DEVIN STEWART: Hi. I'm Devin Stewart here at Carnegie Council in New York City.
Today I am speaking with Richard Heydarian. He is a Manila-based political analyst. He writes a lot about politics in the Philippines. I had the pleasure of meeting him recently in Manila and have the great fortune of reconnecting with him today over the phone.
Richard, great to speak with you today.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: My pleasure, as always.
DEVIN STEWART: Richard, you have just put out a brand-new book. It's called The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt against Elite Democracy. It is about Philippine politics. It is published by Palgrave Macmillan. Congrats on the new book.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: Thank you. It is the first book actually, I think, on Duterte, an internationally published one.
DEVIN STEWART: Wow! You are a fast worker.
Richard, tell us what is your view on the rise of President Duterte in the Philippines? What do you make of the causes that propelled his rise?
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: Of course the book covers the first year of Duterte's presidency, so you are going to see some element of foreign affairs analysis. But the first two chapters of the book are really what the historians call "longue durée" analysis, looking at the broader structural and impersonal factors that create the right condition for outside-the-box political figures like Duterte to come in.
What I am trying to do in the book is to analyze the emergence of populism in what I call emerging market democracies. A lot has been written and a lot of ink has been spilled on analysis of the rise of Trump and Le Pen and right-wing populists across the developed world, but I think the dynamic in emerging market democracies is quite different.
Immigration is a major issue in the developed world. That is why even in countries that are doing economically well, like the Netherlands or Scandinavian countries, you still see the rise of populism. The factors that give rise to populism in the developed world are not necessarily the same as those that give rise to populism in the emerging market democracies.
The four countries that I have been focusing on—and, in fact, I have a bigger book project down the road, hopefully, on this—are Turkey, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The argument I am trying to make here is that the rise of Duterte is part of a broader arc of populism that has emerged over the past 10 to 15 years. So I look at the cases of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the former mayor of Istanbul, in Turkey, who ran against the laic, secular or Westernized establishment in Turkey and now is the undisputed sultan of Turkey. He has essentially established what Fareed Zakaria calls an "illiberal democracy," whereby elections make him win but civil liberties and human rights are now very much under question.
In the case of India, you have Narendra Modi, the controversial former governor of Gujarat, a kind of a state, who also ran on a very strong anti-establishment kind of platform against the Congress Party, the liberals who were in charge of India for the past 30 or 40 years. And of course, he is now putting forward the much more right-wing Hindu nationalist kind of agenda.
Of course, I also look at the case of Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia, and also the, I would say, quite troubling movement of Jokowi Widodo to the right, whereby he is also sometimes taking much more strongman tendencies, including his tough stance on drugs. And remember, Jokowi was a former town mayor of Solo, and when he ran for governor of Jakarta and later on as the president of Indonesia, he presented himself as "a man of the people" and as an alternative to the oligarchy in charge of Jakarta.
So, when you look at all of these countries I see a lot of similarities there. And, looking at Duterte, I feel that something is going on here, there seems to be a pattern here. In the case of Duterte, he presented himself as a folksy guy, as the mayor of a provincial town, and he talked about also "the Davao model." So the Solo model for Jokowi, the Gujarat model for Modi, the Istanbul model for Erdoğan, and the Davao model in the case of Duterte.
What I am trying to argue here—and that is where I draw on a whole range of classical works; I use works from Antonio Gramsci, to Hannah Arendt, to works of Karl Polanyi, and of course Samuel Huntington. I think Samuel Huntington's work in the 1960s, Political Order in Changing Societies, is a very useful one, because he says, quite perceptively, that it is precisely the rapidly growing economies in the post-colonial world that are susceptible to autocratic fallback or backsliding. I think that makes sense, because while you do not have military juntas emerging in the Indias and Turkeys and Philippines of this world, you have a rising middle class that is increasingly attracted to strongmen leaders, or leaders who promise overnight solutions to very complicated 21st-century problems, who promise a certain certainty in times of disruptive change.
In many ways, I think Duterte fits that kind of profile. If you look at the Philippines, our average GDP growth in the past six years has never been as good. We grew at more than 6.2 percent on average over the past six years, which is significantly higher than other predecessors, of President Aquino, who came before Duterte. So we never had it as good.
