Philippines: 76 Percent Approval Rating for Rogue President Duterte

AFP/Noel Celis
AFP/Noel Celis

Three months into his presidency, more than three out of four Filipinos report being satisfied with Rodrigo Duterte’s time in office, an indication that the President’s profane tirades and austere war on drugs have not deterred supporters, and perhaps curried him favor with some who were skeptical of Duterte as a candidate.

According to an independent poll the Social Weather Stations group conducted at the end of September, 76 percent of respondents gave Duterte a “very good” rating in his presidency so far. “Based on the survey first published by BusinessWorld, Duterte gained a +64 net satisfaction or ‘very good’ rating in the first quarter,” the Philippine Star notes.

Duterte’s approval rating was significantly better among men (71 percent) than women (58 percent), and did best in the region of Mindanao (85 percent approval), where he served as the mayor of Davao City for 22 years before winning the presidency.

“The results of the latest [SWS] survey showing a ‘very good’ net satisfaction rating for President Rodrigo Duterte shows very clearly that the majority of the Filipino people approve of his performance in his first three months in office,” Duterte Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said of the poll. “This is not surprising at all as the President was overwhelmingly elected in the May polls on the strength of his platform of real change anchored on a strong anti-drugs, anti-crime and anti-corruption agenda.”

CBS News notes that he won the presidential election with 37.6 percent of the vote, “considered a landslide,” but the large number of people who support his tenure today indicates many who did not vote for Duterte are also content with his time in office.

Duterte entered the presidency with high public support on June 30, according to polls. A survey taken between June 24-27, shortly before his inauguration, found that 84 percent of respondents had “much trust” in Duterte; 5 percent said they had “little trust” in the political leader.

Many suspected Duterte would temper his infamous demeanor upon assuming the presidency. As mayor of Davao City, Duterte earned a reputation for freely using profanity in public and giving police extensive freedom to seek out suspects in drug crimes, including drug addicts. As a candidate, he continued to make inappropriate remarks in public, including jokingly lamenting that he was unable to have sex with a gang rape victim before the crime occurred, and that he should have been allowed to because, he said, “I am the mayor.”

Duterte threatened to cut diplomatic ties with the United States and Australia after diplomats from both countries condemned the joke. His diplomatic tenor as president has, if anything, become less subdued; he has referred to President Barack Obama as a “son of a whore” and said of the European Union’s opposition to his zero-tolerance approach to drug crime, “Fuck you.”

The SWS survey was conducted before Duterte’s most recent outburst, in which he favorably compared himself to Adolf Hitler and promised he would “happily slaughter” three million drug addicts. He has since apologized to the global Jewish community and visited a synagogue, where he told President Obama to “go to hell.”

The Chicago Tribune notes that Duterte has, nonetheless, completed several logistical accomplishments as president: 731,000 people have turned themselves into police, suspected of drug crimes, and most who are found to suffer addiction but not participate in the drug trade will be sent to government-sponsored rehabilitation programs. He has significantly simplified government bureaucracy, as well. “He’s asked local governments to cut the time for new business registrations to two days from several weeks and automate some transactions. As of late September, more than 70 percent of 1,389 local governments surveyed were in compliance, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.”


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