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Rodrigo Duterte

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Rodrigo R. Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte 2019.jpg
Duterte in 2019
16th President of the Philippines
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
Vice PresidentLeni Robredo
Preceded byBenigno Aquino III
Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2016
Vice MayorPaolo Duterte
Preceded bySara Duterte
Succeeded bySara Duterte
In office
June 30, 2001 – June 30, 2010
Vice MayorLuis Bonguyan
Sara Duterte
Preceded byBenjamin de Guzman
Succeeded bySara Duterte
In office
February 2, 1988 – June 30, 1998
Vice MayorDominador Zuño (acting)
Luis Bonguyan
Benjamin de Guzman
Preceded byJacinto Rubillar
Succeeded byBenjamin de Guzman
Vice Mayor of Davao City
In office
June 30, 2010 – June 30, 2013
MayorSara Duterte
Preceded bySara Duterte
Succeeded byPaolo Duterte
In office
May 2, 1986 – November 27, 1987
Officer in charge
MayorZafiro Respicio
Preceded byCornelio Maskariño
Succeeded byGilbert Abellera
Member of the
Philippine House of Representatives
from Davao City's 1st district
In office
June 30, 1998 – June 30, 2001
Preceded byProspero Nograles
Succeeded byProspero Nograles
National Chairman of PDP–Laban
Assumed office
February 7, 2016
Party presidentKoko Pimentel (2016–2020)
Manny Pacquiao (2020–2021)
Alfonso Cusi (2021–)
Preceded byIsmael Sueno
Chairman of the Liberal Party in Davao City
In office
2009 – February 21, 2015
LeaderBenigno Aquino III
Preceded byPeter T. Laviña
Personal details
Rodrigo Roa Duterte

(1945-03-28) March 28, 1945 (age 76)
Maasin, Leyte, Philippine Commonwealth
Political partyPDP–Laban
(2001–2009, 2015–present)[a][1][2]
Other political
Kabataang Makabayan[3] (1970s)
Lakas ng Dabaw (1988)[4]
Nacionalista Party (1990–)[5]
Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (1998–2001)
Liberal Party (2009–2015)[1][2]
Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (local party; 2011–present)
Coalition for Change (2016–present)
(m. 1973; annulled 2000)
Domestic partnerHoneylet Avanceña
Parent(s)Vicente Duterte
Soledad Roa
ResidenceMalacañang Palace[6][7][8]
EducationLyceum of the Philippines University (B.A.)
San Beda College (LL.B.)

Rodrigo Roa Duterte (/dəˈtɜːrt/; Tagalog: [roˈdɾigo ɾowa dʊˈtɛɾtɛ] (About this soundlisten); born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong, Rody[9] and by the initials PRRD,[10][11] is a Filipino politician who is the 16th and incumbent president of the Philippines and the first from Mindanao to hold the office.[12][13][14][15]

He is the chairperson of PDP–Laban, the ruling political party in the Philippines. Duterte took office at age 71 on June 30, 2016, making him the oldest person to assume the Philippine presidency; the record was previously held by Sergio Osmeña at the age of 65.[16] Born in Maasin, Leyte (now in Southern Leyte), Duterte moved to Davao as a child where his father, Vicente Duterte, served as provincial governor. He studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, before becoming vice mayor and, subsequently, mayor of the city in the wake of the 1986 People Power Revolution. Duterte won seven terms and served as mayor of Davao for over 22 years.

Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign led to his election victory. During his presidency, his domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by initiating the controversial war on drugs, fighting crime, and corruption,[17][18][19] launching a massive infrastructure plan[20][21] and a proposed shift to a federal system of government. He also oversaw the controversial burial of Ferdinand Marcos, the 2017 Battle of Marawi and the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He declared the intention to pursue an "independent foreign policy", and strengthened relations with China and Russia.[22] He initially announced his candidacy for vice president in the 2022 election, but in October 2021, he announced that he was retiring from politics. On November 15, 2021, he filed his candidacy for Senator.

His political positions have been described as populist[23][24][25] and nationalist.[26][27][28] Duterte's political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals.[29] His career has sparked numerous protests and attracted controversy, particularly over human rights issues and his controversial comments. Duterte has repeatedly confirmed to have personally killed criminal suspects during his term as mayor of Davao.[30][31] Extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by the Davao Death Squad between 1998 and 2016 during Duterte's mayoralty have also been scrutinised by human rights groups and the Office of the Ombudsman;[32][33] the victims were mainly alleged drug users, alleged petty criminals, and street children.[34][35] The International Criminal Court also opened a preliminary investigation into Duterte's drug war in 2018,[36] prompting Duterte to withdraw the Philippines from the body in response.[37] He is the only president in the Philippines not to declare his assets and liabilities.[38]

