Is Trump’s supervillain-crush on Philippine president Duterte greased by real estate deal?

The Intercept is reporting on an apparent leaked phone call of Donald Trump to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, praising him for an “unbelievable job” on Duterte’s claimed war on drugs, which has reportedly amounted to the extra-judicial killings of some 7,000 citizens. Trump initiated the call, gushing approval at Duterte, telling him, “You are a good man,” “Keep up the good work,” and “You are doing an amazing job.”

If the measure of ‘amazing job’ is achieving supervillain status through the mass slaughter of a targeted population, then Duterte is indeed exceeding expectations.

Exactly how bad is Duterte? In September he compared himself to Hitler, saying “Hitler massacred three million Jews [sic], now, there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” In another setting he said, “jobless Filipinos they should kill all the drug addicts.” He has also bragged about his plans to kill journalists, and declare martial law. He even fired every employee of the previous government. You can’t overstate Duterte’s despotic bona fides.

It’s plain to see that he’s created a non-human class of citizen. Everyone has a license to kill if they use ‘drugs’ as a pretense. I’ve seen estimates between 7,000 and 9,000 dead since he took office.

Here’s more transcript of the phone call: “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem…Many countries have the problem, we have a problem.” It’s particularly chilling to hear Trump mention the U.S. in his enthusiasm for death squads, as his followers include armed militias itching for a fight.

Since we know that Trump doesn’t do anything without a personal payoff, how does he benefit by stroking this madman? Some say it’s because the Philippines’ US envoy is Donald Trump’s business partner on the development of Trump Towers/Manila.

Envoy/biz partner Antonio, and son in Trump Tower promo photo.

The New York Times reported in November that Duterte “named the chairman of Century Properties Group, Jose E. B. Antonio, as an envoy to Washington for trade, investment and economic affairs.” 

Together, Trump and the envoy are, “building the Trump Tower at Century City, a $150 million, 57-story apartment building in metropolitan Manila.” On the Trump Tower at Century City website, DT’s business partner, the Philippine envoy, strokes Trump like a lapdog: “He exudes luxury, he exudes quality, he exudes a standard that most real estate developers should emulate if they want to enter the game of luxury.”

This is reportedly one of those deals where Trump ‘just’ licenses his name, but how do we know what that means if there are no details on the deal? The scheme raises all kinds of questions, and serves as a reminder that Trump’s tax returns are still secret.

In a scholarly paper on organized crime, money laundering, and real estate, St. Mary’s University Sociology and Criminology professor Stephen Schneider writes: “Real property is primarily used as a conveyance to further the profit-oriented goals of organized criminal conspiracies by providing land and buildings through which a wide range of illegal and legal activities can be pursued, such as drug production and trafficking, the manufacture and distribution of other contraband, as well as illegal gambling, prostitution, or counterfeiting.”

So really, what is Trump’s deal with Jose E. B. Antonio and Trump Tower at Century City? Maybe the tax returns would clear it up. Maybe not. We don’t know. We actually do know, however, is that Trump’s real estate history is littered with mob ties, and that “real estate is a conveyance by which organized crime does business.”

According to an online brokerage, a one-bedroom apartment in Trump Tower/Manila starts at $750,000. This, “in a city where the average worker makes less than $10 a day.” This brings us back to the subject of the “drug war.”

Duterte says there are 3 million potential victims still to be eliminated. He wants to eliminate 3 million just like Hitler [sic]—his words. These are all extrajudicial killings of the working class, carried out by vigilantes, so how can this not be seen as ethnic- or more appropriately “economic cleansing”? It’s supervillain logic to make way for business interests by killing people. As terrorized workers flee the violence, whole new swaths of urban land are freed-up to develop, all with 100 percent fewer poor people. The remaining marginalized citizens are then targets for slavery and human trafficking. It’s like supervillain Settlers of Catan.

Despots have the best pools.

If people are serious about getting Trump out of office, they’d be wise to pull the threads hanging from his business dealings like Trump Towers/Manila. Russia is run by mobsters and Trump is not a complicated person. There is a straight line between his personal financial interest and every move he makes. Political leaders should be scrutinizing his deals down to the last penny, instead of potentially lighting up a new Cold War. Investigators are now saying there is no evidence of collusion with Russia in the election. It’s easy to see that the Russian mob preferred a dimwit they could control through racketeering. That’s why there is evidence of a cover-up—Trump can’t have people knowing what Manafort, Flynn and Page were negotiating for. Regardless of whether they prove Russia succeeded to influence the election, it’s obvious that racketeering was the ultimate goal.

It’s a smoking gun that Trump is now flaunting the the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which ensures against corrupting foreign influence. He’s saying it’s just not ‘practical’ to report his revenue from foreign governments, and picking a fight with the Constitution to hide his deals. He’s already openly admitted to interfering in an FBI investigation. Now he’s all but shouting from the rooftops that he’s shaking down countries he does business in. This goes to the heart of why Trump is not fit to be president. Everything is in service to his business dealings.

It will be just deserts when he quits or is forced out of office, Trump’s brand “exudes” disgrace instead of luxury. I’d also like to see him sporting an orange jumpsuit to match his hair. The president has no right to turn the country into his own personal racket, and that’s where he can be caught dead to rights.



Read the whole Intercept article here

Here’s an interactive photo-essay from the NYTs on Duterte’s death squads:




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