Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is currently leading a Time Magazine Poll of the most influential men and women of 2017. How it is even possible to conduct such a poll at the end of March seems rather counter-intuitive, but nevertheless Duterte is a solid choice.
Unlike other individuals polling high like Vladimir Putin, Duterte has burst onto the world scene in recent months after years of being mainly a local phenomenon. He is a polarising figure, both because of his war on drugs and his frank rhetorical style. But then again, Donald Trump’s victory showed that straight talking along with law and order is back in fashion.
It seems however that straight talking is not limited to Duterte himself, it also apparently popular among his cabinet ministers.
Philippines Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Lorraine Badoy has made her feelings known for why she feels that her President should be the winner of the 2017 Time poll.
In a Facebook post she said the following:
President Rodrigo Duterte’s love affair with the Filipino people is like a jet plane that’s just taken off.
Her dig at European leaders is a reference to repeated EU condemnation of President Duterte’s anti-drug measures, this in spite of Europe’s considerable drug problem.
Duterte has certainly been influential in more ways than one. In a short period in office he has achieved the following
1. Building increasingly close relations with China, something which is essential to a peaceful settlement to the South China Sea dispute.
3. Reassessing the dependent relationship the Philippines has had with the United States since the end of Spanish colonial rule.
4. Making a stand against the drug problem and associated crime problem.
5. He made straight talking great again when most thought that Hillary Clinton would easily beat Trump in the US election.
Duterte has left a mark on his country and his region, in spite of being in office for less than one year. He is the populist that many in the west would prefer to ignore. There is more than a touch of colonial arrogance in praising Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen whilst ignoring a man who actually is the president of a substantial nation and actually using his popular appear to make the changes he promised during his campaign.
Duterte cannot be ignored nor should he be.