Leaders

Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte and Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith (cropped).jpg
 
16th President of the Philippines
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
Vice President Leni Robredo
Preceded by Benigno Aquino III
Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2016
Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2010
Vice Mayor Luis Bonguyan
Sara Duterte
Preceded by Benjamin de Guzman
Succeeded by Sara Duterte
In office
February 2, 1988 – March 19, 1998
Vice Mayor Dominador Zuño (Acting)
Luis Bonguyan
Benjamin de Guzman
Preceded by Jacinto Rubillar
Succeeded by Benjamin de Guzman
Vice Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2010 – June 30, 2013
Mayor Sara Duterte
Preceded by Sara Duterte
Succeeded by Paolo Duterte
In office
May 2, 1986 – November 27, 1987
Officer in Charge
Mayor Zafiro Respicio
Preceded by Cornelio Maskariño
Succeeded by Gilbert Abellera
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives
from Davao City’s 1st district
In office
June 30, 1998 – June 30, 2001
Preceded by Prospero Nograles
Succeeded by Prospero Nograles
 
Personal details
Born Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(1945-03-28) March 28, 1945 (age 72)
Maasin, Philippines
Political party PDP-Laban (2001-present)
Other political
affiliations
Kabataang Makabayan[1] (1970s)
Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (1998-2001)
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (2011–present)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Zimmerman (m. 1973; ann. 2000)
Domestic partner Honeylet Avanceña
Children 4, including Paolo and Sara
Parents Vicente Duterte
Soledad Roa
Residence Bahay Pagbabago
Alma mater Lyceum of the Philippines University
San Beda College
Signature

RodrigoRodyRoa Duterte (Tagalog: [roˈdɾigo dʊˈtɛrtɛ]; , also known as Digong, is a Filipino lawyer and politician who is the 16th and current President of the Philippines. Digong is the first Mindanaoan to hold the office. At 71 years old, Duterte is the oldest person to assume the Philippine presidency; the record was previously held by Sergio Osmeña at the age of 65.

Rodrigo Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, a highly urbanized city on Mindanao island, before becoming vice mayor and, subsequently, mayor of the city in the wake of the Philippine Revolution of 1986. Duterte was among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines, serving seven terms and totaling more than 22 years in office.

Here we can watch Rodrigo Duterte’s First 100 Days Video

Duterte’s political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals. According to Reuters, human rights groups have documented over 1,400 killings allegedly by vigilante groups occurring in Davao between 1998 and May 2016; the victims were mainly drug users, petty criminals and street children. Duterte has alternately confirmed and denied his involvement in the killings. A 2009 report by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, then chaired by Sen. Leila de Lima, and a January 2016 decision by the Office of the Ombudsman on the alleged death squad in Davao between 2005 and 2009 found “no evidence to support the killings attributed or attributable to the Davao Death Squad much less the involvement of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte”. The case has since been reopened. Duterte has repeatedly confirmed that he personally killed three kidnapping suspects while Mayor of Davao in 1988.

On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 39.01% of the votes, defeating four other candidates, namely Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party (23.4%), Sen. Grace Poe of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (21.6%), former vice president Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (12.9%), and the late Sen. Miriam Defensor – Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (3%). During his campaign, he promised to reduce crime by killing tens of thousands of criminals. His domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by unleashing a deadly crackdown on the suspected sale and use of drugs. Since April 2017, reports have documented more than 7,000 deaths, both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings. Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since his election, he threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations. He has also declared his intention to pursue an “independent foreign policy”, and sought to distance the Philippines from the United States and European nations and pursue closer ties with China and Russia.

Early life

Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin. His maternal grandfather was a Chinese immigrant from Xiamen, Fujian. His father was Vicente G. Duterte (1911–1968), a Cebuano lawyer; and his mother Soledad Duterte (née Roa; 1916–2012), was a school teacher from Cabadbaran, Agusan and a civic leader of Maranao descent. Duterte’s father was acting mayor of Danao, Cebu and subsequently the provincial governor of (the then-undivided) Davao province.

Rodrigo’s cousin Ronald, on the other hand, served as Cebu City mayor from 1983 to 1986. Ronald’s father, Ramon Duterte, also held the position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes consider the Cebu-based political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives. Duterte also has relatives from the Roa clan in Leyte through his mother’s side. Before they resettled to Davao, Duterte’s family briefly lived in his birthplace in Maasin, Leyte, and in his father’s hometown in Danao, Cebu, until he was four years old.

The Dutertes initially moved to Mindanao in 1948 but still went back and forth to the Visayas until 1949. They finally settled in the Davao Region in 1950. Vicente worked as a lawyer engaged in private practice, while Soledad taught in public schools as a teacher. Mrs. Duterte, however, retired as a supervisor in 1952 when her lawyer-husband entered politics there.

Education

Duterte went to Laboon Elementary School in Maasin, for a year. He spent his remaining elementary days at the Santa Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education in the High School Department of the then Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College) in today’s city of Digos in the now defunct Davao province, after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) High School due to misconduct. He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines in Manila. He obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. In the same year, he passed the bar exam. Duterte eventually became Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977–79, Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979–81, Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981–83, and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983–86.

Abuse

Duterte has said that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a minor. After he was challenged by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and AdDU officials to name the priest and file a case against him, Duterte then revealed the priest’s name as Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ (d. 1975). The Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines confirmed that according to press reports in the United States, in May 2007, the Society of Jesus agreed to a tentative payout of USD16 million to settle claims that Falvey sexually abused at least nine children in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1975. Accusations against Falvey began in 2002 and he was never charged with a crime. Additionally in May 2008, the Diocese of Sacramento paid $100,000 settlement to a person allegedly raped and molested by Mark’s brother, Fr. Arthur Falvey. However, it was not clearly indicated in the report if Mark Falvey was assigned at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao. When asked why he didn’t complain when the abuse supposedly happened, Duterte claimed that he was too young to complain about the priest’s abuse and was intimidated by authorities at that time. He also stated that he never disclosed that information after he was expelled and moved to a different high school and especially not to his family.

Shooting of student at law school

Duterte stated at a rally in April 2016 that he shot a fellow student who had bullied him about his Visayan origin as well as other students of the same ethnicity, while at San Beda law college. He said “But the truth is, I’m used to shooting people. When we were about to graduate from San Beda, I shot a person.” Duterte said that he shot the student in a corridor at the college when the said student called him names again. He later told a reporter that the student survived, but refused to answer any further questions about the incident.

