Why is Duterte considered a strongman?
President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in July 2016, is in the May 2018 cover of Time magazine for allegedly being a 'strongman', along with the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A strongman is usually a political or military leader who rules by force and leads an authoritarian or totalitarian regime. The late president Ferdinance Marcos was also called a strongman for declaring Martial law in 1972.
Duterte, 72, denied being a strongman, saying he had not sent anyone to jail.
The Time magazine noted the rise of 'strongman' or tough-talking populists in many countries such as the Philippines. "In the Philippines, a rising tide of violent street crime helped elect Rodrigo Duterte, a former mayor who talked more like a Mob boss than a President, on his promises to wipe out the drug trade with his own brand of justice," the article reads.
In May 2016, Time magazine also featured Duterte in its cover as “The Punisher.”
While Duterte, a former Davao City mayor and congressman, denied being a strongman, there are top 20 reasons why others considered him to be one.
1. Duterte abrogated UN treaty. In March 2018, the president pulled out the Philippines from a United Nations (UN) treaty that created the International Criminal Court, after ICC probers criticized the government's bloody war against illegal drugs.
2. Duterte declared Martial law in Mindanao. The president declared the restive Mindanao island under Martial law in May 2017, after Islamic State supporters raided Marawi City. Even after the islamic city was freed from the terror group, the president prodded Congress to extend the declaration of Martial law until end-2018.
3. Duterte ordered bloody war against illegal drugs. The president ran and won on the platform of war against illegal drugs. Since he assumed the presidency in July 2016, more than 1.3 million drug users and pushers surrendered to the government and over 4,000 drug personalities were killed during police operations.
4. Duterte banned OFW deployment to Kuwait. The president banned the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait and asked remaining Filipinos in the Gulf country to return home following reports of numerous abuses suffered by OFWs there.
5. Duterte closed an island to tourists. Boracay, the country's top island resort, was shut down to tourists for six months, starting April 26, 2018, after the president described it as a "cesspool". This affected the livelihood of 30,000 workers and deprived Aklan province of $1 billion in potential tourism money.
6. Duterte closed an industry. The president, through former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez, ordered the closure of 21 mining companies and the suspension of seven other large-scale miners following a six-month industry-wide audit. The number represents half of the country’s 41 large-scale mining firms.
7. Duterte closed a company. The president, through Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, ordered the prosecution of local cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. for allegedly cheating the government of billions in taxes. Mighty Corp. eventually agreed to pay P30 billion to the government and sold its business to Japan Tobacco Inc. for US$1 billion.
8. Duterte closed an online publication. While Rappler.com, an online news site critical of the Duterte administration, remains operational today, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), apparently acting under pressure from the government, revoked the registration of Rappler for allegedly violating the Constitutional provision on foreign ownership and the Anti-Dummy Law.
9. Duterte sent his main critic to jail. While the president claimed that he did not send anybody to jail, Senator Leila de Lima, a former head of the Commission on Human Rights and the main critic of the president, has been in prison since February 2017 on illegal drug charges.
10. Duterte cursed the world's most powerful person. In September 2016, the president called then US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" for raising human rights concerns in the Philippines.
11. Duterte tagged the communists as a terror group. After claiming to be a leftist during the campaign period, electing several communist leaders in his Cabinet and failing to sign a peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), the president was annoyed and tagged the communists as a terror group in February 2018.
12. Duterte ignored international court ruling. In an attempt to please China, the president refused to implement the International Arbitration Court's ruling that invalidated Beijing's claims to nearly the whole of the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
13. Duterte reformed taxes. The president, through Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, endorsed a tax reform package that exempted millions of workers from personal income taxes and raised taxes on fuel, sweetened drinks and sin products.
14. Duterte ended endo policy. On May 1, 2018, the president issued an executive order (EO) that prohibits illegal labor contracting, to the dismay of some businessmen.
15. Duterte opened rice importation. The president lifted the quota system in rice importation, allowing everyone to import the staple in a bid to bring down prices.
16. Duterte vowed to spend P8 trillion. The president is rolling out P8 trillion worth of infrastructure projects under the 'Build, Build' Build' program which replaced the previous administrations ineffective PPP scheme. Among the new projects approved are a Metro Manila subway and a new airport in Bulacan.
17. Duterte berated tycoon. The president once berated billionaire Lucio Tan for allegedly refusing to pay a multibillion debt to the government. Tan then quickly paid P6 billion in navigational fees to the government and made substantial donation for different programs.
18. Duterte warned billionaires. After telling the country's richest businessmen to pay their taxes correctly, the president dined and wined with some of them. San Miguel President Ramon Ang, PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan and Chinese billionaire Huang Rulun committed billions for drug rehabilitation centers and rebuilding of Marawi City.
19. Duterte invited China to break telecom duopoly. In a bid to break the duopoly of PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom in the Philippine telecom market, the president invited a China-owned enterprise to come in and become a third player that would help speed up Internet services and bring down prices.
20. Duterte threatened to oust Supreme Court Chief Justice. The president declared Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as an enemy and vowed to remove her from office by impeachment through his allies in Congress.
06 May 2018