While the Americans are concerning about Donald Trump entering the office, a country in the Southeast Asia has already begun coping with a similar kind of problem from June 30th, 2016. The man’s name is Rodrigo Duterte – ex-mayor of Davao. Duterte’s battle against crime is drawing global attention with its inhumane nature, while silencing the opposition with its apparent effectiveness.
Born in a working class background, Duterte was a problematic child. According to Newsinfo.com, he was once expelled from college when he shot a fellow student to “teach him a lesson”. He did, however, worked his way through the bar exam and became a district attorney after graduating from college. He had already gained notoriety with his aggressiveness against criminals back then. After he entered politics, he became the vice mayor of Davao and got elected as the mayor in 1988, perpetuating the position for the next 22 years.
Duterte transformed the city from its bottom to top. Davao, just one of many cities in Philippines with serious public security and corruption issues, experienced rapid improvement since Duterte. His austere policies did not discriminate people of different social status and his personal army – Davao Death Squad – executed a countless number criminals without the standard legal process. True, people were aware of the illicit nature of his unique ideology. However, the outcome speaks for itself. Davao is ranked top as the safest and the least corrupt city in Philippines.
Much like Trump, Duterte gathered his support not through established political figures but with his populist appeal to the general public. Unlike other candidates, he had a tangible credential in the city of Davao. The combination of Duterte strong, charismatic impression and the people’s need for a competent leader called for the age of tyranny.
Duterte again received the global spotlight recently, for referring President Obama as “a son of a b*tch” in his adverse remark on Mr. Obama’s concern towards Philippines’ arising human rights violation. This statement directly led to the cancellation of Obama’s visit and the planned summit meeting. Even though Duterte officially apologized through media, the incident further exacerbated the diplomatic turmoil between Philippines and America, especially after Duterte’s open inclination towards China in his foreign policy.
The negative view on Duterte is not merely stemmed from his impetuous words (even if it involved Pope Francis). Duterte’s bloodthirsty crime fighting is beyond the imaginable scales. According to Yeonhap News, his vigilante forces have killed over two thousand drug-related criminals and led another hundred ten thousand to turn themselves in. While it seems like a rather promising set of data, various human rights NGOs are worried if it might be used for his political power control, which is more like a given sequence based on every one of his historical counterparts.
Meanwhile, the filipino citizens are overwhelmingly supportive of their new president. The approval rating that was just over 30% in May has now skyrocketed to 95% in September. At the same time, some foreigners, too, are expressing their neutrality towards Duterte. Considering the abysmal condition his people were put in, the proponents say that such violent methods might have been justified, bringing back the old philosophical debates on ethics.
As the conflict between Philippines and the rest of the world ensues, Duterte sis even considering Philippines’ abandonment of UN membership. It seems like there is one common ground for both sides at the moment: that the trajectory of Duterte administration is, for one thing, interesting. What do you think about Mr. Rodrigo Duterte?
– Paul Jeon (’17)