Mayor of Davao City

Duterte (left) with President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013
Duterte (left) with President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013
 

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor by president Corazon Aquino. In 1988, he ran for mayor and won, serving until 1998. He set a precedent by designating deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the Philippines. In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st District of Davao City (under the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino coalition). In 2001, he ran again for mayor in Davao and was again elected for his fourth term. He was re-elected in 2004 and in 2007.

In 2013, Davao City sent rescue and medical teams to Tacloban to give aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known in the country as Typhoon Yolanda. Financial assistance was also given to Bohol and Cebu for the earthquake victims.

In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as mayor. He has been offered the Interior Secretary post 4 times, by presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III but rejected all of them.

Duterte banned swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants in Davao City. Duterte also gained prominence for supporting the first-ever Gawad Kalinga Village inside a jail facility which is only located in Davao City. It is a home-type jail with ten cottages built inside the compound, which now serve as home for women inmates.

Duterte (third from left) leading the citywide 2015 Torotot Festival
Duterte (third from left) leading the citywide 2015 Torotot Festival
 

Through the support of Duterte, the City Council amended ordinance No. 1627, Series of 1994, to impose a prohibition on selling, serving, drinking and consuming alcoholic beverages from 01:00 until 08:00 each morning. Executive Order No. 39 was signed by Duterte, reducing the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City in the interest of public safety and order. Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 to impose an order creating the implementing of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367-12, Series of 2012. Davao City’s Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002 by the City Council through the support of Duterte.

Another known accomplishment was that the City Government of Davao was able to acquire 10 more ambulances for central 911 intended for medical emergencies and 42 new mobile patrol vehicles and motorcycles for the Davao City Police Office (the first and only 9-1-1 emergency telephone number in Asia which is also free of charge). Duterte, through Executive Order No. 24, ordered all shopping malls and commercial centers to install, operate and maintain high end and high definition closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all entrance and exit points of their premises

Duterte also passed the city’s Women Development Code, the first and only in the country, which aims “to uphold the rights of women and the belief in their worth and dignity as human beings” and pushed for the Magna Carta for Women in Davao. It is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women.

Crime rate

Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009
Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009
 

While Davao City under Duterte is known as “peaceful” and relatively “crime-free” city, data released by the Philippine National Police in May 2016 revealed that Davao, contrary to public perception, had the “highest murder rate and the second highest rape rate” among 15 Philippine cities. This was widely reported in the media, and was used by Duterte’s rivals against him.

The number of index crimes have significantly decreased since 2013 and 2015, with most killings occurring during police operations.

Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal. In Davao, by city ordinance, police ensure that prostitutes have a valid health card, but do not arrest them. In 2010, the Philippine Child Protection Unit stated that Davao was one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines. Jeanette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, a Davao-based NGO that helps prostitutes, said in October 2016 that child prostitution had sharply increased over the past two years. She said that children were cheaper and more marketable.

Alleged extrajudicial killings

Duterte, who has been dubbed “The Punisher” by Time magazine, has been linked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to extrajudicial killings of over 1,400 alleged criminals and street children by vigilante death squads. In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, “The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive.” Human Rights Watch reported that in 2001–2002, Duterte appeared on local television and radio and announced the names of “criminals”, some of whom were later executed. In July 2005 at a crime summit at the Manila Hotel, Duterte said, “Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs”.

Duterte has denied responsibility for the extrajudicial killings. He has also frequently announced his support for them. According to Reuters, “Duterte’s loud approval for hundreds of execution-style killings of drug users and criminals over nearly two decades helped propel him to the highest office of a crime-weary land.” In 2009 Duterte said: “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.” In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that, if elected president, he may kill up to 100,000 criminals. After the said confirmation, Duterte challenged human rights officials to file a case against him if they could provide evidence to his links with vigilante groups. Following a December 1 phone call between Donald Trump and Duterte, the latter said Trump wished him “success,” in his war on drugs, and looked forward to his visiting Washington in 2017. An estimated 4,800 persons had been killed in the preceding six months in which Chief of Police Ronald dela Rosa claims that not all deaths are drug-related.

Federalism advocacy

2016 presidential campaign

Duterte–Cayetano 2016 campaign logo

As early as the first quarter of 2015, Duterte made hints to the media of his intention to run for president in the 2016 elections. However, he denied these plans numerous times amidst clamor from his supporters for him to run.

In January, Duterte said he would abolish Congress if he chose to run for President and was elected. On November 21, in a private gathering with fraternity brothers from San Beda College of Law, Duterte formally announced his presidential bid and also finally accepted Alan Peter Cayetano’s offer to be his running mate, and named his daughter, Sara Duterte, as his substitute for Mayor.

In his campaign, he said he would introduce a federal parliamentary form of government. He also promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and eradicate crime in six months.

Constitutional reform

Rodrigo Duterte campaigned for decentralization and a shift to federal government during the 2016 presidential election. In an October 2014 forum organized by Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City prior to joining the presidential race, the then mayor of Davao City called for the creation of two federal states for Moro people as a solution to the problems besetting Mindanao. Mayor Duterte said that Nur Misuari and his Moro National Liberation Front don’t see eye-to-eye with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which the administration of President Benigno Aquino III had inked a peace deal with. He also said that the “template of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is federal,” but what is granted to the Bangsamoro should also be granted to other Moro groups and other regions in the country. In a dialogue with the Makati Business Club prior to the elections, Duterte said he is open to “toning down the Constitution” in order to accommodate more foreign investors to the Philippines. He also said he is open to up to 70 percent foreign ownership of businesses in the country and foreign lease of lands up to 60 years, but will “leave it to Congress to decide.”

Rape comments

When the bodies were brought out, they were wrapped. I looked at her face, son of a bitch, she looks like a beautiful American actress. Son of a bitch, what a waste. What came to my mind was, they raped her, they lined up. Was I angry because she was raped? Yes, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, I think the mayor should have been first. What a waste.

After being condemned for his comments, Duterte later apologized for the incident and acknowledged the comment as a “bad remark” saying he regretted his “gutter language” but would not apologize for being misinterpreted. He insists though that the remark was not a “joke” as reported by some media outlets, saying that he stated it in a narrative. He further said that he was not apologizing for stating the remark reasoning that he made the remark out of “utter anger” when he recalled the events. He threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the US and Australia, if elected, after their ambassadors criticized his comments.