Early life

Duterte was born on March 28, 1945, in Maasin.[39] His father was Vicente G. Duterte (1911–1968), a Cebuano lawyer, and his mother, Soledad Duterte (née Roa; 1916–2012), was a schoolteacher from Cabadbaran, Agusan and a civic leader of Maranao descent. Duterte has said that his grandfather was Chinese who hailed from Xiamen in Fujian, China.[40] Duterte's father was mayor of Danao, Cebu, and subsequently the provincial governor of (the then-undivided) Davao province. Rodrigo's cousin Ronald was mayor of Cebu City from 1983 to 1986. Ronald's father, Ramon Duterte, also held that position from 1957 to 1959. The Dutertes consider the Cebu-based political families of the Durano and the Almendras clan as relatives.[41][42] Duterte also has relatives from the Roa clan in Leyte through his mother's side.[43] Duterte's family lived in Maasin, and in his father's hometown in Danao, until he was four years old.[44] The Dutertes initially moved to Mindanao in 1948 but still went back and forth to the Visayas until 1949.[45] They finally settled in the Davao Region in 1950. Vicente worked as a lawyer engaged in private practice. Soledad worked as a teacher until 1952 when Vicente entered politics.[citation needed]

Education and early law career

Duterte went to Laboon Elementary School in Maasin, for a year.[43] He spent his remaining elementary days at Santa Ana Elementary School in Davao City, where he graduated in 1956. He finished his secondary education in the High School Department of the then-Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College) in today's city of Digos in the now-defunct Davao province, after being expelled twice from previous schools, including one in the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) High School due to misconduct.[46] He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines in Manila. He obtained a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. In the same year, he passed the bar exam. Duterte eventually became a Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977 to 1979, Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor from 1979 to 1981, Third Assistant City Prosecutor from 1981 to 1983, and Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983 to 1986.[citation needed]

Sexual abuse

Duterte has said that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a minor.[47] After he was challenged by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and AdDU officials to name the priest and file a case against him, Duterte then revealed the priest's name as Fr. Mark Falvey, SJ (d. 1975).[47] The Jesuits of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines confirmed that according to press reports in the United States, in May 2007, the Society of Jesus agreed to a tentative payout of US$16 million to settle claims that Falvey sexually abused at least nine children in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1975. Accusations against Falvey began in 2002, and he was never charged with a crime. Additionally in May 2008, the Diocese of Sacramento paid a $100,000-settlement to a person allegedly raped and molested by Mark's brother, Fr. Arthur Falvey. However, it was not clearly indicated in the report if Mark Falvey was assigned at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao.[48] When asked why he did not complain when the abuse supposedly happened, Duterte claimed that he was too young to complain about the priest's abuse and was intimidated by authorities at that time. He also stated that he never disclosed that information after he was expelled and moved to a different high school and especially not to his family.[49]

Shooting of student at law school

Duterte stated at a rally in April 2016 that he shot a fellow student who had bullied him about his Visayan origin as well as other students of the same ethnicity, while at San Beda law college. He said "But the truth is, I'm used to shooting people. When we were about to graduate from San Beda, I shot a person." Duterte said that he shot the student in a corridor at the college when the said student called him names again. He later told a reporter that the student survived, but refused to answer any further questions about the incident.[50]

However, in an interview aired at 24 Oras and published on the official GMA News Online website on April 22, 2016, retired labor arbiter Arthur Amansec said Duterte and Octavio Goco at that time were both playing with a gun as it was normal for students to bring guns to school in the seventies. Amansec is Duterte's former classmate in San Beda College who witnessed the incident. He added that "the bullet hit the school's wooden floor and was embedded there." Amansec emphasized that Duterte and Goco remained friends until Goco died in the United States years later.[51]

Mayor of Davao City

Then-Mayor Duterte (left) with then-President Benigno Aquino III during a meeting with local government unit leaders in Davao City in 2013

After the 1986 People Power Revolution, Duterte was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor by President Corazon Aquino.[52] In 1988, he ran for mayor as an independent and won,[5] serving until 1998. He set a precedent by designating deputy mayors that represented the Lumad and Moro peoples in the city government, which was later copied in other parts of the Philippines.

