DUTERTE: I AM NOT A STRONGMAN

By ROGER M. BALANZA

“I am not a strongman,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in reaction to a cover story of TIME magazine which featured him and other world leaders as among  “strongmen of the era.”

TIMEDuterte was ranked along with US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as examples of “muscular, assertive leadership” with little regard for civil liberties, in the TIME feature entitled “The Strongmen Era Is Here. Here’s What It Means for You.”

Denying he is a strongman, Duterte said he accepts criticism and  has never imprisoned anyone for opposing his views.

“I am not a strongman. I have never sent anyone to jail,” Duterte said in a media interview on Friday, May 4, in Davao City.

“You can criticize me and bullshit me to no end. I can take that,” he told the reporters.

“Use your freedom of expression. I have never sent anyone to jail for talking or badmouthing me,” Duterte said.

TIME MAGAZINE FEATURED DUTERTE FOR HIS STRONG DECISIVE LEADERSHIP

Harry-Roque (1)

Malacañang attributed the inclusion of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on the cover photo and top story of Time Magazine for his strong and decisive leadership.

“Regardless of slant, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has demonstrated strong and decisive leadership – a quality appreciated by Filipinos as evidenced by the Chief Executive’s high satisfaction, approval, trust and performance ratings,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.

Aside from Duterte, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been featured by Time Magazine on its cover photo and story entitled, “Rise of the Strongman”.

Time Magazine’s writer Ian Bremmer wrote, “These leaders have won followers by targeting ‘them,’ including the familiar US and European sources of power and influence. But they have succeeded because they know something about ‘us,’ or the people they’re speaking to. They understand the sense of threat — and they’re willing to exploit it”.

“In every region of the world, changing times have boosted public demand for more muscular, assertive leadership. These tough-talking populists promise to protect ‘us’ from ‘them’,” Bremmer also wrote.

In the Philippines, Bremmer said “a rising tide of violent street crime helped elect Rodrigo Duterte, a former mayor who talked more like a Mob boss than a President, on his promises to wipe out the drug trade with his own brand of justice.”

Roque said Filipinos have learned not to take Duterte literally with his colorful language but they have surely taken seriously the issues the popular Filipino leader has espoused, such as the war on drugs and crime and graft and corruption.

“The drug problem is not only a Philippine concern. It is a global burden and the Philippines’ war on drugs has been acknowledged by countries and leaders, including Indonesia, China, President Donald Trump and police leaders from other Southeast Asian countries,” Roque said.

The Palace spokesperson assured that Duterte’s brand of justice “strictly adheres to the rule of law where the dismantling of the drug apparatus ensures the proper investigation of all drug-related killings.”

Despite lacking local candidates to back him up, Duterte overwhelmingly won the 2016 presidential elections, garnering 16.6 million votes or 6.6 million more than his closest rival, administration candidate Mar Roxas.

Almost two years after his election, the 73-year-old Filipino leader still enjoys a “very good” net trust rating of +65 based in last April’s survey by the Social Weather Stations. (PNA)

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