2016 Philippine electoral vote results

His daughter Sara Duterte subsequently announced on social media that she was a rape victim, but would still vote for her father. He said that he doubted her story, jokingly referring to her as a “drama queen”.

Human rights

In a campaign speech on April 27 to business leaders, he said his presidency would be “a bloody one”, but that he would issue “a thousand pardons a day” to police and soldiers accused of human rights abuses, and would also issue a presidential pardon to himself for mass murder at the end of his six-year term.

Election to the Presidency

On May 30, 2016, the 16th Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Duterte as the President-elect of the Philippines after he topped the official count by the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 presidential election with 16,601,997 votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, Mar Roxas. Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo on the other hand, was proclaimed as the Vice President-elect of the Philippines with 14,418,817 votes, narrowly defeating Senator Bongbong Marcos by 263,473 votes.

Presidency

Presidential styles of
Rodrigo Roa Duterte
Seal of the President of the Philippines.svg
Reference style President Duterte
Spoken style Your President
Alternative style Mr. President,

President Mayor

The Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte began at noon on June 30, 2016, when he became the 16th President of the Philippines, succeeding Benigno Aquino III.

At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Duterte is also the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President, the second Cebuano to become president (after Sergio Osmeña), the third Cebuano-speaking president (after Osmeña and Carlos P. Garcia), the first Visayan from Mindanao and the fourth Visayan overall (after Osmeña, Manuel Roxas and Garcia).

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte (left) and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace on inauguration day, June 30, 2016
President-elect Duterte (left) and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace on inauguration day, June 30, 2016
 
Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines before Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes at Malacañang Palace while his children look on, June 30, 2016.
Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th President of the Philippines before Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes at Malacañang Palace while his children look on, June 30, 2016.
 

A Pulse Asia survey conducted from July 2–8 showed that Duterte had a trust rating of 91%, the highest of the six presidents since the Marcos dictatorship (the previous highest was Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III with 87%). Shortly after his inauguration on June 30, Duterte held his first Cabinet meeting to lay out their first agenda, which included the country’s disaster risk reduction management, decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the country’s main gateway, and expressed his ideas and concerns regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea prior to the announcement of the verdict of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the issue, which the Philippines later won. Four days later, on July 4, Duterte issued his first executive order entitled “Reengineering the Office of the President Towards Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals”, allowing his Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., to supervise over several agencies that focus on poverty reduction. On July 23, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 also known as the Freedom of Information Order.

Rodrigo Duterte is greeted by overseas Filipinos during his official visit to Vietnam, September 2016
Duterte is greeted by overseas Filipinos during his official visit to Vietnam, September 2016
 

On August 1, 2016, Duterte launched a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide complaint hotline, 8888, while also changing the country’s emergency telephone number from 117 to 911.

On August 7, Duterte approved the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig scheduled for October 18, saying that Marcos is qualified for the burial at the cemetery due to him being a “former president and a soldier”. The decision was vehemently opposed, due to “the brutal, oppressive and corrupt nature of Marcos’s two-decade regime.” An online petition which received over 30,000 signatures stated:

Burying Ferdinand E Marcos alongside our nation’s heroes who fought for our freedom is an affront to the thousands of lives tortured and murdered during his reign. Laying him to rest at the Heroes’ Cemetery is a disdainful act that will send a message to the future of our nation—our children—that the world we live in rewards forceful and violent hands.

Rodrigo Duterte visits a victim of the Davao City bombing at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, September 3, 2016
Duterte visits a victim of the Davao City bombing at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, September 3, 2016
 

Following the September 2 bombing in Davao City that killed 14 people in the city’s central business district, on September 3 Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness,” and on the following day issued Proclamation No. 55 to officially declare a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao”. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered to “suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao” and to “prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere”. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the declaration “does not specify the imposition of curfews” and would remain in force indefinitely. He explained: “The recent incidents, the escape of terrorists from prisons, the beheadings, then eventually what happened in Davao. That was the basis.”

In December 2016, Duterte was ranked 70th on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. On December 7, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 10 creating a consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. The latest target in Duterte’s war on vice is tobacco products, when he signed Executive Order 26 imposing a smoking ban in all public places in the country on May 16, 2017. In the same month, the Duterte administration began to implement the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

While adjusting to working and residing at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte divides his workweek between Manila and Davao City by spending three days in each city, utilizing the Malacañang of the South while in Davao.

Domestic policy

Anti-drug campaign

Duterte presents a chart which he claims, illustrates a drug trade network of drug syndicates, on July 7, 2016.
Duterte presents a chart which he claims, illustrates a drug trade network of drug syndicates, on July 7, 2016.
 

Duterte has justified the drug war by claiming that the Philippines was becoming a “narco-state”. In October 2016, Amnesty International stated there is “little evidence” of this; according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the prevalence of drug use in the country is lower than the global average. He has dismissed the UN’s human rights concerns by dehumanizing drug users, stating in August 2016: “Crime against humanity? In the first place, I’d like to be frank with you. Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?” Despite the controversial war on Drugs, Duterte’s public approval was at over 80% as of October 2016. According to the latest polls, he has been able to maintain his 82% approval and 81% trust ratings one year after taking office.

During his presidential campaign and transition, Duterte called for the reimposition of capital punishment in the country to execute criminals involved in “heinous” crimes, such as illegal drug trade, insisting on hanging. Capital punishment in the Philippines was abolished by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 24, 2006.

Duterte delivering his first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on July 25, 2016
Duterte delivering his first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on July 25, 2016
 

After his inauguration, Duterte spoke to journalists in Tondo, Manila, where he urged Filipino citizens to voluntarily kill drug pushers and addicts. A day after his inauguration, Duterte requested for the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to “disarm and arrest” drug lords.

That same day, police chief Ronald dela Rosa warned police officers and personnel involved in illegal drug trade with the option to voluntarily surrender within 48 hours or “take an absence without official leave, continue being a drug lord, and declare war against the police.” On July 5, 2016, Duterte revealed the names of five police officials who were allegedly involved in illegal drug trade. On July 7, during a press conference, Duterte presented a chart identifying three Chinese nationals who serve as drug lords in the Philippines. Chief dela Rosa added that there are 23 mayors on Duterte’s list of officials involved in illegal drug trade.

Duterte speaking with PNP Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa in the Malacañan Palace on August 16, 2016.
Duterte speaking with PNP Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa in the Malacañan Palace on August 16, 2016.
 