In December 1990, Duterte joined the Nacionalista Party upon the persuasion of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.[5][53] In 1998, because he was term-limited to run again for mayor, he ran for the House of Representatives and won as Congressman of the 1st district of Davao City (under the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino coalition). In 2001, he ran again for mayor of Davao and was elected for a fourth term. He was re-elected in 2004 and in 2007.[54][unreliable source]

In 1995, after Flor Contemplacion, a Filipina, was executed in Singapore after confessing to a double murder, Duterte allegedly burned a flag of Singapore (though this claim was later denied) and joined 1,000 employees of Davao City in protest.[55][56]

Then-newly elected Davao City Vice Mayor Duterte reading his inaugural speech in June 2010

In 2010, he was elected vice mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as mayor.[57]

In 2013, Davao City sent rescue and medical teams to Tacloban to give aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known in the country as Typhoon Yolanda. Financial assistance was also given to Bohol and Cebu for the earthquake victims.[58]

Duterte also passed the city's Women Development Code, which aims "to uphold the rights of women and the belief in their worth and dignity as human beings".[59][60] Duterte banned swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants in Davao City.[61] Duterte also gained prominence for supporting the first-ever Gawad Kalinga Village inside a jail facility which is only located in Davao City. It is a home-type jail with ten cottages built inside the compound, which now serve as homes for female inmates.[62]

Law and order

Davao had the highest murder rate, the second-highest rape rate, and the fourth-highest number of index crimes in the Philippines, according to official police raw data for the years 2010 to 2015. Nevertheless, Duterte claimed that the city was one of the world's safest, a narrative that gained currency in the national media, creating a widespread public perception that has been a significant factor in establishing support for his nationwide drug policy.[63][64][65]

As of April 2015, Davao City improved to 5th in the ranking of the world's safest cities, with a crime index of 18.18 and a safety index of 81.82. Osaka, Japan tops the list with a safety index of 84.47, followed by Seoul, South Korea (83.42), and Singapore (83.36).[66]

Based on the Crime Index 2019 Mid-Year of Numbeo, Davao City has a Safety Index rate of 72.50. Davao's rank rose from last year's number four with 71.21.[67]

Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal. In Davao, by city ordinance, police ensure that prostitutes have a valid health card, but do not arrest them.[68] In 2010, the Philippine Child Protection Unit stated that Davao was one of the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines.[69] Jeanette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, a Davao-based NGO that helps prostitutes, said in October 2016 that child prostitution had sharply increased over the past two years. She said that children were cheaper and more marketable.[70] Nevertheless, the city was awarded "Most Child-Friendly City for Highly-Urbanized Category" in 1998, 1999, 2013 and 2014.[71][72]

The Davao City Council amended ordinance No. 1627, Series of 1994, to impose a prohibition on selling, serving, drinking, and consuming alcoholic beverages from 01:00 until 08:00 each morning. Executive Order No. 39 was signed by Duterte, reducing the speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City in the interest of public safety and order.[73] Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 to impose an order creating the implementing of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367–12, Series of 2012.[74] Davao City's Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002 by the City Council through the support of Duterte.[75]

Davao acquired 10 ambulances for central 911 intended for medical emergencies and 42 mobile patrol vehicles and motorcycles for the Davao City Police Office (the first and only 9-1-1 emergency telephone number in Asia which is also free of charge).[76] Duterte, through Executive Order No. 24, ordered all shopping malls and commercial centers to install, operate and maintain high end and high definition closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all entrance and exit points of their premises.[77]

In 2015, Davao City was among the local government units awarded with a "Seal of Good Local Governance" by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.[78]

In response to Duterte's comments in 2014 relating to killing a person suspected of smuggling rice in Davao City, the Office of the President of the Philippines issued a statement saying, "Killing a person is against the law. The President has been firm in the belief that no one is above the law. We must not resort to extralegal methods," while the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has condemned killing as a sin and insists on the protection of rights of the accused. Human rights activists then said that Duterte built a culture of impunity in the city.[79]

In early September 2015, an incident was reported of a tourist being forced to swallow his own cigarette butt in a local bar in Davao City after the tourist refused to comply with the public anti-smoking ordinance of the city. Duterte was contacted by the bar owner and the then-mayor personally went into the bar and forced the tourist to swallow his cigarette butt. Duterte was then met with criticisms especially from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).[80]

Davao Death Squad

Duterte speaks with Davao City residents in 2009.

We're the ninth-safest city. How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world's safest cities? Kill them all [criminals].

— Duterte, May 15, 2015[81]

Duterte has been linked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to extrajudicial killings of over 1,400 alleged criminals and street children by vigilante death squads.[29][82] In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, "The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive."[83]

Duterte has denied responsibility for the extrajudicial killings. He has also frequently announced his support for them.[29][84][85][86] In 2015, Duterte confirmed his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao, and warned that, if elected president, he may kill up to 100,000 criminals. After the said confirmation, Duterte challenged human rights officials to file a case against him if they could provide evidence of his links with vigilante groups.[87]

Federalism advocacy

In September 2014, Duterte and former mayors and governors, calling themselves the Mindanao Council of Leaders, advocated for a federalist government.[88] A month later, Duterte attended an event sponsored by the Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City.[89] In December 2014, Duterte held a summit entitled "Mindanaons Forging Unity Toward a Federal System of Government".[90]

2016 presidential campaign

Duterte–Cayetano 2016 campaign logo
Duterte and allies campaigning in Pandacan, Manila

As early as the first quarter of 2015, Duterte made hints to the media of his intention to run for president in the 2016 elections. However, he denied these plans numerous times amidst clamor from his supporters for him to run.