But the problem was it was precisely that high level of growth, as Huntington observed in post-colonial nations in 1968, that had also given rise to higher expectations, an exponential rise in the expectations of people, and higher social mobilization. The gap between that, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the inability of the Aquino administration and state institutions in the Philippines to cope with rising demands for basic public services, including public transportation and provision of basic safety and fighting crime, created a perfect space for the rise of political grievance, or grievance politics.
I think the best way to illustrate that is, for instance, the traffic congestion. If you go to places like Manila or Jakarta, and to a lesser degree in Istanbul or in New Delhi and Mumbai, traffic has just gotten worse over the past few years. On one hand, of course you have more people who can afford to buy more cars. On the other hand, you have government institutions that are not fast enough to actually provide corresponding public services in terms of public infrastructure. So you have this massive traffic congestion. In fact, the traffic congestion was a big electoral issue in the Philippine elections, whereby people were saying that "Growth is high, but the government is not providing basic services, so it has not really been translated into more efficient governance."
Not to mention, what I look at in my book is that in periods of rapid economic growth you also have an explosion in inequality or further accentuation of that inequality. Just to give you numbers, in the Philippines the 40 richest families took home 76 percent of newly created growth in the past few years. So out of the 6.2 percent growth that the Philippines had annually, close to 5 percent of that just went to 0.0001 percent of the population. That is the highest level of growth concentration in the entire Asian region.
And the problem with the Philippines is that even if democratic institutions are as oligarchic—so you have around 178 political families dominating more than 70 out of 81 provinces in the Philippines, and if you look at the Philippine legislature, conservative estimates put the number of political dynasties, meaning people who are related by first- or second-degree consanguinity, at more than 70 percent of the entire legislature of the Philippines. So if you are an aspirational middle-class Filipino, or you are a member of the masses, the majority poor in the Philippines, you kind of feel the growth is not trickling down, inequality is getting worse, and you are not really having much of a voice in the political system, even if the Philippine constitutional order promises formal equality. That is where what Nietzsche calls ressentiment emerges.
At the same time, Hannah Arendt also talks about the notion of "mass society," this huge number of people who feel that they are voiceless in the existing system. They are educated enough to know about their basic rights, but at the same time they do not have the right connections, the right credentials, the right family networks, to rise through the ranks.
If you look at Duterte's constituency, he was actually strongest among the aspirational middle class, or what he called the "Class C." Classes A and B are the richest of the rich, most of them do not bother to really vote in the surveys. So when we talk about A, B, C in the surveys, we are really talking about the aspirational middle class.
But the point is Duterte promised to the aspirational middle class during the elections that "I am going to give you safety against crime." In fact, crime rates went higher during the Aquino period significantly, and I think that the administration didn't do well enough with that. That provided Duterte ammunition to come in and say, "I am going to be here and provide you the kind of safety that you need."
So a lot of these aspirational middle-class people—who just bought their new iPhones, who just bought their budget cars, who just recently got some level of material prosperity—are very concerned about crime because they still do not live in posh areas, gated communities, whereby they can ensure their own safety. So these are the people who very much gravitated to Duterte's kind of anti-crime or penal populism.
But the other thing is Duterte also appealed to the masses. In fact, one of the slogans he had during the election was Atin to Pre! ("He is one of us, pal!"). And if you look at how Duterte talks, he talks—I call it "Faulknerian stream of consciousness." There is no direction, there is no coherence, there is no premise, argument, conclusion. He just talks randomly. The reality is that so-called "ordinary" people actually speak that way. They do not talk like journalists or academics. There is no kind of a train of thought or a kind of linear flow to their argumentation. There is no logical progression. It is just all over the place. That is how Duterte talks, and he has this folksy image.
He also presented himself as an alternative to the old liberal elite. He said, "I'm a different one. I'm decisive. I will give you basic services. Look at what I did in Davao: I turned it from Nicaragua to the Singapore of Mindanao, or something like that." That was the kind of argument he said. And he said that Davao is his exhibit A to show he is an efficient, effective administrator. I think that also appealed to a lot of people in the lower ranks of the society.
