random House SEA, 2021

5. DU30 Man of Faith & Fate
Augusto Boboy Syjuco, PhD
Syjuco Books Publishing, Inc. 2016

6. Duterte’s Midterm: Change for the Worse
Ibon 2019 Midyear BirdTalk Paper 
Ibon Foundation, 2019 
Quezon City 

7. Duterte Harry: fire and fury in the Philippines*
Jonathan Miller

Scribe Publications, June 5, 2018 
Melbourne, Australia

8. Duterte: Journey to the Presidency
(coffeetable book featuring the Presidential election campaign of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte)
Edwin Espejo, Celso Thomas Fuentes and John Quineth Rodriguez 
Abishai Publishing, 2017
Davao City 

9. Duterte vs Shabu 2017: The Philippine war on drugs 
through the eyes of a citizen writer, a former drug abuser/pusher
James Bergson (Author)
The Rock Fortress Publications, 2017 

10. Duterte Watch (Descent into Authoritarianism): Collected Commentaries
Vergel O. Santos
UST Publishing House, 2022

11. Dutertenomics (including TRAIN and Build, Build, Build Program)
Dr. Atty. Jose Montemayor, Jr.
Central Book Supply, Inc. 2019 

12. From Aquino II to Duterte (2010 to 2018)
Change, Continuity — and Rupture
Edited by Imelda Deinla, Bjorn Dressel 
ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, 2019 

13. How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future
Maria Ressa
HarperCollins Publishers, 2022*
New York City 
Introduction by Amal Clooney
*(available November 29, 2022)

14. Jokes Only
A Book on Duterteisms
Crispin C. Maslog
Published by Crispin C. Maslog, 2022
UP Los Banos, Laguna

15. President Rodrigo Duterte and the War on Drugs: Fear and Loathing in the Philippines
William N. Holden
Lexington Books, 2021

16. Press Freedom and Duterte: How media excesses earned the President’s ire
Jose Montemayor, Jr.
Central Book Supply, Inc., 2019 
Quezon City 

17. Probing Duterte’s Foreign Policy in the New Regional Order 
ASEAN, China, and the US
Temario C. Rivera, Roland G. Simbulan, Bobby M. Tuazon 
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) and Integrated Development Studies Institute, 2018
Quezon City 

18. Radical Democracy in the time of Duterte
Ryan Maboloc 
ElziStyle Bookshop, 2022
Cotabato City (pre-order ongoing)

19. Rodrigo Duterte: 16th Philippines President: The most hardworking yet, controversial President
Sofriano Reign III, Frealyn M. Navarro (Authors)
Three Brothers Publishing, 2017
Norristown, PA

20. Rodrigo Duterte: fire and fury in the Philippines*
Jonathan Miller
Scribe US, US Edition, October 9, 2018 

21. Samurai President of the Philippines: Spiritual Interview with the Guardian Spirit of Rodrigo Duterte
Ryuho Okawa
IRH Press, 2016
Japan; USA 

22. Seven Wonders In Duterte Presidency
Jorge Barba
Independently published, 2017

23. Streets of Manila
Alan Nafzger 
‎Pecan Street Press, 2020 

24. Strongmen: Trump / Modi / Erdogan / Duterte / Putin
by Eve Ensler, Danish Husain, Lara Vapnyar, Burhan Sönmez, Ninotcha Roska and Vijay Prashad
OR Books, 2018 
New York 

25. The Duterte Manifesto
Mga aral mula sa mga banat at talumpati ni President Rodrigo Duterte
Edited by Khuey Garces
ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc. 2016 
Quezon City 

26. The Filipino State And Other Essays: Is Rodrigo Duterte the Savior of the Filipino People?
Guillermo Gomez Rivera 
Centiramo Publishing, 2018 

27. The Good Mayor: Davao City, Philippines
Alan Nafzger (Author) 
Independently Published, 2020 

28. The Legacy of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine Government – A Study of Human Rights Abuses, Poverty, Gender Inequality and Violation of Child Rights in the Republic of the Philippines
Dr. Mark O’Doherty
Lulu Press, 2019 
North Carolina, USA

29. The Rise of Duterte
A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy
Richard Javad Heydarian 
Palgrave Macmillan, 2018

30. The Sovereign Trickster: Death and Laughter in the Age of Duterte
Vicente L. Rafael 
Duke University Press, 2021 
North Carolina 

More books on Duterte’s rule are expected to be launched this year. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)