In January, Duterte said he would abolish Congress if he chose to run for president and was elected.[91] On November 21, in a private gathering with fraternity brothers from San Beda College of Law, Duterte formally announced his presidential bid and also finally accepted Alan Peter Cayetano's offer to be his running mate, and named his daughter, Sara Duterte, as his substitute for Mayor.[92][93]

In his campaign, he said he would introduce a federal parliamentary form of government. He also promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and eradicate crime in six months.[94][95]

Constitutional reform

Rodrigo Duterte campaigned for decentralization and a shift to a federal government during the 2016 presidential election. In an October 2014 forum organized by Federal Movement for a Better Philippines in Cebu City prior to joining the presidential race, the then-mayor of Davao City called for the creation of two federal states for Moro people as a solution to the problems besetting Mindanao.[96] Mayor Duterte said that Nur Misuari and his Moro National Liberation Front do not see eye-to-eye with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which the administration of President Benigno Aquino III had inked a peace deal with. He also said that the "template of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is federal", but what is granted to the Bangsamoro should also be granted to other Moro groups and other regions in the country.[97] In a dialogue with the Makati Business Club prior to the elections, Duterte said he is open to "toning down the Constitution" to accommodate more foreign investors to the Philippines.[98] He also said he is open to up to 70 percent foreign ownership of businesses in the country and foreign lease of lands up to 60 years, but will "leave it to Congress to decide".[98]

Rape comments

At a campaign rally on April 12, 2016, Duterte told supporters that, as mayor, he thought he "should have been first" to rape Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary who was gang-raped and killed during the 1989 Davao hostage crisis. He recalled examining her corpse and saying that he "should have gone first".[99]

After being condemned for his comments, Duterte apologized for the incident and claimed the comment was a "bad remark" and that he regretted his "gutter language," but "would not apologize for being misinterpreted." He said that the comment was not a "joke," as was reported by some media outlets and that he made it out of "utter anger" when recalling the events.[100]After the United States' and Australia's ambassadors to the Philippines criticized him for the comments, Duterte threatened to sever diplomatic ties with the countries if elected.[95]

His daughter Sara Duterte subsequently announced on social media that she was a rape victim, but would still vote for her father. He said that he doubted her story, and called her a "drama queen".[101]

2016 Philippine electoral vote results

Human rights

In a campaign speech on April 27, 2016 where he spoke to business leaders, he said his presidency would be "a bloody one", but that he would issue "a thousand pardons a day" to police and soldiers accused of human rights abuses, and would also issue a presidential pardon to himself for mass murder at the end of his six-year term.[95]

Election to the presidency

On May 30, 2016, the 16th Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Duterte as the President-elect of the Philippines after he topped the official count by the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 presidential election with 16,601,997 votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, Mar Roxas.[102][103][104] Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo on the other hand, was proclaimed as the Vice President-elect of the Philippines with 14,418,817 votes, narrowly defeating Senator Bongbong Marcos by 263,473 votes.[105]


President-elect Duterte (left) and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace on inauguration day, June 30, 2016

The Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte began at noon on June 30, 2016, when he became the sixteenth president of the Philippines, succeeding Benigno Aquino III. At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Duterte is also the first local chief executive to get elected straight to the Office of the President, the second Cebuano to become president (after Sergio Osmeña), the third Cebuano-speaking president (after Osmeña and Carlos P. Garcia), the first Visayan from Mindanao and the fourth Visayan overall (after Osmeña, Manuel Roxas and Garcia).[106]

While adjusting to working and residing at the Malacañang Palace, Duterte divides his workweek between Manila and Davao City by spending three days in each city, utilizing the Malacañang of the South while in Davao.[107]

A Pulse Asia survey conducted from July 2–8 showed that Duterte had a trust rating of 91%, the highest of the six presidents since the Marcos dictatorship (the previous highest was Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III with 87%).[108] One year after taking office his trust rating was 81%.[109] Shortly after his inauguration on June 30, Duterte held his first Cabinet meeting to lay out their first agenda, which included the country's disaster risk reduction management, decongesting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the country's main gateway, and expressed his ideas and concerns regarding the territorial disputes in the South China Sea prior to the announcement of the verdict of the Philippines' arbitration case against China over the issue,[110] which the Philippines later won.[111] Four days later, on July 4, Duterte issued his first executive order entitled "Reengineering the Office of the President Towards Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals", allowing his Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr., to supervise over several agencies that focus on poverty reduction.[112] On July 23, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 2 also known as the Freedom of Information Order.[113]

On August 1, 2016, Duterte launched a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide complaint hotline, 8888, while also changing the country's emergency telephone number from 1-1-7 to 9-1-1, which was first instituted in Davao City.[114]

Duterte takes his oath of office as the 16th president of the Philippines on June 30, 2016.