He also gave something to people from the Visayas and Mindanao regions who feel they have been neglected by so-called "imperial Manila." So he also promised federalism and further political decentralization.
This combination of "I'm one of you, I'll fight against the oligarchs" or "I will protect you against burglars and thieves and rapists"—well, of course, presumably, from the view of some of the rich Filipinos they come from the lower ranks of the society—and that "you Visayans and Mindanaoans will have more political autonomy if I become the president," that was just good enough for him to get 40 percent of the votes in a five-man race. The Philippines' presidential election is only a single round and all you have to do is just win more votes than other candidates. That was just good enough for him to be elected the president of the Philippines.
This is just a short overview of how he came into power.
DEVIN STEWART: That is an amazing overview, Richard. Thank you.
A couple of other themes you mentioned to me in Manila were what you called "democracy fatigue," and also the preference for alpha males in a chieftain culture. Can you elaborate a little bit about those two preferences among voters in the Philippines?
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: I start the book with Antonio Gramsci, who was reflecting on early-20th-century Italy. He said, "The old [order] is dying and the new cannot be born." In early-20th-century Italy, a growing proportion of the Italian society thought that there was a systemic deadlock, that the existing democratic parties, the conservatives and the social democrats, were paralyzed, they could not provide effective services, the country was essentially falling apart. That was the sense that they had. And, of course, you had the First World War and the devastation that it brought in places like Italy.
That is where you had a fatigue with the existing democracy in Italy. That, of course, gave way to people like Mussolini to come in and say, "Work for me, make me your alpha male leader," and essentially that is where you had fascism. Now, what I am saying is that we are not looking at fascism today, we are looking at rising populism emerging in a lot of emerging market democracies. I think early-20th-century Italy is not too dissimilar from early-21st-century Philippines or other emerging markets that I have been mentioning. You can see the same situation whereby you have democracy fatigue.
The numbers are very clear. In my book I show a survey by Foa and Mounk, which was published in the Journal of Democracy earlier this year. It shows that in a number of countries—Pakistan, Philippines, India, Turkey—a majority of the population are willing to vote for leaders who do not bother with elections anymore. The Pew Research Survey also came out with a survey actually just a few days ago that shows half of Filipinos are okay with autocratic leadership.
So surveys have been showing actually that you see this underlying tectonic shift whereby people are beginning to think that maybe the system of checks and balances, this democratic accountability, is just going to empower an indifferent, self-seeking cabal of elites who are anyways incompetent to really deliver on their basic services. So they do not like this kind of aristocracy/oligarchy and they would rather have a tyrant or a king, or however you want to put it. It is a kind of a decisive leader who breaks the deadlock and provides the basic services that they want.
I think the other thing you have to keep in mind is that we are also in the age of social media whereby, on one hand, you have a lot of fake news, which is very effectively being deployed by populists against the reformists or conventional "business as usual" politician counterparts. A lot of times populists are willing to go way darker than their counterparts, way dirtier in terms of their tactics and their attacks.
But the other thing is also the social media machine of people like Duterte, for instance, is very effective in projecting this view of almost an omnipotent leader who can solve all problems of society in a few months because he has one thing that no one else has: political will. So the phrase "political will" right now is one of the most overused and misunderstood and misconstrued and adulterated concepts in essential political discourse today.
What do you really mean by that? Many people are beginning to believe that the reason why the Philippines has been left behind by its neighbors, why we have corruption, and all of the other kind of attendant problems I mentioned, like inequality, is because you had leaders who were cowards or did not have the guts to push for reforms, and all you have to do is to put an alpha male tough man there with a heart and all the problems will magically go away.
So what we are seeing is not an evidence-based, really rational conversation of complex policy problems. We in the academe discuss for years how you can deal with a specific policy problem. More and more people in the developing world, in emerging market democracies, do not buy these kinds of public policy discussions. In fact, one of the strengths of the populists, right-wing populists especially, is their demonization of essentially people like us—people in the think tank world, people in the academe, prominent journalists, among other things. They are dismissing us by saying, "You guys are just good at talking. You don't know any action. You don't know reality on the ground." The problem is that it is also hard for us academics and scholars to go out there and convince ordinary people that, "Hey, maybe we have to have a much more rational debate about our problems."
