Asia Minute: The “Donald Trump of the Philippines?”
Election news in the United States remains focused on primary elections and the nomination process for presidential candidates. In the Philippines, the presidential election is less than two weeks away—and recent polls have taken a new turn. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.
The latest polls in the Philippines have presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte leading his closest rival, Senator Grace Poe by more than ten percentage points. For more than two decades, Duterte has been the mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines…where his crackdowns on crime have led to his nickname “The Punisher.”
Critics say that focus has sometimes spilled over legal boundaries. But in recent days, outrage has centered on his remarks about a 1989 rape and murder case in Davao. An Australian missionary was sexually assaulted and killed by inmates in a prison hostage crisis…and Duterte made a crude reference to the case—later saying he was joking.
Australia’s ambassador tweeted that “rape and murder should never be joked about or trivialized” and “violence against women and girls is unacceptable anytime, anywhere.” The American ambassador agreed. Duterte told the ambassadors to “shut up” and challenged Australia and the United States to “go ahead and sever” diplomatic relations if he became president.
In December, he cursed the Pope for snarling traffic in Manila in an earlier visit…Duterte later apologized. Some commentators are calling him the “Donald Trump of the Philippines”…and as with Trump, Duterte is counting on populist anger to translate to votes.