Following the September 2 bombing in Davao City that killed 14 people in the city's central business district, on September 3 Duterte declared a "state of lawlessness", and on the following day issued Proclamation No. 55 to officially declare a "state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao".[115] The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered to "suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao" and to "prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere". Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that the declaration "[did] not specify the imposition of curfews" and would remain in force indefinitely. He explained: "The recent incidents, the escape of terrorists from prisons, the beheadings, then eventually what happened in Davao. That was the basis."[116]

In December 2016, Duterte was ranked 70th on Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People.[117][118] On December 7, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 10 creating a consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.[119] Duterte signed Executive Order 26 imposing a smoking ban in public places on May 16, 2017.[120] In the same month, the Duterte administration began to implement the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.[121] During his presidential campaign and transition, Duterte called for the reimposition of capital punishment in the country to execute criminals involved in "heinous" crimes, such as illegal drug trade, insisting on hanging.[122]

Domestic policy

Economic policy

Duterte's socioeconomic policies, referred to as DuterteNomics, include tax reform, infrastructure development, social protection programs, and other policies to promote economic growth and human development in the country.[123][124] Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said that the government required what he describes as an "audacious" economic strategy in order for the Philippines to "catch up with its more vibrant neighbors" by 2022 and help it achieve high-income economy status within a generation. The term DuterteNomics was coined to describe the economic policy of the Duterte administration.

Infrastructure development

Part of Duterte's socioeconomic policy is the Build! Build! Build! Infrastructure Plan which according to the administration will usher in the "Golden Age of Infrastructure". The goals of the program are to reduce poverty, encourage economic growth and reduce congestion in Metro Manila.[125]

In November 2019, the government revised its list of flagship infrastructure projects under Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" program, expanding it to 100.[126][127] It was revised again in August 2020, bringing the total number of projects to 104, expanding its scope included health, information and communications technology, as well as water infrastructure projects to support the country's economic growth and recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 11, 2020, 24 projects are still in the approval & planning stages, while 80 were under implementation.[128] Some major projects include[127] the Subic-Clark Railway,[129] the North–South Commuter Railway from New Clark City to Calamba, Laguna,[129] the Metro Manila Subway, the expansion of Clark International Airport[129] the Mindanao Railway (Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment),[130] and the Luzon Spine Expressway Network[131][132]

As of November 2019, since Duterte assumed position in June 2016, a total of 9,845 kilometres (6,117 mi) of roads, 2,709 bridges, 4,536 flood control projects, 82 evacuation centers, and 71,803 classrooms under the "Build, Build, Build" program were completed.[133] In the same month (November 2019), the government revised its list of flagship infrastructure projects under Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" program, expanding it to 100.[126][127]

Duterte welcomes Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad following his release from Abu Sayyaf captivity.

War on drugs

Following his inauguration, Duterte started a nationwide anti-drug campaign, urging the Filipinos, including the New People's Army to join the fight against illegal drugs.[134] According to former Philippine National Police Chief and future senator Ronald dela Rosa, the policy is aimed at "the neutralization of illegal drug personalities nationwide".[135] Estimates of the death toll vary. Officially, 5,100 drug personalities have been killed as of January 2019.[136] Some news organizations and human rights groups claim the death toll is over 12,000.[137][138] or over 20,000.[139]

Mindanao insurgency

Duterte has said that Moro dignity is what the MILF and MNLF are struggling for, and that they are not terrorists. He acknowledged that the Moros were subjected to wrongdoing, historical and in territory.[140]

Duterte was endorsed in the election by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari[141] due to his background in Mindanao.[142] Jesus Dureza was his second choice.[143] Other Muslims also supported Duterte and denounced Roxas, the Aquino-supported pick.[144]

On November 6, 2016, Duterte signed an executive order to expand the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to 21 members from 15, in which 11 will be decided by the MILF and 10 will be nominated by the government. The commission was formed in December 2013 and is tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.[145]

Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law on July 26, 2018,[146][147] which abolished the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and provided for the basic structure of government for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, following the agreements set forth in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.[148]

