Trump, brash Duterte have a lot in com­mon

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Thomas Maresca

MANILA – They both shocked ob­servers by win­ning the pres­i­dency with cam­paigns filled with pop­ulist fury against po­lit­i­cal elites, a tough-on­crime mes­sage and a stream of con­tro­ver­sial re­marks and in­sults that would sink most politi­cians.

Per­haps that’s why Pres­i­dent Trump and Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte seemed to hit it off when they met dur­ing Trump’s trip to Asia.

Trump boasted dur­ing his 2016 cam­paign that his sup­port­ers are so loyal that he could shoot some­one in the mid­dle of Fifth Av­enue and wouldn’t lose vot­ers. In a speech Fri­day at the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit in Da Nang, Viet­nam, Duterte said he killed some­one as a teenager.

Both are pop­u­lar in the Philip­pines. Trump en­joys his high­est pop­u­lar­ity rat­ing in the world here, with 69% of Filipinos telling Pew Re­search Cen­ter they “have con­fi­dence in Trump to do the right thing re­gard­ing world af­fairs.”

Duterte en­joys an 80% ap­proval rat­ing at home de­spite global con­dem­na­tion over his crack­down on drug deal­ers that have in­cluded thou­sands killed by po­lice ex­e­cu­tions and vig­i­lantes.

For many Filipinos, the tough-guy ap­proach is an ap­peal­ing trait of both pres­i­dents. “They are both strong,” said Ra­mal Ca­bili, 37, a se­cu­rity guard. “They are good lead­ers of their coun­tries.”

While both lead­ers ran as out­siders, Duterte had decades-long ex­pe­ri­ence in pol­i­tics as mayor of Davao, on the is­land of Min­danao, Philip­pine po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Richard Javad Hey­dar­ian said. Trump had never run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

Still, they share a com­mon mes­sage. “They may have dif­fer­ent back­grounds, but their style is ex­tremely sim­i­lar and both of them see the same en­e­mies,” said Hey­dar­ian, au­thor of The Rise of Duterte: A Pop­ulist Re­volt. “Who­ever crit­i­cizes them they por­tray as en­e­mies of the repub­lic,” he said.

In their first face-to-face meet­ing Mon­day, Trump praised his “great re­la­tion­ship” with Duterte. The is­sue of hu­man rights abuses didn’t come up, ac­cord­ing to Duterte spokesman Harry Roque — or came up only “briefly,” ac­cord­ing to White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders.

Pres­i­dent Trump and Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte seemed to hit it off when they met sev­eral times on Trump’s Asia trip. AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

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