Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has done such things as encourage extrajudicial killings of drug dealers, sanction Philippine citizens to take up arms and kill radical Islamists wherever they may find them, and vowed to eat…literally…any jihadists who happen to be captured by his troops, is presently enjoying a significant level of support from his own people.
While it would be reasonable to think that such a dramatically outlandish national leader might have a dearth of backers among the electorate in his own country, such is not the case here. As reported by Reuters, polling group Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted its most recent poll on Duterte in the first quarter of this year, and found that a full 80 percent of the 1,200 Filipinos surveyed said they have “much trust” in their president, while a scant 10 percent declared they have “little trust” in him.
Although much of the rest of the world has taken issue with Duterte’s bold war on drugs inside his own country, it seems his constituency is largely on board with what he’s doing. Back in December, the SWS polling group found that 85 percent of Filipinos supported Duterte’s approach to addressing the drug problem in his country.
Revealingly, Filipino television network ABS-CBN suggests that a big part of the president’s appeal is his “everyman,” populist approach (sound familiar?). Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, told ABS-CBN that Duterte “comes across very strongly as ‘makamasa’ and it’s not only giving an impression, he packs that with good action.” Makamasa is a Tagalog (Philippine language) word that basically means “of the people.”
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large