International trips made by Duterte during his presidency

Foreign policy

The Duterte administration has vowed to pursue what it describes as an "independent foreign policy" that would reject any meddling by foreign governments, reiterating Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution which states: "The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination." In September 2016, Duterte said: "We will observe and must insist on the time-honored principle of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and the commitment of peaceful settlements of dispute that will serve our people and protect the interests of our country."[149]

Duterte made his first international trips as president to Vientiane, Laos and Jakarta, Indonesia on September 5–9, 2016.[150]

On his first trip to China in October 2016, the Filipino press reported Duterte as saying: "I have separated from them (the Americans) so I will be dependent on you for a long time but don't worry we will also help."[151]


President Duterte and his administration have been criticized for numerous reasons. These include his anti-drug campaign, foreign policies, human rights record, and extrajudicial killings. Duterte has also been criticized for his political views, controversial comments, and others.[152][153]

Despite the criticisms on his administration, Duterte has relatively high trust and approval ratings. In the first half of his six-year term with a record net satisfaction rating of 68%.[154] Duterte's approval rating was at 79% in April 2019[155] and 87% on a December 2019 survey conducted by Pulse Asia.[156] Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Pulse Asia September 2020 "Ulat ng Bayan Survey" ("Report to the Nation Survey"), showed that 84% of Filipinos approve of the government's work to control the spread of the coronavirus disease and that 92% of survey respondents said that Duterte has "done well" in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.[157][158]

Anti-drug campaign

Duterte's anti-drug campaign has been criticized both locally and internationally. Senator Risa Hontiveros, an opponent of Duterte, said that the drug war was a political strategy intended to persuade people that "suddenly the historically most important issue of poverty was no longer the most important."[159]

Various international publications and media companies had claimed that Duterte's "War on Drugs" was a war against the poor due to the abject poverty of those arrested or killed.[160][161] On June 19, 2018, 38 United Nations member states released a collective statement through the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), calling on the Philippines and President Duterte to stop the killings in the country and probe abuses caused by the drug war.[162][163][164]

Duterte believes that the number of deaths are a measure of his success in his war against drugs,[165][166][167] and despite constant criticism of his war on drugs, Duterte had staunchly defended his administration's efforts at getting rid of "filth" from the streets.[168][169] A large number of Filipinos support Duterte's war on drugs, with a 2019 SWS survey showing 82% of 1,200 interviewed Filipinos were "overwhelmingly satisfied" due to "the perception of less drugs and crime in the country".[170][171] On August 18, 2017, Duterte admitted his mistake in trying to end drugs in six months, and it would take him his entire term to end it.

Human rights concerns

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the first year of Duterte in office a human rights calamity. HRW estimates that there has been 7,000 deaths from the day Duterte first took office to January 2017.[172] The Duterte administration suspended the drugs war in February 2017 in an effort to cleanse the police ranks of supposed corruption, also halting the disclosure of figures on deaths related to drug arrests and raids.[173] In March 2017, HRW released a special investigation and report on the state of police related shooting, titled "License To Kill".[174] The New York Times had also released a video documentary "When A President Says I'll Kill You", which depicts Duterte's war on drugs through a local photographer's eyes.[175] On August 17, 2017, HRW called Duterte a threat to the human rights community after he made threats against human rights activists.[176]

In January 2020, the International Criminal Court confirmed that an investigation into Duterte's involvement with the death squads was ongoing, despite the Philippines having withdrawn from the ICC two years prior, because it continued to have jurisdiction over crimes committed when the country was still a member. Duterte had withdrawn the country just one month after the opening of the investigation.[37]

COVID-19 pandemic

Leftist groups and other organizations have criticized the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the first case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Philippines was confirmed on January 30, 2020.[177] This triggered outrage on local social media platforms.[178] Other criticisms include Duterte's remarks of ordering to "shoot" persons who violate quarantine protocols[179][180] and the delay of the vaccines to arrive in the Philippines were also condemned.[181]

In May 2021, Duterte was criticized for publicly taking the Sinopharm BIBP vaccine before it was approved for use by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration, when the general population had access only to a limited supply of Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and lower efficacy CoronaVac vaccines from Sinovac.[182][183][184]

International policy

Militant groups decry the ties between President Duterte and China over the Chinese occupation of contested waters and the reported harassment of the fishermen amidst the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.[185][186] Also, while the United States is one of the countries critical to Philippine drug war campaign,[187][188][189] most of the militant groups – particularly the left-wing groups – also criticize Philippine-US relations due to the United States' "imperialism"[190] and neoliberal policies.[191]

Tax reform

Duterte's tax reform program has garnered both support and criticism. Critics have argued that the administration's tax policy would burden the poor.[192] The implementation of the TRAIN Law triggered protests from various left-wing groups. On January 15, protesters gathered at various public market sites, calling for the revocation of TRAIN.[193] However, proponents of the program cite its appeal to foreign investors and economic benefits as the main reasons behind tax reform.

