The extent of the malevolence and downright viciousness in the liberal media is revealed by the fact that while stories about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s political demise continue to dominate headlines, the reality is complete different from the narratives which liberal outlets continue to purvey. A new opinion poll taken among Filipino voters has found that President Duterte enjoys an 88% approval rating while 87% of Filipinos continue to have personal trust in the President’s leadership.
In a previous poll from March of 2018, Duterte’s approval was at 80% while his trust rating was 79%. While Duterte’s overall ratings among Filipinos have rarely been low, last month has shown a upward trajectory in Duterte’s popularity in spite of the all-out campaign of hatred that his opponents in liberal mainstream media continue to wage.
Duterte’s popularity is symptomatic of the fact that his war on narco-terrorism has reduced crime, while his commitment to expand a growing economy now rife with infrastructural building projects continues to be respected by the public. Duterte’s tax reforms, his opposition to both financial and political oligarchs and his forward looking non-aligned foreign policy are also clear factors underscoring his popularity.
But beyond this, there are non-quantifiable reasons for Duterte’s consistent high approval and trust ratings. Few if any contemporary political leaders in The Philippines can be said to be inspirational and perhaps even fewer can be described as sincere beyond any doubt. Duterte embodies both of these qualities as a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and a man who speaks neither above nor below, but directly to the people.
This kind of leadership has instilled a sense of pride in the wider nation, even among those who might want Duterte to swear less, but who nevertheless appreciate the fact that Duterte says before the cameras what most people only say in private. This itself is a symptom of Duterte’s brutal honesty that people throughout the world tend to seek in a leader.
A further element which attests to Duterte’s strong popularity is the sheer incompetence of his most vocal opponents. When those against you are a former Supreme Court Chief justice who is ignorant of the law, a Vice President ignorant about foreign policy, history and diplomatic protocol and a deep church with more scandals that most corrupt governments – it is not difficult to see why President Duterte is a breath of fresh air hovering above a polluted political atmosphere.
While directly elected leaders of the wider ‘global east’ including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continue to win elections and maintain their popularity, Duterte’s recent approval rating is even higher than the perennially strong numbers associated with Putin and Erdogan. When it comes to major European and North American leaders there is simply no contest. Currently, Donald Trump’s approval rating in the US is at 47% while in Europe, Angela Merkel of Germany and Theresa May of Britain are facing open rebellions within their governments. May in particular might soon be out of office while in France President Macron has scored a recent approval rating of 40%.
Most elected leaders would crave numbers that are even close to those consistently achieved by President Duterte but many fall short because they prioritise the dishonest, duplicitous politics of the past over a direct future minded approach to popular engagement. President Duterte understands all that is wrong with the present state of politics and socio-economic affairs in his country and has described them all with both detailed and direct language. His proposals which are equally direct and reformist have shown that he has credibility when it comes to not only saying what he means but delivering on the solutions he has promised.
Duterte’s popularity is therefore not a symptom of vanity but symbolic of national revitalisation at all levels. Some leaders fail to transform the mentality of even their strongest supporters after many years in power. By contrast, Duterte has already transformed the mentality of his nation after just over two years in office while his constitutional reforms seek to indelibly change the political fabric of The Philippines for years to come.
While Duterte’s critics are small in numbers, their vocal belligerence is a discredit to reality and indeed this is the very point at the heart of his critics’ agenda. Duterte’s critics seek to hide the truth regarding the President’s popularity behind a rusty shield of dishonesty, disinformation and outright lies. A leader such as Duterte comes along once in a generation. His continued popularity is therefore a reflection of the history making leadership of Rodrigo Roa Duterte.