Washington, D.C. - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday said democracies are facing fierce challenges, and it's up to the people to stop the return of tyrannical rulers and keep the flames of democracy alive.
Speaking before a leadership forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Robredo said there’s a global trend where people are drawn to populists.
"New modes of populism, protectionism and extreme nationalism have emerged as supposed alternative, to defunct democratic values pushed aggressively by networks that used the internet and social media to bypass borders and institutional regulations," she said.
"This has given rise to a new breed of populist leaders seeking to introduce tyranny as a more alluring counterpoint to democracy."
Among the populist presidents who have risen to power recently is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
"He was not a smooth talker at all, he was rough, he was raw, he says what he thinks, people were attracted to that...Maybe people were tired of diplomacy and decency, they wanted more authenticity," she said.
Quoting Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of the book “How Democracies Die," Robredo said that the world today is faced with less dramatic but equally destructive way to break democracies according to the authors.
But Robredo remains hopeful and confident that the Filipinos will not allow Asia's oldest democracy to be taken away from a people who fought hard for it.
"Filipinos have shown their love for freedom... It is our protection against the return of a tyrannical rule and more importantly it is this commitment to democracy that has brought our two nations, the US and the Philippines together," she said.
Some Filipino-Americans agreed with the Vice President.
"There are many challenges facing the Philippine Democracy -- the Filipino’s so-called popularity with the strongman authoritarian figures, so it will be a challenge as she said, to inspire our people to learn from the past, to build on the lessons and to really go forward na to choose their leaders," said Eric Lachica, a community leader in Washington, D.C.
"What she said today, in this forum in Washington DC is applaudable, dapat tayong mga Filipino, to be like her, pag lumabas tayo, bansa ang iniisip natin hindi yung pang sarili natin," said Bing Branigin, another community leader.
Robredo visited her daughter who is studying at the New York University before she headed back to the Philippines.