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published a “kill list” documenting the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals involved in drug trafficking by police. Lawmakers responded with criticism to the rise of extrajudicial killings called by Duterte and demanded congressional inquiries and investigation on the incidents. Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat urged the Philippine House of Representatives to investigate the “spate of extrajudicial killings and/or summary executions of suspected violators of laws on illegal drugs and other suspected criminals,” defending Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Constitution which states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” Senator and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima urged Duterte’s administration to cease the extrajudicial killings and said that she would file a resolution for the Philippine Senate to conduct an investigation, expressing worry that it could cause disorderly violence in communities. While praising Duterte’s effort to eradicate illegal drug trade, the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also asked Duterte to investigate the increasing number of extrajudicial killings, expressing concern over the deaths of alleged drug dealers. The Duterte administration, through Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, responded to the criticism by demanding critics to provide substantive evidence during investigation, which he says the administration is opened to cooperating with. Since Duterte took office, the PNP has reported 5,617 drug-related deaths, 1,959 at the hands of the police. Some are the result of shoot-outs during drug bust operations, they say, and of 3,658 vigilante-style killings, usually performed by masked men on motorcycles in pursuit of marked targets.

Ancillary to the campaign against the illegal drug trade, the Philippines’ property crimes and victimization by common crimes fell to a record low of 3.1% and 3.7%, respectively, during the first six months of 2017. This is according to the survey firm, Social Weather Stations. In relation to property crimes, SWS reported that the results are “3.2 points below the 6.3% (est. 1.4 million) in [March] 2017, and [are] 1.4 points below the previous record-low 4.5% (est. 1.0 million) in December 2016.” As to families who have been victims of common crimes, the results shows “a record-low 3.7% (est. 840,000) of families reporting victimization by any of the common crimes. This is 3.1 points below the 6.8% (est. 1.6 million) in March 2017, and is 1.2 points lower than the previous record-low of 4.9% (est. 1.1 million) in December 2016.”

Mindanao insurgency

Duterte welcomes Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad following his release from Abu Sayyaf captivity.

Duterte welcomes Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad following his release from Abu Sayyaf captivity.

 

Nur Misuari’s wife Tarhata Misuari received help from Duterte when he interceded on their behalf after the events of Zamboanga.Duterte has said that Moro dignity is what the MILF and MNLF are struggling for, and that they are not terrorists. He acknowledged that the Moros were subjected to wrongdoing, historical and in territory.

Duterte was endorsed in the election by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari due to his background in Mindanao.Jesus Dureza was his second choice. Other Muslims also supported Duterte and denounced Roxas, the Aquino supported pick.

During the Mindanao Hariraya Eid al-Fitr 2016 convention in Davao City on July 8, 2016, Duterte vowed to address the Moro conflict and bring peace in Mindanao, assuring the Filipino Muslim community that “something will change” before the end of his term. He said that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) both support his proposal for federalism in the Philippines, which he says is the only solution to the Bangsamoro peace process. Duterte said that if the proposal for the country’s shift to federalism fails or is not desired by the Filipino people, he will vow to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. He also added that the Basic Law should benefit both MILF and MNLF, saying he is willing to negotiate with both secessionists to initiate a “reconfiguration” of territory.

A crowd of Muslims were attending the speech by Duterte where he accused America of bringing terrorism to themselves, saying that terrorism is not the result of the Middle East. He railed against the actions undertaken in the Middle East by the USA. Duterte blamed the war on Mindanao on colonialist Christianity being brought to the Philippines in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, saying there was peace before that and that they were made to fight their “Malay brother” by Christians.

Duterte meeting with MNLF chairman, founder and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, November 3, 2016
Duterte meeting with MNLF chairman, founder and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari, November 3, 2016
 

The Bud Dajo Massacre inflicted upon the Moros was mentioned by President Duterte to criticize the United States and its President Barack Obama.[139] The massacre was cited a second time by Duterte in criticizing America while calling for the exit of American troops.[140]

On November 6, 2016, Duterte signed an executive order to expand the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to 21 members from 15, in which 11 will be decided by the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government. The commission was formed in December 2013 and is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

The MNLF and MILF both count some of Duterte’s relatives in their ranks. Criminals were treated ruthlessly by Duterte while the MILF, MNLF and NPA have received sympathetic treatment from him. Duterte attacked terrorists and criminals and said there would be no ceasefire for them, while other groups like the MNLF, MILF and NPA all received a ceasefire from Duterte over the December holiday in 2016.

On May 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 216 declaring a 60-day martial law in Mindanao following clashes between the AFP and the Maute group in Marawi, Lanao del Sur. He said that the implementation is similar to Proclamation No. 1081 and expressed the possibility of extending the scope of the martial law nationwide if deemed necessary.

Communist insurgency

Foreign policy

International trips made by Duterte during his presidency

International trips made by Duterte during his presidency

Duterte joins other ASEAN heads of states, holding hands as a symbol of unity in Vientiane, Laos, September 7, 2016
Duterte joins other ASEAN heads of states, holding hands as a symbol of unity in Vientiane, Laos, September 7, 2016
 The Rodrigo Duterte administration has vowed to pursue an “independent foreign policy” that would reject any meddling by foreign governments, reiterating Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution which states: “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.” In September 2016, Duterte said: “We will observe and must insist on the time-honored principle of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and the commitment of peaceful settlements of dispute that will serve our people and protect the interests of our country.”

Duterte made his first international trips as president to Vientiane, Laos and Jakarta, Indonesia on September 5–9, 2016.

China and Russia

Duterte handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the bilateral meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 20, 2016
Duterte handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to the bilateral meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 20, 2016
 

On October 18–21, 2016, Duterte visited Beijing to meet with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. While announcing his “separation” from the United States in front of Chinese and Filipino businessmen at the Philippines–China Trade and Investment Forum in Beijing on October 20, Rodrigo Duterte also said that he would realign himself with the Chinese ideological flow and that he might also travel to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin to “tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines, and Russia.”

Duterte meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016
Duterte meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the APEC summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016
 

On November 20, 2016, Duterte met with Putin during the sidelines of the APEC summit in Lima, Peru. Rodrigo Duterte has praised Putin’s leadership skills and called him his “idol”. Putin also invited Duterte to visit Moscow. Duterte said that he would visit Moscow on May 25, 2017, where a defense cooperation agreement between the Philippines and Russia is expected to be finalized.

