A Manila-based polling group, Social Weather Stations, had surveyed over 1000 adults across the country over a period from 24th to 27th September to gain an insight on what the population at large felt about Rodrigo Duterte’s performance as President of the Philippines without making specific reference to his infamous drug war. As a result, interestingly, 76% of Filipinos indicated that they were “satisfied” with his performance while just 11% indicating the contrary and 13% were undecided.
While this result may come as a surprise to many, including defence allies, the United States and the EU, it does appear that Duterte has been gaining popularity and approval of his methods amidst his local population. Despite international criticism over his drug and crime war which has left over 3000 dead, Duterte has promised results to “clean up” the country. The use and trafficking of drugs has been rocketing over the years in the Philippines and often acting as an Asian hub for drugs. The United States, United Nations and the EU do acknowledge Duterte’s interest to rid of drugs and crime in the country but are not as approving of his methods of doing so which include open-attacks by police or gunmen who are given the “license to kill”, all of which draw the concerns of Human Rights groups.
Nevertheless, this does show that the Filipinos are somewhat more inclined towards supporting Duterte’s measures albeit viewed internationally as extreme in the context of human-rights. Also, while the survey did not make any specific reference to the drug war waged by the country’s president, Duterte’s main stance ever since being officiated as president of the Philippines has been to wipe drugs and crime from the country and that he will not be lenient in doing so, having infamously likened himself to Hitler.
As such, it is perhaps indeed the case that Filipinos in the country do want change and want it by any means that is possible so long as the method can guarantee the desired outcome. This then also sheds some light on the intensity of the drug and crime situation in the country that is gradually becoming a cosmopolitan state. Not only does drug and crime affect the development of the country and the inflow of investments coming into the country, it also affects the common man. One of the largest reasons for this drug and crime war is the poverty in the country which makes the common man an easy victim to peddle drugs or eventually be an abuser himself.
In light of all these, it can then be understood the possible reasons behind this marked approval of Duterte by the people of the Philippines who believe in his approach and the success behind it. Hence, perhaps the image that best suits the man would be a hero to his home and an unruly man to the rest of the world. However so, it will indeed be interesting to view the transformation of the country over the years of Duterte’s presidency and the outcome of his drug and crime war.