Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has a flair for vulgarity. His ruthless nature earned him the nickname “The Punisher” and his profanity has appeared in headlines across the world.
Duterte’s domestic popularity has increased following his violent crackdown on drugs.
As reported by TIME Magazine, Duterte just reached the top of the online poll for the publication’s annual “100 most influential people” list. The readers’ choice poll ends on April 16th.
“President Duterte is grateful to the Filipino people all over the world for their support for him and his agenda of real change in Philippine society,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.
As a presidential candidate, Duterte pushed for an “independent” foreign policy, promising to stand up to the US and get money from everyone else. Since his election in May 2016, he has made friends with Moscow and signed $24 billion in deals with China.
Duterte seems to be getting along with China far better than his predecessors, and Beijing has already promised to build two bridges across the Pasig River – a waterway that bisects the Philippine capital of Manila.
He met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang earlier this month, and the two leaders signed a 6-year development program that focuses on trade and investment.
“The president said bilateral ties are found stronger, particularly in trade and commerce, and reaffirmed the importance of peaceful settlements of disputes,” said Abella.
Duterte also has a positive relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited the Philippines in January. Abe promised $8.7 billion in foreign aid.
This is the same man who called former President Barack Obama a “son of a whore.”
“Despite all his shenanigans, he hit a strategic sweet spot,” says Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science teacher in Manila.
Author’s Note: Sometimes it pays to be bold (as we’ve seen in the US with Trump), and Duterte’s behavior has actually helped bring attention to his nation’s problems. We predict his presidency will actually lead to a higher standard of living in the Philippines.