During an interview with RT in November, Duterte said that the Philippines is “not ready” for military alliances with China and Russia due to the Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the Philippines and the U.S.; however, he clarified that the Philippines could seek stronger diplomatic cooperation with China and Russia, as well as other countries, “to make the world more peaceful.” Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev expounded on Rodrigo Duterte‘s statement by saying that the Russian government is offering a strategic partnership with the Philippines, not a military alliance, and added that Russia does not believe in establishing military alliances with Asia. However, Khovaev explained that the Russian government is open to assisting the Philippines in purchasing Russian-made weaponry.

On May 1, 2017, following a visit to three Chinese naval ships at the Port of Davao, Duterte expressed interest in conducting joint military exercises between the Philippine Armed Forces and China’s People’s Liberation Army in Mindanao, particularly in the Sulu Sea.

Territorial disputes

Duterte meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, September 6, 2016
Duterte meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, September 6, 2016
 On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in the Hague announced its ruling in favor of the Philippines in its case filed under the Benigno Aquino III administration in 2013 against China on issues regarding the South China Sea under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including the latter’s nine-dash line claim which the tribunal ruled had no legal basis. Three days after, during a testimonial dinner in San Juan, Duterte asked former President Fidel Ramos to lead the Philippine envoy to Beijing for bilateral negotiations with China over the disputes.Ramos accepted the offer on July 23,solution on the territorial disputes. Rodrigo Duterte prefers to discuss the issue quietly and directly with China and has vowed not to raise the issue before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Duterte said “he would not want to antagonize China” and would want to “maintain good relations with China” to “create an environment where we sit down and talk directly.”

On October 12, Duterte declared his intention to terminate joint US–Philippine naval patrols in the South China Sea, which he believes could needlessly antagonize China. His reticent approach with China contrasts with his otherwise “belligerent rhetoric and swaggering persona”; he has received support for some political ads from an anonymous Chinese donor.

On October 20 in Beijing, Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume direct talks on the dispute.

When then U.S. Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson threatened China’s positions on the islands, the Philippines said that Tillerson was speaking for the U.S. only in the U.S.’s interest and prerogatives. Delfin Lorenzana, Duterte’s Defense Secretary, rejected the possibility of war against China over the islands in the South China Sea.

On April 6, 2017, Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to occupy and fortify at least nine uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. He announced plans to visit the Philippine-administered Thitu (Pag-asa) Island during Independence Day and raise a Philippine flag there. Duterte also ordered the Philippine Navy to build structures on the Benham Rise in order to reassure the Philippines’ sovereignty over the undersea region, following the sighting of Chinese survey vessels. He also announced plans to rename the Benham Rise to the Philippine Ridge. On April 12, Duterte canceled his plan to visit the Thitu (Pag-asa) Island, citing goodwill and friendship with China. On April 21, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced the allocation of ₱1.6 billion to develop the Thitu (Pag-asa) Island, despite rejection from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The development of the island is expected to include the construction of a marine research center, beaching facilities, a radio station, an ice plant, and a power station, as well as the improvement of the Rancudo airstrip runway.[ On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed an executive order formally renaming the Benham Rise to the Philippine Rise.

United States

On September 27, Duterte vowed not to allow the U.S. government to interfere with the policies of his administration. He criticized the U.S. government for “lecturing” his administration on human rights amidst their campaign on illegal drugs and said that he will “cross the Rubicon with the U.S.” Rodrigo Duterte added that he plans to forge “new alliances” with China and Russia in trade and commerce. U.S. Department of State deputy spokesperson Mark Toner responded to Duterte’s criticisms by saying that the Philippine–U.S. relations could still remain “strong and unabated” despite Duterte’s criticisms. The following day, while addressing the Filipino community in Hanoi, Duterte said that the Balikatan military exercises and the joint naval patrols in the South China Sea between the Philippines and the U.S. in October would be “its last” in order to avoid provoking conflict with China.

On October 5, Duterte accused the U.S. of refusing to sell armaments to the Philippines and said that he would rather purchase armaments from China and Russia. In an attempt to repair relations with the U.S., Duterte’s Defense Secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said Duterte was “misinformed” about the U.S. alliance: “Maybe, the defense ministry and the armed forces were remiss in providing him the correct information.”

On October 6, Duterte’s then-Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. denounced the idea of the Philippines being regarded as a “little brown brother” by the U.S. Yasay said that the Philippines had been “failed” by the U.S.

On October 20, while on a trip to Beijing, Rodrigo Duterte declared a “separation” from the United States which he stated had lost militarily, socially, and economically, and emphasized a realignment of the Philippines to move closer to China. During a press conference after arriving from Beijing, Duterte clarified that what he meant by “separation” was a “separation of a foreign policy” and not a severance of diplomatic ties, saying that it would not be feasible to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. due to the large number of Filipino Americans. U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby responded by saying: “We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S.; it’s not clear what that means and all its ramifications.” On October 23, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel traveled to Manila to seek clarification and explanation for Duterte’s comments with Philippine officials, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

On November 7, Secretary Lorenzana clarified that the joint Balikatan exercises will continue along with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training amphibious landing exercises between the Philippine Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy would be discontinued. He specified that bilateral drills on counter-terrorism, humanitarian response, special operations, engineering projects, and civic action will remain, all of which have been approved by Duterte.

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar offered “warm congratulations” to Donald Trump on his election victory. He said that Duterte “look[ed] forward to working with the incoming administration for enhanced Philippines-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law.” While in Kuala Lumpur, Rodrigo Duterte personally congratulated Trump by greeting him “Mabuhay!” and expressed hope that the Trump administration would honor obligations and treaties signed between the Philippines and the U.S. On December 2, Duterte called then President-elect Trump to personally congratulate him once more and invited him to visit the Philippines for the Twelfth East Asia Summit in 2017, while Trump invited Duterte to visit him in New York City and Washington, D.C. after the former’s inauguration. On April 29, 2017, President Trump called Rodrigo Duterte to inform him of his planned visit to the Philippines in November for the East Asia Summit. Trump also extended an invitation to Duterte to visit him at the White House. During their call, Duterte urged Trump to show restraint in dealing with North Korea over their nuclear weapons program, warning him that the region could suffer “immensely”. Trump also praised Duterte’s drug war during the call, telling him “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem”.

