Trump, brash Duterte have a lot in common
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