Now I will make that very concrete to you. Let's take the problem of drugs and crime in the Philippines. I do not believe the problem of drugs and crime is as bad as Duterte says, based on evidence. But Duterte is on to something. There is some drug problem in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines is a top destination of "Shabu" crystal methamphetamine from China, and we have been a kind of a transit point for the Sinaloa gang, Triad gang, other international/transnational kinds of syndicates. So there is an element of truth to what Duterte is saying.
But is the problem really the Philippines' democratic system? Is the problem human rights or the commission on human rights? Absolutely not. As Joseph Stiglitz correctly said, "Sometimes our problem is that we are focusing on the wrong problem."
DEVIN STEWART: Right.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: The problem here is lack of capacity in state institutions. This is where again I think Huntington is very useful for me. Huntington was arguing it is the degeneration of the political institutions amid rising social expectations and mobilization that creates the temptation for autocratic leaders. That happened in the form of military coups in the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America, in Asia, and Africa, among other things. So, as Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." So now we have rising populists come into the picture.
The problem in the Philippines is very clear. The judiciary in the Philippines barely gets a percent of the national budget. You have judges in the Philippines who have to deal with 644 cases per year. You have a prison system with 400 percent average over-capacity. You have the majority of inmates who are actually pre-trial inmates, people who are not even convicted of anything and they are just stuck there.
If you want to solve the problem of crime in the Philippines, you fund better, you build the capacity of your law enforcement agencies, your judiciary, and your penitentiary system. That is not what Duterte is doing. In fact, to be frank, I do not think he is raising funding for the judiciary compared to his predecessors.
But we are still missing the real debate here. The real debate here is capacity-building, state-building. That is what we need and that is how we are going to solve the problem. It is not human rights and democracy. It is under-capacity of state institutions that is the number one social problem in the Philippines. That is my contention.
DEVIN STEWART: Richard, a lot of the themes that you are touching on sound very familiar to Americans. I have to ask you—and I'm sure you get this question a lot—what do you make of the comparison between President Trump and President Duterte? You are speaking all over the United States right now. What do you make of the Trump/Duterte comparison, and what do you think of American and Philippine relations?
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: We are slightly moving to foreign policy, and of course Trump's visit to Asia now.
DEVIN STEWART: Yes.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: First things first. I always quip that it seems the tree doesn't fall too far from the leaf, right? The Philippines was a former colony of America, and in fact our political system is a caricature of late-19th-century American Gilded Age democracy, before the Progressives made the American political system a little bit more respectable and the federal government was strengthened.
But the problem is I look at the United States today, I look at people around Donald Trump, people who are analyzing Donald Trump, and I say, "It sounds familiar." So, in a way, I always quip that Duterte was kind of a good dry run because my next book project is on Trump's policy in Asia, because I feel someone also has to look at that dimension, of how the American position in the region is significantly changing just over the past year under Donald Trump.
Now, the thing is there are points of comparison and also points of contrast. The contrast is very clear. Duterte had two decades of actual experience in office in a very difficult place like Davao. Davao went essentially from Nicaragua—it was really in the middle of a civil war in the 1980s—to a much safer place today. There are human rights constraints, but nonetheless Davao's economy has been growing faster than average. In fact, if you look at the World Bank's Governance Index, the ease of doing business in Davao is among the best in the country. And it is relatively a very safe city.
So Duterte may not have been a beacon of human rights and democracy, but in a way some would call him "the Leviathan." You know, he was a tough guy who brought order and a degree of prosperity to Davao. So he actually did something there. For Trump, zero, he has no experience in any political office whatsoever.
The other thing is I would say—this might sound surprising—that, based on my reading and understanding and experience, I think Duterte is less peevish than Trump. You do not have Duterte suddenly tweeting in the middle of the night, attacking some journalist or attacking here and there. I think Duterte tends to be more magnanimous in terms of his critics. You know, a lot of us who criticize him, when we meet him, and probably he recognizes us, he is not actually that bad to us. But sometimes, when he gets really pissed off, of course, he really can curse very bad, and that is where he is ahead of the curve. I do not think Trump ever adopted as foul language as Duterte. So there are some differences there.