Economic performance

Duterte speaking at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 11, 2017
Duterte speaking at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 11, 2017

 

While there were apprehensions early on in Rodrigo Duterte‘s term about his economic program, particularly in light of his controversial statements against the United States and the European Union, the Philippine economy has continued to expand. The World Bank has stated that “The Philippine economy remained resilient to global headwinds in 2016” and that “the rapidly growing domestic economy has yielded substantial gains in employment and poverty reduction”. At 6.5 percent, the Asian Development Bank’s updated 2017 growth projection for the Philippines was higher than Indonesia (5.1%), Malaysia (4.7%), Thailand (3.5%), and Singapore (2.4%). Fitch Research has also stated that they “hold an optimistic view on the Philippine economy over the medium term, and we have upgraded our 2018 growth forecast to 6.3 percent, from 6.1 percent previously.” They expect this growth to continue in the short term. The Philippine stock market nearly broke the all-time high of 8,100 in early August 2017. Government spending on infrastructure, otherwise known as it’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program is helping to spur economic growth which is projected reach 7.5 percent topping the government’s initial target of 6.5 percent by 2019. 

Early in his term, Rodrigo Duterte‘s expletive-laden outbursts triggered the biggest exodus from stocks in a year and made the peso Asia’s worst performer in September 2016. The Philippine currency is at a seven-year low and rounding out its worst month since May 2010. In the same month, the Philippine peso completed its biggest monthly decline since October 2000 amid the biggest outflow from the nation’s stocks in a year. According to the Philippines’ Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the peso’s slump this year is “mainly due to a deteriorating trade outlook because of rising imports of capital goods, which is normal for a country that is growing very fast.” Currency strategists have however, “predicted a rebound once investors see beyond Duterte’s words.”

After 100 days in office, former president Ramos, a political ally-mentor of Duterte said that “Duterte has been a huge disappointment and letdown” and “the government was losing badly by prioritizing a war on drugs at the expense of issues like poverty, living costs, foreign investment and jobs”. Based on subsequent surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations, optimism in the economic prospects under the Duterte administration remains “excellent” with more Filipinos believing that the quality of their lives will improve in the next 12 months. This is supported by polls conducted by Pulse Asia one year after taking office, wherein approval (82%) and trust (81%) ratings for Duterte still remain very high.

Duterte’s verbal attacks especially to the US and EU is viewed by many Filipinos as a threat to their jobs especially those working for foreign companies. Mark Williams, chief of Asia economist at Capital Economics said that “Certainly, investors are worried by some of the things he’s saying, he’s really unnerved people”. The Philippine government, however, expects that employment, especially in BPO industries, will continue to keep on rising.. Despite Duterte’s bluster and the messy local politics however, the long-term view for the Philippine economy looks good and has even pessimists conceding that gross domestic product should grow close to 7% over the next three to five years. “Twin catalysts of infrastructure spending and tax reform will drive the market over the next two years,” Dante Tinga, head of research at BDO Nomura in Manila, tells Barron’s. “There’s an investment boom under way, which I believe will help in rerating the market over the next 12 months.”

In December, government data revealed that The Philippines’ output of nickel ore fell 16 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, after the country, which is the world’s top supplier of the metal, suspended some mines in a clampdown on environmental violations. Production dropped to 19.8 million tonnes in the nine months to September from 25.97 million tonnes a year ago, according to the data.

Presidential immunity

On November 7, 2016, Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s chief government critic, filed a Supreme Court writ of habeas data against Duterte, testing the doctrine of presidential immunity, claiming “The verbal attacks on petitioner’s womanhood and threats on her person are not covered by presidential immunity from suit because they are not the official act of a President”. The 20-page writ asked, “Can a sitting President wage a personal vendetta against petitioner and use the resources of his powerful office to crucify her as a woman, a human being, and a duly elected senator in violation of her right to privacy in life, liberty and security?” De Lima’s counsel, De La Salle University College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno, said “Immunity cannot be used to block this case. There is a blatant violation of the magna carta for women, code of conduct for public officials. We hope the Supreme Court will listen to the plea of Senator de Lima and give consideration to this petition because we believe it is of groundbreaking importance”.

Duterte had repeatedly criticized De Lima for an alleged adulterous affair with her driver, and her alleged “propensity for sex”. He said in August 2016 that she was an “immoral woman” who had no right to criticize the extrajudicial killings because she had “a very sordid personal and official life”. She was subsequently removed from her position chairing a Senate committee investigating the killings, and was then forced to leave her home out of fears for her safety. The writ cited several cases of Rodrigo Duterte admitting that he wanted to drive her to suicide. De Lima demanded to know which foreign country had assisted Duterte in his surveillance of her private conversations, as he had claimed, and how it was carried out.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that “Senator Leila de Lima is apparently playing the gender card as a shield against mounting evidence of her ties with high-profile drug lords and the proliferation of drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison”. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that “the president is immune from suit but even if he is not, the petition has no basis in fact nor in law”.

“Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte”

— Rodrigo Duterte to businessmen, 2016 Presidential Campaign

Duterte had already made light of the fact of his capacity to give presidential pardons, even with presidential immunity, when he vowed to pardon himself the moment he became president during the 2016 campaign.

 

 

International stage

In 1995, after Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino, was executed in Singapore after confessing to a double murder, Rodrigo Duterte, as Davao City mayor, allegedly burned a flag of Singapore (though this claim was later denied) and joined 1,000 employees of Davao City in protest.

Duterte has been accused by his critics in the media of having a “dirty mouth”. He had, however, promised to behave in a “prim and proper” manner on the national and international stage once he was to be inaugurated as President, to the point that, “almost, I would become holy.”

In July 2016, Rodrigo Duterte accused the United Kingdom and the United States of importing terrorism to the Middle East through its interventions, saying: “The U.S. destroyed the Middle East. … Great Britain and the U.S. will not admit that they forced their way to Iraq and killed Saddam. Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria.”

In August 2016, Duterte was criticized after he made a homophobic comment (using a Tagalog language slur) about the US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, stating “As you know, I’m fighting with (US Secretary of State John Kerry’s) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off.” Rodrigo Duterte added: “He [Goldberg] meddled during the elections, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that.” The U.S. State Department summoned the Filipino chargé d’affaires Patrick Chuasoto to discuss Duterte’s comments. Duterte refused to apologize.

