Rodrigo Duterte became the 16th President of the Philippines on June 30, 2016. Throughout his term, he has cursed at officials, made rape jokes, and even killed a man with a submachine gun.
Duterte is very important to the United States because the Philippines is one of the closest allies of the United States in Asia, and we have had a mutual defense treaty since 1952.
While most Filipinos support close ties with the U.S., Duterte has said that he wants to cut ties with the U.S. “both in military, but also economics.” He later backtracked and said that he only wants a “separation of foreign policy”.
Rodrigo Duterte is perhaps most famous for his violent war on drugs. His plans are to wipe out drug crimes by killing or imprisoning all dealers and users. About 3,600 have already died. His policies have flooded prisons and destroyed families. People are terrified of the police. In this CNN story, a woman being interviewed gave a false name, Janie, to avoid being hunted by the police.
Duterte is also famous for his frequent profanity. He has been nicknamed the “Trump of the Philippines.” He has crudely insulted Barack Obama and Pope Francis. Additionally, at one of his rallies, Duerete made a very controversial quote about a woman who was murdered and raped in 1989. “I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.” Even due to his remarks, Deurete has still remained popular among citizens.
Despite the controversy surrounding him, Duterte remains very popular in the Philippines. This is mostly because there is a large crime problem stemming from drugs, and he has addressed that problem many times. His motto is “One hundred days of change”, saying that he will turn the country around in his first 100 days as president. Filipinos are unhappy about the crime in their country, and to them, Duterte seems like the quickest way to end it.