I cannot speak for Trump, but I can say that, based on my own interaction with the president and my own reading of the president and the people around him, I think President Duterte genuinely cares for the country. It is just that sometimes his methods are probably not the best methods, to just put it euphemistically, especially on certain issues, like the drug war and other things.
Their similarities are also striking. Both of them are clearly populists. This is something we have to understand: Just because you are a populist does not mean you are popular. A case in point is Trump. He is a populist. And what makes him a populist? Populists are people who say, "We are the real voice of the people" and essentially whoever contradicts them are not the people and are against the people. So, by nature, populists are illiberal and anti-pluralistic—not necessarily anti-democratic, because populists, unlike fascists, can actually win sometimes competitive elections. So they are not necessarily fascists, but they are very illiberal.
In that sense the two are the same. Both Duterte and Trump have presented themselves as the true voice of the real Americans or Filipinos. They are presenting themselves as the harbingers of greatness for their country again.
I think people forget that Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, who Duterte really looks up to, was the guy who used the term "Let's make the Philippines great again." So Trump's use of "make America great again" is kind of plagiarism of what the former leader said. I was told that Hitler also used a similar term, but that is not confirmed. Anyway, they are both populists.
Both of them actually also a lot of times talk about conspiracy. Trump attacks CNN and the rest as essentially fake news, he talks about the conspiracy of the "coastal liberal elite" against him. A lot of his constituency support this, will stand by him no matter what, no matter how misogynistic or how controversial his statements or actions have been. Similar to Duterte: He always talks about a "destabilization plot;" he talks about "sabotage;" he talks about the "liberal oligarchy" in the Philippines who are "stooges of America" or "stooges of the West," "they are aliens," "they are trying to bring me down and negate the democratic mandate I got from 16 million voters in 2016."
Whenever something goes wrong in the Philippines, including the killing of Kian Lloyd Delos Santos, the teenager who was allegedly killed by Filipino policemen and caught on CCTV, which essentially forced Duterte to suspend the drug operations because the backlash was so bad—you know, Duterte said, "That was a sabotage, that was a set-up," that this is not a reflection of his policy.
So both of them have this tendency that whenever something goes wrong they blame the opposition. The reality is that—you know what?—it sells, at least to a significant number of people at least among their constituencies and among the broader public. So there are also similarities there.
In fact, speaking of the upcoming visit, or the visit between the two guys, I expect a convivial hobnob. I expect them to have a fantastic time together.
From what I know, Trump was not happy with Duterte lashing out at the United States during his State of the Nation Address, but that problem has been solved recently because Duterte has said consistently good things about Trump and Rex Tillerson. So when Duterte is attacking the United States he is actually attacking the media in the United States and the Congress and the Democrats who are critical of his war on drugs, and some Republicans too, like Marco Rubio, and McCain, among others. But with the executive branch, Trump, he doesn't seem to have any problem whatsoever. He likes Rex Tillerson. He likes Trump very much and looks up to him, and Trump seems to be okay with Duterte.
So there is some sort of a populist strongman internationale also going on there. I think the reason I expect, most likely, some sort of a Trump making the controversial "Duterte fist" and taking pictures side-by-side with Duterte is because Duterte wants to show that all the big boys in the world are behind him. Xi Jinping has stood behind Duterte and supported his war on drugs. Vladimir Putin, Duterte's supposed hero, has stood by Duterte. Shinzō Abe, the prime minister of Japan, has been extremely nice to Duterte and indirectly supported his war on drugs. If Trump comes here, makes a "Duterte fist," smiles and hugs Duterte, then Duterte is going to say, "Sorry, opposition; sorry, human rights groups; you are hopeless. All the big boys are behind me. It's game over." That is essentially the public relations strategy of the Duterte administration.
We kind of got a foretaste of that when Nick Warner, the intelligence chief of Australia, was essentially caught in a picture whereby he had to do the "Duterte fist" next to Duterte. That was big news in Australia. For me, that is a foretaste.
Now, Trump is going to come in and say, "Obama was so incompetent he lost Duterte to China. But I'm so tremendously skillful with my personal diplomacy that, see, I won back the Philippines to our side. Now the Philippines is within the American camp again." So both of them have a reason to have a convivial hobnob.