Controversial remarks

Duterte's records on human rights and his long history of comments is considered to be offensive, provocative, threatening, etc. have received sharp international criticism. He has been accused by his critics in the media of having a "dirty mouth".[194] He had, however, promised to behave in a "prim and proper" manner on the national and international stage once he was to be inaugurated as president, to the point that, "almost, I would become holy."[195]

Throughout his presidency, Duterte has made controversial comments about rape,[196][197][198] human rights, his views on media killings,[199] and has used slurs;[200][201] he has also made controversial statements to international leaders and institutions.[202][203] He has also repeatedly criticized the Catholic Church.[204][205][206][207]


2022 Philippine presidential election

In an earlier June 8 interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on SMNI News Channel, Duterte stated that he "sees nobody deserving" to replace him as next Philippine President, but that he would either remain neutral or endorse a candidate.[208] In June 2021, Duterte stated he may run in the 2022 Philippine presidential election as Vice President.[209] In August 2021, he announced his candidacy for the vice presidency.[210] In October 2021, he withdrew his candidacy and announced his retirement from politics, with Bong Go replacing him as the vice presidential candidate.[211]

Public image

Rodrigo Duterte developed a reputation as a "protector" and "savior" in his hometown of Davao City as mayor of the city for more than two decades. This is despite reports of death squads in the city.[212]

Rodrigo Duterte has been described as a populist, with his foul-mouthed remarks against the country's elite which positioned him as a "man of the people" as critical to his victory in the 2016 presidential election.[213] He has also been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump for his rhetorical style.[212]


Duterte meets with the Filipino community in Jakarta, September 9, 2016.

Ardent supporters of Duterte have been labeled as "Diehard Duterte Supporters", alternatively known as "Digong Duterte Supporters", which shares the acronym with the Davao Death Squad (DDS).[214] This label has been applied to the 16 million people who voted for him in the 2016 presidential election.[215]

Several other Facebook groups with the acronym "DDS" supported Duterte as early as 2011. Among these groups is the Duterte Defense Squad, which was created on July 5, 2011. Other examples include Digong Duterte Supporters-Registered Nurses Group, Duterte's Destiny is to Serve the Country, Digong Duterte Swerte (lit. Digong Duterte is (Good) Luck), and Davsur Duterte Supporters. In 2015, members of the various groups urged Duterte to run for president.[216]

Political views

Duterte described himself as left-leaning during his campaign and presidency, but has stressed that he was not a communist, but rather a socialist.[217][218][219]

He was once a member of the leftist Kabataang Makabayan during the 1970s.[220] He himself is a student of prominent Philippine leftist figure and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison.[221][222] In his presidency, he showed support for the left in a series of speeches: on one occasion he proclaimed himself the first "leftist President"; calling the Communist Party of the Philippines "revolutionary government"; ordered his officials to file petitions in court for the release of about twenty jailed communist leaders, which led to their subsequent releases; and appointed several cabinet members from the Philippine left.[223][additional citation(s) needed]

Personal life

Duterte is known for being an avid fan of big bikes, but detests luxury cars. He once owned a second-hand Harley-Davidson and a Yamaha Virago. He was once a habitual smoker, but he eventually quit after a doctor's suggestion due to health concerns. Duterte is an avid reader of Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon novels.[224] Duterte is also known for his straightforward and vocal attitude in public, especially in interviews, showing no hesitation in profusely using profanity live on-screen on numerous occasions despite formal requests by media groups and schools beforehand to abstain.[225]

Duterte has his own local show in Davao City called Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa ("From the Masses, For the Masses"), which is aired as a blocktimer on ABS-CBN Davao. He is also a member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternity based in the San Beda College of Law and the Ateneo de Davao University.[226]

Aside from his native Cebuano, Duterte is also fluent in Filipino and English.[227]

While criticising political opponent Antonio Trillanes in a 2019 speech, Duterte said that he was once gay but had "cured himself" before meeting his partner Zimmerman.[200]


Duterte (seated, left) with his first family after delivering his 3rd State of the Nation Address in 2018
Duterte with Avanceña along with their daughter, Veronica

Duterte was once married to Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, a flight attendant of Jewish and German American descent from Davao City. She traces her roots in Tuburan, Cebu. They together have three children (from eldest to youngest): Paolo ("Pulong"), Sara ("Inday Sara") and Sebastian ("Baste"). Paolo and Sara entered politics while Baste, with no interest in politics, concentrated on business and surfing but eventually ran and won as Davao City Vice Mayor in 2019.[228][unreliable source] Duterte's father, Vicente, died in 1968 while his mother, Soledad, died on February 4, 2012, at the age of 95.[229] Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015.[230]