In the same month, United Nations human rights experts called for an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers, about 900 of whom had been executed since the May election, accusing Duterte of “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”. In response, Duterte threatened to leave the UN and form a separate organization with China and African nations. He announced in a news conference on August 19: “You now, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give you 10 [about you]. I tell you, you are an inutil (“useless” in Filipino street language.). Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killing [in Syria and Iraq].” Asked about possible repercussions, he stated: “What is … repercussions? I don’t give a shit to them.” Rodrigo Duterte said that the UN had acted against protocol: “You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country.”

In his speech at the Davao Airport, Duterte criticizes U.S. President Barack Obama for planning to discuss the Philippine Drug War.
In his speech at the Davao Airport, Duterte criticizes U.S. President Barack Obama for planning to discuss the Philippine Drug War.
 

At the 2016 ASEAN Summit, Duterte and U.S. President Barack Obama planned to meet with each other. The United States said that President Obama planned to discuss the 2,400 Filipinos who died during Duterte’s war on drugs. Rodrigo Duterte criticized the planned topic of the meeting, saying, “I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people. You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum.” The vulgar insult prompted the White House to cancel the meeting instead. During a press conference at the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit in China, President Obama discussed the cancellation of the meeting, saying: “I always want to make sure that if I’m having a meeting, that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done.” Obama and Duterte later met informally.

On September 30, 2016, Duterte appeared to compare the killings of suspected drug addicts to the Holocaust saying: “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. … I’d be happy to slaughter them.” His remarks drew international outrage particularly from the Jewish Communities. World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder condemned the statement, as did the Anti-Defamation League. Israeli Foreign Ministry also condemned his remarks while the German government slammed Rodrigo Duterte‘s comments as unacceptable, and called in the Philippine ambassador to the Foreign Ministry over the matter.

On October 2 he apologized to the Jewish community. When listening to the full conference, he was in fact referring to the accusation of genocide by lawyers of the European Union who wanted him to face the International Court of Justice and, as Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella explained, that it “was an oblique reflection of the way he has been pictured as a mass murderer, a Hitler, a label he rejects”.

In September 2016, Rodrigo Duterte said that the United States has not even apologized to the Philippines for its atrocities during the Philippine–American War. In October 2016, Duterte continued his tirade against the US and the European Union saying in Tagalog that “Mr. Obama, you can go to hell. EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is already full. Why should I be afraid of you?”

Duterte’s constant cursing had local officials worried that the Philippines would lose foreign aid from the United States and European Union. He responded that “If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it. We have a problem here trying to preserve our society” he said. The President continued that he would “be the first to go hungry. I will be the first one to die of hunger”. Local actress Agot Isidro responded in Tagalog “First of all, no one’s trying to fight you. As a matter of fact, you’re the one who’s picking a fight. Secondly, the country where you are elected as President by 16 million out of 100+ million is Third World. You talk as if the Philippines is a superpower. Excuse me, we don’t want to go hungry. If you want, you do it yourself. Leave us out of it. So many people have nothing to eat, and yet you’ll starve us even further”. Her sentiments were echoed by Senator Panfilo Lacson adding that “if the economy worsen, the entire Filipino people will be affected, they will go hungry as well”.

Former president Fidel Ramos on his resignation as special envoy to China stated that he did not like Duterte’s treatment of US president Barack Obama and lambasted the administration on its refusal to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was later agreed by Duterte.

During the 2016 APEC Summit in Peru, President Duterte skipped two major events due to jet lag. In a press conference at his office in Makati, Former president Ramos hit the absence of Rodrigo Duterte at the APEC gala dinner and the shoot for the leaders’ traditional family photo. Ramos said that while Duterte and his Cabinet may have thought that the two events are negligible, it could have disappointed the host country. “Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski must be very disappointed,” Ramos said. He said the gala night could have been an opportunity for Rodrigo Duterte to exchange ideas with world leaders and sickness is an unacceptable alibi to skip such an important gathering.

Catholic Church

President Duterte talks with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace, July 19, 2016
President Duterte talks with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace, July 19, 2016
 

Duterte has referred to the Catholic Church as “the most hypocritical institution”, after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas released a pastoral letter indirectly referring to Duterte as a “morally reprehensible” candidate who has shown “scant regard” for the rights of others and the teachings of the Church, urging Filipino Catholics to not vote for him. Unlike many prominent conservative politicians,  Rodrigo Duterte has spoken in favor of birth control, LGBT rights, and reimposition of the death penalty which was abolished by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a devout Catholic, during her second term in 2006. Upon being elected, Duterte called local bishops “sons of whores”, and said he would expand family planning, which the Church had been opposed to. The Catholic Church in the Philippines had lost much of its popularity and political power since being active in overthrowing the Marcos regime in 1986. Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Duterte’s attacks on the Church were likely to prove popular.

Duterte was accused of having referred to Pope Francis as a “son of a whore” during the pontiff’s visit to the Philippines in January 2015 because it caused traffic congestion, though he immediately apologized publicly, explaining he wasn’t using these words in regards to the Pope but rather a rant to the government’s way of preparing the Pope’s visit. On December 4, 2015, Rodrigo Duterte, along with his executive assistant Bong Go, visited and talked with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles and Bishop George Rimando, together with Monsignor Paul Cuison to get lectured on Christian Values. Duterte committed to lessen his profanity in public gatherings and even assured that he would donate ₱1,000 to Caritas Davao every time he swears in public. He also stated that he will be planning to visit the Vatican at a later time. Duterte however canceled his planned trip and instead wrote a letter to Pope Francis dated January 21, 2016. During a campaign rally in Ubay, Bohol, Duterte’s camp showed the letter coming from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, signed by Giovanni Angelo Becciu dated February 24, stating that Pope Francis had received his letter and that the Vatican appreciated Duterte’s apology after allegedly cursing Pope Francis in public. In January 2017, Rodrigo Duterte wrote a personal letter to Pope Francis, expressing his gratitude during his papal visit in the Philippines and his “highest esteem and respect” for the pontiff.

On August 28, 2016, Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, acknowledged that people were right to be “worried about extrajudicial killing”. Rodrigo Duterte said that it was equivalent to abortion, “unfair labor practices”, “wasting food” and selling illegal drugs, explaining that these are all “form[s] of murder”. On August 31, in a speech before a gathering of a religious group in Davao City, Duterte said that he once considered being a priest: “It’s good I didn’t join the priesthood,” said Duterte, “or else now I would be a homosexual.”

