Manila / AFP
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity has soared during his first three months in office, an independent survey showed on Thursday, in an apparent endorsement by Filipinos of his brutal war on crime.
Defence ally the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have led global condemnation of Duterte’s unprecedented crime crackdown, which has left more than 3,000 people dead and raised fears of mass extrajudicial killings.
However 76 percent of Filipinos polled by Social Weather Stations said they were “satisfied” with Duterte’s performance, with just 11 percent reporting being “dissatisfied” and the rest undecided.
The Manila-based polling group surveyed 1,200 adults nationwide from September 24-27, asking them simply about Duterte’s performance as president without reference to the drug war.
Duterte won the May elections in what was considered a landslide, but still with just 37.6 percent of the votes. In the Philippines, the presidential election is decided simply by whoever gets the most votes, and his nearest rival secured 22.6 percent. Duterte, a provincial politician, stormed to victory largely on his pledge to eradicate crime in six months.
He promised that tens of thousands of people would be killed in his crime crackdown, and that he would pardon himself and police if they were charged with mass murder. Since taking office on June 30, Duterte has continued his threats and incitements to kill, while unleashing abusive tirades at his critics. Last week he said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts, as he likened his crime war to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s efforts to exterminate Jews.
Following an international outcry, Duterte apologised to Jewish people for his Hitler reference but insisted he was “emphatic” in his desire to kill all drug addicts. But Duterte has also said he is not breaking any laws, insisting that police are killing only in self-defence and many of the other deaths are a result of gang wars.
He has rejected the international criticism by calling US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and telling him to “go to hell”, sticking his finger up while saying “fuck you” to the European Union and branding UN chief Ban Ki-moon a “fool”.
According to BusinessWorld, which published the Social Weather Stations survey, only one other president has enjoyed higher popularity ratings three months into their presidency since democracy was restored in 1986 following the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
That president was Fidel Ramos, who ruled from 1992-1998, who is one of Duterte’s chief allies.
Under the constitution that was re-written post-Marcos, presidents are only allowed to serve a single term of six years.