On May 9th, the 2016 Philippines Presidential election was won by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte Although the formal results will not be released for a few weeks, his primary opponent conceded the win
But Duterte is not an altogether popular figure In the United States he has been directly compared to candidate Donald Trump for his inflammatory and often inappropriate remarks So, who exactly is this Donald Trump of the East? Well, for the last two decades, Rodrigo Duterte has been the mayor of Davao City in southern Philippines His time in office has been marked by an unorthodox style, described as being strong on crime, and earning him the nickname of “The Punisher” He was regularly known to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle to patrol the city while carrying a
38 caliber handgun in his waistband While mayor, crime rates fell significantly, however, his methods have been widely criticized He has openly tolerated the killing of alleged criminals by an unauthorized death squad that patrols the city, and has himself said that those committing illegal activity were legitimate targets of assassination While human rights groups have condemned his remarks and actions, others agree that the Philippine justice system is inadequate to deal with dangerous crime Duterte has even promised to kill thousands of criminals if elected, saying "I do not want to be president
I do not want to kill people so do not elect me as president" Nonetheless, Duterte won the presidency with an estimated 39% of the vote compared to his two main opponent’s who received roughly 21 and 23% And his popularity is not entirely surprising As in the United States with Trump, many voters are tired of dynastic, elite, establishment candidates The incumbent president was the son of the 11th Philippine president, and Duterte’s leading opponent is the grandson of the fifth president
And under the last few presidents, crime has continued to be a major problem, and the US state department has even put out warning against travel to certain parts of the Philippines Like Trump, Duterte is an outsider, although unlike Trump, Duterte is from a lower class background, and relatively progressive on some social issues He is openly pro-LGBT rights, and while mayor he passed the first and only “Women Development Code” which upholds women’s civil rights and works to end discrimination The Philippines is actually one of the most female-friendly countries in Southeast Asia, ranking sixth worldwide according to the Global Gender Gap Report Still, Duterte has also been criticized for his misogynistic comments, and in 2015 admitted to being a “womanizer”
The 71-year old politician also said he couldn’t live without Viagra, and in 2016 he also joked about raping a murdered Australian female missionary during a campaign event, although he later apologized for his language, stating that it was a “bad remark” made out of anger During a visit by Pope Francis to the 86% Catholic country, Dutetre called the Pope a “son of a whore”, for which he also apologized And besides his controversial remarks, Duterte has promised to be a dictator against “evil” as president, which includes abolishing Congress if they were to threaten impeachment, and pardoning himself for mass murder Clearly, despite his popularity and socially progressive stances, Duterte has also admitted his involvement with extrajudicial murder squads, and his comments about women and others like Pope Francis have been wholly inappropriate At the very least, Trump isn’t confirmed to have killed people in the street, although he HAS said that such an act would not lose him any voters
In both the Philippines and the US, aggressive and upfront rhetoric is clearly an effective political tool Duterte’s presidency could have a big impact on regional disputes like the South China Sea While the former president refused to negotiate with China, Duterte said he will take a conciliatory stance, which may change the nature of the conflict To learn more about the tensions in the South China Sea, watch our video at the top And to learn more about the political climate that has led to Duterte’s election, watch this video on Phillipines' Power
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