Views on media killings

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 174 assassinations recorded since the Marcos dictatorship. In a press conference on 31 May 2016, Rodrigo Duterte said that “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.” He appeared to announce his support for killing “corrupt” journalists: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch”.

At the press conference where Duterte announced this, he wolf-whistled at a female journalist (Mariz Umali of GMA News) when she asked a question At a news conference on the following day he defended his comments and refused to apologise, telling reporters, “I cannot protect you”. He has been criticized by foreign and domestic media organizations regarding his comments. The Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists said: “What he has done with these irresponsible comments is give security officials the right to kill for acts that they consider defamation. This is one of the most outrageous statements we have ever heard from a president in the Philippines.”

Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom, stated in October 2016 that major newspapers and television stations have not critically analyzed Duterte’s policies, because “they fear him. They basically are afraid to be singled out.”

Despite his rocky relationship with the media, Duterte’s first Administrative Order was the creation of a Presidential Task Force on Media Security, whose main task is conduct an inventory of cases of media killings, including unsolved cases, cases under investigation, cases under preliminary investigation, cases under trial, and cases under appeal, and “to put an end to all forms of political violence and abuses of powers against members of the fourth estate.” Since Duterte took office there has been a significant drop in media killings with only one incident being recorded; as compared to nine during the first year of the previous administration.

Personal killings

Duterte has repeatedly admitted to killing three people while he was the Mayor of Davao. In December 2015, Rodrigo Duterte recounted shooting three gunmen dead only months into his first mayoral term in 1988 after they had kidnapped and raped a Chinese girl. He justified his actions, saying “they were committing a crime in my presence and I was the person in authority under the law”. In an interview with BBC on 16 December 2016, he said: “I killed about three of them, because there were three of them. I don’t know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies. It happened, and I said, I cannot lie about it”.

On 14 December 2016, Rodrigo Duterte gave a speech to business leaders in the presidential palace where he spoke of personally killing suspected criminals as Mayor of Davao to set an example for local police. He said, “In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys that if I can do it why can’t you. And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also.”

War on Drugs

Various international publications and media companies had claimed that Duterte’s “War on Drugs” was a war against the poor due to the abject poverty of those arrested or killed.

In August 18, 2017, Duterte admitted his mistake in trying to end drugs in 6 months, and it would take him his entire term to end it. Rodrigo Duterte stated that he had no idea when he took office that Philippines had become a failed state, having been degenerated into a narco-state. He blamed the Bureau of Customs whose people he thought was loyal to him. He also blamed the governors, mayors and policemen who were involved in drugs and threatened to have them killed. The Duterte admin had been using a “narco-list” which Duterte shares with the mass media to warn public officials allegedly involved in the drug trade to surrender. Duterte claims to have received several death threats because of his campaign against drugs. Unfazed by these, Rodrigo Duterte stated that he welcomes all attempts to kill him.

Several senators have implored the public to express more outrage at Duterte’s War on Drugs. 

Personal life

Duterte is known for being an avid fan of big bikes but detests luxury cars. He once owned a second-hand Harley Davidson and currently a Yamaha Virago. He was once a habitual smoker but he eventually quit after a doctor’s suggestion due to health concerns. Rodrigo Duterte is an avid reader of Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon novels. Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in using profanity profusely live on-screen on numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand to abstain.

Duterte has his own local show in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa (“From the Masses, For the Masses”) aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao. Rodrigo Duterte is also a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University.

Family

Rodrigo Duterte's children (from L-R): Sebastian, Veronica, Sara and Paolo escort their father (center) to his inauguration ceremony, June 30, 2016
Duterte’s children (from L-R): Sebastian, Veronica, Sara and Paolo escort their father (center) to his inauguration ceremony, June 30, 2016
 
Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica
Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica
 

Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight attendant who hails from Davao City and is of German American descent who also traces her roots in Tuburan, Cebu. They together have three children (from eldest to youngest): Paolo (“Pulong”), Sara (“Inday Sara”) and Sebastian (“Bastê”). Paolo and Sara ventured into politics while Baste, with no interest in politics, concentrated on business and surfing.Paolo married twice, first with Lovelie Sangkola whom he had separated with, and second with January Navares-Duterte, his current wife. Sara is currently married to a fellow lawyer while Baste has two kids: a daughter with a former girlfriend and a son with current girlfriend Kate Necesario. In 2012, Rodrigo Duterte made a notorious remark in a media interview regarding an incident where Paolo’s name was allegedly linked to a carnapping (portmanteau of car and kidnapping) syndicate led by Ryan Yu. Duterte is infamously quoted as having said: “Kill my son Paolo if he is involved in crime.” Paolo was never charged for lack of evidence and eventually won the Davao City vice mayoralty in 2013. Duterte’s father Vicente died in 1968 while his mother Soledad died on February 4, 2012, at the age of 95. Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015.

Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering while married to Zimmerman and cited it as the reason for his failed first marriage when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never appeared in court and did not contest Zimmerman’s petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Rodrigo Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, “Yes, [Rodrigo] is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it.” In 2001, Zimmerman eventually ran for a seat on the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage was declared null and void. Zimmerman eventually joined the campaign trail for Duterte’s presidential candidacy in early 2016 called Byaheng Du30 in which she would travel by bus to major cities together with her daughter Sara and a number of delegates.

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica (“Kitty”). Rodrigo Duterte has eight grandchildren, half of whom are Muslims and the other half Christian.

Ancestry

On his paternal side, he shares familial ties with some of the prominent families of the Visayas, particularly the Almendrases & Duranos of Danao, Cebu.

Religion

Despite being raised as a communicant of the Catholic Church, on January 19, 2016, while meeting with businessmen in Binondo, Manila, Duterte clarified that he has not attended Mass for quite some time already since he deemed it incompatible with his mayoral responsibilities: “If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests” said Duterte, “I would not be able to do anything as a mayor”. Rodrigo Duterte then clarified that he still believes in God, but not in religion. On June 26, 2016, Duterte said he’s Christian, but also said that he believes “in one god Allah”.

Health

Duterte has Buerger’s disease, an inflammation of blood vessels, mostly in the limbs, and Barrett’s esophagus, wherein esophageal cells are gradually replaced by gastrointestinal cells. He has denied rumors of throat cancer.

Honors and awards

These are the list of honours and awards conferred to President Rodrigo Duterte.

  • Knight Grand Cross of Rizal

From Wikipedia

 

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