Duterte has been publicly very open about his infidelity and philandering while married to Zimmerman and cited it as the reason for his failed first marriage when asked in interviews. In 1998, Zimmerman filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court in Pasig to nullify her marriage. Duterte never appeared in court and did not contest Zimmerman's petition. Two years later, the court decided in her favor, ending the 27-year marriage of Duterte and Zimmerman. Duterte and Zimmerman have been on good terms in recent years with Zimmerman stating, "Yes, [Rodrigo] is really a very good leader. That is all he is. But when it comes to family, he is not capable of taking care of it." In 2001, Zimmerman eventually ran for a seat on the city council but lost. Duterte and Zimmerman are said to have patched things up and appear to be civil to each other, 15 years after their marriage was declared null and void. Zimmerman eventually joined the campaign trail for Duterte's presidential candidacy in early 2016 called Byaheng Du30 in which she would travel by bus to major cities together with her daughter Sara and a number of delegates.[230]

Duterte is currently living with his common-law wife Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, a nurse, with whom he has one daughter named Veronica ("Kitty"). Duterte has eight grandchildren, half of whom are Muslims and the other half Christian,[231] and one great grandchild.[232]

On his paternal side, he shares familial ties with some of the prominent families of the Visayas, particularly the Almendrases and Duranos of Danao, Cebu.[b]



Despite being raised as a communicant of the Catholic Church, on January 19, 2016, while meeting with businessmen in Binondo, Manila, Duterte clarified that he has not attended Mass for quite some time already since he deemed it incompatible with his mayoral responsibilities: "If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests," said Duterte, "I would not be able to do anything as a mayor." He then clarified that he still believed in God, but not in religion.[235] On June 26, 2016, Duterte said he is Christian, but also said that he believes "in one God Allah".[236][237] Later, he challenged the Catholic Church to show evidence of the existence of God, while claiming he is neither an atheist nor an agnostic but happens "to be a human being believing in that there's a universal mind somewhere which controls the universe".[238] He has also called God "stupid".[239]

In July 2018, he called himself "spiritual" and expressed his belief in "one Supreme God", but stated he "can't accept" Catholicism or organized religion.[240] In 2019, he was quoted as saying: "a part of me which is Islam".[241]


Duterte distributes awards to Filipino athletes on October 16, 2019.

Duterte has Buerger's disease, an inflammation of blood vessels, mostly in the limbs, and Barrett's esophagus, wherein esophageal cells are gradually replaced by gastrointestinal cells. He has denied rumors of throat cancer.[242]

Duterte admitted in December 2016 that he had been a user of the addictive opioid drug Fentanyl. He said that a doctor prescribed the drug to alleviate back pain and headaches, but that he would take more than he was prescribed.[243] Fentanyl is described by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse as "a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent".[244] Duterte later denied that he was a drug addict, and a spokesman stated that he was not affected by side-effects of the drug, which include confusion, anxiety and hallucinations.[245]

Duterte has boasted about his use of Viagra: "When I was young, I could do overnight, which is more expensive. When I got old, I could do short time only because I have such a short time left. After one erection, that's it. No more. Without Viagra, it's even more difficult."[246][247]

A psychological assessment of Duterte was commissioned by Dr. Natividad Dayan during Duterte's marriage annulment to Elizabeth Zimmerman in July 1998. The result was that Duterte (then Davao City mayor) was found to have "antisocial narcissistic personality disorder", exemplified by "gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness", and a "grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviours". According to the assessment, he had a "pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings", and was "unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions."[248]

In a speech to the Filipino community in Russia, Duterte revealed that he has myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease, which makes his eye droop.[249][250]

Honours and awards

Honour of the Philippines

Foreign honors

See also


  1. ^ According to Duterte, he never left PDP–Laban. However, he was the Davao City chairman of the Liberal Party in 2009, and was nationally affiliated with the Liberal Party in the 2010 and 2013 elections.[1][2]
  2. ^ Brothers Facundo & Severo Duterte both married women from Danao; Severo's daughter Beatriz married post-War business magnate Ramon M. Durano, Sr. Their descendants constitute the modern-day political family of the Duranos of Danao, Cebu. Ramon M. Durano, Sr.'s sister Elisea married Paulo Almendras, and their descendants constitute the modern-day Almendrases of Cebu. One of their descendants, Jose Rene Almendras is a former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (acting).[233]


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Further reading

External links