HOW’S HE DOING? EXPATS GIVE THEIR VERDICT ON DUTERTE
Philippines President Duterte divides opinion but fans remain steadfast
In the three months since Rodrigo Duterte took office as President of the Philippines he has divided opinion after spearheading a controversial crackdown on drug dealers that has led to the extra-judicial killing of hundreds.
And last week he made headlines across the globe for insulting US President Barack Obama, which led to the cancellation of a key meeting between them in Laos.
But there remains fierce support for the ex-prosecutor – dubbed ‘Dirty Harry’ for his tough stance on crime, including among expats in the UAE.
7DAYS spoke to voters who gave their verdict on his time in office so far, with almost all saying their support remains unchanged.
Tackling the country’s crime epidemic is more important than diplomacy, many said.
‘ONLY RESULTS MATTER’
Japs Herndandez, 35, who works in health insurance in Dubai, said supporters are not fazed by diplomatic gaffes.
He said: “He is a working president and he is unorthodox. He comes across as very abrasive and undiplomatic but at the end of the day, results matter. Despite the noise, he has accomplished a lot in less than three months. And, like he has said, Filipinos are his only master.”
He added: “As far as the US and Obama goes, despite all the negative press painting Duterte as Trump-esque, I took it as positive.
“It made world headlines and sent a message that we have a strong leader who will not back down to anyone, even to the most powerful man in the world.
“I do not agree with everything he says and does. But I can see genuine love for the country and political will. Those two traits are why he is so popular I think.”
Lowell Ian Anquino, 33, a dental assistant, said: “I voted for him and so far I am happy with how fast he has brought about changes on the right track, which the previous administrations took too long to take action against.
“He is humble, pro-poor, anti-oligarch and a people’s person, a true public servant, a far cry from what he is known for – cursing Obama.”
Dell Adriano Celeridad, 46, a writer working in Dubai, was among those to suggest that Duterte’s curses about Obama can be “lost in translation”.
She said: “He may say stuff which when translated could mean something else awful, but those are his expressions. “He is definitely a no-nonsense tough man.” Among the strongest supporters of Duterte are from Davao, whose low crime rate he takes credit for, in a country beset by violence.
Helen Andrade, 36, an account manager for a company in Dubai, said: “As someone who was born and grew up in Davao, I still believe in the sincerity of President Duterte and his intentions to do good for the country. Call him whatever you want but it won’t change the fact that in just 60 days in office, he was able to do things past presidents were not able to in six years.”
‘A BIG DISASTER’
But support for Duterte is not universal and some expats said Duterte has brought embarrassment with his diplomatic rows.
On the 7DAYS Facebook page, Rebellos Pacifico wrote: “Duterte so far is a big disaster, he has no clue about diplomacy and how to act like a diplomat. His war on drugs in the Philippines already killed 3,000… without due process.”
Duterte – who will serve a six-year term – has shrugged off recent criticism and vowed to continue his war on crime.
SUPPORT: Voters flocked to Duterte in the May elections. The populist candidate secured almost twice the number of votes as his nearest rival.
SUPPORT: Davao-born Helen said Duterte virtually wiped out crime in her city