According to a recent polling from Pulse Asia, current Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte has an eighty-six percent approval rating. Only three percent of the national respondents displayed dissatisfaction over his performance. Why do the majority of Filipinos support President Duterte and his work?
For the first time in decades, President Duterte poses as an outlandish candidate the Filipino people believe would bring about real political change. Despite accusations of operating death squads and murdering numerous people as mayor of Davao, evidence and comments from Davao residents suggests that Duterte’s policies have transformed one of the most dangerous municipalities into a safe haven where, outside its borders, violence and criminality is rampant. Given this history, many Filipinos voted for him, resulting in a landslide victory for Duterte.
Amid his tenure as the President of the Philippines, the mainstream media, of international proportions, has continually regurgitated its concern over his infamous war on drugs. 4,000 drug suspects and counting were murdered or killed without a constitutional due process of law. Not only has Duterte’s war on drugs stirred controversy, but also Duterte’s outlandish profanity and remarks towards world leaders such as Pope Francis and Barack Obama have sparked fury from the mainstream media and citizens worldwide. To some, his crudeness primarily emphasizes the idea that he is just an “all talk, no action” leader. Critics would go as far as to comparing him to other controversial figures in politics, such as Adolf Hitler or Donald Trump. As the media slams him over his allegedly hateful and divisive rhetoric, President Duterte has attained innumerable remarkable achievements in his first hundred days in office.
What really struck Filipinos was how Duterte handled situations, especially involving those who opposed his leadership. For example, despite the Batanes’ government’s opposition to Duterte, he still visited Batanes after a recent typhoon. He has also improved airport and airline services, signed the Freedom of Information Act, adopted agricultural changes that allowed the Philippines to become independent in food production and distribution, and distributed online gambling towards health services and education. Most importantly, nonetheless, while the media bashes his war on drugs, more than 800,000 drug users are surrendering, more than 20,000 drug users are being apprehended, and several top drug lords are being tracked down.
People can discuss voting against a candidate over his hateful rhetoric and immoral character, but it is very easy to ignore his accomplishments. As shown in the presidential election in May, most Filipinos reject the notion that character describes one’s ability to be presidential by electing a controversial figure who swears constantly, talks poorly of world figures, and gives out offensive comments. Of course, Filipinos care about the integrity and dignity of an individual; however, they elected Duterte because his policies stood out from the policies of other candidates. They thought about how one’s policies will affect them in the long run. Character is a non-factor in voting in upcoming elections: when taking into account issues such as foreign affairs, the national debt, and illegal immigration, policies ultimately have a far greater impact than one’s controversial rhetoric.