The reality is that, because of the common threat of ISIS (Islmaic State of Iraq and Syria) in Mindanao and the joint operations between Americans and Australians, on the one hand, and the Filipino forces in Marawi, actually a counterterror cooperation has never been as good. We are as close as we can be in terms of security cooperation. But the reality is that when it comes to the South China Sea and confronting China's maritime assertiveness, we are not yet on the same board, and, if anything, we have downgraded our security cooperation. We have canceled a number of war games with the United States, the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise (CARAT) and Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX), and also we relocated the annual Balikatan exercises out of the South China Sea.
So the downside to Duterte's foreign policy is not that we lost our relationship with the United States, it is that we kind of gave China carte blanche to push the envelope in the South China Sea. As the chairman of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Philippines have tremendously soft-pedaled on the issue. We vetoed efforts by Vietnam to raise critical statements against China's reclamation and militarization in the Spratly chain of islands and the Paracel chain of islands. And Duterte refused to raise the Philippines' landmark arbitration award in any multilateral fora. In my opinion, that just encouraged China to keep on digging and pushing the envelope in the South China Sea, increasingly making it like a domestic lake.
DEVIN STEWART: Richard, you have given us a lot to think about.
One final question: What do you see for the future of the Philippines under Duterte?
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: That's a very hazardous question to answer. But what I can say is that, to be honest, on one hand, I am confident, or cautiously optimistic, that the democracy part of our political system will remain alive. Election is kind of a lifestyle to Filipinos. Taking away elections is something that I think is virtually impossible. But anything can happen in this time and age, right, so I am not going to completely discount that.
But the liberal side of our democracy, our liberal constitutional order, to be honest, I am not very optimistic. I think the Philippines is moving closer and closer to what you can call an illiberal democracy whereby you have a popular president who can get competitively reelected into office, assuming we change our constitution and allow Duterte to run beyond his six-year term in office. But notions like human rights, civil liberties, those things are increasingly going to be under question. And also notions like institutional checks and balances are going to be put under question.
When Duterte attacks the ombudsman's office, the Supreme Court justice—yes, on one hand, this is essentially a continuation of the Aquino administration's attack on the Supreme Court in the past and other institutions of the state, but Duterte is taking it to the whole next level. So I think the Philippines is sleepwalking into illiberal democracy unless the Filipino political class begins to draw a line and say, "We are going to protect our liberal constitutional order because we believe in it."
But the reason why I am not very optimistic about that is because I have seen some troubling development in the past few months, when I see a lot of my countrymen, a lot of highly educated people, who I used to respect a lot and still love, are now suddenly saying, "Human rights, isn't that a Western construct? Civil liberties, aren't these imported alien ideas? Should everyone really have human rights? Is due process really for us? Maybe we don't need due process anymore."
So I think Duterte is a wake-up call. I am not trying to say this is a silver lining or this is kind of a redemptive element of what is happening. But he is definitely a wake-up call because he has exposed the rotten nature of not only our political class, where sycophancy and lack of conviction is very common, but also the shallow roots of enlightenment values of human rights and civil liberties among the Filipino public.
I think Duterte's democratic predecessors did not do a very good job—just to be nice to them, I am just going to say they did not do a very good job—of mainstreaming the notions of human rights, explaining to people why we need human rights and due process. I believe a significant number of Filipinos really do not appreciate what the notions of human rights, civil liberties, and due process were invented for.
We know why they were invented, right? They were invented precisely to defend the most vulnerable sections of the society against the predatory elite. If we take that away, the very purpose of electing someone like Duterte will be defeated. The masses of the Filipinos and the aspirational middle class voted for Duterte precisely because they were sick and tired of the unaccountability of the predatory elite. But changing the liberal elite for an autocratic new elite, I do not think that is the solution. I hope that the Philippines' democracy and the liberal dimension of that will still hold. But I have huge reservations.
And as I said, this is just the rise of Duterte. It is probably just the first in a series of things I am going to write about Duterte in the coming years. So let's see.
DEVIN STEWART: Richard Heydarian is author of The Rise of Duterte, now available internationally online and in bookstores. Richard, thank you so much.
RICHARD HEYDARIAN: My pleasure, as always.